Summer! It’s a wonderful time, as the song would have you believe. Everyone’s on holiday, and meals are relaxed; there are no rigid schedules to keep up to, and there are good moods all ’round. Well, for the most part. Have you ever went the whole summer making meals without the oven?
Because one of the most challenging things about summer is the thought of being stuck in a sweltering kitchen with the oven on full blast, making you feel like you’re in your own personal version of a sauna. Whether you’re dealing with dry heat or humidity, you don’t want to deal with the heat of your oven as well.
When I was making notes for this piece, I realized that there was so much material, and so very many amazing recipes out there to minimize (or completely cut out) your oven time, that I decided to split up all the information into two posts. So in my next two posts I’ll walk you through some easy summer breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas that you can make without turning on the oven. Sound good?
Make Meals without the Oven
I adore smoothies as much as anyone else (and I will link you to a couple of my favorites here, I promise) but there are so many more options to explore for an easy summer breakfast. For instance, how about a Bagel Fruit Pizza? Layer fresh fruit on top of mildly sweetened lemon cream cheese spread on a bagel. I don’t know about you, but I’d make this one year-round. Or — in keeping with the bagel theme — you could make some delicious Raspberry Cheesecake Bagels. Mascarpone cheese is slathered onto whole wheat bagels and topped with crushed raspberries and shaved chocolate. What’s not to love, really?
Overnight oats is a great way to eat delicious porridge for breakfast. Porridge is not just a warming winter breakfast; it is equally delicious served cold, straight from the fridge. Making overnight oats is fairly simple; you just soak equal parts raw rolled oats in milk and yogurt overnight. The oats soaks up all the liquid and is ready to eat the next morning. That’s a very basic recipe, but there are multiple ways in which you can pimp your oats. For instance, why not try this delicious Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats recipe? Made with fresh apples, gluten free oats, and almond milk, this refined sugar-free vegan treat tastes like apple pie. I mean, apple pie for breakfast is as good as it gets.
Another favorite overnight oats recipe is this Carrot Cake Overnight Oats recipe; as you know from a previous post, I am a carrot cake addict, and I couldn’t pass up this recipe. I tried it, and I loved it. What’s not to love about rolled oats, almond milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, shredded carrot, pecans, and coconut shavings? Right?
Smoothie bowls have been a pretty hot (cold?) commodity over on Pinterest and Instagram for a while, and it’s easy to see why. They are like little art projects in bowls, and they seem to range from stunning to out of this world. They’re incredibly easy to make, and you can use them as a canvas to create your own stunning Instagrammable bowls. For instance, these Inner Goddess Raspberry Breakfast Bowls are ridiculously simple; blitz frozen fruit with coconut milk and then fortify the bowl with chia seeds, flax, and delicious honey. You can top it with anything you like; fresh berries, granola, cream, yogurt, sliced bananas, nuts – the sky’s the limit.
Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without linking you to some of my favorite breakfast treats that are a little less typical; I love liquid breakfasts because smoothies and shakes are actually way more filling than you would think. They keep me going for a couple of hours, and then I usually snack on some fruit or a handful of nuts to hold me until lunch. Try this Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Shake to put some pep in your step, or try this amazing Mango Lemonade Smoothie Parfait, which is something that’s easily the best of both worlds (I mean, a parfait and a smoothie; I’m sorry, but it doesn’t get better than that). I’m also used to making breakfast ice pops (yes, you read that right). Because when you can have something that looks like this Breakfast Yogurt Popsicle, why wouldn’t you?
I never used to like salads much, and I still don’t unless they come nicely dressed, with extra dressing on the side. But they’re one of the best summer lunches ever, and I keep returning to some particular salads over and over again. This delicious Vegetarian Taco Salad is healthy and tasty, and has a bright cumin and lime blend dressing; the salad has no lettuce so you can dress it before you pack it. (But make sure to pack your tortilla chips in a separate container so they stay nice and crisp for that all-important crunch!)
Another great favorite is this Broccoli Apple Salad; it has broccoli, apples, carrots, cranberries, and pecans with a delicious creamy dressing. I eat more salad just for this dressing, so I can’t imagine what your pickiest eaters are going to do (I’m guessing they’re going to eat more salad as well, and ignore the fact that it contains broccoli).
Sandwiches are my second summer lunch staple; they are easy to make, and versatile. You can eat varied sandwiches for lunch every day for weeks on end and still not be bored. Well, I can; I’m not sure about you. As long as you have good bread (gluten free if you are intolerant), nice butter to spread on your bread, and delicious fillings, you have a formula that you can rinse and repeat ad infinitum. Try this easy Caprese Sandwich with Parsley Pesto (it is toasted with melted mozzarella; I mean, come on!) to take any summer lunch from a zero to a hundred, or opt for this Avocado Chickpea Salad Sandwich that is green and good and anything but boring. If you’re sick of bread (but really, how could you be?) you could opt for rolls or wraps or almost anything else. Get creative and play with your food in the summer, but not for too long; there are beaches to dig your toes into, cool pools to swim in, summer books to read, naps to take, and holidays to enjoy.
Awanthi Vardaraj lives and writes in the port city of Chennai, in the south of India, where she runs her own small artisanal bakery and keeps a garden full of jasmine plants and herbs that she still cannot name. As a freelance writer, she mostly focuses on food, feminism, travel, mental health, and poverty. She also nurtures a deep love for the Oxford comma and the semicolon. Visit her website at www.awanthi.com and follow her on Twitter at AwanthiVardaraj.
What are your favorite summer meals? Share your summer recipes below or on Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget to check back here next week for more meals without the oven.