The tastes of summer |

The tastes of summer

Henry Kliebenstein
For the Health of It

Well unless you were living in a very deep cave the last few weeks you probably received a taste of the hot weather that is to come in the next few months. If you are anything like me when the temperatures reach the ’90s the last thing I think about is eating food, especially dinner. I thought I would share some summer eating tips that may help you stay cool and nourish your body.

Salads are not just greens with some onions and a few slices of tomatoes anymore; they can be a delicious meal with a bounty of flavor. Start out by firing up the grill and pre-cook a few days worth of protein at once. Steaks, chicken, turkey, or fish can all be put into a salad. By doing this you’re not cooking every night in the heat, and by sealing your food in an airtight container, everything will stay fresh for a few days.

Baby greens make a nice base to start out with since they have a great flavor and are small so they require no prepping. The sky’s the limit with what you put on next. I like to mix it up with a few grilled vegetables mixed with a few raw for a nice sweet crunch. You can also try blanching things that you wouldn’t normally eat raw, such as green beans. Blanching is the process where you place the beans into boiling for a few minutes to soften them slightly and then remove them and place into a bowl filled with cold water and ice to stop them from cooking immediately. What you end up with is a crunchy bean that is slightly tender.

Fruit is another item that works in your meal, and don’t hold back if you like it use it. It may sound a little odd, but trust me, it makes for a great flavor. For example try grilling some boneless, skinless, teriyaki chicken breasts and use something tropical like pineapples, or mangoes. If you lean toward Asian try chicken with mandarin orange slices and raw almonds.

That brings us to the next food group: grains. Adding nuts and seeds gives you a wonderful earthy flavor along with a little crunch. Again the sky’s the limit here taking advantage of some great flavors like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts … well you get the idea, just go with it.

I know what you’re thinking: “What about cheese?” I try to stay away from it myself because of the fat and salt content, but if you have to have it go ahead! Just try to keep it to a very small handful and I promise you, your heart will thank you for it.

Speaking of your heart, the one thing that can make or break the nutritional aspect of your summer meal is the choice of dressings. Try to stay with a good extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. Don’t skimp on the olive oil here since you are looking for something with a good bold taste. Go with a higher end product rather than a bargain brand. Try adding a little Dijon mustard for a spicy flavor. Again, try different combinations and come up with your own specialty dressings. Your family will love you for it. Remember the pros on the food channel don’t wake up in the morning with those great recipes on the tips of their tongues, it’s all trial and error.

As you can plainly see by putting together a great salad you are actually hitting all of the food groups and you will not be sweltering in front of the stove getting overheated. Another beautiful thing about the salad is that they can be prepared hours ahead of time so you can hit the beach for a refreshing swim to cool of before dinner. Eating wisely during the hot months will help you stay nourished along with staying cool. And of course don’t forget to stay hydrated!

Henry Kliebenstein is an International Sports Sciences Association certified personal trainer, fitness therapist, and specialist in performance nutrition, training in his private studio in Truckee, and can be reached by calling 587-3886 or by e-mail at

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