Healthy Foods and Snacks for Summer

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Summer should be a time of fun outdoor activities, vacations, camps, and fun in the sun.  A challenge that most face during the summer months is eating on the go, and losing the will to cook meals due to being tired from the heat and all of the daily activity.  Summer time foods can be as unhealthy as they come, processed hot dogs, pizza, ice cream, refined sugar and dye loaded slushes, etc.  Here are some strategies on how to keep summer foods healthy without missing out on the fun foods the summer season offers.

Plan ahead.  Look at the day that lays ahead and try to bring your own food to your summer destinations.  Pack lunches for your kids at camp, bring healthy wraps (see turkey BLT wrap recipe below*) or sandwiches with you in a cooler to the pool or beach, and always have healthy snacks on hand, like trail mix or fruit while running errands.  The quality and overall nutrient content of food brought from home far surpasses any food that you grab on the go at restaurants and/or convenience stores.  

Modifying your favorite foods is the key to being satisfied without feeling deprived of taste.  Instead of grabbing a starchy muffin loaded with sugar from your local coffee shop on a busy summer morning, make a homemade version of your favorite muffin.   See the berry muffin recipe below*.  If you have a craving for fried food like chicken fingers, make the “breaded oven fried” version of chicken fingers, it is a very healthy option without all of the harmful fats.

Control the sweet tooth by making a point to have something small and sweet daily.  If a sweet treat like dark chocolate, homemade sorbet from fresh fruit, or an unrefined healthy cookie recipe are part of your daily meals and snacks you will not feel deprived and will avoid the processed versions of these sweet treats.  This will result in healthy blood sugar control and weight management.  

Grill, it is one of the healthiest ways to prepare foods, not to mention the cleanup is minimal, there are no pots or pans.   Think outside of the box and try to cook your entire meal on the grill.  Most people stop at grilling meat and possibly vegetables, both options are healthy, but the grill can be used to cook a variety of meals including- healthy flatbread veggie pizza, grilling fruit like pineapple for dessert, potatoes, etc.  

At picnics, BBQ’s or cookouts always have color on your plate, instead of chips and a burger, have a summer salad with a bun less burger or steak/chicken kabob (make innovative salads like the grapefruit and spinach salad listed below or the apple Cole slaw recipe also listed below. 

Follow the plate method.  At least half of your plate should be filled with vegetables and some fruits.  More vegetables is better because they are higher in fiber and lower in sugar then fruits.  If you are on the go, it can be easy to overlook incorporating fruits and vegetables into your meals and snacks.  Make a point of throwing in several pieces of fruit into the beach or pool bag.  

Instead of creamy dips opt for heart healthy dips like guacamole and hummus, this will cut down on processed ingredients.  Guacamole and hummus are both rich in heart healthy fats, this will keep you feeling full for a longer period of time, resulting in more self-control when it comes to consuming sweets.  Check out the homemade guacamole recipe below.  

Ensure that your plate has at least ¼ covered in high quality protein like a bun less burger, or steak and chicken kabobs.  Protein is important for maintaining lean muscle mass and keeping your appetite under control.  Avoid processed meats like hot dogs or sausages, the traditional versions of processed meats are very high in sodium and preservatives which will negatively impact weight and cause water retention.   

If you like smoothies to keep you cool in the Summer time avoid making them with excess sugar from juice.  Opt for unsweetened almond or coconut milk as the base, add low sugar fruit (the darker the fruit typically the lower the sugar, ie. Berries) add a protein powder and even raw spinach is tasteless in smoothies but adds nutrition and fiber.  Smoothies are a perfect snack or can also be incorporated in as a “on the go” breakfast.

Summer cocktails can be unavoidable on a vacation or at a get together.  Instead of high calorie cocktails go for a non-calorie mixer like naturally flavored sparkling water, fresh fruit like lime, stevia, fresh mint or basil leaves and add liquor.  Most summer cocktails cause weight gain from the actual mixer not the alcohol, reducing the sugar content of cocktails and drinking in moderation will help with summer weight management.  Check out the low calorie mojito recipe listed below. 

Be sure to check out our book, The Green Box League of Nutritious Justice. There are 75 healthy recipes, plus exercises, great health articles and fun stories and activities for the kids.

Grapefruit and Spinach Salad 

  • Prep time: 10 min.
  • Cook time: none
  • Number of servings: approx. 8
  • Serving size: 1-2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy

Ingredients:

  • 3 c peeled and sliced grapefruit
  • 1 bunch of mint leaves (approx. 10 large leaves)
  • 5 c fresh baby spinach
  • 1 large chopped cucumber peeled and seeded
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 1 chopped fennel bulb
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in large salad bowl and serve, the juice from the grapefruit acts as dressing, no need for extra dressing. 

