So happy it’s summer! Along with summer come changes in our appetites, our diets and in the way we prepare our food. Here are a few tips on healthy summer eating:
- People’s appetites often shift from craving heavy, filling foods, to a preference for lighter fare in the warmer months. Don’t resist this shift! Take advantage of the variety of fresh produce available throughout the summer. Some fruits and vegetables that are in season in Ontario (think of the environment too and eat locally!) in the summer include strawberries, currants, grapes, rhubarb, plums, peaches, nectarines, beets, peas, cucumber, broccoli, radishes, etc.
- In Chinese medicine, it is believed that some foods have a cooling effect on the body and should be eaten more in warmer months. Here are some examples of cooling foods:
- Fruits and vegetables: apples, avocado, spinach, broccoli, blueberries, asparagus, cucumber, lemon, mango
- Herbs and spices: mint, marjoram, tamarind
- Grains: wild rice, barley, flax
- Drinks: GREEN TEA! Even if you drink it hot, it has a cooling effect on the body.
- BBQ! You may have heard about the potential harms of eating barbecued or otherwise charred foods, so let’s clarify this information here.
- When you char foods on a BBQ/grill you are creating something called a ‘product of incomplete combustion’, that is, its ‘burnt but not all the way’. Through this process, the amino acids (building blocks of protein) found in foods react with creatine to form something called heterocyclic amines. These substances are considered carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents.
- Because of this, it is best to limit as much as you can the amount of charred food that you eat. But during BBQ season, this can be difficult so let’s talk about some tips to reduce the negative effects of grilling:
Cook meat in smaller pieces, this will reduce cooking time on the grill so you can avoid charring your food
- Consider partially cooking your food in an oven before you take it to the grill, again, this will reduce your grill time
- Stick to leaner cuts of meat as excess fat that drips onto the flames tends to cause flares, which will increase the charring on the food
- Keep the flames low and under control to avoid large flames and overcooking your food
Have a happy and healthy summer and bon appétit!