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Some Assembly Required: No-Sweat Summer Meals

Tips and recipes to help you keep your cooking cool
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10 Tips for No-Sweat Summer Meals continued...

3. The sandwich, the epitome of easy-assembly food, makes a great summer dinner entrée. Think beyond peanut butter and jelly and try some new sandwich ideas! Choose whole-grain breads and reduced-fat fillers and spreads whenever possible. Double up on the lettuce and tomato to boost the nutritional value and fiber.

4. Prewashed salads in a bag are great, especially when they go on sale. Just cut (the bag), dump (it in the bowl), and drizzle (the dressing). I like to spruce them up by tossing in canned beans (kidney, black, edamame, or garbanzo, rinsed and drained); more veggies; cubed or shredded reduced-fat cheese; and cooked, shredded lean beef or pork, skinless chicken breast filets, or shellfish; fruit; toasted nuts; and/or fresh herbs.

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.

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