Summer is a time when we need to make meal and snack choices that will help our bodies and our kids bodies to cool down and stay hydrated. It is a great time of year to enjoy all the amazing fresh and local produce that is overflowing in the garden and in the stands at the farmers’ market. It is time of year when everyone at my house downs bowls of gazpacho and eats salad on a daily basis. And could anything be prettier on a plate than multi-colored tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, basil, and olive oil? We crave these things in the summer because our bodies know best. This month, we are joined again by guest author Katherine Sumner, who will tell us about the ways we can optimize our diets during these hot months. In this post you will read about cooling and refreshing summer foods. There are links to recipes at the bottom (and I’ve included an additional one for Gazpacho and a simple framework for a Main Course Salad) along with suggested resources for further reading. If you would like to check out Katherine’s website for more information, please see www.nourishschools.com.
Seasonal Eating for Summer by Katherine Sumner
“Summer comes and our toes feel the earth beneath. We dance between the sun and the shade. Our dinner tables move outdoors. Our gardens and markets overflow with fresh whole foods. Summer invites us to find balance in the midst of abundance, to nourish our bodies by making healthy choices about the quantity and quality of food we enjoy.” – unknown
As we begin to feel the hot sun on our faces and watch the dance of the fireflies in the early evening, our bodies begin to crave the refreshing coolness of a slice of watermelon or a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade.
Summer is a time of high energy, demanding the energy-producing properties of fruits, vegetables, and other carbohydrates. It is a time to balance our bodies with more of the “Yin” energy according to Chinese medicine. Most of us will naturally begin craving lighter, cooling foods helping us to keep our bodies fueled yet not overheated.
Our bodies also need to get outside and absorb the sunshine to boost our vitamin D3 levels. Vitamin D3 is essential for our immune systems and protects us from the expression of genetic diseases and ailments. According to Dr. John Douillard, we should all optimize our vitamin D levels in the summer when the uvb rays are available so our bodies can then store the vitamin D in fat, aiding our immune systems all winter long.
So indulge in all that the summer harvest brings – juicy peaches, cool cucumbers, sweet tomatoes right off the vine, corn on the cob, and sun-kissed cheeks
NOURISHING OUR CHILDREN IN THE SUMMER
So how can we as parents nourish our children during the summer season?
- Increase foods that are more cooling, sweet, bitter, heavy and oily.
- Start including in your menus all the fresh ripe berries, melons, apples, peaches, pears, apricots, plums, grapes, and pomegranates.
- Eat lots of summer veggies – squashes, cucumbers, celery, green beans, broccoli, snow peas, peppers, cabbage, summer corn, dark leafy greens.
- Use a variety of oils – coconut oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil to help keep our bodies moist.
- Eat lighter whole grains – barley, oats, and wheat.
- Add lots of cooling herbs – cilantro, basil, mint.
- Eat less red meat and more poultry, fish, and legumes (fava beans, black beans, split peas, garbanzo beans).
- Drink lots of water with cucumber slices or lemon slices and/or coconut water to stay cool.
- Play in the sunshine and give thanks.
Then find a simple summer recipe with your child and get them in the kitchen. Depending on their age, they can help you wash the greens, snap the beans, shuck the corn, mix up the ingredients, or set the table. Once you find a few recipes that seem to work, add them to your favorite family summer recipes! Here are a few tips from our kitchen –
1) Keep raw nuts and seeds on hand – give our children good fats and lots of raw fruits and vegetables.
2) Roast summer veggies (squash, asparagus, broccoli) – coat the veggies with a little olive oil or coconut oil plus some sea salt and roast them at 400 degrees for a tasty treat!
3) Have your child create his/her own smoothie – start with ice/water, berries or peaches and a little local honey, then blend!
4) Make your own lemonade or fruit-infused water.
5) Have your kids pick a night to make dinner – let them choose the menu (we always make sure there is a vegetable/fruit and that it is seasonal), set the table (inside or out), and then you can all share in a delicious summer picnic!
I have also included some recipes that my family enjoys including “Robert’s Lemonade”. Happy Summer!
Perfect Health for Kids by Dr. John Douillard
The 3-Season Diet by Dr. John Douillard
Urban Pantry by Amy Pennington
Earth to Table by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann
Local Flavors by Deborah Madison
What are your family’s favorite summer meals and snacks? Please share with us by posting a comment!
Have a great rest of the summer, and we’ll see you in September!
Back copies of Healthy Kids Ideas Exchange are always available online.
This column is for information only, and no part of its contents should be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, recommendation or endorsement by the author. You should always ask your physician for his or her recommendation before starting any new health-related activity.