The weather is getting warmer and warmer, the ice cream trucks are at your street corners again, and the birds are chirping. Summer is right around the corner, are you ready for it?
If you have been sticking it out with your New Years Resolution to get in shape and eat healthier, kudos to you! However, if you have fallen off the wagon, it’s never too late to start again! Here are some tips to get healthier, fitter, and summer ready!
1. Choose foods that are high in fiber and have a lot of volume. This will help fill you up without as many calories and will regulate your digestive tract! Example: include fresh fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables! In addition whole grain products generally contain more fiber as well, so choose wisely.
2. Stick to lean meats and sources of protein. This includes chicken, turkey, tofu (takes on the flavor of things it is cooked with and is low-fat), beans, and seafood such as salmon, shrimp, or a light white fish. Aim to grill, team, broil, or bake the protein over frying it to avoid excessive fat and calories.
3. Stay hydrated! Drinking more water helps you get rid of bloat and stay lean (HELLO ABS!) In addition, water helps keep your skin looking younger and oftentimes, thirst and hunger are confused. Drinking at least 8 cups of water a day helps ensure that you are hydrated (especially as the weather gets warmer and more humid) and that you are only eating when you are actually hungry, not bored or thirsty! By the way, unsweetened tea or lemonade (make your own water with lemon) and seltzer water/sparkling water count as well!
4. Pack your meals and snacks. We have places to be and things to do. However, packing your meals and bringing snacks with you will ensure that you never put yourself in a position where you are starving and not sure what to eat, so you decide to choose something unhealthy because you didn’t plan ahead. Bringing your own snacks to work will keep you from hitting up the vending machine in the afternoon. Examples of good snacks would include 1 oz of nuts, a banana, hummus and carrots/celery etc.
5. Exercise! Workout at least 4 days a week! Do 2 days of strength training (break it down into upper and lower body) and 2 days of cardio for at least 60 minutes each.
Follow all these tips and you’ll be ready for summer in no time!
Here are a couple of recipes for you to try this month.
Thai Chicken and Watermelon Salad
2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, pale inner core only, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, butterflied
2 Thai chiles, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 1/2 pounds seedless watermelon, cut into balls of various sizes (3 cups)
1/4 cup each of chopped cilantro and mint
In a bowl, combine the lemongrass, oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Light a grill and oil the grates. Grill the chicken over moderately high heat, turning once, until cooked through and lightly charred, about 6 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut into 1/2-inch dice.
In a mini food processor, combine the chiles, garlic, brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and water and pulse until the chiles and garlic are finely chopped. Pour the dressing over the chicken. Stir in the watermelon, cilantro and mint.
Spoon the salad into Chinese soup spoons and serve.
Notes Variation Slice the chicken. Slice the watermelon and stamp out rounds. Arrange the watermelon in shallow bowls and top with the chicken, dressing, cilantro and mint.
Barbecued Spiced Shrimp with Tomato Salad
1/3 cup packed basil leaves, plus extra leaves for garnish
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/4 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ancho chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
24 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 large yellow heirloom tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds), sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
In a blender, puree the 1/3 cup of basil leaves with the olive oil until smooth. Season the oil with salt and black pepper.
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, mix the sweet smoked paprika with the pure ancho chile powder, light brown sugar, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Brush the shrimp with the canola oil and season all over with the spice mixture. Grill the shrimp over moderately high heat, turning once, until they are lightly charred and cooked through, about 4 minutes total.
Arrange the tomato and onion slices on a platter and drizzle with the basil oil. Top with the shrimp, garnish with the remaining basil leaves and serve.
Make Ahead The basil oil can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.
*Recipes from foodandwine.com
Carena Lowenthal, MS, RD, CDN