Summertime has finally arrived, even in North Dakota! With temperatures hitting the 90s, the last thing most of us want to feel is weighed down by the heat and our meal choices. We find that the traditional three-meal-a-day outlook no longer applies, as the last thing we are craving on a sweltering hot day is a heavy meal. Jaclyn and I have found that breaking up meal times to five smaller meals a day, rather than the heavier three, is not only a proven healthier choice, but more satisfying in the summer weather. Although, having five smaller meals seems a less daunting task when compared to cooking three larger meals, it is important to still incorporate the needed macro-nutrients in one’s diet. We’ve decided to take a typical day in our own lives to create a summer meal plan that you can incorporate in your own lifestyle.
I’ve often written about the fact that eating the freshest, local and seasonally-relevant foods can make cooking easier: better quality ingredients = better flavor with less work. But finding local and seasonal foods can be challenging for people who aren’t dialed into the nuances of the growing seasons and the best sources for the amazing local products that surround them. Fortunately, there are numerous apps available for iPhone and Android devices that provide an easy solution. I’ve dubbed around with several of them on both platforms, and the one I recommend most is Locavore, obtainable at both the Apple App Store and Android Market and, as of this writing, available for precisely no money whatsoever. That’s my kind of price.
When human beings were truly hunters and gatherers during the Stone Age, nuts and berries were an important part of our diet. Think about how much easier we have it now since our hunting and gathering can take place at the local supermarket and farmers’ market. Take advantage of this ease and consider including these foods in your diet every day. Studies show that berries, nuts, colorful vegetables and fatty fish provide health benefits important to today’s lifestyle. Here are some ideas on how to enjoy these foods and why they are important to your health.
If you are like most people, I’m sure at some point in your life you have “tried” to be on a diet. Take a second to think about and add it up. Most adults can list the many experiences they have had with one diet or another, while some are so deeply identified as “dieters” that they would do better to try to remember the few times they weren’t on a diet. Imagine how happy that makes the diet industry! Then consider how sad it is that a basic need like eating has become so tangled that we need a multi-million dollar company to “teach” us how to do it.
Kids are exposed to almost 8,000 food advertisements each year. That means that they are seeing about 21 ads for food every day. Most of these ads are for junk foods or those that are high in sugar, salt and fat and low in the nutrients that promote healthy growth and development. Studies show that the more time a child spends in front of the TV, the more likely that they will be overweight or obese. With 1 out of every 3 children in the U.S. being overweight or obese, reducing TV and screen time can help to improve the health of our children. What can be done to help our children with screen time?
My wife and I are always on the lookout for healthy alternatives to foods we like. In looking for alternatives to the traditional Italian pork sausage, we switched to turkey sausage. Even though it is a much healthier alternative to the Italian pork sausage, it still contains too much sugar and sodium to be really healthy. We also tried some of the chicken sausage that was available at the time. Again, it was better than the Italian pork sausage, but still had too much sodium to really be considered healthy.
I’ve been writing and thinking about healthy snacking a lot lately. This is partly because the summer is just a “snacky” time, as long road trips and full days outdoors encourage snacking (plus the heat usually zaps our appetite for big meals). Healthy snacking sounds like an oxymoron, but the reality is snacking can be a good thing. I am finding more and more, however, that people just don’t know how to snack.
I’ve touched on many Asian cuisines over my years as a chef, and when I’m choosing a restaurant, places that feature the fresh flavors of Asia are hands-down my personal favorite. As a chef, I’ve learned the hard way that the only way to really mess up a stir fry or a noodle dish is to cook it too long. But really, the only way these dishes can be cooked too long is if the prep work isn’t done ahead of time. The focus on fresh and minimally-adulterated ingredients means the main goal when preparing Asian dishes should be to prepare everything quickly, but that can seem frustrating when the ingredient list seems so long. Assembly line-style preparation is the key to enjoying your favorite Asian dishes without tearing your hair out. There’s a reason why you don’t see chefs at Chinese restaurants chopping vegetables and meat to order: it’s already done.