Category Archives: summer


Summer Vegetable Soup - The Ingredient Guru Recipe

Instant Pot Summer Vegetable Soup

I love my Instant Pot

Ever since I got an Instant Pot® (IP) it has become my favorite appliance. I use it so much that I got tired of dragging it up from the cupboard under the counter and now it lives on my kitchen counter full-time.  It gets used regularly for a wide variety of dishes.  That includes for summer meals. 

Just because it’s summertime doesn’t mean that we should not eat soup. And while there are lots of delicious cold summer soups, like this amazing gazpacho, even hot soups can be a wonderful summertime dish because they take advantage of the season and what’s fresh.  Of course just because we want to enjoy summer soups, doesn’t mean we want the heat and humidity in our kitchen that comes along with cooking soup. That’s where the instant pot is such an amazing kitchen tool. it takes so much less time and therefore adds less heat to the kitchen.

This recipe is so quick and easy to put together that it’s sure to become one of your summertime (or anytime) favorites. And one of the best things about it is that it’s actually a pretty flexible recipe. Don’t have green beans? Use lima beans.  Or asparagus. Don’t have zucchini, add mushrooms. You really can add a wide variety of vegetables to this.  (pssst…I’ve sometimes been known to clean out my crisper drawer by simply throwing a bunch of veggies into the instant pot, following the general proportions of this recipe, adding bone broth, herbs, and letting the IP do it’s magic.)

Instant Pot Summer Vegetable Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  2. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 4 large stalks celery, chopped
  4. 4 large carrots, sliced
  5. 1 medium red onion, chopped
  6. 1 cup green beans, cut into pieces
  7. 1 cup zucchini or summer squash, diced
  8. 8 cups bone broth
  9. 1 pound red potatoes, quartered
  10. 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  11. 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  12. 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced
  13. 1 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped
  14. 2 cups fresh baby greens such as kale, spinach or arugula
  15. Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  16. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  17. Parmesan cheese, freshly shaved or grated
Instructions
  1. Add olive oil to liner pot and set function to Sauté
  2. Add garlic, celery, carrots, and onion,
  3. Sauté until onion is wilting and golden in color, approximately 4-5 minutes
  4. Add green beans, zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper
  5. Add bone broth and stir to combine
  6. Put on lid and lock into place, setting the vent to “Sealing”
  7. Set pot to “Manual” for 3 minutes
  8. When cooking time is finished, allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure
  9. Remove lid and add baby greens and lemon juice, stirring to combine well
  10. Serve immediately topped with freshly shaved or grated Parmesan cheese
  11. Enjoy!
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/

More delicious summer recipes

Here are a few more fabulous summertime recipes

Powerhouse Summer Smoothie Bowl

Powerhouse Summer Smoothie Bowl

Smoothies are a familiar way to get fruit into your diet. But you can take it one step further by adding veggies and healthy fat. This means you’re not simply getting a dessert disguised as a healthy snack, you’re actually getting several nutrient dense servings of fruit and vegetables.

If you’re familiar with the idea of smoothie bowls, then you know that there are a wide variety of bowl types as well as a never-ending list of ingredients to choose from. Smoothie bowls are a great way for you to get a lot of nutrients in an easy to digest dish. So where do you start?

This article provides a smoothie recipe that you are really going to love. The Powerhouse Summer Smoothie Bowl delivers great nutrition that’s easy to prepare and simply delicious.

Why You Should Try It

The reduced sugar in this smoothie is a definite plus. It’s more than just a fruit and fruit juice sugar bomb.  With the addition of leafy green veggies plus avocado for a healthy fat, you’re getting a more nutrient-dense smoothie. And the toppings are booster foods that add a delicious and nutritious extra.

