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Some Assembly Required: No-Sweat Summer Meals

Tips and recipes to help you keep your cooking cool

10 Tips for No-Sweat Summer Meals continued...

5. Preboil or grill a few ingredients in the morning or the night before, and they'll be chilled and ready to assemble into a cool dinner dish when you get home from work. For example, boil pasta in the morning, let it chill all day in the fridge, and a pasta salad can be yours in just a few more minutes. Toss in some light bottled salad dressing or a couple tablespoons of olive oil and whatever other ingredients you desire (chopped tomato, lightly cooked vegetables, cubed reduced-fat cheese, sliced lite salami, drained olives, etc.) Use whole-grain pasta or a whole-wheat pasta blend, and you'll get more fiber and phytochemicals, too.

6. Dash to the supermarket deli for a whole rotisserie chicken or some sliced roasted turkey. Suddenly, you have your featured ingredient for salads and sandwiches (either meat) or quesadillas and enchiladas (the chicken). The turkey is ready to go, and it only takes five minutes to remove the chicken's skin and shred or cube the breast and thigh meat.

7. It's a wrap! Start with a soft tortilla (choose higher-fiber, no-trans fat tortillas when possible) and lightly coat the top with light cream cheese, Dijon mustard, sun-dried tomato pesto or green pesto, or light mayonnaise. Layer on lean sandwich meats, vegetables, and sliced or shredded reduced-fat cheese, roll, and you've got dinner wrapped up.

8. Make quesadillas for dinner, and you'll only need your stove for a few minutes. Experiment with filling ingredients and garnishes. Try some of these options:

  • Roasted chicken
  • Cooked shrimp
  • Mango or roasted garlic salsa
  • Reduced-fat cheese
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Beans (try fat-free refried beans)
  • Avocado strips
  • Jalapeno jelly

9. Microwave nachos make a fun and light dinner, if you use reduced-fat or low-fat tortilla chips and top them with beans, extra-lean meats, reduced-fat cheese, and chopped tomatoes and other assorted vegetables. Prepare your plate of nachos, then microwave on high for a couple of minutes. Dab a dollop of salsa or fat-free sour cream on top.

10. Toast up a mini pizza. Spread bottled pizza or marinara sauce on pita bread, flatbread, tortilla, or a bagel cut in half (the more fiber your "crust" contains, the better). Top with shredded, reduced-fat cheese and any vegetable or lower-fat meat. Pop into the toaster oven, and cook at 400 degrees until the cheese melts.

'Some Assembly Required' Recipes

Insalata Caprese (Pasta Salad)

Journal as: 3/4 cup starch with 1 teaspoon fat + 1/2 cup vegetable without added fat + 2 ounces low-fat cheese

If you boil the pasta in the morning, drain, and let chill in the refrigerator, all you have to do is toss the ingredients together and dinner is served!

4 cups cooked whole-grain pasta blend, cooled
2 cups ripe cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
16 slices reduced-fat salami, quartered (optional)

  • Place all the ingredients in a medium serving bowl and toss to blend well.
  • Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

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