(BPT) - Warm weather, long leisurely days and numerous fun holidays make summer a favorite season of young and old alike. However, with summer comes unhealthy temptations like ice cream, chips and the lazy comfort of AC. With these 10 tips, you can enjoy all the flavors and fun of summer while supporting your health in the process.
Opt for ice cream alternatives: Few things are better than a cool treat on a hot summer day, but when you want to skip ice cream in lieu of a healthier option, whip up some banana swirl. Slice ripe bananas, freeze and then blend in the food processor. Voila! Guilt-free banana ice cream.
Cheese it up: You can still enjoy cheese when eating lighter summer fare. Swap richer, heavier cheese for the robust flavors of Nikos Feta. One serving (1/4 cup) of Feta provides 5 grams of protein without a high amount of calories. Find recipe inspiration at www.nikosfeta.com.
Explore Mother Nature: The tree canopies are full, flowers are in full bloom and the birds are singing sweet songs — it’s all waiting for you to explore this summer. Get out and enjoy your local parks or plan a road trip to celebrate the centennial of the National Park System.
Visit the farmers market: A visit to the local farmers market will open your eyes to myriad new produce and other homemade goods. Plus, you’ll enjoy locally grown fruits and vegetables that you can use to amp up healthy summer meals.
Make healthier dip: Enjoy summer’s bounty of healthy vegetables with a side of an equally wholesome dip. Try Nikos Avocado and Feta Dip: simply blend 1/2 cup feta cheese, 1/2 cup water, two peeled and sliced avocados, and a squeeze of lime juice in a food processor until smooth.
Start a hobby: Summer is the perfect time to finally try that hobby you’ve been interested in. Sign up for an outdoor yoga class. Try your hand at fly fishing. Head to a quiet park to write or paint. If you have reservations about doing a new activity alone, invite a friend along for the adventure.
Be a grill master: Summer is the season of grilling which can be a wonderfully healthy way to cook if you make thoughtful food selections. Try swapping out regular burger patties for turkey burgers. Use kabobs to skewer chopped vegetables. Sear halved fruit like peaches for a tasty, healthy dessert.
Enjoy summer at work: If you work a sedentary job, it can be difficult to sit inside while you see the beautiful weather outdoors. However, with a little effort you can enjoy moments of summer even on the job. Plan a walk break, eat lunch outside and, if possible, crack a window to let the fresh air in.
Stay happily hydrated: Whether you’re active outside or you simply want to improve your health, it’s important to stay hydrated. If plain water is too bland, try fruit-infused water instead. Chop up favorite fruits — like citrus, melon and berries — and add to water for tasty thirst-quenching alternative.
Indulge in summer salad: Looking for the perfect light lunch or dinner? A summer salad using in-season fruits and vegetables bursts with flavor. One classic option that is sure to leave you satisfied is Butter Lettuce Salad with Feta, Strawberries, Toasted Walnuts & Balsamic Vinaigrette. Try the recipe:
1/4 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup raspberry balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces Nikos feta cheese, crumbled
6 strawberries hulled and thinly sliced
3 cups butter lettuce, torn into 2-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 350 F. Toss walnuts with 1 tablespoon maple syrup in small bowl. Arrange in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until syrup is bubbling. Remove from oven and cool.
In small bowl or dish, combine remaining maple syrup, raspberry balsamic vinegar, kosher salt and white pepper. Slowly, while whisking, pour in extra virgin olive oil until incorporated.
To serve, toss butter lettuce, strawberries, green onions, feta cheese and walnuts together. Dress with vinaigrette. Remaining dressing can be stored in refrigerator.
Note: If you can't find raspberry balsamic vinegar, make your own by combining 1 tablespoon raspberry preserves with enough balsamic vinegar to make 1/4 cup.