Cooking Quick and Healthy Summer Meals to Avoid Kitchen Heat

By Sher Warkentin in Healthy Feeling

Cooking healthy dinners can sometimes feel time-consuming, and in the hot, long days of summer the last thing anyone wants to do is spend a lot of time standing over the stove. Fortunately, quick summer meals don’t have to sacrifice health and nutrition. With a little prep work and some helpful kitchen accessories, you can create healthy, vegetarian dishes without a lot of fuss. Follow these tips to get dinner on the table before the summer sun sets.

Get Speedy

Cooking quickly will not only get you out of the hot kitchen faster, but it’s also better for the environment because it helps you cut down on energy consumption. You can invest in an energy-efficient pressure cooker, which reduces cooking time immensely. Another option for versatile and quick summer meals is stir-fry. Though you do need to work with high heat, it’s bearable since it’s only a short amount of time.

To make a stir-fry, all you need are some fresh vegetables, soy sauce, grated ginger for seasoning, and cooking oil. Sesame oil has a high smoke point and will add flavor. Just about any fresh summer veggie you have on hand is a great addition to a vegetarian stir-fry. Try serving it on a bed of rice or quinoa, or just on its own for a lighter meal.

Choose A No-Cook Recipe

Sandwiches and salads don’t have to be strictly lunch foods, especially in the summer when a heavy, hot meal can leave you feeling miserable all evening. Choose simple no-cook recipes that are easy to throw together and don’t require any time over a hot stove. Besides salads and wraps, finger foods or tapas are a speedy alternative to a traditional dinner.

Healthy finger foods make a great fast and easy no-cook dinner.

Pair crispy carrots and cucumber with platter of dips like hummus, tabbouleh, and a refreshing yogurt-cucumber dip, and add flat breads or crostini for a quick, but surprisingly filling, summer meal.

Tweak Your Go-To Recipes

One of my family’s favorite dishes is quinoa-stuffed peppers, and for a lighter, summer version, I cook the stuffing separately and use lettuce wraps instead of peppers.

Add veggies, like roasted corn, peas, spinach, and chopped carrots, to precooked quinoa, and then toss it in a pan to heat, adding whatever seasonings your family prefers. Set the mixture aside in the refrigerator until dinner time. Swap out the peppers for fresh, crispy cabbage or romaine, stuff the leaves with the quinoa mixture, and serve. The mixture will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days, so you can even make it in advance or eat it multiple nights.

Take It Outside

If you can’t handle the heat, then get out of the kitchen, literally. Warm summer nights are the perfect excuse to take dinner outdoors. Give your stove a break and fire up the grill instead. From grilled vegetables to pizzas, there are a lot of creative ways you can cook with your grill beyond the traditional BBQ.

Turn your backyard into an outdoor kitchen by cooking on your grill.

Even if you cook inside, eating outdoors is a fun way to cool things down. Lay out a blanket to have a picnic dinner in your own backyard. The whole family will get a kick out of ditching the dining table, and it will make for some quality bonding time.

Switching up your usual dinner routine can go a long way to making dinner time a breeze this summer. What are some summer kitchen tips you love that make dinner easy? Share your favorites with us on Twitter.

Image sources: Flickr | Flickr | Flickr

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

The last thing you want to do in the heat of the summer is spend hours in the kitchen, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice serving up some healthy dishes. With just a few small changes to your usual dinner routine, summer meals can be fast, healthy, and delicious.