When my Romanian grandmother went away for the summer, she brought her commitment to anti-aging nutrition along with her. Thanks to her deep roots in Romania’s traditional wellness culture, she knew exactly how to fit that disciplined attitude into a restful, pleasure-filled vacation. As this excerpt from my new book, Timeless Woman, explains, the secret of balancing good nutrition with easy summer living is to embrace the foods that Mother Nature intended us to eat at this time of year.
Satisfying Seasonal Appetites and Lifestyle Needs
Summer menus that center on salads and other vegetable dishes are in keeping with the Romanian tradition of living in harmony with the seasons. Cold dishes and foods that are less filling are particularly appealing in hot weather. These easy-to-prepare foods also fit summertime’s relaxed schedules. Salads are a wonderful alternative to convenience foods and takeout meals when you’re on vacation. All you need is a medley of fresh summer vegetables from local produce stands. Then you can put together a nutritious homemade meal without spending a lot of time standing in line in a crowded supermarket or sweating over a hot stove.
This cooling Romanian summer salad is a snap to make and a delicious way to increase your intake of anti-aging nutrients. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in the cucumbers and peppers help prevent and repair the damaging effects of intense summertime sun on our skin.
Romanian Summer Salad
2 garden cucumbers, peeled
1 bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange)
1 young onion
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil or
extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut all vegetables. Mix with oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Even the most casual meal should be elegantly presented. Romanian cooks take as much pride in their presentation of the food as they do in their treasured family recipes. This Old World approach to serving meals can be easily integrated into laidback summer lifestyles by taking advantage of the beautiful qualities of whole foods. In summer, nature provides us with a bounty of brightly hued produce that can be shown to its best advantage with a minimum of fuss. For instance, you can create a minor work of art simply by arranging a rainbow assortment of vegetables or fruits on a plate, with an eye to how the different colors, sizes, shapes, and textures work together. Easier still, you can add visual excitement to a plain dish of sliced tomatoes or grilled summer squash with a garnish of summer herbs.
Visually appealing food stimulates the digestive juices that enable our body to extract dietary nutrients. Food that’s pleasing to the eye is also an expression of caring that helps make the meal an emotionally satisfying experience. Other thoughtful touches like a properly set table with fresh flowers and cloth napkins add a special shine to the meal, transforming the simplest lunch or dinner into a celebration of summer.