Healthy Eating for Summer PartiesExperience Momentum | Food & Nutrition, | June 27, 2018
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Crystal Franck gives her best tips for healthy eating amidst the many summer parties and events that may come your way!
Summertime is here, which means the season of outdoor picnics, potlucks, and BBQs is upon us. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I get lots of questions about how to successfully navigate potlucks and parties, so here are some of my favorite tips:
1) Don't arrive ravenous. Plan to eat a hearty balanced breakfast with some protein, healthy fat, and a fruit or vegetable. Since the dishes served at picnics and parties tend to be more indulgent and carb-heavy, opting for a protein-rich breakfast with some colorful produce will help keep you full and energized and help balance out some of the choices you might be making later in the day. Arriving with a little food in your belly helps you scope out the situation and decide which foods you want to eat, whereas arriving super hungry makes us more likely to graze on snacks and potentially overeat.
2) Stay hydrated. Warmer temperatures mean we require even more water to keep our bodies functioning optimally. When we are dehydrated, our bodies may send us hunger signals when we are actually thirsty, as these signals are very closely linked in our brains. Therefore, staying well hydrated may help keep us from overeating in response to these signals. Additionally, the beverages served at parties and BBQs tend to have more calories from sugar, alcohol, or both. To help keep your caloric consumption in check, alternate water with each sweet or alcoholic beverage you consume.
3) When in doubt, eat a vegetable. For optimal health, our dietary guidelines for healthy Americans recommend eating 2-3 cups of vegetables per day for folks over 9 years old. Since a serving of most vegetables is ½ cup, that equals about five vegetable servings per day. Veggies are full of fiber, which helps keep us satisfied. You may find that filling up on veggies translates into you being less hungry for more decadent potluck foods. Additionally, vegetables are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting compounds. Increasing your intake of vegetables has been shown in research to help manage weight, protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as lower cholesterol and help manage blood sugar.
4) Bring a dish to share. Since the dishes offered at potlucks can vary wildly, I always bring a dish that I will feel good about eating. Most parties and potlucks will have some desserts and carb-heavy sides, so I try to bring something with protein and/or veggies to help bring some balance. Some of my favorite protein-rich sides to bring include deviled eggs, a meat and cheese tray, or a variety of veggies with our delicious homemade hummus – recipe below. Hummus also works great as a sauce or marinade for meats, in place of dressing on a salad, or as a spread in your sandwich or wrap.
Homemade Hummus Recipe
- (3) 15 oz cans garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 7 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup tahini paste
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon water (more if thinner consistency desired)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor until relatively smooth. Serve immediately and refrigerate any leftovers.
Experiment with variations:
- Add 3 TB of your favorite fresh herb: fresh basil, rosemary, and chives are all delicious
- Add 2 TB cilantro, 2 TB jalapeno, and 1 TB lime juice for a Mexican twist
- Top with toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds
- Add in one avocado for extra creaminess
- Substitute one can of black or white beans for one of the cans of chickpeas
- Add in roasted garlic, roasted red peppers, 2 TB Harissa, or a handful of kale or spinach