Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

It’s too hot to cook!

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When the weather hits record highs of heat and humidity, I’m in no mood to cook! My mind turns to salads, and I like a lot of variety in my diet. Adding 2 or 3 different ingredients can keep it interesting. Some of my favorite add-ins for extra protein to make a complete and more satisfying meal are feta, goat or shaved asiago cheese, chick peas, navy or kidney beans, cooked lentils or quinoa. Any kind of nuts like slivered almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts and pistachios add protein and a lot of taste, but be mindful of the extra caloric punch nuts contain. Of course, you can always add grilled chicken, lean meat, or a firm grilled fish like salmon, swordfish or mahi mahi to your salad, and voila, once again, you have a complete meal that will leave you satiated instead of craving carbs. Other tasty ingredients are avocado, fresh or dried fruits like apricots, figs, and dates. Seasonal berries are also a nice change, especially when locally sourced. I like to get strawberries, blueberries and blackberries from farmer’s markets or places that actually grow them on-site like Volante farms in Needham, Wilson’s farm in Lexington, and Verrill’s farm in Concord. Russo’s is one of my favorite places for produce, but I buy the produce that is in season in this neck of the woods as it’s fresher and usually more flavorful. Local greens, like arugula, endive, and any kind of lettuce round out the salad. Why is it that anything called “baby” taste so much better? I prefer baby arugula, baby spinach, baby carrots to their grown up counterparts, as 9 times out of 10, they’re sweeter and more tender. Last, but certainly not least, is the dressing- it can make or break your salad. You can go for a minimalist approach, such as blending extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper like the kind used on Israeli chopped salad, or use a touch of raspberry or strawberry jam to your vinaigrette to give it zing. Using low fat greek yogurt as a base is also a great way to keep calories low and taste high. Try the following recipes for dressings and check out this zucchini salad that is different, healthy and palate pleasing.
Here’s a simple recipe for basic greek yogurt dressing:

2 tbsps greek yogurt (fat free)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp kosher salt (flaked sea)
1/8 tsp black pepper

Here is positively the BEST website I’ve found for all different types of salad dressings:
Now for something really different……… Raw Zucchini Pasta salad!

Raw Zucchini Pasta

 This Recipe Is:


If you’ve ever wanted to dip your toe into the “raw food” movement, this is the perfect recipe to dive into. Simple but full of amazing flavor, you won’t even notice that there’s really no actual pasta in the dish. Talk about taking the plain old salad to a whole new level!


Prep: 20 minutes | Total Time: 20 minutes
  • 2 large
  • 1 cup
    sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 clove
  • 1 cup
    coarsely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup
    cucumber, grated
  • 3 tablespoons
    hemp oil, can substitute with olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon
    balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon
    sea salt, to taste
  1. Soak the sun-dried tomatoes for 20 minutes in the water. While they’re soaking, shave the zucchini with a vegetable peeler to make “noodles.”  
  2. Once the sun-dried tomatoes have soaked, place them along with the remaining ingredients (except the zucchini) in a food processor. Process until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Toss the sauce with the zucchini and serve.

Adapted from “Thrive – The Vegan Nutrition Guide” by Brendan Brazier


For a thicker sauce, simply use a little less water. If you aren’t into raw, you can sauté the zucchini with a little coconut oil over medium heat for a few minutes. Or, you can heat the sauce over low heat for a few minutes.

Reviewed July 16, 2012


From with permission. © 2010-2012, Inc.

For more recipes go to


Bon Appetit!

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