Summer Squash Salad Recipe

Summer may be almost over, but summer squash is available well into September so I took advantage of that fact to create this recipe. This is a simple but tasty and easy to prepare salad. It is rich in a variety of different vegetables and features quinoa, a well-known super-food and plant protein powerhouse.

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Summer squash and quinoa are the stand-out ingredients I find in this recipe.

The benefits of summer squash are that, like many fruits and vegetables, it is low in calories and provides a good amount of fibre, vitamin C, and potassium. Zucchini is a specific summer squash and a great source of the carotenoid pigments lutein and zeaxathin which can protect our eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration. Did you also know zucchini is the most popular type of summer squash available?

Quinoa is an incredible source of high-quality plant protein. It is one of the few plants that is a complete protein source (i.e. contains all the essential amino acids). It also offers riboflavin, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and fibre.

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This recipe can make a stand-alone meal on its own or try serving it as a side dish with a grilled chicken breast. What’s even better is how quick to serve and portable it is. It is a great option for packed lunches. Because the recipe yields a good number of portions you can make it at the start of the week and enjoy for several days. Perfect for meal planning!

Summer Squash Salad Recipe

Power Fruit Popsicle Recipe

Popsicles are a fun and refreshing summer treat. I created this recipe to upgrade the traditional versions, which are mostly just a lot of sugar in water, by using wholesome, real food ingredients.

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Berries are a nutritional superstar and one of nature’s richest sources of antioxidants. Like many other fruits and vegetables, berries are a good source of Vitamin C and because of their small size and large surface area they are an excellent source of fibre.

The four berries I used in my recipe were blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.

Blueberries are probably the most researched berries and are renown for their antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which can protect the body from cell damage which may lead to aging and certain diseases. Pectin, a type of fibre found in blueberries, may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and is good for the functioning of the digestive system.

Raspberries contain pectin and quercetin, the latter may slow cancer growth.

Blackberries may have the highest antioxidant content of any berries!

Strawberries are the berry with the highest Vitamin C content!

Using coconut milk and coconut yogurt (or another type of yogurt) gives these popsicles a little more substance and additional nutritional benefits. If using a dairy-based yogurt, you will add calcium to your diet. Calcium is important for bone health.

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If the natural sweetness is not enough for you, consider adding a natural sweetener like a tablespoon of honey to the recipe.

For a slightly different taste and a more interesting version add a teaspoon of cinnamon.

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Greek Chicken Souvlaki Recipe

Chicken souvlaki was one of my favourite items to order in Greece. Souvlaki literately translated means “meat on a stick”. Being gluten and dairy intolerant it is challenging for me to find menu options but chicken souvlaki is gluten and dairy free so this was one of my staple orders when I was in Greece.

They originally made souvlaki with pork and beef, but as these are red meats, and red meats may cause greater levels of inflammation in the body compared to white meats like chicken breast, making souvlaki with chicken has its advantages.

 

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Chicken souvlaki is also a very versatile dish. You can serve it alongside a Greek Salad or in a pita with a variety of toppings like olives, tzatziki, tomatoes, peppers etc.

I had an interesting experience at a restaurant in Athens where I ordered chicken souvlaki. My meal came to my table skewered into half an orange which they set on fire to keep the chicken warm (see photo below). It was quite surprising when my waiter brought that to my table and set it down before me!

Athens Chicken

Another meal idea inspiration is chicken souvlaki with roasted vegetables. It’s a great combo because you can roast the vegetables and cook the souvlaki at the same time! Prepare your vegetables (just drizzle some cut up vegetables with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and a little garlic powder) and put them in oven 10 min earlier than the chicken because they take a little longer to cook (about 35 min). When it’s time to put the chicken in the oven give the vegetables a shake. When you turn over the chicken souvlaki again give your vegetables a shake to ensure even cooking. There you go! A 2 for 1 deal meal ready in 35 min!

Chicken Souvlaki and Roasted Vegetables

I love how simple this recipe is to make! You just marinade and grill the meat. If you don’t have a grill or a barbeque, you can always roast the skewers in the oven at 350 F for 25min instead. In fact, baking and grilling meats are a healthier way to cook meat vs. frying for example. Furthermore, the ingredients that go into souvlaki marinade (lemon juice, olive oil and garlic) will not add extra calories, fat or sugar like barbeque sauce or other marinades might but they still combine to give the meat an incredible flavour.

Greek Chicken Souvlaki

 

Top 10 Tips for Summer Hydration

Summer is here–and it’s not even half-way over! There are so many fun things to do outside and ways to enjoy the sunshine and beautiful weather. However, it’s important to remember that during exercise the increased temperatures put additional stresses on our bodies from the activity being performed. We might not have control of the weather and the humidity, but we have control over how we take care of our bodies and fuel ourselves for optimum physical performance. Dehydration can suck our energy and can become very dangerous to our health and that’s not something you want to spoil your summer when you can avoid it!

Here are some quick facts and tips on how you can stay hydrated and beat the heat so you can have a safe, happy and healthy rest of your summer!

1. Be familiar with the signs and symptoms of dehydration (i.e. fatigue, dizziness, dark urine, headache, dry skin, confusion). Remember to respect how you are feeling and rest or take a break when you feel you need to!

2. Remember to drink during the day and not just when you are exercising. Even sitting in the sun on a hot day can cause fluid losses meaning you need to drink more water.

3. Did you know? Foods you eat contribute to keeping your body hydrated. Those with a higher water content like fruits and vegetables are the best choices.

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Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay

 

4. Drink before, during and after activities. A good way to gauge how much you should drink after your workout is to weigh yourself before and after. For every pound (0.5 kg) of weight lost you should drink about 500-700mL of fluids to re-hydrate after your workout.

5. Do you just forget to drink water? What reminders can you set for yourself to take a few sips of water–even before you get thirsty? If you are driving, you could set an interval of kilometers to drive and take a few sips every time you hit that interval (i.e. every 50 km). Or you could program a reminder into your phone to remind you throughout the day. Or wear a bracelet or elastic band on your wrist–something that will give you a visual cue to remind you to drink more often.

6. If you find it difficult to stay hydrated because you don’t like the “plain taste” of water you can make it more interesting by adding a touch of lemon juice or some fresh fruit and berries to your water bottle using a fruit infuser. This will give your drink a natural flavour boost.

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Image by silviarita from Pixabay

7. Dehydration starts when we lose as little as 2% of our body weight in water and can make you feel tired and irritable. It can start before you know it so don’t wait until you feel thirsty to have a drink!

8. Consider a sports drink if you are exercising at a high intensity and for >60 min; if you are exercising in extreme heat and humid conditions; and if you have over one exercise session in a day. They design sports drinks to replenish fluid losses and balance electrolyte losses and give your body extra energy which can be helpful when you are working hard and sweating a lot. For low intensity activities, your body probably won’t need this extra support so water will be just fine for keeping you hydrated

9. Get a water bottle that you like and makes you feel good. When your water bottle is inspiring and motivating, it will create a positive association for you to remember to drink more often.

10. How accessible are your fluid sources? Keeping a water bottle with you at all times is a good practice to adopt. Sometimes it is easier to have a sip when your water bottle has a straw vs. having a top you have to unscrew, which takes more effort to get out. Find out what is the easiest option for you to make having a drink the absolute most accessible.

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Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay