“Summertime and the living is easy” or so goes the old song. We all want to relax and not work so hard in the kitchen – it’s hot and we’re ready to change up the routine. But a lot of traditional summer fare is loaded with calories, fat, sugar and sodium. Below you will find super summer foods and some that you should avoid.
Read the following article excerpted from healthfitnessmag.com that lists some of the worst nutritional offenders, as well as some of the best.
6 BEST AND WORST FOODS
Rebecca Miller, MPH, RD, LDN
1. Deli meat – Even though meats like turkey, chicken, ham and roast beef are lean protein sources, it can come with a high price in the form of sodium. Try to use baked/roasted skinless chicken, beans/legumes, or sliced hard boiled eggs in the place of your standard cold-cuts on a sandwich, low carb/high fiber tortilla, or lettuce wrap.
2. High fat meats – The saturated fat found in animal meats poses many negatives impacts on our health ranging from higher calorie content to increased risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. Select leaner meats and trim off any visible fat. Instead of a rib-eye or porterhouse steak, opt for a filet, tenderloin, or sirloin steak.
3. Chips – Often grabbed in a pinch for a quick snack chips, whether fried or baked, add sodium and empty calories to our diet since they lack beneficial nutrients like fiber and protein. Try Beanitos, for about 140 calories per serving, you’ll at least get some fiber and protein from the beans to keep your hunger at bay.
AND DRINKS FOR SUMMER
4. Lemonade – Most of us know the high sugar and calorie content of regular-sugary sodas and sweet tea, but you might not lump lemonade in this category as well, even though you should! With just as much sugar (if not more) than in a soft drink, lemonades often get a ‘better for you vibe’. Make your own version with a non-calorie plant based sweetener like Truvia or New Orleans locally-owned company Swerve rather than granulated sugar or even honey or agave.
5. Sports drinks – Here’s another sugar and calorie source in the form of a liquid that can quickly add up to undesired calorie consumption during the day. It’s a common myth that the average American needs a sports drink to replenish electrolytes after a hot day in the sun or workout. Try the zero versions to get rid of the empty calories or try the plant-based sweetened water enhancers to quench your thirst and hydrate you this summer.
6. Coconut water – Another beverage that gets a lot of press these days due to its popularity to replenishing lost electrolytes is coconut water. The sodium and potassium can be good for endurance enthusiasts or athletes, but for someone trying to lose weight/eat healthier or has high blood pressure or impaired kidney function, this is not always your best bet. Select no-sugar-added varieties or plain coconut water if you fall into the category of truly needing the potential benefits of this drink.
6 Super Summer Foods and Beverages
Water Enhancers – Spice up your beverages and the likelihood of increasing your fluid intake by flavoring your water or unsweetened tea with flavor enhancers such as Stur or Crystal Light Pure, both of which are made with plant-based sweetener and add little-to-no calories.
Chicken Sausage – Look for nitrate/nitrite free sausages that make great swap-outs to high fat hot dogs, brats, and sausages.
Any Fresh Fruit – Simply add to the blender with your morning smoothie, pair together with a 100-calorie pack of nuts as an afternoon snack, or save for your after-dinner dessert since they add hydration, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients and some fiber to your day.
Any Non-starchy Vegetable – Toss them together in a salad, dip them in a 100-calorie to-go portion of hummus or guacamole, or throw them on the grill for low calorie, higher fiber snacks or sides to your meal.
Plain Greek Yogurt – A great protein source that also counts towards your fluid needs for the day. Use it as the protein source for your morning smoothie, make your own parfait with fresh fruit and a sprinkling of lower sugar granola or Kashi go lean cereal, or substitute it for mayo or sour cream in your favorite homemade dip or dressing. To sweeten it up without adding sugar to it (like with the vanilla or flavored varieties), just mix in some vanilla extract and plant-based sweetener like Truvia.
Dressings and Marinades – While some may be slightly higher in sugar, fat, or sodium, if you’re using just a little bit, it can be an easy way to add versatility to your usual salad or to marinate your meats before throwing them on the grill. A good rule of thumb is go with the reduced-fat ones rather than original or ‘free’ varieties.
Rebecca Miller, MPH, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist with Ochsner’s Elmwood Fitness Center. She writes a blog called Twisted Nutrition and can be found at twistednutritionandme.blogspot.com.