Summer you're hot -- and you know it! It's why you give us such delicious and hydrating fruits, crisp and cooling veggies, and late afternoon thunderstorms to cool off. But, when you throw us into the middle of a heat wave, and the thought of turning the oven on sounds pretty much like torture, we need some quick and easy dinner options (that do not require the oven!) if we aren't going to rely on take out all summer.
While we typically think of summer as the perfect time to start making healthy changes for our bodies since local fruits and vegetables are in abundance, there are also aspects to the summer that can sometimes make eating well more difficult. Honestly, the most common thing I hear from my nutrition clients in the summer is that they want to eat well, but the heat makes them hate cooking and going out to eat is just easier.
I totally get it, and trust me there are plenty of times during the summer that I don't feel like cooking as well, but too much take out never leaves me feeling well, and it certainly doesn't help our bank account. Even the healthiest restaurants or salad bars are never going to rival what you can create for your own body and your own needs at home.
My advice to all of my clients who find themselves really struggling with motivation around cooking for themselves during the summer, is to start planning ahead, and having a list of go to healthy dinner options that they honestly enjoy and are easy to pull together. So instead of always reaching from the take out menu on hot summer days, I have a list of go-to quick and simple dinners that are healthy, and don't require me to turn on the oven.
Quick And Healthy Dinners To Make When It's HOT HOT HOT!!
Tacos tacos tacos
If you had to make me choose one dinner to eat for the rest of my life, it probably would be tacos. They are so versatile and can be made in so many healthy and delicious ways. Personally I always use either corn tortillas or lettuce/collard wraps.
Vegetarian Collard Wraps
This recipe is loaded with fiber, protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates that make it wonderfully balanced, and perfect for keeping you feeling full hours after eating! These wraps are also naturally vegetarian/vegan friendly as is, however you can customize it anyway you want by adding some of the tasty extras I highlighted below. I personally love them with some grilled salmon, tuna, or a crumbled veggie burger!
vibrant summer salads
Salads are one of the easiest ways to have a delicious, cooling, and healthy meal during the summer. Our bodies crave these fresh fruits and veggies for a reason and I love switching it up all summer long with creative new salads that will keep me feeling good on hot summer days.
Quinoa and Edamame Bean Salad
This salad is protein packed and the perfect summer vegetarian meal. I love buying the pre-cooked edamame beans and quinoa from trader joes which only requires a little microwaving to be ready to go and mixed in with the rest of the salad ingredients.
Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad
Okay so I may be cheating a little bit here because you do need to boil some water to hard boil the eggs...but what I like to do is hard boil a dozen eggs all at one time so that when I am tired this salad can come together in 5 minutes flat
Italian Caprese Salad
This is one of the quickest, simplest, and delicious dinners I go to on hot days. I love buying some fresh buffalo mozzarella from a local farm, and combining it with fresh farmers market basil and grape tomatoes. I then will toast a few pieces of gluten free bread, spread on some avocado with sea salt, and call it a day.
balanced healthy sandwiches
Guys never, ever underestimate the power of a good sandwich for dinner. Sometimes it's just what you want, and no matter how hard you try you just cant get in the mood for a salad. I recommend opting for a salad for lunch on hot days that way by the time dinner roles around and you are tired whipping up a healthy sandwich can be a perfectly healthy addition to your day.
Healthy Sandwich Summer Options
If you are going to have a sandwich for dinner lets make it delicious and healthy by loading it up with lots and lots of veggies. Here is my go to recipe for making a perfect summer sandwich for an easy dinner option:
- Choose a whole grain sprouted bread, or a gluten free whole grain bread. Toast the bread to make it feel a little more like a restaurant meal, versus just another sandwich at home. If you aren't feeling the bread you can always try using a collard leaf and making a wrap.
- Veggies: I always like to include at least three veggies like sprouts, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and sometimes pickled peppers.
- Fat: You have to make sure you have a fat source to balance out the carbohydrate in your sandwich. My go to option is always avocado, but you also could add an organic slice of cheese as well.
- Protein: Next make sure you have a good high-quality protein source. This could be something like hummus or tofu for vegetarians, organic chicken/turkey, or wild-caught canned tuna. Avoid processed meats that have added nitrates and excessive amounts of sodium.
when all else fails
Cucumber Wrapped Sushi
Sometimes no matter how many great options you have in your back pocket dinner just isn't happening at home. On nights like these my favorite go-to healthy option is to grab some cucumber wrapped sushi from our local Asian restaurant.
I love getting the cucumber wrapped roles or roles wrapped in brown rice, that make your sushi a little bit healthier. Avoid high-sodium soy sauce that will only leave you feeling puffy, and opt for a little fresh ginger and wasabi for added flavor.
There you have it! Simple, healthy dinner recipes that are perfect choices to help you avoid too much summer take out, and help feed your body well even on the hottest of summer days.