Apple Coleslaw 

  • Prep time: 10 min.
  • Cook time: none
  • Number of servings: 6-8
  • Serving size: ½-1 c
  • Difficulty: easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 package cabbage or broccoli slaw
  • 1 large rib celery chopped
  • 1 small Fuji apple chopped
  • ½ c olive oil based mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ c apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ c raw honey
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • Dash of high quality salt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in bowl and serve! 

Guacamole 

  • Prep time: 10 min.
  • Cook time: none
  • Number of servings: 6-8
  • Serving size: ¼ – ½ c
  • Difficulty: easy

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • ¼ c chopped red onion
  • 1bunch of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 chopped jalapeno (keep seeds in for extra “heat”)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Dash of high quality salt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients with spoon for a chunky texture or in a food processor for a more smooth texture and serve with fresh vegetables like carrots or cucumbers!

Berry Spinach Smoothie 

  • Prep time: 5 min.
  • Cook time: none
  • Number of servings: 1
  • Serving size: 16 oz.
  • Difficulty: easy

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 c unsweetened almond and or coconut milk
  • 1 c frozen or fresh berries (we used an organic frozen berry medley on the show, blue berries, black berries and raspberries)
  • 1 large handful of fresh or frozen spinach (we used fresh on the show)
  • 1 tbs. ground flax seed
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein (we used whey protein)

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients.
  • Add ice, if desired.
  • Blend on high and serve! 

Low Sugar Mojitos 

  • Prep time: 5 min.
  • Cook time: none
  • Number of servings: 1
  • Serving size:  approx. 10-12 oz.
  • Difficulty: easy

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz. of white rum (approx. 1 shot)
  • 8 oz. sparkling water (we used lime flavored all natural on the show)
  • 2 packets of all natural stevia sweetener
  • 5 fresh mint leaves
  • The juice of a fresh lime
  • 2 sliced lime wedges

Directions:

Combine all ingredients.

Add ice and serve!

Chicken or Steak Kabobs 

  • Prep time 10 min.
  • Cook time – approx. 10 min. on each side or until juices run clear on chicken or steak is cooked to your preferences
  • Number of servings – 4
  • Serving size – 4 oz.
  • Difficulty: easy 

Ingredients:

  • 4, 4 oz. chicken breast or steak filet cubed and ready to go on skewer
  • Chopped green pepper (large enough for skewer)
  • Chopped red onion (large enough for skewer)
  • 4 Large skewers

Directions:

  • Put meat and vegetables onto the skewers
  • Grill on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes on each side or until juices run clear on chicken and desired “doneness” of steak

Berry Muffins, pg. 210 of Green Box League of Nutritious Justice

  • Serves 12
  • Ingredients
  • 2 cups gluten free flour (all-purpose or amaranth)
  • 2/3 c raw sugar or raw local honey
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder, aluminum-free
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup fresh or frozen blueberries and organic if possible
  • ¼ cup sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen, and organic if possible
  • ¼ cup raspberries, fresh or frozen, organic if possible
  • ¾ cup full-fat buttermilk, organic if possible
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter, organic (and from grass-fed cows if possible)
  • 1 large egg, cage free, beaten

Directions

Step 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Step 2. In large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients

Step 3. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, egg, melted butter, and fruit

Step 4. With rubber spatula, gently fold the egg/fruit mixture into dry ingredients

Step 5. Place paper muffin cups in tin, and evenly spoon mixture into tin

Step 6. Bake 20-22 minutes or until golden brown

Step 7. Remove from tin and cool on wire rack; serve

Turkey BLT Wrap- pg. 219 of Green Box League of Nutritious Justice

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces turkey, oven-roasted or deli-sliced nitrate free/low-sodium
  • 2 strips turkey bacon, nitrate-free or regular, cooked
  • 3 ounces iceberg lettuce
  • 3 slices medium tomato (organic, if possible)
  • 2 ounces olive-oil based mayonnaise
  • An 8-inch gluten-free wrap

Directions

Step 1. Lay wrap down; spread mayonnaise three quarters of the way across.

Step 2. Place half lettuce down; put turkey on top, then put down turkey bacon, tomato, and remaining lettuce.

Step 3. Fold in sides of wrap, then roll bottom up to top until compact and complete.

Step 4. Cut in half; serve with pickle spear and choice of side.

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