Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia offers a refreshing antidote to the heat of summer -fountains! I sometimes forget that cooking a hot meal in July is not a good idea. It’s also hard to find alternatives that don’t require too much brainpower. My friend Alison has some great ideas. I also love it that she tells you why certain foods are better to eat in summertime. Some days I need all the help I can get in that department.
Fresh & Healthy Summer Eating Tips with Herbs..
It’s easy to make healthy changes to your diet during the summer when lots of fresh local produce is available. Weight loss is effortless this time of year, as outdoor activities burn more calories and you’re less likely to be sedentary. To make the most of good summer health, follow these eating tips:
- Plenty of raw green foods every day will help you feel full for very few calories. Fill your plate with at least half raw vegetables. Include green leafy vegetables like kale, mustard greens; lettuce, escarole, garlic scapes, spring onions, beet greens and sugar snap peas. Try some wild foraged greens too—garlic mustard, sheep’s sorrel and purslane are all nutritional powerhouses that grow as garden weeds.
- Eat fruit as it comes into season. Right now strawberries and blueberries are ready in New England, later we’ll have peaches, plums, cherries, pears and apples. Wild berries like mulberries, black and red raspberries, wild strawberries and blackberries are widely available too! Fruit is a good food choice in the summer. Higher activity levels require more carbohydrates and in summer the sugar in fruit is more easily metabolized for energy rather than being stored as fat.
- Drink plenty of water. Add two or three sprigs of any fresh aromatic herb to your water pitcher. Rub the herb lightly between your fingers to bring out the flavor before adding. My favorites: lemon thyme, purple ruffles basil, chocolate mint, orange mint, pineapple sage and lavender.
- You can add fresh herbs to just about everything! Grow a container herb garden with just a few culinary herbal stars—it’s fun and requires very little space. Dill, parsley, basil, cilantro, thyme, oregano and chives will liven up your summer meals. Try finely chopped chives in butter on grilled ears of corn, basil in “mocktails”, and fresh dill in red bliss potato salad. Herbs are a rich source of antioxidants and phyto (plant) nutrients that prevent cancer and ward off chronic disease.
- Grilling is an enjoyable pastime and food prepared on a grill is delicious, but there’s the real risk of creating carcinogens in grilled meat. Use an herbal marinade before you grill. Marinating meats first with herbs such as rosemary, turmeric, ginger, garlic, thyme or basil will enhance flavor and reduce the formation of certain cancer causing chemicals. Another option is to grill vegetables (think Portobello mushrooms, zucchini, peppers and asparagus) or veggie burgers. These foods are less likely to form carcinogens when subjected to higher temperatures.
- Stay cool by making your own frozen fruit pops. Blend two cups of any fresh fruit in season with two cups of coconut water. Add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice and a small amount of natural sweetener, such as: honey, maple syrup, stevia leaf or Lo Han Fruit. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze! Finely minced fresh herbs such as mint, basil or lemon balm are refreshing to add too.
- Make sun tea! Fill a clear glass quart-sized pitcher with water, add one cup of smashed fresh fruit (strawberries, peaches and oranges work well) and several sprigs of your choice of fresh herbs ( lemon balm, mint, sage, thyme, holy basil, lavender, ginger slices, lemongrass, rose petals, etc.). If fresh herbs are unavailable, use about 4 tbsp. of dried herbs. Cover the pitcher and let it sit in the sun for several hours then strain. Add ice and sip up!