Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Myth: It’s too time-consuming (and hot!) to make dinner at home during the summer.

Answer: Busted!

Chicken and vegetables in a pita pocket
Summertime and the cooking is easy … or is it? During the hot summer months, it can be tempting to forgo cooking at home and take the seemingly easy option: eating out. If visions of sweating over a hot stove while preparing complicated meals are what you think of when summer rolls around, think again. Research shows that food eaten away from the home is higher in calories, sodium and lower in some nutrients including calcium and fiber. These nutritional differences can contribute to poor diets and increase your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. When you prepare food at home, you control what goes into your meal and how much – what portion size – you will eat. Get out your stopwatch and consider these quick, easy and cool summertime dinner options:
  • A whole-wheat pita bread pocket or whole-wheat tortilla filled with veggies, diced tuna, salmon or chicken and low-fat dressing or balsamic vinegar.
  • A super salad made with greens, nuts and fruit with salad dressing on the side to dip your salad greens into.
  • Pasta primavera – whole-wheat pasta and seasonings like basil, garlic and olive oil. Add lots of fresh or frozen veggies to make this a colorful, filling and healthy dish. Or try this summer squash pasta salad at
  • Make an open-faced sandwich with whole-wheat bread and pile lots of veggies on it.
  • Make a quick stir-fry dish!
  • Fire up the grill and make chicken and veggie kebabs with tomatoes and onions. Put the grilled chicken and veggies on top of a bed of whole wheat couscous, which is a quick-cooking pasta.
See, that wasn't so bad, was it?

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

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