Thank you Lord! Spring is (finally) here and summer is fast approaching in Wisconsin.
It’s a slow beginning but things are now in high gear at our house. Trees and bushes are budding, and spring flowers are popping up everywhere – but wouldn’t you know it, so are the weeds!
Spring and summer are the busiest times of the year around my house, as I tend to my own perennial and annual gardens, along with the vegetables that have to be planted, first in the greenhouse and then transplanted to the garden. It’s all hectic and rather exhausting to say the least.
I also help out part-time at another large property, taking care of their gardens and numerous other projects. Add to that homeschooling of my son which goes on year round, with outdoors and gardening there are so many ways to teach children, it isn’t just all books and essays at our house.
Then not to mention the every-day chores of the household which never seem to end (can you say, heaping loads of laundry?)
Keeping Up With Healthy
All this being said, it is easy to let our healthy diet slip to the wayside in summer. Cookouts, picnics and summer parties, weekends at the cabin and out on the boat…. a few extra chips and snacks here and there, and perhaps an alcoholic adult beverage or two – to relax and unwind from all those chores and outdoor activities, of course!
You name it, summertime diets have a way of quickly getting out of control. We find time to relax, but relaxing and spending time with family and friends means lots of eating and snacking opportunities, and the calories can add up quickly.
Here are some ideas to help you stay on track through these busy summer days and weekends:
Planning Ahead for Grab-n-Go
I like to throw a whole chicken, roast, or even ground beef rolled into mini balls into my crock pot to cook slow while I’m outside in the garden or doing other summer activities. Then, by the time I come in for a break or for lunch, the meat is done cooking.
I debone the chicken (which having been slow-cooked in the crock pot, just about FALLS off the bones), slice up the roast, or divide up the meatballs into meal-size portions for our family, then wrap or bag them for the freezer.
This makes it easy to grab out a package of just the right amount for a meal, quick and easy to heat up without having to spend hours in a hot kitchen on a hot day.
These are also easy to take out and re-heat, then cutting up into small meat chunks for a quick snack on some Paleo crackers along with some guacamole, making for a great snack or even a light lunch.
Having the meat already cooked and portioned out also make it easy to take some “on the go” if the day is full of “fast” food needs. Throw the frozen bags into a lunch cooler, and by lunchtime they are thawed out, while keeping the other items in your cooler cold.
Grab-n-Go Veggie Snacks
My mom would buy fresh celery and carrots at the grocery (or later in the season, out of her own garden), clean them thoroughly, cut them up, and put them into lidded or plastic-wrap covered glass bowls filled with water in the fridge, where they would stay cold and moist until needed.
It was easy then to open up the bowls, grab whatever you needed, and serve – or throw into a baggy to take with for yet another great healthy “fast food” snack or lunch side.
“Good fats” like avocados or nut butters are great for putting into a smaller container (with a secure lid) for dipping your vegetables in on the go.
Keeping things simple, easy to prepare, and easy to take with you is really the key to healthy summer eating.
Strive for balance. For every meal, have a meat source, a veggie, a carb source, and a healthy fat. The fat is what gives you that feeling of satisfaction (satiety), and will help you from feeling hungry again too quickly.
Lets not forget the sweet tooth! There are many easy Paleo options that will help satisfy that need we often feel for something “sweet”, as a snack or as a dessert.
Try searching Pinterest and you’ll find a ton of easy, quick Paleo snack ideas that are healthy, and can be made in large batches and then portioned out and frozen for quick “grab and go” fast food options.
A Sweet Grab-n-Go Snack
One very simple, easy (no recipe needed!) option is to put some nuts into a food processor. Let them get broken down into very small pieces, to the point JUST before they turn into nut butter.
Toss into the blender coconut shavings or some hemp, chia, or shelled sunflower seeds. Add some dried fruits (raisens, craisens, pit-less prunes, apricots, etc) as a sticky “binder” and sweetener.
You’ll need to experiment a little to find just the right consistency for you. Add more nuts or dried fruits to the blender until the mixture starts to stick into a ball.
Stop your machine, and divide the larger ball into smaller portions. Roll them into little balls, place into small baggies, and freeze them. These will make a healthy, sweet snack or dessert that you can grab from the freezer and take with you on the go.
Experiment by trying different nuts, seeds, and dried fruit combinations and portions. The process is very forgiving. If things are not sticking together, you can keep adding a little bit more ingredient until you get the ball into a nice rolling consistency.
A little preparation can go a long way to keeping you set to win this summer in the healthy food arena!
“Fast Food Healthy”
So summer is rolling. You’re at the cabin and you find that in spite of your careful planning and preparation, you have nothing left but “junk” food and are all out of your prepared healthy foods and snack options. What to do?
