hands cutting lemon on a wooden board with mango and carrots

The summer sun is shining upon us and as you read this, I will be enjoying even fairer shores with my family on the beaches of Kauai. It is, for those of you who haven’t been yet, a foodie’s beach paradise. Which is pretty good, because I like to eat! I will offer a peek at the island on my blog when I get back…

These fair days have got me thinking about all the wonderful summer produce that will be filling my belly – raspberries, apricots, fat heirloom tomatoes, sweet-tart cherries, tiny, jewel-like eggplants – and also about which foods I want to keep on hand to help me get the most out of the summer season. Of course, food is medicine, so I wanted to share a few thoughts on good summer nutrition.

Your Nutritional Tool Kit for Summer!

Eat Your Sunscreen

Keep that skin glowing and supercharge your sunscreen from the inside out! Fruits and veggies high in lycopene help protect the skin from UV damage; choose fresh and canned tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit and guava daily. Omega 3 fatty acids help calm the inflammation inflicted by the sun’s rays, so add hemp seeds, sardines, herring, salmon and chia seeds to your meals. Finally, sip green tea as your beverage of choice; EGCG in green tea also helps protect your skin from UV damage.

Stay Hydrated

In these hot summer months, hydration is critical to improve mental focus and energy levels, physical performance for your sports, support proper elimination and detoxification (all that cleansing sweat!) and keep skin dewy and glowing. Drink at least 2-3 litres of fluid each day and remember that the best way to know if you are hydrated is if the water coming out looks like the water going in!

The average person doesn’t need commercial sports drinks; instead hydrate with plenty of plain or sparkling water on regular days. For heavy activity, consider chilled coconut water or this DIY sports drink: in a 1 litre bottle, add 1 1/4 cup unsweetened tart cherry juice, 1/8 tsp salt and top up with water to 1L. Getting bored of regular water? Make iced tea! Brew strong rooiboos (for a decaf option) or green tea and chill for an antioxidant rich, calorie free summer sipper.

Patio Sippers

I like a nice cocktail as much as the next girl…so here is my favourite sangria recipe, just for fun!

1 bottle of good white wine, I like a pinot gris
1 cup of brandy or calvados (apple brandy)
1 litre of your favourite 100% juice – try passionfruit!
2 cups of your favourite ripe fruit – berries and peaches are a nice combo

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher, chill for a few hours and enjoy.

While we are on the topic of sippers, ensure that you drink 2 cups of water for every one cup of cocktail under the hot summer sun. And have something to nibble so it doesn’t go straight to your head!

Food to Help You Chill Out

On hot summer days, its nice to have a cool treat to enjoy. Here are a few of my faves:

  1. Frozen grapes – This classic snack is so simple and so satisfying; if you haven’t tried it yet, you will be blown away by how good this is! Wash and dry purple grapes and lay on a parchment lined cookie sheet or baking tin and freeze until solid. Transfer to a freezer bag or freezer safe container.

2. Frozen yogurt – Blend up a 500ml (pint) container of plain Greek yogurt with 1 cup of your favourite fruit – try ripe apricot and blackberry – then transfer to an ice cream maker and process to manufacturer’s directions – no sugar needed. Alternatively, place in an 8 inch square baking pan and freeze, stirring every 15 minutes until frozen enough to eat.

  1. Cucumber Watermelon Juice – Both of these foods are supremely cooling and hydrating; you need a really good sweet watermelon to get the most out of this combination. In a blender, add 4 cups of chopped, peeled watermelon and 1 cup of chopped, peeled cucumber. Blend with just enough water to get the blender blade going and chill. Makes a great popsicle too!

Get Your Grill On, the Healthy Way!

Grilling and summer go hand in hand; however, grilling can create harmful HCA and PCA compounds in meat. To keep it healthy, be sure to marinate meat for at least 30 minutes and add rosemary to the marinade – both the water and the rosemary help prevent these harmful compounds from forming. Switch up your burger routine with grilled fish, ground turkey or chicken burgers (grate apple into them to keep them moist!) and try grilled extra firm tofu for a meatless option. Don’t forget to grill up plenty of summer vegetables so that your plate will be half produce for a healthier you.