The Key to Weight Loss by Elizabeth Brown, MS, RD

Water, Water everywhere…

We flock to the beach for one big reason. It’s the biggest reason in the world actually, comprising 70% of the earth’s surface and, ideally, up to 70% of your body weight. It’s water, the most essential element of life. Every single person, plant, animal and living, breathing, creature needs it. You seek it. That is why so many of us live by or vacation on the coast. That water draws you to it. You can’t get enough, ever, literally. You need it everyday and without it, within seven days, you would likely die. Maybe that is really why we go to the beach for vacation or to live. Instinctually we know this about water. For some of us it is calming, soothing, sedating even. For others it’s invigorating, energizing, stimulating, literally life giving. Water ebbs and flows and emulates the cycles of life. Sometimes we don’t even realize its effect on us until we don’t have it.

Aside from its aesthetic beauty, did you also know that water contributes to your outer beauty by fulfilling your inner needs? Water is an essential nutrient, a macronutrient no less. That means that it is a big nutrient similar to carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It is in the same “group” as those other nutrients but it never gets the credit it deserves. So this article is dedicated to the most important nutrient of them all, the literal Golden Globe winner of the Nutrient world. Water is the one thing that is tied to everything. It is the secret to weight loss, the key to longevity, the literal fountain of youth. Its abundance or lack there of can change ones quality of life in an instant.

Californians are big on Detox diets. All you really have to do to “detox” is drink more water. Oh, and stop eating junk too. But water truly is the great equalizer of all things. Water is found in both the inner and outer parts of every cell, in every organ and in every aspect of the body. In fact, a good portion of your body’s water is stored in muscle. Think of muscle as a camel’s hump. The more muscle you have the more water you can store. If water stores are optimal, water can be put to its many uses. When nutrients need to flow in and out of cells, water is there to help. When waste products need to go bye-bye from the body, water facilitates the process. When your head hurts, water might do the trick to alleviate the pain. When you feel bloated, water may help you feel less so. When you’re exercising for an hour or less, under most circumstances, water is all you need. There are times when water is not enough, but more often than not, water is the answer. Trying to lose weight? Try more water or at least more water-rich foods such as soups, salads, vegetables and fruits.

Barbara Rolls, PhD, a professor at Penn State, my Alma matter, is known for her research on water and weight management. She conducted a study where she had participants eat a 270 calorie chicken and rice appetizer before lunch. I know what you’re thinking, that is more like a meal. Anyway, sometimes the “appetizer” was accompanied by a glass of water while other times the water was added to the “appetizer” to make a soup. Eating the soup caused the participants to eat 100 fewer calories at lunch and the effect lasted through dinner because they did not eat more to make up the difference. The volume of the soup, and other water-rich foods, stimulates “stretch receptors” in the stomach which then sends signals to the brain to say “Yes, I am being fed.” As the water-rich foods empty from the stomach, satiety hormones are released to say, “Yay! I feel full!” and eating stops, one would hope anyway. Bottom line, eat soup and other water-rich foods! They fill you up, keep you full and help you maintain that summer bod all year long!

Since you need to stay hydrated and fed during your beach days, here are some recipes to keep you cool, full and satisfied while relaxing at the beach!

Summer Recipes: all of these recipes are water-rich and loaded with antioxidant nutrients to help protect your beautiful skin. Hats, sunblock, sunglasses & umbrellas also recommended.

Cocoa Sorbet
1/2 cup organic non-dutched cocoa (
1 cup water
14 ice cubes (give or take a few)
1/2 cup honey (local is best)

Pour cocoa, water and honey into a blender and about 5 ice cubes. Then gradually add more ice cubes until you reach a sorbet or ice cream like consistency. You will have to enjoy this one right away or pour into a chilled mixing bowl. Use a fork or hand mixer to mix it every 30 minutes to keep it in a sorbet consistency. If you want to take it to the beach, scoop out little balls into a Themos or into an eight ounce, “Ball” brand canning jar. You can also freeze it in the jars to take to the beach. Wrap the jars in foil for added insulation. Garnish with fresh chopped mint or cinnamon.

Berry Mint Salad
Combination of seasonal fresh berries and stone fruit (peaches, plums, pluots, nectarines or apricots) plus fresh chopped mint or tarragon leaves; simple, yet delectable. To prevent “browning” (oxidizing) of freshly cut fruit. Add a squirt of fresh lemon, lime or any citrus juice; the in Vitamin C, a powerful anti-oxidant, prevents browning.

Kale Salad
1 bunch fresh green Kale, washed and coarsely chopped, stems & all
-Blanch kale by placing in boiling water for 30 seconds. Immediately rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. This will make some nutrients more bio-available and the kale a brighter green
1/2 cup dried Cherries
1/4 cup chopped Walnuts (Buy dried Cherries & Walnuts at the Farmer’s Market, you will taste the difference)
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup canola or olive oil (canola has more Omega-3s)
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
Mix it up. Eat it up & Enjoy!
Watermelon Gazpacho
1 cup watermelon, diced (reserve ½ cup)
1/4 cup cucumbers, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1/8 yellow onion, diced
10 basil leaves,
2 sprigs parsley,
6 sprigs fresh chopped cilantro for garnishing
1 tsp red wine or balsamic vinegar

1/8 tsp sea salt (or more, to taste)
Set aside 1/2 cup of watermelon to add back after blending
Pour everything else (except cilantro) into a blender and pulse to coarsely mix the ingredients. Pour into a bowl. Add the reserved diced watermelon and sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Sandwich Alternatives: If you are a lover of Sandwiches but are “cutting carbs” for the summer, try lettuce wraps. Use the greenest of the greens such as Collards, Swiss Chard, Mustard Greens, Romaine and Boston Baby Bib. Remove the ribs from the large leaves. Fill “greens” with your favorite protein rich salad mix such as egg, tuna, chicken or tofu. Mix the protein food with finely chopped celery and shredded carrots, add spinach and sprouts to your leafy green wraps.

Note: To prevent food borne illnesses, before preparing any “uncooked” recipes, please wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds. Use soap, hot water & a clean paper towel. Sing the Happy Birthday song to be sure you have washed long enough.

Hydration Stations: take Thermos’ full of freshly brewed flavored teas with fresh mint leaves. Try water with added slices of lemons, limes, oranges or cucumbers.