By Karen Langston
The last of the lilacs fragrance waft in the cool, late-spring air, the tulips are withering away and jasmine fills the night. The lazy-filled days of summer, which include barbeques, picnics and beach day get-togethers, are finally here. Food is an integral component of our summertime activities.
Here are 3 strategies to eat healthy and still enjoy all of summer’s privileges.
Meat is the bulk of summer food consumption. The average American consumes 250 pounds of meat each year. Whether scarfing down a frankfurter at the ball game or cooking them up on the barbeque, look for all beef hotdogs that are sodium nitrite and nitrate free. Nitrites, nitrates (sodium nitrites, sodium nitrates) are what give chicken and beef hotdogs, luncheon and deli meats, as well as bacon and ham, their pink color and, to some extent, their flavoring. They are also preservatives and antimicrobial agents which serve to cure meats. There are numerous studies which question the safeness of these preservatives. Nitrites mix with stomach gastric juices and convert to nitrosamines which, some studies have linked to an increase in gastrointestinal cancers. Not to put a damper on a summer fling, choose nitrite and nitrate free luncheon meats and hotdogs to help you prepare the healthiest summertime barbeque.
A picnic or a barbeque is not complete without condiments. Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and relish are the top condiments of choice to complement the summer chef’s array of food. Use organic condiments as they will be free of most harmful preservatives. Most importantly, they will not contain high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is a well known, and not very well understood, ingredient. Researchers are continuously debating its safety. Here is what we do know; high fructose corn syrup is metabolized differently than sugar and consumption in high amounts presents certain metabolic and hormonal affects that lead to fat storage and weight gain. Look for condiments that are free from high fructose corn syrup, artificial ingredients, dyes and preservatives such as BHT and sulfites.
Hydration is important year-round, but extremely importantly during the summer months. Water is by far the number one choice for hydration. Water lubricates your joints, helps you think clearly and gives you energy to participate in summertime activities. When indulging in other summer-favorite beverages such as ice tea, opt to make your own. When I was growing up, summer meant glass pitchers of iced tea and sliced lemons sitting out in the sun on our back porch. I could not wait to quench my thirst with my Mum’s homemade ice tea with a hint of honey sweetness. Brewing your own beverage allows you to control sweetness with quality sweeteners such as stevia or raw honey. Avoid sugary drinks and colas as much as possible. Not only do they lack nutritional value, the caffeine causes dehydration and there are too many conflicting reports about the safety of Aspartame and Nutrasweet. There are many natural and chemical free alternatives to conventional sugar-filled, chemical-laden sodas such as Virgil and Blue Sky.
Having a natural soda or a homemade iced tea are OK once in a while however, it is better to stick to water and you can have some fun with the help of fresh fruit. You can make your own flavoured water with fruit, herbs and a glass jug. Take any fruit and some herbs like berries and mint; add to a jug of water and let it sit over night. The flavours will merry with water and infuse the yumminess into the water. You can lightly mash the fruit the next day to add even more flavor.
We all look forward to summer time fun. Making wise choices means you can still eat what you want but better. It is not about taking away the bad foods, it is about upgrading to better quality foods. Choose non genetically modified fed meat, poultry and eggs that were humanely and pastured raised so that, you can take in the most nutrients to run your body properly. Not to mention feeling good knowing that an animal did not suffer. And, there are no added hormones and antibiotics being served at your summer time feast.
When it comes to condiments choose organic so that there will be no hidden worries. You do not need food coloring, additives or preservatives on your food.
Upgrade sugar and chemically laden sodas and teas for either homemade versions or organic versions with better quality ingredients. Water of course is the best hydration so be sure to drink plenty.
Enjoy your summer festivities, naturally and organically. As we say here at Sanoviv provecho which means enjoy your meal.