HELLO summer! Even though we’re outside in the sunshine, going on vacations, and enjoying BBQ’s with friends, we can still eat healthy during the summer months.
Today is a guest post from my friend, Shannon! In the last year, Shannon & I have collaborated together on wellness events, speaking events, and just connecting really well. Since moving to South Dakota, Shannon has been a great friend and I’m so thankful for her.
So let me hand today’s post over to Shannon!
Hi, I am Shannon, a registered dietitian living in South Dakota! I currently work as a supermarket dietitian and enjoy helping customers learn how to prevent chronic illness by making healthier food choices. Much of my time is spent in the community presenting various nutrition topics and offering cooking classes for both adults and children. Aside from chronic illness prevention, I am also interested in digestive health. I was diagnosed with a digestive disorder called gastroparesis 6 years ago and although it has been challenging, I am thankful that it motivated me to pursue a career in nutrition. You can learn more about my journey in living with gastroparesis as well as nutrition tips and recipes on my blog, For Peas Sake!
Summer Survival Eating Tips
Easy meals are the best meals and that is why I love grilling. It is so simple to sprinkle seasonings on your meat, chop some veggies to wrap in foil, and place them on the grill until cooked through. Dinner is ready in no time! To make it even easier, you can let someone else do most of the work for you. Buy pre-chopped vegetables in foil pans from the grocery store (check the produce department) or place frozen, cut broccoli and cauliflower on your foil to cut down on prep time. Bonus: clean up is a breeze. No pots and pans to scrub!
Whether preparing dinner or hosting a party for family and friends, the typical barbecue features foods like hot dogs, chips, potato salad, brownies, and so on. While these foods are great to enjoy occasionally, if you are going to be grilling and attending barbecues on a regular basis, there are plenty of ways to lighten up your meals:
Meat and alternatives
- Burgers: If you are a burger fan, consider using ground turkey instead of ground beef. This swap can decrease the amount of saturated fat in your meal. Serve on a whole wheat bun and add vegetables like lettuce, tomato, and onion.
- Pork chops and boneless, skinless chicken breasts: These are great lean protein sources that you can add seasonings to, cut into cubes to make skewers, or top a salad with.
- Portabella “burgers”: For a meat alternative, try making portabella “burgers”. All you do is wash and place a few large portabella mushroom caps with stems removed in a gallon-size bag with balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Let them marinate for an hour or so before placing them on the grill. They do shrink when they cook so they aren’t super filling, but they are so tasty. Consider using one as a hamburger topping for something more substantial.
- Vegetables: Sliced sweet potatoes, asparagus, and bell peppers cook nicely in a foil packet on the grill. Just add a little olive oil and some seasonings and wrap in foil. Salads are another great way to consume a variety of veggies, though you should skip salads made with mayo (potato, macaroni, etc.) if you are trying to make lighter choices. For salad dressing, you can make your own with oil and vinegar or try Bolthouse Farms brand found in the refrigerated section of your produce department. These dressings are made with yogurt, cutting the fat and calories significantly. Most are just 45 calories!
- Fruit: Summer is the perfect time to eat fruit because it is hydrating and so many varieties are in season. Watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries are some of my favorites but any fruit you enjoy is a great choice.
- Chips: My two favorite types of chips are Terra and Beanitos. I like Terra chips because they are made from different root vegetables like beets and taro and are SO crunchy. I also like Beanitos because they are made from beans and have 6 grams of protein and fiber, making them a bit more nutritious than the typical tortilla chip. Dip them in salsa and you can’t even tell the difference. These can both be found in the health food section of your grocery store.
- Water: Of course water is the best way to stay hydrated as it is sugarless and contains zero calories. If you find water to be boring, add lemon or lime slices to a pitcher of water for a punch of flavor.
- LaCroix sparkling water: Sometimes you just want something with bubbles and I find that this water hits the spot. If you have never tried it, it is just lightly flavored and does not contain any sweeteners. My favorite flavors are passionfruit and coconut!
- Halo Top: I just learned about this ice cream a couple of months ago. It is low-calorie (a whole pint is around 280 calories), lower in sugar, and higher in protein than most ice creams. It also tastes great! I have only tried a few flavors but the sea salt caramel is fantastic and I also like oatmeal cookie.
- Black bean brownies: I know the idea of beans in a dessert is pretty wild but you have got to try these. You can make them from scratch or simply use a boxed brownie mix and a can of black beans like this recipe. They are easy to make and give your chocolatey-treat a dose of fiber!
Aside from the recommended food options, here are some other tips for surviving summer parties
Bring your own food. If you aren’t sure what will be served but you are trying to make healthier choices, bring your own salad or side dish to share. This ensures that there will be a healthy option for you and everyone else.
Front load your fruits and veggies. If you know your dinner will include the typical barbecue fare, choose to make a smoothie or eat a big salad earlier in the day. This can help offset your dinner and make sure you are getting in your vitamins and minerals.
Remember MyPlate. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, one-fourth protein, and one-fourth grains or starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, peas). This will give you variety and a better balance of nutrients.
Enjoy! No matter what you choose to eat, remember that one indulgent meal will not ruin your healthy eating efforts. Enjoy what is on your plate and make healthier choices at the next meal.
Thank you Shannon! You can find her at For Peas Sake.
Next on BeWellWellness, a NEW! Wellness Series: Living Well. We will be exploring all aspects of wellness and I’ll be adding a personal aspect.
Have a great day!