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In heat of summer, keep it cool in the kitchen

Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

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Summer is here, and with the temperatures rising, we want our house to stay cool and comfortable. The last thing I want to do on hot days is to turn on the stove and other heat-producing appliances. Planning meals sans heat in the summer months doesn’t have to be difficult or boring. Move over peanut butter and jelly, and try these tasty, colorful and cool meal ideas.

n Fill a whole-wheat tortilla or wrap with your choice of the following: lean deli ham, chicken or turkey, light Laughing Cow cheese or reduced-fat shredded cheese, chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and red onion, shredded carrots, fresh spinach, guacamole or sliced avocadoes, black beans, and salsa.

n Make a zesty bean salad using one can each of black beans, kidney beans and Great Northern beans. Add a ˝ cup each of chopped green pepper and red pepper. Mix in 1 cup of fat-free Italian dressing. Refrigerate until chilled. This can be eaten as a salad or as a topping for lettuce.

n Combine 4 cups of cooked and chilled whole-wheat pasta with chopped tomatoes and green onions, white shoepeg corn and chopped red peppers. Separately, mix ˝ cup light ranch dressing or 3-cheese light ranch dressing, 1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Add to pasta mixture and toss to coat. Add ˝ cup 2 percent shredded cheese and 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro and mix.

n Combine either chunk canned tuna or low-fat canned chicken (drained and rinsed with water) with chopped red onion and celery, and a chopped fresh tomato. Add a small amount of dried or fresh basil and black pepper. If desired, add about 2 ounces of cubed part-skim mozzarella cheese. Wrap in a large green leaf.

n Mix low-fat cottage cheese with a small can of pineapple chunks or fresh cantaloupe chunks. Serve with whole-grain crackers and a lettuce salad.

n Use leftover grilled chicken or buy a broasted chicken to put on top of a green leaf salad with raw vegetables or leftover grilled vegetables. Add dried cranberries, almonds and a light salad dressing.

n Combine cold cooked rice with a small amount of light mayonnaise and any or all of the following: mandarin oranges, green apple chunks, raisins, water chestnuts, cashews, chopped onion, cooked chicken, black beans, salt and pepper. Chill and serve.

n A cold cereal that is high in fiber and low in sugar, topped with blueberries and sliced bananas also works great for a cool meal. 

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