Friday, July 9, 2010

5 Healthy Summer Foods

The following is a guest blog post by Lucas Rockwood of YOGABODY Naturals LLC

When it’s hot outside, most yoga students find it easier to eat more healthfully. In sunny weather, it’s natural to find yourself gravitating toward salads and fruits, juices and lighter meals.

Could it be because you can’t hide under that big winter sweater when it’s 85 degrees outside? Sure, that’s probably part of it, but who cares?! Use this summer season to make some lasting changes by adding more nutrient dense, whole foods into your diet.

5 Foods Yoga Students Should Get Excited About:

1. Green Leafy Veggies are loaded in minerals including magnesium, which is a favorite among yoga students since it relieves muscle tension and soreness. Eat kale, spinach, chard, and beet root tops this summer. Juice them, eat them raw, lightly steam them, or even pan fry with garlic.

TIP: Adding lemon to any green juice or leafy green vegetable dish makes it much more appetizing.

2. Young Coconuts. Depending on where you live, young coconuts might be difficult to find. In the tropics, they’re everywhere. In Chicago, not so much (although in most Chinatowns and many health food stores, you can find them).

The power of young coconuts is two-fold. The water is light and loaded with electrolytes for hydration. Plus, the meat is a rich source of healthy plant fats including lauric and caprilic acid with anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.

Because yoga students often avoid animal foods, many lack quality saturated fat sources in their diets (yes, saturated fats are important too), so by eating coconut a few times per week, it’s easy to get your lipid intake
back on track.

TIP: Young coconut meat can be blended into any fruit smoothie to make it rich and creamy—and also to balance out the sugars in the fruit.

3. Cruciferous Veggies including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are all loaded with natural sulfur, another favorite mineral of yoga students. Sulfur is the most abundant mineral in the body, and is
dubbed as the “beauty mineral” because of its vital role in the creation and regeneration of skin and tissues.

For sore yoga students, a sulfur-rich diet is essential, and steamed broccoli with a slice of lemon on a summer day is a great meal.

TIP: Strong, zesty sauces make cruciferous veggies more palatable. Try adding lemon juice, non-GMO soy sauce, teriyaki, or even a natural sweet and sour sauce to make your dishes more interesting.

4. Omega-3 Seeds such as flax and chia seeds are excellent sources for essential fats (the ones your body cannot create). In the summertime, many yoga students accidentally eat very low fat and protein diets, so it’s smart to get your essential fats taken care of by simply adding some ground flax to
your salads or making a chia lemonade in the morning.

TIP: Chia seeds are more “ancient” and less commercially tampered with than flax—plus they’re easier to use (no grinding). Both flax and chia should be stored in a refrigerator or freezer.

5. Sea Vegetables contain 2 to 10 times the mineral content of land-based plants. They are high in protein and chlorophyll and are surprisingly filling. Kombu and dulse are very tasty seaweeds that can be added to fresh salads or soups—and you might even eat them by themselves with lemon, sesame oil
and some roasted garlic.

TIP: It takes practice to get good at preparing sea vegetables. Done right, they are a hearty, tasty addition to a meal. Gone wrong, they can be stringy and fishy. Soak your sea veggies before use, rinse well, and steam or boil the stronger, more fibrous varieties before eating.

Just because we normally eat less in the summer, doesn’t mean you should eat less healthfully. In fact, try the opposite! Eat less, but eat more variety. Eat lighter meals, and try to include new whole foods you’ve never tried before. See if you can develop a taste for some of the yoga-friendly foods on the top 5 list above—or better yet, come up with your own list! (Comment below.)

Happy eating! 

Lucas Rockwood is a yoga teacher trainer, an author, and the founder of YOGABODY Naturals, an education and food supplement company that creates powerful yoga tools for real people. Learn more here.