With hotter temperatures comes the added pressure to eat lighter and, inevitably, wear a swimsuit. That just might mean you find yourself wanting to drop a few extra pounds—and that means making the switch in your diet from ice cream to summer fruits and vegetables. To kick swimsuit season off, we're putting the season's best offerings front and center to combat dehydration, curb cravings, get your body in shape, and minimize time in the kitchen. From fresh fruits to fiery vegetables, here are 12 simple (and delicious) foods you should definitely add to your diet this summer.
If there were ever a surefire sign that summer is in full swing, it would be this sweet and juicy melon. While a fat slice is refreshing enough on its own, it's even better in a salad or served as a contrast to a savory entrée. As the name implies, watermelon is packed with—you guessed it—water. In fact, one bite contains about 92% water, as well as a high dose of fiber and vitamins A and C. Suffice it to say, watermelon is a nutritional powerhouse with tons of healthy and hydrating benefits.
Summer is practically synonymous with strawberries, but it's also the best fruit that's ripe for the picking when it comes to losing weight. A great source of fiber, strawberries keep you full longer. And it's also one of the lower-calorie fruits of the bunch. Just one serving of these ruby berry boosts your metabolism, especially when mixed into a main-dish salad.
Now's the time to enjoy juicy, just-off-the-vine tomatoes. Loaded with vital antioxidants, vitamins A and C, folic acid, and iron, tomatoes come in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. Not to mention, they're great for your heart and possibly reduce your risk of certain types of cancer. Tomatoes also have a high water content, making them great to eat raw or in a light salad drizzled with a homemade peach sauce.
4. Hummus and Celery
Everyone's snacking on hummus, and for good reason. Hummus, typically made from mashed chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, salt, and lemon juice, is great for dipping. But, this creamy spread is also rich in protein, fiber, and minerals that help to balance blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol. Hummus clocks in at about 25 calories per tablespoon, while a medium stalk of celery is just 6 calories. So for your next snack attack, whip up this tasty hummus combination to stay full throughout the day.
Proven to help with health and weight loss, grapefruit is made up of almost 90% water and is a great source of vitamin C and fiber. Thanks to its fat-burning qualities and immune-boosting potential, eating grapefruit before each meal could help you to drop the pounds even faster, or you could just enjoy the acidic fruit in a slightly tangy and moist pound cake instead.
We hate to break it to the haters, but this trendy superfood totally lives up to the hype. Why? Well, one avocado is packed with good-for-you fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, and is a good source of vitamins K and E, fiber, potassium, and folic acid. Whether smeared on toast, tossed in a salad, eaten straight up, slathered on a burger, or spread on whole-grain crackers, avocados aid in digestion, regulating blood pressure and balancing sodium in the body.
7. Grilled Vegetables and Seafood
Move over, hamburgers and steak! There's a new, lighter feast on the grill: seafood and vegetables. Grilling in the summer is vastly improved with a lean protein like fish and veggies that are low in calories and fat. For your next cookout, throw a fresh blend of summer vegetables and shrimp on the grill.
With its high water content (about 95%) and refreshing crunch, cucumbers are a great cooling ingredient, particularly in a portable make-ahead summer salad that instantly elevates barbecue main dishes. We love cucumbers for their versatility, but there's also a laundry list of essential nutrients and health benefits cukes provide, such as vitamins K and C, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and silica. Quite simply, cucumbers are great for your connective tissue (think: ligaments and tendons), bones, and skin. After all, there's a reason why the age-old beauty trick of placing cucumber slices over the eyes is still being passed down to every new generation of beauty mavens.
9. Chilled Soups
Who says you can't have soup during the summer? Often requiring just a bowl and a blender, chilled soups and gazpachos are quick and easy to make. Not to mention, these soups provide a satiating, refreshing, and fiber-enriched meal that makes good use of your summer bounty of produce. Combining two of the ingredients we've included above, avocados and tomatoes, this creamy and chilled soup won't blow your diet and is the perfect starter for an outdoor gathering.
It may be hard to believe that one cup of these sweet and slightly sour little gems have so much nutritional goodness, but here's the rundown: At just 84 calories, blueberries are high in vitamins K and C, fiber, and a healthy component that helps to prevent urinary tract infections and blocks the growth of tumor cells. Make every day taste like a healthy summer with one slice of pie bursting with this ripe, juicy fruit.
11. Homemade Ice Pops
Beat the heat with a frozen treat this summer. Skip the store-bought variety, and make your own healthy snack on a stick with fresh fruit instead. By using fresh fruits, you're in control of the amount of sugar consumed. Keep cool and maintain your new figure through fall with these tasty grown-up pops.
12. Summer Squash and Zucchini
Without question, summer's most prolific vegetable is squash. A rich source of vitamins A and C, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, and potassium, summer squash is also high in manganese, a mineral which helps to process fats, carbohydrates, and glucose. If you ever find yourself getting bored with common summer squash salad recipes, it may be time to break out a spiralizer to take your squash game to the next level. Say hello to the latest pasta-shaped craze utilizing these brightly-colored veggies.
In addition to this Chicken Parmesan over Zucchini Noodles recipe, you can find more meals incorporating fresh seasonal ingredients on the Cooking Light Diet and be one step closer to that summer body.