We’re deep into summer now and with it comes whirlwind schedules, hopping from one activity to the next. Whether spending long summer days working or playing, summer on the Island is an energetic time of year. On Island roads, in grocery store lines, even eating our meals, the pace is quick.
Naturally our eating habits change in the summer. Fewer crock pot dinners and heavy comfort foods, but more grilling and more salads. Ideally, we are now taking advantage of all that this Island has to offer by way of locally grown fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry, fish and so much more. But the longer work hours can also mean less time to focus on taking care of ourselves. More eating out, later nights and more events mean less attention being paid to preparing, cooking and eating regular meals at home.
If time is crunched and meals have become less planned and more fend for yourself, it might be time for some summer survival nutrition tips along with a crash course in mindful eating. To truly taste summer, it is important to slow down, savor meals and practice mindful eating whenever possible.
Tips for getting through the summer while still paying attention to nutrition include some prepping and pre-planning, and remembering to listen to your body’s hunger cues and take time to eat. On the next rainy day, or day off, plan to batch cook. Take one hour and grill extra chicken or fish so you have easy lean protein available for the next few days. Make a large cold soup or summer salad to have in the fridge most of the week for easy lunches. Wash and cut vegetables, make a large salad at a local salad bar to eat during the week, buy pre-washed and cut veggies and fruits, and create bulk soups to keep in the fridge or freezer.
Bringing healthy and sustainable snacks to work or the beach can also make or break a summer day. Portable snacks like original Larabars, unsalted nuts and seeds, fresh fruits, cut up vegetables and hummus, hard-boiled eggs, cheese and crackers and yogurts are all energy-sustaining foods to help keep everyone from going into over-hungry (hangry) mode.
And remember that mindful eating is always possible; we just have to remember to do it. Mindful eating simply means paying full attention to the foods we are eating by using all of our senses to enjoy the meal — see it, smell it, feel it, taste it, listen to the crunch of it.
Mindfulness comes from limiting distraction around our mealtimes whenever possible. According to Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of Cornell’s Food Lab and author of over 100 academic research articles and numerous books on eating behavior, our environment predicts more about what we eat than any other factor. He says: “We overeat not because of hunger but because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers.”
In this busy time of year, it is more important than ever to pay attention. When we don’t, digestion is compromised and amazing food is taken for granted. But when we slow down, take time to use our senses and appreciate the plate in front of us, it becomes quite clear exactly what we need. So, the next time you realize you are scarfing down a sandwich or other meal in five minutes flat, be conscious of slowing it down. Aim to take at least 20 minutes to eat a meal, preferably 30. Don’t have that much time? Focus on your chewing. Your stomach and the rest of your gastro-intestinal tract will thank you. Slow meals are the meals we remember!
The following recipe is from Morning Glory Farm’s new cookbook: Farm Food.
One 15 oz. can chickpeas (preferably low sodium)
2 eggplant, medium, 1/2” dice
2 tsp. course sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 onion, medium, 1/4” dice
2 bell peppers, stem, seeds and pith removed, 1/2” dice
1 sprig rosemary, stemmed, finely minced, divided
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. dried chili flakes
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
4 tomatoes, skin and seeds intact, 1/2” dice
1 Tbsp. raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
2 sprigs basil, 10-12 leaves, rolled and cut into fine ribbons
Preheat oven to 375°
Place diced eggplant in a non-reactive bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Press the eggplant to extract excess moisture, and wipe off the salt. Place on a lined sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, place in oven, and roast for 25 minutes or until nicely caramelized. Bring a saute pan up to temperature at medium heat. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in pan, and add the onions. Saute for 6-8 minutes or until soft, but not browned. Add bell peppers and squash for another 3-5 minutes. Add 1/2 of minced rosemary, cumin, chili flakes and cloves to the mixture and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, cooked eggplant, and vinegar and reduce to low heat and stir and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Put ingredients in a serving dish and sprinkle remaining rosemary and basil over the top.