Beach days, backyard BBQs, and bevvies - specifically frappuccinos and fun fizzy drinks. A few favourites I look forward to when the temperature starts to climb.

 

Wow, it's been hot lately. Looks like summer heat and sun are here in full force, just the way I like it. Yes, I know we need the rain and I'm ok with that too. Although in my humble opinion it would be perfect to have it rain overnight and have the sun shine during the day. But I'll take it any way I can get it. That being said, I do love that here in the Okanagan we have four distinct seasons, but as you may have guessed, summer is my favourite. Beach days, backyard BBQs, and bevvies - specifically frappuccinos and fun fizzy drinks. A few favourites I look forward to when the temperature starts to climb.

 

Summer, as with any other season, occasion or event, comes with its own array of food culture and items we all love to dive into. Eating out and/or outside for example. Whether it's on your deck at home, restaurant patio or around a campfire, summer and eating outdoors just go together. I mean who wants to heat up the house when the weather app is showing temps in the high 20s and low 30s for days? Me either. And yet we still need to cook certain things.

 

Hot dogs, burgers, steaks, chicken, kebabs, shrimp – all great on the grill. Even veggies. I mean rough- chopped bell peppers together with sliced zucchini and sweet potato, tossed in a little olive oil and thrown on the grill with your favourite protein, well it doesn't get much easier. And before I get called out on mentioning “hot dogs”, let me clarify. Hot dogs, as in the ones that come in those shrink-wrapped twelve-packs are literally mystery meat in a tube. Now before I start getting hate mail for slandering the hot dog, while naming some equally offensive treats above as some of my favs, just keep reading.

 

For those who know me or have followed my page or maybe joined my 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook, you'll know that health is always top of mind. But then again so is chocolate. And now with summer weather here, let's not pretend we're not thinking about ice cream or cold drinks to go with that beach day or backyard BBQ. I know I am. And yes, I will partake. Because you can indulge and keep it healthy. Or at least minimize the carnage.

 

Let's start with the hot dog, and other proteins you'll likely be grilling. Quality is key. The mystery-meat-in-a-tube comment doesn't have to be your experience. When you purchase from a local butcher shop, not only will the quality be better, but you'll notice it in the taste as well. It's amazing how flavourful proteins can be when all the ingredients are real food. My local favourite is Johnny's Meats in Rutland.

 

Now that you've got the food on the grill, you're likely going to be looking for something to wash it down. I see so many people load up their grocery carts with flats or two-litre bottles of soda, juice boxes, energy drinks, ice-tea powder, etc., The amount of sugar and/or artificial sweeteners adults and kids are consuming is crazy. I use a soda stream – without the syrups. If you enjoy fizzy drinks like I do, it's the perfect way to enjoy a nice, cold, refreshing drink without all the sugar or chemicals. Fresh lemon, lime, frozen berries, cucumber and mint, the flavour options are endless. And for those who love the convenience of grabbing a can to take with you, try Zevia. It's sweetened with stevia, no added colours, natural flavours, a much healthier alternative to soda. And if blended drinks are your thing – the Starbucks frappuccinos, Tim's iced-capps, etc. - try a protein shake. A good quality, great tasting shake blended up with ice and coffee (for a mocha), matcha, fruit, peanut butter or any number of real food add-ins will not only give you the same or better flavour satisfaction, it will keep your blood sugar stable and prevent fat storage to boot.

 

And for those day's when it's too hot to cook, ordering in to sit on the patio sounds like a really good idea, right? Of course we all should allow ourselves an off-plan meal now and again to enjoy our favourites unaltered/unsubbed with anything else, but when take out starts to take over, making better choices is in everyone's best interest. Locally there are some great little places where you can have meals put together the way you want them to be. Chopped Leaf and Freshii are great examples of this. Or Meal Prep For You, a local company where you can order on their app to have as many meals as you want/need in a week and then just swing by and pick them up. Perfect for those people who don't want to cook, don't like to cook, can't cook, but want to eat healthy, balanced meals. It's literally fast food, PFC style.

 

I've saved the best for last. Ice cream. Anyone with kids cringes when they hear that ice cream truck coming because you know your kids will hound you mercilessly they get one. And there's quite a few adults who love it too. Granted kids love the cartoon figure treats, but again it's much like the hot dog. Let's just say that modified milk ingredients and chemicals should not be in ice cream. I like to make my own ice cream using frozen banana chunks blended with a little almond milk and either cocoa and peanut butter or berries depending on what my tastebuds are requesting. Both are amazing. Blend it a little runnier and freeze in popsicle holders and you've always got something on hand for the kids that won't have them bouncing off the walls from sugar and added colourings. Of course it wouldn't be summer if you didn't go out for ice cream once in a while. Hubby and I go to Amore Mio downtown Kelowna. Technically it's gelato, not ice cream, which I love anyway, but it's also all made in house with real ingredients. They even have vegan options for those of us who avoid dairy and their sugar free options are sweetened with stevia. Definitely a win. Now we can have our summer treats and eat them too.

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