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No Sweat Summer Meals!

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No Sweat Summer Meals!

With summer temperatures climbing, and no intention of coming down, firing up the stove for family meals is probably not on the evening agenda.

Microwave meals, while a great convenience, can often be high in sodium and low in seasonal benefits available in items like fresh, local fish and produce. And while outdoor grilling provides an option when time permits, long work days and otherwise hectic schedules can sometimes make burgers, pizza, fried chicken and other fatty fast food fixes an easy cure for the hungry and harried. But with bicycling, swimming, hiking, running and other outdoor activities beckoning during the long days of summer, who wants to forfeit fresh ingredients, nutrients, and vitamins to be weighed down by last night’s super-sized serving of onion rings?

For fast, healthful, creative “no cook/no sweat” family suppers, it’s always fun to mix ‘n match for a picnic-style feast. For starters, think cold vegetable or fruit soups like gazpacho, cucumber, cantaloupe, or watermelon. Many are available premade from the local market, or make your own with fresh, local ingredients from the garden or farmers’ market.

Marinated shrimp, smoked salmon or trout spread, crisp salads made with baby spinach or lettuce, sprouts, and a bevy of beans, tofu and/or rotisserie chicken straight from the market, prosciutto-wrapped melon, fresh hummus, salsa (traditional or mango), guacamole, whole wheat crackers or pita triangles, and crudités offer vitamins and antioxidants in a tasty variety of forms. Mixing vegetables and fruit, such as arugula and strawberries, in a balsamic vinaigrette can pique the palette and provide an unexpected change and vacation from traditional all-green salad fare.

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For dessert, turn down the heat and pump up the volume with fresh fruit and frozen low-fat yogurt shakes, or pair chilled, sliced summer fruits with nuts and assorted cheeses like Stilton and Fontina.

These creative recipes and super fresh ingredients will tempt your family and help fire up your body, not your oven.

Easy, Spicy Hummus
4 garlic cloves
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas
8 dashes hot sauce

Turn on the food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop the garlic down the feed tube; process until minced. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature with pita bread or crudités.

Cucumber Soup
3 medium cucumbers
1 can celery soup concentrate
1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
1 teaspoon curry powder

Peel cucumbers and remove the seeds. Cut into 1/2” cubes and blend in a blender or food processor. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

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