Try these healthy eating tips to take your summer fun to the next level

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CHARACTERISTIC One of the problems we face when we change our current diets to healthier ones is the feeling that we are somehow missing out on special treats and items off the grocery store shelves. Summertime picnics and barbecues aren’t often enough without that pack of various drinks, crisps, or other convenient options. Most people who throw a party want to convey to their guests that they cared enough to throw in a little extra.

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So how do we make those delicious summer meals healthy and let people know we care enough to make it special? The answers are usually in the secret sauce, the grid and the colors. Often it’s those little extras that make our fruit, vegetables and summer meals that much better.

For example, to add some excitement to a tray of veggies or fruit, arrange them in an eye-catching way. For a younger audience, it might be a rainbow or a butterfly; Pinterest has some great ideas for this.

Sauces and dips made with low-fat dairy products or healthy oils like olive and avocado oil are great starting points for finding a good recipe. Bean-based dips such as chickpeas or black beans can be seasoned for a veggie platter. Plant-based cheese sauces can also provide some new, game-changing flavors.

You could also try some olive oil and vinegar blends. I made my mixes to go on a green salad. Redstone Olive Oil has infused olive oils and vinegars into some fun and tasty flavors. I was told their Neapolitan blend is a crowd favorite, and after tasting a sample, I was sold. I’m convinced that my consumption of vegetables and fresh green salad will easily increase when I use it as a condiment.

Rather than serve a bag of seasoned chips, I’m a sucker for my favorite flavors, a healthier alternative would be a multigrain chip dipped in guacamole. Chips are high in fiber and avocado provides healthy fats.

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If you’re serious about eating healthy, using guacamole instead of high-fat spreads can help solve a second problem: Guacamole is great on burgers instead of cheese. Guacamole recipes can be packed with flavor and have the same smooth mouthfeel with less saturated fat.

When it comes to grilling, focus on cooking healthy proteins and increasing the amount and variety of vegetables you serve. For a generally better healthy approach, follow the Mediterranean diet guidelines for eating red meat sparingly. Marinated chicken is a healthy, lean protein, as long as you remove the skin and visible fat. And the chicken is so delicious right off the grill too.

Another healthy choice might be salmon or fish served with a juicy lemon or my favorite cilantro-lime vinaigrette (for the recipe, visit my blog at If you have a good fishing story to go with your meal, your dinner will be even better.

Many grocery stores and markets sell healthy and tasty veggie burgers. Top your burger with guacamole and serve it on a whole-grain bun for a satisfying option.

Grilled vegetables and fruits will add color and flavor to your meal. If you don’t have time to skewer them kabob-style, using a time-saving broiler basket will allow you to enjoy a delicious mix of grilled goodness.

You can’t have fun without summer hydration options. When it comes to drinks, avoid anything with added sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Drinking plain fruit juice is also not recommended, as you can quickly increase your calorie intake. Instead, eat whole fruit, which has added fiber and other nutrients that are lost during the fruit’s processing into juice. The best drink choice is ice water with lemon and lime wedges for flavor and color.

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I occasionally served fruit and vegetable smoothies at my summer get-togethers. I prefer it over plain juice because it has the added fiber and is typically made with all fresh fruit. The healthiest smoothie recipes use water or coconut water for blending. As an added bonus, the smoothies can be made into popsicles ahead of time if you’ve got kids to please.

Finally, pay close attention to food safety. Keeping cold food cold and hot food hot while entertaining outdoors can be tricky. If food that is meant to be served hot is left out too long, it should be discarded. Microbes like to grow in temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees – the danger zone. So make sure you chill and refrigerate your food within two hours. Plan ahead when you picnic to have coolers and ice ready, or plan to discard foods that aren’t kept adequately chilled.

In the end, it’s the time you spend planning and preparing for your event that can make summer reunions a fun and enjoyable experience.


This article was originally published in July/August 2023 issue of St. George Health and Wellness magazine.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.

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