  • Dark leafy greens are always a good choice. Rich in antioxidants and important nutrients they tend to be high in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and more. Due to their bitter nature, they’re also great for heart health and can help stimulate the liver.
  • The bromelain in pineapple aids the digestive function. A fabulous source of vitamin C and manganese, pineapple is also anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant-rich food. 
  • Avocados are a good source of pantothenic acid and fiber, but they also deliver a nutrient dense punch with vitamin K, copper, and folate. Studies have shown them to be supportive of cardiovascular health as well as helping to balance blood sugar.
  • Known for their phytonutrient dense qualities, blueberries are high in vitamin K, manganese and are a great source of anthocyanins. Research indicates that they are helpful for blood pressure regulation, memory support, and have anti-carcinogenic properties.
  • Using green tea instead of juice not only cuts down on the sugar, but it also bumps the antioxidant qualities of this smoothie. Rich in the amino acid theanine and EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), green tea has been shown to be supportive for brain health, boosting the metabolism, protective of brain function, and it’s anti-carcinogenic.
  • And last but not least are the toppings. The seeds are wonderful sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The cacao is high in both fiber and iron as well as providing antioxidants and magnesium.

So all in all this smoothie is a great choice for real food nutrition. Either as a bowl or a traditional smoothie, it definitely delivers a nutrient-dense punch.

Powehouse Summer Smoothie Bowl
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup organic baby kale or spinach
  2. 1 cup frozen organic blueberries
  3. 3/4 cup green tea
  4. ½ cup pineapple
  5. ½ of an avocado
  6. 1 scoop collagen protein powder
Topping suggestions
  1. ¼ cup granola
  2. 2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds or mixed sprouted seeds
  3. 1 Tbsp. flax seeds
  4. 2 Tbsp. cacao nibs
  5. 1-2 Tbsp. blueberries
  6. 1 Tbsp. goji berries
Instructions
  1. Start by blending the blueberries, green tea and leafy greens
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth
  3. If a thinner consistency is desired (for a smoothie rather than a bowl) add a little more tea
  4. If a thicker consistency is desired then freeze the pineapple before adding to the blender
  5. Pour/scrape into a cup or bowl
  6. Use toppings of choice and garnish the smoothie as desired
  7. Enjoy!
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/

More delicious summer recipes

Here are a few more fabulous summertime recipes

 

crockpot shredded chicken

Use Your Crockpot To Beat The Summer Heat

It’s getting hot here in Texas

And the humidity isn’t far behind. Once the humidity hits stepping outside is like walking into a sauna.

With all of that heat and humidity, it’s no wonder dinner time is seen as more of a chore in the summer. After all, who wants to heat up the kitchen when it’s already hot and sticky outside? And here in Texas, we’re not the only ones. Although we get the heat early, summertime and hot temperatures are about to hit all around the country. The good news is in spite of the heat outside, you can still have a delicious meal without raising the temperature indoors. It’s easy when you use a crockpot.

So, how does crock pot cooking beat the heat? Simple, it uses less heat than an oven or the stovetop. In addition to using less heat to cook the food, a crockpot also doesn’t heat up the environment the same way. This means you don’t need to crank up the air conditioning, run a fan, or start your swamp cooler to reduce the additional heat from ovens and stoves.

Crockpots are also a great energy-saving device and the operating costs are very low. Especially when compared to electric stove and ovens, but even when compared to gas. So not just from a heat standpoint, but from a cost to operate standpoint as well, this makes crockpots a great resource.

Not just for winter anymore

If you’re like most people you think of crockpots as being more for wintertime use. Great for making soups, stews, and chili. But truthfully crockpots are good all year round. I love mine and use it for making snacks, breakfast, and even for making shredded meats for summer salads. Crockpots are actually very versatile and can be used for a wide variety of meals and foods.

Benefits of Crock Pot Cooking

As well as being less expensive to run, crockpots have a number of benefits that make them a great addition to any kitchen:

  • All the work is done ahead of time making mealtime and cleanup a lot easier. If you’re making breakfast, you’re starting it the night before so there’s less cleanup while you’re trying to get out the door. If you’re making dinner, it makes getting dinner on the table faster and easier at the end of a long day.
  • A lot of crockpot dinner recipes are a meal in a dish. Make a salad or a side dish to go with it and you’ve got a nutritious meal for your family. If it’s a stew or a chili you can bulk it up with extra veggies and up your daily count of veggie servings.
  • Cleanup is a breeze. Usually, with crockpot cooking, there’s the cleanup from the prep and then just one dish (the crock) to clean when you’re done. This means you’re not only spending less time cooking, but you’re also spending less time cleaning up.

Have a couple of crockpots is, in my humble opinion, a good idea. I have one large one for the main dishes or large items and one small one for side dishes, appetizers, desserts, and that sort of thing. They’re versatile, easy to use and make life much simpler.

