Outdoor barbecues, picnics in the park, and trips to the ice cream shop — ahh, the signs of summer! However, it’s easy to let your healthy habits slide as you go into relaxation mode. Traditional seasonal foods like burgers, hot dogs, and mayonnaise-laden side salads won’t help you reach your wellness goals, but you don’t have to miss out on the flavors of summer to stay on track. In fact, the warm summer months offer an abundance of nutritious and delicious seasonal produce that can take your next summer staycation from a long day of overeating to a nutrient-packed and energizing retreat. Use these tips to have a pear-fect summer.
Gather inspiration from the farmers’ market. What better way to celebrate summer than with the taste of local produce? The best part of using seasonal summer produce is cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. Layer bright, juicy tomatoes on a platter with basil and mozzarella for a caprese salad. Or, toss chopped tomatoes, cucumber, and onion with lemon juice and olive oil for tasty salad. Fresh ears of corn get toasty and sweet on the grill, and you can finish the meal with a cup of frozen yogurt topped with sweet berries.
Embrace healthy swaps. Substitute plain yogurt for half the mayonnaise in your pasta or potato salad, or use a vinaigrette dressing instead. Greek yogurt makes a great swap for sour cream in dips as well.
Don’t go against the grain. Instead of sides and buns made of refined grains, reach for whole grains first. Try a faro or bulgur and vegetable-filled salad to enjoy with a vegetarian or meat-based burger served on a whole wheat bun.
Fill the grill with vegetables. Grilling isn’t just for meat! Make vegetable kebabs or grilled eggplant or portobello mushrooms for an easy alternative to a beef burger. As a bonus, grilling vegetables makes kitchen cleanup minimal.
Get creative with protein. Skip the beef burgers and dogs for a leaner, more nutritious option. Think about vegetable-based burgers, fish, chicken, or marinated tofu. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, try grilling a whole chicken (yes, you can).
Stay hydrated. Long days out in the sun will increase your hydration needs. Sip on water throughout the day and skip sugary beverages, which can actually be dehydrating. Add flavor to still or sparkling water with fresh fruit, citrus, or herbs. For a refreshing twist, make this ginger-lime spa water.
Stay active. At the beach? Enjoy a walk alongside the waves. Backyard barbecue? Take a swim to cool down. The great outdoors is your playground and the options to add a little outdoor activity are endless.
Indulge a little. If you plan to have dessert, skip the chips and dip. Or, if you know you can pass on the ice cream, grab that scoop of potato salad. Choose what you will enjoy the most and savor each bite.
Enjoy all that these warmer months have to offer and use these healthy strategies keep it fun — and balanced.