…it’s better to be a hopeful person than a cynical, grumpy one, because you have to live in the same world either way, and if you’re hopeful, you have more fun.
- Barbara Kingsolver
It’s strange that I rarely write about food considering that I believe eating well is a big part of staying positive. I’m not talking about foods that are scientifically proven mood-boosters—getting into the chemistry of all that is way too complicated for a sweltering summer day.
I’m keeping it simple here: I’m talking about foods that make you feel good because they are fresh, flavorful and fitting for the season. In the summer months, that means the less cooking, the better. Who wants to spend hours over a hot stove? And let’s not even talk about the oven.
So I thought I’d share my favorite easy, breezy summer recipes. They’ll let you keep your cool literally and metaphorically. No stove or oven needed. No hassle or stress either. These recipes are so simple they don’t even include measurements—just use what you have on hand and add seasonings to taste.
Watermelon with a Kick
Cut watermelon into chunks (or use a melon baller if you want to get fancy). Put in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Toss gently. Mexican-inspired variation: Use cinnamon instead of salt and pepper. Greek-inspired variation: Toss watermelon chunks with salt, pepper, feta cheese and a little olive oil. (I sometimes use goat cheese but feta holds up better.)
Cool as a Cucumber Salad
Cut cucumbers (peeled or not) and tomatoes into cubes. If you like, add sliced red onions. Toss in a bowl with vinegar (red wine, white wine or apple cider will all work) and olive oil. I generally use 2 parts vinegar to 1 part olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with chopped Italian parsley.
Blueberries with Creamy Dip
Add brown sugar to sour cream to taste. Stir gently. Let sit in the fridge for an hour or two (or better yet, overnight) so flavors combine. Spoon over fresh blueberries.
Strawberries with Cream and Sugar
Put whole strawberries in a bowl. Put sour cream in another bowl. Put brown sugar in a third bowl. Dip each strawberry in sour cream then brown sugar. Mmm!
Squeeze the juice of half a lime or half a lemon into a tall glass. Fill with chilled sparkling water. Stir in honey, sugar or agave syrup to taste. Add ice and garnish with lime or lemon slices if you like.
Amy Wong is the executive editor of Guideposts and was a founding editor of Positive Thinking. She lives in New York City with her adopted dog, Winky, a natural-born positive thinker who believes that everyone has a treat for her and every day is the best day of her life. Amy hopes to be that optimistic someday (she’s working on it!).