Happily today there is no need to grab your rifle and to go out hunting or scavenging for roots and berries. More than likely no matter where you are you’re vacationing within short driving distance of a decent grocery store.
Whether you are at home or on vacation, whenever you are in a grocery store, think “fast food healthy”.
Shopping the Deli
At the deli or meat section, grab the leanest cut of cut chicken or sliced turkey you can find. If there are not organic, free-range options go for the best quality (least processed) option available. Don’t worry about the organic fed etc marketing hype. Most poultry sold in the US can no longer be pumped full of antibiotics as they used to be.
You are in a situation where you have to get by, so go ahead and load up on that good old sliced meat!
If you can find avocados (currently plentiful in most places but imported from Mexico so that could change) these are a great choice for a healthful dip, as they are loaded with healthy fats.
Avocados are also on the EWG.org “lowest pesticides” list, which is a list of foods ranking them by those requiring the highest to the lowest amounts of pesticides to grow and produce. (I carry a copy of the list in my purse so I know what to look for if I can’t get certified organic produce.)
Healthy Avocado Dip or Spread
Along with the avocados find some organic or low-pesticide asparagus. Cook the asparagus and onions, puree them in your food processor, and let the mixture cool – then add peeled and seeded chunks of avocado and puree into the asparagus and onion blend. Add a little sea salt and pepper to taste.
Viola! You now have a great veggie dip loaded with good fats and healthy vitamins!
Back in the produce aisle find some good quality sweet potatoes or yams. These are about 31 on the list of “least pesticides needed” and so are among the lesser of evils among the non-organic produce crowd. (Always wash and rinse produce thoroughly before using to wash away any residual pesticides from the surface. Unfortunately you can’t really do anything about the pesticides that may have been absorbed into the flesh of the potatoes or yams, so always opt for certified organic if you can find it.)
Sweet Potato Chips
Sweet potatoes and yams are easily sliced thinly. Cooked in the oven they make a wonderful round scooper flimsy chip. Let them cook a bit longer and they firm up to become more chip-like.
Take your meat and top some of your dip on it and you have a lovely, simple, and healthy meal while you are “enduring” your cabin stay.
Remember to keep your meals simple. In the long run this usually keeps you healthier as well.
Even in “desperate” situation where you are out of your best healthy foods and fixings, you don’t have to go “fast food” at the burger joint drive-through, you can go “fast food healthy” with a quick (and educated) run through the grocery store.
Shopping Grocery Smart
Look for the sliced (not processed) meats, hard boiled eggs, and cut up some veggies like carrots, asparagus – and you’re good to go! Many stores with a deli area will also have avocado dip either pre-made or tinned, if you don’t want to go to the effort of making your own – or if you left your food processor at home.
A simple banana, apple, pear or orange makes a great dessert. No fresh fruits? Canned pineapple is a great choice too – just look for the variety with nothing added no extra sugar just juice and pineapple chunks or rounds.
There is a gas station and convenience store near us called Kwik Trip that carries all of these things I have mentioned, and more! They do a great job providing good healthy foods for people increasingly paying attention to their health needs.
For me it’s almost as fast to stop in for a few key ingredients, as it would be to pull through the drive through at the fast-food place – and for what I would spend to feed my family a meal of fast food, I can buy enough food for two or three meals – or more!
Create a Nutrition Plan
This link will take you to a page on Dr. Mercola’s website with some great advice on how to create a healthy Nutrition Plan for you and your family (opens in a new window):
If you are struggling with health concerns or if you want professional guidance tailored to your unique health issues, blood type, weight loss goals and more, Dr. James R Bowman, ND DiHOM of the Naturopathic European Medicine Centre in Stevens Point can help. Call the clinic at (715) 341-4949 to schedule your personal, 90-minute introductory evaluation and consultation.
Reading the articles on this website as well as the other articles we link to will help get you started and headed in the right direction.
Train your mind to think “fast food healthy” and choose natural, organically-grown natural foods whenever possible.
Healthy As God Intended
God put us on this earth with everything we need to live healthy, happy, productive lives. Fresh foods in their natural state will provide a complete nutrition of the sort God intended for you, as fuel for the body He gave you. (I have a sneaking suspicion there is a reason why you can literally run up to an apple tree and grab an apple off it, and have most of the nutrients you need to be healthy in one red, delicious package – now that’s “fast food” if you ask me!)
May the Lord grant us grace as we both endure and enjoy the busy-ness of summer. May the Vitamin D be restored in us!
Excited to soak in the warm sun!
Kelly is the Naturopathic & European Medicine Centre’s media liason. A strong natural health advocate for the last 19 years, in addition to gardening and experimenting with healthy recipes and natural products she is a freelance hair stylist and makeup artist. Along with assisting her husband’s real estate business she is currently focused on the challenges and joys of homeschooling their young son Silas.