Guest writer, Mary Mirelez, of Sunshine and Sea Salt, is one of our favorite clean living advocates. Faced with a health challenge in her family, Mary was inspired to learn more about real food, whole foods and clean eating. She continues to inspire us with her journey.
When I think of summer and summer's bounty, I think of endless possibilities. Long days of unscheduled play, star and moonlit nights sitting around a campfire telling stories (maybe sipping a little wine) , hammock naps wrapped in the breath of a warm and gentle wind swaying side to side, all the outdoor adventures- usually involving water, loads of sun exposure that brings that dreamy golden glow, farmers markets and yes... Vibrant, detoxifying, and beautifying summer food.
I love that nature knows exactly what we need when we need it. It's one of those miracles that will never escape my foodie loving heart. Think about it. We need the sun to produce life giving Vitamin D through direct skin exposure, but we also know that too much exposure can cause damaging dehydrating effects. And let's face it, NO one dreams of burned red and peeling skin, right? While we often relate this issue to what we are putting ON our skin, we don't often think about what we're putting INSIDE. This is where brightly colored edibles full of antioxidants come into play to save the day. I'm not saying you shouldn't protect your skin from over exposure with a natural SPF, and maybe a cute and widely brimmed hat- if you're going to be spending more than 30 minutes in the sun between the hours of ten and two- but, if you want to avoid sun damage during summer, these are not the only key players to get the job done.
To look and feel your best while enjoying all the glories of the season, you'll want to include as many organic juicy fruits and veggies as possible. Hydration is Queen, and vibrancy is a telltale sign that antioxidants are present and ready to ward off unfriendly and not so glorious toxins. In other words, go for the produce that's local, organic and has the most color. This will give you the most bang for your buck. Promise.
Photo source: drinks-insight-network.com
Some of my favorite and most versatile summer foods are; blueberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries (although, I can't find local cherries in Texas- I still buy them at our grocery store) , all the melons and grapes- especially cotton candy grapes. Oh my goodness, skip the dehydrating sugar laden candy and snow cones this summer and go for these. Seriously can't stop - won't stop. You can freeze them too. Like mini cotton candy ice pops- a kid and grown-up kid favorite. Also; zucchini, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, limes, okra and eggplant are commonly stocked in our summer pantry. This is just a short list of what summer has to offer, but all of these things are hydrating and so so good for your skin! Think fish tacos with peach salsa, a bowl of 'nice-cream' with cherries on top, watermelon smoothies- yes, watermelon is basically a drink as is, but combined with frozen strawberries, mangos, plus a squeeze of lime and you've got yourself a happy health tonic that's sure to keep those kidneys working. ;-) Also, just a note on strawberries, keep those strawberry tops on! They're good for you. If you don't believe me, look it up.
Photo source: rd.com
Not only are these things good for you, they make life easy when you're on the go. We always keep a large cooler in our trunk that's ready to be stocked with tupperware full of raw fruit and veggies + water to keep our bodies full of energy for all the things we want to see and do. All you have to do is rinse, chop, pack and go! It's pretty nice for the summer budget too. Especially if you have a large family like me, and your restaurant trips tend to break the bank.
If you have kids and have a hard time getting them to eat healthy on the go, some ideas my littles are always up for are; celery sticks filled with almond butter and raisins, brightly colored bell peppers, and carrots (red, yellow and orange are best) dipped in hummus. Watermelon 'ice pops'- just slice the watermelon and freeze in a freezer safe ziplock. And cucumber salad. Cucumbers drizzled with a little olive oil, lemon or lime juice, and maybe a touch of honey for the sweet tooth. So easy and hydrating, you almost won't have to remember to tell them to drink water - which is something of a chore for me.
My favorite thing about summer is even though it's packed full of fun and sun energy, it doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, it's not meant to be, which is why raw foods are best consumed in summer. Again, nature really does know best. Now that you're hopefully ready to load up that car cooler with nature's abundant beauties and hit the road for adventure, I'll leave you with one more idea you may not want to leave at home. Step by step recipe included for a salty, sweet and creamy summer salad to quench your thirst and dazzle your culinary senses. I know salt is not exactly on the hydrating ingredient list, but you don't want to leave it out. Trust me.
A Watermelon Caprese Salad with Strawberries & a Honeyed White Balsamic Vinaigrette
What you'll need for the salad:
- About 1/2 1 small seedless watermelon- scooped into balls using a melon baller or mini ice cream scooper
- About 2 C fresh and whole strawberries- halved with tops on
- About 1 C grape tomatoes- halved
- 1 package responsibly raised prosciutto
- Fresh mozzarella - grass fed preferred
- About 1 C fresh basil chiffonade (a fancy word for rolled together and thinly sliced)
- For the dressing: 2 TB fresh mint- finely chopped
- 1 TB finely chopped shallot
- 1/4 C good quality unfiltered olive oil
- 3 TB white balsamic vinegar
- 2 TB raw unfiltered and local honey
- pinch of fine sea salt and cracked black pepper
Photo Credit: Mary Mirelez
On a platter arrange the melon balls, strawberry halves, grape tomatoes and mozzarella. Then create little pocket places to tuck the thinly sliced prosciutto evenly around the plate. Reserve the basil for the final touch. In a small bowl add the mint, shallots, olive oil, vinegar, honey, and sea salt + pepper. Whisk until combined. With a spoon, drizzle over the melon salad and sprinkle the basil on top. Serve immediately or pack for a sweet summer picnic water-side.
Have a happy and healthy summer, y'all! XO