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Summer Healthy Eats

Posted on June 26, 2018 by Nikole Gavriilidis, MS, RD, CDE

The warm weather has finally reached New Jersey, and around this time of the year patients usually ask me for tips on how to make healthy choices at outdoor get-togethers.  I know that it can be hard to avoid overindulging at these events, but being prepared can definitely help.  If you have tips, tricks, and recipes to help you along the way, it will not only help you reach your nutrition goals, but it can also allow you to enjoy these get-togethers with confidence.  Below are some examples of how you can make healthy choices both at home and away during the warmer months ahead.
  • Bring or set up your own vegetable crudité and pair it with a homemade Greek yogurt-based dip.
  • Use Boston or Bibb lettuce to wrap a turkey or a veggie burger.
  • Make your own kabobs by alternating a lean protein with non-starchy vegetables like peppers, onion, eggplant and zucchini.
  • Create a homemade marinade or dressing to flavor your kabobs or to drizzle over a green salad.
  • Hollow out bell pepper halves or zucchini halves and fill them with a chicken or bean salad.
  • Scoop out the centers of cherry tomatoes or make cucumber cups and add in your favorite homemade guacamole.
  • Use tomatoes and cucumbers as the base of a side salad, replacing potatoes and macaroni.
  • Make avocado boats by hollowing out an avocado half, adding that avocado to a chicken or seafood salad recipe and then refilling the hollowed avocado half with the mixture.
  • Take baby portobello mushrooms, hollow them out and fill them with your favorite homemade spinach dip.
  • Try to bring or keep alongside you a bottle filled with ice-cold water and lemon slices, seltzer with lime, or unsweetened iced tea to help you stay hydrated.
  • For dessert, make your own puree fruit pops.  You can stick to one flavor, mix, layer, or add in yogurt to create the perfect summer treat.
If you like these ideas, try out this recipe from Diabetic Living Online.  The base of this recipe is a lettuce leaf, and it is used to hold a light and colorful fruit and vegetable mix.  By using the lettuce as a wrap, it cuts carbs and calories and adds fiber to your meal.  On a hot day, serve the lettuce leaves chilled.  Also if you want to increase the protein content of the recipe, try adding cooked chicken breast, shrimp, tilapia, scallops, or edamame.
Strawberry Fields Lettuce Wraps
Makes 12 servings
Serving size = 2 lettuce cups, 73 calories, 6grams fat, 1gram saturated fat, 4mg cholesterol, 4grams carbohydrate, 1gram fiber, 2grams protein, 79mg of sodium
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ¼ cups finely chopped seedless cucumber
1 ¼ cups finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped radishes
1 ½ cups chopped fresh strawberries
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
¼ cup snipped fresh basil
24 butterhead (Boston or Bibb) lettuce leaves
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, mustard, poppy seeds, and pepper.  Add cucumber, celery, and radishes, stirring to coat.
  2. Just before serving, stir strawberries, pecans, and snipped basil into cucumber mixture.  Spoon about ¼ cup of the strawberry mixture onto each lettuce leaf.  Top each with about 1 teaspoon of goat cheese.  If desired, garnish with basil sprigs.  Serve immediately.


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