Dinner Diva: Five cool meals for hot days

the-dinner-divaDinner Diva column by Leanne Ely/SavingDinner.com

No matter where you are in the United States right now—and even Canada—,it is a hot summer. Temperatures are in the hundreds in many areas, and the humidity is reportedly high from friends of mine in parts of the continent where this type of weather is unheard of, even in the thick of summer.

We all know what this means, don’t we? (Besides the fact that we’re all sweating like sinners in church.)

Hot weather always seems like a good excuse to not eat right. People turn to take out and packaged meals because, frankly, it’s just too hot to cook.

Well, you can probably guess what I think of that! Sure it’s hot and sticky out there, but you still have to get good, healthy meals on the table. The temperature isn’t really a good reason to not feed your family well. Besides, who said the stove had to be used in all of your meals?

Let’s talk this out for a minute, here.

First of all, we aren’t supposed to be eating big, heavy meals at night. A bit of protein and a heap of veggies is ideal. As a rule, when we’re watching our figures, it’s best to cut out carbs after lunch anyway. And you certainly don’t need roast chicken as that protein every single day!

While you’re grilling, toss enough meat onto the grill to supply for a week of dinners. Cold chicken, fresh veggies and a homemade vinaigrette is a delicious meal that does not require any heat in the kitchen!

Here are some additional summer meal ideas that don’t require heating things up inside:

* Eggs are an excellent source of protein and you can boil a dozen of them at a time and have them on hand, ready to add to vegetables for a well-rounded meal. Use them in a spinach salad, or make some egg salad lettuce wraps for dinner and serve them with steamed or raw veggies. An omelet full of fresh veggies served with a barbequed sausage is a great meal option too!

  • Put some cedar planked salmon and veggies on the barbeque! But please don’t put your vegetables in tin foil on the grill—use a proper grilling basket so you get that delicious flavor of the barbeque.
  • Make a big pot of cold vegetable soup. The fancy word for it is gazpacho. Sounds complicated, but it’s dead easy. Grab a bunch of vegetables—Tomatoes, onion, cucumber, peppers, celery, parsley, garlic . . . whatever you like, really. Add some vegetable or tomato juice, spices that you like, a squeeze or two of lemon juice, a touch of vinegar and olive oil, salt and pepper and blend it all up. Store it in the fridge and serve it up cold, as needed, throughout the week. This is also a great use for any leftover vegetables from any of the meals you prepare from our summer menu resources.
  • Serve some Greek yogurt and berries or a dish of hummus with raw veggies for dipping. Dinner doesn’t have to look like what your mom used to put on the table in the evening. There doesn’t have to be meat, rice, pasta or potatoes involved! Use your imagination. As long as there’s some source of protein and a vegetable or a bit of fruit, you’re good to go.
  • If you do miss having some starch for supper, try a grilled pizza! Make whatever pizza dough you normally would and put it on a hot grill and close the lid. After a few minutes, when it has formed somewhat of a firm crust, flip it over and top the crisp side with sauce, vegetables and cheese. Close the lid and let everything cook until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is cooked through. Homemade pizza without using the oven! Your family will bow down at your feet and praise you. Or they’ll at least offer to do the dishes.

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