Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cool Lunch Ideas for a Hot Summer Day

This is a guest post by Nancy Evans, a freelance writer with an interest in frugal, healthy cooking.

While a hot home cooked meal may be delicious to come home to after a busy day at work, hot summer days require something cooler for lunch. During the heat of the day, no one wants to spend time in a hot kitchen. Therefore, lunch recipes should be quick and simple with very little cooking over the stove or the oven required.

The following recipes each offer a delicious way to cool off while enjoying the fresh taste of summer’s best vegetables:

Pita Pockets
Pita bread offers an easy way to make a light summer sandwich for lunch. Pita pockets can be filled with a variety of different foods including deli meats, vegetables and cheeses. For a healthy option, fill a pocket with lean chicken or turkey and top it off with a light touch of dressing. Then fill the rest of the pocket with crisp lettuce, cool tomatoes and a sprinkle of
shredded cheese.

Lettuce Wrap
If bread seems too heavy for lunch, then lettuce can be used as a shell to fill with other delicious foods. Like pita pockets, a lettuce wrap can be adapted to fit whatever ingredients are on hand. Crispy chicken pieces can create a tasty contrast to the smooth and cool feel of lettuce. This can be topped with onions, green peppers or other crispy vegetables. Finally, wrap the lettuce up like a burrito and enjoy a healthy meal that can be enjoyed with one hand.

Tuna Salad
In order to make tuna salad, simply combine one or two cans of tuna with salad dressing or mayonnaise. Next, dice up a few onions, pickles, and eggs to mix in to the tuna. For an extra crunch in the tuna, apples or walnuts can also be added. Once the tuna salad has been prepared, then it can be eaten on crackers or made into a sandwich with a person’s favorite bread. Tuna fish recipes are ideal for summer as they can easily be created in advance for spontaneous gatherings with family and friends.

Cilantro Pasta Salad
Cilantro adds a flavorful kick to any dish that can transform a plain lunch into an exciting adventure. Simply add some fresh cilantro to some freshly cooked penne pasta for this dish. Then, add some chopped tomatoes, a sprinkle of parmesan and top with a vinaigrette dressing. This salad can be served as is or dressed up with a few slices of grilled chicken.

Enjoying a cool lunch on a hot summer day is a special treat. By keeping a few simple ingredients on hand such as fresh vegetables, a can of tuna and some fresh herbs and spices, a delicious lunch can be put together in minutes to serve as a refreshment to share with family and friends.

Hard boiled eggs or omelets with rice cakes, or rice cakes spread with peanut butter and honey have been my go-to quick meals lately. What do you do for a quick cheap meal in the summer?

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