Didn’t even realize it had been over a month since my last post – oh summer derby season, why are you so crazy? I’ve missed blogging, but the derby, she needs me.
In the height of derby game season, it can be a challenge to keep things straight (your life, your appointments, your mountainous pile of email). One thing that I’ve been working hard to keep on track is my nutrition.
I find that in summer, it can be easier both to eat healthier – salads, good cuts of meat, lots of veggies; and to sabotage ourselves – fast food on road trips, lots of food-centric get-togethers.
I read an interesting article the other day about aiming to eat for the weather. It suggested that food not only has a thermic effect, but that each food has an “energetic temperature”. “Hot” foods consumed by an already stressed person would cause toxic heat in the body, resulting in anger, elevated blood pressure, and headaches. A cold person eating “cold” foods would be more apt to experience aches and pains, and maybe catch cold.
Some examples from the article:
“Heating” foods – ginger, squash, cabbage, hot peppers, beef, lamb, chicken, brown rice, lentils, winter squash, nuts, garlic, cherries, oats
“Cooling: foods – apples, pears, corn, watermelon, asparagus, spinach, bok choy, citrus, tomato, seaweed, yogurt, crab, alfalfa sprouts, tofu, cauliflower
Do I buy it? Not really – however, I do think that each season (and each bodily state for that matter) has foods that are easier to eat since they’re in season, are ripe and tasty, and either make you feel light and energetic (summer), or warm and comforted (winter). The examples above would seem to fit with the idea that the more you eat in season (or even better, grow for yourself), the better you’ll feel, no matter what the weather.
On that note, here are some recipes I’ve been rocking this summer. I’m working on increasing my protein intake (ALL THE PROTEIN! ALL THE TIME!), and eating veggies with every meal. That second one is easy since there are so many awesome vegetables around right now. To try to eat more mindfully this summer, but still eat meals that I know and love, I’ve been making educated substitutions and additions. Instead of having mashed potatoes, I have cauliflower puree – with the right seasoning, I’ve actually come to prefer the cauli. Instead of just having a side salad, I protein it up. Here’s what I mean:
TUNA SPINACH SALAD (serves 1)
- 2-3 giant handfuls spinach
- can of tuna or salmon
- slices cucumbers
- handful cherry tomatoes
- sometimes mushrooms or scallions
- sometimes orange slices or berries if I’m really adventurous
- oil-based dressing or balsamic vinegar
Mix together. Eat like a boss. It’s so yummy and summery, and will get you a decent protein intake for such a light meal.
LETTUCE TACOS (serves 1-2)
- 2 big lettuce leaves (iceberg)
- 1/2lb ground beef
- chili seasoning and dried pepper flakes
- diced jalapeno pepper
- 1/2 each diced onion, green pepper, tomato
- grated cheese, sour cream, salsa to taste
Fry veggies, and beef together (not tomatoes unless you like them mushy, I don’t). Drain excess fat. Add seasoning, mix well, let sit – since you don’t have a starch to soak up the fat, you want to make sure that the meat mixture has a bit of time to thicken. Prepare cheese and other toppings. Add meat mixture, toppings into lettuce leaf. Roll like a soft taco. Enjoy! Tacos are awesome – tacos with added veggies are even more awesome!
ZUCCHINI LASAGNA (serves 4)
- 2 zucchini
- 1 cup cottage cheese (I use 2%)
- mozzarella (or whatever) cheese, sliced or grated
- 1 large egg
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 diced tomato
- 1 each medium green pepper and onion
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 1lb ground beef
First thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise (long, thin strips). Boil until soft – set aside to dry. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP. You might think you don’t need to let the zucchini dry, but trust me, you do. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fry ground beef until brown. Drain excess fat, add green pepper, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato paste. You can add the green pepper and onions earlier if you’d like them to soften. Add tomato paste. Let simmer on very low heat. In a separate bowl, combine cottage cheese, a bit of grated cheese, egg, and flour to thicken. Once zucchini “noodles” are dry, you can assemble: zucchini layer – cheese mixture layer, with added cheese on top – sauce layer. Repeat and top with cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until browned. If you don’t let the noodles dry, your lasagna will be soup. It will still be delicious, but it will be runny. Please dry your noodles. This keeps really well in the fridge, and might even be tastier as leftovers.
What I love about these recipes is that they take foods I already love, and make them lighter for the summer (except the salad, adding meat just makes it better). I’ve tried lots and lots of ways to “eat better”. Denial only works for so long. The only method that works on an ongoing basis is finding meals that you love, that are also good for your body, and working them into your regular schedule.
What about you, what are your go-to summer dishes?