Nutrition 101, Recipes
5 Refreshing Treats to Celebrate the End of Summer
September 11, 2014
It’s still hot out - cool off with these healthy and delicious “end of summer” treats!
Summer is the season for warm weather, which, for a lot of people, means the season for ice cream. However, ice cream is loaded with saturated fat and sugar, which isn’t great for your beach body, and is even worse for your health. When consumed in excess, the unhealthy saturated fat and sugar from the ice cream can increase bad cholesterol, clogging our arteries and increasing our risk for chronic disease.
So, how do you get your sweet cold fix without all those undesirable side effects? Answer: read on. Below are five lighter and healthier alternatives to ice cream. This is not to say that you can’t, or shouldn’t, indulge once in a while, but for all those times in between, we’ve got you covered.
When frozen, a banana takes on a coolness, sweetness, and creaminess very reminiscent of ice cream. To take advantage of this natural gift, you have two options:
- You can choose to leave the banana whole. Eat it as is or dip it in melted dark chocolate (preferably a chocolate that is >70% cocoa) and add toppings such as toasted nuts, coconut shavings and pretzel pieces.
- You can put the banana in a blender with low fat milk/unsweetened plant milk, ice cubes, up to 1 teaspoon of honey, and mix-ins such as dark chocolate chips and natural nut butters.
Note: Make sure to keep the toppings and mix-ins healthy! Loading up on unhealthy additions can put you right back in the ice cream camp when it comes to extra fat and sugar.
A granita is essentially an adult version of a snow-cone, and, when made well, can be a very low-calorie frozen treat.
- Check out our own Summer Melon Granita recipe here.
- Feel free to make this dish your own by substituting the honeydew with another seasonal fruit of choice, such as watermelon or strawberries.
Note: To keep the granita alcohol-free, simply replace the tequila with water.
Sorbet is basically ice cream without the cream, which saves a lot of unwanted calories and fat. Another bonus is that the best sorbets get a significant amount of sweetness from fruit, rather than added sugars.
Below is an easy recipe for a flavor-packed sorbet, which doesn’t even require an actual ice cream machine to make!
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
1 pound ripe strawberries, hulled and chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonade
¼ cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1 ½ tsp cornstarch
1 ½ tsp cold water
3 Tbsp lemon juice
Blend berries in a food processor until they have reached a smooth consistency.
Put the berry purée, basil, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Heat until melted and simmering.
In the meantime, whisk cornstarch into cold water and stir into heated berry mix.
Remove the saucepan from heat and add lemon juice. Let cool.
Freeze mixture in a tall canister for 1 ½ hours. Remove and stir with a whisk.
Return to freezer and whisk once every hour for 4 hours. Whisking incorporates air into the sorbet mixture, so the more you whisk, the, lighter the sorbet will be.
4. Yogurt Popsicle
Popsicles are a great option for a late summer frozen treat because they are not only refreshing, but they are also portable, perfect for a picnic so long as you have an ice cooler.
Ingredients: (Serves 6)
½ pint blueberries
½ pint blackberries
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
Combine the blueberries, blackberries and sugar in a bowl and let sit for 20 minutes. As the berries macerate, they will soften and create a syrup-like liquid.
Pour the berries and syrup into a food processor or blender and add lemon juice. Pulse a few times until fruit mixture is puréed.
Blend with the yogurt and pour into molds.
Freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight.
To remove, run hot water over the outside of the mold until you can gently pull the popsicle out.
5. Fruit salad
The idea of satisfying your sweet tooth with fruit may seem boring and simply unenticing. However, if you put in just a little effort, you can turn your fresh fruit salad into an exciting and flavorful treat!
Here are some tips:
Choose a mixture of at least 3 fruits that are in season.
Cut them into similar sized-cubes and combine.
Squeeze in a bit of fresh citrus juice (orange, lime or lemon will do).
Mix in an interesting herb or spice, such as basil or mint, to keep your palate intrigued.
If you don’t have time to put these recipes together and you find yourself in front of your supermarket’s ice cream freezer, here are a few dos and don’ts to help you choose wisely:
Look for frozen Greek yogurt. It is deliciously creamy and has the same benefits of the refrigerated kind – it is a great source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. If there is a low fat version, go for that over the full fat kind.
Opt for frozen fruit bars. Though they may lack protein, at least the majority of their sugar content comes from natural sugars. To make sure, check out the ingredient list. You want “sugar” to be closer to the bottom than the top.
If you are itching for ice cream and nothing else will suffice, look at the nutrition facts label. Take serving size, saturated fat and sugar into consideration. Compare several brands and make an educated decision.
Buy bars instead of pints or tubs. This will help with portion control.
Think that just because an ice cream is “low fat” it means it is healthy. Those versions are often loaded with extra sugar to compensate for the lower fat content. That then just gets stored as fat in the body and raises bad cholesterol, not to mention blood sugar levels.
Reach for the “sugar free” ice cream (unless you are a diabetic or have insulin sensitivity issues) as the sugars are usually replaced by non-nutritive sweeteners, which are artificial and processed.
Assume that if an ice cream is vegan it is low fat. Vegan ice creams can be full of saturated fats. Coconut based ice creams are a perfect example of this.
Do you have any treat ideas to beat the heat? Let us know in the comments below!
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