This past Sunday, I gave a fun talk to a group about Healthy Eating in the Sunshine. Here are some of the tips we talked about.
Summer is the time for BBQs, grilling, 4th of July parties, and beach days. This means burgers, hot dogs, pasta and potato salads, lemonade, soda, drinks, and of course – ice cream. There’s nothing better than an ice cream or creemee (soft serve for non-Vermonters) during a hot day. These events can pack a lot of empty calories, but thankfully, summer is also the perfect time for healthy eating.
Besides all these parties, summer is also growing season for all those delicious, fresh, and local fruits & vegetables. There’s berries galore, watermelon, refreshing cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, and more. Outdoors farmer’s markets are busy, and you can hit the fields to pick your own berries. These farmer’s markets are stocked with in-season produce that is likely picked that morning or the day before, so the nutrients are at peak levels. Community supported agriculture (CSAs) offer weekly bags of fresh produce to try a variety of local and sustainable items.
When you go to a summer party, focus on this fresh, in-season produce. Here are 7 tips to boost the nutrition at your summer party:
- Fill half your plate with veggies. Start with the salads or raw veggies on the table. Filling your plate with these first will give you fiber and tons of nutrients and help prevent you from overeating on other items.
- Use avocado. Avocado is a delicious, heart-healthy fat for your salad or burger. It also helps you the absorb beta-carotenes in the fresh produce, so you can get the most nutrients out of your food. Use chopped avocado, guacamole, or an avocado-based salad dressing.
- Build a better burger. Try a grass-fed burger, salmon burger, or different veggie burgers. Throw tons of nutrient-dense toppings on it – onions, mushrooms, grilled pineapple, peppers, avocado, tomatoes, greens, or more. You can even throw your burger in a swiss chard or lettuce wrap instead of a bun.
- Use marinades when grilling. Grilling meats can produce cancer-causing compounds called HCAs. Reduce the carcinogens by up to 80% by using acid-based marinades with spices. Try a marinade with olive oil, lemon juice, and rosemary.
- Bring a healthy side dish. Offer to bring a healthy side dish, so there’s more options. Some ideas include a quinoa salad with summer veggies, grilled vegetable and chicken kabobs, fruit salad, or raw veggies with salsa or guacamole.
- Grab some fruit. Fruit is naturally sweet and perfect for a sweet treat craving. Make up a fruit salad, fruit pops, or smoothie.
- Stay hydrated! Hanging out in the heat is a surefire way to get dehydrated. Be proactive, and drink fluids throughout the day. Try water, unsweetened iced tea, or melons. If you’re exercising or sweating a lot in the heat, it’s important to replete electrolytes. Coconut water has natural electrolytes without added sugar.
What’s your favorite summer dish?