Nordic Nourishment: The Lightness of Being

During summer, we usually don’t feel like cooking much or eating hot foods, and we gravitate toward easy, fast meals, such as salads. Yet, is that how we want to stay healthy, satisfied and nourished? I suggest satiating those needs by choosing real ingredients, portioning meals, and mindfully cooking. Use more leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, avoid heavy animal protein, and limit starch intake. This allows us to create meals that are still high in fiber and good fats, but require little prep effort and has less digestive impact.

I tend to only use fresh tomatoes in the summer when they’re in season, partly because that’s when they taste the best. They’re also nutrient dense when they’re in season, especially when locally grown. Still, we must be aware that tomatoes are in the nightshade family, which means more acidity. Though high in nutrients, tomatoes are also high in alkaloids, which can add to acid reflux, arthritis, and other digestive and inflammatory issues. Cooking tomatoes reduces the alkaloid levels, which is why a quick saute is a nice way to serve them while also bringing out more flavor.

Cucumbers add hydration and freshness, and can easily be added to almost any meal. Fresh herbs always help add some flavor; mixed with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, these herbs allow for simple ingredients to come alive. Additionally, bitter greens are delicious in the summer and help us get some of the vibrancy we long for when we want to spend time outdoors.

Cooking mixed grains can make for bigger portions that can be mixed and served cold. It’s a fantastic cold morning cereal, and it mixes well with vegetables and lighter protein sources for a balanced, nourishing meal. Focusing on plant-based protein, such as quinoa, and legumes, such as beans, lentils and chickpeas, makes summer meals both easy on our digestive system and our cooking efforts.

Tomato Sandwich
Ingredients: 1/2 large tomato, sliced
1 avocado
Olive oil
Basil, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Directions: Slice 1/2 a large tomato. Mash an avocado, and add sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Add lemon if desired. Spread the avocado on the tomato slices and stack. Add a bit of olive oil and chopped basil on top. Serve.

Quinoa Pilaf
Ingredients: 1/2 cup of quinoa, uncooked
1/2 cup of cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup of basil, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
Directions: Rinse quinoa well and cook for 20-25 minutes with a pinch of sea salt. For 1/2 cup of quinoa, use 1 and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Rinse and chop cucumber and basil. Mix in a bowl with olive oil. If desired, add lemon.

Grain Salad
Ingredients: 3/4 cup of mixed grain, cooked
3/4 cup of small salad shrimp,
2 cups of spicy greens
Blood orange or orange, peeled and
Cherry tomatoes
Directions: Rinse mixed grains – i.e. brown rice, barley or hato-mugi. Half a cup of uncooked grain makes 1 cup of cooked grain; also, 1/2 cup of grain needs 1/2 cup of water. Bring grains to a boil with a pinch of sea salt and then lower to a simmer for 35 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the grain sit for 10-15 minutes to soak up all the water. Mix the grain in a bowl with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper; you can add more spices like turmeric if you like. Add fresh herbs, such as cilantro or parsley. Place in a to-go box or serve on a plate. For vegans, add avocado and edamame beans instead for protein.

White Bean Salad
Ingredients: 1-2 cups of arugula
3/4 cup of white beans, canned
1/2 cup of heirloom cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup of European cucumber
Fresh cilantro, parsley or basil
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Directions: Chop 1-2 cups of arugula. Use another spicy summer green if desired. Mix with 3/4 cup of white beans, 1/2 cup of small heirloom cherry tomatoes, and 1/2 cup of European cucumber. If desired, substitute chickpeas or another bean for the white beans. Put ingredients in a saute pan with olive oil, and stir for 3-5 minutes with a dash of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix with fresh herbs. If desired, add chili for some heat. Plate to serve or put in a jar to bring.


Jeanette Bronée founded Path for Life in 2004 in hopes of bringing awareness to the healing power of learning how our choices affect us. She established the nine-step online Path for Life Self-Nourishment Program based on her integrative, mind-body approach to nourishment, which she developed over the course of a decade by helping clients transform their relationships with food. In addition to her private coaching practice, Bronée is a writer, recipe developer and motivational speaker with a specialty in emotional eating.


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