With summer in full swing and the dog days of summer heat bearing down on us, the last thing anyone wants to do is slave in the kitchen or turn the oven on. It’s already scorching hot outside and the only thing the body is craving is a way to cool down with some nourishment. That’s why salads and cold soups are the perfect options to make during summer dinners. The best part is that they are both easy to prepare and can be used with as many or as little ingredients as you like.

Salads

Salads are perfect for the summer not just because they help you cool down but because of all the fresh produce that’s available. Arugula, corn, cucumber, zucchini, and tomatoes are only a few favorites from the list to choose from. They’re also very easy to make because you can simply pick your favorite vegetables or even fruit, put them together and you have a salad. Lemons, limes and other citrus fruits are perfect for dressings as well.

Salads are perfect on their own or paired with protein like black beans, chicken, or salmon. Honestly, the variety is endless and can be tailored to your own preferences. Try a spinach salad with red onions, strawberries, blueberries, and tuna for a sweet and flavorful twist. To really enjoy summer, try a simple heirloom tomato salad with red onion, grilled chicken and freshly chopped basil and parsley.

Cold Soups  

Most cold soups only require a food processor or high-speed blender. Unless you want to get even richer cold soups by cooking some potatoes or other vegetables and chilling the soup overnight. To keep cold soups healthy and full of nutrients avoid heavy creams or other dairy products and stick to in season and locally grown produce. If you want a thicker and more satisfying cold soup blend in avocado to replace the dairy.

For a quick and refreshing gazpacho recipe, all you will need are three tomatoes, two cucumbers, one green bell pepper, one red bell pepper, a small red onion and a few garlic cloves. Peel, remove seeds and dice all the ingredients then add to a blender with three cups of tomato juice. Blend until smooth and season with salt and pepper.

Salads and cold soups are a great way to spend less time in the kitchen while consuming the best source of nutrients the earth has to offer. You will not only stay cool, but you will also stay healthy and maybe even lose a few pounds if you need too.