Tag Archives: Summer

Shrimp Summer Rolls

Summer rolls are spring rolls’ much healthier cousin. Spring rolls are fried in oil; summer rolls are fresh. And while spring rolls are filled with a mixed vegetable and cabbage, summer rolls contain bright, fresh vegetables, herbs, and lean protein — in this case, shrimp. So on hot, end-of-the-summer days, summer rolls are the perfect choice: they’re packed with fragrant, in-season vegetables, offer lean protein, and best of all: don’t involve cooking!


Rice Paper (found in Asian section of grocery store)
Shrimp, precooked, split in half lengthwise
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1 head butter lettuce, washed and separated
1 cup mung bean sprouts
½ cup cilantro, chopped
½ cup basil, chopped
½ cup mint, chopped
¼ cup peanuts

Peanut-Hoisin Dipping Sauce (same as from Chicken Lettuce Cups)
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup hoisin
1 minced shallot
1 T soy sauce
2 T lime juice
1 tsp sesame oil


To make the sauce, heat sesame oil over a small skillet. Add minced shallot; saute for 1-2 minutes. Add peanut butter, hoisin, and soy sauce; stir. Bring to a boil; let cool and add lime juice.

To assemble the spring rolls, prepare a clean working space: arrange carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, cilantro, basil, and mint in small bowls. Keep shrimp over ice to keep it cool.

Fill a lipped plate or large bowl with water; add rice paper sheet and let soften for about 30 seconds.

Remove from water and lay flat on work surface. Place four shrimp halves (color-side down) on bottom third of rice paper. Lay cucumber and carrot sticks on either side of shrimp; layer lettuce, cilantro, basil, mint, mung bean sprouts, and peanut on top.

Fold bottom of rice paper over filling, fold in the ends, and roll into a tight wrap.Continue with the rest of the ingredients, placing finished rolls in refrigerator as you work.

Serve with peanut-hoisin dipping sauce.

Why Should You Eat This?

Similar to the Chicken Lettuce Cups, these are another low-carb version of a wrap. Each rice paper sheet has just 20 calories, and their taste is virtually non-existent, which allows the bright flavors to take center stage (using a tortilla, for example, would add around 200 calories — plus it would completely transform the flavor!). Essentially, summer rolls are handheld salads — a good option for lunch, dinner, or an on-the-go snack.

Shrimp are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, making the crustacean a good alternative for those who don’t like fish. Foods high in the omega-3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) have been found to protect against cognitive decline. A study published in the Archives of Neurology found that those with the highest blood levels of DHA were at a 47% decreased risk of developing dementia than those with the lowest levels; according to the Zutphen Elderly Study, this correlation is linear. Omega-3s have also been found to boost mood, reduce depression, and boost heart health.


Avoid these summer diet disasters

Usually, we tend to eat healthier in the summer: our cravings naturally lean toward light, fresh, minimally processed foods (salads, skewers, fruit). But some summer staples that seem light and fresh — and others that are just summer favorites — can actually derail your New Year’s resolution-imposed summer diet and be the cause of a few unwanted pounds. Learn about these surprising and not-so-surprising summer diet derailers, and try replacing them with healthier options.

Too Much Fro-Yo

Most frozen yogurts have about ⅓ to ½ of the calories and a fraction (if any) of the fat of regular ice cream, so it would make sense to automatically assume it’s a far healthier pick than ice cream. But the calories from fro-yo can add up fast: calorie counts are typically wrong, since aeration — the amount of air pumped into the fro-yo — differs between batches, and because your fro-yo server might overfill your cup. The serving size for a small cup might amount to only 120 calories, but add to that the decorative, towering swirl that topples over your cup, and you might be eating another 100. Further compounding this matter is the fact that frozen yogurt has a “health halo” — people believe it’s a healthy and nutritious snack, so instead of treating it like the dessert it is (like ice cream), we eat it in mammoth servings. Many fro-yo shops offer 16-ounce cups, which can amount to 380 calories and 76 grams of sugar.

Even with a reasonable serving size, frozen yogurt is still a sugar bomb: a ½ cup serving has 20 grams of sugar (fro-yo essentially replaces all of ice cream’s fat with sugar). And toppings like gummy bears, brownies, cookie dough, and Oreos add many more calories and sugar. Finally, replacing an ice cream craving with fro-yo may backfire: full-fat ice cream takes longer to digest and is more satisfying than fro-yo. Instead of handling a craving with a small portion of ice cream, you might end up hitting the fro-yo counter every night of the week to try to satisfy your craving. If you have a true ice cream craving, have a small bowl of the real, full-fat kind.

Road Trips

Unless you’re going on a Whole Foods tour of the United States, road trips are usually food disasters. Half of the problem lies in the lack of nutritious restaurants along the highway; the other half is long stretches of highway with no food at all (except maybe a gas station). When you’re stopping for lunch or dinner, look out for chains that offer customizable meals, like Subway, Chipotle, and Noodles & Company – you can add as many vegetables as you want and add lean, not-fried protein. Normally, local restaurants are the way to go, but on road trips — especially in less populous areas — stick to chains, where you can look up nutritional information.

