Every year I look forward to the fun activities and flavors that summer weather brings. Whether it’s shopping at the local farmers market, attending an outdoor jazz festival, or catching a baseball game; the warmer temperatures provide a lot of opportunities to play outside with friends and family. But living in the Midwest, the temperature can get very hot and especially humid.
When it gets extremely humid, my local weatherman often refers to it as, “wearing the air.” So, every time the temperature is on the rise, I try to think of ways I can avoid using my oven in order to keep my house from feeling like a sauna. This not only saves on energy costs, but I’ve learned it can also save me time in the kitchen.
One of my favorite summer meals is no bake pizza using pita bread. All you need to do is purchase pita bread at the store, top with your choice of low-fat cream cheese or hummus and pile high with fresh veggies. I make a Greek version using hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, sliced bell peppers, and feta cheese. This makes for a great meal, but can also be a sliced and served as an appetizer.
Salads in the summer are a must. They are filling and can be a great way to cool down, because fresh produce is a source of hydration. I make a Nebraska inspired Cobb salad using frozen corn, frozen edamame, eggs, chicken, and a variety of other vegetables. I love using frozen or canned vegetables because I can heat those in the microwave and then toss on top of a salad. When it comes to items like grilled chicken or boiled eggs, my strategy is to visit the super market salad bar. This is a great time and cost saver, especially if you’re only need a small amount. It’s also helped me waste less food. My local super market always has boiled eggs and grilled chicken on the salad bar. All I have to do is purchase and add to my dish when I get home.
Wraps and pinwheels are such a great and portable meal or snack in the summer. I use meat and cheese from the local deli, add veggies, low-fat cream cheese and that’s it. These are great because they can last in the refrigerator for a few days, making it the perfect snack to prepare the night before and take with you on the go the next day.
Hopefully these tips will keep you cool, prevent food waste, and give you a little extra time outside the kitchen so that you can have more time with your family this summer.
Amber Pankonin MS, RD, CSP, LMNT is a registered dietitian and licensed medical nutrition therapist based in Lincoln, NE. She works as a nutrition communications consultant, freelance writer, food photographer, and adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Amber shares her love for food and nutrition at Stirlist.com, an award winning website, focusing on healthy, easy recipes for the busy cook. Amber serves on several boards including the Nebraska Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group, and also cofounded a group to motivate female entrepreneurs in her town. You can follow her on Twitter @RDamber, Instagram, Pinterest, or connect with her on Facebook.