Make Your Summer Easier with a Heat-Free Cooking Meal Plan

Food & Entertainment

If you don’t want to spend the summer in the kitchen but you still want to eat healthy, then I have the perfect recipes for you. With longer days to soak up, I know I don’t want to be stuck inside longer than I have to be. But I don’t want to compromise healthy eating either. So I’ve decided to ditch the pots and pans and opt for fresh, no-hassle dishes. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner — I’ve been enjoying delicious and satisfying meals without turning on the stove.

No heat required cooking is especially healthy too since it usually involves lots of whole, nutrient dense ingredients that will keep you feeling satisfied but not stuffed—exactly what we crave in those warmer summer months.

First things first, before I even have my coffee, I head for the fridge and fill up a glass of cold water. This helps to literally wake up your body by hydrating it first thing in the morning. I actually get more of a lift from sipping on water first thing in the morning, over coffee. This makes perfect sense since coffee dehydrates our bodies, which isn’t ideal upon waking after a long, liquid-free night. And just a simple, small glass of water makes that first cup of coffee taste so much better.

When I’m ready for breakfast, I prefer something sweet. This make-ahead raw banana bread is absolutely delicious. It’s not only full of satisfying natural ingredients, it actually tastes like banana bread cookie dough, if such a thing existed. And who wouldn’t want to wake up to that? To whip it up for yourself, all you need is about 10 minutes of prep time on a Sunday and three simple ingredients: cashews, dates and ripe bananas.

Breakfast: Raw Banana Bread (makes 6-8 servings)

    • Start by pulsing 2 cups of raw cashews in a food processor then add 1 cup of pitted dates. Keep blending and pulsing until a dough-like consistency forms. These alone make great go-to bars (they’re actually the only two ingredients in the Cashew Cookie LARABAR).
    • Transfer this mixture into a medium-sized bowl and gently mix in two ripe bananas. The riper, the better!
    • Add a dash of cinnamon and 1t almond extract then transfer the mixture to a lined loaf pan, smooth it out with a spatula and freeze the mixture overnight.
    • Once frozen, cut the cake into 6-8 servings and enjoy this morning delight all week long.
  • I like to remove a piece from the freezer 10-15 minutes before I enjoy it, as it softens quickly at room temp.

Bananas are rich in potassium and a good source of fiber, making them an ideal food to start the day, especially to fuel you up for lots of walking throughout the city or a workout later in the day. Raw cashews are a sugar-free source of healthy fats. Paired with the dates, which are basically nature’s candy and an excellent source of energy, the cashew and date base give this recipe its cake-like flavor.

Lunch: Salad-In-A-Jar

The mason jar is your canvas when it comes to preparing a healthy meal when you’re short on time. All you need to do is prep a batch of fresh veggies at the beginning of a week and layer them up in one of these to-go wonders. I regularly make 2 or 3 salads in jars at a time so I have a healthy lunch to take to the office when I head out the door in the morning. Below are some layering inspirations to get you excited about creating something fresh for the day ahead too:

Base: fresh greens like spinach, arugula or baby kale.

Veggies: diced cucumbers, red peppers, tomatoes, carrots or pre-cooked chilled beets from the store, like Trader Joe’s.

Dressing: hummus and fresh lemon juice, raw almond butter and fresh lime juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Toppings: chickpeas, hemp seeds, pistachios, sundried tomatoes, diced avocado, fresh berries (blueberries and blackberries are my favorites).

These lists go on and on—because I believe salads should be anything but boring. I mix up my layers all the time and find that simple swaps like using hummus and fresh lemon juice for “dressing” can make a salad feel more indulgent.

Dinner: Zucchini Pasta with Lemon Avocado Pesto (Serves 2)

After eating light during the day, I crave something more comforting for dinner. To start, spiralize or shred (large side of a cheese grater) 2-4 medium-sized zucchinis then mix your avocado pesto in a separate bowl using 1 avocado, the juice of a lemon, 2t olive oil, 1T nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the zucchini in the pesto and add fresh tomatoes and 2T hemp seeds. Zucchinis are low in calories and are a great source of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Avocado and hemp seeds are good sources of healthy fats and are good for hair and skin too. And finally, nutritional yeast is a delicious, vegan-friendly ingredient that adds a “cheese-like” flavor to this recipe. It’s amazing sprinkled on salads and popcorn, too! Sliced mango and fresh berries make a great sweet side to this light summer dish.

I hope these simple recipes are the fresh takes you need to embrace your more casual pursuit of healthy eating this summer!

Image sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

BY Brooke Domaas - August 4, 2017

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Ooh, a heat free cooking day sounds perfect. I never thought of a heat free zucchini pasta. My dad would love it – he’s a huge fan of cold noodles!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

August 4, 2017 7:06 pm

This is so perfect! Right now the PNW is around 107°F (which is the hottest it has been in a long long long time)! A heat-free day sounds so awesome!

Cat //

August 15, 2017 11:48 am

The photos in this post are incorrectly credited. They are from Pinch of Yum,
Please give credit where it is due.

October 24, 2018 1:41 am

I love these foods.

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