Unhealthy summer food choices and healthier swaps

By: Health Local Staff Jun 04, 2014
Unhealthy summer food choices and healthier swaps

Here are a few summer favourites and how you can change these not-so-healthy foods into healthier ones.

Picnic and summer foods are not always healthy, but hard to resist. Rather than filling your diet with poor food choices, why not make a few changes and provide yourself with healthier foods.

Here are a few summer favourites and how you can change these not-so-healthy foods into healthier ones.

Potato Chips
Everyone loves potato chips, especially at a family barbecue or picnic. Even some of the healthier choices, like chips made from vegetables, lentils, or beans might sound better for your diet, but are not. They are still the same starch-filled chip that is high in calories, sodium, and fat. Aside from munching on sticks of carrots or crunchy foods, a healthier alternative to potato chips is popcorn. Skip the microwave types and air pop your own with a pinch of sea salt and cayenne pepper.

Creamy Dips
Chips and dips go together like peanut butter and jelly, but neither are healthy summer food choices. Store bought and pre-packaged dips are filled with sugar, salt, fat, and preservatives. If you must have dip with your veggies or chips, opt for a homemade version using Greek yogurt or low fat sour cream. Avoid salt and season with fresh ingredients like chopped onion, crushed garlic, or finely sliced peppers.

Donuts, Cakes, and Muffins
There really are no alternatives to sugary sweets unless you make them at home. Most prepackaged pastries are made with lard, shortening, and lots of butter. For a healthy swap, create your own baked goods using coconut oil, olive oil, and applesauce. Do not swap sugary snacks with croissants or deep fried bread. 

Soda Pop
A favourite summer food drink is soda. Picnics are filled with every type of soda pop imaginable. Instead of swilling sugar water, make your own. Take a bottle of sparkling water and add your own flavours, such as cinnamon sticks or freshly squeezed orange juice. You can even prepare a jug of ice water overnight by adding slices of strawberries, blueberries, and kiwi. Whatever you do avoid using candy or fruit snacks in your water because they are filled with high fructose corn syrup. 

Creamy Pasta Salads
Macaroni salad is a picnic and barbeque favourite during the summer months. Prepackaged and store bought macaroni salads are high in sugar, fat, and preservatives. The best swap for this type of salad is to make your own using whole grain noodles, olive oil, and pesto. Avoid the cream based sauces on your pasta and opt for healthier alternatives. Even marinara sauce is better for you, delivering antioxidants in every bite.

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs
What is a barbeque without hamburgers and hot dogs? The first step to a healthy swap is to remove the fat from the meat. Use extra lean ground beef or ground poultry and make your burgers from scratch. Avoid piling the patty with fatty mayonnaise and condiments. Use fresh veggies instead. Avocado, sautéed onions, and fresh tomatoes are healthier than piles of mayo and relish. Processed meats should be avoided, which means hot dogs and deli meats should not be eaten. 

The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.