Lighten Up this Summer

Summer can be an easy season for healthy eating if you plan it right.

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

Summer can be an easy season for healthy eating if you plan it right. It's a perfect time to load up on seasonal fruits and vegetables, and summer isn't complete without a meal (or many) made on the grill.

Grilling is a quick and lean cooking method. You can just season your lean meat with herbs and spices or marinate it and throw it on the grill. Grilling allows the fat to drip from the meat rather than cook inside it, and many types of meat such as pork chops, chicken breasts, turkey burgers, and fish are very tasty on the grill. And remember, grilling isn't only for meat — vegetables and fruits such as zucchini, asparagus, peppers, apples, peaches, and pears are wonderful grilled.

Summer offers up a better and more reasonably priced selection of fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini, strawberries, plums, and nectarines. These foods are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and tend to be the foods Americans are not eating enough of every day. Check out my last column, Are you Eating Your Veggies?

Saluting Salads

Salads are a great way to eat more vegetables and they can be extra appealing on a hot summer day when you crave something light and refreshing. Start off with a dark green leaf lettuce (or a combination of different lettuces), add some lean protein such as chicken breast, tuna, or shrimp, add fresh fruit like strawberry or orange slices, along with some toasted almonds and walnuts. Top your salad with vinegar, oil, and lime or lemon juice or, if you use a bottled salad dressing, make sure it's one that is low in carbs, calories, and sodium. If you're watching your sodium intake, remember that bottled salad dressings tend to be higher in sodium than a homemade salad dressing. Always remember to include a lean protein source with your salad. Protein does not raise your blood sugar, and it is going to help fill you up. Nuts provide good, heart-healthy fats, and they will also help to fill you up). When eating salads people often complain that they are still hungry when done eating. If this is the case, try making the salad as above and serving it with a side of no-sugar yogurt or whole-grain crackers.

Summer Temptations

Summer also brings the traditional dishes that can be very high in carbs, calories, and saturated fat, such as potato salad, pasta salad, and dips that use lots of mayonnaise and sour cream. Most of these dishes can be modified by using light mayonnaise mixed with equal parts of plain fat-free yogurt. When possible, add more low-carbohydrate veggies (celery, cucumbers, peppers, or pea pods) to any dish — this will give more nutrition with fewer calories and carbs.

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Last Modified Date: February 15, 2013

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by Nicole Purcell
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