What to eat when it’s sizzling outside

A little girl standing in front of fan

“Nooo, don’t turn on the oven!”

That’s the battle cry in this house when the temp starts heading into the high digits.

And during these “dog days” I also don’t feel much like standing over a hot pan or even going outside to throw something on the grill.

So what to have for dinner when it’s sizzling outside, that is the question. And I’m not talking about opening a bag of lettuce, but a “real” dinner.

First, even though I love spicy foods, they are best saved for cooler days. If you’ve ever had some hot dish on a real hot day, you know it makes you feel even warmer. Well that’s not just you. Studies have proven that capsaicin, the “hot” part of hot peppers, can actually cause a rise in body temperature.

So save the spice for when it gets a bit cooler, and try some of my favorite ideas for hot weather fare:

• Have some canned wild salmon salad (see recipe below).
• Most supermarket fish departments will steam shellfish for you so it’s ready to eat. Throw some rice in a rice cooker and you can have a restaurant-style dinner without heating up the kitchen.
• You can also use a rice cooker to make some quinoa and combine with your favorite veggies. I like it mixed with corn, tomatoes, pea pods, parsley and basil. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and lime juice and top with canned wild salmon. Or, just have as a delicious, chilled salad without the fish.
• Leftover cold pasta, such as rigatoni, made into a cold salad with veggies and tossed with olive oil and spices, is also a tasty summertime treat.
• Don’t forget the nuts! I add pecans or walnuts to most all cold fish and salad dishes.

Now back to that canned salmon. If you love salmon, but not the canned variety, that could be because you used pink or coho. So next time go for the sockeye variety – it costs a bit more, but I have a feeling you’ll really love it.

You can try my favorite salmon salad recipe below with either pink or red (sockeye), but the red will make it a more elegant dish.

1 or 2 ripe avocados (depending on how much you love avocados!)
1 large can wild salmon
½ cup chopped celery
Lemon juice – around 1 or 2 tablespoons
Ground pepper to taste
Mayo to taste
Drain, debone and chunk salmon and toss with everything but the avocados and pepper.
Top salad with cubed or sliced avocados and sprinkle with ground pepper.

Avocado tip: Cut your avocado in half, working around the pit, then just take it in your hand and wiggle it till you get two halves. One will still have the pit in it. Take a knife and chop down on the pit so the blades are in it, then you can maneuver the pit out. Take a tablespoon and use it to scoop out the avocado. Sometimes I can do this perfectly, and have an intact, beautiful avocado half, and sometimes it breaks up a bit. Either way will work out fine for slicing or cubing.

And stay cool!

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