Kosher Kitchen

When it’s sizzling hot, it’s time for cool foods


Hot! Hot! Hot! The weather is doing what it does in the summer. It heats up, the humidity rises and the air stops moving. Stale and hot. If you can get to the beach, go. If you have air conditioning, great. If you don’t mind, or even love, the heat, you are in your glory.

For most people, though, summer time can be rough. It can play games with your digestion. Hot weather can give rise to all kinds of tummy ills. Mostly, though, in the summer, we want to eat less and drink more. That’s a good thing — it is our bodies telling us that we need less fuel to keep us warm and more liquid to keep us hydrated. Listen to your body and, especially, help children to do the same. Dehydration is not fun.

When I was 6, I was playing with friends when I looked at them and saw that they had some fur around their eyes. I told them to brush it away. They thought I was crazy and so we continued to play, until I started to cry. Within a few minutes, it was determined I had an extremely high fever and the best thing to do was drive me to the children’s hospital — an hour away from our beach house. Once in the hospital the diagnosis was a mild virus accompanied by severe dehydration. Several IVs and an overnight later and I was back on the beach with my friends. My mother practically followed me around with glasses of water for days! Dehydration comes on quickly, especially with children and the elderly.

In the worst of the heat, eat light foods that contain a lot of water. Happily, these foods, such a lettuces, zucchini, cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables, tend to be the cool foods we crave in summer. Even light fish and chicken dishes can add to your fluid intake for the day.

Drink a lot on hot days. Urge children to take frequent water breaks and coax elderly relatives to drink a lot of water and cool drinks. Sometimes, iced drinks on very hot days may seem like the perfect refresher, but they can cause stomach cramps in the heat.

Try to avoid sugary drinks as these are less than healthful and will add unnecessary calories to your diet.

Try to avoid heavy meats in the heat. These, too may be difficult to digest in the blazing heat. Instead, choose chicken and fish and cool salads made with these proteins. Better still, opt for other sources of protein like beans and vegetable proteins such as tempeh, seitan and tofu.

Stay cool and drink a lot, eat less and enjoy a wonderful summer. It is the shortest season of the year, really, so let’s savor all that it can offer us. Grab a popsicle and smile!

Sesame Chicken Salad (Meat) 

3 cooked (grilled, broiled, baked, poached) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cups shredded cabbage, green and/or purple (I use half each)

1/2 cup sliced scallions

1 cup shredded bok choy 

1/2 cup shredded baby spinach leaves

1/3 cup shredded carrots (about 1 carrot)

OPTIONAL: Sliced water chestnuts; thinly sliced Chinese pea pods; mung bean sprouts; Chinese Rice noodles or Udon Noodles.

Shred the vegetables using the medium shredding disc of the food processor. Place the vegetables in a large bowl. Shred the chicken with a knife and fork and toss with the vegetables. Pour the Sesame Salad Dressing over the salad and toss. Serve immediately. 

VARIATIONS: Substitute grilled salmon for the chicken (flake and add last). Add some cold cooked brown or white rice for a nutritious addition.

Sesame Salad Dressing (Pareve) 

5 tbsp. vinegar

1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp. tamari sauce or light soy sauce

2 tbsp. (scant) sugar

2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

2 tbsp. sherry

2 tsp. grated ginger 

1 tbsp. sesame seeds (preferably toasted,   but plain will do)

OPTIONAL: Tiny pinch cayenne pepper peanuts for garnish.

Zucchini Pizza Boats

(Dairy or Meat or Pareve)

4 medium zucchini

2 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves

1 cup, more or less, prepared tomato or pizza sauce

1 cup, more or less, shredded mozzarella cheese

1 red onion, sliced and slices cut into inch-long pieces

3 ounces button mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Grated parmesan cheese

Extra virgin olive oil

OPTIONAL: Any other fresh veggies you like; fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, etc.; omit cheese and add crumbled hamburger or sliced chicken.

Line a large, rimmed baking dish with foil and set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees,

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place them ut side up on the prepared pan. If they will not sit straight, slice a thin slice off the bottom so they will lie flat. Brush the “boasts” with the olive oil, cut side and skin side so they will not stick to the foil. Set aside.

Place some baby spinach leaves on the zucchini boats and then add some tomato sauce to hold them in place. Sprinkle cheese over the sauce and then top with red onions, mushrooms, and mince garlic. Sprinkle with some Parmesan and place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is melted, and the veggies are cooked. Serves 4 to 8.

Pita Pocket Salads (Pareve or Dairy or Meat)

3 ears sweet corn (roasted on the grill from the night before)

Leftover green beans or any leftover veggies 

Diced pepper

Diced sweet or red onion (optional)

1 can black or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Chopped almonds (any nuts will do, walnuts are great)

Raisins (use cranberries if you like)

Canned tuna, flaked (diced chicken works also) or cheese slices or shreds

Diced tomatoes

Shredded lettuce or baby spinach

Pita pockets

OPTIONAL: Any kinds of sauce or dressing, or condiments you like such as sriracha, ranch, tahini, hummus, or even a mayo based sauce or Russian type dressing, if you like. 

Cut the kernels of corn from the ears and discard the cobs. Place the corn in a bowl and add the other ingredients, except the tuna, chicken or cheese. Toss to mix. Add the protein and toss. 

Place into a pita pocket and leave room for the lettuce, tomatoes and any sauce you may like. This is a great way to use up any leftover veggies such as zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, string beans, pea pods, etc.

Frozen Banana Yogurt Pops (Dairy)

1 16-ounce carton vanilla yogurt, preferably Greek

1 6-ounce can organic orange juice concentrate

4 ripe bananas

1 cup strawberries

1/2 cup raspberries

2 tbsp. Agave syrup

Combine all ingredients in a blender except raspberries, and puree until smooth. Add the raspberries and pulse once or twice. Pour into 12–15, 3- or 4-ounce plastic or paper cups and freeze. You can also pour into larger ice pop molds. After one hour, insert a plastic spoon, handle side up into the center of the yogurt. Freeze overnight. Makes 12 to 14 servings.