Do you try and get some exercise in most days of the week? Do you try and eat healthy foods most of the time? If so, you are among a minority of Americans who make a concerted effort to take care of their greatest asset—their health! This month of July we celebrate Independence Day and take great pride in our country. Why not also take this time to embrace the pride you have in yourself for having the inner strength and resolve to take care of YOU?
Here are 4 healthy picnic ideas:
Grill vegetables. The fact is that eating more vegetables is the key to preventing chronic disease. This is because vegetables house powerful free radical scavenging antioxidants—proven to quell inflammation in the arteries—and heart disease (our nation’s number one cause of death) is now known to be an inflammatory disorder. Why not grill up a Portobello mushroom in place of a burger? Vegetables don’t have to be a bright in color to be nutrient dense. For example, the brown and white Portobello mushroom is an edible fungus filled with beneficial vitamins and minerals such as potassium, copper, selenium, and disease fighting phytochemicals. Portobello mushrooms can be eaten raw or cooked like any kind of mushrooms, but the size of the Portobello mushroom is an easy replacement for a burger or meat on any sandwich. (See recipe.) Vegetables don’t have to be a bright in color to be nutrient dense. For example, the brown and white Portobello mushroom is an edible fungus filled with beneficial vitamins and minerals such as potassium, copper, selenium, and disease fighting phytochemicals.
Eat fish. No doubt about it, people who eat more fish and less meat live longer lives. Why not substitute a delicious tuna steak for the sirloin on the grill?
Skip the mayonnaise laden sides. Substituting simple side dishes made with extra virgin olive oil such as roasted red potatoes, dark green leafy salads seasoned with EVOO and fresh lemon juice, or even baked beans for the cole slaw and potato salad dishes often drowning in mayonnaise (a saturated fat and cholesterol landmine)?
Drink unsweetened iced green tea. Nothing could be more refreshing on a hot July day than an iced glass of unsweetened green tea—flavored with fresh lemon juice, mint and just a touch of your sweetener of choice. Choosing this drink will help you cut back on “liquid calories,” those drinks with outrageous amounts of added sugar that quickly add the pounds. Plus, you get all the plant goodness and antioxidant power found in the green tea, herbs and citrus.
“Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.” ~William Shakespeare
Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers
Pesto is the ketchup on a Portobello burger. Make a simple pesto with heart healthy walnuts, instead of expensive pine nuts, and fresh basil leaves, olive oil, and garlic to spread on your burger!
Yield: 4 servings (1 serving =1 Portobello mushroom cap with 1 Tablespoon of pesto)
4 Portobello mushrooms, stem and gills removed
4 whole wheat burger buns
2 red bell peppers, cut in half
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
2 cups of fresh arugula
Mushroom Marinade (Homemade Italian Dressing)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons of white vinegar
1 Tablespoon of a salt substitute with herbs and spices
Heart Healthy Pesto:
2 oz fresh basil leaves (about 1 cup)
1 cup walnut halves
½ cup olive oil
3 large garlic cloves
Pre-heat grill to 350 ° F. Whisk together the mushroom marinade ingredients. Brush marinade onto to both sides of the mushroom caps. Let marinade sit for 10 minutes. Grill mushrooms for 3 minutes on both sides. Sauté red bell pepper halves with olive oil until peppers are soft and browned on both sides. Place all pesto ingredients into a food processor and blend pesto until a spreadable consistency.
Time to build your burger. On one half a bun, place the grilled Portobello mushroom cap, sautéed red bell pepper, and ½ cup arugula. On the other half of the bun, spread 1 Tablespoons of pesto and place the bun on top of the other bun to complete your burger!