Summer a great time to eat healthy

Published on Saturday, 22 June 2013 23:16 - Written by BY COSHANDRA DILLARD cdillard@tylerpaper.com

If you’re trying to watch what you eat, but summer drums up of memories of not-so-healthy food, don’t worry. Summer may be the easiest time of year to make the best of the healthy selections Earth has to offer. It’s the season of luscious melons, ripe berries and savory root vegetables.

Summer is also about grilling outside and other carefree cooking techniques that keep you out of a hot kitchen.

With just a little forethought, you can still enjoy the relics of summer without letting it derail your healthiest intentions.

Instead of the traditional barbeque fare — ribs, burgers, hot dogs, potato salad and sweetened baked beans—try grilling lean chicken breasts or fish. Add cool green salads and grilled vegetables as healthy alternatives to mayo-heavy salads. If you have a sweet tooth, place peaches on the grill and sprinkle with cinnamon. You can grill just about anything, from zucchini and eggplant to bananas and pineapples.

As for the calorie-laden foods you grew up loving, there are healthier ways around that. I’m a Southern girl so one of my favorite treats is fried green tomatoes. To reduce the fat, you can oven-fry them. Not exactly the same nostalgic feelings of grandma are conjured up, but nonetheless, they are still good.

Sweet frozen treats are another summer favorite and Tyler has one of the best snow cone stands — on West Gentry Parkway — just saying.

But snow cone syrups can offer up to 20 grams of sugar per serving. To decrease sugar and calories, snow cones and popsicles can be cheaply made at home with fresh or frozen fruit, a little honey and a squeeze of citrus. There are tons of these recipes on Pinterest.

For refreshing drinks, such as flavored teas and cocktails, skip the syrupy grocery store versions. Just like snow cones and popsicles, make your own juice out of blended fruit.

A way to turn water into a refreshing and less-than-drab beverage is by adding a whole sliced cucumber, a few sprigs of mint and one sliced lemon to a gallon of water. After a few hours, the flavors meld and the mint gives just enough sweetness.

To gather items for summer treats, there are a few pick-your-own berry farms around East Texas, and farmers markets offer an abundance of fresh produce.

As for ice cream, I have no suggestion. That’s something I just don’t mess with. I’m a believer that there are some foods you have to enjoy, of course in moderation, just as it is. However, an ice cream with very few and simple ingredients may be the best choice. Just eat a cup, occasionally, and be done with it. If you’re eating healthy most of the time, it won’t hurt.