Keeping Cool and Healthy

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Are you looking for cool easy dinners for summer? Here are four tips to help you keep the heat out and the nutrients in!

Think FRUITS?and VEGETABLES!!?They can often be served raw and take very little time to cook. Summer is a time for fruits and vegetables. Serve entree salads a few nights a week to take the heat out of your kitchen and put more nutrition on the table. Here are a few ideas:

• Serve tossed salad with leftover rice and roasted chicken. Add colorful vegetables and your favorite seasonings.
• Make tuna salad and serve on top of tossed salad with a side of whole grain bread. Garnish with lots of veggies.
• Make an elegant salad topped with canned salmon, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes.

Use the microwave instead of the stove to keep your kitchen cool. The microwave lends itself very well to healthy cooking and eating because it is very efficient for vegetable and grain cookery.
• Rice cooks quickly and efficiently in the microwave.
• Baked potatoes and sweet potatoes cook in 4-5 minutes per potato or 6 minutes per sweet potato.
• Corn on the cob cooks in 3 minutes per ear. See the tips on page 76.
• Broccoli and other green vegetables often cook in 3-4 minutes for a 4-portion serving.

While the grill adds flavor and keeps the heat out of the kitchen, you need to be aware of its hazards to your health. Grilling and broiling are high-heat cooking methods that cause muscle tissue, such as red meat, poultry and fish, to produce carcinogenic compounds. Another type of carcinogen is formed when fat drips onto hot coals or stones. These are deposited back onto food by the smoke and flame-ups that blacken meat.
To keep your grilled items healthy, follow these four steps:

1) Choose lean cuts of meat and poultry; trim excess fat and cut in small pieces to reduce cooking time.
2) Marinate meat and poultry before grilling to avoid charring.
3) Remove charred material that does form during grilling.
4) Grill more vegetables. For a real flavor treat, grill fruits such as pineapple for an interesting garnish or dessert.

Cook Once, Serve Twice
This little strategy works all year to save you time. Here are some delicious ideas:
• Bake potatoes one night; use leftovers to serve potato salad the next night. Serve your potato salad with tossed salad, lean, cold ham or chicken and a large serving of fresh-sliced tomatoes.
• Make a large batch of pasta one night; serve leftover chilled pasta as a salad the next. Accompany it with tossed salad, fresh veggies and fresh fruit.
• Roast a chicken one night; make a chilled chicken salad the next night. If you purchase the chicken already roasted you will save even more time.

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