The summer holidays have finally arrived! And with good weather to match and the long-awaited lifting of government Covid restrictions, many of us are gathering together with friends and family for backyard BBQs and picnics in the park.
And whilst healthy eating might not be first and foremost in our mind when planning a party or get-together (in fact it might not be on our radar at all), there are some simple things that we can do to keep our celebrations as healthy as they are fun. Here are my top tips:
- Pile your plate with produce. Hosting a picnic? Think leafy salads, vegetable sticks to serve with dips and big bowls of cut-up fruit. If you’re hosting a BBQ, try grilling veggie kebabs, cauliflower steaks and corn on the cob to serve alongside the usual burgers and sausages. And as a treat for dessert, pop some very ripe bananas in the freezer 24 hours beforehand, then when you’re ready to serve, blend them in a food processor for a few minutes until you get a texture like soft ice cream (I won’t tell anyone if you also add in some chocolate chips, crushed maltesers or a dollop of peanut butter).
- Rethink your drink. There’s nothing more refreshing than a cold beer or chilled glass of wine on a hot summer’s day. But alcohol and the brain have a delicate relationship. Alcohol is a depressant drug which affects the balance of chemicals in the brain, decreasing the brain’s ability to efficiently process skills such as attention, memory, mood and mobility – all of which can be impacted by a neurological condition. Why not try out some of the great alcohol-free beers widely available in the supermarkets, serve up jugs of elderflower cordial and sparkling water, or get kids involved in making fun mocktails.
- Get everyone moving! Plan some activities that get guests (and you!) on your feet. If you’re venturing out for your gathering, try geocaching or Pokémon Go to get your steps in while exploring the area. At home, garden games such as frisbee, quoits and boules can be a good opportunity to practice balance and coordination – or for kids of all ages (yes this includes grown up kids too) a piñata is a great arm workout!
Green Means Go! Green Food of the Month
This month’s green ingredient is mint, which has a sweet, refreshing flavour that leaves a lingering cool effect on the tongue. Mint is well known as a digestive aid and is great at relieving bloating and abdomen pain if you have overindulged. Mint pairs exceptionally well with watermelon, strawberries and lime to make a nutrient-packed summer smoothie, or for a digestive remedy add a sprig or two to a mug, cover with hot water, infuse for a minute or two and enjoy!