6 summer food tips to improve overall health

grilled salmon

By Joe Higgins | Ohio University CHSP

Looking to add some healthy variety to your diet this summer? Look no further!

Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP) offers six nutritious tips all yours for the tasting.


Grilled fish
The sun is shining and the grill is hot. Now it just needs some salmon!

Selena Baker, MS, RDN, LD, a nutrition counselor at CHSP’s WellWorks, suggests lining the grill with a piece of parchment paper and placing your salmon on top to keep the dish moist.

“Spread it with some Dijon mustard, fresh garlic and cracked black pepper,” she said. “The vinegar in the mustard will neutralize the mildly fishy smell if you’re sensitive to that. Lemon juice and malt vinegar have the same effect. Once it’s done, unwrap your packet and you’ve got super moist salmon on the grill!”


More fish!
Tuna steaks marinated in avocado oil can add more of the coveted Omega-3 heart-healthy fatty acid to the menu. Baker said avocado oil has a similar fatty acid profile to olive oil but can take the heat better due to a higher smoke point. She also suggests a simple lunch using white albacore tuna.

“Open your white albacore, drain it, throw it directly in a Tupperware-type container and add olive oil or avocado oil mayonnaise. It has heart-healthy fat and half the fat of regular mayo. Add in some Mrs. Dash (the garlic blend) and you have lots of flavor ready to go,” said Baker. “If you have time, mince in some onion, carrots, celery or whatever you want.”


Let’s get nuts
Vegetarians or vegans looking for Omega-3 benefits can try walnuts. Baker said eating a 1-ounce portion of nuts most days of the week is a good goal and added that walnuts also contain fiber, potassium, protein and other heart-healthy fats.


The power of tomatoes
Scientific results are still mixed when it comes to lycopene in tomatoes but Baker said there are definitely some positive links between lycopene and good prostate health.

Lycopene isn’t destroyed by cooking and tomatoes are also a good source of potassium which plays a role in healthy blood pressure.

“Try a whole wheat pasta salad,” said Baker. “Lightly steam, sauté or grill a bunch of veggies and toss on some vinaigrette or whatever dressing you like. Dice up some sundried tomatoes and you’ll get that concentrated flavor, sweetness and unique texture which is great in a pasta salad along with some marinated artichokes and sautéed zucchini.”


Lentil Sloppy Joes
“Lentils are so good. I love the lentil sloppy joes served on a whole wheat bun with a slice of swiss cheese,” said Baker. “If you want to explore a family-friendly plant protein, lentils are a great, fast-cooking option.”

(A recipe for this delicious dish is listed below the article.)


MIND your diet
Along with a healthy body, a healthy mind is desirable. Baker recommends trying the MIND diet — a take on the popular Mediterranean Diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet. The MIND diet is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and calls for: more than six servings per week of green leafy vegetables, one serving per day of other vegetables, five servings per week of nuts, two servings per week of berries, three meals of beans per week, three servings per day of whole grains, one meal per week of fish, two meals per week of poultry and the use of olive oil as the primary cooking oil along with one glass of wine per day.

Finally, Baker offers the reminder that with the hot sun and all the summer fun, it’s important to stay hydrated!

• • •

Lentil Sloppy Joe (credit sparkpeople.com)


  • 1 cup uncooked lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 green bell pepper, small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2-3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp prepared yellow mustard


  1. Pour lentils and water into small saucepan. Cover and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.
  2. About 10 minutes before lentils are ready, preheat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion and pepper in the oil for seven minutes or until softened. Add garlic and sauté for one minute more.
  3. Stir in the cooked lentils, chili powder, oregano and salt. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste and cook for 10 minutes. Add maple syrup and mustard and heat.
  4. Turn off the heat and let the pot sit on the warm burner for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Serves five people at 142 calories per serving.


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!



We are glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment policy.

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.