5 Ideas for No-Cook, Dog Days of Summer Meals

5 Ideas for No-Cook, Dog Days of Summer Meals

Air-conditioning is pretty pointless when you live at 8,800 feet. Our dog days of summer are a completely different breed than those "down the hill." However, the large "viewing" windows on the west side of my house allow the sun to beat into my kitchen like it’s actually enjoying a cup of joe while sitting on my deck. I play the curtain vs. window vs. fan game, opening windows on one side of my house, closing them and drawing curtains on the other side. But, alas, my kitchen is all but cozy, oh, right about dinner time. So, I’ve started using it as an excuse to "not cook!"

Here are a few of my not-cooking-tonight meals:

1. Antipasto Platter

Easiest thing in the world and EVERYBODY loves it! Find a giant platter to put everything on. Cut some fruit. Cut some veggies (go really heavy on the veg). Open a jar of olives or pickles or both. Pour crackers into a bowl (make sure the number for sodium is lower than the calories). Add some deli meat and cheese (our favorite is Italian dry salami and goat cheese). Fill in the gaps with some "interest." (Hint: this is a great way to introduce new foods, especially veggies.)

Ideas for "interest"

  • Try garbanzo beans – drain, rinse and marinate with a little balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Hummus is a great addition
  • For a Southwest flare, think about a black bean, red pepper and corn salad with a squeeze of lime, salt and pepper
  • Salsas, guacamoles or even plain avocado are good, too
  • Tuna, smoked salmon or cooked shrimp add another element
  • Toss in lightly steamed broccoli or asparagus

Let everyone use their hands or give them small plates to use. Just think simple. (And, don’t forget a nice glass of chilled wine for mom and dad!)

2. Zoodles!

Zoodles = spiralized zucchini noodles. Making Zoodles requires a spiralizer, but you could also use a vegetable peeler for a more "fettucine-like" noodle. Zoodles are great because they turn out just like noodles and the taste is so mild that they end up tasting like noodles, too! Add a little pesto and fresh tomatoes and you’re good to go.

3. Cold Soup

Gazpacho is so fun to say and I love it, but if you’re kids aren’t used to cold soups, you might find it easier to start them out with a cold melon soup or a smoothie in a bowl! If you’re used to smoothies, switching up the presentation adds character and interest. Make your usual smoothie and set out toppings that they can add to the smoothie in a bowl. Add chopped nuts, shredded coconut, granola or even a little Greek yogurt. SO FUN! (Bonus: add this to your breakfast rotation, special snack or dessert menu.)

4. Bruschetta and a Salad

Pick up a freshly baked baguette on the way home. Chop up tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, red onion and/or garlic, fresh basil, and salt and pepper. Slice the baguette and you’re ready for dinner. If you’re not tomato fans, try a variation. Serve with a giant green salad.

5. Roll it up!

If you’ve never made spring rolls at home, it is such a fun meal for the kids. All you have to do is mix up a dipping sauce, or buy some bottled sauce in the Asian section, and then slice some veggies. Fill a bowl with warm water for the rice paper wrappers. Then, let your kids create with their favorite veggies. (Tip: Buy shredded carrots and cabbage (angel hair coleslaw).) Soba or rice noodles or brown rice would make a great addition to this meal if you don’t mind a little heat in the kitchen.

Yes, summer is hot, but soon snow will fly and we’ll complain about how cold it is. For now, let’s savor every degree of summer from the freshness of farmer’s market produce to the icy cold sips of lemonade on the patio. And, for real, take advantage of a not-cooking-tonight meal!

Robyn Johnson grew up amongst the cows and cornfields in Wisconsin and now, she laughs and loves amongst the Colorado pines and mountains. Her true loves: the hubs, two daughters and Rufus, the black lab pup inspire her every day to move, stretch, climb, cook, relax, and search. You can learn more about Robyn Johnson and Baby Kale Health Coaching at www.babykalehealth.com.

Photo Credit: Belinda (miscdebris) via Compfight cc

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