Admittedly, I have a love/hate relationship with summer these days. As a kid growing up in Texas, summer meant a lot of time spent in the swimming pool and lounging around without a care in the world. These days, I practically melt in the heat and humidity of New York City. People tend to get agitated in this heat and take their frustrations out on whoever is nearby, even perfect strangers. In fact, the other day I was walking across the street and had to pass behind a car that was sitting in the intersection. Other people were crossing the street coming the opposite direction, so I stayed to the right. One girl who was walking the opposite direction wanted to walk where I was. I couldn’t move because I had the car directly to my right and other people coming toward me on the left. She was clearly unhappy to have to go around me and elbowed me in the ribs as she passed. No joke. Things like this happen all the time in a packed city like this, but it happens much more often when we have to endure sweltering heat and humidity.
I do realize that I come from a state where the summer heat can only be described as Hell-like, and it has been pointed out to me more than once that I should be used to this heat. I respond to that by explaining that we do not just walk around and hang out in the summer heat in Texas. People there have cars with A/C, houses and workplaces with central A/C that is usually set to arctic temperatures, and swimming pools and/or clean lakes and springs are not hard to come by. By contrast, in New York we walk and ride subways where the platforms are saunas and the subway cars themselves may or may not be air conditioned but it doesn’t matter anyway because most of the time you’re packed in so tightly that it’s still hot and you’ve got no less than 2 people (if you’re lucky enough to get a seat) pressing against you, sweat and all. Now let’s talk about the window units they call A/C. The majority of us city dwellers live in old buildings and central A/C didn’t exist when the buildings were constructed. So, we buy heavy boxes we call “window units” and precariously prop them in a partially opened window with the majority of the unit hanging outside of the window. The only things holding the units in are the window pulled down over the top of it and a couple of flimsy accordion-looking extensions on the sides that may or may not be screwed into the window sill. I’m truly surprised these things don’t fall out of windows and hurt passersby all the time. I’m not an engineer, though, so I just go with it. Anyhow, window units don’t have much power at all. You get a really hot day, and these rinky-dinky A/Cs barely put a dent in the temperature of your apartment. And the swimming situation…the only free options are the crowded public pools, where the water is at least 50% urine, or the Hudson or East Rivers, where you run the risk of developing gills or a third eye after swimming in them. Nice, private swimming pools are hard to come by, so they charge an arm and a leg for you to use the facility for one day and they’re sometimes just as crowded as the public pools. Basically, summer in New York means sweating for 3 months straight.
OK, rant over. I actually do love certain things about summer, and NY. I love the longer days, the hordes of puppies being walked at any given time, the smell of flowers when I pass the community garden down the block from me, and having a nice cold glass of white wine or rose on a patio while people watching is one of my favorite summer activities. People watching doesn’t get much better than New York in the summer. Most of all, though, I love the food (you probably saw that coming). When it’s hot out, I crave light, citrusy dishes, lots of seafood and summer vegetables and herbs…mmmmm.
On that note, I developed this recipe for National Nutrition Month back in March. It was intended to go on my company’s internal blog, but they ran out of space and didn’t post it. I hate to waste a good recipe, though, so here you go! Using whatever chicken leftovers you might have – grilled, baked, rotisserie – you can make these chicken fritters and eat them on a salad, make a sandwich or wrap with them, or just eat them alone as a hearty snack. They are loaded with summer veggies, both canned and fresh, that can be swapped out for what you have in your fridge or pantry. I’ve also included the recipe for a tangy chimichurri that is a perfect complement to the fritters…and really everything. These don’t last long in my house, so hopefully you enjoy them too!
Southwest Chicken Fritters
Yields: about 8 fritters, each = 151 cal, 10g protein, 6g fat, 15g carbs, 3g fiber
1 ½ cups shredded chicken
½ cup canned low sodium black beans
½ cup red bell peppers, diced
½ cup shredded zucchini
½ cup corn kernels
Juice and zest from ½ lemon
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro (or 2 tsp dried cilantro)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (or 3 slices of toasted bread chopped in food processor)
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
- With a fork, mash up the beans and avocado.
- Add all other ingredients and mix well.
- Put in fridge and chill for about 10-15 minutes (while you make the rest of your meal and/or the chimichurri sauce below).
- Form mixture into patties about the size of a small burger patty.
- Lightly spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray or olive oil.
- Cook patties over medium heat for 4 minutes on each side.
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp minced onion
4 cloves garlic
Juice from ½ lemon
½ cup olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Either toss all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth, or finely chop all dry ingredients then stir in remaining ingredients.