The seasons change from spring to summer, and you're offered up a bounty of beneficial and yummy foods. You're also tempted by tasty but not-always-wholesome treats (is that the ice cream truck I hear?). So what are the keys to healthy, pleasurable summer eating? The same keys that unlock healthy eating any time of the year: moderation and balance. Follow these 4 rules.
Eat in season. Depending on where you live, summer means an abundance of berries, cherries, tomatoes, and peaches. And oh, we can't forget about that summer picnic superstar: the juicy, thirst-quenching watermelon. Sweet, ripe summer fruits are a super source of antioxidants, especially vitamin C, lycopene, and beta-carotene. Since summer-fresh fruits burst with nutritional benefits, they're all great for snacks on their own, as ingredients in salads or smoothies, or as toppings to sweeter treats.
Lighten your load. Summer food should be lighter than winter fare. Trade thick, hearty soups for light gazpachos. Opt for soups featuring seasonal ingredients: think melon, avocado, summer squash, corn, snap peas, or crisp veggies like cucumber. Add flavour to meals with bright, fresh herbs like basil or cilantro. According to nutritionist Brennan Robertson, peppermint is also a good summer addition as it cools and calms the stomach after a meal and aids in digestion.
Cool off. When it comes to sweet, cool treats, allow yourself the occasional indulgence. Follow the siren jingle of the ice cream truck now and then. Sample novel iced delights, like Japanese green-tea flavoured mochi, Italian ices, creamy gelatos, or fruity sorbets. If you're feeling guilty, take heed: "Ice cream and gelato are dairy-based, so they're chock-full of calcium, which helps to maintain bone integrity," said Robertson. For a low-fat cool-off, you can also opt for frozen yogurt. Lactose intolerance may limit the icy choices of some people, but there are some delicious soy and rice-based ice treats as well as plenty of fruity Popsicles.
Swig some liquid sunshine. Our bodies seem to crave cold, refreshing drinks in direct proportion to higher mercury levels in the summer than in the winter. Drink plenty of water to stave off dehydration, but spoil yourself with the occasional iced tea, lemonade, or frozen coffee drinks. Boost your lemonade's tangy appeal by grating some fresh, healthful ginger into your cup. If tea is your cup of tea, you have a variety of leaves to choose from. Green tea may impart antioxidant protection, great when you're soaking up the sun, and some fruity teas contain a vitamin C boost. Watch your sugar intake, as many juices, bottled teas, and especially those icy blended coffee drinks can pack a mighty sugar, fat, and calorie punch.