Summertime foods are all about eating light, staying active and cooking on the go. Whether you’re looking for the perfect foods to take on your summer picnic or in need of some fuel for your weekend hike, there are lots of great spots and fun ways to fill up fast and healthy in the Boulder area. And since summer is unofficially festival season in this beautiful state, there are also lots of great festivals happening over the next few months designed to help you learn more about the right foods to feed your family.
John Hancock, Cooking Light and Health are sponsoring an exciting Fit Foodie Festival and 5k/10k run, taking place in five cities across the United States. This energetic take on the traditional summer food festival is the perfect celebration of the active Colorado lifestyle this summer. The event, which takes place in Westminster on July 29, is all about blending food with fitness, proving that a calorie burned is a calorie earned and is probably the only 5k or 10k race in which you literally eat your way to the finish line. “The Fit Foodie Festival & 5K /10K is all about balance,” said co-Producer of the Fit Foodie Festival & 5K/10K, Michelle Metter. “The experience encompasses everything health, wellness and fitness, but also celebrates a love for foodie experiences and a well-deserved indulgence.”
As is the case with most 5ks, there is a great cause behind the Fit Foodie Festival as well. They have partnered with the No Kid Hungry national campaign to end childhood hunger, focusing on ways to educate the public on ways to make healthy and affordable meals and a portion of the proceeds from the run will go to helping out this important cause.
There are several different ways you can celebrate your own foodie-love and health-consciousness at the Fit Foodie Festival. In addition to the hunger-inducing 5k and 10k, you’ll find healthy bites to enjoy along the race, plus a post-race food festival featuring lots of demonstrations, tasting stations and more. “The event combines a fun and energizing workout with samples from restaurants, cooking demos, a beer and wine garden, and even bites at every mile to make for the most delicious run ever,” explains Metter.
One of the exciting events at the festival includes cooking demonstrations by the experts at Cooking Light Magazine. “Swing by the Cooking Light demo stage: I will be showing how to make and passing out samples of Whole-Wheat Tortellini Salad with Zucchini and Peas — a perfect mix of fresh vegetables and whole grains,” offers Ann Taylor Pittman, Executive Editor at Cooking Light. “It’s light, fresh, cool and nourishing.”
A common challenge for any 5k or 10k runner is how to take care of your body post-race. There are a lot of sugary drinks, tempting snacks and other ideas that may seem like a good way to re-hydrate, but that won’t do much to help you in the long run. “First and foremost, you should be sure to hydrate,” Pittman offers. “Plain ol’ water is ideal for a relatively short run. As for food, I suggest whole foods that deliver energy quickly (fresh fruits and vegetables) plus complex carbs like whole grains. Try to avoid highly fatty food, at least until your body has recovered.”
Of course, everything over the next few months will be about keeping active and enjoying the incredible Colorado weather. If you’re hiking, biking, swimming, camping or any other popular outdoor sport, there are lots of great ways to stay healthy on the move. Though, for many people, figuring out how and when to exercise can be a major part of the challenge. “You simply have to commit to making time for yourself to exercise,” Pittman explains. “Schedule it on your calendar, if that helps you stick to it. And change your mindset about exercise; think of it as ‘me time,’ as a way for you to be good to yourself. Because that’s exactly what you’re doing.”
Need some examples? Pittman’s own nightly routine just may work for you, too; “For me, I do something every night to keep me on track. My exercise time is early morning (5:00 a.m.). To make my chances of following through much easier, I go to bed in my workout clothes—sports bra and all. That way, when my alarm clock goes off at 4:50 a.m., I’m that much more ready to go.” If sleeping in your workout gear isn’t for you, consider evening workouts or even later at night when most gyms tend to be a bit quieter. Find different ways to incorporate simple fitness goals into your daily life. Park further away. Take the stairs. Walk on your lunch break or even try walking or biking to work.
The other big part of summer? Vacations. It can be super difficult to eat healthy when you’re in vacation mode, with all the temptations and challenges around every corner. From cruises to all-inclusive resorts, those giant buffet tables can easily kill your diet and your motivation. Don’t worry, however, because it’s also perfectly fine to treat yourself every now and then. “Try not to be too hard on yourself. You’re on vacation, and you should enjoy some indulgences,” Pittman offers. “That said, too many can leave you feeling sluggish and icky. If you’re driving, pack some healthy snacks in the car — roasted nuts, carrot sticks, easy-to-eat fruit such as apples or grapes, and water. That way, you won’t just fill up on unnecessary added sugars.” You can also get the kids in on the healthy choices – encourage them to help pick out the car snacks, pack them in child-friendly containers or make animals or designs out of your veggie sticks.
Another great tip from Pittman? Splurge on dinner, but make the rest of the day healthy by cooking for yourself. “If you’re renting a house, make your own breakfasts (Greek yogurt and berries, or avocado toast) and lunches (something as easy as sandwiches on whole-grain bread: PB&J or chicken salad with lettuce). Then you can live a little at dinner; save yourself that one daily splurge.” It’s all about making the smartest choices about where to spend those well-earned caloric splurges. Pick what is best for you and stick to just that one splurge, that way you aren’t overdoing it throughout your entire summer vacation.
Many hotels, cruises and resorts include breakfast with your stay, which can also be a tempting smorgasbord of pastries, sugary snacks, fatty-foods and other less-than-healthy choices, not to mention the bottomless mimosas and make-your-own Bloody Mary stations. “If you’re staying at a hotel that offers free breakfast, you can’t go wrong with a piece of whole-grain toast, boiled egg, and fresh fruit; try to steer clear of the pastries. And watch the boozy drinks. I’m all for enjoying a cocktail or two, but try to stick to ones without a ton of added sugar. Or go for wine or beer.”
Even if you’re not heading out on a big vacation this summer, it’s still easy to get lost in the maze of diet foods, healthy restaurants and other supposedly good-for-you snacks. “Instead of focusing on the negative—what you can’t eat—focus on the positive,” suggests Pittman. “Think of all the beautiful, fresh, delicious, healthy whole foods you can enjoy when you’re eating healthier.” Need some suggestions? Pittman recommends everything from “buttery avocados to crunchy nuts, silky olive oil, unctuous salmon, nutty whole grains, hearty chickpeas, crisp radishes, sweet cherries, tender lettuces and herbs. And a daily glass of wine! Those are just a few of my favorites, and they only scratch the surface. Think of all the foods you can add to your plate instead of focusing on what you might take away.”
If that all seems overwhelming, try not to let it consume you. As Pittman explains, “it doesn’t have to get too complicated. Just focus more on fresh, whole foods and steer away from processed.” Instead of buying packaged foods, pre-cooked meals and frozen dinners, find recipes you enjoy making and foods that you can get to the table relatively quickly. “You don’t have to spend a ton of time cooking and prepping, either. A simple grilled chicken breast, roasted (or microwaved) sweet potato with a pat of butter, and steamed or sautéed broccoli or green beans would be a fantastic dinner. Breakfast can be as easy as a fried egg over salad greens, or an apple with almond or peanut butter.”
You can sign up for the Fit Foodie Festival and 5k/10k at fitfoodierun.com. Registration includes the run, bites at each mile, access to the post-race food and festival, goody bags, tasting stations and more. If you’re committing to a healthier summer, for both yourself and your family, then a visit to the Fit Foodie Festival is a great place to learn a little bit about food while incorporating some exercise into your summer activities. Bring the family and start your summer off on the right foot – literally – and earn every single calorie you burn.