Author: Angela Warm, Seasonal Health Editor
Having grown up in sunny Florida for most of my life, the change in seasons was something I only experienced during the occasional holiday trip. I considered myself quite seasonally challenged until moving overseas almost nine years ago. Since then I’ve gained a new appreciation for all that the changing seasons have to offer.
By far my favorite season of the year is still summer. And for good reason. The abundance of fresh fruit and berries, the long, warmer days, and healthy food quickly prepared or cooked on the grill!
From smoothies to salads; breakfast pudding to grilled vegetables, there is simply no reason to throw your healthy eating plans out the window just because summer is here. Now is a great time to eat smaller, lighter meals since heavier meals tend to make some feel sluggish and bloated.
The following are some of my favorite summer recipes that are not only delicious and nutritious but super easy to make. And if you make it to the bottom, I’ve put over a dozen of my favorite recipes together in a special eBook just for our My Swiss Story Readers.
Chia is King
Been hearing all the chatter about Chia seeds lately? For a tiny little seed with no discernable flavor, they pack a powerful nutritious punch. Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, protein, and omega 3’s just to name a few of their unique benefits.
They can easily be incorporated into your daily routine by sprinkling on salads, added to smoothies or used in place of eggs for baking. But by far my favorite way to eat them is as a breakfast porridge. Mixed up the night before in less than 5 minutes, you can have a super healthy and delicious breakfast (or snack) ready to go.
Three to four ingredients is all you need: 1 ½ cups of milk (plant or nut version preferred) + ½ cup of chia seeds and a tablespoon of maple syrup or sweetener of your choice. In the morning you can flavor it with whatever fruit or healthy toppings you have on hand. I like to add hemp seeds, coconut flakes and fresh berries to mine. So darn yummy. Just remember to check your teeth for those little seeds.
Smoothies are popular meals and snacks that can suit almost any taste or dietary preference. Their healthiness is largely determined by their ingredients. They can be a great way to get your kids (and you) some extra servings of fruit and veggies. Since it’s easy to sneak in some leafy greens like spinach or kale into a smoothie without anyone being the wiser
To make your smoothies healthy make sure to use a variety of seasonal fruits and veggies, a nut butter, plain greek yogurt or coconut milk for added protein and a healthy fat such as coconut oil or liquid omegas. Make sure to limit any sugary ingredients like fruit juice or added sweeteners. There is plenty of sweetness to be had from fresh (or frozen) bananas or other seasonal fruits on hand.
It is important to watch the size of your smoothie. Although considered “healthy”, people tend to go a bit overboard on the size and quantity forgetting that they do contain quite a bit of sugar. So everything in moderation.
Simple Summer Salads
As temperatures increase, your body may crave cooler, lighter meals such as salads. Nutrient dense salads are one the healthiest meals you can make to your liking during these warmer months.
Really anything goes when it comes to salads. You can pick from a variety of healthy greens to start off as the base of your salad. I personally love the “kitchen sink” variety and end up adding whatever fresh berries, vegetables, or cheese I have on hand to mine. I also tend to add all manner of extras like hemp seeds, a seed mix, roasted chickpeas and homemade sauerkraut.
For a complete meal that helps you feel fuller longer, make sure to incorporate a healthy protein and healthy fat to your summer salad. Leftover chicken, toasted walnuts or chickpeas can add an extra boost of protein and help your body absorb all the vitamins and minerals present. Smothering your salad in a high fat, high calorie dressing defeats the purpose of eating healthy. Opt instead for a simple dressing of lemon and oil or oil and vinegar along with fresh herbs and spices. My favorite spinach, walnut salad recipe is included below.
Grade A Grilling
Whether you call it a barbeque, braai or simply grilling out, summer is synonymous with firing up the grill and cooking outdoors. Barbecues often include an array of overcooked, over-processed foods that can sometimes have negative health impacts. But there are ways to turn your picnic or cook out into a healthy experience.
Studies show that adding a rub or marinade that contains sage, thyme and garlic, can cut down significantly on the carcinogenic effects caused by grilling by as much as 80%.
Including grilled vegetables that are naturally high in fiber and low in calories, make a good balance to the often meat-heavy barbeque menu. Consider grilling fish and fruit for a heart healthy alternative.
Ever consider a mushroom lentil burger for the grill? They are delicious and nutritious. Check out the Grilling eBook below for additional recipes.
While everyone loves to sit back and sip on a cool, sweet cocktail in the summer, alcohol can be very dehydrating. Mocktails are a great alternative as they are hydrating, without the annoying hangover and empty calories. Mix sparkling water with fresh fruits and berries and a splash of sugar free cranberry or pomegranate juice for a healthy summer drink. Including ingredients that are nutrient dense like fresh juices, kombucha and coconut water can easily turn your mocktail into a boost of essential vitamins and nutrients. Cheers to that.
Delicious & Nutritious Desserts
Sugar is the #1 reason people gain weight, suffer from pain and inflammation and contribute to chronic diseases. The refined white substance is highly addictive and tricks your brain into always thinking it needs more. The good news is you can easily ditch the sugar laden treats for healthier versions this summer.
It can be as simple as replacing refined sugar with healthier substitutes such as dates, maple syrup or even sweet potatoes when baking. Another great option is freezing fresh or “overripe” seasonal fruits such as bananas and strawberries and mixing them together for a healthy and delicious version of ice cream.
Summer Summary & eBook
So whether you enjoy lazy picnics by the lake or grilling out with friends and family in the backyard or garden, summer is the perfect opportunity to not only be a bit more active, but eat a little healthier, too. Summer can be a great time to focus on your health with simple and nutritious recipes the whole family will love.
I’ve put a special summer meal plan together exclusively for the readers of My Swiss Story. It is chocked full of over a dozen delicious summer recipes including the ones mentioned above, as well as a few of my favorites thrown in. Download your copy here and let us know which one is your favorite.
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