Take it to the next level

Combine crockpot cooking with the Fast Fun Freezer Meals program and you’ll really beat the heat. This program allows you to get 20-24 servings of dinner in the freezer ready-to-cook in 90 minutes or less. Sounds unbelievable but it’s true. And when you’re ready to cook simply pull your meal out of the freezer the night before. Pop it in the crockpot in the morning and at the end of the day you’ve got a hot, delicious meal, but the kitchen is still cool. Make a salad or side dish and dinner is done. Best of all cleanup is a breeze because you did most of it when you prepped the meal.

Less work, less time in the kitchen, no hot sticky mess. Crockpot dinners are definitely the way to go.

More great crockpot recipes

More delicious summer recipes

Here are a few more fabulous summertime recipes

 

Sunscreen That’s Uv-a Protective

Screenshot 2014-03-23 20.17.58After the long dreary days of winter it seems that the sunshine is finally returning.      Or maybe you live in an area where you have a high number of sunny days   throughout the year.  Which ever situation fits your environment you probably wear sunscreen.  But are you wearing the right one?

We’ve all been told that we should be wearing sunscreen.  With more than one million Americans per year having some form of skin cancer, we’re conditioned to think about using it regularly.  Many people seek out the highest Sun Protection Factor, SPF, that they can find.   And their examination of sunscreen stops there.  But it turns out there’s more to it than that.  One of the most important things to be aware of is what’s in your sunscreen.  Unfortunately many brands contain substances that are known to be harmful.  Ingredients such as endocrine disruptors, toxic preservatives, highly allergenic ingredients, and more.  These are things that we don’t want in our food so why would we want them in our sunscreen.  Especially when we stop to consider that the skin is the largest body organ and that it absorbs whatever we put on it.

As the author of The Pantry Principle I am passionate about helping people understand what’s really in their food.  That it’s not just what you eat, it’s what’s in what you eat.  The next logical step is to consider what we put on our body.  At this time of year sunscreen is certainly a big player in the personal care product department.

I was amazed, therefore, when I had the opportunity to test a sample of a new sunblock that is…get this…food grade edible.*  It turns out that it’s also the only FDA approved sunblock currently on the market that protects again UV-B and UV-A.  UV-B is what causes sunburn.  UV-A is what causes aging, wrinkles, suppression of the immune system, and can, potentially, lead to cancer.  So even though you’re using sunscreen, if you’re not using one which is effective against UV-A you could still get cancer and suffer other negative effects.

Developed by a Ph.D. research chemist with a crazy passion for safe ingredients this sunblock is unlike any other on the market.  Highly water resistant, no endocrine disruptors, no fillers or other garbage, it’s also high in antioxidants and provides optimal pH for skin protection.  The absence of endocrine disruptors is huge; we are so surrounded by them in our environment (think BPA in receipt paper, cans, and more) that any lessening of this toxin in the environment is a good thing.  According to a study published in the Journal of the Society of Toxicology there is a distinct difference between 3rd Rock Sunblock and mainstream competitors when it comes to endocrine disruptors.

Screenshot 2014-03-23 20.56.43

And it’s food grade edible.  In my book that’s pretty amazing given all of the chemical adulterants used in many products currently on the market.  Not that I’m going to eat it mind you, but I’m glad that it’s such a clean product.

I’ve been using it for a while now and find that it takes just a tiny bit to provide coverage.  Honestly the bottle seems generously sized when you realize how little of the product you actually need for coverage.  It seems to go on smoothly and so far I have not had any issues with uneven coverage even though in the beginning I thought I wasn’t using enough.  The website claims it’s a one time application and you’re done for the day; so far I have not reapplied at all, even on those days when I am outdoors more, and have not noticed a problem.

Overall I think this a great product and am excited to see sunblock of this quality and ingredient safety available to everyone.

*full disclosure:  I did receive a free sample of this product to try however I was not paid for my opinion and was under no obligation to give a positive review of this product.

August is peach month

August Is Peachy

August is National Peach Month. In season and amazingly fragrant, it’s difficult to walk past peaches, whether at a farmer’s market or in the grocery store, without being tempted to purchase a few. Peaches are a good source of vitamin C and A. They also provide a fair amount of potassium, beta-carotene (which becomes vitamin A), and fiber.  When they are ripe and juicy they are also very hydrating.

