Here in the Hudson Valley, people pack their weekends full of fun outdoor activities during the summer months, from watersports on the river to camping in the mountains. The sun is shining, and it feels oh-so-good! Make sure you can soak up the sun all summer long by keeping healthy and hydrated.
Dehydration affects the body’s ability to regulate temperature and can leave your mouth dry, make your body feel sluggish and achy, and cause you to become overheated. Severe dehydration can even lead to difficulty in breathing, increased heart rate, muscle cramping, and low blood pressure.
It is estimated that 75 percent of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration, much of which is caused by caffeinated beverages, processed foods high in sodium, and alcohol. Water makes up over half of the human body, so it is important to remember to replenish it throughout the day.
Nature provides us with a simple and delicious way to do it: eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Just down the road at your local farm market, many of the seasonal foods that you look forward to all year long are packed with minerals, amino acids, natural sugars, fiber, and a whole bunch of water—exactly what your body is craving.
so, get ready for an outdoor picnic by incorporating some of these hydrating whole foods into your meals. or, snack on them during breaks at work, on the trail, or wherever you find yourself this summer.
CUCUMBERS 96 percent water content
Toss sliced cucumber with a dash of olive oil, lemon juice or cider vinegar, sea salt, and chopped fresh mint to make a refreshing cucumber salad. Or, make a revitalizing cucumber soup by blending cucumbers with coconut water, a dash of salt, lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, and some minced cilantro or dill.
BROCCOLI 91 percent water content
Raw broccoli is high in fiber, vitamin C, and calcium and is low in calories. Its delightfully crunchy texture makes it a great snack to pair with your favorite dip. You can also chop it into fine pieces or pulse it in a food processor, then toss it with peppers, carrots, and a light sesame-ginger dressing.
STRAWBERRIES 96 percent water content
Strawberries are rich in potassium, an electrolyte that is lost when we sweat. Potassium is also an excellent tonic. Rinse and eat strawberries as is, or crush and add them to some cool, clean water with a splash of lime juice for a fresh drink. Strawberries also pair perfectly with sweet or peppery salad greens, tossed with toasted nuts and homemade vinaigrette (see recipe).
SWEET BELL PEPPERS 96 percent water content
These are especially delicious when chilled. Chop up a variety of colored sweet peppers and combine them with chopped tomato or your favorite salsa for a refreshing dip. Or, pile a few tablespoons of the dip into a lettuce leaf and roll up for a tasty wrap. Some local farms and markets also sell bite-sized sweet peppers—a perfect portable snack.
TOMATO 95 percent water content
Sometimes sweet, sometimes sour, tomatoes are high in vitamins C and A and are a good source of potassium. They also have a naturally cooling effect on the body. Firm, ripe tomatoes come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and varieties. Eat them whole with a sprinkle of sea salt for a simple, fast snack. Also, chilled, tomato- based gazpacho is a favorite summertime staple and is easy to transport in an insulated thermos.
WATERMELON AND CANTALOUPE 92 percent water content
Rich in vitamin C, chilled watermelon and cantaloupe are the ultimate hydrating summertime snacks. Eat these fruits on their own, or purée them with water and a splash of fresh lime juice for a hydrating and naturally sweet beverage.
SIMPLE SALAD DRESSING
2/3 cup of olive oil
4 tablespoons of local raw honey
1/3 cup of fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of natural salt
2 teaspoons of dry mustard
1 tablespoon of poppy seeds (optional)
Place all ingredients into a jar, secure the lid,
and shake to combine. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Cathy Vogt is a local health and culinary coach, personal chef, and author of Cultivating Joy in the Kitchen: Plant Forward Recipes and Soulful Nourishment. The book is available at Inquiring Minds Book Store in New Paltz and online through Amazon. For more information, events, recipes, and resources go to anaturalchef.com.