Have you started craving “summer foods” yet? Here in Boston, it’s finally (finally!) starting to warm up a little. It’s definitely not summery, and if I’m being honest, it’s really only been springy about half the time, but we have started getting a few lovely sunny days here and there. And those days have me craving all my favorite summer foods.
What are summer foods? Just as we tend to crave hearty, warm, dense foods in the winter, most of us tend to crave meals that are light, sweet, and fresh when it’s hot out. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to satisfy summer food cravings without going off plan! So today, I wanted to talk a little about seasonal cravings and how you can indulge your cravings with healthy, nutritionally balanced foods.
When we think of “seasonal cravings”, sometimes our mind goes straight to wintery comfort foods and holiday treats. We’ve already talked in past blogs about enjoying comfort foods and treats on plan, so I won’t spend a ton of time on that here (it is spring, after all!). If you haven’t heard my two cents on healthy comfort foods, give this article a read and check out my healthy, hearty, go-to stew recipe. It’s delicious in any season!
For today, we’re going to focus on warm weather seasonal cravings. Like I said, “summer food” to me means light, fresh, and clean bites. One of my favorite things to cook in the warmer months is a light fish. I usually pre-cook about three portions of fish at a time—less than that and I’m cooking too often for my taste, more than that and it doesn’t really stay fresh. Depending on your schedule, your preference, and what kind of fish you’re cooking, you may be able to cook up to a week’s worth of fish at once if you really want to. Since fish is so versatile, you can use it in a pretty wide variety of dishes.
My preferred way to enjoy the fish once it’s cooked is over a salad for lunch. I’ll toss in a handful of raspberries, strawberries, kiwi fruit, hot peppers, or whatever other fresh fruits and veggies I have around. I also usually add roasted pumpkin seeds for a little healthy fat and a nice, satisfying crunch. I top it all off with a blend of balsamic and fresh olive oil. Mmmmm.
If you live somewhere with a variety of grocery shopping options, it may be worth a few extra dollars to splurge on a couple really great oils and vinegars during this time of year. You can do a lot with fresh greens, fruit, and infused balsamic vinegar! Try produce combinations like blueberry and lemon, carrots and ginger, or cucumber and melon. Mix up your greens between kale, spinach, lettuce, chard, and whatever else you enjoy. Swap out your fish for a grilled chicken or turkey breast and pumpkin seeds for hemp hearts, chia seeds, walnuts, or some other source of healthy fat. Create healthy variety and you’ll never get bored. If you really want to save yourself some time, you can pre-mix a few salads in tupperware containers. You might want to save the dressing for the last minute to keep your greens from getting soggy, but this is a super easy way to have a fresh, summery meal in under ten minutes.
I’d be remiss to talk about summer foods without mentioning that yes—it’s ice cream season! If you’re already struggling to drive by your favorite ice cream place without stopping, I want to remind you that 1) it’s okay to stop for a regular-sized ice cream once in awhile and 2) you can keep some healthy ice cream-esque treats at home to help satisfy that craving. I love making homemade popsicles (so much so that I bought a super cool popsicle maker that turns them out in just seven minutes!). You can go the traditional route and do popsicles with juice and chunks of fruit, or if you want to make a PFC-friendly treat, chocolate protein powder popsicles are fantastic.
If you find yourself with a car full of kids insisting that they want to go out for ice cream, consider doing frozen yogurt instead. Depending on what kind of yogurt you choose and which toppings you get, it’s actually possible to put together a fairly healthy frozen treat at shops like Sweet Frog, Yogurtland, and Red Mango.
Do you have any of your own favorite healthy summer recipes? If so, leave yours in the comments below! I’d love to try some of them out. :)
Until next time, I hope you live a life you love without being hungry, feeling deprived, or giving up your glass of wine with dinner. Ciao!