What springs to mind when you think of summer foods: seasonal produce that is at its best now, like berries, peppers, corn, and leafy greens? Or clam chowder, lobster rolls, French fries, and ice cream?
By Lee Sandford
What springs to mind when you think of summer foods: seasonal produce that is at its best now, like berries, peppers, corn, and leafy greens? Or clam chowder, lobster rolls, French fries, and ice cream? It’s a cruel irony that in the season where we’re most worried about looking slim, calorie-laden foods abound, not to mention summer mixed drinks and beer to help you cool off in the evening.
Summer wouldn’t be the same without some of these indulgences — it doesn’t feel like summer until you’ve walked over to Longford’s for a scoop after a family dinner in town. If you’re a believer in the 80/20 rule for a healthy diet and lifestyle though, here are a few things that fall into the 20 percent treat category and more that fall under 80 percent eating clean.
Limit these on your 20 percent days:
Mayonnaise-rich foods and salads:
Lobster rolls and potato salad. Lemon or lime and a little light mayo are preferable for dressing any seafood, and a great low-calorie, high-protein go-to for seafood is shrimp cocktail. The kick in the cocktail sauce will give your metabolism a boost too. As an alternative to potato salad, a few drops of olive oil and sprigs of fresh rosemary are a much tastier and healthier way to enjoy potatoes.
Planters Punch has another name among some of my friends — Memory Eraser! For that reason I’ve been avoiding them this summer, but you might also want to avoid them for their calorie count. They, along with Margaritas and Dark and Stormies, are full of sugar and go down far too easily, making it hard to stop at one. White wine spritzers are a better choice, but if you can’t quite go to those goody-two-shoes extremes, rosé is a delicious summer drink and works nicely over ice, making it a longer drink. Head in to Wine at Five for a great choice of still and sparkling rosés.
New England Clam Chowder.
The ingredients: bacon, butter, cream…. you do the math. A lower calorie and even tastier choice is gazpacho. As a Scot, who tends to think of the phrase “cold soup” as an oxymoron, this took me some time to embrace, but now I’m quite addicted to the one served at Le Pain Quotidien. (Crisfield’s and June & Ho also sell great gazpacho.) Tomatoes, the main ingredient in gazpacho, are a great source of vitamins A, C and K, are a good source of fiber, and, appropriately for the summer months, contain beta-carotene which helps protect your skin against sun damage.
Go for it with these summer treats:
I was confused the other day when my strawberries actually smelled of strawberry. We take for granted that we can get produce year round, in season or not. But they really do smell and taste so much better in season and this is the season for all berries. Oxygen magazine summarizes their benefits thus: “Studies have linked berries and their arsenal of antioxidants to a slew of body benefits, including improving memory and cognitive function, reducing inflammation and arthritic pain, lowering LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol, and even fighting some types of cancer.” Phew! Although the term “super-food” is over-used, berries always make the list whenever it is used.
Unfortunately for me, since I don’t have a sweet tooth, I’m not a huge fan of berries. I do however like them in a smoothie and in the hot days of summer, it’s pretty easy to get your dose of berries in smoothie form from Smoothie King, Andy’s, or the Post Road Market.
Corn and grilled veggies.
Corn on the cob is one of the iconic tastes of summer and is a low calorie, high fiber, healthy addition to your grilling menu, as long as you go easy on the butter and salt. Head to the Farmers Market in Rye (Sundays, 8.30 a.m.-2 p.m.) for corn and other summer grill winners like zucchini and peppers. Both are low in fat and calories and high in Vitamin C — if you’ve heard that the more color on your plate, the healthier it is, they would have to be easy go-tos for multicolor!
Dark green leafy vegetables are probably the top source of nutrients there is. They are loaded with minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. They too contain beta-carotene to protect our skin and eyes.
Nature is pretty clever you know, and most of the summer produce I’ve mentioned, tomatoes, berries, etc., contain water and help you hydrate. The other famous fruit quencher of summer is of course watermelon. Also make sure to drink eight glasses of water per day and more if you are exercising.