For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, the warm weather is finally here to stay. And when the temperature rises, we want to spend as much time as possible outside—on the beach, by the pool or just hanging out in the park with our dogs.
And along with summertime hangs come summertime cookouts, picnics and parties, where it can be really easy to overload on unhealthy foods. What’s a girl committed to eating healthily (and mindfully) to do?
Aside from eating in moderation and not denying herself everything fun, she makes smart food choices. And there are some amazingly delicious, good-for-you foods that you should be looking for this summer. Whether you take them to pot lucks or just get creative with your own lunches, here are the best healthy foods to eat this summer.
Watermelon is our number one summertime crush. Deliciously light and sweet, it’s not only amazingly tasty but it’s amazing for you, too: it’s packed with Vitamins A and C (which are essential for beautiful skin and hair) and is high in an amino acid called L-citrulline that can actually improve circulation and soothe sore muscles. Plus it’s like 90% water (hence the name), so it’ll also help keep you hydrated.
The ingredients of this summertime staple are simple: chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. But as any hummus fan will tell you, the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts. Not only is it insanely delicious, it’s also high in protein, iron and healthy fats; though it’s really easy to make at home, even commercially prepared hummus is low in sugar and carbs. Plus it’s versatile, working as both a dip and a sandwich spread. It’s also really easy to flavor however you like; we love adding some Sriracha and eating it with sliced carrots, celery and snap peas.
3. Ice Tea.
Whether you drink it or incorporate it as an ingredient in your skincare routine, tea is amazingly good for you. And freshly made ice tea is a delicious and healthy way to keep hydrated. Tea, no matter what kind you brew up, is high in polyphenols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Tea also has no calories, if you’re watching those, and you can easily control how much sugar you add (rather than being at the mercy of soda companies). Try iced green tea with fresh squeezed lemon; it’s one of our favorite refreshing summer beverages
While we could get really pedantic and get into what actually counts as a berry vs an aggregate fruit, we’ll skip all that, because berries are damn delicious. Sweet enough for dessert, yet healthy enough for breakfast, practically any fruit ending in the suffix -erry are also amazingly healthy foods to eat. Blueberries, for examples, are packed with antioxidants and flavonoids that seem to improve cognitive functioning. A single cup of raspberries contains over 50% of your daily Vitamin C and lots of those gorgeous polyphenols also found in tea. Strawberries are a particularly good source of fiber. And cherries are high in anti-inflammatory compounds that may help manage muscle pain and arthritis. Serve them with fresh whipped cream or greek yogurt and honey for a healthy (and yummy) summertime dessert.
5. Grilled Chicken.
If you eat meat, chicken should definitely be the healthy star of your next cookout; it’s high in protein, low in unhealthy fats and totally delicious when grilled. Leaner and lower in cholesterol (and calories, if you count those) than red meat, chicken doesn’t need a tonne of sugary sauces to taste incredible; brush with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper for a perfect summery meal.
6. Red Bell Peppers.
Whether grilled or eaten raw, red bell peppers are a serious summertime superfood. Like many of the other fruits and veggies we’ve mentioned, they’re packed with Vitamins A and C—a single red bell pepper contains 500% of your daily C requirement—but uniquely, they are also high in magnesium and Vitamin B6. This combination has been shown to reduce painful period cramps and reduce bloating during that time of the month. They also have zero fat and are delicious thrown on the grill; cook them with chicken breasts for a tasty hot dinner, or slice and serve with hummus if you’re craving something colder.
If you want a great complexion (and a healthy heart), eat some salmon. High in omega-3 fatty acids and selenium, it will help keep your skin moisturised and also protected from the sun. Plus, it has zero unhealthy fats, is high in protein and is so. Damn. Tasty. Make sure you get wild salmon rather than farm-raised, if possible, and with the skin on if you’ll be grilling it (it helps the fish stay in one piece).
Possibly the most summery of foods, chopping up one of these beauties makes us feel like we’re lounging on a beach in Hawaii. High in Vitamin C and beta-carotene (for healthy eyes), pineapple is also surprisingly low in sugar and calories for as sweets as it is. We love this served in chilled chunks with fresh berries, or even grilled and served alongside chicken.
9. Sweet Corn.
Calorie and mineral dense, fresh, sweet corn is definitely THE taste of summer. Containing heaps of fiber and antioxidants, fresh corn is far more than just the nutritionally-empty (but fiber filled) food you may think it is. Adding heaps of mayonnaise or butter to your corn on the cob can make this more of a “sometimes” food, but if you grill or boil it and then season with salt and pepper, it’s totally healthy.
10. Summer Squash.
Whether you prefer green or yellow, summer squash are seriously amazing. Containing no fat and heaps of Vitamin A and C, minerals like lutein and selenium AND loads of antioxidants, summer squash are delicious in salads, sauteed in olive oil, baked into casseroles or cooked on the grill. A perfect summertime health food!
More from Daily Makeover: Your Summer Weekend Beauty Essential Cheat Sheet.