Summer Foods

Did you ever think that it is beneficial for your body to choose foods seasonally? It is!! There are a few reasons why this makes sense.

Seasonal foods are in abundance and cost less. In addition there is a growing trend to support your local farm based sustainable agriculture industry. Also now that the summer months bring higher temperatures it becomes practical to choose lighter meals. Enjoying cold soups and smoothies are quick to prepare and offer variety.

Fresh spinach, arugula, chard and kale are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals and are versatile. Stir fry, grilled or salad whatever you prefer; even using those large green leaves as wraps for sandwiches or cut into bite size pieces for h’or oeuvres opens up creative uses of everyday green.

Additional vegetables like carrots, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini and squashes all lend themselves to being marinated for a quick and easy grill meal. Put them on pre soaked skewers for vegetable kebabs. I included a favorite marinade of mine. The same grilled vegetables blended with herbs like cilantro, parsley, or oregano and blended with fat free cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese or yogurt will provide an instant healthy dip.

Since it is summertime and cold foods are so refreshing why not consider trying blender drinks based from vegetables. Spinach, kale, cabbage, and carrots, blended with granny smith apples, frozen banana or pitted black cherries make wonderful smoothies. Add protein powder, flax seed and you’ve got a filling tasty portable meal or snack that packs nutrition to last you three to four hours. Another suggestion for using available vegetables is to create an easy handy snack by mixing crushed whole grain crackers mixed with oil (olive, walnut, sesame, macadamia) or even a nut butter, seasoned to taste and pressed into muffin tins large or small. Fill with layered grilled vegetables topped with parmesan cheese (ala lasagna), bake in 375degree oven and serve immediately or cool and freeze for later use. Last but certainly not least roasting vegetables on the grill or your oven will bring out the natural sugars contained in beets, carrots, tomatoes, corn, and peas, without additional calories.

Onto summer fruits; now that berries, melon, mango, peaches, plums, grapes and cherries are abundant start to freeze them for the coming fall and winter seasons when prices rise. These fruits can be added to fat free yogurt, soy or regular milk or even frozen yogurt to create smoothies that are far less expensive than store bought. With the addition of protein powder and a handful of nuts or nut butters you will have a tasty refreshing beverage that will keep your appetite in check for 3 hours. If there are children in your family these is a wonderful way to get them interested in food preparation. To start being creative with available summer fruit: why not try adding berries, or diced fresh fruit to your favorite salad and garnish with nuts. Another suggestion is to use your ice cube trays to freeze pureed melon and convert into instant Ices. There are available molds for ice pops at a low cost and can be used over and over.

A wonderful “go to “ strategy to quell sweet urges are sucking on frozen grapes or one dark chocolate covered frozen strawberry and/or banana pieces. May not sound great but I have gotten great feedback as an instant gratification that works for dieters.

Think about creating your signature summer drinks with available fruit; lemonade, water that has been infused with sliced peaches or sweet melon. Not only does it taste great and is thirst quenching but will save you money.

I hope this has inspired creativity in your summer food menu. I have included a few of my favorite recipes:

Marinade for vegetables:

Olive oil, crushed fresh garlic, sea salt, and black pepper. Blend and let sit for 30 minutes before serving.

Choice of soy sauce, hot sauce, crushed red peppers can be added and will intensify flavors. Set vegetables in bowl with marinade and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes. Discard marinade and grill or roast those vegetables.

Summer salsa to serve with vegetable kebabs:

#1: Crushed tomatoes, diced green pepper, cucumber, scallions and pickles. This is very tasty with fish and sea foods.

#2: Diced peaches, minced celery, onion and cherries. This is good with lamb, and chicken.

Favorite summertime dip:

#1: Fat free sour cream, minced red onion, white horseradish, avocado, sea salt and pepper to taste.

Summertime smoothie:

1 cup soy, skim or fat free yogurt (6oz,) 3 ice cubes, 1 cup frozen fruit of choice, 2 scoops protein powder,1 tbsp flax seed ground, water to create consistency of choice.  Blend to smooth consistency.

I hope you will try some of these suggestions and if you have questions or comments I can be reached or share below.

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