There are a few good reasons more and more people are clinging on to the “no-cook” craze—and for good reason. First, it’s hot temps and humidity don’t make for the best cooking environment unless your AC is up to the max. Second, some foods retain more nutrients in their raw versus cooked state. “Vitamins such as vitamin C and B-vitamins are destroyed when heated, which means if you eat a no-cook meal, you’ll be getting the full amount of these vitamins that food has to offer,” says Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal best-selling author of The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook. So, to inspire you to meal prep sans heat this summer, we asked top food experts to share their favorite no-cook lunch recipes that also fuel their workouts.
Strawberry-Kiwi Yogurt Parfaits
An easy parfait can be a perfect no-cook lunch recipe, or even a great breakfast or dinner recipe. “The Greek yogurt provides protein and calcium, the fruits provide vitamin C [and] fiber, and the almonds provide healthy fat and the antioxidant vitamin E,” Amidor says.
1 cup (about 8 large) strawberries, hulled and diced
2 kiwis, peeled and diced
¼ cup freshly squeezed or 100 percent orange juice
1 32-ounce container nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
½ cup almonds, chopped
- In a small bowl, place the strawberries and kiwis. Add the orange juice, and toss to evenly coat.
- In each of four parfait glasses, layer ¼ cup yogurt, and top with 2 tablespoons of the fruit mixture followed by 1 tablespoon of chopped almonds. Repeat for a second layer.
- Serve, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Strawberry-Mint Overnight Oats
With the leftover strawberries you have from those yogurt parfaits, you can make these no-cook oats. “Oats provide soluble fiber, shown to help reduce cholesterol, while the strawberries provide vitamin C, folate, and fiber,” Amidor says. “The mint also provides a refreshing summer feel and a small number of vitamins and minerals.”
½ cup Quaker old-fashioned oats
⅔ cups nonfat milk
2 teaspoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon 100 percent maple syrup
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1 16-ounce jar with lid
- Combine oats, milk, chia seeds, and maple syrup in the jar and stir to combine. Cover with the lid and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- In the morning, remove the jar from the refrigerator and stir to combine. If you like it warm, place in the microwave (without the lid) for two minutes.
- Thinly slice the strawberries. Top the sliced berries and mint over the oatmeal, and enjoy!
Avocado Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Whether you’re vegan or not, the no-cook lunch recipe for this meat-free sandwich provides a satiating combo of ingredients. “Altogether, this sandwich is packed with tons of nutrients, from healthy fats from the rich avocado to protein and fiber from the chickpeas,” says Abbey Sharp, R.D., blogger at Abbey’s Kitchen.
1 can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large ripe avocado
1½ tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon hot chili pepper, finely minced
Salt and pepper
½ cup cooked and shredded beets
4 slices whole-grain sprouted bread
1 large heirloom tomato, sliced
½ cup sweet microgreens
½ cup shredded carrots
- In a bowl, mash the avocado until fairly smooth, and add in the lemon juice, hot chili pepper, and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper.
- To assemble the sandwich, layer the slices of tomatoes on one slice of bread, and add the microgreens, the beets, the chickpea salad, and the carrots.
Thanks to its cold temperature, gazpacho is one of summer’s most beloved soups. This no-cook lunch recipe is brimming with summer-ripe veggies, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers. “Pick up some shrimp cocktail at the supermarket or fish market for a low-calorie source of protein,” suggests Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., Virginia-based dietitian and author of Prediabetes: A Complete Guide. “The two foods combined are very filling and quite low in calories and saturated fat.” She suggests rounding out this meal with a slice of whole-grain bread and juicy summer fruit or berries.
1½ pounds ripe tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
1 large sweet onion, peeled
1½ large bell peppers, any color
2 large celery stalks
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4-6 fresh basil leaves
¼-1 teaspoon sriracha or hot pepper sauce, to taste
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (11.5 fluid ounce) cans tomato juice or vegetable juice, such as V8, divided
- Cut the vegetables into manageable pieces, about 2 or 3 inches each.
- In a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix or food processor, place all of the ingredients except the vegetable or tomato juice.
- Add about half of the juice. Process until you have the desired consistency.
- Add the rest of the vegetable juice and stir.
- Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.