Tips to lighten up your summer meals

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Working with her student in the Life University teaching kitchen in Marietta, Georgia, Associate Professor, and nutrition pro Beverley Demetrius says she loves the simplicity of one-dish summer meals, like this chicken and shrimp paella.

Demetrius says you get everything you need in a single recipe.

"One dish meals are tops," she says. " They balance each other out."

Demetrius is all about balance, working in a mixture of good-for-you ingredients, and tweaking recipes, to fit your taste and nutritional goals.

"If meats are your thing, you can add a little bit more meats to do that," Demetrius says.  "If vegetables are, which by the way should be our thing, cut up some (vegetables) that are green and yellow and different colors, and just kind of make the visual for you."

Instead of loading up on salt, she relies instead on spices, to turn up the flavor.

"A little turmeric, which is a part of curry, is something that is in the paella," she says.

Tumeric a "functional food," Demetrius says, known for helping fight inflammation in the body. 

But, she cautions, it's just one piece of the puzzle.

"So, the more of those things you can put together, the more you will have a healthy diet," she says.  "So, no one food can give it all.  No one food is magical."

But, in the summer, fresh, locally-grown produce is about a magical as it gets.   

Demetrius loves a summer punch made with fresh Georgia peaches and raspberries.

If you never know what to at your local farmers' market or in the produce section of your grocery store, Demetrius says, go for bright, deep colored produce.

"The brighter the color, the more nutrient-rich it is," she says.

Demetrius says too often we rush through eating. 

So, choosing foods with fiber and texture can slow us down

"Try to have a little bit of something that stays in the mouth for a minute that you can actually chew," she says.

"It's more than just food then, it's actually a way to calm our minds down.  So, we're savoring something."