I’ve learned the secret to life-long health. It’s not a diet or a pill, and it’s actually found in many of the foods you may already know and love. If you’re like me and simply live for life’s pleasures of good food and good company, let me share how we can continue to fill up on delicious eats in a better way!
I know what you’re thinking. There’s no secret ingredient for sustainable weight loss and improving our overall health. But there is some truth to this… I’m talking about the number one ingredient to include in most, if not all, of your meals. I’ll give you a clue: This key nutrient is found in every fresh fruit and vegetable variety, and it makes up around 65 to 70 percent of our bodies. That’s right, it’s water!
We are constantly losing water from our bodies in several ways: through the skin (sweating), the lungs (breathing), and excretion (going to the bathroom). Other ways water could be lost are from tears, stress, and diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol. Staying hydrated is important to consider on a daily basis. A dehydrated system can negatively impact our physical and cognitive performance as well as the many functions in our body that use water and keep us alive. Dehydration is most common in children and babies because their small bodies hold a higher percentage of water than adults. Risks also increase with illness, age, and physical activity levels. To learn more about water and hydration, click here.
Now that we understand the importance of water, let’s discuss where it comes from. Besides the obvious glass of H2O, we can also stay hydrated by the foods we eat! I love cooking with vegetables, using every opportunity to throw an extra serving towards my daily intake. Fruits and vegetables are packed with moisture, which adds to the quality we all love about fresh produce. Reflect on a hot summer’s day, lounging on a folding chair, book in your hand, and the heat waves are coming. Nothing sounds more appealing than biting into a thick slice of juicy watermelon to perk up your afternoon. They call it WATER-melon for a reason! Other foods with high amounts of water, ranging from 90 – 97 percent water content, include:
- Bell Peppers
Look for these foods at your local farmer’s market or grocery store. You’ll be surprised how filling and satisfying water rich, nutrient dense foods can be. By incorporating lower calorie produce in your diet, you can still enjoy the best parts of a meal without busting your belt over time.
My favorite summer recipe is a diced cucumber and tomato salad with olive oil and red wine vinegar, finely chopped sweet onion and basil or cilantro, salt and pepper to taste. Consider this mixture a refreshing topping on your meats, pasta, scrambled eggs, plain Greek yogurt, sliced avocado, or simply on its own!
Picture your produce as a blank canvas. Become an artist in the kitchen and add your favorite spices. Then mix it up to try new flavors and pair with different meats and cheeses, or just more veggies! Grant, our resident personal trainer, gives us some great advice for grocery shopping, and explains that choosing a variety of colors is important for maximizing nutrient intake. So keep eating, and stay hydrated this summer with colorful produce.
Let’s get cooking together! Sign up today for The Chopping Block's Vegetarian Boot Camp, where you’ll also learn about plant-based proteins. Or spice it up with our Mediterranean Vegetarian: Grilled! and Indian Vegetarian hands-on cooking classes.
If you happen to be free tonight, Chef Maria Clementi's Farmers' Spring Table at the Merchandise Mart will be a meal we'll be talking about for a while. This special Chef Dinner will blow your mind and fill you with vegetarian food like you've never seen before.