Homegrown vegetables, local fruit, and grilling meat are welcomed favorites for most of us each summer. At the same time we spend more time outdoors gardening, beachcombing, swimming, camping, and more. Summer plans may also include picnics, wedding feasts, and family reunions with lots of family favorites meaning food and more food. Enjoying summer while managing diabetes can be a bit challenging, but there is never a better time for healthy eating and exercise to become a habit.

Simple meal plans that allow more time for fun can become the norm this summer with these few tips:

  • Enjoy fresh corn on the cob as your starch and if you want to grill it: remove the silk, wet the unpeeled corn cob, wrap with foil and place on the grill or in the campfire for 30 minutes. Grill your meat, fish or chicken and vegetables too for less meal clean up.
  • Gather spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, and other garden vegetables for a tasty summer salad or stir fry. Even if you don’t grow your own, local summer vegetables are often very affordable.
  • Are your kids or grandkids out of school? Take time to teach some cooking lessons that include safely handling a knife for chopping up ingredients. Be sure to enlist their help in planning the menus too.
  • Fresh chopped veggies and herbs can come in handy. For example, create salsa by adding tomatoes, peaches, or mango and lime juice to the veggies. How about tabouli? In minutes, bulgur (precooked whole wheat) becomes a base for tabouli by simply pouring 2 ½ cups of boiling water over one cup of bulgur and let soak for about 20 minutes. Add chopped mint and your chopped vegetables, toss with a vinegarette dressing to make it extra quick.
  • Have a veggie omelet night, taco bar or sub station for a family ‘make your own meal’ supper.
  • While summer potlucks at family gatherings can mean a lot of carb-rich foods, prepare a dish to share that you know you can enjoy without worry. Make a diet gelatin salad adding at least a cup of chopped veggies per four serving recipe. Use seltzer water instead of cold tap water for an interesting taste twist!
  • Fresh fruit blended with sugar-free vanilla greek yogurt can be a cool protein-rich breakfast or snack. You could also freeze it and serve as a dessert. Frozen fruit pieces stabbed with toothpicks can be refreshing mini kabobs.
  • For less mealtime clean up and more fun with the fireflies, serve meals on paper plates, use foil to line bake ware, and make meals out of finger foods.

Vacationing? Time off often allows for fun exercise and meal creativity. As much as you may want to vacation from diabetes, folks are often less stressed and more active on vacation and blood glucose readings can be great. Consider writing steps you can take to enjoy the vacation menus, exercise, and relaxation methods year round.

Each season of the year brings its unique qualities. Make this summer the one that enhances your health through fresh foods and fun with family.