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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Cool Ideas for a Hot Summer

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy . . . and it’s TOO HOT to cook, so this month I thought I’d serve up some ideas on how to keep cool in the kitchen until the temperatures once again dip below 100 degrees. Breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner and dessert can be cool, refreshing, healthy and–best of all–you don’t have to turn on the oven!
 
Let’s begin with breakfast, which many people say is the most important meal of the day. Put one cup of orange juice, half of a banana, 1/2 of a pear, half of an apple, and ½-cup of ice in a blender; blend until smooth; serve. This smoothie is delicious and good for you, and best of all it’s easy to double the recipe. For another cool breakfast, mix one six- or eight- oz. container of low-fat vanilla yogurt with ½-cup frozen fruit (your choice) then mix in ¾-cup of unsweetened cereal such as Special K, rice krispies, corn flakes or bran flakes; the fruit keeps the yogurt cold and the cereal doesn’t get as soggy as when you use milk and you still get the nutrition you need in the morning.
 
It’s easy to keep cool at lunch and this is my favorite: Go to your backyard garden and harvest two or three tomatoes. (No garden in your backyard? No problem. Go to the Downtown Phoenix Farmer’s Market every Saturday from 8 a.m. until Noon at the corner of Central Avenue and McKinley Street to get fabulous tomatoes and other seasonal produce from local growers.) Smear mayonnaise over four thick slices of crusty French bread and cover two slices of bread with slices of tomato, top with the other pieces of bread, and savor each bite of the most delicious sandwich ever. Any variation of this basic sandwich is bound to be wonderful.
 
Looking for a cool afternoon snack? Make a delicious batch of hummus (recipe below) and dive in with fresh vegetables or pita chips.
 
Thinking about something cool for dinner? Think about gazpacho . . . tomatoes, green chiles, onions, cucumbers, fresh cilantro, fresh oregano . . . what’s not to love? This bowl full of fresh, healthy, and cool ingredients will satisfy the heartiest of appetites. Serve with crusty French bread or tortilla chips – it’s like having salsa for dinner.
 
Dessert can be as easy as well. We used to call them “Black Cows,” some call them “Root Beer Floats,” but the bottom line is root beer and ice cream. It makes no difference if it’s diet root beer and low fat ice cream or regular root beer and regular ice cream – it’s a flavor that can’t be beat. Put a scoop of ice cream in a tall glass, pour the root beer over the ice cream, add a straw and there you go! A cool, sweet, creamy, and delicious end to a hot summer night.
 
Recipes:
Hummus
Homemade mayonnaise
Gazpacho
 

Hummus

Hummus is a creamy puree of chickpeas seasoned with lemon juice and garlic, and is a popular spread and dip in Greece and throughout the Middle East. Hummus can be served with bread or vegetable crudités for dipping.
4 cloves garlic—roughly chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
14 oz (400g) canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
 
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth, scraping the sides occasionally.
 
For spicier hummus, add a small chopped red chili or a pinch of cayenne pepper, or try a little cumin for another variation.
 

Homemade Mayo

1 whole egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1.5 cups olive oil
With the metal blade in place in the food processor, add the egg, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Process until blended. Continue processing and slowly pour oil through the feed tube. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
 

Gazpacho

Refreshing & cold on hot summer days, this classic Spanish soup combines the best of summer vegetables. Use only the freshest ingredients for this soup.
 
6 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce to taste
2 cups tomato juice
 

Combine all ingredients. Blend slightly, then place in a non-reactive storage container, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight, allowing flavors to blend.

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