Karen Ensle EdD, RD, FADA, CFCS
Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County
Setting goals for your weight and health is important. Try WebMD's free personalized Food and Fitness Planner for lots of good medical and health information: This website will help you to:
- Create a personalized plan. Enter your weight loss goal and the planner will calculate daily calorie recommendations for how to achieve it.
- Log your foods. Search for more than 30,000 foods and beverages, including all your favorite brand names. Or, simply add your own food.
- Log your activity. Choose from hundreds of popular activities, or add your own to create custom workouts.
- Track your progress. See how your food choices and exercise routine work together to help you reach your weight and health goals.
- Monitor your nutrients. Keep tabs on your nutrient intake with fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, fiber, sugar, and protein trackers.
- Get progress reports. See how your weight has changed over time.
Eating healthy food makes you feel and look good. Summer weather creates the need for plenty of fluids, fruits, and veggies which can be added to create lighter meals, snacks, and beverages. Grilling produce during the summer adds delicious entrees which are tasty and rich in nutritional value. Consider the following nutritional information and apply it to your summer time meals:
- Strawberries and other fruit add vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant with a sweet taste. Adding fruit to salad or eating some for a snack is light and refreshing.
- Zucchini is very low in calories, with only 20 calories per cup. Try it for veggie crudités, cut into batons or coins. Add it to a summer pasta by dicing and sautéing it with garlic, onion, and tomatoes in a small amount of olive oil and toss the mixture with whole-wheat angel hair pasta, soft goat cheese, and shrimp or chicken.
- Red Bell Peppers are only 46 calories with 3 grams of fiber per cup and are a light, yet filling, addition to summer meals. They are also high in antioxidants and contain lots of vitamin C which provides many benefits including building collagen in our skin.
- Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and beta-carotene. A diet rich in those nutrients may boost the skin's natural defense against sun damage and improve its appearance, according to a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Tomatoes are also a good source of vitamin C. Try grilling tomatoes to accompany your summer dinner and increase your lycopene intake.
- Gazpacho and other cold soups are hydrating. Think beyond gazpacho and try recipes for cold fruit soups, like blueberry or cantaloupe.
Remember, taking small steps to improving your diet and health is not only a benefit for you, but also saves health care dollars for everyone. As the philosopher Virgil observed over 2,000 years ago, “The greatest wealth is health.”