Happy Summer ~ and Happy 4th of July! As July brings on some serious summer heat, we still make the move from our indoor ovens to the heat of the outdoor grills. Trying to stay cool while enjoying delicious summer fare, it is definitely a sweaty and celebratory time of the year😅. Barbecues, picnics, dining on the beach, all call for light and tasty foods, while keeping ourselves balanced, hydrated and happy.
It does not take much to get caught up in all of the well-deserved fun and excitement amongst friends and family, and put your health goals on the back burner. Of course you should be enjoying every precious moment, but you can enjoy life to the max without veering completely off your path. Sometimes just pressing pause, taking some deep breaths (instead of another glass of wine…#relatable), will keep you on track. One way to challenge yourself in the heat, when you have a spare few minutes, is to complete an exercise called the Raisin Challenge. What and why would I challenge myself with a raisin🥺?? I am well aware if you never heard of this, it sounds silly and perhaps a bit ridiculous, but it is actually really hard.
The Raisin Challenge is all about cultivating mindfulness, reducing stress, and enjoying everyday pleasures. Sounds quite fabulous, huh? There are many methods out there to help us work on increasing mindfulness. The raisin challenge or meditation helps to promote mindfulness, as well as mindful eating. Beyond making healthy food choices, it helps you to hit the refresh button on your relationship with food. It is not about one food or one beverage or one meal. It is about balancing your total food and beverage intake with your nutritional needs and physical activity, with your cravings, desires and party times🥳. Increasing your mindfulness around food and beverages, will help you find more satisfaction, with less intake. So let’s do it:
The Raisin “Awareness” Test: https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/raisin_meditation
The suggestion is to complete the test for at least a week, but even once is a win. What was this experience like for you? Would love for you to share with me!
Mindfulness around food and drinks (and all of life’s moments) has the potential to provide you with a strong and effective tool for weight regulation and health. As all of us are often experiencing many personal challenges in our worlds, to just being more aware of your mindless environment during these heated months, will beneficial your mind, body and soul. Be strong, be mindful, absolutely have fun, with your whole self💛.
Let’s sizzle up some heat and cool down with these summer salads. They are filled with lean proteins and lots of veggies. Balance out your plate with a whole grain of your choice, to keep you satisfied and smiling in the sunshine☀️ ~
SWEET AND SPICY CHICKEN ON GREENS
The combination of sweet and spicy and never gets old. It keeps your taste buds on high alert, which helps remind you to savor what you are eating, slowing the pace, deliciously. This is a great recipe to prepare extra for weekday lunches.
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1 pound chicken tenderloins, skinless, boneless (or substitute: extra firm tofu, sliced into 1-inch wide strips)
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cups spring mix salad greens
1/2 cup nonfat yogurt
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon water
freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat grill to 350˚to 400˚F (medium-high heat). In a small bowl, mix together the first 6 ingredients in a small bowl (brown sugar through paprika). Pour olive oil in a separate small bowl. Brush the chicken with olive oil and rub with spice mixture.
Place chicken on grill and heat 4–5 minutes per side, or until chicken in fully cooked through. Remove from grill and set aside.
Place salad greens in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, honey, lime juice and water. Toss with salad greens. Serve salad with chicken on top and freshly ground pepper to taste. Makes 3–4 servings.
SUMMERTIME SALMON AND SLAW
This tangy dressing is tasty on everything from a green salad, grilled veggies to any seafood. It is best (but not a must :) to prepare the dressing one day ahead for a thicker consistency and melding of flavors. The dressing will keep for 3–4 days in the refrigerator, so you have time to experiment with other options. As always, feel free to substitute your protein of choice.
1 pound salmon fillets, cut into 4 equal portions
freshly ground pepper and salt
3 garlic cloves, crushed, + 1 whole clove
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup dill sprigs (a few stems in the mix is fine!)
1 scallion, white part chopped into about 1/2-inch pieces
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup buttermilk, low fat or nonfat
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 to 7 cups shredded red and/or green cabbage (and yes, the coleslaw mix in a bag is perfect here)
Preheat grill to 350˚to 400˚F (medium-high heat). Place salmon fillets on a plate, and rub the crushed garlic evenly all over the fillets. Sprinkle with pepper and salt.
Place salmon on grill and heat for 5–6 minutes per side, or until desired doneness. Remove from grill and keep warm.
