Five Simple Summer Meals
Texas summer has arrived at our house. This year it came later than most and I am grateful. So far we have only had two days of a 100 degrees or more. The summer we had sixty 100 degree days still lives on in my memory.
With this season of heat in mind, my menu will include as many ovenless meals as possible. I for one always find the summer season to be the one I must work hardest to keep frugal. Now that healthy cooking is also a big priority my meals need to be both economical, healthy and as least heat producing as possible.
So I thought I would share five of the simple summer meals I will be putting on my summer meal plan:
1. Chef salad is one of my favorites for a hot summer night. First I start with a base of lettuce of any kind (usually I use a mixture of little leaf or spinach and romaine.) Baby kale can be thrown in with the mix and sometimes even a little bit of iceberg to provide a crunch. Toppings are often leftover chicken or fish, hard boiled egg, tomato, carrot, celery and cucumber. A sprinkle of feta or nutritional yeast for Husband and me, and cheddar for Youngest Son, often top our salad piles. Of course, sunflower seeds, raisins and nuts can also be a feature of our chef salads. Apple cider vinegar and a good quality olive oil is usually the dressing of choice (or should I say health?)
2. Black bean chili is another simple meal. Black beans (canned are fine, but I make mine from scratch) frozen corn (I purchase organic frozen corn from Costco due to the GMO corn issues) and diced tomatoes with chilies cooked on stove top for 15 minutes or so or in a crockpot on low until nice and hot make a great summer meal, especially if topped with sour cream or greek yogurt.
3. Rice and beans are another great summer meal. I use my rice cooker for the rice and often cook my beans from scratch. Black, pinto or kidney beans are our favorites. I top this amazing duo with lettuce and tomatoes for sure and sometimes all kinds of other salad goodies. Again applecider or balsamic vinegar and olive oil make this meal a winner and for those so disposed, sour cream and/or a sprinkle of feta or any kind of shredded cheese add some deliciousness.
4. Canned wild Alaska salmon, although not necessarily "cheap" is another of our simple summer meal strategies. It could be a topper for a chef salad if need be, but we like it sauteed in its juices (butter makes it divine for those not concerned with lowfat cooking) and sprinkled with garlic powder and dill. I just crush the bones and keep the skin as recommended for health purposes. It is so easy to add any kind of a cold salad to this meal. I enjoy using quinoa as a base with this and add celery, cucumber, sunflower seeds with a dusting of feta. Fresh fruit is a great compliment as well.
5. Pasta and most everything makes a quick summer meal. Any shape or size, gluten free, whole wheat or so on, is quick and fun to work with. Toppings beside the usual red sauce and meatballs, can include roasted vegetables (in summer I roast my veggies in my toaster oven) canned tuna or sardines, tomatoes, breadcrumbs and squeezed lemon, raw or sauted garlic and lots of olive oil.
These are my main "go to" summer meals. Oh, may I recommend a great healthy dessert? How about chocolate avocado pudding? My men do not care for avocado yet really enjoy this "pudding." I have found the secret is to blend the concoction very well until mousse-like. Take two medium avocado blend them with about 1/4 cup of almond or coconut milk and add one heaping tablespoon of cocoa. Honey added to your taste, makes this dessert a refreshing and healthy ending to any simple summer meal.
How about you? Any summer type meals you can share?