FeaturesJun/Jul 2013 Issue

The JOY of (Not) Cooking

Can't stand the heat? Opt for easy no-cook meals.

Couple dancing in kitchen

Ā© Marnie Burkhardt/Age Fotostock

[Updated July 28, 2015]

When summer temperatures soar, the last thing you want to do is slave over a hot stove. The solution to beat the heat and still eat? No-cook meals.

No-cook cooking is the perfect answer to sizzling days or when a crazed work and family schedule means you want to eat without pulling out pots and pans. With a bit of creativity, you can turn out delicious gluten-free breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts without turning on your oven or your stove. Follow these tips to glean the best flavor from your no-cook dishes.

Shop at the market. With summer in full swing, farmers’ markets are plush with a dizzying array of fruits and vegetables at their flavor peak. This is the best place to load up on these no-cook staples. When you’re not cooking the heck out of foods, it’s harder to mask poor quality ingredients. So it’s worth seeking out top-notch items like local peaches and tender greens.

Covet convenience. Most grocery stores have plenty of nutritious convenience food options that make no-cook cooking a breeze. These include canned lentils and beans, cooked whole chicken, jarred salsa, lean gluten-free deli meats and rice noodles.

Spice is nice. Spices like cinnamon and cayenne, as well as fresh summer herbs like mint and basil, can instantly add punch to no-cook dishes.

Soups on. Cold soups, such as gazpacho, are a nutritious and refreshing addition to stove-free meals. Herbs, vegetables, yogurt and fruit can all be worked into chilled soups with great success.

Tools of the trade. An electric kettle is a quick and efficient way to boil water for dishes like rice noodles that won’t steam up the kitchen. You’ll also want to invest in a serious chef’s knife to breeze through all the chopping required. A high-powered blender or food processor will make quick work of cold soups, smoothies, dressings and sauces.

These easy recipes will help you keep your cool and give your kitchen the night off. They’re also ideal for overnight camping for a satisfying meal when you’re sleeping under the stars.

Overnight Cocoa Oats


During hectic mornings, having a breakfast that’s nearly ready-to-eat means you can bolt out the door properly nourished. Thankfully, there’s no need to hover over a pot of simmering steel-cut oats as soaking the grains overnight gives them a wonderful, chewy texture. You can keep soaked oats in the fridge for up to 4 days. This recipe is easily adapted to whatever spices or toppings you wish to use.

1 cup gluten-free steel-cut oats
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup dairy-free milk of choice, more for serving
1 cup raspberries
¼ cup unsweetened flaked coconut

1. Place oats, chia seeds, maple syrup, cocoa, vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg in a glass jar or other container. Pour in milk and stir contents together well. Secure lid and refrigerate mixture overnight or up to 4 days.

2. When ready to serve, divide soaked oats among serving bowls and top with additional milk, raspberries and coconut.

Each serving contains 392 calories, 11g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 36mg sodium, 65g carbohydrate, 14g fiber, 10g sugars, 12g protein, 28Est GL.

Thai Chicken Noodle Salad

Photo by Matthew Kadey

Thai Chicken Noodle Salad

Thai Chicken Noodle Salad


Infused with classic salty, sweet and sour Asian flavors, tender noodles and crisp vegetables assure this no-cook dish has wonderful textures. Use wider rice noodles, not the very thin, vermicelli-style ones. If possible, look for more nutritious brown rice versions, such as Thai Kitchen. Supermarket gluten-free rotisserie chicken is a convenient way to infuse no-cook dishes with protein. Leftovers can be brought to the office for a healthy workday lunch.

½ pound (½ package) Thai rice noodles
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
1½ tablespoons fish sauce, optional
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey, coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 teaspoon Asian hot sauce, such as Sriracha, or ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 teaspoons finely minced ginger
4 cups shredded cooked gluten-free rotisserie chicken
2 medium carrots, sliced into thin matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 English cucumber, halved length wise and thinly sliced crosswise
2 cups bean sprouts
2 green onions (scallions), white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cilantro or Thai basil, roughly chopped, for garnish
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, for garnish
1 lime, sliced into wedges, for garnish

1. Place noodles in a large heat-proof bowl. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil using an electric kettle and pour the water over the noodles. Make sure noodles are fully submerged. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until noodles become tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain well and place noodles back in the bowl.

