Summer eating can go down one of three lanes, one lane includes daily choices of fresh veggies, grilling more chicken and fish than beef, having fresh fruit for dessert; another lane means you’re eating leans toward more grazing on convenience, bagged foods (chips, crackers, cookies); lots of outdoor grilling of thick, juicy burgers and all-beef hot dogs; increased drinking of cold sugar-sweetened beverages from everything from bottled cold-brew coffee to iced tea; let’s not forget more free time to sit back and have a glass of wine (or two)?
Which lane are you driving in today?
What if I told you that summer eating can fall into a third lane where you can enjoy the best of both worlds? One way to use this season is to try new foods that carry this Dietitian’s seal of approval. The dark side of summer eating happens when you take a laissez fare stance and end up facing the fall season not feeling or looking your best.
My 10 foods to add sparkle to your summer menu have been vetted for their taste, nutrition profile, convenience, and cost.
I was walking in the produce section of Whole Foods and heard a young child say “Dad, what are those big green things with thorns?” I turned and saw from afar what I thought was a Duran. My introduction to Duran’s was in Bangkok when I read a note from the hotel prohibiting the eating of Duran’s in the hotel room.
During my stay, apparently no one broke the rule, if they did, we would have had a hotel permeated with a food that “taste like heaven, smells like hell.”
The green thorny thing this child pointed out to his dad was Jackfruit, which belongs in the same family as the Duran but without the smell. Jackfruit is only one of a few fruits that provides a very good source of B vitamins. The large size, 6-7 pounds, of this tropical fruit can be overwhelming but don’t let that stop you from giving it a try. Preparation should include using latex gloves or minimum oil your hands since the fruit has a resinous covering that doesn’t wash off with soap and water. Click here to view instructional pictures on how to cut, prepare, and eat this exotic fruit.
2. Lifeway Foods Low Fat Watermelon flavored Kefir
Lifeway foods make a variety of Kefir beverages. Kefir is a tart and tangy cultured milk that is high in protein, calcium and vitamin D. Lifeway’s Kefir contains 12 live and active cultures and 15 to 20 billion beneficial probiotic strains. In addition, this brand of Kefir is 99% lactose free which make it digestible for those lactose intolerant. This beverage is thicker than fluid milk which gives body to smoothies or looks like cream when poured over fresh raspberries. The contrast between the sweet and tart flavors is surprising and refreshing. Check out your local supermarket for this limited summer edition.
3. Langostino Tails
If you like shrimp, but want to avoid a pesticide of questionable safety, try Langostino tails. These lobster-like tails have the texture and taste of lobster. Sold frozen, these tails are a low calorie, excellent lean protein source with four times the energy-maintaining iron of shrimp. These sweet treasures are wild caught, contain no sodium tripolyphospate (STPP), and come cooked and peeled!
STPP, is a suspected neurotoxin according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances; listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act as a registered pesticide and it is also registered as an air contaminant under California’s Occupational and Safety Health Act. Who wants this in your shrimp and scallops?
Check out your local Trader Joe’s freezer seafood section and use the Langostino Tails in place of shrimp.
4. La Croix Sparkling Water
Part of me thinks you’d have to be living under a rock to not hear of La Croix Sparkling Water. I started to share this find with others and realized this refreshing, calorie-free, sugar-free, free of artificial sweeteners, sparkling, clear beverage does not have the notoriety expected. Maybe it’s because La Croix initially was distributed to a limited number of grocery chains. Now it can found in most metropolitan supermarket chains.
Summer is when high humidity combined with elevated temp’s tips the scale toward total body water loss leaving us feel fatigued and even hungry (when we’re actually dehydrated). Replace sugar sweetened beverages with La Croix Sparkling water which comes in tempting flavors such as, ripe cantaloupe essence infused with pink grapefruit… a tangy duo with a touch of sweetness!
5. Beet Juice
My “Clean Eating Jumpstart Detox” program has a recipe for a Red Velvet Protein Smoothie that includes fresh, shredded beets. After staining several kitchen towels while making this drink, I went on a mission to find 100% beet juice. An unsuspecting stop at the dairy section at Trader Joe’s turned out to be the answer. There it was “Beet Juice” with a few ingredients – beets, carrots, and lime juice. No more stained towels or hands!