There are many different ways to use peaches and to enjoy them. While they’re certainly delicious just the way they are, they’re also amazing when paired with a good cheese, a dollop of yogurt, or even grilled as part of a barbeque menu.

This particular recipe is one our our summertime favorites and it comes from my mom.  It’s simple and so easy to put together. It makes a perfect dessert after just about any meal.

Frenchtown Cobbler

The biscuit topping is modified from a July 1997 issue of Gourmet magazine:

5 Tablespoons cold unsalted organic butter
1 cup Pamela’s baking mix
2 Tablespoons organic yellow cornmeal
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup organic whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Cut butter in pieces
In a bowl with a pastry blender or in a food processor blend or pulse together baking mix, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal
If using a food processor transfer to a bowl
Add milk and vanilla and stir until the mixture forms a dough
Drop topping by rounded spoonfuls onto filling (do not completely cover it) and bake in the middle of the oven 40 minutes, or until topping is golden and cooked through.

The filling is modified from one found in the July/August 1996 Cook’s Illustrated

3-4 peaches, peel, pit, and slice thick
2 cups blackberries, rinsed
Mix 2 teaspoons organic cornstarch, 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and  1 Tablespoon brandy
Toss with fruit to coat

Serve with ice cream or lightly whipped cream

More delicious summer recipes

Here are a few more fabulous summertime recipes

National Watermelon Day

watermelon | photo: Beyond silence

Enrique Caruso once said, “Watermelon, it’s a good fruit.  You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

One of the most alkalizing foods, watermelon is a refreshing, hydrating, low calorie wonderful addition to summertime menus.  High in vitamin A and C while also providing some magnesium and potassium, watermelon is a great antioxidant fruit.  It also provides high levels of lycopene which studies have shown to be helpful in preventing various types of cancer.
Watermelon appears to also have some effect on lowering blood pressure.

There are many delicious ways to include watermelon into your summertime menus such as making watermelon water ice or granita, making agua fresca, fruit salads, or even a savory sweet salad.  My current favorite fruit salad is rich in lycopene and anthocyanins, those dark rich fruits which are supportive of cognitive function while helping to reduce inflammation in the body.  This salad is refreshing and satisfying, I’ve even been including it as part of my breakfast for a delicious treat.

Anthocyanin-rich Fruit Salad

2 cups watermelon, balled
1 cup blueberries, rinsed
1 cup strawberries, rinsed and sliced
1 cup cherries, rinsed, pitted, and quartered

dressing:

zest 1 small lime
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Mix together fruits
Mix together dressing in a separate cup
Pour dressing over fruits and toss gently
Let sit 30-60 minutes in the fridge before serving

ice cream

Antifreeze In Your Ice Cream?

Ah, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.  Hot, humid, sweltering temperatures just beg for you to stop and enjoy a cold frozen confection.  Ice cream, just the thing to cool you off.  Or not.

Why is antifreeze in ice cream?

If you are looking for a cool summer treat you may want to consider making your own frozen confections.  It turns out that there is a little known ingredient called propylene glycol hiding out in your ice cream.  Considered a “non-toxic” antifreeze (as opposed to ethylene glycol which is highly toxic) many manufacturers use it in a wide variety of foods, especially ice cream.  While it prevents your car from freezing it also keeps your ice cream smooth and prevents ice crystals from forming.  Homemade ice cream turns fairly hard once frozen completely but this doesn’t seem to happen with a lot of commercial ice creams.  Now you know why.

Looking for it on the label provides an even bigger shock.  Propylene glycol is not listed.  Why?  It turns out there is a, little known USDA regulation which covers incidental food additive labeling.  This labeling allows the manufacturers to not include this ingredient on the label.  My research so far seems to indicate that propylene glycol is covered under this regulation.

Health risks of propylene glycol

Unfortunately it does not take into effect the “ick” factor (after all who really wants to eat anti-freeze, even if it is the “non-toxic” variety?).  Nor does it take into effect the fact that there are people who are highly sensitive to the substance.  While I don’t know how much propylene glycol is in ice cream I’m assuming it’s not a huge amount.  However if you eat a lot of ice cream, or frosting, or other foods that contain it you could be getting a significant exposure.