2. Meanwhile, stir rice vinegar together with soy sauce, fish sauce (if using), sesame oil, honey or sugar, hot sauce, garlic and ginger in a small bowl. Add this dressing to noodles and toss to coat.

3. Add chicken, carrots, red pepper, cucumber, bean sprouts and green onions to noodles, tossing to combine.

4. Divide noodles among serving plates and garnish with cilantro or basil and sesame seeds. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

Each serving contains 429 calories, 19g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 96mg cholesterol, 899mg sodium, 44g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 6g sugars, 22g protein, 27Est GL.

Mango Gazpacho Soup

Photo by Matthew Kadey

Mango Gazpacho Soup

Mango Gazpacho


Hot weather is the perfect opportunity to spoon up cold soups. This rendition of gazpacho replaces tomatoes with sweet, exotic mango. You can also use cantaloupe and peaches.

3 ripe mangoes, peeled and pitted, divided
1 cup coconut water
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed
½ English cucumber, peeled and chopped
½ cup diced white onion
¼ cup fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
-Juice of ½ lime
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper, optional
1 small avocado, diced, for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, for garnish

1. Place 2½ mangoes in a blender or food processor container. (Dice remaining mango and reserve for garnish.)

2. Add coconut water, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, basil, garlic, ginger, olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, salt and white pepper (if using) to blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

3. Chill soup in the refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving. When ready to serve, divide soup among serving bowls and garnish with diced mango, avocado and mint.

Each serving contains 316 calories, 19g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 220mg sodium, 40g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 27g sugars, 3g protein, 11Est GL.

Zucchini Pesto Chicken


Here’s a way to use up the abundance of summer zucchini. When shaved thin, it becomes marvelously tender, a tasty substitute for traditional pasta. Peppery arugula adds punch to this pesto sauce. If tolerated, walnuts or pine nuts can replace hemp seeds in the pesto.

4 medium zucchini, scrubbed
1½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cups shredded cooked gluten-free rotisserie chicken
2 cups packed arugula
½ cup packed fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup hemp seeds
½ cup grated Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano or dairy-free cheese replacement
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Shave zucchini flesh into very thin ribbons, using a vegetable peeler or mandoline. Discard fibrous core. Place zucchini ribbons in a large bowl, along with tomatoes and chicken.

2. To make pesto, place arugula, basil, garlic and hemp seeds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely minced. Add cheese, lemon juice and salt; process until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl. With the machine running, pour in the olive oil through the feed tube and blend until fully combined.

3. Place pesto in the bowl with vegetables and chicken and toss to coat. Let mixture sit 30 minutes to meld flavors before serving.

Each serving contains 591 calories, 45g total fat, 10g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 154mg cholesterol, 1017mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 4g sugars, 39g protein, 5Est GL.

Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

Photo by Matthew Kadey

Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing


You’ll be surprised how simple this salad is to make, considering how great it tastes. It’s equally good for a workday lunch as it is for a quick weekday dinner.


2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, shredded
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
2 green onions (scallions), white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/3 cup raisins
¼ cup shelled sunflower seeds
2 ounces feta cheese, diced, optional
6 cups tender greens, such as baby spinach or mesclun


2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
1 tablespoon honey
-Juice of ½ lemon1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, optional
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1. In a large bowl, toss together chickpeas, red bell pepper, carrot, tomatoes, parsley, mint, green onions, raisins, sunflower seeds and feta cheese (if using).

2. To make dressing, stir together tahini, honey, lemon juice, garlic, salt, black pepper and cayenne (if using) in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil until smooth.

3. Divide greens among serving plates and top with chickpea mixture. Drizzle dressing over salad and serve.

Each serving contains 378 calories, 17g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 560mg sodium, 51g carbohydrate, 10g fiber, 10g sugars, 11g protein, 21Est GL.