Red beet roots have a very high nitrate content. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator (opens up vessels) making it important for blood flow, blood pressure, reducing inflammation, improving glucose breakdown and stopping platelets from getting sticky and clogging arteries.
A decrease in nitric oxide levels have been shown to lead to insulin resistance, hypertension, stroke, and atherosclerosis. There’s also been research showing that a decrease in nitric oxide has a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease.
Many runners use beet juice before exercise, since exercise enhances the production of nitric acid and nitrate supplementation, resulting in a more efficient production of energy during all-out vigorous exercise.
Try adding 2-4 ounces of Trader Joe’s Beet Juice to your next juice or protein smoothie before your workout.
Avocados provide a healthy dose of monounsaturated fats and anti-oxidants, which helps to reduce inflammation in the body. Avocado has moved beyond Guacamole. Avocado’s now are a main player in recipes for vegan chocolate pudding, egg salad, lime ice cream, or simply added to a smoothie.
Cutting open an avocado can be a hassle, that’s why I love 100% avocado spread by “Wholly Avocado.” This peel back package allows me to remove as much as needed and close up the rest for another day. Use within that week as mashed avocado when exposed to oxygen will turn black. It’s still safe to eat just not as pretty to look at.
“Wholly Avocado” can be found near the packaged salad section of your supermarket. There are several varieties in the “Wholly” family so be sure to select the label that states “Wholly Avocado – 100% avocado” or else you could end up with a mixture of Guacamole in your smoothie!
7. Eat Well Embrace Life Hummus (minus chick peas!)
Eat Well Embrace Life calls itself the “other bean” hummus. Traditional hummus recipes are made with chick peas. All of the “Eat Well Embrace Life” hummus products use some other bean, or vegetable, or plus ingredients you might not expect in a dip. With choices like Spicy Red Lentil Chipotle, Wasabi Edamame, Spicy Yellow Lentil, White Bean Hummus and Zesty Sriracha Carrot (really hot!) try each over the summer.
Each serving – two flat tablespoons (no cheating!) has roughly 50 calories, zero saturated fat, and 100mg of sodium. I love a dollop of White Bean Hummus on top of my home-made turkey burgers.
If you’re the one in a million that hasn’t tried kale yet, summer is the perfect time! Kale remains a darling among nutritionist due to its high vitamin K content (needed for bone health and blood clotting); a food that contributes nutrient components to the body’s natural detoxification pathway; and its low calorie to high overall nutrient ratio.
I suggest you start with the variety called Curly Kale. This type of kale is less bitter, pulverizes easily in a blender making it the perfect green for smoothies. For me, Curly Kale is easier to digest vs. the hardier Lacinato (Dinosaur) Kale. It’s also less “green” tasting so it’s an easy substitute for spinach. Try adding organic Curly Kale to omelet’s too.
9. Julie’s Organic Petite Juliette Ice Creme Sandwiches
Julie’s Petite Ice Cream Sandwiches have all the right ingredients make this Dietitian smile! All of Julie’s ice cream products meets the USDA Certified Organic label which means they’re made without pesticides, artificial ingredients, or hormones. They have few ingredients, with only 6 grams of sugar and 100 calories per sandwich makes it a waist-wise choice too.
These petite organic ice cream sandwiches provide automatic portion control making them the perfect summer treat! Julie’s does make a gluten-free version of ice cream sandwiches but not available in the petite sandwich size (yet!).
Are you suffering from “baby carrot fatigue”? Try a Jicama stick in place of those carrots. Many grocery stores carry Jicama cut into sticks which makes them great for dipping (goes well with the Eat Well Embrace Life Hummus).
This crunchy veggies contains the naturally occurring prebiotic inulin, a source of fiber that helps your body metabolize B vitamins. A summertime simple serving idea: squeeze lime juice and a touch of chili powder on the Jicama sticks for a mouth-awakening taste.
What are your summer favorites?
I’d love to hear what your favorite summer seasonal foods. Also, if you currently eat or try any of the foods above, please share your comments. The more we share the more options we have to make nutritious food choices.
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Bonnie Roill, RDN, CWC, Hormone Support Coach is a nutritionist that helps women re-balance hormones to create a healthier weight, increased energy, refreshing sleep, and happier tummy! Click here to schedule your Free “3 Steps to Reclaim your Health Immediately!” phone session.