Prepare the dressing by placing 1 clove of garlic, parsley, dill, scallion, lemon juice, buttermilk and olive oil in a blender and process until a smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and blend until well-combined. (Tip: double or triple for extra).
Place shredded cabbage in a large bowl. Pour 3/4 cup of dressing on top and toss well. Place one quarter of salad on 4 separate plates. Place salmon fillet on top and drizzle with dressing and freshly ground pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings.
CUE’ING UP TACOS
Though we might be avoiding turning our ovens on, it does not mean we have to give up Taco Tuesdays! The tacos on the grill are just as tasty as the stovetop version, without the massive cleanup. Highly suggest using a grill basket for the veggies, so you do not lose any in the process.
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 Tablespoons cumin
1 1/2 Tablespoons paprika
1/2 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper — depending on your level of heat desired!
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 red onions, sliced
4 bell peppers, any colors, seeded and sliced
1–2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus 1 lime, sliced into wedges
8 taco-size corn tortillas
Taco toppings of choice, like nonfat yogurt/sour cream, guacamole, salsa, fresh cilantro, etc.
Preheat grill to 350˚to 400˚F (medium-high heat). In a small bowl, mix together the first 6 ingredients (chili powder through cayenne pepper). Place shrimp in a separate medium bowl and rub with 2 tablespoons of spice mixture. String shrimp on kabob skewers and set aside.
Place sliced onions and peppers in a sealable bag. Add olive oil and 2–3 tablespoons spice mixture. Seal bag and toss until evenly coated.
Place onions and peppers in a grill basket on the grill and heat for 8–10 minutes, stirring often, until tender and slightly charred. Add shrimp skewers to the grill, heating 3–4 minutes per side. Remove all from the grill, place in servings bowls and keep warm set aside.
Place 4 tortillas at a time directly onto the grill. Heat for about 45 seconds, until browned in spots. Use tongs to flip and repeat on second side. Serve tortillas with shrimp, onions, peppers and desired toppings. ~A sprinkle of fresh cilantro, a tablespoon of nonfat Greek yogurt, and a dash of fresh lime juice works well. Makes 3–4 servings.
With heated balance and mindfulness in charge, we do need something to cool us down! This beverage is quite festive for the fourth of July weekend, especially with the Blue Curaçao. It is a lighter version of the Drunken Mermaid (something my daughter has introduced me too ;). The sparkling water helps keep you more hydrated than your average summer alcoholic beverage, as well as makes it last longer, so one goes a longer way.
2 ounces green apple vodka (or any fruity flavor)
2 ounces Triple sec (OR, Blue Curaçao)
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon of fresh blueberries and raspberries
6 ounces sparkling water
lemon or lime slice for garnish
Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add vodka, triple sec or Blue Curaçao and lime juice. Shake it up! Fill about a quarter of a tall 12-ounce drinking glass with crushed ice. Add your mermaid mixture and top off with sparkling water. Add fresh blueberries and raspberries on top. Garnish with a slice of lime. Sip slowly ~ cheers to you! Makes 1 serving.
Healthy Grilling Techniques and Tips:
- 🍋Lucious and Light Marinade — lemon or lime juice, a touch of olive oil, and a whole bunch of fresh herbs. Shake it up a sealable bag. Add your protein and let it marinate for about an hour before grilling
- 🌶Groovy Grill Baskets — to cook veggies, small shrimp, tofu, or anything slightly small that might fall through the grate. They make grilling simple and hassle-free.
- 🙌🏾Get Really Rub Messy — start with clean hands, but do not be scared to get dirty. A spice rub on poultry, fish and meat can add amazing flavor without any additional fats or much salt needed. About 1 tablespoon of spice rub for each pound of food does the trick. Just be sure to wash up well afterwards.
We all wear masks, and that while masks have uses, taking them off can allow for deeper connection, shared growth, and more fruitful collaboration. ~Priya Parker, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters #vaxx up;mask off
For comments, thoughts, requests or anything else you feel the need to share, please do: firstname.lastname@example.org
Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating. www.eatright.org
Mantzios, M., Egan, H. & Asif, T. A Randomised Experiment Evaluating the Mindful Raisin Practice as a Method of Reducing Chocolate Consumption During and After a Mindless Activity. J Cogn Enhanc 4, 250–257 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41465-019-00159-y