End of Summer Side Dish: Summer Squash Orzo Salad

Well, it’s here. Well, sort of.

You know, the end of summer. Next week is Labor Day – the unofficial end of summer. And quite honestly I couldn’t be happier.  Yeah, it’s been hot. Yeah, It’s been humid. And yeah, I am ready to move on to those crisp fall mornings when the air doesn’t smack me in the face when I walk out the door. I know I shouldn’t complain. I mean it’s not like I didn’t know it was going to be humid -freaking humid. What is it about the humidity here –  ugh it’s unbearable! 

But that’s not why I’m happy. Okay, maybe a little. What I’m really happy about it is all the new fall produce. Change of season, change of vegetables on the table. Yippee!

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Before I get ahead of myself, I’m sure there are many of you still swimming in summer produce. Especially squash – summer squash everywhere! While I’ve always been a fan of summer squash – yellow and zucchini – many don’t enjoy it. Hmm, I’ve talked about this before haven’t I? Um, yes okay –  but that was last year, so let me remind you . Summer squash has a high water content (95%!) and when it cooks it can become a little mushy if not done right. Want you know a way around it? Eat it raw! I’ve been eating raw summer squash all summer, I’ve discovered it’s the way I like it best.  So I’ve been experimenting – slicing it long ways and putting into sandwiches, slicing into discs and making salads. I’ve discovered it really makes a nice addition to any dish. And I’m a fan of sneaking in extra vegetables anywhere I can!

So grab those tomatoes (come on I know you’ve got them too!) and summer squash and try this easy Summer Squash Orzo Salad. I promise it’ll be great side dish at your end of summer cook-out!

How do you like to use up your excess produce?

 

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Layers of Flavor: Grilled Shrimp and Peaches

Some things just go together.

Certain flavors just taste good together. You know – like peanut butter and jelly or hot dogs and mustard or eggs and bacon. But what about when you discover new flavor combinations? Flavors you wouldn’t expect to taste good together but are absolutely delicious!

Well that’s sort of how I feel about this dish. But I can’t take all the credit. This dish is inspired by one of my favorite summertime dishes at a restaurant back in Kansas City. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of good food going on around here. But this dish – oh I looked forward to it every summer. It was only on the menu a short time – when the peaches were in season. So when I saw local peaches at the farmer’s market this week, I knew exactly what was about to happen.

shrimppeaches

And you know what? It’s August and it’s National Peach Month, so peaches are bound to show up on the table at some point right? Right. But not in a typical way you’d expect. No peaches and cream going on over here. You probably know by now that I am not huge fan of sweet things. But you may not know that I am a huge fan of the salty-sweet flavor combination. And this dish hits the mark.

But wait – did you know that there is science behind why many of us enjoy the salty-sweet combination? Yup, there is. Basically, we get tired of the same tastes over and over again (that’s me!) But if you layer flavors such as a little sweet and a little salty they compliment each other and you aren’t tasting one specific flavor. So you know that means? You’re avoiding flavor fatigue. Yes, believe it or not, your taste buds get tired too!

Okay- so here it is – Grilled Shrimp and Peaches. And this isn’t just any Grilled Shrimp and Peaches – there’s paprika, there’s celery, there’s jalapeno. I know – right?! I love discovering tastes don’t really make sense and shouldn’t really work together but they do!

What flavors have you discovered that you wouldn’t think would taste good together?

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Hydration 101

Are you thirsty?

Did you know if you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated? Yup, it’s true.

Since it’s August. And it’s hot. And it’s humid. I mean it’s really hot and humid! So I thought it would be appropriate to talk a little about hydration. Lately I’ve noticed that there are some real misconceptions about staying hydrated. 

Well, I may have mentioned that it’s hot. And humid. Well there’s an important reason why I did. With increased temperatures and humidity, we tend to sweat more while doing activities and at rest. It’s important to make sure your body’s getting the fluids it needs to maintain hydration. Okay, sounds logical right? 

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So how do you know you’re properly hydrated? Maybe you’ve heard the general “8 glasses of water per day”. But guess what? That’s not necessarily true. Your individual needs depend on things like weather, gender, size, medical conditions, and physical activity.  Rule of thumb – um, well – check your pee. Yup, you heard me. If it’s clear or pale yellow, then you’re good to go. If not – keeping drinking!

Okay, with all the endless beverage options out there nowadays, what should you be drinking? Water. Water. Water. Hands down, water’s the best choice.  Why? It helps hydrate without any unnecessary calories. And guess what? Consuming high water foods counts towards your hydration! And other beverages such as milk, coffee and tea also contribute to your fluid intake.

I know what you’re thinking – what about all those sports drinks? Well, are you an athlete? Then go right ahead. These drinks are designed for people who engage in high intensity physical activity for more than an hour. They contain water for hydration, sugar (aka carbohydrate) for fuel and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) to replace those lost via sweat. But they also contain calories. So if you’re trying to lose weight these calories may be unwanted and unnecessary. 

Maybe you’re wondering why staying hydrated is so important.  Is it really that big a deal? Yup. Fluids are essential for our bodies to function properly.  Being properly hydrated helps maintain body temperature, regulate blood pressure, and move nutrients and waste through the body. And you know what else? You’ll have more energy and your  skin will glow. So staying hydrated is important all the time, not just during the summer months. So bottom line,  staying hydrated is an important to stay healthy. And if feel like you need a little help when it comes to drinking more water here are a couple ideas to help you along:

  • Add some flavor to your water! Try fresh slices lemon or cucumber or herbs such as basil or mint.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables! Check out this guide to the water content in common fruits and vegetable.
  • Have some bubbles! Sparkling water comes in plain and other assorted flavors.
  • Drink with a straw! This may help increase the amount you drink because you tend to take in a larger amount at one time.

How do you stay hydrated?

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