By Megan Cahn, REDBOOK
One upside to the summer heat? We're less likely to crave those heavy foods that weigh us down and pack on the pounds. Even when opting for lighter fare; though, it's still important to get the right amount of protein. Enter shrimp, which is jam-packed with it but also low in fat. According to nutrition expert Keri Glassman of Nutritious Life, it's also high in B12, a vitamin found exclusively in animal products. Try a mix of shrimp, avocado, and cherry tomatoes for a healthy and filling summer dish.
When the temperature rises, it's only natural to crave a frozen treat. Unfortunately, our metabolisms aren't quite on par with those of our energetic kids, and succumbing to that chocolate-covered Drumstick is more trouble than it's worth. Registered dietitian Dawn Jackson suggests keeping grapes or dark sweet cherries in the freezer for a refreshing frozen treat. The iciness gives the fruit a sorbet-like consistency, and the sweetness will satisfy those sugar cravings.
Canned Tuna in Water
Canned tuna is loaded with protein and makes for a great summer lunch or snack. Nutrition expert Lisa De Fazio suggests forgoing mayo and instead mixing tuna with Greek yogurt and your favorite low-fat fixings. Serve it with rice cakes or whole grain crackers on a picnic or at the beach.
We're all familiar with the importance of drinking water-especially during the hot summer months-which is why eating its namesake melon is a no-brainer. Watermelon will keep you not only keep you hydrated, it will help you feel full and satisfied. Plus, it's high in amino acids and antioxidants and is an excellent source of vitamin A and C, Glassman says. Eat it by the slice or try a uniquely delicious and refreshing watermelon salad with feta cheese, mint, and olives.
Low-calorie, broth-based soups hit the spot when it's cold outside, but the mere thought of eating piping hot soup on a summer day makes us sweat. Susan Moores, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, suggests taking a more chilled out approach to soup in the summer with a tasty gazpacho or refreshing cucumber dill soup.
Greek yogurt is definitely having its moment in the culinary spotlight. And for good reason: It has twice as much protein as other low-fat yogurts, which gives it a deliciously creamy texture and makes it super filling. Glassman suggests adding cinnamon to the plain variety for a sweet tooth fix or mixing it with savory spices to coat chicken before grilling.
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Berries are ripe for the picking all summer long. We love them sprinkled over cereal, blended in smoothies, or even tossed into a salad. According to Glassman; however, we should be reaching for raspberries first. All berries have fiber and antioxidants, but these tart red ones are on top of the chart. Their high water content also makes them supremely refreshing on a hot summer day. For a new take, try mashing fresh raspberries with white wine vinegar for a meat marinade or salad dressing.
Grilled Vegetables Veggies are low in calories and high in fiber, but we're so quick to dunk them in creamy dips and dressings that they often morph into a secretly high-fat snack. To keep your vegetables low-cal, try drizzling olive oil over onions, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, or asparagus and throwing them on the BBQ. The grill will bring out deliciously distinct flavors that you won't want to cover up. Jackson also suggests keeping a plate of grilled veggies in the fridge to make salads, vegetable pitas, pasta, and frittatas on the go.
Iced Green Tea
Nothing hits the spot on a sweltering afternoon quite like a glass of ice tea with lemon. This summer, De Fazio suggests swapping your usual herbal blend for a green tea. The antioxidant-rich Chinese tea is usually served hot, but when poured over ice, it morphs into a thirst-quenching elixir.
If you're craving something creamy, Glassman suggests making a mango smoothie. The tropical fruit is full of fiber and has a thick quality that will fill you up-plus, mangoes are loaded with healthy antioxidants. But a mango's versatility goes way beyond the blender: Dice one into a spicy salsa to top grilled chicken or white fish, or add a few slices to a summer salad.
Salmon is full of healthy monounsaturated fats and muscle-building protein, De Fazio says. Ditch the heavy meats and throw some of this omega-3-packed fish on the BBQ for a filling and flavorful summer meal.
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Get the term "pear-shaped" out of your mind-this fruit is a part of a winning diet plan. According to Glassman, pears have high levels of pectin, which is known to promote weight loss. They also have 30 percent more potassium than apples and are a great energy booster. This summer, pack pears for an easy snack or try adding them to desserts and salads.
Whole Grain Salads
We know, salads are the standard summer weight-loss meal. But lettuce eventually gets boring, right? Get out of the mixed greens rut and toss around the idea of a whole grain salad like wheatberry or tabouli. Moore also suggests flavoring your salads with herbs from the garden, so you can go light on the dressing.
Save apples and oranges for the colder months-summer is the prime time to take advantage of sweet and juicy pitted fruits. Not only are they delicious, Glassman explains that pitted fruits like nectarines are loaded with potassium, while the fiber in plums promotes better digestion.
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