Summer Food Tips : Eating Healthy, Staying Hydrated, and Avoiding Foodborne Illness. Summer is a great time to enjoy delicious, seasonal produce and fresher, lighter meals. However, the warm weather also brings food safety risks. Follow these tips to eat healthy, stay hydrated, and avoid foodborne illness during the summer months.
Summer Food Tips : Eating Healthy, Staying Hydrated, and Avoiding Foodborne Illness
Eating what’s in season is one of the best ways to eat healthy in the summertime. Summer produce is packed with nutrients and natural sweetness, without needing much embellishment. Some of the best fruits and vegetables to enjoy in summer include:
- Berries – Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are at their peak from May through August. Berries are packed with vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidant power.
- Melons – Watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe are refreshing, hydrating fruits that are in season during the summer. Melons contain vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium.
- Stone fruits – Cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots are sweet and juicy during summer. Eat them fresh or make summery cobblers, crisps, and pies.
- Tomatoes – Vine-ripened tomatoes are at their best in the summer. Enjoy them in salads, sandwiches, salsa, or with just a little olive oil and basil.
- Corn – Fresh, local corn on the cob is a beloved summer treat. Corn contains vitamins C and B, and fiber.
- Zucchini and summer squash – These versatile veggies can be grilled, roasted, sautéed, or spiralized into healthy “pasta”.
- Leafy greens – Kale, chard, lettuce, and other greens love the long, sunny days of summer. Toss them in salads or lightly cook them.
- Herbs – Summer is peak season for basil, cilantro, dill, mint, and other fresh herbs. Use them generously in summer recipes.
Dehydration is a real concern during active summer days. Make a point to drink enough fluids, especially water, all day long. Some tips:
- Carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it frequently
- Drink a glass of water with each meal and snack
- Add sliced fruit like citrus, cucumber, or watermelon to water for flavor
- Limit alcohol and sugary drinks which can lead to dehydration
- If exercising, drink extra fluids before, during, and after physical activity
- Watch for signs of dehydration like dizziness, headache, dark urine, or fatigue
Avoid Foodborne Illness
Bacteria grows faster in summer’s warmer temperatures, making foodborne illness a bigger concern. Take steps to keep food safe:
- Refrigerate perishable foods right away, and never leave them sitting out for over 2 hours. Use an insulated cooler bag when running errands.
- Marinate foods in the fridge, not on the counter. Discard used marinade to avoid bacteria from raw meat contaminating the food.
- Separate raw meats from other foods in your grocery cart and fridge to prevent cross-contamination.
- Wash hands, cutting boards, grill tools, etc. thoroughly before and after handling raw meat.
- Cook meats like burgers and chicken thoroughly to the proper internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer to check.
- When in doubt, throw it out! Don’t eat leftover foods that have been left out too long.
Choose Lighter Cooking Methods
On hot days, avoid turning on the oven or stove and opt for lighter cooking techniques:
- Grilling – Cook chicken, seafood, veggies, and even fruit on the grill. It adds great flavor without heating up the kitchen.
- No-cook salads and wraps – Build healthy lunches and dinners from fresh ingredients like greens, vegetables, beans, tuna, chicken, and more.
- Smoothies – Blend yogurt, milk, fruit, and greens for a refreshing, nutrient-packed beverage.
- Overnight oats – For quick morning meals, soak oats in milk overnight and add toppings like almonds, fruit, and cinnamon.
- Gazpacho and cold soups – Blend up tomatoes and veggies for a cold, savory soup without any cooking.
- Freeze ahead – Make double batches of cooked grains and other ingredients to freeze, then simply thaw to assemble healthy meals.
Have Fun with Seasonal Recipes
Take advantage of summer’s bounty with these tasty, healthy recipes:
- Caprese salad with basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella
- Fresh berry parfait with yogurt and homemade granola
- Grilled fish tacos with pineapple salsa
- Veggie kabobs with zucchini, bell pepper, onion, and mushroom
- Watermelon feta salad with mint
- Peach or nectarine crisp with oats and almonds
- Black bean and corn salad with cilantro-lime dressing
- Chicken avocado salad sandwiches on whole grain bread
- Overnight chia seed pudding with berries
- Homemade pesto with basil, olive oil, pine nuts, and parmesan
- Frozen yogurt bark with sliced fruit and nuts
FAQ on Summer Food Tips
Here are answers to some common questions about summer food:
How much water should you drink in the summer?
It’s recommended to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day in the summer. More may be needed with increased sweating from heat and exercise. Drink enough to avoid thirst and to keep your urine a light yellow color.
What foods are in season during the summer?
Fruits and vegetables in season during summer include berries, melons, stone fruits, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, cucumbers, leafy greens, herbs, and more. Shop your local farmer’s market for the best summer produce.
How can you stay safe from food poisoning in summer?
Avoid food poisoning by refrigerating perishable foods promptly, keeping raw meats separate from other foods, fully cooking meats, washing hands and surfaces often, and discarding foods left at room temperature too long.
What are good meals and snacks for summer?
Great summer meal and snack options include salads, wraps, smoothies, grilled vegetables and fish, chilled soups like gazpacho, fresh fruit, frozen yogurt, overnight oats, and homemade popsicles.
What are 5 tips for healthy summer eating?
5 tips for healthy summer eating are:
- Eat plenty of in-season fruits and vegetables
- Stay hydrated with water and unsweetened drinks
- Avoid foodborne illness by keeping foods chilled properly
- Choose lighter cooking methods like grilling vs. baking
- Have fun with delicious, summery recipes using seasonal produce
How can you stay energized in hot summer weather?
Tips for staying energized in summer include drinking enough fluids, especially water; limiting alcohol and sugary drinks; eating fruits, vegetables and lean proteins; choosing whole grains for lasting energy; exercising in the cooler morning and evening hours; and listening to your body’s needs for rest.
How do you safely transport food to a picnic or potluck?
Use an insulated cooler bag with ice packs to keep perishable picnic and potluck foods chilled below 40°F. Transport and serve cold foods cold. Don’t let any dishes sit out for over 2 hours. Provide serving utensils and encourage hand washing before eating.
What are the best foods to take camping in summer?
Some great camping foods for summer are: canned beans, tuna, and chicken; trail mix and granola bars; powdered milk and coffee; peanut butter and jelly; whole fruits and vegetables; jerky and cured meats; instant oatmeal; powdered sports drinks; and pre-made sandwiches and wraps.
How can you stay healthy at summer BBQs and parties?
At summer parties, focus on grilled lean proteins, vegetables, and fruit. Go easy on creamy salads, buttery sides, and sugary desserts. Hydrate with water instead of soda or lemonade. Use small plates to control portions. Walk around and socialize instead of standing by the food.