Fit 4 Life | Four foods to keep you healthy through the summer
People make so many excuses when it comes to eating healthy – such as 'Mi nuh like how this taste', or 'Eating healthy is hard'. But a more common one is, 'I can't afford healthy foods'. While we often lump affordability in with the myths and misconceptions, it easily becomes the reality in a drought-stricken Jamaican summer. During those months, the question of 'How can one afford to eat healthy foods?' becomes a more serious concern.
Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstones of healthy nutrition, but last month the summer drought pushed prices through the roof. In July, the Financial Gleaner, under the headline 'Produce prices continue upward trend', reported that the costs of fruits and vegetables had risen sharply and were still on their way up.
Common health foods such as lettuce and carrots had seen increases of 68 per cent and 155 per cent, respectively. At those prices, even the most dedicated persons would think twice about buying the natural, unprocessed foods we preach about.
Still, the summer heat hurts more than just prices. The quality and availability of farm produce also fall during those hot months. The most popular foods sometimes go missing from the market altogether. However, the summer doesn't need to end your healthy eating push.
To maintain the habit one can:
- Shop for foods that are in season.
- Visit the markets or farmers' markets instead of buying produce in supermarkets.
- Buy frozen fruits.
- Shop around for the best prices.
- Buy in bulk or stock up on cheap items where possible.
Another easy way of eating healthy in the summer is to go for foods that seem to be always available at reasonable prices.
Here are four whole foods that can usually be had for relatively cheap prices during the summer and other times of drought:
Callaloo seems to be that ‘always-available’ vegetable. From the market to the supermarket, it seems to remain affordable throughout the year as well. Cheap it may be, but this vegetable is a nutritional powerhouse and a perfect replacement when more expensive ones such as lettuce or spinach are out of reach. Callaloo is rich in micro-nutrients such as iron, potassium, and vitamin C, and it can be cooked (steamed) or be used raw as the base for a green juice or smoothie.
Nowadays it seems pumpkins are always around and while the price does fluctuate with weather conditions, it is usually not extreme. Although, technically, a pumpkin is a fruit, nutritionally it is more like a vegetable. It is low in calories and has a high nutrient density. Pumpkin is also very versatile and can be used in a variety of foods – from smoothies to stews and soups.
Sweet potatoes are another nutritional powerhouse that seems to be always available these days. This tuber is rich in micro-nutrients, antioxidants and complex carbohydrates. There are many tasty sweet potato recipes, such as baked potato wedges, which are a healthy replacement for the ubiquitous French fries.
Bananas are the go-to fruits in Jamaica these days. They are available year-round and the prices are stable. The nutrient-rich bananas are another versatile food. Ripe bananas are a healthy snack on their own, but they can also be used in smoothies and other tasty recipes. Green bananas can be used in a variety of recipes as well.