When temperatures soar, the last thing you want to do is slave over a hot stove. But you don't have to settle for eating a big salad night after night. The abundance of in-season produce available this time of year gives you plenty of other options that require no (or very little) cooking. These five low-calorie menu suggestions will help you stay cool and satisfied.
- CHILLED SOUP You can use fruit or vegetables. One of my favorite light suppers is a creamy peach soup. Blend 2 cups fruit chunks, 1 cup orange juice, and 1 cup lowfat plain yogurt. (This serves two; double the ingredients for four.) Drizzle on a little honey and serve with crusty bread. A savory option is gazpacho. My recipe is filling but low in calories because I thicken it with vegetables, not bread (as many traditional recipes do). Find it here.
- DRESSED-UP PASTA Want a meal on the table in five minutes? Buy a small portion of pasta salad from a high-end deli, then add sliced fresh summer vegetables—like cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, chives, red onion, and radishes— and flake in some water-packed canned salmon.
- STUFFED FRUITS AND VEGETABLES Filling fruits and vegetables with protein-packed ingredients can enhance their nutritional value. Try loading half a cantaloupe with your favorite yogurt and topping it with slivered almonds and raisins. Or blend lowfat cottage cheese or part-skim ricotta with minced scallions and other vegetables and spoon into a hollowed out bell pepper or tomato. You can also make a low-carb wrap: Take round lettuce leaves (like butter lettuce) and top them with a crunchy mix of diced celery, water chestnuts, scallions, baked savory tofu, peas (fresh or frozen), cilantro, and chopped peanuts. Roll up and top with a splash of rice vinegar to add a little zing.
- VEGETABLE ANTIPASTO It's easy to get your five a day with this dish: Layer thin slices of avocado, cooked beets, and ripe summer fruit (try honeydew and/or strawberries) on a bed of arugula. Drizzle with roasted walnut oil and garnish with a light sprinkling of toasted walnuts and minced fresh mint.
- GRILLED VEGETABLES If you do feel like cooking, head outside. One of my go-to summer meal solutions is barbecuing a big batch of vegetables, then storing them, covered, in the refrigerator to eat all week long (they taste good cold too!). Zucchini, onions, red peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, and tomatoes are just a few you can try. Serve them as part of an antipasto plate with a good roast turkey from the deli, hummus, and a few slices of fresh mozzarella, or try them on a baguette with a drizzle of olive oil.