Fresh fruit and vegetables play key role in summer eating

Fruit dipped in Amaretto dip is decadent. | JODIE MIROSOVSKY PHOTO

Summer offers us the time to enjoy all of the fresh juicy fruits and vegetables that are coming into season.

Eating does not get any more fun, and consuming fresh produce is a great way to help stay hydrated.

I will be the first one to admit that plain old water can get boring and I do not drink nearly enough. Does this sound familiar? Our bodies must get enough water to function optimally, especially in the heat of the summer.

One way to overcome and avoid dehydration is to try eating our water as well as drinking it.

There are so many delicious foods that contain significant amounts of water:

  • watermelon
  • honeydew
  • cantaloupe
  • grapes
  • strawberries
  • pineapple
  • cucumbers
  • celery
  • tomatoes
  • peppers
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower

Recently, while sitting around with friends, it was brought to my attention that dip parties are a great way to share food. Everyone brings their favourite dip to the party, which provides a great array of food offering colour, nutrition and tantalizing taste.

Here are my top choices.

Amaretto Fruit Dip
This cloud-like dip is so refreshing.
With the smooth Amaretto, fresh fruit has never tasted better. Serve with strawberries, grapes, pineapple and melons.  A real crowd pleaser.
1(4 serving size) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 c. milk 125 mL
1/4 c. Amaretto liqueur 60 mL
1(500 mL) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
In a medium bowl, mix together the vanilla pudding mix and milk until smooth.
Stir in the Amaretto.
Beat in the thawed frozen whipped topping. Chill at least two hours in the refrigerator before serving to allow for thickening.
Substitute orange juice for Amaretto, if desired. Makes about three cups (750 mL). Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
Shrimp dip
As a child, I remember eating this dip at the beach on a picnic table, like a little outdoor meal. However, it is delicious at any time of year.
1 (8 oz) block of cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. mayonnaise 80 mL
1/2 tsp. lemon juice 2 mL
3 tbsp. chili sauce or
ketchup 45 mL
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire
sauce 2 mL
1small onion (or 2 green onion), diced
1can (106 g) shrimp, drained
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and the mayonnaise.
Then add the lemon juice, chili sauce, Worcestershire and the onion. Beat until smooth.
In a small bowl, chop the shrimp into very small pieces.
You could also mash with a fork. Stir shrimp into the cream cheese mixture.
Chill for several hours before serving.
Garnish with fresh chopped green onion or a sprig of fresh parsley if desired.
Enjoy with an array of fresh vegetables and you favorite crackers.
Makes 10 servings.
Quick salsa
3tomatoes (1 lb./450 g), chopped
1/4 c. chopped
red onion 60 mL
1/4 c. fresh cilantro,
chopped 60 mL
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
1/4 c. Zesty Italian
Dressing 60 mL
Combine, let rest for about one hour, and serve with corn chips and a slice of cheese if desired. Makes six, one-quarter cup servings.
Salsa with a pulse
To top up salsa, try adding a pulse to the mix.
My favourites are:
One-quarter cup lentils or blackbeans (canned or pre-cooked and rinsed), 60 mL
Chocolate-dipped strawberries
Best consumed on the day of preparation.
1 package of semi-sweet chocolate squares or a bag of chocolate chips (you can use dark chocolate, milk chocolate as well)
36 fresh strawberries 36
Wash strawberries and dry thoroughly. If the strawberries are not completely dry the chocolate will not stick. Do not remove stems.
Place chocolate in top of double boiler or in bowl over saucepan of simmering water. Heat until chocolate is almost melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
Dip the bottom half of each strawberry into chocolate. Place on wax paper-covered tray. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm. Store in the refrigerator.
*Note: Strawberries can be dipped up to six hours before serving.
And while we are covering hydration through food, it is also important to protect our outer layer.
Even with all of the skin protection knowledge available, I still see sunburned skin each year.  Why do we continue to damage ourselves?
Reach for sun blocks with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that reflect light off the skin without using chemical sunscreens. Also avoid products with added fragrance as this can irritate rather than protect.
Please take time to read the labels and make informed choices; there are many great products out there. My favourites are:
CeraVe Facial moisturizing lotion
Supergoop CC Cream
Drunk Elephant Physical Daily Defense
Live Clean Spray on Sunscreen
And for your information, fish do not need sun protection.
Scientists estimate that 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sun screen slither off human skin and into oceans and lakes, harming coral reefs and all underwater and shoreline life.
The most helpful thing that we humans can do is opt for a physical sun block rather than a chemical sun block.
Many years ago when our family visited Maui, our resort had banned all chemical sunscreens and actually had employees patrolling and confiscating banned products along the shore.
The coral in the area had already started dying due to polluted waters so they were taking the problem seriously. It was eye opening for many vacationers who had not thought about their actions. Now we can be more informed as we head into refreshing waters this summer.
The sun can damage our skin with prolonged exposure, but we often forget about how the sun can damage our eyes. When choosing sunglasses, look for labels that ensure that 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation are blocked while wearing the glasses. And if glare is an issue, for example being on or near reflective water, perhaps polarized lens are a good option. Also, glasses protect against wind, which causes problems with eyes, like wind burn or eye calluses.
Sun watch
Adjust your schedule around the sun if possible.  Try to go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. UV radiation peaks at midday, when the sun is directly overhead.
Be shady
When the sun is at its peak, head for the shade. Set up a lawn chair under a tree. A large tree is a free standing air conditioner and purifier. One large tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground and discharge it into the air in one day.
If there is no tree available, there are some great covered decks and fabulous umbrellas, or maybe you just want to stay indoors.
Enjoy the lazy days of summer.

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