As the weather warms, we turn our attention to being outdoors and away from the kitchen. These simple ideas will help focus your meal preparation to help keep nutrition at the forefront.
1. Plan your meals around vegetables.
Take advantage of the local harvest and build your meals around vegetables. Whether it is a salad meal or a plate of grilled veggies, fill at least half your plate with a variety of vegetables at lunch and dinner. Vegetables offer a delicious source of vitamins, antioxidants and fibre. And eating vegetables regularly not only protects our health, it improves our mood.
2. Include legumes in your meals most days.
Most of us associate summer with barbequing meat or poultry. However, including plant proteins, such as beans, peas and lentils, is a cost effective way to stay on track with your nutrition goals. From hummus to lentil burgers, the fibre in legumes helps us feel full and provides valuable resistant starch to boost our gut biome. Add legumes to salads, roast chick peas for a quick afternoon snack, mash white beans and use as a dip, toss tofu into a stir fry, top nachos with black beans or try a bean burger on the BBQ for a light satisfying change.
3. Cook up “planned extras”.
Who wants to spend extra time in the kitchen when it’s hot? Double your recipes to have an extra meal ready and avoid that last minute question, “What’s for dinner?”. Having a general eating plan promotes healthy eating and ultimately saves you money. Cook extra fish and sweet potato and turn the extras into fish tacos or a wrap the next night. Hard boil extra eggs for a quick breakfast or an addition to your salad at lunch. Extra steamed vegetables can be tucked into a quinoa salad for the picnic. Freezing smaller portions of extras for quick meals ultimately puts you in charge of your eating.
4. Satisfying snacks
Include a plan for snacks to avoid getting too hungry and overeating. Our bodies work best when we provide them with regular meals. Sometimes, however, there are long gaps between meals. A planned snack can help bridge the gap so that we can enjoy our next meal without being over hungry. Fast cooking edamame is a great afternoon snack. Enjoy almond butter on a rye cracker or a bowl of strawberries with a scoop of plain Greek yogurt midmorning. Freeze grapes and enjoy when you are looking for something sweet.
5. Healthy hydration
Skip the drink isle and sip smart this summer by enjoying homemade iced teas or creating a signature flavoured waters. Lighten up on the sugar by steeping your favourite herbal tea and chilling with ice or frozen berries. Flavour water with mint or other fresh herbs and add a slice of lemon, grapefruit or cucumber.
Wishing you all a restful and delicious summer.
Ellen Mackay, M.Sc., RD, CDE