Apparently people who suffer from vulvodynia and interstitial cystitis can be particularly sensitive.  It’s known to cause skin problems when it appears in lotions, asthma or other allergies in children exposed through airborne sources, and large doses administered orally have been been shown to have a depressive effect on the central nervous system in animals.  The challenge with the large dose testing is that because it’s not labeled we do not know how much we may potentially be exposed to through ingestion or through osmotic skin absorption.

Avoiding propylene glycol

What can you do to avoid it?  That’s not so easy since it’s not labeled.*  Still want those creamy, cool summer treats?  Consider making your own.  Here are a few recipes that really hit the spot when the temperatures are climbing outside.

Strawberry or Raspberry Water Ice
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. strawberries or raspberries
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 1-2 cups water
  4. juice of 1 lemon
  5. juice of 1 orange
  6. 5 tablespoons orange liqueur, or kirsch
  7. 2 egg whites (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put the fruit through a blender.
  2. Make a syrup of the sugar and 1/2 cup water.
  3. When it is cool add the puree and strain.
  4. Flavor to taste with lemon juice.
  5. Dilute with the extra water if required.
  6. Pour into a container, stirring the frozen sides of the mixture into the more liquid middle part every so often. With shallow trays this needs to be done every half hour; deep boxes can be left longer.
  7. In 2-3 hours, the time depends on the depth of the mixture, you will have a thick mush of iced granules, called a granita.
  8. IN 3-4 hours you will have a firm but not impenetrable block of water ice ready to be turned into sorbet.
  9. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until they're stiff.
  10. Add spoonfuls of ice gradually, if properly done the mixture blow up to a mass of white foam.
  11. Refreeze in a larger container until the sorbet has the consistency of firm snow.
  12. Add the liqueur gradually at the end during the last stirring; with the sorbet add when ice and beaten egg white are mixed together.
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
Vanilla Ice Cream
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Ingredients
  1. 3 egg yolks
  2. 1/2 cup maple syrup
  3. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  4. 1 tablespoon arrowroot
  5. 3 cups heavy cream, (NT prefers raw, not ultra-pasteurized)
Instructions
  1. Beat egg yolks and blend in remaining ingredients.
  2. Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to instructions.
  3. For ease of serving, transfer ice cream to a shallow container, cover and store in the freezer.
Notes
  1. I've found that adding 1-2 cups of fresh fruit to this is delicious
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
2 Ingredient Ice Cream
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Ingredients
  1. 1 can Native Forest organic coconut milk
  2. 1 pound frozen fruit
  3. 1/2 tsp. vanilla (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients in order into the blender
  2. Blend until completely mixed (using tamper if necessary) -- approximately 1 minute
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
 

 

Side note: as an outcome of my research I did manage to find an online source for propylene glycol free flavoring.

*Some manufacturers, in an effort to meet consumers desire for more transparency are including propylene glycol on their label. This is, in my opinion, a good thing as it makes it easier to see that they’re using it. However just because some manufacturers are disclosing it doesn’t mean that many others use it but fail to disclose. In this case it’s still best to make your own ice cream.

zucchini zoodles

Zoodles And Sausage

It’s zoodle season

It’s zucchini season, that means LOTS of zucchini and a distinct need for more recipes. And while zucchini bread is really delicious, there’s only so much of that that you can eat in one season.

Below is a dinner that I made recently using zucchini noodles or zoodles. One of the great things about this dish, aside from using up more zucchini, is that it’s quick, easy, and very tasty. It’s an assembly style dish. You cook each of the layers individually and when you get to the last layer dinner is done.  Most of the time is spent in prep-work, the actual cooking doesn’t take too long.  I do keep the dish in the oven in between layers (set to 250 degrees) to make sure everything stays warm.

Making zoodles

These days with so many people eating gluten-free that means no pasta. The challenge is that there are so many delicious recipes out there that use noodles as a base.  My favorite solution is to make zoodles. You can even use the oversize-on-their-way-to-baseball-bat sized zucchini.  Of course, you can use the smaller, more tender ones too, really, in this case, any zucchini will do.

