Summer is the time to really enjoy being outdoors. For those of us in South Florida, that translates into a day at the beach, relaxing by the pool, enjoying our outdoor parks and playing your favorite sport be it tennis, golf or volleyball.
It is also a time when we can indulge in some unhealthy eating and drinking habits. You know the kind of stuff that appeals to you that is simply not good for you. I can name a few like a cheeseburger, fried shrimp, a mojito and, even worse, a frozen daiquiri. Talk about bloat.
With the large variety of fresh fruit at its peak over the summer, there are lots of waist-friendly food and drinks that are just as delicious and much healthier for you.
Skewers and summer seem to go together, so a healthy choice when thinking of cooking outdoors would be chicken with a variety of different vegetables. A combination of chicken breasts and thighs with sweet potato, onion, mushrooms and your favorite green vegetable, will provide you with fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, along with your protein.
Instead of another burger on the grill, lighten up your summer fare by enjoying wild-caught salmon. Salmon is full of protein and omega-3, and is a heart-healthy choice. Wild salmon has lower levels of inflammation promoting omega-6 and has higher omega-3 levels.
There is nothing more delicious than a freshly-cooked lobster, and you’ll be treating yourself to better health. A one-pound lobster packs just about 260 calories but contains more than 50 grams of filling protein, as well as bloat-fighting potassium. Lobster is also a great source of omega-3, making it a great addition and a healthy choice.
This coral-colored crustacean is also a good source of inflammation-fighting omega-3, which may help speed up your weight-loss efforts. Steamed shrimp are also a low-calorie source of protein. They are easy to clean and take just minutes to cook. They can be served hot or chilled.
VEGETABLES OR SIDE DISHES
Whether you enjoy spinach as a salad or simply sautéed as a vegetable, spinach is rich with vitamins A and C as well as folate. Another popular use of this vegetable is to toss it into your breakfast shake or smoothie
for an added dose of nutrients and fiber.
The portobello mushroom is a flavorful, low-fat substitute for meat, as well as a good choice for a side dish that pairs well with heart-healthy ingredients like garlic and olive oil. The portobello is as good for your taste buds as it is for your waistline. Researchers have found portobello mushrooms effective at minimizing insulin spikes, staving off cravings and keeping those unwanted pounds at bay.
Corn on the Cob
Making corn part of your summertime menu is an easy way to make your meals healthier in an instant. In addition to packing nearly 2 grams of fiber in every 60-calorie ear, corn is a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been linked to lower rates of age-related macular degeneration.
There are so many ways to eat tomatoes, and they are a great way to load your diet with antioxidants while also making the meal more filling. You can enjoy them in an omelet, soup, salad, salsa, and as a excellent side dish by drizzling them with olive oil and tossing them on the grill.
Cherry-picked for their health benefits, these tasty summer superfoods do more than just satisfy your sweet tooth. Cherries are loaded with resveratrol, an antioxidant that packs some serious body-transforming powers. Research has shown that cherries can increase metabolism and help you burn more calories. They have also found that resveratrol supplementation reduced weight gain and bone demineralization.
Going blue is a good thing, and blueberries are plentiful. Each time you grab a handful of these sun-ripened berries, you’re steering a course toward better health. While they don’t share the same reddish hue as many sources of resveratrol, blueberries are still loaded with it, making them a great choice for anyone trying to transform their body. They’re also a low-glycemic food which means they don’t result in drastic insulin spikes brought about by other sweet treats.
A cup of strawberries has just 47 calories and packs nearly 3 grams of gut-health-promoting fiber, vitamin C, and plenty of energizing B6. Strawberries are also a vegan-friendly source of iron, which can help fend off anemia-related fatigue and weight gain.
Peaches are a good source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, both of which have been linked to improvements in immune health and lower weight. Peaches are delicious plain, and they blend easily so you can
make them into a no-sugar added dessert by blending them and freezing them.
One medium artichoke packs in almost 7 grams of fiber, and the veggie is as versatile as it is delicious. Marinate and chop artichoke hearts and toss them over a salad, fold them into a veggie omelet, or boil or broil them whole and drizzle with lemon juice, for a quick and satisfying snack.
The super-hydrating cucumber is low in calories, loaded with inflammation-fighting antioxidants, and can even reduce your risk of hypertension. Some research indicates that cucumber juice may reduce blood pressure. Cucumbers are great when dipped in hummus.
This is one of the best slimming summer foods because chickpeas are full of protein, fiber and vitamins. They blend well with tahini and lemon juice, and dipping crunchy vegetables in hummus saves calories and loads up on extra fiber.
Avocados are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fat, while add-on ingredients, like jalapeños, lime juice, and quercetin-rich onions, have all been linked to weight loss. When you think guacamole you automatically think chips, but this health food can be used with various vegetables, eaten as a side dish and is often paired at breakfast with eggs.
Watermelon is made up of more than 90 percent water. This sweet treat is a great way to stay cool and hydrated, even on the hottest summer days. Even better, research has shown those who consumed watermelon lowered their cholesterol, decreased the amount of plaque in their arteries, and lost more weight than a group given a non-watermelon carbohydrate solution.
Sparkling Watermelon Cocktail
• 4 cups watermelon cubed
• 2 limes
• 1½ cups ginger ale
• 3 oz tequila
• Lime wedges for garnish
Puree your watermelon using a blender or mortar and pestle. Strain out the pulp. Fill glasses with crushed ice. Pour ½ cup of watermelon juice into each glass. Squeeze the juice of one lime into each glass. Add 1½ ounces of liquor to each glass. Then pour in ¾ cup of ginger ale into each glass. Stir well. Garnish with lime wedges if desired.