I love summer, even if it does usually mean a lot of food-centered gatherings.
I remember my first summer as a newlywed. It was spent eating an amazing feast of fried clams and seafood in Maine, but since then my husband and I (more than 15 years later) have wanted to celebrate a little bit lighter.
Fortunately, there are healthier options for food and fun. Here are some light and festive warm-weather alternatives from culinary nutritionist Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN and author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes.
1. Instead of a party bowl of pretzels, opt for in-shell pistachios.
A UCLA study found that pistachio snackers had a greater reduction in body mass index when compared to those who snacked on pretzels. Plus, research suggests you’ll eat fewer calories when you choose in-shell pistachios (instead of those previously shelled) due to the visual cue ultimately provided by the empty shells and likely the extra time it takes to shell the nuts.
2. Instead of prepping ground chuck hamburgers, use lean grass-fed organic beef and replace part of the beef with sautéed mushrooms.
Why? It’s better for your health, the environment—and you’ll love the taste. Mushrooms are nutrient-rich, low in calories and provide savoriness. When you use them in place of part of the meat, that’s called ‘mushroom swapability.’ Another idea: Try KnowMore’s Chef James’s lentil burger recipe.
3. Instead of having steak, eat skewers of steak cubes and a variety of veggies, like bell pepper pieces, eggplant cubes and onion wedges.
Vegetables provide more color and volume (so you’ll be more satisfied on fewer calories). Plus, eating food from skewers is as fun way to eat your veggies!
4. Instead of a slice of pie, whip up some grilled fruit, like peach halves, pineapple slices or bananas (and top with fresh or frozen yogurt, if you like).
Pie crust is the most caloric part of a pie and often fruity filling has a significant amount of added sugar. Grilling brings out all of the natural sweetness of the fruit. Here are some tips on how to grill them up. Another healthy dessert that everyone will love is Mock Ice Cream sandwiches. Click here for the recipe and enjoy!
Tara Weng is a regular contributor to KnowMore.tv. She’s formerly a medical/features producer at the NBC television affiliate in Boston, MA, and National Editor of Health/Parenting channel at GalTime.com.