Keep Cool this Summer: Cook Outside

By |2018-07-13T14:13:36+00:00July 13th, 2018|

My favorite way to beat the summer heat? Move the cooking outdoors! A hot oven can make your kitchen feel more like a sauna and work an AC to the max. Instead, keep it cool inside and put that grill to good use. Check out these delicious ways to prepare food over the flames.

Pizza

Enjoy this Friday favorite without delivery fees, and make it yourself! Keep it simple by using a pre-made whole wheat pizza dough or crust, and gather your favorite toppings (we love using grilled veggies!). Brush a light coating of olive oil on both the grates and the crust, and heat over a medium flame until lightly charred. Turn down the heat to low, flip the crust, and add your toppings. Then, cover the grill for 2-5 minutes, until the cheese and melty and toppings are warm and toasty.

Salmon

Ever use a cedar plank to make salmon? If not, you’re missing out! They can be purchased at most grocery or hardware stores, and look like a simple piece of plywood. But, they yield an incredibly moist and flavorful piece of fish. Using one on the grill is easy. First, soak the wood in your choice of liquid (water, wine, vinegar, etc. each lend a unique flavor). Then, lay the planks directly atop a medium-heat grill, and preheat for about five minutes. Lastly, place seasoned fish fillets skin-side down atop the plank, and cover until cooked through (about 15-30 minutes depending on the size of the fillet). 

Skewers

Just about anything can be cooked on a grill using skewers! Think: meatballs, tofu, shrimp, vegetables, even fruit. Keep the following helpful tips in mind next time skewers are on the menu. If using bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them in liquid first to avoid burning. When mixing different foods on a single skewer, choose items with similar cooking times (for example, a potato takes much longer to cook than a piece of chicken, so they would not be good skewer buddies). Prepare your grill by choosing the appropriate heat level, and oil the grates well to prevent sticking. Finally, leave some space between skewers to allow for air circulation, and don’t move them around much except to rotate.

Clams

Of all the ways to prepare these high protein treats, a grill might be the easiest. Scrub the clams clean, and place them directly on a medium-hot grill. Cover, then carefully remove clams as the pop open (roughly 5-7 minutes). Add a bit of seasoned butter and lemon if desired, and enjoy!

Quesadillas

You read that right, making quesadillas on the grill is simple, with no pan-scrubbing required! While preheating the grill to medium high heat, grab your tortillas, cheese, and fillings of your choice. Coat the grates with a light layer of cooking oil to prevent sticking, and assemble quesadillas directly on the grill. Cover, and cook for 6-8 minutes, flipping once. Want to speed things up? Grill your quesadilla in a foil pouch, and cut the cook time in half. Just watch for steam when you open it!

My last tip for avoiding summer heat in the kitchen: eat your food al fresco when possible! Taking a moment to be mindful, and enjoy your surroundings can go a long way to enhance satisfaction from a meal. Embrace those summer vibes!

About the Author:

Lauren is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based out of the NYC metro area. Her passion for improving lives through good nutrition was born early on, when she experienced first hand the positive impact of healthy eating. After completing formal training, Lauren went on to earn a certificate of training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In addition to writing, Lauren also provides individual nutrition counseling and teaches nutrition classes through the VHPGO portal. When she isn’t busy encouraging healthy habits in her VHP clients, she focuses on her toughest clients: her spouse & three daughters.