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Can’t stand the heat?

When the temperature soars and the air conditioner labors to cool your home, the last thing you want to do is stand in front of a hot oven to prepare meals. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up heathy, appetizing fare. Take advantage of the season’s bounty and visit a farmers’ market for fresh fruits and vegetables (or your grocer’s freezer for some nutritious shortcuts). Then, forget the oven. Instead, rev up the blender and light the grill. Escape your hot kitchen and enjoy these refreshing foods prepared with minimal cooking.


  • 6 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes (8 to 9 medium) or canned no-salt-added Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • ½ cup green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup cucumber (peeled if outer skin is tough), coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced, or ½ tsp. bottled minced garlic
  • 2 cups no-salt-added tomato juice
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin (optional)
  • 1/8 to ¼ tsp. pepper

In a food processor or blender, puree tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, cucumber and garlic in batches. Pour each batch into a large bowl. Add tomato juice, vinegar, sugar, cumin and pepper, stirring well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Ladle into serving bowls. Sprinkle with croutons and garnish with additional finely chopped cucumber, tomato, pepper and onion if desired.

Makes 7 servings. Per serving: 59 calories, 1 g total fat 0 mg cholesterol, 22 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 2 g protein

Marinated vegetable salad

  • 16-oz. package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • 15-oz. can no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 8 lettuce leaves


  • 1/3 cup fat-free or low-fat Italian salad dressing
  • ¼ cup frozen unsweetened apple juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 tbsp. plain rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced, or ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper, or to taste

In a large bowl, combine the vegetables and chickpeas. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the marinade ingredients. Shake well. Pour over the vegetable-chickpea mixture; stir gently to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Serve over the lettuce leaves.

Makes 8 servings. Per serving: 169 calories, 3 g total fat (0 g saturated, 1 g polyunsaturated, 1.5 g monounsaturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 144 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 7 g protein

Summery fruit salad with quinoa

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, thoroughly rinsed and drained
  • ½ medium to large cantaloupe
  • 1 small jicama (8 to 9 oz.)
  • 1½ cups seedless grapes
  • 2 large stalks of celery
  • 8 oz. nonfat lemon yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. fat-free or reduced-fat mayonnaise dressing
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. dry-roasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped or thinly sliced, plus 5 sprigs for garnish
  • 1 lime, cut into 5 wedges

Cook the quinoa according to package directions, omitting the salt and oil. Transfer the quinoa to a large, chilled bowl. Once the quinoa has cooled to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled. Meanwhile, dice the cantaloupe, peel and dice the jicama, halve the grapes and slice the celery on the diagonal; refrigerate in separate containers. At serving time, whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar and salt and stir the mixture into the quinoa. Drain the cantaloupe and stir the cantaloupe, jicama, grapes, walnuts and 3 tbsp. mint into the quinoa. To serve, place two 1-cup scoops of the salad on each plate. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a lime wedge to squeeze over the salad.

Makes 5 servings. Per serving: 350 calories, 12 g total fat (1.5 g saturated, 8 g polyunsaturated, 2 g monounsaturated), 1 mg cholesterol, 227 mg sodium, 53 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 23 g sugar, 10 g protein

Grilled pork-and-vegetable pitas

  • 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 8 oz. fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin, all visible fat discarded, cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 14 medium button mushrooms, halved
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • ½ medium onion, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 4 6-inch whole-wheat pita breads, halved crosswise

In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, vinegar, oil, garlic and pepper. Stir 1 tbsp. of this mixture into the container of yogurt; refrigerate. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. On eight 10-inch metal skewers, alternately thread the pork, mushrooms, bell peppers and onions. Grill the kebabs for two minutes on each side, or until the pork is browned. Brush the mustard mixture without the yogurt on all sides of the kebabs; grill for one to two minutes on each side, or until the pork is no longer pink in the center and the vegetables are tender. To serve, remove the meat and vegetables from a skewer and place in half a pita bread. Top with 2 tbsp. of the refrigerated yogurt sauce. Repeat with the remaining kebabs and yogurt sauce.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 402 calories, 9 g total fat (2.5 g saturated, 1.5 g polyunsaturated, 4 g monounsaturated), 76 mg cholesterol, 689 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 36 g protein

Recipes adapted with permission from American Heart Association One-Dish Meals, copyright © 2003; The American Heart Association Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook, copyright © 2004; and The New American Heart Association Cookbook, copyright © 2001. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc. Available from booksellers everywhere.