Summer Salads & The Importance of Amino Acids (a.k.a. Proteins)

As the sun shines upon us & lightens up our Summer days, so the food on our tables tend to get lighter too, with plenty of fresh salads, vegetables, fish, seafood & colourful fruits bursting with vitamins, minerals & healthy sugars -need I say more?! It’s a time to gather around the table (outdoors whenever possible) with friends & family, be it for a picnic, barbecue or buffet-style spread! Food is easy to enjoy this time of year, plentiful & varied & naturally delicious. It’s also easy to prepare -juices, smoothies, cold soups, salads, grilled/bbq’d meats & fish & fruit salad or something more decadent for pudding e.g. a pavlova, fruit fool or summer pudding… There is plenty on offer to cater for everyone’s tastes & all richly nourishing.

Now, how about proteins/amino acids? I’ve chosen this topic for today because I remember once reading about vit-amins, which are technically-speaking “vital amino acids” i.e. vitamins are a form of protein (a little known fact)! And since I associate the summer months with holidays in Spain, where every lunch and supper had a colourful salad on the side and fruit was part of every breakfast and pudding (even if it did come in the form of an ice cream or sorbet!), it got me thinking about vitamins & from there onto amino acids/proteins!

Protein is the building block of all our cells & so essential for the repair & renewal of all our body’s tissues. After exercise they’re important to ensure our muscle cells recover & repair themselves properly -and of course Summer is a favourite time of year to get outdoors and participate in a variety of sports & activities! So, as we are naturally enjoying ourselves more in the great (and hopefully sunny) outdoors, eating a more nourishing & protein-.based diet is to be recommended, so instead of the bread, rice & pasta-based dishes, opt for the lean meats and fish/seafood dishes, of which there are ample to choose from, especially if you are in a coastal location (although frozen fish & seafood is perfectly acceptable too). Also, instead of loading up on potatoes, go for sweet potatoes or mushrooms, or other root vegetables (beetroot, carrots, asparagus…) as an accompaniment to your meat or fish -all of these have a lower calorie & sugar/carbohydrate content & are richer in vitamins, minerals & the all-important antioxidants. I say “all-important” because they help counteract the effects of sun exposure & to prevent sunburn. Carrots & tomatoes are especially good. Carrots have a high content of beta-carotene (the precursor to vitamin A), which helps you tan better & prevent sunburn. Tomatoes are in the antioxidant lycopene, the content of which is enhanced when cooked & lycopene is also highly protective & preventative of sunburn. Both of these also help you to keep your tan for longer ūüôā

But, back to protein. Aside from helping our body’s cells to repair & help our tissues & organs regenerate, protein is also important for our metabolism & our energy levels. When you eat an Atkins-style or Paleo (Paleolithic) diet, which is the diet humans ate before we learned how to live in communities and farm our land (the birth of agriculture), i.e. closer to a hunter-gatherer diet, rich in fruits, berries, vegetables, fish, seafood/shellfish & game/meat… This is a diet that in conjunction with a low carbohydrate diet (i.e. low sugar), will translate to your body having a faster metabolism, meaning you will burn more calories, become leaner (a consequence of eating a higher amount of protein and lower amounts of sugar/carbohydrates, which if not burned would be stored as fat in your body!). This type of diet also gets you producing & excreting higher amounts of ketones & this in turn gets your body/metabolism into fat-burning mode -all of which are desirable things when we are all seeking to get ourselves bikini-ready!

So, in conclusion, our Summer diets, rich in colourful fruits, salads & vegetables, with plenty of grilled learn meats, fish & other seafood & low in starchy carbs, will result in a vibrant, energised “full-of-life” body, enabling us all to fully enjoy the sunny outdoors & participate in all the various activities on offer… & the bonus is that the combination of the increased levels of activity/exercise & our fat-burning/fast metabolism diet, we can all feel confident in our swimsuits & baring more of our skin!

I will be adding a recipe shortly, but I also recommend you look back to one of my previous posts where I posted the recipe for my favourite Summer dish -the Spanish cold tomato-based soup “Gazpacho” (rich in lycopene too to get you sun-ready!). Enjoy in joy.

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