There’s no denying the summers are getting hotter, and as temperatures start to soar, the thought of cooking can feel unbearable. Thankfully there are a ton of delicious, plant-based recipes that don’t require cooking, so you can keep your kitchen cool, and your taste buds satisfied. Plus, by opting for plant-forward options, you're making a sustainable choice that could help combat climate change.
1. Look for No-Cook: Proteins & More
When the weather’s warm, the last thing anyone wants is to turn on the stove or oven. While it may be easy to get fruits and vegetables through no-cook methods, meeting your protein needs can require more intention. Luckily, no-cook proteins abound, and by selecting any of these, you’re not only keeping your kitchen cool but also reducing your own contribution to climate change by choosing plant-based proteins over animal-based alternatives.
- Beans & Legumes
- Nuts & Seeds
Not only do these pack a punch of protein, but they’re also great for adding fiber, and health-promoting fats, and make great additions to nearly any meal. Toss them into salads, use nut butter in dressings, and add them into smoothies and over-frozen treats too.
- Vega Plant-Based Protein
Nothing makes for a faster, heatless protein option than a scoop of Vega’s plant-based nutrition. Not only does one serving of Vega Original Protein provide a full complement of essential amino acids, but Vega All in One offers this high quality protein as well as additional vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and fiber.
- Convenience Foods
Quick and easy foods sometimes get a reputation as “unhealthy” but they really can come in handy for keeping no-cook proteins on the menu. Grab some frozen edamame and defrost it as a quick appetizer and leverage a simple block of tofu into summer rolls for a great no-heat dinner that can get everyone involved in making.
2. Hydrate through Food
Some of the most notable health challenges that can stem from batting the heat are dehydration and the resulting electrolyte imbalance. This can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe, with common results that include lightheadedness and dizziness as well as issues like slowing of the GI tract leading to nausea, constipation, gas, and more. In addition to making sure you’re getting adequate fluid intake through beverages, we can also support ourselves by enjoying plant-based foods with high water content for added hydration and nutrients throughout the day.
Watermelon may be the most well-known hydrating fruit around, and it certainly does live up to its name, however, don’t skip out on other varieties like cantaloupe or honeydew, which are also hydrating and nutrient dense. .
Unlike other higher water content foods, yogurt is often laden with essential protein and fat, making it a great option to bulk up meals or snacks when it’s feeling too hot to eat.
- Leafy Greens
Greens like romaine, spinach, chard, and other lettuces are an excellent choice for maximizing hydration due to high water content, with the added bonus of being in season during the summer. Load them up into salads, make wraps, or blend them into smoothies to reap the benefits.
3. Embrace the Cool & Creamy
Nothing satisfies during a heat wave quite like a sip or bite of something truly cold. Whether you go for sweet or savory, there’s plenty to choose from to cool your palate.
- Cold Soups
You may already be making soups as a delicious and cozy way to reduce food waste and use up produce in colder months, but in summertime don’t forget about chilled soups. Options like gazpacho or a cooling cucumber soup are an underrated and often forgotten refreshing meal idea that still help your kitchen benefit from reducing food waste.
Not only are they an ideal cold and customizable option, but smoothies can flex from being just a snack to sip on to a full meal in the form of a smoothie bowl. Try making your smoothie extra thick by reducing the liquid you use and add a serving of Vega plant-based protein. Pour it into a bowl and top with granola, nuts, and seeds or nut butter, and confidently enjoy your smoothie bowl as a balanced and nutritionally complete meal.
- Frozen Treats
Maximize your chill and your fun with one of the many buzzworthy frozen delights that are all over social media. Whether you have an ice cream maker or not you can get in on the action and create your own frozen yogurt clusters, bites, and scoopable sweets. Try out our recipe below and choose your own frozen treat adventure!
Protein Packed Summer Froyo: Bites, Scoops, Bark & More!
Stay cool, hydrated, and fueled this summer with our super simple, no-cook, high-protein frozen yogurt. This recipe is as easy as it is versatile with only a few ingredients, and time to make it happen. Make these treats as a refreshing snack, or a protein-packed dessert, or even use them for a ready-made breakfast.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together your yogurt and Vega Protein until no lumps are present.
- Continue whipping for 2-4 minutes until the mixture is lighter in texture. This can be done by hand or using an electric hand or stand mixer.
From here, choose your own adventure...
- Make it bite-size: Using a square-shaped ice cube tray, add some granola or crushed graham crackers to the bottom of each cube. To your yogurt, fold in small-diced fruit and chopped nuts, and then spoon this mixture into each cube in the tray. Top with more graham crackers or granola and freeze overnight. Pop them out in the morning and drizzle or dip them in melted chocolate or heated-up nut butter.
Suggested flavor combination: Vega Protein & Greens Coconut Almond with Toasted Coconut, Dark Chocolate Chunks, and Pineapple
- Break it into Bark: Spread your mixture out on a parchment-lined baking sheet to about ¼ to ½ an inch thick and go nuts with toppings. Gently press any solid toppings into your yogurt ‘bark’. Freeze for 4 hours or overnight and break into rough chunks before serving.
Suggested flavor combination: Vega Original Vanilla Protein with Strawberries, Blueberries, Granola and Nut Butter Swirls
- Make it clusters: Fold in cut-up fruit, and scoop the mix onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in about 2 tbsp size scoops. Freeze for 4 hours or overnight, and coat entirely in melted chocolate. Return to freezer for 5-10 minutes until chocolate is firm and serve.
Suggested flavor combination: Vega Protein & Greens Berry with Strawberries and Dark Chocolate
- Scoop it up:: This mixture can be added to an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions. Incorporate add-ins per instructions. In lieu of using an ice cream maker, spoon into small ice cube trays without mix-ins and freeze overnight. Add to a food processor and pulse until smooth. Fold in add-ins and toppings and serve.
Suggested flavor combination: Vega Original Vanilla Protein with Peaches and Toasted Almonds
By Tori Martinet, MS RD, Intuitive Eating & Culinary Dietitian
Tori Martinet is a Culinary and Intuitive Eating Dietitian with nearly a decade of experience in some of New York City's most demanding kitchens. After serving as Director of Wellness & Sustainability to a premier food service contractor, she moved on from corporate life and started Tori's Table, a private practice dedicated to helping people foster healthy relationships with food. She now works with clients 1-on-1 as well as in brand consulting, recipe development and food writing for publications like The Spruce Eats, Food & Wine, Shape, and many more.