Cooking in the summer presents its own set of challenges, from heating food in sweltering temperatures to feeding kids who are home from school. The season also presents unique opportunities, such as fresh produce and the chance to grill outdoors.To provide interesting and healthy meals throughout the summer months, consider these four tips:
- Freeze drinks and snacks. Give drinks like fruit juice and iced tea a frosty twist by putting them in the freezer. You can even freeze mint juleps for a summer treat, create healthy fruit ice pops or make your own ice cream. If you're serving frozen yogurt, consider a blend of toppings like pineapple, mango and coconut.
- Plan ahead. You'll probably be preparing some portable meals for day trips and outings, so have a cooler or picnic basket pre-packed with utensils, napkins and nonperishable food (you can add perishables at the last minute). If you're cooking for kids, consider making on-the-go items out of fresh produce. Berry muffins or peach turnovers are both good options.
- Take advantage of local produce. Both kids and adults love summer staples like watermelon, corn and tomatoes. This brightly-colored food also tends to be healthy and incredibly simple to prepare. Consider flavoring traditional corn on the cob with jalapenos and a small amount of butter.
- Use the oven sparingly. Grilling outdoors is an obvious way to avoid a hot kitchen, but you can use other appliances while staying inside. Try using a slow-cooker, rice steamer or automatic bread machine. Don't discount the microwave, which can handle tasks as complicated as cooking a roast.