HEALTHY SUMMER FOODS
What to eat to make the most of the season and what to avoid.
Summer is a time to wander farmer’s markets, have picnics in the park and relax at barbecues. What do all three of those activities have in common? Eating. While everybody knows burgers and hot dogs aren’t the best for you, when it comes to other culinary options we associate with the summer, making the healthiest choice isn’t always as obvious.
Kayleen St. John, executive director of nutrition at Euphebe, suggests her favorite summer produce and tells us what “healthy” summertime foods we’d do better to avoid.
“I love any fresh green in the summer for a light-feeling salad,” says St. John. The next time you’re at the farmer’s market, explore the bounty of leafy greens — whatever’s fresh and local will have more antioxidants, she says.
St. John also goes for radishes, which are antioxidant-rich, Vitamin C powerhouses. And don’t toss the radish greens — you can chop them up to add to a salad, or sautee with garlic and olive oil for a veggie side.
Fruit-wise, cherries are a summer treat that are also high in potassium and can help alleviate bloat.
St. John loves summer zucchinis because their high water content makes them a hydrating choice for the summer. She recommends making a zucchini gazpacho, blending the vegetable with onion, olive oil, cashews, basil and lemon juice, served chilled.
Go easy on the juice
“A fruit or veggie juice may seem like a ‘light’ lunch option come summertime, but these juices can be a downfall,” she explains. They won’t fill you up and they could cause a blood sugar/insulin spike. Go for smoothies instead — to keep the sugar down, add less than one cup of fruit and instead focus on fiber-rich greens and protein via nuts or seeds.
Be wary of “healthy” ice cream replacements
You’ve probably heard of trendy ice cream alternatives such as Halo Top or Arctic Zero. They have fewer than 300 calories a pint, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for you. “These usually contain prebiotic fibers and sugar alcohols, two ingredients known to cause gas and bloating,” St. John explains. Halo Top contains the sugar alcohol erythritol.Both ice creams contain hard-to-digest fibers: chicory root in Arctic Zero, and unspecified dietary fiber in Halo Top. “When in doubt, stick to a whole-food ingredient list,” she advises.
The lowdown on meats
While subbing in tofu or turkey dogs might seem like a low-calorie alternative at a summer barbecue, they’re often so highly processed, you’re better off with the real thing, says St. John. In general, watch out for meats you throw on the grill. According to the National Cancer Institute, animal products cooked over an open flame release chemicals that may increase the risk of cancer.