No-Cook Summer Meals

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During the hottest months of the year, the idea of heating up the kitchen often squelches any motivation to cook. Rather than relying on take-out or microwave meals, consider healthier alternatives for summer meals.

Keeping your pantry and refrigerator stocked with ready-to-use ingredients provides endless possibilities for no-cook meals. Plain Greek yogurt drizzled with honey and piled high with fresh berries makes a great breakfast or afternoon snack. Crusty whole grain bread layered with tuna, mixed greens, chopped vegetables, and a squeeze of lemon juice and olive oil creates a cool and satisfying lunch. A Caprese salad made of juicy tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, and olive oil is a great example of a no-cook option that can be served as an appetizer, snack, or side dish. Chilled soups such as gazpacho are also great for meal time when you want to keep the kitchen cool.

Take advantage of summer’s bounty to add extra fruits and vegetables to your diet. Fresh garden produce provides a taste like no other and most fresh-picked vegetables need little more than a drizzle of olive oil and a few sprigs of herbs to kick up the flavor. NC State Extension’s Med Instead of Meds program offers many quick and easy seasonal recipes.

Salads are a summer staple for good reason. They are quick and easy to prepare, packed with nutrients, and require minimal time in the kitchen. Start with a leafy base of greens, add a variety of vegetables (fresh, canned, or leftover), toss in some fresh or dried fruit, and nuts or leftover grilled chicken for added protein. If tomatoes and cucumbers are in abundance, chop or slice them and toss with olive oil, feta cheese, and basil leaves. Or try one of the Med Instead of Meds salad recipes such as Avocado Salad, Avocado Tomato Salad, or Cucumber Avocado Salad. If you are on the go and need to take your salad with you, wrap it up with this Lunch Wrap recipe.

Another excellent salad recipe is the Kachumber Salad with Peanuts. The combination of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices is a delight. Don’t leave out the Spanish peanuts! These are what give the salad it’s sweet and salty balance. My all-time favorite summer side dish is the Summer Green Bean Salad. It may seem an odd combination, but the flavor is amazing. You just have to try it for yourself.

A healthy dessert is a great way to end a meal and this Banana Granita will certainly cool you off on a hot summer day. Keep frozen bananas in the freezer so you can make this whenever you want a sweet treat.

From entrees to desserts, these no-cook recipes and meal prep tips will make summer cooking a cool and satisfying venture. Eat healthy and stay cool!

Mixture of tomatoes, cucumbers, mango, pineapple, mint leaves, spices and topped with Spanish peanuts.

Kachumber Salad recipe from Med Instead of Meds program.