It is officially summer! That means barbecues, ice cream and cold drinks. Yes, even for me!
Let’s get real. My mission is to support you to turn your “diet” into a healthy, fun, sustainable lifestyle and I can help you with that because I have done it for myself!
So the task today is to help you create a plan for summer that will keep you eating well, loving life and that will provide some great alternatives or better choices for the “treats” that you would otherwise go off-track for. And there are two great recipes at the end of this blog so stick around!
Ok let’s get right to it.
1. Ice Cream
I have a separate section for desserts below, but I think ice cream deserves it’s own category, especially here in New England.
And all I want to say is that you should look for a creamery that uses better ingredients. You don’t need artificial colors, flavors or candies to make ice cream taste good.
And better yet, you can easily make your own. Our family love to use our Cuisinart ice cream maker. It is relatively inexpensive and making ice cream is simple. They sell them on Amazon for around $45.00.
You can find my easy, chocolate coconut milk ice cream recipe at the end of this blog. Feel free to play with the recipe and add (or subtract) ingredients. I also enjoy it without the cocoa and with dried cranberries and dark chocolate chips added.
2. Host events at your home when you can
When you host at your home you get to be in charge of the menu. That makes staying on track a whole lot easier. And I promise you, you do not need to explain or apologize to anyone for not having “real” pasta or buns on the menu. In my experience the guests don’t even notice the absence of grains because they are lost in the enjoyment of the awesome food you are serving.
3. Bring food with you
If you are going to an event, bring a dish to share. Choose satiating (satisfying and filling) foods like meat-based dishes or hearty salads.
Most people serve vegetables and fruits, and people often barbecue their meat this makes it very likely that you will have healthy options to choose from.
With that being said, you may want to “fill in the gaps.” Desserts and appetizers are often made with grains. So bring a dessert or appetizer. A shrimp platter is always popular, and if dairy works for you, a cheese platter with apples instead of crackers is always a hit.
4. Prepare your grilled meat properly
You may have heard that grilling meat causes the formation of AGE’s (which cause inflammation) and HCA’s (which cause cancer).
There is an excellent post from Mark Sisson here that I highly recommend you read but the long and the short of it is that marinating your meat has been shown to reduce the formation of these compounds. On top of that, eating vegetables with your meat has also proven to mitigate the effects of these compounds.
So the conclusion is that yes, grilling is fine if you marinate your meat and pair it with vegetables. Not too hard, right?
5. Try a couple of new salads
Although you should be eating protein with every meal in order to support your health, the majority of your diet should consist of vegetables.
If you are a woman this usually means that you will have portion of meat on your plate, about the size of your palm and if you are a man it will be equivalent to about two palms. The rest of your plate will be covered in veggies.
So I find that the quickest way to accomplish that is to choose a hearty salad like a kale salad, broccoli salad or coleslaw and just load up on it. These salads are filling so there is no need to make an extra side dish, unless you want to.
Choose a couple of simple salads that you can rotate between for the week. Make up a big batch of kale salad to last you two or three days, then do up a broccoli salad and so on. Just leave it undressed until you need it!
6. Be smarter about alcohol
If you do not drink alcohol, awesome! You can skip this section.
I am not recommending alcohol. But for many of us, a glass of wine, a beer or mixed drink on occasion is enjoyable, despite the drawbacks. With that in mind, I want you to know what the better options are.
All alcohol has detrimental effects to our health. You know this. It is high in sugar and it messes with our hormones. Over the long haul, a high consumption of alcohol kills your liver, your sex life, leads to malnutrition and more.
But this blog is for the occasional drinker. And yes, alcohol can have detrimental effects even for you. That simple drive in blood sugar can make you crave more sweets, affect your mood and energy and impair your better judgment to choose healthy food.
I recommend that you stay away from gluten containing drinks like beer and hard liquors. Instead, choose gluten free cider beer, wine or potato vodka.
Also, what you mix it with matters. Certain tomato juice mixes for Caesar’s contain MSG, pop contains carcinogenic caramel coloring and juice contains other artificial colors and sweeteners and sugar.
Instead, mix your drink of choice with water or club soda and a splash of one hundred percent real fruit juice (bought or homemade). I found a decent organic lemonade last year and mixed that with some potato vodka. It tasted great but it was full of sugar, so it was not perfect, just ‘better.’
Now, let’s be clear. The only reason I am suggesting these alternatives is because they are gluten-free or contain some better ingredients. They are alternatives, but they are not healthy.
7. Get your vitamin D
Vitamin D is a nutrient that your body synthesizes after sun exposure. You can also get Vitamin D from certain food sources and supplements but the best way is from the sun.
Vitamin D is important for a strong immune system, strong bones and a healthy heart. When vitamin D is low, side effects can range from acid-reflux, diabetes, secondary nutrient deficiencies (you are not absorbing other nutrients because you are low in Vitamin D) sleep disturbances and cancer.
We are led to believe that the sun is dangerous and we must “protect ourselves” with sunscreen but the reality is, we need the sun in order to be healthy and to synthesize Vitamin D.
So get outside with seventy percent of your skin exposed for at least twenty minutes, but ideally one to two hours every day. And be smart about it. You do not want to burn, but you also do not want to fear the sun.
It is always nice to have a treat.
My four favorite healthy and easy desserts are homemade chocolate popsicles, berries and organic whipping cream, warm peaches with pecans, and the quick chocolate fondue recipe you will find below (it is a must try because it is so easy and very delicious).
Does staying on track really seem all that hard now that you have these tips?
Here is a recap on how to stay on track this summer:
- Eat (homemade) ice cream.
- Host events at your own home.
- If you are not hosting, bring food with you to “fill in the gaps.”
- Prepare your grilled meat by marinating it and serve with veggies.
- Eat lots of salad.
- Be smarter about alcohol.
- Get your vitamin D (20 minutes to 2 hours) in the sun every day.
- Eat healthy desserts.
So go on now and enjoy your summer. Put these tips into action. You can fully enjoy your summer and still continue to maximize the benefits of your healthy lifestyle by just following the simple steps we just discussed.
And as promised, our chocolate fondue and chocolate ice cream recipes.
Chocolate Fondue with Fresh Fruit (or you can watch the video HERE).
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
- 1-2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil (or a bit of both)
- 1/3 cup or more dark chocolate chips or pieces from a chocolate bar
- Fresh seasonal fruit (berries, cherries, peaches, bananas, apples)
- In a medium pan melt butter and/or coconut oil over medium-low heat.
- Adjust heat to low.
- Add chocolate pieces. Allow chocolate to melt, stirring often. Do not burn.
- Meanwhile prepare your fruit.
- When chocolate has melted, pour into a few bowls so that you can spread it among the guests and serve the fruit on platters.
Chocolate Ice Cream
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Freeze Time: 20 minutes
- 2 cans (3 cups) full fat coconut milk
- 2 tablespoon raw honey or maple syrup
- ½ cup raw cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Add all of the ingredients to a blender and process until mixed very well, about 1 minute or so.
- Add to your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer instructions.