FEATURE — Some of your favorite summer activities might include going for a hike, growing a garden, having a picnic or garden party or inviting friends over for a BBQ. All of these fun activities include enjoying food while outdoors. Here are a few tips for enjoying your summer food nutritiously:
Be sure to take some of these lightweight, nutrient-dense foods in your backpack: trail mix, nut-based bars, energy bars, granola or granola bars, ready-made tuna salad pouches and a small package of whole grain crackers. Don’t forget to take a sports drink or water to stay hydrated. A good rule is to plan for about two cups of fluid for every hour of hiking, and be aware that fluid needs may increase based on outside temperature and altitude. The higher the temperature and altitude, the more fluid your body will require.
Try this fruit and nut bar recipe!
- 3/4 cup | whole almonds, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups | rolled oats
- 1 cup | dried prunes
- 1/4 cup | honey
- 1/4 cup | creamy peanut butter
- 1 tsp | vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup | dried apricot, diced
- 1/4 cup | dried cherries, chopped
- Optional Step: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place oats and almonds on a sheet pan; toast for 10 minutes or until slightly golden brown
- Process prunes in a food processor until small bits remain (about one minute)
- Warm honey, peanut butter and prunes in a small saucepan over low heat until combined, about 1-2 minutes Remove from heat; add vanilla
- In a bowl, combine the warmed mixture with the oats and almonds
- Stir in the apricots and cherries
- Transfer to an 8-by-8 inch dish, lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper
- Press down until uniformly flattened. Cover with plastic wrap, let sit in fridge for 10 minutes to harden
- Remove from pan and cut into 10 even bars
This is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. You burn approximately 200 calories while weeding the garden for an hour. You then reap the rewards of fresh, healthy vegetables that are naturally low in calories. Some favorite items might be green beans, radishes, summer squash, beets, peppers, tomatoes, carrots and zucchini. For every cup of raw vegetables (or ½ cup cooked vegetables), you eat only 25 calories.
This means you are spending eight times more calories than you are consuming; what a great weight loss plan!
Try this raspberry cilantro salsa recipe.
- 3 | Six-ounce packages of raspberries
- 1/2 cup | red onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup | cilantro, chopped
- 2 tsp | jalapeño pepper, minced
- 1 1/2 tsp | lime juice
- 1 tsp | garlic, mashed to a paste
- 2 tsp | kosher salt
- 1 tsp | ground and toasted cumin
- 1-2 tsp | granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp | black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl
- Mash gently with a whisk or potato masher to release berry juices, leaving large pieces of raspberry in the salsa
- Chill for one hour. Adjust salt, sugar and pepper to taste
- Serve with chips or over fish or poultry
Who wants to use the stove or oven during the hot summer? Quick, light, cold salads are a great way to entertain. Spinach is a super food, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It’s packed with vitamins A and C, which are essential for eye health, immune function and many other body processes. Vitamin K helps build strong bones. Spinach also contains folate and iron, which help prevent anemia. The magnesium and potassium are important for muscle development and growth.
You may also enjoy fresh fruit from trees or bushes in the yard. Peaches, strawberries, raspberries, grapes and apples may abound from spring to fall. Consider replacing your favorite dessert with fresh fruit. One small piece of chocolate cake is approximately 240 calories, compared to 100 calories for one cup sliced fresh peaches with fat-free half and half.
To enjoy a nutrition barbecue, get creative. Enjoy grilled vegetable kabobs, pineapple or asparagus.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Asparagus is an excellent source of bone-building vitamin K, as well as folate. It also provides vitamin A and iron. Available in green, purple and white varieties, asparagus spears are fun to eat and go with all kinds of foods.”
Be daring and try a plant-based barbecue: veggie or mushroom burgers, grilled carrots as “hot dogs,” corn, asparagus, peaches and apples make a healthy grill fest.
The key to enjoying these activities is the planning. If that isn’t your strong suit, a nutritionist can make all the difference.
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Written by Mary Brown for St. George Health and Wellness magazine and St. George News.
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