Eating seasonally provides our bodies with exactly what it needs at the right time of year. In fall, we start to get away from the juicy water based produce, and into the fleshy, starchy produce. More carbohydrates, denser flesh to allow our bodies to increase energy stores for the cold winter months. Less zucchini and more butternut squash. Less peaches, more pears. Did you know the rind on acorn squash is edible? Totally is.
If you are training, this is a great time of year to add endurance drills to your training – conditioning your body to use energy stores effectively on long slow runs.
We are in the middle of heat wave around here, today it’s supposed to only be 118 degrees. I have lived in Arizona for 35 years, and the one thing i know to be true is that anything after 110 is just hot; it’s just varying degrees of hotness. yes, yes, it’s a dry heat. I ran a 10k in August in Anaheim with 60-75% humidity and only 80-85 degrees, miserable. So I guess I should be thankful we don’t have the humidity on top of the obscene temps….
When it’s this hot out, I tend to gravitate towards eating more fresh salads, which is a good thing, For starters, cooking tends to heat up a kitchen, no one needs to be adding heat. Second, raw produce has a higher water content than cooked veggies, which help to keep you hydrated, always a struggle in these temps. Finally, raw veggies and fruits are served chilled, which also act to keep you cool.
Most people are satisfied to throw some iceberg in a bowl, maybe add some sliced cucumbers and a tomato, throw some bottled dressings on it and be done; it’s a side to the meal. This time of year, I make my salads the main event. Which means my dressing are made from scratch (it’s way easier than you think) and I include all manner of produce. Seriously, if it’s in my kitchen it can go in a salad.
- No creamy dressings. vinaigrette are seriously the easiest things to throw together. A little fresh minced garlic, some oregano, onion, salt, pepper, apple cider or balsamic vinegar and some EVOO (the general rule is 1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil) WHAM a very basic balsamic vinaigrette. Throw some dijon mustard in there and whip well to make a creamy balsamic.
- All the colors of the rainbow. I try to make my salads colorful as possible. Shredded carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, summer squash, asparagus, corn, beets, green beans, radishes… the more colorful it is the more nutrition is in it!!
- Use a variety of greens. Instead of sticking with plain ole iceberg, add romaine, red leaf, spinach, kale, radicchio, and even some cabbage for a good crunch. Adding fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley is also a great way to add flavor!
- Add protein. Roasted chickpeas, black beans, kidneys beans are all amazing in a salad if you are so inclined.
- Add grains. To help add another protein boost, try adding cooked and chilled quinoa or barley, even brown long grain rice to your greens.
- Avoid: Croutons, tortilla strips, cheese, anything fried or high in saturated fats.
Try adding salads in your meal planning on days when you know the temperatures are going to be up there, and you want to avoid heating things up in the kitchen. HINT: When I am prepping my salad meals, I will usually prep 2 in large resealable containers for later lunches; i am already slicing and dicing, but save part of your dressing to add when you are ready to eat.