An important aspect of a healthy diet is eating seasonal, locally grown fruits and vegetables. What is good for us usually translates into being good for the environment, so the benefit of following a diet in accordance with the seasons goes beyond just our own health. Eating seasonally grown food allows us to become more sensitive to the cycles of nature and refines our intuitive ability to nurture our bodies. Our dietary needs change with the seasons so it is no coincidence that the earth provides us with foods that support our changing requirements throughout the year.
With summer now upon us, it is a good time to shift away from heavier foods and focus on eating lighter foods found in their natural state. Increase your intake of raw fruits and vegetables, and reduce heavier proteins, animal foods, and starches. Take advantage of all the delicious berries, citrus fruits, and various melons that are readily available this time of year. Your body will appreciate the healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and fibre, not to mention the additional liquids needed to stay hydrated throughout the summer months.
Be creative and avoid eating the same foods everyday. Optimum nutrition comes not just from eating the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, but also from eating a wide variety of foods. Try including salads in your diet daily, and experiment with various blends of fresh vegetable juices and refreshing chilled soups. Keep cooked dishes light and simple, with fresh steamed greens, summer squashes and grilled fish.
A wonderful way to include uncooked, high quality protein in the diet and support the increased activity levels that summer promotes is to eat sprouted beans, seeds, and grains. Sprouting increases protein content between 15%-30%, and vitamins A, B, C, E, and K – as well as some minerals – also increase. Raw nuts and seeds, organic yogurt, and wild fish are also wonderful summer protein foods that are well worth including in your diet.
It’s easy to eat seasonally – next time you are out and about, take a look around and see what is being sold in the markets. The supermarkets that many of us are accustomed to shopping at stock produce that has often traveled thousands of kilometres to Dubai by truck, boat, or plane. Although it may seem convenient to have unlimited access to foods from around the world, we do pay a price for the distance our food travels before ending up on our shelves. Lower nutrient content, possible food irradiation and the additional use of chemicals and colorings, used to unnaturally ripen these foods are just a few of the ways imported foods cost us nutritionally. Our wallets also pay a higher price to cover transportation fees and the additional fuel emissions cost our environment.
In the heat of summer it is especially important to stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water, fresh juices, and herbal teas while avoiding caffeinated beverages that further flush water from the body. This summer, focus on eating locally-grown produce, and make a point to experiment with one new fruit or vegetable each week. Next time you see something unfamiliar in the market, go ahead and buy it – you never know what you might discover!
Below is a recipe for one of my favorite summer dishes. Although quinoa is usually referred to as a grain, it is actually a seed, containing adequate amounts of protein, several B vitamins, iron, and tasting delicious with raw vegetables. When cooking with quinoa, be sure to rinse the seeds prior to cooking. This removes the bitter tasting saponins that are naturally present to deter birds and bugs from feasting on the plant.
1 cup dried Quinoa, cooked according to package
¼ cup red onion, chopped
1 cup cucumber, chopped
1 cup carrot, shredded
½ of red pepper, chopped
½ of yellow pepper, chopped
5 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. old-style brown mustard
½ tsp. honey (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Allow cooked quinoa to cool. Next, in a large bowl mix the quinoa with the chopped vegetables. In a small bowl, whisk the salad dressing ingredients and then toss with the quinoa and vegetables. Chill prior to serving. Feel free to get creative and add any additional vegetables, fresh herbs, nuts or seeds. Enjoy!!
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”
-Henry David Thoreau
Top image sourced from Alexandra Evjen via Pinterest
Jessica Williams’ adventures abroad began in 2006 when she was offered a job as a full-time yoga instructor in Shanghai. Life took an interesting turn when on her 3rd day in Shanghai she met her future husband who was raised in HK. Jessica has a Master of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition and is creator of Evolving Wellness; a nutrition practice dedicated to offering an individualised approach to health and healing. Jessica previously worked as the Wellness Director at a health resort in Koh Samui, Thailand.