Healthy Summer Eating

One of the best things about summer is the food. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and all the delicious variants of berries are fresh and available locally. It’s also the growing season for so many of our local vegetables, from beans to tomatoes. Some of our favourite summer foods aren’t quite so healthy, however. Here are some popular foods and their healthier substitutes.

Ice Cream Dreams

What goes down better on a hot summer day than a bowl or cone of ice cream? The problem is that ice cream isn’t healthy, especially for the many of us that are lactose intolerant or lactose sensitive.

If you want an alternative, here’s a recipe you could try. One thing to note about this recipe is that you can try out different ingredients if you want to vary the flavour. For example, instead of frozen pineapple, try your favourite frozen berries.

Though it may seem unusual to include avocado in an ice cream recipe, it’s there to add a smooth texture. Avocados are rich in fibre, monounsaturated fats (like olive oil), and vitamins C, E, K, and folate. Plus, they have more potassium than a banana. Studies have indicated they may help lower elevated cholesterol, balance blood sugar, and support the heart.

Non-Dairy Ice Cream Recipe


2 cups frozen pineapple

1 avocado

1 banana

1 scoop chocolate protein powder (high quality protein powders are an easy way to supplement your protein intake)

2 Tbsp peanut butter or almond butter (another source of protein)

1 Tbsp ground or sprouted chia seeds (optional)

water, as needed


Blend all the ingredients in a powerful blender.

I added a bit of water to make it a less thick consistency, but that’s up to you.

Barbecued Meats

Ask people about the best part of summer and many will mention barbeques. Part of the allure of a BBQ is that it’s an easy way to prepare food without heating up the kitchen. And, for many, the charred chunks of barbequed foods are the most delicious parts. Unfortunately, those burnt bits, especially from meat, contain compounds that can cause changes in DNA that can lead to cancer.

If you want to enjoy BBQ foods, here are some easy options:

  • Don’t overly char the food and scrape off the bigger burnt bits before eating.
  • Try grilled vegetables, like eggplant, squash, zucchini, and asparagus, with just a light char.
  • Consider swapping out the beef burger sometimes for a portobello mushroom burger or veggie burger.
  • Tin foil wrap fish and vegetables together and throw them on the BBQ for a simple meal.
  • A slow cooker is another way to cook without heating up the kitchen, so don’t stow away your slow cooker/Crock Pot for the summer.

Veggie Burger Recipe


2 cans (15.5 ounces each) black beans (you can also use white or pinto beans or black-eyed peas)

1 cup dried breadcrumbs

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup salsa

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley


Rinse and drain the cans of beans and mash them in a bowl. They don’t need to be completely mashed; some whole ones will add texture.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl.

If necessary, add a little more salsa if too dry or bread crumbs if too wet.

Mix until the mixture holds together but is not wet.

Divide into 6 equal portions and shape into 4-inch patties.

For cooking stovetop: Heat coconut or grape oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook, turning only once, until a crisp brown crust forms on both sides, about 6 minutes total.

Or barbeque them on a grill.

Top the burgers as desired.

Salad Options

Whether you’re headed to a backyard barbeque gathering or a picnic, or if you simply want an easy lunch at home or work, it’s easy to grab one of those pre-made potato salad, macaroni salad, or coleslaw mixes at the supermarket deli. The problem is that they are often heavily saturated in mayonnaise, and though they may be called “salad,” they aren’t the healthiest options.

Consider these veggie alternatives:

  • Make your own coleslaw using more than just carrots and cabbage. Zucchini, radish, squash, and even peppers are great additions to a slaw.
  • Instead of using mayo-based dressings, mix it up sometimes, using avocado to keep the creaminess or toss together with extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
  • Cucumbers are an excellent summer vegetable, both cooling and juicy. Give the following quick recipe a try.

Cooling Cucumber Salad Recipe


3 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced

Optional ¼ red onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

1 lemon, juiced

1 Tbsp dill, chopped

Salt and pepper


Combine yogurt, lemon juice, and dill in a bowl and whisk until it’s smooth. Add in salt and pepper, to taste.

Mix dressing with cucumbers and onions.


Enjoy the above summer recipes for good and healthy eating.

Written by

Dr. Melissa Carr, Doctor of Chinese Traditional Medicine

Japanese translation by Nahoko Tsuboi

This article was originally published in the August 2018 issue of the Bulletin.

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