With spring in full tilt and summer on the way, it’s the perfect time of year to devote to cool foods.

Just as soup is synonymous with autumn, cool side dishes and chilled desserts remind us of springtime. Whether you hand crank a bucket of decadent homemade ice cream or combine nutritious leafy greens for a healthy salad, keeping cool in warm weather is a breeze when you dine on cool foods.

Try assorted fruits and sliced melons for breakfast and a tuna or chicken salad for lunch. Along with being fresh and tasty, preparing these items for meals means you won’t have to heat up your kitchen to cook on days that are warm enough already.


Easy Chicken Salad

Easy Chicken Salad

2 to 2½ cups cooked chicken, pulled or cubed

1 cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped seedless grapes (green or purple)

½ cup chopped pecans, toasted

1 cup mayonnaise

Stir together ingredients. Serve with crackers or in sandwiches.


Grape Salad

8 ounces cream cheese

8 ounces sour cream

½ cup granulated sugar

8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)

2 pounds seedless red grapes

2 pounds seedless green grapes

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

Cream together cream cheese, sour cream and sugar; add cheese, if using, to creamed mixture. Add grapes and stir. Pour mixture into baking dish.

Combine brown sugar and chopped pecans. Spread over casserole mixture. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.


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Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad

1 (8-ounce box) macaroni, cooked to make 2 cups

1 cucumber, diced

1 tomato, diced

1 small onion, chopped

3 or 4 tablespoons sweet salad pickles

¾ cup mayonnaise

3 teaspoons vinegar

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

salt, to taste

Stir together macaroni, cucumber, tomato, onion and pickles. Mix together mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and salt; toss with macaroni mixture. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.


No-Bake Banana Pudding

3 (3-ounce) boxes instant vanilla pudding

5 cups milk

1 (12-ounce) container whipped topping, such as Cool Whip, divided

½ cup sour cream

5 bananas, sliced

1 box vanilla wafers

Mix instant pudding with milk. Beat until slightly thickened. Mix half of Cool Whip and sour cream with pudding mixture. Set aside.

Place half of bananas in bottom of large bowl. Top with half of vanilla wafers. Pour half of pudding mixture over bananas and wafers.

Add a second layer of bananas, wafers and pudding. Top with remaining Cool Whip. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.


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Cream Cheese Roll-Ups

Cream Cheese Roll-Ups

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 (4-ounce) jar hot salsa

4 green onions, finely sliced

4 large flour tortillas

10 slices bacon, cut into small pieces and cooked crisp

16 thin slices deli ham

In medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, salsa and onions. Spread mixture on tortillas, leaving a half-inch edge. Top each with bacon and ham, and then roll into tight cylinders and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove from fridge, discard plastic wrap, and cut each roll into 1-inch pieces, discarding the uneven ends.