NEW CASTLE —
Q: What do you get when you cross fish with an elephant?
A: Swimming trunks.
Well, it is unofficially summer (summer solstice is June 21) and I realized that it has been a while since I asked my good friend and colleague, registered dietitian Maria Tsikouris, what kind of advice she has for us to get healthy.
So let’s play “Maria Says.”
•Maria says: Enjoy the season.
•Maria says: Grill more fruits and veggies. Peaches, pineapple, mango are excellent on the grill. Asparagus, all colors of bell peppers, onion, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes are also excellent. White and sweet potatoes are great grilled. You may want to microwave them first to reduce the grill time. Grilling veggies does not create carcinogens when they char.
•Maria says: Protect your health when grilling meats. Charring meat causes carcinogens. Regular exposure to carcinogens create a buildup of toxins in your body that has been directly linked to an increased risk of cancer. That’s why there’s room on your grill for fruits and veggies because their anti-oxidants protect you from HCGs and PAHs, two chemical compounds in grilled meat, that are considered carcinogens. The same is true when frying and broiling meats.
PAHs form when juices from meat drip onto coals, and causes smoke which swirls around the food and taints the meat. Consider using foil on the grill.
•Maria says: Marinate! Vinegar or lemon act as a shield that will protect the meat. Also, add chopped parsley. Thanks to an oil called myristicin, parsley can help reduce your absorption of certain carcinogens found in grilled food. Include it in marinades or add to your burgers before grilling.
•Maria says: Cook over medium-high heat. Cooking meats at high temperatures is one of the main causes of carcinogens, whether grilled, broiled or fried.
•Maria says: Drink more bottled water. Roughly 70 percent of an adult’s body is made up of water. A healthy person can drink about three gallons (48 cups) of water per day. While the daily recommended amount of water is eight cups per day, not all of this water must be consumed in the liquid form.
Nearly every food or drink item provides some water to the body. Soft drinks, coffee, and tea, while made up almost entirely of water, also contain caffeine. Caffeine can act as a mild diuretic, preventing water from traveling to necessary locations in the body.
•Maria says: Get out and enjoy the sun light when you can. It takes just over eight minutes for the light of the sun to reach our world. Exposing yourself to sunlight in moderation can do a lot of good. Sunlight can ease tension, boost energy levels, increase immunity, improve sleep, prevent diseases, heighten metabolism, relieve arthritic pain and increase mental performance. All of this is connected to Vitamin D, which also contributes to good bone health. Make sure you use sun screen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
•Maria says: Take a walk or participate in other outside activities to combat a sedentary lifestyle. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise per day has been clinically proven to reduce heart disease and the risk factors for heart disease in the body.
•Maria says: Include a wedge of watermelon in your diet. It will add potassium to your diet if you’ve been working out at the gym or if you’ve been sweating during doing summer yard work.
Gazpacho with White Beans
This chilled Spanish soup is great for summer parties because you can make it hours ahead. (Serves 6)
- 3 cups tomato juice
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or navy beans, drained and rinsed, or 2 cups home-cooked white beans
- 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
- 1 cup diced, seeded, peeled cucumber
- 1 cup thinly sliced green onion
- 1 diced green pepper
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 1/4 thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and pepper
In a large serving bowl, combine tomato juice, beans, tomatoes, cucumber, greed pepper, green onion, celery, basil parsley, oregano, wine vinegar, garlic, and cumin.
Stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate 4 to 12 hours before serving. Serve chilled with whole wheat flour tortillas or baked Scoops.