Food for a heat wave

When the temperature outside gets to be higher than our body temperature, it’s not very exciting to cook hot food.

Since we are heading into one of our “flip the switch” sudden heat waves to start summer, I thought it prudent to offer some suggestions about what to eat.

Thankfully, our current state of COVID re-opening allows for indoor dining (patios lose some of their appeal when the diners feel like the cooked wings on the menu).

Our local restaurants who have persevered so valiantly through 15 months of slow business will appreciate every “bum in a seat” they can get. And please bear with them as they manage a new tourist season still navigating new rules.

If you want or need to stay at home, there are plenty of ways to avoid eating without turning on the oven. Here are my top three:

Salad for dinner

Whether it’s green salad or a Buddha bowl with steamed grains as a base, there are plenty of options. Think outside the box with additions such as seeds or nuts, fruit in season, smoked salmon or cured meat or pickled veggies, and a fun dressing. (Use up something in the fridge, or make one with oil, vinegar or lemon juice and some herbs or spices.)

Cooking on the grill outside

Charcoal or gas, the grill you probably have on your balcony or out back is great for much more than steaks and burgers (although those are fantastic — you just can’t eat them every day).

Grilled veggies drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil make a delicious side dish with crumbled feta or cubed mozzarella and a good dose of oregano.

Fish is a delightful light dinner — oil your hot grill or your special fish-holder before you put the fish on it and the fish won’t stick as badly.

Quick stovetop meals

A spiffed-up grilled cheese or Reuben sandwich makes a fun summer dinner. Cook it in your pan on the stove (or better yet, an electric frying pan if you have one).

Try using different condiments for fun - caramelized onions, different mustards or chilli pastes, tapenade, even thin slices of fruit can kick your sandwich up a notch.

Another great summer classic is one we often forget in the hustle and bustle. (It’s not much more effort than eating in the car, which I know many of us do regularly.)

Who’s in for a picnic?

The secrets to a great picnic are:

  • Keep it simple. Not too many dishes or ingredients. (Remember, you have to carry it all.) Do a few things really well and everyone will be satiated and impressed.
  • Work smarter, not harder. Use leftovers, or plan ahead. If you don’t have time or energy to cook, take advantage of the local restaurants that offer fun takeout options. Pick up your order on your way to the park or beach.
  • Add a bit of flair. Paper plates are alright, but if you have some “camping dishes” (melamine or other light, hard-to-break plates then use them here. And real cutlery with cloth napkins make a Tuesday night out a special memory.
  • Use food that tastes great at room temperature. Keep perishable items in a cooler while travelling and then quiche just needs to be cut and salad just needs to be dressed. Jamie Oliver uses a large plastic bag for his picnic greens and shakes them up with dressing. Salad tongs in the rolled down bag work perfectly.

Whichever method you choose, always remember to finish with a treat. It might be fresh fruit, or maybe a stop for ice cream on the way home after a picnic, but this is one more way to celebrate your ability to adapt in crazy conditions.

Keeping your cool when it’s hot sets a wonderful example for any young minds eating at your table. It helps you avoid more stress in your busy life.

And it might make for some fun summer memories, too.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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