Summer is more than lazy and hazy. It can drive your diet crazy. It not only affects eaters. Cooks, too, have trouble facing a hot kitchen on a hot day. The result is we often eat out without thought of our diets, i.e. Big Macs and ice cream.
Summer is more than lazy and hazy. It can drive your diet crazy.
It not only affects eaters. Cooks, too, have trouble facing a hot kitchen on a hot day. The result is we often eat out without any thought of our diets, i.e. Big Macs and ice cream.
Guess what happens? In summer’s heat, your body’s digestive system turns down its power. Our capacity to digest decreases. This is the opposite of cold seasons, where our systems need more carbohydrates and turn up our appetite for heavy foods.
Ever feel bloated after a light summer meal? That’s the digestive effect.
Nutritionists notice we eat less in summer. That means what we eat should be rich in nutrients. We don’t need the calories, but we do need the protein and vitamins. Shop carefully.
You would think we’d lose weight easily in summer, but no. Heat causes us to nap a lot more, especially after meals. Exercising outdoors gets harder, and indeed dangerous, on very hot days. That’s bad news, as any fats we consume then go straight to places we don’t want them. Summer can be the season when many of us gain the most weight.
And then we have air conditioning, in businesses, vehicles and at home. We crave comfort, but when we must go out in the heat, it’s like hitting a wall. This kills appetites faster than raw liver. (How did our ancestors survive without air conditioning? Their bodies became accustomed to the heat, and it didn’t bother them.)
On the plus side, sales of salads and other “light” foods explode every summer. The problem comes when they do not provide enough protein. That’s needed in summer as your body fights the effects of hot weather.
The best salad would be one with cold shrimp or a chicken breast on top. Watch the creamy dressings. They can have more fat calories than the rest of the bowl.
And don’t forget the hydration thing, and we’re not talking about cold beer or gin and tonics. Good, cold H2O is best for thirst quenching, followed by iced tea and fruit juices.
BURGER BASH BUGABOOS
You’d think a hamburger on the grill is a simple meal. Choices get complex if safe eating and summer nutrition bug you.
HOW TO COOK: Rare takes the chance of uncooked bacteria that causes food poisoning. Well done increases the HCAs from contact of meat to a hot grill, and they increase your chance of cancer. Medium is your best choice if health is your concern.
WITH CHEESE: If you’re looking for calcium, cheese can be a star, but it does add fat and cholesterol. The star of stars here is low-fat Swiss. It has more calcium with less fat of any other melting cheese.
Page 2 of 3 - CONDIMENTS: Mustard offers benefits beyond ketchup. It’s at half the calories, and the turmeric it contains calms down tissue inflation, a cause of obesity.
YOUR DRINK: Nutritionists are bubbly about red grapefruit juice. It’s a great summer source of Vitamin C and lycopenes, much higher than other fruit juices.
YOUR ADULT DRINK: Michelob Light is a top-rated American brew at 123 calories per 12 ounces. For a cocktail, try this version of Long Island iced tea, a winner from our friends to the east. It’s the low-calorie champ, much lower than most other mixed cocktails. Recipe, please:
PITTSBURGH ICED TEA
Three parts each of vodka, bourbon, white rum, Triple Sec and gin.
Five parts lemonade. Splash of ice tea, for color. Shake and serve in highball glass over cracked ice with a twist of lemon or lime.
BEST CHOICES FOR SUMMER
• Fresh fruits and produce. They’re in season. Ask for locally produced items. Fresh means highest nutritional benefits and best taste.
• Chilled soups. If you’ve never discovered them, they are a huge summer treat. A tomato gazpacho or cold potato or cucumber soup are naturally low in calories and fat, perfect for summer. Studies show a soup appetizer helps cut back on your desire to overeat.
• Watermelon. Don’t forget the grandpappy of summer treats. They are 50 percent water for the thirsty and fiber rich. The new ones are much smaller with few seeds.
• Grillin’. Throw some sliced vegetables onto the grill. It adds a welcome flavor addition. Make pita sandwiches with the leftovers, with yogurt dressing. Grilled fruits are so good, you won’t miss the pie or ice cream for dessert.
• Freezer fun. Ever had frozen grapes? They beat Popsicles and are good for you. Likewise, frozen bananas, dark cherries and all manner of berries. You won’t miss the ice-cream bars.
CHILLED GAZPACHO SOUP
3 cloves garlic, mashed
3 slices white bread, cubed
2 green peppers
3 pounds tomatoes, peeled
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
5 tablespoons olive oil
Place everything in a blender and puree until smooth. Refrigerate for at least six hours for flavors to meld. Whisk just before serving and garnish with lemon or lime slices or diced vegetables.
CHILLED CUCUMBER SOUP
2 cups chicken broth, defatted
1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon of fresh dill, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and white pepper to taste
Page 3 of 3 - 2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced in rounds
Mix broth and seasonings and add cucumbers. Chill covered for three hours. Just before serving, slice two green onions including some of tops as a garnish.
COMPLETE SUMMER SALAD
• Use a variety of greens including romaine and Boston bib. Add fresh spinach, argil and endive leaves.
• Toss in sliced produce, whatever you have. Consider grilling it for a new flavor.
• Add protein such as grilled steak, chicken or seafood, hot or cold. Ham, tuna and hard-boiled eggs are good additions, too. For extra protein, add cashews, seeds or cottage cheese.
• Avoid fat in dressing with a vinaigrette. It should be added right before serving, or serve on the side to allow guests to choose how much to use.
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, iced
2 teaspoons brown mustard such as Dusseldorf
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried herbs (bail, oregano or tarragon)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Or, place in a cruet, cover and shake. Refrigerate for two hours. Shake again before serving.
Notes: Chopped olives or capers or diced shallots are good additions. Use an extra fine olive oil for best flavor.