Previously the best way to make zoodles was to use a vegetable peeler, carefully peeling each side. This meant you had a leftover core with lots of seeds in it.  Sure you could cut up the core and throw it into your recipes, but somehow it always seemed to get just a little gloopy. Nowadays some genius has invented a zoodler that does it for you. Not only can you make noodles from zucchini, using this amazing device you can “zoodle” a whole bunch of different vegetables like carrots, beets, and more.  It’s a fabulous way to add more veggies to your diet.  

So grab your zoodler and let’s get going…

Zoodles and Sausage
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Ingredients
  1. 1 package pre-cooked, chicken cilantro sausage
  2. 1-2 zucchini, turned into zoodles
  3. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 1 large sweet onion, diced
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 large tomato, diced
  7. 1 green pepper, diced
  8. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  9. 1/2 cup minced cilantro
  10. sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet
  2. Add 1/2 of the diced onion and the garlic
  3. When the onion starts to soften turn down the heat slightly and add the zucchini
  4. Toss and cook the zucchini for approximately 5 minutes until it is coated in oil and warmed through
  5. Place zucchini and onions into a serving dish
  6. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet
  7. Add the rest of the onion
  8. When onion starts to soften add bell pepper, tomato, and tomato paste
  9. Saute until bell pepper starts to soften
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste
  11. Spoon mixture over zucchini noodles
  12. Place sausage in the skillet and heat until browned on the outside
  13. Remove sausage from skillet and slice into bite sized pieces
  14. Sprinkle sausage pieces on top of dish
  15. Garnish with cilantro
Notes
  1. If necessary you can make this dish ahead.  Simply reheat in a 300 F degree oven for about 20 minutes until all of the ingredients are warmed through
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
stay hydrated for summer

Stay Well-hydrated For Summer

With summer just around the corner and temperatures rising it’s important to stay well-hydrated during the summer months. Most of us don’t drink enough water in the first place, add in the higher temperatures and more outdoor activity, it all adds up to sweating more, leading to more fluid loss and potential dehydration. Dehydration can cause a large number of physical problems from headaches and migraines, to constipation to deep fatigue or loss of energy.

What to drink

Before you reach for that cheap 54-oz Big Gulp think about what your body needs in terms of hydration. It certainly doesn’t need all that sugar. An 8-oz can of Sprite claims that it has 26 g of sugar, multiplied by 6.75 to equal a 54-oz drink, that comes to 175.5 g of sugar, not to mention all those chemicals. If you’re drinking sugar-free, you are taking in even more chemicals. And let’s not forget that caffeinated sodas would deliver a jolting 155 mg of caffeine.
 
Other popular summer drinks include the thought of a refreshing cold beer on a hot day, or perhaps a wine spritzer or an alcopop.  But it’s important to remember that alcohol is a diuretic; this means you lose more body fluids when you drink it. So even though after spending the day in the hot summer sun that beer, wine cooler, or mixed drink seems cool and refreshing, it won’t help you stay healthy and hydrated.

The hydration factor

To figure out how much hydration you need, calculate your body weight. Divide that in half for the number of ounces needed to be properly hydrated. Divide that number by 8 to get the number of cups of fluid.

For example:

     150 pounds
     divided by 2 = 75
     divided by 8 = 9.4 cups

Take that number, divide it by four and then set a “hydration alarm” approximately every two hours. When the alarm goes off put your beverage in front of you with the goal to drink it before the alarm goes off again.

Remember that this does not mean plain water. Too much water is not healthy either as it can dilute your electrolyte balance. Soups, herbal teas, food with lots of liquid (like watermelon), plus water all count towards a daily hydration goal. 

