Summer is here in full swing, and we are all running to the park or beach whenever we get the chance. While taking a bag of chips along or grabbing an ice cream cone while you are out to cool off may sound appealing, packing healthy snacks will help you have a better day in the sun. Step aside deep fried chips and concession stand foods that leave you feeling sluggish and bloated by the end of the day. With a little planning and preparation, you can have refreshing and energizing snacks and meals that will keep you satisfied all day long.
Whether you are hitting the trails or peckish at the beach, homemade trail mix can keep your hunger at bay. Raw nuts and seeds contain lots of fibre and protein helping you feel full while adding ingredients like goji berries and cacao nibs increase antioxidant content. Goji berries are rich in beta-carotene and very good for the skin while cacao nibs add a chocolatey taste without melting in the heat. Homemade granola bars or energy bites make great snacks while on the go and can be made with simple ingredients, good for your wallet and waistline.
Ditch the chips and sour cream dips for crunch satisfying whole grain crackers and hummus. Crackers will deliver the crunch satisfaction you are looking for without the bad oils and the chickpea-based dip, hummus, can withstand the heat of the sun much better while providing fibre and protein. Hummus is also a great spread for sandwiches making it a healthy alternative to mayonnaise and does better in the heat. Crunchy water dense veggies like cucumber and celery make great dippers to help keep you hydrated as well.
Make a meal out of your picnic salad by adding whole grains, beans and seeds. Quinoa, barley, farro or brown rice can be added to or be the base of many types of salads making them much more substantial. Topping salads with seeds add protein and a nutty flavour while beans like chickpeas can be roasted and used as a replacement for croutons in a salad. Using an oil-based salad dressing can withstand being outdoors better than a creamy dressing and will feel lighter on the stomach when you are out in the heat of the day.
Have kids to think about? Replace the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich with other nut or seed butter options such as almond, cashew, hazelnut and sunflower. Jam and jelly can be swapped with sliced banana or mashed berries to reduce the sugar load. Bring homemade treats like muffins and cookies made with whole grains and hidden pureed veggies. Get creative with your kids by having them make fruit necklaces out of berries and grapes using yarn needles and elastic cords so they can munch on fruit during the day. And most likely they will enjoy veggies and hummus too!
Staying hydrated is vital for a day in the sun, but that means more than just drinking water. Fruits high in water content are great snacks and help deliver water to your cells much better with their mineral content than drinking water alone. Watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes and apples are great hydrating fruits and will help keep you cool. Adding fruit and even herbs like mint to your water can make a refreshing and flavourful drink to help you stay away from dehydrating sugar-filled sodas. Packing nature’s electrolyte-rich drink, coconut water, is an excellent option for a day in the heat or for any summer activity. Better hydration throughout the day will help you keep cool, reducing cravings when you hear the bells of the ice cream cart coming your way.
With a little planning and prep, summer eating can be just as healthy on the go as it is at home. If your goal is to maintain a beach body or to just feel good after a day out in the beautiful weather summer has to offer, planning your food ahead always helps. Instead of looking forward to summertime ice cream cones and freezes, look forward to summer’s sweet and beautiful bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that only come once a year. Local strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes, Canadian peaches, nectarines and cherries. Stay healthy with the foods nature intended for us and make the most out of this summer!