Cool cookin’ in the kitchen

By Tanta Davis | Published Thursday, August 11, 2011

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With the current economy and the escalating summertime temperatures, no one wants to spend extra energy dollars cooling a hot kitchen. But what can you fix for dinner without using the oven? Plenty! Here are some suggestions to get you thinking.

Appliances such as a microwave, slow cooker, outdoor grill, toaster oven, stove top for quick items and electric skillet may be used instead of the oven to keep your kitchen cool. Remember that rice and pasta may be cooked in the microwave rather than heating a large pot of water on top of the stove.

To reduce oven time, it is wise to consider ingredients first. In the summer especially, we eat many fruits and vegetables raw or with minimal cooking. They are both refreshing and nutritious.

There are many choices for protein such as canned chicken, meat or fish that require no heating.

Canned beans may be drained and rinsed (add to a lettuce or pasta salad to stretch or substitute for other protein). Peanut butter is a great choice if allergies are not an issue.

Eggs can be cooked on top of the stove, in an egg cooker or even in the microwave. If they will be added to a salad, they would be chopped up anyway so just scramble and cook in the microwave.

Dairy products such as cottage cheese, yogurt and aged cheese are cool and quick. Cottage cheese and yogurt pair well with fruits or vegetables to make a quick meal. Just combine cheese.

It is also a good idea to consider your cooking method. Cook once; serve twice. Cook extra pasta, rice or potatoes – enjoy hot the first day and make the leftover into a salad.

Roast or grill extra meat or chicken one night; enjoy the leftovers in a salad or sandwiches another night or freeze for later use.

Whole meal pasta salad

This is quick, colorful, flavorful and cool – a real summer winner!

  • 1 16 oz. package pasta primavera frozen veggies
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup low fat shredded cheese
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat Italian dressing
  • Optional: Leftover cold meat, cubed

Combine primavera with water in a microwave safe container. Cook at full power for 7 minutes. Drain. Stir in dressing and drained beans. Chill several hours. Before serving, stir in cheese and cubed meat if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Each 1 cup serving without meat: 214 calories, 6 g fat, 2.3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 10.3 mg cholesterol, 472 mg sodium, 30.6 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 10.5 g protein. Cost/svg = $0.81

The source for this information comes from Jan Temple, Iowa State University Extension Nutrition. For more information call the Wise County Extension Office at (940) 627-3341.

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