Summer brings with it a natural desire to eat fresh, light and simple fare. “It’s also a great time for enjoying variety, as summer staples like salads and smoothies make it easy to add a mix of ingredients to your plate, cup or bowl,” says Janella Purcell, author of Janella’s Wholefood Kitchen.
Think seasonal fruit and vegetables
Seasonal fruit and veg are picked at the height of their ripeness, which means you enjoy maximum flavour at a reduced cost, explains accredited practising dietitian Kate Deppeler. “It’s also better for the environment, as less transport is involved in getting it from the grower to the table.” Her favourite summer foods include:
Raspberries. An excellent source of vitamin C, folate and fibre, Deppeler suggests adding these to cereal, yoghurt or blending with ice, a banana, and low-fat milk to make a smoothie.
Tomatoes. Rich in the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene and a good source of vitamins A, C, folate, and fibre, serve tomatoes in a homemade salsa with fresh chillies, coriander, and capsicum or just throw them into a salad. “For a simple snack, cut tomatoes into wedges and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper,” says Deppeler.
- Mangoes. These tropical fruits are packed full of healthy nutrients including vitamins A, C, E, potassium, and fibre. Mangoes taste great raw or grilled on the barbecue. You can also add them to a salsa and serve with grilled fish or chicken.
Summer breakfast ideas
Fruit smoothies made with low-fat milk and fresh fruit provide calcium, antioxidants, and fibre, and are a good choice for people who can’t stomach solid foods first thing in the morning, says accredited practising dietitian Charlene Grosse. Her other summer breakfast ideas are:
- Natural muesli. Topped with low-fat milk and seasonal fruit, this is a good source of fibre, calcium, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
- Low-fat yoghurt. This is an excellent source of calcium and protein and also contains probiotics. Serve with fresh berries for a dose of antioxidants and fibre.
- Cottage cheese. Have with toast for a high protein bite that’ll keep you satisfied until morning tea.
Summer lunch ideas
Many fruit and vegetables contain more nutrients if eaten raw, explains Deppeler, since vitamins B, C and fibre can be lost or broken down during the cooking process. “Cucumbers, tomato, celery, and lettuce require no preparation at all,” she adds.
Watercress, leafy Asian greens, baby spinach, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, and sprouts are in-season vegies that work well raw in salads, adds Purcell. Just add lean protein like beans or tuna to help you feel fuller for longer. If you’re a fan of warm salads, Grosse suggests combining lightly chargrilled snake beans, capsicum, zucchini, and eggplant, along with fresh herbs and a drizzle of oil, for a fibre- and antioxidant-packed lunch.
Barbecuing food not only enhances flavour, so try grilling vegetables and fruits, as well as lean meats and fish. Hamburgers on the menu? “Use wholemeal rolls and include a variety of fresh vegetables – sliced beetroot, cucumber, shredded carrot, and lettuce,” says Deppeler. And don’t forget to prepare raw vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, and capsicum) to have with low-fat, homemade dips. “Blend together rinsed, canned chickpeas, rocket, mint, tahini, cumin, lime juice, coriander, and salt to make hummus,” suggests Purcell.
Rather than reaching for ice-cream, Purcell suggests creating healthy desserts with summer fruits. Make fruit salad or fruit skewers using pineapple, mangoes and goji berries.
Summer fruits to eat
Bored of apples, bananas and oranges? Mix things up with these unusual summer fruits…
1. Mangos – High in antioxidants, this has a sweet, slightly tart flavour. Eat it fresh in salads or puree for ice cream topping.
2. Lychees – A good source of fibre and vitamins B and C, enjoy on their own or in fruit salad.
3. Figs – Packed full of fibre, potassium, vitamin B6 and manganese, figs are delicious fresh or dried. “Add them to salads and wholegrain breakfast cereal or serve with goat’s cheese and almonds for a tasty snack,” says accredited practising dietitian Charlene Grosse.