Rehydrate and refresh

Choose drink choices that are actually good for you. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Water – always good, water is exactly what your body needs. For a refreshing change to plain water add a slice of citrus to your water. For a cool and cleansing taste try slices of peeled cucumber or even a sprig of mint.
  • Iced tea – although tea does have caffeine if you make your iced teas with green tea you’ll be getting less caffeine overall. Or you can use herbal teas which have no caffeine and are delicious and enjoyable.
  • Spritzers – adding your favorite juice to cool seltzer water with some ice and perhaps a slice of fresh fruit can be a great way to stay hydrated. The usual proportions are 30% juice 70% seltzer. Just be sure to choose juices that are 100% juice, no additives, no preservatives, no colors.  If you are using concentrated juice you will need to adjust the proportions to your preference.
  • Agua fresca – these cool and tasty drinks, originally from Mexico, are made by taking blended fresh fruit, usually melons, and combining them with water, sugar, and a splash of lime juice. Because there is sugar, with both the fresh fruit and the added sugar, these should be consumed in moderation.  There is a delicious recipe posted below.
  • Lemonade or limeade – made with citrus juice, water and sugar this can be very satisfying and cooling. If you make it yourself you control how much sugar is in it.  There are a wide number of tasty recipes available online.
Agua Fresca
Print
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups of melon (cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, etc), seeded, peeled and diced
  2. 1 1/2 cups cold water
  3. 2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice crystals
  4. juice of 1-2 limes
Instructions
  1. Blend melon to a pulp in the blender
  2. Strain pulp to remove fibers
  3. In a pitcher mix together water and sugar until sugar crystals dissolve
  4. Add melon juice
  5. Add lime juice to taste
  6. Serve over ice
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/

Containers

Instead of relying on the availability of drinks on the road, one of the best things you can do to stay hydrated is taking your container with you. Don’t drink from plastic containers if you can at all avoid it due to issues with BPA (to learn more watch my interview with Lara Adler, The Environmental Toxins Nerd). Glass or stainless steel containers are your best bet. My personal favorite is Glasstic, a shatterproof plastic cylinder around a glass center cylinder. Easy to take apart and wash in the dishwasher, the company claims these are the last water bottle you’ll ever need. I bought three over two years ago and they’re still going strong. Get 10% off with this link.

Blueberry Bliss

I recently went blueberry picking with a friend.  We went to our local blueberry orchard, Moorhead’s Blueberry Farm.  The owner, Sid, told us that his dad started the place 35 years ago and he worked there every summer as a kid.  Now he owns it and works there every day during the season.  They don’t use chemical pesticides or fertilizers which is a plus in my book.*

These bushes were fabulous!  Over six feet tall and loaded with berries.  In just 30 short minutes I managed to pick two and a half pounds of plump delicious berries.  As I was picking I was hearing parents with small children scattered throughout the field.  I laughed to myself as I remembered blueberry picking with my girls when they were little.  The three of them were more interested in eating the berries.  They would pick for a while, eating as they picked, and then when they were tired of picking they would come raid my blueberry bucket for handfuls of sweet berries.  Quite frankly I never managed to pick enough to satisfy three hungry tummies and have some for home.  I often had to go back without them in order to have a reasonable amount of berries.

I consider blueberries super-fruits, very high in antioxidants they are one of the few native American fruits.  I’ve written about some of their health benefits in the past.  New research appears to show that higher consumption of blueberries may be helpful in warding off conditions such as Alzheimers and Parkinson’s as well as improving general cognitive function in aging adults.

Whatever their health benefits, no one can deny that they taste wonderful.  After my husband and teenaged daughter plundered the batch I brought home I had just enough left to make a gluten free blueberry coffee cake.  Obviously I’m going to have to go back for more….I guess some things never change.

Gluten Free Blueberry Coffee Cake

Preheat oven to 350 F
grease and flour a 9 x 9 baking pan

1 C. buckwheat flour
1 C. gluten free oat flour
1 C. evaporated cane juice crystals
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1 C. blueberries
1 C. chocolate chips
4 T. butter, cold
1/2 C. Greek yogurt
1/2 C. unsweetened almond milk
1 large egg
1 t. pure vanilla extract

topping:

1/2 C. gluten free rolled oats
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 C. evaporated cane juice crystals
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1 t. pure vanilla extract

Mix together all of the dried ingredients
Shred butter into flour mixture using the large side of a box grater
Mix butter into the flour mixture with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs
Add blueberries and chocolate chips and toss well to coat
In a separate bowl mix together yogurt, almond milk, egg, and extract, blend well
Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and quickly blend together, do not overmix the batter
In a separate bowl mix together topping ingredients
Spread topping evenly on the coffee cake
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top of the coffee cake springs back lightly when tapped
Remove from oven and cool
Serve warm or room temperature

*Sid did share that he uses roundup for weed control (obviously not on the blueberries) because it is  a short-lived weed killer.  I’m hopeful that he will consider switching to something else like vinegar which is shown to be effective.