I’ve had to be pretty good at keeping the heat outside during the hot summer months. We had a really old air conditioner that didn’t work well for many many years, so we never liked to use it. Which means that it was always just a little too hot inside to heat the house with an oven or a stove. Because of this, I’ve gotten pretty creative about some of the heat beating things we do.
1. Use the electric outlets that you have outside. (This is one of my favorite things to do!) Plug the Crockpot in outside. Try the bread machine. The rice cooker. I’ve even moved the toaster oven outside. All of these small appliances are great for helping you keep the heat out of your house. Fill the machine inside in your kitchen and carry it out. Plug it in, and let it do all the work outside while keeping all that heat outside too.
2. Use the grill. (Of course, you already know that one!) So many people love to grill in the summer. Not just because it tastes good, but it helps keep the heat outside. When you do, grill up a few extra veggies to have for tomorrow’s salads, wraps, or rice dishes. You can also chop those veggies and toss them into some ricotta cheese with fresh herbs to make a nice spread for crackers. Try making packets for the grill: all the veggies, proteins, and sauce go right inside the foil. The packet gets tossed on the grill, and in about 15 minutes, you have a full dinner. Packets are a great way to use leftovers.
3. The side burner on the grill. My grill has an additional side burner that I like to use to heat water for iced tea or for cooking pasta. Heating chili on the side burner is great as well. Heat chickpeas for homemade hummus or boil eggs on that side burner.
4. Salad. Salads can be so much more than just lettuce and dressing. Add in some pine nuts, goat cheese, chopped fresh veggies (or ones grilled on the BBQ) and fruits. And, the water inside all those fruits and veggies will help keep you hydrated. Check out The Kitchn’s ideas for summer salads or my Spicy Avocado-Poblano Salad with Boiled Eggs. Try making your own salad dressing as well. They’ll be healthy and have less sodium and preservatives.
5. You can do some nice things with pre-made stuff from the store, but don’t go too far those packaged items- there’s always added sodium or sugar that we may want to avoid. Premade hummus can be quite good on purchased flatbreads or tortillas. Premade salsa, especially when it’s from the produce section can be really good. Trader Joe’s has some nice spreads and dips, like my favorite, their egg white egg salad. Canned tuna is great, and can be added to a salad or a sandwich. Or, try tossing some canned tuna in with some cooked pasta.
6. Canned beans and lentils are great. Drain, rinse, and throw them in with some of that tuna, some fresh herbs, and some fresh mozzarella. Serve this with sliced baguette and you have a fun meal without any added heat.
7. Wraps or rolls are prefect to help beat the heat. Try some tortillas wrapped around thawed shrimp and bagged coleslaw mix with a bit of sour cream. Or, try making lettuce wraps at home. Mix some canned mandarin oranges and teriyaki sauce with some cooked rice (that you cooked outside) and sliced veggies, and fill up those lettuce wraps.
8. Avocado is always my go-to item. Slather some guacamole on top of anything and it’ll be good. (That’s my guacarexic side speaking! You know, the part of me that wants to get all my calories from avocados). Use guac as a dip or a spread for those wraps we just talked about. Or, make tacos with salsa, shredded cheese, chopped onions, and shrimp or canned tuna. Or, try lump crab meat in your tacos.
9. Glass or cellophane noodles are great for beating the heat. They often require nothing more than some time in hot water, and they’re great for wraps, salads, or for topping with some grilled Asian chicken.
10. Eat spicy foods. They can cool you down. “Chili peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical compound that helps us to perspire more readily,” says Rick Bayless. When the sweat evaporates, you experience some cooling.
11. In your clean-up, skip the heat drying cycle on the dishwasher. Leave the door open to let the dishes dry. And put off using the dishwasher until evening, when the air is cooler.
And, this idea of drying tomatoes in your car from The Balanced Gourmet rocks!
I hope these tips are helpful for you. What other ways do you beat the heat?