BY KIM HUGHES –
When it’s blistering hot outside, I am not a big fan of spending a lot of time in the kitchen cooking. Look for ways to prepare quick, easy meals that will not heat up the kitchen but still feed your family healthy, wholesome meals.
Make fruits and vegetables the building blocks of your meal. Most can be served raw or cooked quickly; and are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals we need in our diets. How about a main dish salad for dinner? Try tossed salad with leftover rice and cooked chicken; or something as simple as tuna or chicken salad. Serve on top of a romaine lettuce salad and add a whole wheat roll and you have a quick, nutritious meal, without heating up the kitchen.
Don’t neglect the appliances in your kitchen; put them to work for you. The microwave you may only use for reheating items, or maybe popping popcorn is being underutilized, and can save you time, plus keep the heat out of the kitchen. In as little as 4-6 minutes, you can have a baked potato. When finished, remove and wrap in foil. You can even cook corn on the cob in 2-3 minutes per ear.
There are also appliances such as electric skillets that you can use to make skillet lasagna, omelets, or even pineapple upside down cake. A toaster oven will allow you the opportunity to have baked items without heating up the kitchen with your range’s oven.
Grilling adds flavor, keeps the heat out of the kitchen, and means less mess to clean up, too. If you don’t have equipment or space to grill outdoors, use a small electric grill inside. When cooking meats on the grill, remember they cook quickly and don’t add much heat to the kitchen. Start with good quality cuts of meat and poultry and be sure to trim excess fat for good health.
Plan ahead and cook once and serve twice. Prepare enough the first time that you can add it to another dish for a different meal. Baked potatoes one night might be used for potato salad or twice baked potatoes the next night. Grilled chicken could turn into chicken quesadillas, chicken salad, or chicken spaghetti.