Summer is in full swing and it’s time to savor our more hedonistic lives; more time spent playing, soaking up the sun and entertaining. This is the time of year that fresh fruits and vegetables abound as do Margaritas, Sangria, ice cream, hot dogs, pastries and long hours spent dining with friends.
As much as we love these summer indulgences, we need to think twice about the extent of our “it’s party time” attitude. We will live with this body that we help create for the rest of our lives.
Every carbohydrate you eat–every piece of bread, pasta, bagel, cake, cookie, muffin, fruit, vegetable, bean, or grain–ends up as glucose in the blood.
Glucose is the most basic form of sugar. Your body’s cells require glucose for energy. Glucose is the only form in which sugar can be transported directly into your bloodstream. All other forms or chains of sugars, otherwise known as carbohydrates, must be broken down by your digestive system to be converted into glucose. This creates…
The Carbohydrate Conundrum
To simplify, we have two groups of carbohydrates: the simple carbs and the complex carbs.
Complex carbs consist of whole foods such as vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. These are digested more slowly and are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Simple carbs consist of refined foods such as most breads, pastas, bagels, cakes, cookies, etc. They are digested quickly, and they move into the bloodstream rapidly.
It’s a misconception that all carbs are bad. The truth is that the American diet is heavily dependent upon simple carbs. Simple carbs lead to blood sugar swings that effect your hormones, weight, moods, and they leave us more susceptible to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer, immune challenges, and fatigue.
By choosing whole, unprocessed foods, you can control these swings and have a stronger hand in reclaiming your health. Our aim should be to keep our blood sugar levels within the green zone on the diagram below.
If you desire to live a long and vibrant life it is time to modify the “swings” in your blood sugar levels. Bring on the good carbs! You will feel the difference.
So…. what SHOULD you eat at cocktail hour? Raw vegetables of course (with a bit of hummus for dip)! Edamame in the shell are a fun, great treat (but don’t over do it…the calories add up.) I also love the 2 recipes below:
Sesame Asparagus Spears:
1 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar 2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar kosher salt
1 pound fairly thin pencil asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 tbsp. sesame seeds (white or a combination of white and black)
Bring large pot of water to a boil. In medium bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, white wine vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Set aside. Prepare ice bath for asparagus. Add a lot of salt to the boiling water. Add the asparagus to boiling water and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes – you want them to be crunchy. Remove the asparagus from the water with a strainer and transfer to ice bath. Allow them to cool for a few minutes and then place them on a clean kitchen towel to drain any excess moisture. Toss the dry asparagus with the sauce and top with the sesame seeds. Refrigerate for an hour, or until ready to serve. Serves 6 – 8 small portions
Zucchini and Cucumber Carpaccio (Recipe created by Cristina Ferrare)
2 cucumbers, sliced paper thin
2 zucchinis, sliced paper thin
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped
2 tsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. kosher salt Fresh Cracked black pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup roasted walnuts, chopped
In a glass bowl whisk together, olive oil, lemon, rice wine vinegar, mint, dill and parsley. Set aside. Slice the vegetables on a mandolin or a vegetable slicer that can slice paper thin. Arrange the zucchini and cucumbers alternately on a large platter. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt, walnuts and cracked pepper and add the crumbled feta. When you are ready to serve, drizzle 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette over the top. If you are not going to use the salad right away, wait to add the vinaigrette at the last minute. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
And the big question, “What About Alcohol?” Most health experts recommend the following hierarchy when choosing alcohol, based on potential health benefits (such as antioxidant content): choose red wine over white wine; choose wine over beer; choose darker-colored beers over lighter-colored beers; and choose beer over liquor and liqueur.