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Turn Off the Oven in the Summer Heat

Anyone else surprised by these high temperatures outside so early in summer? Phew, it's time to get into summer cooking mode. For me, that means using my oven less and adding in more cold temperature recipes.

There are a variety of recipes you can make in summer to keep cool. I like these recipes for a number of reasons:

  • Many recipes hold up well over time, so you can make them in advance
  • If you make them in advance, there is no cooking during the heat of the day
  • Some recipes make a lot, so you can eat on them all week

    Pasta Salad

    These are some recipes I will be breaking out in the coming months:

    Main Dish Salads

    Nicoise Salad

    My variation is very simple: cook green beans and diced red potatoes until just tender. Drain off water and refrigerate until ready to eat. When ready to serve, add cherry tomatoes and a packet of tuna. Any balsamic vinaigrette tops it off. (Other variations may add hardboiled eggs, red onion, olives, and lettuce.)

    Pasta Salads

    The basics are pre-cooked meat, pasta, veggies, and dressing. Cook pasta until just tender, adding any veggies you want cooked to the pasta water during the last few minutes. Drain and cool. Add other raw veggies, cooked meat, and dressing and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    From UI Extension, try the Easy Pasta Salad and Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.

    Rice (and Other Grain) Salads

    Using the same model as the pasta salad, mix cooked rice (or other grains like barley and quinoa), cooked meat, veggies, and a dressing together. Refrigerate until ready to eat. Dressings can be traditional, or try something different, like salsa or pesto.

    In the Caribbean Salsa Salad from UI Extension, notice that salsa is the dressing. Mix in cooked, diced chicken for more protein.



    Try to include some protein and veggies. Adding a spread (mayo, avocado, herbed cream cheese) will pump up flavors, but keep the amount small to control calories. Try the" Turkey Avocado Sandwich Wraps" at the end of this post.

    Wrap bread, usually tortillas, are lighter than slices of bread or hoagie rolls. If you are like some folks in summer months, you are generally less hungry in the heat. A wrap is lighter fare when you have less of an appetite, plus we save on calories.

    Want to make your wraps ahead? Make sure your ingredients are not too wet or juicy, which will soak through the wrap.

    Rice Salad

    Turkey Avocado Sandwich Wraps (Serves 4)

    Using whole wheat tortillas is a great way to add around 2-3g fiber to your diet, compared to flour tortillas that offer 0-1 grams fiber per tortilla. Avocado is a heart-healthy fat, but can add a lot of calories if you pile it on. A little will still give you a lot of creamy flavor.

    4 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
    1 medium avocado, pitted, peeled, and mashed*
    8 ounces reduced-sodium turkey deli meat
    additional toppings (tomato slices, lettuce, red onion, low-fat cheese slices, salsa)

    1. Warm tortillas as directed on package.
    2. Spread tortillas evenly with mashed avocado.
    3. Top each tortilla with 2 ounces deli meat.
    4. Add additional toppings as desired.

    *If not served immediately, stir in 1 Tbsp lemon or lime juice into avocado to prevent browning.

    Nutritional analysis per serving (without additional toppings): 270 calories, 11g fat, 750mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 16g protein

    Recipe presented to "Kirby's Kitchen," Piatt Co, 2013

    Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.