When you think of a hearty meal, you typically think of a hot, steaming plate of food like roast beef or cheesy lasagna. But in the hot summer months, you don’t want a hot, heavy meal that’ll sit on your stomach for the rest of the day. Most people think of cold dishes as sides, salads, and desserts–but in fact, there’s a wide variety of cold dishes that can be cool and refreshing on a boiling summer day. And as an added bonus, many of these dishes involve little or no cooking. Simply toss the ingredients together, chill in your fridge, and serve to your family or guests.
Before summer arrives, you’ll want to have a stock of cold recipes on hand to combat the sweltering heat. And with cold drinks and a cheap portable ice maker, you can be serving delicious cold meals all summer long. Here are just a few of the dishes that are best served ice cold, from soups and salads to main entrees.
1. Cold Soups – 53 calories (0.8g fat, 9.7g carbs, 1.9g protein)
If you’ve never tried cold soup before, it might seem like a strange culinary invention. Shouldn’t soup be hot and steaming, like the chicken noodle soup or vegetable soup that you enjoy on a cold winter evening? But with tasty vegetables and freshly-squeezed juices, cold soup is a meal that you can enjoy all year round. These soups are typically packed with nutrition, and their cold nature gives the soup a unique taste and texture that will delight your guests. Just make sure that you chill the soup in the fridge before serving.
There are countless cold soup recipes available online, but one popular example is Tomato Veggie Soup. This soup is loaded with vegetables, spices, and lime juice, and can be accentuated with a dollop of sour cream. Preparation is as simple as mixing the ingredients together and adding the lime juice before chilling. You can serve this light soup for lunch or dinner, and the cool juice and spices make it the perfect light summer meal.
2. Cold Noodles – 122.5 calories (1g fat, 11g carbs, 2.3g protein)
Like soup, most of us assume that noodles should be served hot, like spaghetti or Ramen noodles. But cold noodles offer the same delicious taste without the density and heat. Many Asian noodles can be served cold, including peanut noodles, soba noodles, sesame noodles, and more. If you’re a fan of Asian cuisine, you’ll love these refreshing dishes that cool you off even in the hottest weather.
For many recipes, the preparation is similar to that of hot noodle dishes–cook the noodles in boiling water, then rinse and drain. But instead of serving the noodles hot, you add cold ingredients like fresh vegetables and a cold sauce, then chill the dish in your fridge. The result is a cool noodle dish that’s bursting with flavor, and makes a perfect side dish or main entree. Moreover, when served cold, the noodles also drop down in terms of calories, meaning that you will be losing weight every time you eat them.
3. Salads – Classic Caprese 250 calories (18g fat, 9g carbs, 14g protein)
Most salads are typically served cold. But what many people don’t realize is that there’s more to salad than iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing. Some salads are so filling and loaded with ingredients that they serve as a meal more than a side dish. Instead of tossing together the typical chef salad, experiment with different ideas and try new recipes to create delicious salads that beat the summer heat. You can also add new twists on picnic classics like potato salad and pasta salad, making the perfect side dish for a midday meal.
A popular example is the Italian Caprese salad, made with mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. With only 9 grams of carbohydrates in its composition, the classic Caprese is a viable way to lose some weight. Fruit salads are also becoming more common–not just the traditional fruit salad with strawberries and cantaloupe, but salads with unique ingredients like figs, Mandarin oranges, nuts, and cheeses.
Some salads contain thick strips of cooked meat, served cold. Whatever your preference, with so many recipes available on the Internet, it’s easy to make the perfect salad that suits your individual tastes.
4. Sushi – 140 calories (5.7g fat, 28g carbs, 2.1g protein)
There’s no such thing as hot sushi. The sticky rice, fresh vegetables, and raw (or cooked) fish is best served cold, creating a firm, bite-sized treat that’s become popular across the world. And without much cooking and minimal prep work involved, sushi is one of the easiest cold dishes to make at home. Gather your sushi mat, your ingredients, and your knives and cutting boards, and you’re ready to go. Sushi is also easily customizable, making it ideal for health-conscious people and picky eaters.
The most cooked sushi, such as the Shrimp Tempura Roll, is also the heaviest in calories, 508 to be exact, out of which mostly carbohydrates. Conversely, the Avocado Sushi Roll contains only 140 calories and much fewer carbs. Light, non-fattening and simple to roll, it should be your choice in sushi most of the time.
If you want to serve sushi at your next dinner or get-together, you can buy store-made sushi or simply make your own sushi at home. While many people view sushi as a light food, sushi loaded with fillings can be as rich and hearty as a hot meal. It’s also perfect for a quick snack or an on-the-go meal. Just make sure that your sushi is served fresh and cold.
5. Beef Tartare – 255 calories (19g fat, 1g carbs, 20g protein)
If you’re looking to try something different, sink your teeth into this unusual dish. Most meat dishes are served hot and sizzling–and even if they’re not hot, they’re typically cooked beforehand! Beef tartare is different. This recipe consists of chilled raw beef mixed with spices, then served with a raw egg cracked in the middle. While not recommended for children or the elderly, beef tartare is an unusual treat for any meat-lover in your life.
Beef tartare can easily be prepared at home, and requires only a handful of simple ingredients. The dish is often accompanied by sides like bread, cheese, and pickles. With only 1% carbohydrates and a massive 20g protein intake, beef tartare is not only non-fat, it is also healthy for your body. The fat also found in the dish should not be a reason for concern as it is the natural fat that the body needs. Just make sure that this dish is served cold-cooking or heating the meat completely defeats the purpose.
Ready to Give it a Shot?
Cold dishes are often more convenient than hot dishes for a variety of reasons–there’s less cooking involved, preparation is often simple, and you can use both fresh and leftover ingredients. Moreover, being low in carbs and high in protein, the cold foods in this list also help you lose weight and boost your immune system.
The thing to remember is that it takes calories even to digest. Here is where the difference between warm and cold foods lies. It takes more calories to digest cold foods than warm or processed foods. While warm food is better for those with digestive insufficiency, cold or raw foods are an excellent choice for healthy people who want to drop some weight in a natural way.
If you feel like mixing up your diet a little, add more cold dishes into your dinner plans! You’ll enjoy a world of new tastes, textures, and flavors, and discover how a different temperature can transform your favorite foods.