It's Too Darn Hot: Easy Summer Recipe for Keeping Your Cool in the Kitchen
By Cheryl Forberg, RD
The heat waves streaking across the country bring up questions in people's minds about whether they should change their eating habits in such conditions. One of the questions I often hear is “do our calorie needs change or does our metabolism increase during the hot summer temps?” Well, maybe yes, but probably no. Our bodies are well-tuned to keep things at status quo. If anything, our metabolism may go up when we're cold, as our bodies need to work harder to maintain our temperature (by shivering). In the heat, our bodies actually slow down a bit to try to conserve energy so as not to overheat. But none of this really makes any significant change in our metabolism or how many calories our body needs.
What is important to note is that in hot weather your body is prone to dehydration and this actually can have an effect on your metabolism. In the course of an average day, sweating, breathing, and waste elimination together leach more than 10 cups of water out of your body—and that's without exercise. If you don't replace what you've lost, you may become dehydrated; your system literally begins to dry out.
Dehydration lowers your body's energy levels, too. Because blood is mostly water, when you're dehydrated the volume of your blood diminishes, lowering amounts of oxygen and nutrients that reach your tissues. Recent studies show there's a trickle-down effect on metabolism: dehydration slows your system to such an extent that you burn fewer calories than you would otherwise during the course of the day. Dehydration can also cause other undesirable symptoms, including headache, dizziness, muscle weakness, and a dry, sticky mouth.
The takeaway here: when it's hot outside, drink plenty of water, and don't skip your workout! Try not to exercise during the hottest part of the day, especially if you're exercising outdoors. Early morning and evenings are your best bet. To make sure your body doesn't overheat, monitor your heart rate. Some people invest in a simple heart rate monitor. It's also important to don the appropriate workout attire. Don't wear sweats or heavy clothes while working out when it's hot. Sweating more doesn't help you burn more calories; it just may dehydrate you more. And most important, as I mentioned, stay hydrated!
So how will you take advantage of the summer heat and make it work for you? I try to exercise early and do most of my cooking in the morning also. If it’s super hot at night, dinner will be cooked on the grill. This is one of my favorite lazy day summer recipes because it’s scrumptious, gorgeous, takes minutes to make and can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Sautéed Zucchini, Red Onion and Fire Roasted Peppers
This simple vegetable dish is the perfect way to enjoy summer’s harvest at its peak. Make a double batch and use leftovers for omelet filling, veggie pizza topping or a simple cold salad.
1 tablespoon Grapeseed or Olive Oil
1 small Red or White Onion, cut in julienne
5 Shishito Peppers, sliced crosswise (optional)
4 medium Zucchini, each around 6” long, sliced ¼ inch-thick (2 yellow and 2 green or 4 yellow or 4 green) (will be about 4 cups sliced)
1 Melissa’s Fire Roasted Sweet Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 cup small Grape or Cherry Tomatoes (if they are large, halve them crosswise)
Salt and pepper
Chiffonade of Fresh Basil or Italian Parsley (optional)
Heat a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add oil and then the onion (and shishitos if using). Sauté for two to three minutes or until the onion has softened but not browned.
Add the zucchini and sauté for 3 more minutes or until the veggies are softened but still firm. Add the bell pepper and tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and continue cooking over medium high heat for about 3 minutes until the tomatoes just start to burst.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired. Serve immediately while hot. (Also delicious served cold!).
Nutrient Analysis – per serving
Total Fat 2g
Sat Fat 0g
Total Carb 8g