July and summer heat are upon us, and staying cool is sometimes a struggle. Here's a blog post that has ideas for how to use food and drinks to keep yourself cool on hot summer days, plus some recipes that might be fun and useful. Please keep in mind that my approach is from an intuitive and mindful eating perspective, and no food is bad or forbidden.
Anything you can eat straight from the refrigerator or freezer will be refreshing! These can also make great picnic foods as long as they are kept chilled.
Tuna - Make tuna salad and add diced carrots, zucchini, cheddar cheese, or whatever else you like. Enjoy it on pita, with crackers, or on its own.
Hummus - Recipe: ~15 oz can chickpeas/garbonzos, drained + 2 tsp minced garlic + 3 Tbsp lemon juice + 1/2 cup olive oil + 1/2 tsp salt. Mix in blender or food processor until smooth. Chill in the fridge (overnight for best flavor!) and enjoy with pita, pita chips, pretzels, carrot sticks, sliced bell peppers, or whatever else you choose.
Cold grilled chicken on salads - Leftover chicken, sliced or diced on top of a salad of your choice. Make ahead for a quick grab lunch or dinner.
Cold black bean salsa with chips - Mix black beans and salsa.
Pasta salad with diced ham - Cooked pasta mixed with a dressing, chopped veggies, and diced meat or eggs.
Frozen fruit - Rinse and prepare grapes, berries, melon pieces, or chopped fruit of your choice. Place in plastic freezer bags and store in freezer. Can be a great snack for outdoor activities.
Frozen yogurt or ice cream - Ice cream is definitely a summer crowd pleaser! For a special treat, grill some fruit and enjoy it with your frozen dessert.
Homemade popsicles - Using a plastic popsicle maker, pour in fruit juice or lemonade and freeze. For fun, add small berries or mini chocolate chips.
Yogurt parfaits - Recipe: Vanilla Greek yogurt (or plain yogurt of your choice) + berries or diced fruit of your choice + granola. Use a glass jar or a pint glass and start by putting granola in the bottom. Then layer yogurt, then fruit. Add sets of layers of granola, yogurt, and fruit until you have filled the jar or glass to your liking. Keep in fridge or keep chilled in a cooler for a picnic snack. For kids, you may want to use a plastic container.
Homemade slushies - Fill a cup with crushed ice. Slowly add a chilled drink of your choice to flavor the ice - fruit juice, lemonade, your favorite fruit drink. Crushed ice can also be a strategy to enjoy mixed drinks in summer heat, for those over 21 years old.
Milkshakes - Blend ice cream with milk and enjoy!
Smoothies - Blend yogurt or milk, or just ice cubes, with fruit. Add in peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, chocolate syrup, or anything else you like. Explore the possibilities!
Flavored ice water - Add pieces of fruit to a pitcher of water or mix juices with ice water to add flavor. Use orange slices, lemon slices, lime slices, berries, or whatever you want to try!
Sweet tea - I am located in Georgia after all! Just plain sweet tea or lemonade can be extremely refreshing on a hot day. Add extra ice for more chill or even make popsicles (see above). If you like to drink tea a lot, try decaf or a naturally decaffeinated tea like red tea.
Iced coffee - Make your favorite coffee at home, then pour over a cup full of ice. You can even add whipped cream to the top like a coffee shop drink!
Be creative and add your own twist to any of these ideas! Please keep everything chilled for food safety and enjoy your summer days! Eat well, stay cool, and prosper!