It’s hard to believe that summer is around the corner and the warmer weather has already been greeting us a little early. With all of the fresh produce it is easy to experiment with some new healthy recipes. I really encourage everyone to try and grow a garden, romaine lettuce in the PNW grows fast and easy, as well as cherry tomatoes. You can also visit the local farmers markets to get some fresh fruits and vegetables.
It is so important to hydrate during the warm weather months. Sweat also contains electrolytes like magnesium and potassium which can be replenished through diet.
For water intake, aim for about a third of your body weight in ounces. I like to flavor water with herbs and fruit. Try a combination of mint, lemon and lime or strawberry, basil and orange.
You can also add herbs to ice cubes by freezing them together. Try rosemary or mint ice cubes, and add them to your unsweetened iced tea or water. Sparkling water does count as hydration, but I would not replace water with it, especially if it is coming from an aluminum can.
Remember to try not to drink out of plastic bottles — aim for glass containers that do not contain BPA and are reusable.
Increasing wild fish intake in the summer is an easy thing to do. Just go to the local grocery store or fish market and scope out what is fresh and wild caught.
Wild caught fish is so much healthier for you. Farmed fish has high levels of antibiotics and lower levels of omega-3s. The fish with higher levels of healthy fats are salmon, cod, sardines and trout. Swordfish, mackerel, tuna and shark have the highest levels of mercury.
I like to grill or bake fish. It does not take much to flavor fish. Try putting fresh lemon juice and smoked sea salt on top for a great taste. A mango chutney salsa tastes great on top — just chop up mango, red onion, bell pepper, and add red chili flakes. Heat it in a pan until soft and then add a little apple cider vinegar, pineapple juice and some paprika for taste. Serve it cold on top of fish.
Grilled or baked summer vegetables are the best side dish for fish or chicken in the summer.
Try to grill zucchini open faced or portobello mushrooms. I like to add a little olive oil and some seasoning, like any kind of mixture of paprika, garlic powder or sea salt. Asparagus tastes great with a little fresh garlic, lemon and parsley on top (at the very end melt some parmesean cheese over top before serving). If you have a grill pan, it makes it easy to put the veggies in there for grilling, try it with the small sweet bell peppers, or a spicy poblano pepper. Make a chopped fresh salsa, for on top of cod, using jalepenos, cucumber, tomato and cilantro. Add a little olive oil and lime juice for flavor. I like to wrap fish or ground chicken in a lettuce wrap and top with a lime cilantro sauce.
We cannot forget about something sweet on the table.
Personally, a dark chocolate above 80 percent cacao is my favorite, but it’s definitely bitter. Fruit tastes great when grilled — for example, open faced apples with cinnamon or grilled peaches with a dallop of fresh whipped cream.
Try making a panna cotta — which is so simple — out of cream, gelatin, vanilla extract and heat in in the pan, add it to a fancy dish and leave in the fridge for a few hours to solidify. You can add a “chia raspberry” jam on top by heating two tablespoons of chia seeds, one tablespoon of water with a half cup of raspberries in a pan until soft. It then thickens into a jam to be served cold. For the Fourth of July it is fun to make a fruit skewer out of raspberries, blueberries and angel food cake (serve with fresh whipped cream on top).
I hope these recipes help get you and your family excited for grilling season as summer is quickly approaching.
Dr. Allison Apfelbaum is a Naturopathic primary care doctor at Tree of Health Integrative Medicine clinic in Woodinville. To learn more go to www.treeofhealthmedicine.com or call 425-408-0040 to schedule an appointment.