Cool Coooking Tips – Boot Camp Tip of the week

blog

Aug 15

Keeping it Cool Cooking Tips:  Eat Healthy and Stay Cool with These Ways to Cook During Hot Summer Days
By – Get You In Shape Personal Trainer Julie McCAN

Over these past weeks, I haven’t had a lot of motivation to think about, let alone plan for my menus.  The last thing I want to do is turn on the oven at the end of the day and put more heat in the house to cook dinner.  The alternatives have been; make a salad, order dinner out, or send my poor husband out into the heat to slave over an even hotter grill (he is the griller, not me). My family has quickly become bored with the first two alternatives and as for the third option, I just can’t justify grilling in the heat more than once a week.

[Maybe you have had these same dilemmas?  If so, maybe some of these ideas will help you plan better menus during these hots days too.]

So last weekend, I sat down and did a little research and came up with some ideas for creating a menu for the week.  The goal was to minimize or eliminate the use of the oven as well as ordering or eating out, which gets expensive and typically adds more calories.  Here are the ideas I came up with — some of them I just haven’t thought about doing as an alternative to cooking in the oven.

BUY PRE-MADE/PRE-COOKED ITEMS: I am not suggesting you purchase prepared foods that contain a lot of preservatives which typically leads to higher sodium content than needed.  However, many grocery stores and even places like Costco and Sam’s prepare on a daily basis FRESH and ready to eat items that do not need an oven!  Try these for example:

  • Rotisserie Chicken – Serve whole with salad and/or sauteed veggies.  Add some brown rice cooked in the microwave or stove top for a great whole grain.  Or, cut up the chicken and put on the salad or toss with some whole wheat pasta and a small amount a marinara sauce.
  • Sushi – Most grocery stores now have a sushi area that prepares it fresh daily and many will do it to order.
  • Cooked and Seasoned poultry, seafood and meats – These same grocery stores also have cooked and prepared meats such as herb crusted chicken, parmesan crusted tilapia, and crab cakes.  All you do is take them home and heat them in a pan or in the microwave.
  • Vegetables – There are many vegetables that don’t need preparation to eat, but buy some seasoned green beans or asparagus to go with any of your items above, making it that much easier to bring home and quickly reheat an entire healthy meal.

USE YOUR STOVE TOP AND MICROWAVE: There are far too many ways to boil, steam, saute, and grill on your stove to list here so here are a few that I discovered to be pretty easy.

  • Make panini sandwiches – You don’t need a fancy panini maker to make these sandwiches.  Choose 2 slices of a healthy whole grain bread, lightly spray one side of each slice with an Olive Oil spray, put your own fresh ingredients between two pieces, place one side of the sandwich in a pan at medium to high heat, then place another pan on top of the bread to weigh it down to give it the “panini effect.”  You can add a coffee mug or heat resistant bowl inside the pan to give it extra weight if needed.  Cook on each side until to done to your likeness.
  • Boil or microwave individual portions of Edamane — It’s a quick and easy snack or side dish.
  • Pan sear fish seasoned the way you like it – Most white, flaky fish, such as Tilapia, only takes about 3 to 5 minutes on each side to cook and comes out very tasty.
  • Use Steamer Bags – These are inexpensive bags that are so easy to cook with and are designed for microwave cooking with no mess.  The directions are right on the bag and the boxes come with recipe ideas and a website for additional recipes.
  • Saute or stir fry – You can saute just about any vegetable with a little olive oil and seasoning fairly quick and easy using any pan.  Add some cubed meat or seafood (like shrimp or scallops) toward the end of the cook time, then when the meat is about done, add a little broth until it becomes bubbly.  To thicken, mix corn starch with some warm water, add it to the broth and stir until it bubbles.  Viola!   You have yourself a stir fry!  (You may want to add some seasoning like onion, garlic and/or ginger as well at the same time you add the meat.)

CROCK POTS/SLOW COOKERS: These are the easiest to use appliance you may own.  If you got one that you have never or seldom used, now is the time to dig it out and dust it off.  I love using my crock pot but I typically think of soups and stews so I tend to use it more in the winter time.  However, I found that there are many cookbooks and websites devoted to great crock pot recipes for entrees, side dishes and desserts!  Here is one website that I found had such an abundance of recipes that you are bound to find a few that your family will like. http://southernfood.about.com/library/crock/blcpidx.htm.

OTHER NEGLECTED SMALL APPLIANCES: I am sure you can dig out at least one or two small appliance that get relegated to the “only use on special occasion” corner or the “I used it a lot when I first got it” part of your pantry.  If you have anything that falls in this category, pull it out and discover a new way to use it.

Share these ideas with us and any other “Keep it Cool” healthy cooking ideas you may have by commenting to this blog.  Maybe you even have a recipe you can share with us.  Whether or not you do, I hope you try one of the ideas I have listed to help keep yourself and your house cooler!