Contributor: Susan Weiner, MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES, FADCES
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As summer approaches, I look forward to planting my vegetable garden. This year, backyard gardening and harvesting take on a special meaning as we continue to contend with the realities of COVID-19. I’m especially grateful for the opportunity to grow my favorite vegetables at home and share my “imperfect produce” (the very best kind) with friends and neighbors.
Due to current circumstances, some of our favorite foods are in limited supply. It can be scary and strange to see empty shelves at grocery stores. It’s therefore important to efficiently utilize what you already have in your kitchen pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. This process will reduce food waste. Before you go to the market or order your food items online, check to see what you already have in stock. Please don’t over-buy items that you may not need or use. Have you ever “fit” a can of tuna or beans in the very back of the pantry closet where you may never find it again? Or, have you purchased ripe produce and stuck it in the bottom of the refrigerator, and a week later, it turned into a science experiment? We need to be aware of what we currently have in stock and what we need for healthy food preparation. The solution? Prepare a shopping list, noting what you already have at home to avoid duplicate purchases. This process will save you money and keep you focused on meal planning ideas.
I’m excited to share three of my favorite summertime snacks, mostly made from foods that I try to keep in stock, or what I plan to grow in my backyard garden.
Timeless Trail Mix
I try to keep a hardy-heart healthy stash of low-carb unsalted nuts and seeds in my pantry. Simply mix together whatever nuts and seeds you have on-hand. Here is my favorite lower-carb trail mix recipe.
Serving about 1/3 cup
- 1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds
- 1/2 cup Pumpkin Seed
- 1/2 cup Sliced Almonds
- 1/2 cup Shelled Walnuts
- 1/3 cup Shredded Coconut Flakes
Just toss it all together! I like to make a bunch of trail-mix at a time and measure out about 1/3 cup into individual small-reusable containers. Remember, clear containers are the best because you could see what’s inside (feel free to label the container as well). I use unsalted nuts and seeds to reduce my sodium intake.
Crunchy Veggies with Guacamole
I enjoy the taste and eye appeal of different color vegetables, such as cucumbers, broccoli, radishes, cherry tomatoes, and mini sweet peppers, and serve them with a chilled dip. I grow most of these veggies and eat them fresh off the vine!
The mini-sweet peppers are a favorite in my house. These sweet bell peppers have only 3 grams of carbohydrate for a ½ cup serving! They are also rich in vitamin C, which is a nutrient shown to boost the immune system.
Do you enjoy avocado? Mash up a ripe avocado and add in some onion powder, garlic powder, and lime juice to taste. It’s fresh, quick, and the perfect cool dip for your sliced veggies.
Nut Butter on Flax Seed Crackers
Sometimes you just feel like a nut! I keep a jar of natural almond butter, natural peanut butter, and natural cashew butter on hand at all times. They each have their own distinct flavors and textures.
Although you can prepare your own flax seed crackers, many companies produce them as well. Look for crackers that are low-carb and crunchy to pair with your favorite nut butter.
No need to buy a high priced, prepacked container of protein-packed food for a meal or snack. Make your own bento-box out of a reusable container that you already have at home. If you want to purchase a compartmentalized container, no need to break the bank! Check out a local dollar store and pick up a few new divided plates or containers with tight-fitting lids.
Add your favorites to each compartment. One section could include hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, turkey, tuna salad, or cheese cubes. Add some pistachio nuts or almonds to another section and sliced carrot and celery sticks with some Greek yogurt dip or hummus to another.
Please stay safe and healthy. Sending warm hugs and love to all! Have a wonderful and joyous summer.
Susan Weiner, MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES, FADCES, is an award-winning food and nutrition expert, author, and speaker. She is the owner of Susan Weiner Nutrition, PLLC. She has been elected to serve as a Director on the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES) Board of Directors, 2018-2020. Susan was named the 2015 AADE Diabetes Educator of the Year and is an ADCES fellow. She is the recipient of the 2018 Media Excellence Award from the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the 2019 Diabetes Advocate of the Year Award from the Metropolitan New York Association of Diabetes Educators.
Susan's is the "Diabetes in Real Life" columnist for Endocrine Today and is the on-air host for video interviews and content for Healio. She is the co-author of "The Complete Diabetes Organizer" and "Diabetes: 365 Tips for Living Well". Susan has extensive TV, Radio, podcast, and video experience and is well versed in media communications.
Susan is a well-respected national and international lecturer on a variety of topics related to nutrition, diabetes, wellness, and health, and has authored several articles for peer-reviewed journals. She has written and been quoted in dozens of articles for popular press, consumer publications, and online sites. Susan earned her Master's Degree in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Columbia University.