3 Simple Tips for Healthy Summer Eating
It wasn’t until our grill, full of burning coals, literally fell apart during a party last summer that I realized what everyone else knows: the grill is the star of summer cooking. Summer means grilling for most people around here and I feel the same way. It’s the perfect time to celebrate the beautiful weather outside and share the bounty of our produce boxes with loved ones.
I love grilling and indulging in delicious summer dishes as much as anyone, but at the same time, I am always thinking of ways to improve my health through diet and lifestyle. As a Naturopath, my practice is focused on the prevention of disease so naturally, I’ve found room for improvement in summer cooking’s status quo.
What that in mind, here are a few small changes you too can make to maximize your nutrient intake and increase wellness this season:
Make antioxidant rich foods a part of every meal — especially when eating grilled meats. Grilling meats over open flame produces compounds linked to cancer. This happens even more so in meats with higher fat content. These compounds can occur even without grilling, like when cooking over high heat in a pan or broiling.
What to do:
- Choose leaner cuts of meat to grill and buy grass-fed when possible.
- Marinate and top your meats with antioxidant-rich herbs like thyme, turmeric and sage.
- Fill your salads with antioxidant-rich dark berries like blackberries, strawberries and blueberries.
I recommend focusing the bulk of a diet on plants, especially colorful veggies. Eating vegetables is one of your best defenses against heart disease, cancers and weight gain. Take advantage of the rainbow of colorful veggies in season right now like spinach, chard, beets, peppers and squash. These foods are essential to keeping you healthy.
What to do:
- Commit to trying one new veggie or veggie-centric recipe per week.
- Make sure at least half of every plate is vegetables.
- Along with a variety of veggies eat them a variety of ways — both raw and cooked.
- Raw greens are full of fat soluble vitamins, which are best absorbed when eaten alongside a high quality fat like avocados or extra virgin olive oil.
Folks in the Pacific Northwest know how to take advantage of the sun when it comes out. Along with that wonderful warmth comes the danger of skin damage. For my patients I recommend they use a high quality mineral sunscreen. But aside from topical options, did you know you can help protect your skin from the inside out? Foods rich in lycopene, beta-carotene and polyphenols assist in warding off sun damage. Once again a variety of fruits and vegetables in the diet is your best bet for loading up on these nutrients.
What to do:
- Eat those heirloom tomatoes! Tomatoes are rich in lycopene which is best absorbed when eaten with fats (and taste great with extra virgin olive oil).
- Treat yourself to a salad every day this Summer and fill it with carrots, spinach, broccoli & tomatoes and top with your own homemade olive oil vinaigrette.
- Green tea is rich in polyphenols — try it iced with fresh blueberries and raspberries for a delicious hot weather cooler.
Katie Disharoon ND – Katie sees patients of all ages in her Family Practice at Full Circle Natural Medicine near Greenlake in Seattle, WA. She enjoys helping people regain their energy and pep through natural medicine, paying special attention the important role digestive health plays in quality of life.