How To Enjoy Summer’s Bounty

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Another summer is upon us. The days are getting longer; kids will soon be out of school, and gardens will bloom with all their glorious colors. Along with the sights, smells, and sounds of these golden days are the wonderful tastes we have come to know and love. The enticing aroma of cookouts and barbecues will soon fill our parks and neighborhoods-causing many a mouth to water.

With the tempting aromas all around, summer can be a time of stress for those of us who are trying to watch what we eat. The spread at a picnic or cookout may smell enticing, but it often can be high in fat, sodium, and sugar. If you are on heart-healthy or diabetic diet, you may even avoid these get-togethers for fear of “blowing your diet.”

Does this mean you need to stay inside all summer long and watch everyone else live it up? Not one bit! By educating yourself and planning ahead, you can get out there and be part of the fun. Alyson Hendershot, Registered Dietitian for Nutritionally Yours, recommends the following simple tips for surviving the summer. Follow these tips, and you will soon be celebrating with the best of them.

When attending social functions do not hang around the food tables, select your foods, and move around and socialize instead of snacking.

Do not go to social functions starving. Eat something sensible before you leave the house. This will help you avoid overeating once you get to the party.

Keep fresh produce available at home. Fruits and vegetable are the best low calorie snack, and they are loaded with good nutrition. The best way to ensure that you will eat them is to clean the fruits and vegetables when you get home from the market. For carrots and celery, cut them into sticks and store in sandwich bags. Wash berries, peaches, plums, and apples and pat dry. As for melon, wash and cut into cubes and store in Tupperware.

The best low calorie fruit choice is watermelon. There are only 80 calories in two cups of watermelon.

At picnics, avoid eating salads with mayonnaise; stick with vinaigrettes (vinegar-based dressings).

At barbeques, choose grilled chicken over hot dogs or hamburgers. When hot dog and hamburgers are the only choice, load up on onions, lettuce, and tomatoes, instead of high calorie condiments.

Keep hydrated. Getting enough fluids is always important, but never more than during the hot days of summer. Drink at least six to eight cups of fluids per day. A refreshing beverage is homemade iced tea brewed with herbal tea, or a mix of regular and herbal tea. The tea can be sweetened to your taste with honey, sugar, or a sugar substitute.

Following these tips will help you eat right, but what can you take to summer gatherings that both you and your friends and family will enjoy? You want something low fat and healthy, yet tasty too. Not a problem. Chef Mike Herbert of Nutritionally Yours recommends a low fat, heart-healthy Garden Potato Salad and delicious, calcium-rich smoothies that will make you number one on everyone’s invitation list. For recipes, see the “Healthy Summer Recipes” article.

Article contributed by Mike Herbert, Chef/Culinary Instructor for Nutritionally Yours.

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