Have a Sizzling Superfoods Summer!

As the weather heats up and you score more invitations to barbecues and parties, you may think that it is going to be difficult to stick with your Superfoods lifestyle. Luckily, it is not necessary to sacrifice good health for a tasty summer! Many of the foods you already know and love at your picnics are Superfoods-rich, or are begging for a makeover. All it takes is a little creativity.

Start with Salads

First of all, be sure that you take advantage of summer’s bounty and treat your taste buds to an amazing salad! These are always the first to go at a summer picnic…my friends and family beg me to bring my salads to events, and yours will be as well.

Build them with my Superfoods Pyramid in mind: 

• Start with a base of greens. The ones you use depend on what you are going for, but baby kale (nice and tender), arugula (a little peppery), spring or herb mixes, or leaf lettuce are all great beginnings!
• Add rainbow fruits and veggies. Go beyond the expected tomatoes and cucumbers. These are great, but it is always good to surprise your palate with new combinations. Try shredded carrots and radish or beets with blueberries, roasted tomatoes, red onion, cucumber and sweet corn, artichokes and red onion with zucchini and peppers, fennel, jicama…the possibilities are endless. Anything goes, from berries to any chopped, fresh veggies. The more the merrier!
• Next, add in some omega 3 fats and balanced proteins. Use sprouted seeds, nuts, legumes or even quinoa; this is a good time to boost your omega intake and sprinkling on some chia seeds or walnuts adds delicious crunch.

Finish off with avocado, lots of fresh herbs, and/or fermented foods like kimchi and krauts. And making your own dressing is not only easy, but impressive. Try lemon, dill and sea salt with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or sesame oil, shoyu, black pepper, and seaweed for some flare.

If you need inspiration, here’s one of my favorite salad recipes:

Asian Salad
1 small head EACH, green and red cabbage
2 carrots
1 head of broccoli
1 red bell pepper
2 green onions
2 T sesame oil
½ c unseasoned rice vinegar
¼ cup Nama Shoyu
1 T sesame seeds
Black pepper to taste (use a good amount, maybe 1 T).
Optional: grated thumb-sized chunk of ginger

In a sealable jar, mix together the oil, vinegar, and Shoyu to use as your dressing (add the ginger as well, if using). Slice the cabbage into thin, slaw-like strips, placing into your bowl as you work. Grate the carrots, cut the florets into small pieces, and slice the peppers into thin strips, placing over the cabbage. Top with sliced green onion. Next, pour well-combined dressing over the vegetables, mix well, and let marinate for 1-2 hours, tossing at 30 minute intervals. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds. I also sometimes enjoy serving Wasabi flavored sea snacks alongside!

Take a look at some of your summer favorites. Can you add more rainbow veggies? Remove nutrient-sparse items, such as mayonnaise or cheese, and replace with something else? Share Superfoods love with your friends and you’ll have more energy for summertime fun.

Get Grilling?

Grilling is usually synonymous with summer. While grilled food isn’t necessarily health food, I think almost everyone fires up the grill at least a few times each year.

I know many people think that grilling has to mean meat. It does not. You can grill a bounty of veggies including even items like lettuce and radicchio, so marinade up and get creative.

Favorites include mushrooms, homemade veggie burgers (they are easy with equal parts sprouted quinoa and sprouted black beans with a good binder: sprouted chia/flax powder with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and/or water, fresh herbs, sea salt and pepper to taste), pineapple, eggplant, peppers, and asparagus (line the grill with a grill pan or foil, first), but have you thought about grilling Superfoods pizzas? Tomatoes? Pieces of squash and onions, with garlic? The latter is delicious as a Philly sandwich! Even peaches or pineapple can be a fantastic grilled dessert.

While I advocate for a plant-based diet for a variety of health reasons, if you decide to include animals and animal products in your diet, it is best to minimize the frequency and portion and start with a healthy animal: pastured, free range, organic, etc. In addition, consider meat a condiment rather than the main event. Build your meal around your Superfoods!

And why the grilling caution? Grilling meat creates heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are compounds which drive inflammation and are linked with certain cancers. Evidence suggests vegetables do not share the same fate, which could be related to the phytonutrients present in plants and the lack of the types of fats present in animal foods.

So if you do choose to grill, use an oil with a high smoke point, and keep the food away from the direct flame, cooking at high temperature only for as long as necessary. In addition, marinades with beer or wine have been shown to minimize production of these compounds. Marinades can really create some luscious grilled veggies, so throw together some flavors you love, let your dinner soak it in, and toss it on the heat!

Summer Safety

Lastly, to enjoy your summer safely, stay hydrated with pure water—drink to the point where your urine is clear. For a refreshing change of pace, throw in some lemon and mint etc, cucumbers, frozen cubed watermelon, or orange slices. My little ones have a great time making a fabulous sun tea with raspberry leaves and other herbal teas like mint! I love these with lemon as well.

Remember to temper sun exposure with sensible protective precautions. Humans do need a little unprotected exposure. Start with a few minutes a day, gradually increasing to up to 20 or so minutes a day. After this, sit in the shade, or cover up with loose comfortable clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.

Your skin should appear a little pink, but not red! If you eat lots of veggies with antioxidants, this will help protect you from sun damage—hydration is also crucial! Remember, your body needs the proper fuel to make the essential sunshine Vitamin D.

Soak up the benefits of more Superfoods parties, more Vitamin D, and all of that fresh summer air! I’ll see you next month! Don’t forget to send me pictures of your salads or grilled creations. I’d love to feature them on my blog.

Be well,
Dr. Todd

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