Taste of the summer from Bristol dieticians

During the warmer months we often crave lighter, refreshing snacks and meals. Sam Gould and Ellie-May Evans, two registered dietitians living and working in Bristol are going to share their favourite plant-based seasonal foods to keep you hydrated and healthy this summer

Samantha Gould is an NHS, registered dietitian at Plant-Based Health Professionals. She has been a vegan of 15 years, currently raising her toddler vegan. She has written for major publications and given talks on her specialist interest of plant-based diets

Nourishing Salads

Salads don’t have to be boring and leave you feeling underwhelmed and hungry. They can serve as an excellent way to add variety to your diet, especially if you change things up season to season. The key is to ensure your salad contains each of following ingredients to provide a balanced meal that will keep you feeling fuller for longer 1.

Base: Opt for dark leafy greens, mixed Lettuce leaves, spinach, kale, Iceberg lettuce 

Carbohydrates: Providing energy and essential B vitamins – bulk your salad out with bulgur wheat, wholewheat couscous, pasta, quinoa, or new potatoes. 

Vegetables and fruit: Hydrating and provide vitamins and antioxidants. Try artichokes, grilled courgette, cucumber, grated carrot and fruits to add interest. 

Protein: Top your salad with grilled smoked tofu, butter beans or chickpeas roasted in spices, puy lentils or toasted seeds and nuts. This provides extra crunch and the key to feeling satisfied after a salad.

Don’t forget the dressing! Fats are essential in the diet and aid the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Simply drizzle over olive oil, or make your own avocado dressings, tahini or peanut butter dressing. 

Nutritious drinks

In summer the hedgerows and local allotments are bursting with berries. Berries are a great addition to smoothies and contain polyphenols, known for their protective effect against cardiovascular disease 2. Blueberries, strawberries, cherries, gooseberries, raspberries and red currents are all in season now. Blend berries with fortified oat, almond or coconut milk for a different take on the traditional milkshake.  

Smoothies are superior to fruit juices as fibre is retained. Fibre is vital for improving the diversity of the gut microbiome, reducing gastrointestinal inflammation and improving constipation 3 . Adults should be aiming for around 30g daily, whereas most only reach two-thirds of this. Drinking 200ml of smoothie daily can be an easy way to help reach this goal.

Frozen Treats

Cold, hydrating desserts and snacks can be a good substitute to drinks and still count towards your daily fluid targets. Whilst ice cream is tasty, it can be high in refined sugars so try these swaps instead:

Banana Nice Cream: Simply blend the base ingredients of frozen banana and a dash of plant based milk until smooth and thick. Then add additional ingredients to taste; try cacao powder and peanut butter, or frozen pineapples with coconut milk to make a summery pina colada. 

Frozen Bark: Use a thick-set variety of soya or oat yogurt and spread thickly on a baking sheet. Top with nuts or berries and leave in the freezer for 3 hours. Scrape off bits to create ‘bark’ and enjoy!

Frozen Grapes: Simply add some solid grapes to a reusable bag and pop in the freezer. Freezing fruit helps preserve their vitamin C content so best to do as soon as you get home from the shops. 

Dips

Dips and salsas are a great way to get more adventurous with vegetables and legumes. Broad beans grow in abundance from June until August and make an excellent substitute for chickpeas when making houmous. Although available all year round, beetroot is most tender between June and October and so perfect blended together with mint for a refreshing dip or dressing. As a bonus, recent research suggests Betalains, found in abundance in beetroot, could well be chemoprotective 4.

Fennel is in season and pairs beautifully with tomato salsa. Aubergines are also in season and are the base ingredient for the wonderfully smokey dip Baba Ganoush – a Lebanese staple.

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