Eat the Season – Get Your Summer On!

a special feature from Debra Orringer*

Imagine your perfect summer day, sitting in the back yard with the sun shining and the breeze blowing. The birds are chirping, and you marvel at the beauty of this season. Then, suddenly hunger hits…. you reach into your bag and pull out a thermos of piping hot, simmering, thick tomato soup.  Wait, what?  That doesn’t sound very refreshing.  Because it’s not!  Those warming foods are great for the winter months when our body needs to be cuddled and warmed; however, in summer months the trend for a lighter fare of cooling refreshing foods like fresh fruits and vegetables are the flavors of the season that you need to draw upon. 

Do you wear your super thick wool sweaters to the beach in the summer?  Or your tank tops and flip flops to the winter holiday party?  If we change our clothes for the season, let’s think about changing our foods for the season too. And, if that’s a difficult concept think about this: in the North American industrial food system, most foods travel over 1500 miles from the field to our plates yet in small villages and cities and even large populated areas all over Europe, the concept of Seasonal Eating is part of their culture and lifestyle. What is fresh today is eaten today, not housed for three months in cold storage just so they can eat pumpkins in July. Get what I am saying here?

Why is that? Because when we eat seasonally, we eat as nature intended. The nutrients we get from the foods we eat fuel our bodies with what they need to maintain health. Our bodies need different nutrients throughout the year; this is different for so many people due to geography as an example.  My family in New York may have different local produce in January than I do here in Florida.  Do I want to eat something picked from the garden at the local farmer’s market or do I want to get it through the industrialized food system.   Just the word industrialized makes me queasy and sounds unhealthy.

Now, let’s focus on the hot summer months.  Our bodies physiologically need more fluids to help cool our systems internally. We need to be hydrated more and we have more energy. Eating foods that fuel us with more vitamins and minerals helps with the energy.

What else does seasonal eating do for us? It helps our wallets. If we eat from local farmers we are supporting our local economy.  We are getting variety all year long and the food tastes better because it was picked at its peak, instead of eating foods that were transported over half the world to get to us and preserved for color and texture, while sitting in some storage container. That doesn’t sound too appealing or nutritious when you think about it, does it?

Eating smart and drawing upon the bounty of the season is a healthy factor in contributing to a well-rounded lifestyle. 

Here’s a great summer recipe that’s simple and nutritious (recipe credit: Nom Nom Paleo):

Mango Avocado Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups diced ripe mango (about 2 mangos)
  • ½ cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 cup diced Hass avocado (1 medium avocado)
  • ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • big pinch of kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Juice from 1 lime

Directions:

  • Grab your two ripe mangos and dice them up; if you want some dicing advice, there’s a great video on YouTube that taught me how to dice a mango.  
  • Place the mangos in a bowl and add all the other ingredients one at a time.
  • Stir to combine and get the seasoning consistent throughout the dish.

What could make this dish better? Maybe throw it on some pan-seared salmon for a really nutritious lunch. 

 

“Being Healthy Doesn’t Have To Be Hard”

 

Health Coach Debra Orringer*Debra Orringer, MS from Naples, FL, is a Holistic Health Coach and a Clinical Exercise Physiologist with over 20 years in the industry. She has managed the wellness programs at the Kennedy Space Center as well as consulted for several national fitness companies, authored articles, and retains a myriad of advanced level certifications.  Debra produces a nutritional blog weekly at www.DebraOrringer.com and can be reached at DebOo@DebraOrringer.com