Healthy Summer Food Swaps
Summer is in full effect, with no shortage of vacations, hot sunny days, tanning, beach clubs and all-you-can-eat-and-drink brunches! Most of these things don’t match well with bikinis or a tight
summer beach body, so how do you keep your figure while still enjoying your summertime favorites? Simple - try these healthy summer food swaps instead.
Swap Ice Cream for Smoothie Bowl
Instead of heavy, dairy ice creams full of sugar and fat, reach for lower calorie options made with no added sugars and dairy alternatives, such as coconut or almond milk or you can make your very own frozen dessert. Blend a smoothie bowl. The possibilities are endless – smoothie bowls can be made with a variety of fresh fruits to make an assortment of flavours and tastes that suit your mood!
Simply pick a creamy base that can provide some thickness such as silken tofu, Greek yoghurt, avocado or even frozen bananas. If you want to boost your protein, add a scoop of whey protein or a plant-based protein powder. Blend with frozen fruit such as mango, pineapple, papaya or berries; add a dash of liquid – a fresh juice or a non-dairy alternative if you need to reduce thickness. You can also blend a super food powder such as matcha, Spirulina or Pitaya. Top with slices of fresh fruit, chopped nuts, seeds, shredded coconut or whatever your heart desires.
From Fatty Meats to Lean Grilled Favorites
BBQ is definitely a standard part of summer. You can’t go wrong with lean cuts of beef, chicken breast or even a few shrimp. Avoid eating the fatty meats like ribs, fatty cuts of beef, sausage, hot dogs and even lamb. Although there’s nothing wrong with eating a few of these fatty favorites once in awhile; the problem usually comes with the BBQ additions like carby sides and frosty drinks. If you do indulge in some fattier meats, reach for a side of leafy greens instead of potatoes!
As for the summertime favourite – the burger, there really is nothing wrong when it’s made with lean meat and served on a whole grain bun. Avoid eating burgers made with cheaper fattier cuts of meat that are served up on starchy white bread. You can reduce carbs by having it on a lettuce or portabella mushroom bun. Switching your condiments up is also a good idea – avoid sugary BBQ sauce and ketchup – opt for mustard, hot sauce, gherkins and salsa instead. You can also reduce the calories by passing on the cheese.
Switch Starchy Carbs to Leafy Sides
With BBQ comes an assortment of starchy sides. Instead of potato salad made with a heavy creamy dressing, try a new twist on this fave - roast cubes of sweet potato, beet root and any other root vegetable you enjoy, make a vinaigrette dressing, add some thinly sliced red onion and your favorite herb and toss. Top with a few chunks of low fat feta cheese or some toasted pine nuts. You can also make salads with whole grains such as bulgur, freekah or quinoa instead of couscous. Another low calorie option, use spiralised zucchini, beet and carrot instead of cold pasta. Add lots of fresh veggies.
Leafy based salads are still the best alternative to any starch. Make a large salad using any green leaves you like including kale, romaine, leaf lettuce, radicchio, collards and baby spinach. Top with your faves - cherry tomatoes, broccoli florets, shredded carrot, capsicum, onion, avocado, or even beet. Add a light vinaigrette dressing to finish.
Swap Chips and Creamy Dips for Veggies and Plant-Based Dips
Instead of reaching for a bag of fried chips and some creamy dip, opt for a much fresher, healthier alternative. Choose veggie sticks - crisp, cold and can also provide some hydration - since veggies are high in water content. Cut up carrot, cucumber and capsicum into sticks. Place the chopped sticks in a mason jar, add a dash of sea salt and put in the fridge until you’re ready to eat. There are also some great options when it comes to a healthier chip – choose baked, not fried; made with lentils, brown rice, quinoa and even kale.
For dips – consider making your own! For hummus, blend chickpeas and tahini with roasted garlic, roasted capsicum, sundried tomato or even basil. You can also dip with salsa, guacamole, moutabel or a lighter creamy dip made with yoghurt or labneh. Mix Greek yoghurt or low fat labneh with shredded cucumber shredded carrot, a bit of fresh dill, roasted garlic and olive oil. If you’re more into sweet – have fresh fruit – cut up watermelon, citrus, melon, strawberries, or pineapple and serve with a fresh yoghurt dip made with mint and a superfood powder like pitaya or for a nuttier flavor blend yoghurt with natural nut butter, vanilla and honey.
Frosty Cocktails to Infused Drinks
Frozen mixed drinks are a summertime fave. They might be delicious, but they’re full of sugar and not much else. These frosty treats are made from prepared sugar mixes and placed in slush machines to get that icy texture. Chances of real fruit in your strawberry drink other than the slice of strawberry on top are slim.
Instead of choosing a frozen drink, consider lighter drinks made without sugar. Choose infused sparkling waters, no sugar and more hydrating. You can also make your own - crush mint in a glass, add sliced citrus, cucumber, strawberry or pomegranate or passion fruit seeds, cubed ice and pour sparkling water or club soda over top. You can also add a dash of fresh fruit juice or coconut water for flavor. If you want a frosty drink, blend the above with plenty of ice.
The above also goes for coffee drinks too. Summer frosty coffee blends are usually made with a pre-made sugary syrup. Choose simple instead – coffee over ice with a dash of unsweetened almond or coconut milk.
Who is Lauren?
With more than 20 years’ experience designing nutrition products, supplements and meal plans, Lauren is an expert in her field. She has worked with professional rugby and football players, as well as physique and fitness competitors, and holds a degree in nutritional biochemistry, specialising in sports nutrition and supplementation, from Trent University in Canada.
Follow Lauren on Instagram and Facebook: @sexyfitlauren, or read her blog at sexystrongfit.com