Southwest Florida summers are hot and humid, and this one has already been a scorcher. You can keep cool by taking the following suggestions for easy meals, cold desserts and icy drinks.
1 - Make a salad or visit Sweet Tomatoes at 10940 U.S. 41 N., Naples. Go to www.souplantation.com to sign up for events and coupons. Information: 597-1117
2 - Make your own ice pops at home with fresh fruits or get Edy’s Fruit Bars at your favorite supermarket. Or buy some Donvier frozen pop molds at Sur la Table in the Mercato; they come with recipes for “adult” taste sensations such as ice cream latte pops or iced tea pops.
3 - Refresh yourself by making an Arnie Palmer — half iced tea and half lemonade. Most local restaurants serve them, but California Pizza at Waterside Shops, 5555 U.S. 41 N., Naples, has a memorable one. Information: 566-1900
4 - Get out of the kitchen and grill your dinner outdoors. If you’re still hot, visit McCormick & Schmick’s from 3:30 to 7 p.m. during happy hour and enjoy a cheeseburger and french fries for $2.95 when you buy a drink. It’s at the Mercato, 9114 Strada Stell Court, Naples. Information:591-2299
5 - Make a lobster roll or go to Steamers for a real New England one at 5317 Airport-Pulling Road, Naples. Information: 593-3388
6 - July is Ice Cream Month, but don’t wait. Go to Royal Scoop to enjoy a homemade cup at 15 Eighth St., Bonita Springs. Information: 992-2000
7 - Make a smoothie with fresh fruit, yogurt and crushed ice or go to Tropical Smoothie at 13585 U.S. 41 N., Naples, 591-2241; 5016 Airport-Pulling Road, Naples, 262-3600; or 570 U.S. 41 N., Naples, 793-5700.
8 - Quench your thirst with a homemade lime rickey or get one at Sonic Drive-In, 3585 U.S. 41 E., Naples. Information: 417-1462
9 - Enjoy an ice cream sod. There’s nothing like an old-fashioned ice cream soda to remind you of lazy summer days, and Regina’s, 824 Fifth Ave. S., Naples, will have you dreaming of days gone by. Information: 434-8181
10 - Make a fruit salad. Gather all the summer fruits available at local markets— including mangoes at this time of year — and make a great big fruit salad to serve with yogurt or cottage cheese. Have the leftovers the next day with sherbet or just as is.
11 - Make gazpacho or visit Ridgway’s Bar & Grill, 1300 Third St. S., Naples, for lunch or dinner out. It is always on the menu with the soup of the day. Information: 262-5500
12 - Serve dinner as a picnic. Spread a blanket on the floor and dig into sandwiches, potato salad, cole slaw and watermelon.
13 - Don’t just dream about going to a state fair. Eat the foods you get there, such as a corn dog, kettle corn, lemon shakeups, cotton candy, fried Twinkies and — if your arteries can take it — chicken-fried bacon from the Texas State Fair. The list goes on.
14 - Stir-fry your dinner. This is a fast cooking method that uses fresh vegetables and small pieces of meat or seafood.
15 - Cook ahead. Set aside a cool evening to cook a few meals so the rest of the week will be a breeze. You just have to heat and serve.
16 - Have a potluck with friends. Everyone brings something to make it a fun evening, and no one has the hot-stove burden of preparing a full meal.
17 - Make Dagwood sandwiches (everything but the kitchen sink) and read the comics.
18 - Boil eggs in the morning and make egg salad for dinner, or, if you prefer, make and chill a tuna salad with crispy chunks of celery and onion in it.
19 - Freeze your candy bars and chocolate-coated cookies to double the impact.
20 - If all else fails, make a cool drink of your choice and sip it in a tub full of cool water to help you reduce your body temperature during the long, hot summer.