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Stay well nourished this summer

You know the summer can be a challenging time to stay healthy. It’s vacation time, you’re socializing more, having fun and not as concerned with your regular healthy routine. I’m all for this and 100 per cent believe you need to take these time-outs to chill, relax and enjoy!

To stay active, healthy and have the energy to do all your favourite fun summer activities it helps to keep in mind a few healthy tips while allowing yourself some indulgence and deliciousness.

Here are seven seasonal nutrition and lifestyle tips to keep you well nourished during these lazy hazy days of summer.

1. Marinade before barbecuing

Barbecue is synonymous with summer and grilling allows you to cook outdoors and avoid using the oven/stove in the heat. Unfortunately, that delicious blackened char and flavour comes with some nasty chemical reactions produced from the combination of the smoke, heat and meat fat. These chemicals have been linked to inflammation and cancer. Marinading the meat in citrus juice for a few hours or overnight can help protect it. Also try to pre-cook your meat a bit first so it won’t have to be on the grill so long.

2. Eat more raw foods

As the seasons change so do your tastes and preferences for food. In the warmer months you tend to crave more cool raw foods that are filled with lots of water to keep you hydrated. Plus eating foods raw keeps all of their vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients, fibre and enzymes in tact. My rule of thumb is to try and get in at least one big salad everyday filled with a variety of local seasonal veggies. Cut-up, raw veggies also make great fingers foods and snacks.

3. Start your day with a smoothie

A great way to give yourself a boost first thing is with a cool, refreshing, nutrient-dense, tall glass of goodness. I typically avoid smoothies in the winter because they make me colder, but I love them now. There are unlimited combinations and recipes to keep your morning smoothie interesting. My basic recipe is to start with a water base. Add in any local seasonal greens. Top with local berries for sweetness. Finish with some good fat from half an avocado. Blend and enjoy.

4. Ditch the commercial ice cream

Sadly today’s ice cream is far from the wholesome goodness our grandparents had made from real cream, egg yolks and a drop of vanilla extract. Commercial ice creams are filled with chemicals, additives, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and dyes. To avoid all of that you can make your own with just a few ingredients and a good blender. In my Vita-mix, I toss in two frozen bananas, 1/2 cup coconut milk and then some flavourings. Fruity — add in frozen or fresh strawberries and blueberries. Nutty — A tablespoon of organic peanut butter, almonds, walnuts and shredded coconut. Chocolate — a tablespoon of cocoa powder and some cacao nibs for crunch.

5. Shop local

At this time of year in Nova Scotia, farmer’s markets are popping up everywhere. And we have such a bounty of fresh local produce to choose from. Whether it’s a regular run to your local weekly market, a stop by a roadside farm stand, or taking the family to a u-pick, enjoying the incredible foods being grown and produced right here is awesome on so many levels. If you don’t have a local market, perhaps a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box for pick up or delivery is a better option for you. And local doesn’t have to be just for produce — we have some incredible quality beef, pork, chicken, fish and seafood being raised and caught so close to home.

6. Make better booze choices

We can’t have a summer nutrition list without talking about alcohol. So many fun summer activities go so well with booze! Most alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories, carbs and a few other downsides. They increase your appetite, decrease your ability to get a good night’s sleep, are hard on the liver, and provide no nutrient value. Opt for red or white wine which have the least amount of calories but still have some sugar and carbs. Hard liquors like vodka, scotch, gin and white rum have a few more calories but zero carbs. The problem with hard alcohol is usually the mixers like pop, sugary syrups and fruit juices. Mix them instead with sparkling water and some lemon and lime.

7. Stay hydrated

Finally a reminder to make sure you get enough water. With all that outdoor activity and sweating you’re likely losing a lot of fluid. So always keep a water bottle handy and filled at all times. If you have kids around or having a gathering, get yourself one of those beautiful glass water jugs with the spout and fill it with fresh clean water and add in berries, slices of citrus, or cucumber for some added flavour and nutrients. You can also make individual servings in clear mason jars to take with you.

Happy healthy summer!

*This post was originally published in the Herald Community on October 7, 2014

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