“And from the fig tree learn a parable: When the branch thereof is now tender, and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh.” (Matthew 24:32)
Oh, the joys of summer food! Double-scoop ice cream cones dripping onto the sidewalk, corndogs and cheesecake-on-a-stick beckoning at the county fair, burgers and dogs sizzling on the grill, and icy-cold watermelon on the front porch bring to mind the lazy days of summer.
It’s fun to indulge in a few less-than-healthy summertime favorites, but this is the perfect time to add a variety of delicious and healthy foods to your diet.
Take advantage of low prices on fresh fruit to create smoothies, fruit salad, or low-fat cobbler. Berries add nutrition and flavor to cereal, pancakes, oatmeal, yogurt or dinner salads. They’re rich in antioxidants, which help slow aging and prevent disease.
Stock up now and freeze some to enjoy later in the year. Peaches, plums, apricots, cherries and watermelon are also in season and affordable. Take advantage of the bounty of summer fruit to experiment with some new recipes.
At lunch, ditch the sandwiches in favor of something new and different. Try pasta salads made with whole grain pasta and fresh vegetables. Or mix wild rice, brown rice, or quinoa with dried fruit, nuts, onions, chopped veggies, and a vinaigrette. Beans of all varieties can be mixed into salads using creative recipes you can find online (see links below). Use yogurt to make a calcium-rich smoothie or a parfait, layered with fresh fruit and granola.
Why heat up the kitchen during these long, hot days when you can go outside in the cooler evening hours and grill? Instead of the usual burger or steak, try leaner cuts of meat like flank steak, chicken breasts, fish and pork tenderloin. Marinades add flavor and reduce the carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) in grilled food. Serve with a healthy, homemade fruit salsa instead of a bun to add nutrition and reduce calories. You can find plenty of great recipes for mango, peach, or pineapple salsas online.
Main dish salads are filling and increase your daily vegetable count while reducing calories. Top a plate of fresh greens and veggies with grilled chicken, fish or beef. Mix up a flavorful vinaigrette instead of using calorie-laden creamy dressings.
It wouldn’t be summer without dessert, but try some healthy alternatives to the usual. Angel food cake is low-fat and pairs perfectly with fresh fruit. Chocolate-covered strawberries are a healthier alternative to pies and cakes. Pudding is typically low-fat and contains calcium, which helps strengthen bones. Popsicles made with real fruit juice are a better choice than ice cream. (If you do crave ice cream, take advantage of those mini containers in the freezer section that allow you to indulge while limiting fat and calories.)
These delicious summer foods are a gift from our Creator. “These all look to you to give them their food in due season… They gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.” (Psalm 104: 27-28)
Here are a few of my favorite healthy recipe websites to help get you started: