Emmy award winning journalist Janet Zappala, author, nutritionist, chef, and mom, blogs for us today!
Summertime is in full swing and the snacking is easy. This is the season to grab all of the fresh fruits and vegetables you can. Berries, for example, are brimming over in your local supermarket. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries: not only are they delicious, they’re also chock full of antioxidants that fend off free radicals to keep our cells healthy, and they’re an excellent source of dietary fiber so they don’t spike your blood sugar and cause a lull in energy. Eating berries will keep your energy up all day, so you can enjoy all of the fun activities that summer has to offer. Keep them refrigerated so they’re nice and cold on a hot summer day. They’ll also last a bit longer than if you leave them out. The same goes for vegetables: what’s more refreshing than chilled cucumber, carrot, celery and bell pepper slices? Want to dip? Check out my spinach dip and/or my hummus recipe at www.janetzappala.com.
Snacking is a great way to avoid overeating as well. By keeping nutritious snacks handy you can snack throughout the day and stay satisfied and energized. The key is knowing which snacks provide the most nutrients, and one of your best bets is whole grains. Whole grain crackers and chips are just sitting on your supermarket shelves, “ripe” for the picking. Vegetable chips are another tasty option. A personal favorite is Terra’s Sweets and Beets, chips made from sweet potatoes and beets. What could be more satisfying? You’re still getting a crunchy treat, but one that’s made from ingredients that will do your body good. Worry-free eating, that’s what it’s all about. One of life’s greatest pleasures is eating, why should we give up the things we love? We don’t, we just have to find healthier options, a much easier task these days as manufacturers are tuning into the consumer’s demand for healthier options.
If you and your kids are sandwich lovers, go for whole grain bread, a couple slices of fresh roasted turkey (not processed), lettuce and tomato, and top if off with a slice or two of Jarlsberg Lite cheese. It’s my favorite for its great taste, and it’s relatively low in fat and calories. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper on top, and you have a mouthwatering and nutritious lunchtime treat that will pack the punch you and your family need to keep you going throughout your day.
Finally, a little more food for thought, seeds! Don’t forget to have plenty on hand, everything from sunflower seeds, to sesame seeds, to pumpkin seeds, to flaxseeds. All will provide you with countless nutrients and energy, not to mention a good amount of fiber in every delectable bite. Grab a handful during the day and you’ll be providing your body with everything from protein and iron, to potassium, and magnesium. Flaxseed alone provides heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Go nuts for nuts too! Heart-healthy almonds and omega 3 rich walnuts are especially good for you.
All this said, opt for the raw, unsalted variety if you can. If that’s too big a step at first then try to stay away from salted nuts. As you go along your palate will change gradually and you’ll be able to enjoy raw unsalted seeds and nuts the way mother nature intended.
Enjoy the summer and all of the great foods and fun it has to offer!
Janet Zappala is a certified nutritional consultant and author of My Italian Kitchen — Home-Style Recipes Made Lighter & Healthier. She is also a six-time emmy award winning television journalist and the host of Wealth of Health at www.janetzappala.tv. Janet is a busy mom as well and is always creating ways to offer up delicious, nutritious foods that are quick and easy to make.
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