Sunday, July 25, 2010

Heat Wave Foods

On the east coast, it feels like the heat waves will never end.  When one lets up, there is one right behind it.  I’m stocking up on thirst-quenching, hydrating foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Water-rich eye openers include oatmeal, yogurt (plain) and milk. Sugar is not your friend in the heat, so cut out or lower the sugar in your oatmeal. Replace it with a high-hydrating fruit like peaches, in season now. Citrus, especially oranges and grapefruit give you fiber and are just as “juicy” if you eat them as is rather than squeezed for the liquid only.

Salad is an obvious cooling choice midday.  Make one with these top water veggies:
iceberg lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes and shredded carrot. Use a light dressing, a big squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil or go solo with a fruity fig or pear vinegar.

Cold soups are heat friendly too.  Whirl the salad ingredients together in a blender with a little low-sodium or V-8 juice and a big squeeze of lemon or lime juice.  Top your soup or salad with cold, steamed shrimp or white fish for a little protein.  Beans are a good option too.

Don’t ignore snack time on hot days. In fact, take frequent breaks.  Watermelon, perhaps the lowest in carbohydrates of all fruits has plenty of water packed in.  A fruit salad (or a fruit soup using the method for cold vegetable soups) is also a thirst-quenching option.  Use a combination of cantaloupe or honeydew melon, papaya and mangoes.

Grilling is the best dinner-time option when you don’t want to turn on the stove and the sun won’t set.  Like sea-food, meats retain much of their moisture when cooked so enjoy. Grill some mushrooms and peppers alongside your entree.  If you can’t get large mushrooms, skewer smaller ones with bell pepper and tomato quarters for a vegetable kabob side.  Rice, after it has absorbed water, is also heat friendly.  Enjoy it hot or cold. 

If grilling is not in the cards tonight, a quick stir-fry with your grilling ingredients plus bok choy and broccoli will satisfy without overheating you.  Finish the stir-fry with some chicken broth thickened with cornstarch, grated ginger and a low-sodium soy sauce. 

What To Avoid
Steer away from snacks or meals with added sugar and/or high salt amounts.  High fat foods, like doughnuts, pastries are not that helpful either.  Avoid processed and fast foods during extreme heat (if not in all weather) and the day will feel a bit less heavy.