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The Summer Chef

It’s hot. Shoot, it’s hot. It’s so hot that… well, I guess we probably don’t need to go there; you get the idea. Who wants to stand over a hot, steaming pot on a stove, or heat up an oven, or do anything at all in the kitchen except maybe stand in front of the open refrigerator? Not me. Even though we are blessed with air conditioning, we keep it pretty—what’s the word I’m looking for?— frugal, in the house. (In other words, in an effort to save on the utility bill, it’s pretty toasty even in the air conditioned house.) I look forward to driving the car so I can cool off.

But, I digress. We were talking about cooking, or not cooking, or not cooking while you’re cooking in the summer heat.

You know what? It’s summer. The kids are off school, routines are more relaxed, there are more social opportunities, and sunshine makes everyone happy. So be happy. If not cooking makes you happy, then don’t cook.

But you still gotta eat, and if you’re anything like me, you’d rather cook (and suffer) than sabotage everything you worked all spring for by going out to eat all the time, or subsisting on convenience meals alone. Because we already know those don’t align with our goals. Dangit.

So, what’s the compromise? How do you cook without making it even hotter in your house, and how do you eat healthy without cooking? Check out my tricks of the trade with some of our best healthy summer recipes:

Healthy Summer Recipes and Ideas

1. Grilling

Summer is perfect for grilling not only because of the quintessential grilling weather but because if you’re cooking outside, then you’re not heating up your kitchen. Check out my favorite healthy summer recipes for the grill here:

👉 Marinated Flank Steak, Roasted Purple Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus – You could do this entire meal on the grill (including the potatoes)!

👉 Grilled Balsamic Veggies – THIS RECIPE has a full meal with chicken as well, but I LOVE the balsamic veggies in this recipe.  You could make it a vegetarian/vegan meal or pair it with any grilled meat you like.

👉 Grilled Chicken Breasts topped with Salsa – This simple idea is perfect for summer grilling, and the salad in that recipe is a great pairing as well.

👉 Kebabs – The possibilities are endless here.  Just alternate various colored veggies and fruits.  Meat can be a main component, a small component or non-existent.  Here is an example with Surf-n-Turf kebabs.

👉 Burgers – Of course, no grilling list would be complete without burgers, right?  Here’s a simple, full-meal recipe, but again the possibilities are endless here.  Here’s a whole section of burger recipes.

Marinated Flank Steak
grilled marinated vegetables
Cheeseburgers and Rutabaga Fries

2. Slow Cooker

Ok, so I know this one is a lot less obvious. Slow cookers are definitely more often associated with winter. All those soups and chilis! But there are so many things you can cook in a slow cooker besides soups and chilis, and, again, you don’t have to heat up your entire kitchen to do it. You can read more about that in our summer slow cooker guide. Here are my top 5 healthy summer recipes for the slow cooker:

👉 Roast Beef Sandwiches – Sandwiches are a great slow cooker meal for the summer!

👉 Baked Spaghetti – Who even knew you could make this in the slow cooker?

👉 Peachy BBQ Sandwiches – Another great sandwich recipe for summer.  This has summer BBQ written all over it.

👉 Creamy Salsa Chicken – Super versatile.  You can serve this one several different ways.

👉 Nachos – If you make your own chips (highly recommended), you do have to heat up your oven for this one, but it doesn’t take long at all.

Slow Cooker Baked Spaghetti
Slow Cooker Peachy BBQ Sandwiches
Simple Roast Beef Sandwiches

3. Instant Pot

Here’s another handy little device that will do the cooking for you without heating up your whole kitchen. And, it will do it faster. Here are 5 healthy summer recipes for the instant pot:

👉 Salmon-Kale Caesar Pasta Salad – Yum!  What a combo.

👉 Greek Spaghetti – Awesome take on spaghetti with the flavors of Greece.

👉 Jackfruit Rice Bowls – If you haven’t tried jackfruit yet, you should.

👉 Pulled Pork Adobo Tacos – Spicy tacos!

👉 Chicken Teriyaki – A true classic made for the Instant Pot.

pulled pork adobo tacos
Healthy Salmon-Kale Caesar Pasta Salad
Healthy Greek Spaghetti

4. Cold Meals

There is no rule that says that dinner has to be served hot. We love cold dinners for picnics (especially “floating picnics” when we take the boat out!) and any time we don’t feel like warming our bellies.  Here are some healthy summer recipes that aren’t served hot (or at least not mostly hot):

👉 Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad – Oh, you have to try this one.  It requires the grill but it’s so refreshing for summer.

👉 Steak Cobb Salad – Another great salad for summer with hearty steak and eggs.

👉 BLT Lettuce Wraps – So simple but so satisfying.

👉 Grilled Chicken Strawberry Poppyseed Salad – These colors!

👉 Rainbow Veggie Pad Thai – This should be a fun change up on your summer menu.

healthy cobb salad
Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad
blt lettuce wraps

5. Bonfire Meals

If you’re lucky enough to have a fire pit or to be able to go camping in the summer, you’ll love being able to sit around a bonfire with friends and family. While you’re there, go ahead and cook yourselves some dinner.  Here are some healthy summer recipes for the bonfire:

👉 Classic Bonfire Dogs – No recipe for this one…just get uncured, all natural dogs (with no sugar added) and use 100% whole wheat buns and you’re golden.

👉 Pesto Salmon Packets – Some people call these “hobo dinners”…we just call them amazing!

👉 Carne Paquete – Another amazing bonfire meal.

👉 BBQ Chicken Foil Packets – Yep.  Amazing.

Anything to add?

What’s your favorite summer meal?  Post it in the comments.

healthy summer recipes

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