Packing the right snacks will save you money, time, and calories. For lasting satiety, make sure your snacks have a little bit of protein and fat: whenever you ingest either, a hormone called cholecystokinin is released from your intestines. From there, it signals to your nervous system that you’re full; in the stomach, it slows the rate of digestion. Pack a cooler with cut up vegetables and fruit, and pair them with a handful of nuts or hummus.

If you turn to food when you’re bored, pack popcorn instead of chips and crackers. Popcorn is a whole grain, so it contains filling fiber; it’s a high-volume, low-density food, which decreases hunger; and it has antioxidants, including polyphenols and ferulic acid, which has been shown to fight cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders. For more healthy snacks, see Rania Batayneh’s, MPH, recommendations for healthy summer road trip snacks.

Tropical Drinks and Smoothies

Bright, fruity cocktails scream summer. But just one can take up a third of your day’s calories, without adding any nutrients as other whole foods do, or satiating hunger. Summer favorites, like Long Island Ice Teas, Margaritas and Piña Coladas, all contain more than 600 calories. A lot of these calories come from alcohol; instead of the 1.5 ounce shot glass serving, they usually have at least three shots of alcohol. But the rest come from sugary mixers like soda, juice, cordials, and sweet and sour mixes — all of which are nutritionally void.

If cocktails are a must, seek out “culinary cocktails” (one of 2012’s top food trends): cocktails made with fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables, and spices — and a welcome dose of nutrients and antioxidants. Noticeably absent are the sugary, syrupy mixers that add only calories. The Kitchen Upstairs, in Boulder, as well as other restaurants in foodie towns, takes the trend further by incorporating local ingredients: the Whiskey in the Meadow is made of Stranahan’s Rocky Mountain whiskey, muddled 2r’s farm cucumbers, and honey lavender syrup. As a bonus, research has found that the alcohol in liquor enhances the antioxidant activity of fruits — so ask for a few more slices of orange or lemon. Otherwise, pick a portion-controlled beer or glass of wine (make sure it’s the appropriate 5-ounce serving!)

Even drinks sans alcohol can do some waistline damage. If you haven’t checked the nutritional stats at Jamba Juice and other smoothie chains yet, it’s time. Smoothies with sorbet, sherbet, and frozen yogurt contain about 350-400 calories per 16-ounce serving, which isn’t bad; it’s the carbs and sugar, and lack of protein or fiber, that turn them into a nutritional disaster. The popular Aloha Pineapple, for example has 97 g carbs and 91 g sugar, and only 6 g protein and 4 g fiber! Add to that the fact that most people treat smoothies like a drink, instead of a meal, and you’re adding 400 empty calories to your lunch (or indulging in a pretty heavy, but not satiating, snack!). Even smoothies containing just fruit, or just veggies and fruit, are still high in sugar and low in fiber and protein. Your best bet is to ask for an 8-ounce smoothie, which is actually the appropriate serving size — and get it with a fiber or protein boost.

Watermelon Jicama Salad with Mint

For a variety of reasons (more serotonin-producing sunlight, hot weather, days filled with summer activities), we naturally crave ligher fare in the summer. This watermelon-jicama salad fits the bill – it’s crisp, refreshing, and nutrient-packed.


½ large watermelon, chopped, rinds removed
1 jicama, peeled and chopped
1 cup mint, cut into thin ribbons
2 limes
1 tsp olive oil (optional)


Combine watermelon and jicama cubes in a large bowl. Sprinkle mint on top. Squeeze lime juice over top. Toss; serve immediately or refrigerate.

Why Should You Eat This?

Watermelon contains more lycopene than tomatoes – and it’s just as bioavailable. In a study from the Phytonutrients Laboratory, researchers measured plasma concentrations of lycopene from a watermelon juice diet and from a tomato juice diet. Even though the tomato juice had been treated with heat (thus making its lycopene more bioavailable), plasma concentrations of lycopene were similar. Lycopene is especially important in the summer: as an antioxidant, it neutralizes the harmful, DNA-damanging and aging effects of UV light. To boost the lycopene bioavailability, add a teaspoon of olive oil.

Jicama, also know as Mexican turnip or yambean, is rich in satiating fiber (one whole jicama has 32 grams of fiber), potassium, and vitamin C. Mint also packs a powerful nutritional punch: it’s rich in vatmin A, C, B12, folic acid, potassium, iron, calcium, and zinc. Mint also acts similarly to carinogen-fighting rosemary; in a study published in Food Chemistry, researchers found that its antioxidants reduced carcinogenic activity in radiation-processed meat. In addition to this salad, sprinkle it on chicken, lamb, and steaks for a flavor and nutrition boost.