Summer of Wellness – Recipes & Tips for the Summer Season
By Victoria Peck-Gray, RD
Make this summer a summer of wellness, from deliciously healthy foods and drinks to building a space for forming healthy relationships.
Did you know that July is Social Wellness Month? What a perfectly timed theme, as the summer months are often a time of connection, celebration, and renewal. Social wellness is all about bonding with people and building satisfying relationships. Food is often part of the relational experience as well as part of celebrations. And rightly so. Food can be pleasurable and can be a great reason to gather everyone together. These gatherings around food can also be a great opportunity to support both our social and physical well-being. Here are some tips for a summer of wellness.
Choose healthy and festive summer recipes
There’s something so wonderful about eating outdoors and the smell of food on the grill. While summer events often have the sense of positive energy in the air, they can also present a challenge to maintain healthy habits.
To keep things balanced, consider bringing a healthier take on classic dishes and drinks to backyard BBQs and other summer events.
Make these healthy swaps for classic summer dishes:
- Use mashed avocado or plain Greek yogurt instead of mayo in potato salads, pasta salads, and chicken salads.
- Swap in red lentil pasta for white pasta for a colorful and protein and fiber packed boost, like in this Dairy Free Alfredo Sauce Pasta recipe (using coconut milk).
- Make dips that are packed with protein and fiber, like this Healthy No Bake Buffalo Chicken Dip.
- Make blueberry bars for dessert but go for less sugar with these no-sugar-added Banana Bread Blueberry Bars.
Staying hydrated is important during hot summer days. Keep healthy hydration in mind by keeping overall sugar content low. For example, while a cold soda on a hot day can hit the spot, focus on iced sparkling water with splashes of juice or squeezes of citrus. Prep big batches of teas, refrigerate them, and then serve over ice. A delicious unsweetened iced tea combo is mint and green tea with a splash of lime juice and a pinch of salt.
Another idea to keep sugar content low but flavors bright is this delicious and fizzy take on a Switchel drink. Switchels generally contain apple cider vinegar and ginger, which is why they are also excellent to drink during a meal to boost digestion. You can make a large batch of this recipe and add ice and other flavorings for a great non-alcoholic option.
Create a fun environment for relationship building
Take advantage of everyone gathering to eat by setting the tone for building relationships. You can make time with family or friends at home more supportive for building relationships by creating a healthy atmosphere around meals. Consider turning the TV off and instead playing some fun background music to make a lively atmosphere. This can encourage a more relaxed environment to encourage everyone to take part in the conversation and share about their day and recent happenings.
Another fun way to create a relational environment is to have a DIY assembly-style meal. For example, spread the table with ingredients for build-your-own tacos or salads. Have parfait ingredients for people to put together their own dessert. Set up a mocktail area with different flavors of seltzer, wedges of citrus and berries, herbs like mint and basil, and some salt and honey. These assembly-style meals can be a fun way for each person to flex their creativity, talk about their favorite ingredients, and get involved.
Whether it’s swapping in healthier ingredients for a classic dish or creating a healthier atmosphere for relationships, take advantage of the inspiring energy of this season to support your well-being.