It’s summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, and it’s hot. So hot in fact that it’s basically impossible for me to turn on my oven or stove without melting to death.
I’m a Nova Scotian gal, which means I’m not accustomed to heat above 30 degrees Celcius (86 Fahrenheit for my American friends). I had a harsh reality check during the first summer I spent in Toronto, and an even harsher one now that I’m in Baltimore for the summer. It’s not uncommon for temperatures to reach 45 degrees Celcius (113 F) with the humidex value, and it was creeping even higher last week. I’m not complaining though (well, maybe a little) because I know it’ll be fall before we know it!
I know that my neck of the woods isn’t the only place that’s been experiencing extreme heat this summer, so I thought I’d share some of the top tips that are keeping me (and my apartment) cool this summer!
1. Make use of the kettle
The kettle’s not just for tea and coffee anymore! I’ve thought up so many new and creative ways to use my kettle this summer. Honestly, I don’t know how I would get through the heat without my kettle. Dramatic? Maybe a bit.
My favourite ways are:
- Pour boiled water in a bowl and add in rice noodles or buckwheat noodles to cook
- Pour boiled water over frozen edamame, broccoli, or other veggies to cook
- Use hot water to soften rice paper wraps for easy veggie spring rolls! Serve them with a delicious sauce, like my peanut lime sauce.
Of course, you can use the stovetop to boil water, but that’s using a rather large heat source that may increase the temperature in your kitchen, especially if your kitchen is as compact as mine! A kettle localizes the heat to a smaller area and uses less of it, keeping your space cooler and helping you to beat the summer heat.
2. Rely on noodle bowls, salads, smoothies, and hummus
In the summer months, I also rely even more heavily on sandwiches and wraps. I have tons of sandwich ideas on my Instagram page, like my loaded veggie sandwich or my chickpea ‘tuna’ sandwich.
3. Use the BBQ
If you’re lucky enough to have a barbecue, use it! Barbecuing is one of the most summer-friendly ways to cook since it keeps the heat source outside. The BBQ isn’t just for meat-eaters, either- I love to throw on veggies like peppers, red onion, corn, sliced sweet potato, and zucchini onto the BBQ, alongside marinated tempeh, tofu, black bean burgers or store-bought veggie burgers! Glaze them with a delicious BBQ sauce and I’m in heaven. Which leads me to my next tip…
4. Sauces are your best friend
Is there any meal that’s not made better with a delicious sauce? I don’t think so. Sauces can dress up even the blandest meals. On particularly hot days, I’ll rely on chopped, fresh raw veggies, shelled edamame, paired with buckwheat noodles, rice noodles or precooked rice or quinoa, plus a delicious sauce like one of my easy vegan sauce recipes (get my FREE ebook here!) and call it a day! Easy and delicious.
5. Use canned legumes
It’s true that dried legumes can be less expensive than canned, but in the summer, I’m willing to pay that small premium to have my beans already cooked for me (in fact, I’m pretty much willing to pay this premium all year round). Many of my clients asked me whether there’s a nutritional difference between canned and dried legumes. Canned legumes may be higher in sodium, but most of this can be rinsed off under cool water after opening.
Cooked beans are an easy add-in to pretty much every meal. I love making chickpea mash, black bean burrito bowls, or lentil nourish bowls with canned legumes for easy summertime meals- just make sure you drain and rinse them really well before using to get rid of some of the excess sodium!
If you’re feeling brave enough, I love to simulate roasted chickpeas by pan ‘frying’ them instead! I’ll toss a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas with oregano, garlic powder, smoked paprika and a pinch of salt and cook them in a medium pan over medium heat for about 10-12 minutes. The result is a slightly less crunchy version of roasted chickpeas!
6. Get Snacking
Am I the only one who kind of hates making lunch? When I’m in the middle of a good workflow, or smack dab in the middle of a fun weekend day, the last thing I want to do is spend time in the kitchen. Cue snack plates. The ultimate lazy-person meal that’s actually quite delicious.
When making a snack plate, I try to stay (loosely) within the guidelines of ½ plate vegetables and fruit, ¼ of a plate whole grains, and ¼ of a plate plant-based protein. An easy go-to is cut up veggies with crackers and hummus. I also love apples and celery with peanut butter, a sprinkle of chia seeds, and some rice crackers on the side. Chia pudding and energy balls are a great way to get tons of omega-3s quickly and easily! If I have roasted chickpeas or pan-cooked tofu prepped, I’ll use that with a side of fruit, veggies or crackers!
7. Stay hydrated!
Okay, okay, I know this isn’t exactly a cooking tip to beat the summer heat, but what type of Registered Dietitian would I be if I didn’t sneak this one in there?! I recommend my clients (did you know I provide nutrition counseling for those across Canada?! Book a FREE discovery call!) to try to consume at least two liters (64 ounces) of water per day- maybe even more when it’s super hot, and even more if you’re exercising!
My best tip for staying hydrated is to carry a reusable water bottle around with you (I love hydroflasks!), and spice them up with fun add-ins like cut-up fruit or veggies.
There you have it, friends! My top 7 cooking tips for beating the summer heat. Did I leave anything out? What are your top tips? Let me know in the comments!
If you want to know more about my favourite quick and easy meals, check out my 3 Easy Vegan Breakfast Recipes, 3 Quick and Easy Vegan Snack Recipes, and my typical Grocery Haul, plus how I use each ingredient! You can also see my grocery list on my blog, here!
Want even more deets? Check out What I Eat in a Day as a Vegan Registered Dietitian (I have two episodes!).
If you want my super-secret easy vegan sauce recipes, check out my FREE ebook!