Can you hear that? It’s 2023 hurtling towards us! December is already here and that usually means at least a few days of summer fun and celebrations with family and friends. Often, we’re tempted to abandon a healthy lifestyle at this time because it can feel like it’ll be too hard to maintain, and we might miss out on some fun.
But we’re going to share some ideas for keeping your summer break fun, festive, and fairly healthy…no matter what you’re doing
Picnics and Beach Days
Long days spent in the sunshine demand a few delicious snacks to keep you and your family fuelled. Usually, we’d probably pack some chips and take cash along to get treats from a local shop (pies, chocolates, ice-creams…you know the drill). When we do this for a few days in a row over our holiday, though, this translates to days of junk, low-nutrition food that leave us feeling bloated, tired and uninspired.
Here are some healthier options that are easy to prepare and delicious to enjoy on a walk or picnic, or between dips in the water:
- Raw veg and hummus or cream cheese
- Fruit kebabs (kids just prefer them to individual pieces of fruit – it’s science!)
- Mix Greek yoghurt with honey or real maple syrup and freeze it in little containers for a healthy ice lolly that’s just sweet enough and has a high fat content to keep them fuller for longer
- Easy no-bake energy balls (click here for some ideas)
- Quinoa or cous-cous salad (cooked quinoa or cous-cous with diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, mint, garlic, and lemon juice)
- Chicken strips with honey and soy sauce drizzled over
- Wraps with a healthy filling of veg and beef strips, chicken, tuna, or pork
Around the Fire
We’re South Africans and there’s no doubt about the fact that we’re almost definitely going to be enjoying a good braai this summer. And this is great news because it’s really easy to enjoy healthy food for a barbecue. Just grill your meat and vegetables (like mushrooms, onion slices, peppers, and corn), and then add plenty of fresh salad.
The trick with braais is to avoid or reduce the familiar favourites that do our bodies no favours, especially when we’re indulging frequently. This includes garlic bread, toasted sandwiches, chips, and so on. And, of course, drinks are a major part of most barbecues, but try to take it easy on beer, ciders, spirit coolers, and sugary mixers.
Parties and Celebrations
Summer is the time for festive celebrations and parties, but don’t let these hinder your commitment to a healthy body and lifestyle. In terms of an actual cooked meal, there are loads of healthy options – from succulent roasts and hearty grills to refreshing salads and stir-fries. These can easily be kept on the healthy side by packing them with nutrient-rich vegetables and keeping carbs like rice, chips, bread, and white potatoes to a minimum.
But it’s often the common finger foods or pre-dinner snacks that have more trans fats and sugar, and very little nutrition.
So, if you’re looking for nutritious and delicious canapes and cocktail snacks, try:
- Grilled calamari with lemon butter in cute little cups
- Chicken strips or kebabs with satay dipping sauce
- Seed crackers and various delicious cheeses
- Fish cakes with refreshing lime and chilli sauce
- Classic shrimp cocktail (add a modern twist to update these classics; like chilli, lime, ginger and coriander)
- Mini meatballs with artichoke (or other) dip
- Melba toast with crab/fish/cold meat/cheese
- Spicy chicken wings
- Chicken liver pate
- Shrimp cakes with Thai dipping sauce
- Sushi (choose options that are less rice-heavy, if you want to restrict your carbs and sugars)
- Fresh oysters for a very nutritious spoil
- Figs and blue cheese wrapped in cooked bacon
- Mini pulled pork wraps
On the Road
Road trips are a major potential pitfall when it comes to making healthy choices for “padkos” or on-the-go snacks. Interestingly, snacking (especially on unhealthy goodies) while sitting for long periods of time can lead to pain and bloating. So, take control and opt for healthy, necessary bites on the road to your destination.
Some ideas for padkos that won’t promote the discomfort:
- Boiled eggs (best enjoyed outside the car to avoid a smelly ride)
- Medjool dates
- Sliced bananas and nut butter
- Bacon and egg in a wrap
- Salted roast chickpeas (just pop soaked, cooked chickpeas on a baking tray in the oven until crunchy!)
- Raw cucumber, peppers and carrots with a nutritious dip like hummus or a tasty pate
- Soup in your travel mug
- Dark chocolate
When you get out of the car to stretch your legs or use the restroom, try to do squats, star jumps, and push-ups against your car to keep everything mobile, warm, and well oxygenated.
Cocktails and Other Alcoholic Drinks
It’s summer, it’s a holiday…the last thing we want is to be drinking water or tea strictly. Still, alcoholic drinks can not only pile on the calories, but also leave our bodies inflamed, tired, and painful. So instead of denying yourself completely, consider making healthier choices and only indulging once in a while.
Instead of beers, ciders and wine; opt for spirits like vodka, tequila, and whisky. They are, generally, lighter in calories and easier to digest without causing as much inflammation. Of course, when enjoying these spirits, the mixers are the real potential trap as they’re usually high in sugar or sweeteners. Try to opt for drinks that you can enjoy straight or just with a bit of water or fresh lemon juice.
To make healthy cocktails, here are some great flavour combinations:
- Vodka and cucumber juice (liquidise peeled cucumber and strain the pulp). Add a little elderflower or mint essence for a really fab twist
- Gin, fresh lemon juice, sparkling water and bitters
- Tequila with grapefruit juice and lime
- Vodka with pineapple juice and a squeeze of fresh lemon or orange
- Bourbon with thyme, lemon, and soda water
- White wine with soda water, finished with a slice of lime, watermelon, or peach
- Rum with mint leaves, a slice of lime, and soda water
For the Kids
Going on holiday often just means running around after your kids in a new place. As parents, we have so much on our plates and, over the summer, it can be hard (even a little unreasonable) to enforce a healthy lifestyle for little ones on holiday.
But there are plenty of options for parents that want a generally healthier approach to snacks and meals between swimming, playing, bonfires, and movie nights.
Instead of giving loads of treats on the regular, swap some sweets out with:
- Popcorn with butter and salt
- Fruit kebabs
- Full-cream yoghurt (freeze it for a great ice-cream alternative)
- Sweet potato chips
- Chicken strips with tomato sauce
- Sausages and cheese on a stick
- Fruit smoothies (hide some veggies in here too for extra nutrients)
- Wraps with veggies/salad and tuna/chicken/beef/pulled pork
- Bacon and egg muffins (simply mix scrambled eggs, fried bacon bits, and some salt and then put it in a muffin tray and bake these eggy muffins until they’re cooked)
- Apple slices with a little peanut butter on them
Stay healthy the easy way and don’t forget to pack your supplements when you go away on holiday. It helps you to stay in routine and will certainly make a big difference to your efforts to make good choices.