When the summer months roll around the influx of sunny social gatherings is enough to get our spirits soaring but too much of a wonderful thing… well, sometimes isn’t (yes Aperol spritz I’m looking at you!).
So with that in mind and to have us feeling more perky rather than peeky, here's some of my simple, small changes and add-ins that you can think about trying.
1. When the heat is up, think solid fats
Cook with fats that are solid at room temperature because they have a higher smoke point so can withstand high temperatures, particularly with the BBQ flamed up. The cold pressed versions don’t fare so well under heat, so to max on their health potentials drizzle on after cooking.
What you really want to heat with are organic butter, coconut oil, or ghee (a type of clarified butter used a lot in Asian cooking). And let’s face it everything tastes better with butter!
2. Spice up your life
Up your flavour content with spices instead of always reaching for bottled sauces. Now I know a good burger is bereft without some ketchup so its not to say forgo entirely but you can pack in tons of flavour with spices. Just adding a couple of pinches of spices such as chilli, cumin, ginger, cinnamon , and turmeric can elevate a simple burger or pimp up a salad dressing enormously.
Moreover our gut microbiome are quite partial to some spice action too so this can help to support digestive processes as well. Spices are generally all high in antioxidants, so flavouring your BBQ meat with them and piling on some colourful veg on the side too can help to outweigh some of the by-products produced when chargrilling.
3. Have a wine o'clock strategy
Most of us don’t need much convincing to indulge in a glass of rose in the sunshine but there are ways to enjoy with less hangover and more merriment even the day after. First one is to pace it so sip rather than glug, second is to try and have some food with your alcohol as that slows down its absorption, third is the age old drink plenty of water before, during and after and lastly try and opt for organic (or even biodynamic) as these general contain less of the chemical sulphites and such like that arguably could be making that sore head worse the next day. Read more in my piece on 'healthy' wine .
4. A sprinkling of salt
Go for sea or other mineral-rich salt rather than the table white version. These salts are packed with trace minerals, but the table version gives just sodium chloride which doesn’t really offer much in terms of nutritional benefits. You can now buy some really amazing flavoured ones, so branch out a bit and get some extra flavour this way. I quite like a smoked sea salt these days, particularly to flavour summer salads and padron peppers that are great for summertime nibbles.
5. Design your own dressing
During the warmer months we tend to eat more salads, but why buy when you can make a tastier and usually more cost effective salad dressing for yourself? Try mixing together olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and some kind of spice/herb combination involving cumin, mustard powder and fresh parsley, and you’ll have a super flavoursome recipe. Or you can check out some further summer dressings ideas here on my website .
6. A spoonful of sugar...
Summertime is almost synonymous with ice cream and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact when it comes to sugar it's really all the same thing. So rather than trying to have the “healthiest” versions such as lots of syrups and huge amounts of dates then just be mindful of your sugar in whatever form it comes. Sugar isn’t all bad as you might be led to believe but it is when we go too far with it - so just think of it as something that is a treat rather than a daily fix.
Raw honey also has some immune-stimulating and gut bacteria benefits so if you like a bit of honey in your life then get the raw stuff where you can.
7. Hone your hydration
Generally speaking try to drink water away from meals rather than with to avoid over diluting gastric juices. This can enable it to break down your food more efficiently and avoid symptoms such as bloating (not so pleasant in a bikini). Try to avoid having lots of water 30 mins before or an hour after eating, this also counts for other liquids (except the odd glass of wine that can have some digestive benefits). Just make sure you meet your daily quota between meals particularly in the summer months - herbal teas count too.
8. Opt for organic - but pick your battles
In an ideal world we might all like to buy organic over non organic but being realistic, that's not going to happen for myriad reasons. However non-negotiably try to buy your meat, poultry and eggs organically from a nutritional and ethical point of view.
Coombe Farm produce the highest quality organic meat produce and deliver frozen to your door. Easy peasy and perfect for those summer BBQs. Check them out here .
9. I scream... ice cream!
Now I’m all for a great gelato (ideally on the sunny coast of Italy) but not everyone can tolerate dairy, and let's face it we could all do with mixing it up so why not have a go at this cashew nut based lolly? They’re super simple to make and don't require an ice cream machine, although you do need a decent blender.
Goji Cashew Lollies (Makes 4)
You will need a 4 x lolly mould and a high-speed blender (Vitamix is best if you have)
1 cup cashews (soaked 2 hours)
1 cup filtered water
2 Medjool dates
1 vanilla pod or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder
4 tablespoons goji berries
Rinse and drain the cashews and place in a high-speed blender with the water, dates and vanilla pod and blend until you have a very smooth cream consistency. Pour the mixture into a bowl, scraping the sides to make sure you get everything out. Then add the goji berries and stir so they are evenly distributed. Next, using a teaspoon carefully add the mixture to a lolly mould until full and tap on the bottom to make sure you fill the mould evenly. Add a lolly stick and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours. To remove from the moulds simply run under a warm tap for around 10 seconds and carefully slide out. Enjoy!
10. Adopt mindful rather than mindless eating
Sitting down and taking some dedicated time out to eat rather than wolfing down on the go is one of the main ways we can avoid digestive discomfort.
Chewing your food properly and appreciating the tastes not only helps with digestive functioning, but you’ll also feel much more satisfied and will hopefully find the experience of eating much more enjoyable. With summer al fresco dining in full swing there is no better way to ‘rest and digest’.