Beef Lettuce Wraps with Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce


Fresh-tasting lettuce wraps cross the generation divide, pleasing adults and kids alike. Surprisingly, roast beef is one of the leaner options at the deli counter. For extra crunch and nutrients, add some shredded carrot, kohlrabi or zucchini to the wraps.

½ pound gluten- free deli roast beef, roughly chopped
½ cup sliced jarred arti- choke hearts
8 large lettuce leaves, such as Boston or Romaine, tough ends trimmed
2/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
-Juice of ½ lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine roast beef and artichoke hearts. Place mixture in equal amounts on top of lettuce leaves.

2. To make Tomato Sauce, place sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor container and blend until smooth. Add additional olive oil, if needed, to help with blending.

3. Drizzle Tomato Sauce over roast beef mixture.

4. Enclose mixture and sauce by folding lettuce leaves taco-style and serve.

Each serving contains 259 calories, 17g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 34mg cholesterol, 371mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 4g sugars, 19g protein, 3Est GL.

Fruit Crisp with Coconut Whipped Cream

Photo by Matthew Kadey

Fruit Crisp with Coconut Whipped Cream

Fruit Crisps with Coconut Whipped Cream


Summer is the perfect opportunity to work sun-kissed fruit into cook-free desserts. Rich-tasting coconut whipped cream adds flair to this simple fruit-and-granola mixture. Use leftover coconut liquid in smoothies.

1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrow root powder
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups mixed berries of choice, such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
2 peaches, peeled, pitted, chopped
2 cups gluten-free granola or muesli
1/3 cup chopped nuts or seeds of choice, optional, for garnish

1. To make Coconut Whipped Cream, place an unopened can of full-fat coconut milk in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Open the can without shaking it. Scoop the thick cream on the top into a large bowl. Using a hand-held electric mixer or stand mixer, beat coconut cream with cornstarch or arrowroot powder until it is the consistency of whipped cream. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and beat in honey, vanilla and nutmeg. Keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

2. In a large bowl, toss together berries, peaches and granola or muesli.

3. Divide mixture among serving bowls. Top each with a dollop of coconut cream and sprinkle with nuts or seeds (if using).

Each serving contains 633 calories, 29g total fat, 23g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 202mg sodium, 93g carbohydrate, 10g fiber, 52g sugars, 8g protein, 47Est GL.


Banana Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce

Photo by Matthew Kadey

Banana Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce

Banana Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce


Pureeing frozen bananas lets you enjoy a frosty, creamy treat without the assistance of an ice cream maker. To freeze bananas, peel them and slice into thirds; freeze them in an airtight bag or container. Using boiling water to make a chocolate sauce is a trick borrowed from backpackers who crave fondue in the backcountry. Extra chocolate sauce will harden upon sitting. It can be softened by stirring in additional hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth.

Chocolate Sauce

2/3 cup water
3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon orange zest
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne or chili powder, optional

Ice Cream

4 medium frozen bananas
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup pitted cherries, halved
½ cup chopped nuts or seeds, optional
-Flakey sea salt or Fleur de Sel, optional

1. To make Chocolate Sauce, bring 2/3 cup water to a boil using an electric kettle and place it in a bowl along with the chocolate. Let sit 10 minutes without stirring. Carefully drain as much water as possible from the bowl and immediately stir orange zest, cinnamon and cayenne or chili powder (if using) into the chocolate until smooth. Stir in additional hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to reach a smoother consistency.

2. Place frozen bananas and vanilla in a food processor or high-powered blender container and blend until smooth and creamy. (Don’t over-process or you’ll melt the bananas.)

3. Divide banana ice cream among serving bowls and top with Chocolate Sauce, cherries and nuts (if using). Sprinkle with a few grinds of salt, if desired. Serve immediately.

Each serving contains 251 calories, 7g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 1mg cholesterol, 6mg sodium, 46g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 29g sugars, 3g protein, 18Est GL.

TIP If not served immediately, store banana ice cream in the freezer in an airtight container. When ready to serve, allow ice cream to sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften.

Canadian-based Matthew Kadey, RD, (muffintinmania.com) is a dietitian and food writer. He is author of The Muffin Tin Chef and The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook.


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