Eat to beat the heat!

Eating in the summer looks so different than in any other season. For one, there is so much fresh, local produce available and nothing beats a juicy peach, plum or handful of berries as a snack. Secondly, many of our staple family meals, like soups, stews, curries, stir-fries and hot pasta dishes, just don’t appeal in warm weather, especially if they involve turning on the oven or standing over a hot stove. Finally, summer is a time of camping, celebration and get-togethers (hopefully small this year!), when we tend to eat more treats like chips, sweets, grilled meats and refined grains that can leave us feeling less than ideal from a digestive standpoint.

Enjoy these last few weeks of summer and the bounty of food BC has to offer so that you start September feeling energized and ready to get back to routine, whatever that may look like this year! Here are a few suggestions for foods to include and some new meal ideas for your family:

Breakfast—skip the hot porridge and the ‘treat’ cereals and make some Overnight Oats, Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits or a Smoothie. Starting the day with a fibre and protein-rich breakfast will give you lasting energy for when you’re hitting the lake or trail. Adding chia or ground flax seeds also gives you a boost of omega 3 fatty acids. These are key for combatting inflammation that may result from different activities you may be trying out (e.g. paddling, yard work, hiking, etc) or from health conditions like arthritis or digestive disorders.

Lunch—during the hottest time of day, be sure to eat lots of thirst-quenching foods like fresh veggies and consume lots of fluid without sugar, alcohol or caffeine. Our Agua Fresca recipe can be a nice change from straight water! Adequate hydration is key to keeping energy levels up, replacing losses from sweat and ensuring all your body systems, especially your skin, are working optimally. Try a meal-salad with plant-based proteins from beans, tofu or nuts, topped with a healthy, flavourful dressing like our Miso Tahini sauce.

Snacks—beating the heat often involves getting out of the house for a swim, a hike or a bike ride. Remember to pack lots of water and rather than a bag of chips or ultra-processed bars, consider a small cooler of simpler snacks like hard-boiled eggs, cut-up veggies and hummus, bocconcini tomato skewers and some watermelon slices.

Dinner—on a hot day, using the barbecue is a great solution! Check out our post on Healthy Grilling for ideas. The salmon season is now open in many parts of the province and consuming fatty fish at least twice a week is key for optimal heart and brain health and another dose of those anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids.

Ayurvedic approaches to health (the millennia-old tradition in India) involve the belief in cooling foods like cucumber, mint, green leafy veggies, celery, melon and other water-rich fruits. Eat these locally grown BC vegetables and fruit in abundance—half your plate at each meal and snack—to truly beat the heat!