family-eating-outside-Optimized.jpgI know I’m not the only one that just can’t get motivated to cook dinner sometimes on a hot summers day. Eating out is an option, but that can get costly, and if you are a choosier and healthy eater like my family, then there isn’t a lot of options to choose from.

Summer is a time to go to simpler meals such as bbq’s, salads, veggies and dip and fruit. For me, it’s also a time to enjoy larger than usual amounts of ice cream and popsicles. There are some ways you can eat cooler, such as bbq’ing, having easy to make meals with limited cooking, enjoying your meals outside, and get creative with homemade popsicles.

 

BBQ season is upon uschar broil-Optimized.jpg

I always get a little excited when bbq season is here. Not only is it so easy to whip up a meal, but it makes clean up a breeze too. Bbq’s can vary quite a bit in price, but if you love to grill regularly and have a great patio space do it on, then I recommend splurging on a great grill with a side burner. We have one similar to this Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Performance 40,000 BTU 4-Burner Propane BBQ and we have more than gotten our moneys worth.

Having a side burner on the bbq is a great way to cook some pasta or rice to go with your meal and it can all be done outside. Not only can you avoid being stuck cooking in a hot kitchen, but if you have guests over you can stay outside and enjoy their company too.

Chicken is usually the meat of choice on the menu at my house, and who doesn’t love a great bbq sauce. I’ve played around with a few recipes and ended up creating my own that my husband and kids all love.

Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

1 C ketchup
1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C white vinegar
1/3 C mollasses
1.5 tbsp chili powder
salt to taste

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a small pot and simmer for minimum 1 hour.
You can baste your favourite cuts of chicken with this sauce, but it’s also great for steaks and pork as well.

 

 

 

Quinoa-Black-Bean-Corn-Salad-Optimized-Optimized-Optimized.jpgTurn salads into a meal

Salads are a great way to have a cool meal. To make them into a meal that the whole family will love, and that will fill you up, you need to amp them up a bit. You can add some grilled meats or beans to get some extra protein. My kids love adding fruit to their salads, and if you have your own garden to pick them from, even better. Strawberries and blueberries are our favourites but you can get creative with whatever you like.

My husband has gotten a reputation for making the best quinoa salad, and since he’s forever nagging me to make sure I get all my nutrients each day, he’s made it into a full meal in one salad.
Hearty Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:
2 C cooked quinoa chilled
3/4 Can black beans
3/4 C cooked corn kernels
3/4 C crumbled feta cheese
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1 mini pepper of your choice diced( I like red)
Chopped fresh cilantroFor the dressing

1/3 C oliveoil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1-2 limes
1 tsp yellow curry powder
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

Mix all the salad ingredients leaving aside the feta and cilantro for last. Mix the dressing in a seperate bowl then mix well into salad. Add the feta and cilantro and mix gently.

Since I’m not a huge meat eater, I’m quite happy with the salad as it is, but sometimes I do add some chicken so feel free to add some grilled meat to this amazing salad.

patio set-Optimized.jpgPatio eating

One of my favourite times of day in summer is the evening when it has cooled off a little and I can sit outside on the back patio and unwind. We get a lot of shade in the late afternoon in my backyard so it’s also a great place to have dinner. My boys also love to eat their dinner outside, it also feels a bit like a getaway.

It’s easy to lay out a picnic blanket for lunches but with a bigger meal like dinner, and if you are having company over, it’s nice to have a big patio set.

I love the natural wood colour of this 5-Piece Eucalyptus Patio Dining Set. It’s made from Brazilian eucalyptus grandis hardwood which is resistant to wear, weather and insects, so it should last many seasons. I also love that you can buy extra chairs for the table depending on your family size and how often you entertain. You can also liven the set up a bit with some beautiful colourful seat cushions.

Like any outdoor furniture it’s important to care for it if you want it to last so I always buy a cover for my outdoor furniture and grill.

 

 

Cool down with a frozen treatzoku-Optimized.jpg

Growing up I loved the summer months when I got to make homemade popsicles, so of course when I had my boys I made them for them too. Now that they are older they love making them themselves. They are also a great healthier alternative to some of the store brought varieties, and you have so many more options of flavours to make.

I had seen the Zoku Duo Quick Pop Maker in the store a few times and was definitely curious to see if it would live up to it’s reputation, so I was pretty excited when I tried it out at a friends. You leave the base in the freezer at all times and when you are ready to make popsicles you just remove it from the freezer, insert the sticks and fill each mold. Wait 7 short minutes and voila, popsicles. With the duo maker you can make 6 popsicles before you have to refreeze the base. No more running to the local grocery store when I run out of popsicles, which seems to happen a lot in my house.

Check out Shelly’s review of the Zoku, I know I will be ordering one of these for the kids this summer and I’m sure my boys and I will become master popsicle makers in no time.

Summer is one of my favourite times of year, I love the warm weather and for some reason life just seems simpler for a couple months. Sometimes the heat does get to us all, and being able to prepare a simple meal and enjoy it in the cool shade is a great way to finish the day.

You can find so many tools and accessories to help you survive summer cooking and eating at bestbuy.ca.

Title image @chelmsfordmosquitocontrol.com

Quinoa salad @popsugar.com

Check out these other posts in the Summer Survival Guide series: