Cool foods for hot weather

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – When the hot days of summer kick in, the last thing we want is to heat up the kitchen at mealtime.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ideas out there to keep us satisfied and cool.
Like salads.
“At my house, we do chef salads in the summer,” said Nancy Anderson, a clinical dietitian for the North Mississippi Medical Center. “You don’t even have to turn on the stove for those.”
Anderson starts with a mix of greens – cabbage, lettuce, spring mix – and tops them with chopped herbs, like cilantro and basil. Then she adds celery, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes – even squash. She might even sprinkle on a little shredded cheese, like Pepper Jack, or crumble some feta on top.
“And then for protein, I buy those frozen bags of grilled chicken strips,” Anderson said. “You just put them in the microwave for four minutes. They’re really good on a salad and you don’t have to turn on the oven or the grill.”
You can also use chopped deli meat, she said, but that’s a bit higher in sodium.
“Remember, though, you only need a couple of ounces of protein,” Anderson said.
A boiled egg would also do nicely sliced on top. And if you wanted to go meatless, you could substitute chickpeas or kidney beans.
If salads aren’t your bag, you could try wraps – another crowd-pleaser in the summer.
Start with a flour or corn tortilla, sprinkle it with a little cheese and add a few grilled chicken strips. Top those with shredded cabbage, lettuce, green onions and black olives, and wrap it up.
“Serve that with some salsa and you’ve got yourself a meal,” she said. “You could even open a can of black beans and heat them in the microwave as a side dish. I use the microwave a lot in the summer.”
Anderson noted that it’s natural for us to want to eat cooler, lighter foods in the hot weather months.
“We adjust according to our environment,” she said. “In the summer, we tend to spend more time outdoors. A farmer, a lifeguard, a construction worker – they’re not going to want to come in from the heat and have a bowl of chili.”
Don’t forget the fruit
Keeping hydrated is an important part of staying cool during the summer. And guess what’s full of water and tasty, too?
Fresh fruit.
“Watermelon is a great source of water,” Anderson said. “The key, though, is to keep it cut up and ready to eat. Put it in a clear bowl so when you open the refrigerator, you see it. Any fruit is like that – honeydew, cantaloupe. When you buy it, go ahead and wash it and cut it up and put it in the fridge. You’re more likely to eat it that way.”
Anderson said at her home, she’ll cut oranges and apples into slices and put them on a pretty plate and sprinkle them with blueberries or craisins.
“I put that on the breakfast table, and boy, they’ll eat those up,” she said. “Sometimes, I’ll add a kiwi just to make it look different. If it’s pleasing to the eye, it’s more appetizing.”
Contact Ginna Parsons at (662) 678-1581 or

No-Cook Lemony Shrimp Salad with Couscous
1 cup couscous
1 cup very hot tap water
Kosher salt and black pepper
11⁄2 pounds medium shrimp,
cooked, peeled and deveined
1⁄2 pound snap peas, trimmed and
cut into bite-sized pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3⁄4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Place couscous in a large bowl.
Add hot water and 1⁄4 teaspoon
each salt and pepper. Cover and
let sit for 5 minutes; fluff with a
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl,
combine shrimp, snap peas, tomatoes,
basil, scallions, oil, lemon
zest, lemon juice, 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper and toss
to combine. Serve over couscous.
Serves 4.
Source: Real Simple magazine

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