Summertime is an excellent time for family and friends to get together. Almost every summer holiday involves food of one kind or another, but here in the United States, we can’t resist a good barbecue. But what if you’re trying to stay on track, even with all those summer treats around? Even though one cheat day won’t detract from your overall diet progress, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet when you’re constantly being given food that might not be the most healthy option. The good news is that you aren’t limited to just unhealthy foods over the summer months. In fact, summer is a great time to enjoy a myriad of healthy food at their peak season and learn to cook brand new recipes for your family and friends.
Fresh fruit and vegetables offer us lots of vitamins that our bodies need to function at full capacity. Many fruits and vegetables make for great building blocks for family meals. They are much more affordable than you might think and are a welcome addition to any cookout. Chances are that if you are trying to watch your diet–whether to lose weight, because of a dietary restriction, or simply because you want to eat healthier–someone else is trying to do the same, and they are likely to be very glad that someone has brought a healthy option to share. Make the most of the summer growing season by trying some new healthy meals!
Bell peppers are a great summer vegetable that come in a variety of colors and levels of sweetness. They offer vitamin E, A, and K1, and are also a great source of potassium and folate. Stuffed peppers are a wonderful way to dress up any dinner table and add some summer color to your meal, as well as being incredibly versatile. You can fill them with anything from scrambled eggs to quinoa to make a filling meal that will please everyone. For a distinct summer meal, try making “taco” stuffed peppers. After cooking the meat of your choice with taco seasoning, stuff the peppers with the meat, black beans, corn, and cheese. After baking, top with lettuce and tomatoes for a low-carb meal.
With barbecue season upon us, you might be wondering how you can make healthy options on the grill. Kebabs are a perfect option for this, and each person can pick exactly what they want to put on their skewer. A summer kebab staple is bell pepper, mushroom, tomatoes, onions, and chicken. Season with olive oil, garlic and salt and grill on the barbecue for a flavorful meal that anyone can customize and enjoy. With few carbohydrates, high protein, and so many healthy vegetables, it’s a perfect way to offer up a healthy and balanced meal while still getting to spend time at the grill.
If you find yourself craving something sweet, but are trying to avoid summer treats like ice cream, why not reach for some fruit? With so many fruits reaching their perfect ripeness over the summer, it seems silly not to take advantage of it. If you’re looking to try something new, try grilling fruit as a delicious and healthy dessert option. Pineapple grills beautifully and contains an enzyme called bromelain that helps digest protein. Grilling pineapple slices brings out their natural sugars and intensifies them. You can grill them without any preparation, or you can put them in a bag with cinnamon and brown sugar before grilling for an extra sweet treat.
If you are wanting to eat something a little more substantial that can fill you up without making you feel heavy, there are plenty of recipes for that too. Tomatoes are now in season, which makes it a great time to try caprese salad. It’s quick and easy, and so pretty that it looks like you put much more time into it than you actually need to–the perfect combination for an impressive dish in a hurry. Slice up a large tomato and a ball of mozzarella, drizzle on some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and top with fresh cut basil for a perfect summer meal. The best part is that you can even use caprese to place on top of grilled chicken breast for that extra bit of flair and flavor.
If you’re looking to feed a large gathering, or just have some leftovers for the next couple of days, you can try making a large batch of pasta primavera. Pasta primavera uses all sorts of spring and summertime vegetables, such as tomato, zucchini, peppers, and yellow squash. You can choose whichever vegetables you like! Toss them into a glass pan with pre-cooked wholewheat bowtie pasta, olive oil, salt, and Italian seasoning and bake until the veggies are soft. Top with cheese and you have a great dish that will please everyone. It’s a perfect way to get the kids to eat vegetables and learn to enjoy their natural flavors.
Summer is a great time to stock your refrigerator with fresh produce. While there is no harm in indulging a bit in the upcoming season’s foods like hot dogs and ice cream, it’s important not to make it too much of a habit. Eating all the healthy and delicious foods available now will help you build up the habit in a way that doesn’t feel like a punishment. Incorporating healthy foods into your everyday meals helps build good habits for children as well. Eating well keeps your weight in a healthy range, which in turn keeps your muscles and joints in good shape. There’s the old saying that abs are made in the kitchen, and it really is true. Food is the building block of everything our bodies do. You can take advantage of the current growing season to plant a garden, too! Planting tomatoes, carrots, onions, zucchini, and other fruits and vegetables is a great way to get outside and lets you and your family feel extra accomplished when you eat the food you grew in your own backyard.