10 food hacks to healthier summer eating
Posted by Hain Celestial on | A Healthier Way of Life
Let's be honest: Healthy eating just happens more easily in the summertime. Fruits and vegetables have more flavour; barbecue adds a unique smoky flavour to everything; and we're usually less famished, especially since (thank you, heat waves!) we finally DO drink those 8-10 glasses of water that nutritionists harp about. Out of sheer dehydration, but still…
While everything about summer "conspires" to help us, it's possible to improve on a good thing by making better choices, like cutting back on entrées and dips that pack a wallop in hidden calories. Here are 10 easy ideas that will keep your summertime on the right track.
1. Make a more nutritious salad
Vegetable salads are oh so good this time of year. But if you want to avoid the between-meal munchies, add 1 oz of protein (meat, egg, cheese, tofu, nuts or legumes) and 1/2 cup of your favourite cooked whole grain such as Casbah® Quinoa. Try this month's featured recipe, a scrumptious Quinoa Edamame Orange Salad, the perfect summer salad entrée.
2. Use flavour-packed oils
You've probably seen it: on its latest cover, Time Magazine declared the war on fat officially over! Catchy headline aside, balance remains key. Because a little goes a long way, reduce the amount of salad dressing by favouring flavour-packed oils like sesame, walnut and extra-virgin olive (case in point, the spectacular dressing with Spectrum® sesame oil in the salad above). In a pinch, simply drizzling them over salads and grains also works wonders.
3. Customize dips
In summer, although healthy crudités reign supreme, most commercial dips come loaded with sodium and preservatives. Take advantage of the increasing array of plain Greek yogurts, like The Greek Gods
' , to whip up a homemade dip also using heart-healthy canola or soy based mayonnaise. Simply add your choice of flavourings like honey, sundried tomatoes, olive tapenade, Worcestershire sauce, chipotle in adobo, chopped fresh herbs, green onions, gourmet mustard, garlic scapes, pesto and chill a few hours to bring out the flavours. Light dips can also double as sandwich spreads. Did you know Spectrum even offers a Vegan Eggless Mayonnaise?
4. Switch it up with grains
Pasta and rice salads top the lists of favourite summer meals and sides. Before August boredom sets in though, why not revamp familiar recipes by switching your starch? Try substituting couscous, quinoa, orzo or ancient grains in rice or pasta recipes or just add some fresh herbs, veggie nuggets or toasted nuts, like here and here for a complete salad meal.
5. Go Veggie
Try to lighten up your meal and if you haven't done so already, join the Meatless Monday movement and go vegetarian one night out of the week. If you are looking for ideas for protein replacements, the line-up ofYves Veggie Cuisine provides endless BBQ inspiration. Meatless Satay skewers anyone?
6. Unstuffed Potatoes
Forget sour cream and bacon, rediscover the wonder of small new potatoes thanks to this family favourite. Pre-boil whole potatoes in salted water until almost done (approx. 20 min). Oil an aluminum pan, arrange cooked potatoes and crush halfway with a fork. Sprinkle with a mix of olive oil, fresh garlic (or garlic scapes in season), chopped fine herbs, salt and pepper. While roasting meat on the barbecue, grill potatoes uncovered on top rack for at least 30 minutes or until crunchy and golden. Better than fries or baked with the works!
7. Smoothie Season
For a refreshing breakfast on the run or midday snack, nothing beats a summertime smoothie. For a great dairy-free smoothie, just combine frozen fruit and fruit juice (check out this tropical recipe) or try adding a non-dairy beverage like Almond® Dream or Coconut® Dream like in this recipe. Add a cool straw and you're good to go.
8. Fun Fruit Pops
Instead of store-bought popsicles that amount to little but water, sugar and artificial flavour, freeze some fresh fruit instead. Cut watermelon wedges, insert a popsicle stick in the rind, and freeze for a kid-friendly treat. Or freeze multicolored grapes, add to tall glasses of water instead of ice cubes, and watch kids fish them out! For dessert, insert a popsicle stick into a half-banana, dip into melted chocolate (and roll in chopped nuts, if desired), then freeze. So so delicious!
9. Plan for Snack Attacks
Make a summertime snack tray like those time-saving school year ones. Arrange fresh fruit, berries, cheese sticks, and crudités with dip like this sweet potato hummus in an open container at the front of the fridge. Nothing beats convenience when the munchies strike.
10. Hack Your Water
Say goodbye to pop, jump on the summer bandwagon and enjoy homemade flavoured water. Made with fresh or frozen fruit, vegetables and/or herbs, it's refreshing, sugar-and-chemical-free, and only pennies a glass. Let your imagination run wild or find inspiration on this Pinterest board (yep, water with a board of its own…).
Tell us about your favourite hacks to turn summer favourites into lighter, healthier choices on our Facebook Page!
Any great recipes or quick tips you would like to share?
Lynne Faubert - A Montreal writer and cookbook author, she pens the blog FrancoFoodie where she shares her passion about everything food and family.