The clocks have changed and our days are getting longer, signaling summer is not far away!
So it’s time to stop hibernating on the couch and eating winter comfort foods. It’s the perfect season to start being more active and enjoying fresh, lighter meals.
We’ve got 40 fabulous food and fitness ideas to help you step into a healthy summer – here is part one.
Nothing says summer like firing up the barbecue. But get out of your sausages-and-steak rut and try a different healthier protein on the hotplate. Grilled salmon, calamari or tuna are all great low-calorie, protein-packed options. Our gluten free muesli adds a deliciously crunchy topping to a salad, one of my favourites it this broccoli salad.
Give disc golf (sometimes called frisbee golf) a go. This fun, cheap game the whole family can play involves throwing a concave plastic disc into a series of metal baskets on an outdoor course. New Zealand has more than 100 courses, most on public land, and 37 leagues if you really want to get serious. It provides upper and lower body conditioning, aerobic exercise, and promotes a combination of physical and mental abilities that allow very little risk of physical injury. There is a great one in Henderson and my nephews love it.
Don’t just throw berries and banana in the blender - add greens to your smoothie this summer. Chuck in some spinach, lettuce, celery or kale. These greens contain protein and iron and are full of cell-protecting and repairing antioxidants, vitamins C and A, as well as B vitamins and fibre.
Bounce into summer fitness – trampolines aren’t just for kids. They are a great way to exercise the whole body - including legs, thighs, arms, hips, and stomach – and they improve agility and balance. Plus, you will burn as many calories as you would jogging for the same length of time.
Grow something edible. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you are more likely to enjoy fruit and vegetables if they are from your own garden. If you don’t have enough space to dig up a plot, there are lots of fruit, vegetables and herbs that will grow in pots.
Exercise outdoors – whether you take your yoga mat onto the deck or set up a backyard weights and cardio circuit, it’s much nicer to be out in the fresh air than in a gym. You don’t need lots of expensive equipment – plastic bottles filled with rice make great hand weights and a skipping rope will get your heart rate up fast. Go online for workout inspiration.
Make staying hydrated more fun by freezing water bottles (don’t overfill them) overnight and having ice-cold water most of the day. Another good trick is to have fruit-infused water for low-calorie flavour – citrus such as lemon, orange or lime slices work well or try strawberries or cucumber and mint.
Get everyone off the couch (and off their devices) with a game of nature bingo. Make your own cards with squares such as ‘find a Pohutukawa flower’ or ‘find a perfect shell. Spider webs, butterflies, daisies, feathers, ants, snails and birds also make good discoverable items. Players have to mark each thing off and the winner is the first person who manages to mark off every box.
Fall in love with lettuce wraps. Good old iceberg lettuce makes the best wraps although Cos leaves can work too. Fill them up with your favourite taco or burrito mixtures or anything else you like for a healthy low-carb lunch or dinner.
Indulge your sweet tooth with the bounty of fresh in-season fruits such as berries, melons and stone fruit available in the summer months. The ultimate healthy dessert!
Hire roller skates or rollerblades for an afternoon of fun fitness. You will be so busy keeping your balance, you won’t even realise you are working out. Remember to get a helmet and knee and elbow pads to avoid injury.
Have a go at making your own poke bowl – this recipe has all our summer favourites such as sweetcorn, avocado and lime juice
Become a picnic pro – if you are heading out for a day at the beach or a festival or sporting event, you are more likely to eat healthy food if you take it with you than look for options to buy. Pack a cooler with ice, bottled water, sandwiches on whole grain breads, pita chips, hummus, yogurt and lots of fruit. You’ll feel healthier and happier at the end of the day.
Set up a summer sports tournament – whether it’s a competition with your extended family or you get a group of friends together, it’s a great way to get in some fitness and have fun at the same time. Beach or backyard cricket, rounders or swingball are all good options. Even set up hopscotch on the drive with chalk. Google the rules before you start to avoid fights as everyone may remember them differently.
Develop a taste for tomatoes: Slicing one cup of raw tomato for your lunch salad gives you as much as 40 per cent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 20 per cent of your daily vitamin A.
Meet a friend at a café, but instead of grabbing a table, grab a takeaway drink and set off on a walk. You can catch up on all their news and get your steps in at the same time.
Make your own ice blocks or frozen desserts. You can puree fruit and low-fat yogurt and freeze them into ice block molds or dip bananas in melted dark chocolate and put them in the freezer.
Set up an obstacle course in your back yard or at a local park. Whether you aim to beat the clock and improve your time or whether you compete against a workout buddy or your kids, you can exercise your whole body in one session.
Drink ginger water. If you like ginger tea as a hot drink, you should also take advantage of the tuber’s positive properties during the summer. This is because a ginger drink (just make ginger tea and let it cool down) is not only super refreshing, it also provides you with vitamin C and valuable minerals.