Summer is officially here. Beach trips, summer barbecues and days at the pool are in full swing. As a dietitian, I love the summer months because there is an abundance of refreshing and healthy foods that are in season. Better yet, the longer days and warm weather inspires us to get outside and start moving.
Although the summer months are filled with healthy food and exciting activities, it’s also known to bring about quite a bit of food temptation. Trips to the ice cream parlor or late night family barbecues can lead to overeating and overindulging.
Balance and moderation are two key concepts to think about when it comes to your health and nutrition. Most foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle, but it’s important to eat mindfully and be conscious of portion sizes. If you can make a few healthy substitutes in your cooking, you can indulge without the guilt. Below are a few nutritious swaps and recipe ideas for typical summer desserts.
Red, White and Blue Yogurt Pops
Who doesn’t love a refreshing, cold treat on a beautiful summer day? Instead of typical ice pops loaded with excess sugar and chemicals, opt for a healthier homemade version. This is a great way to get the whole family involved in making a nutritious sweet treat. Fill an ice pop tray with three layers of low-sugar Greek yogurt; start with a strawberry flavor, then vanilla flavor and then blueberry flavor. Feel free to mix in chopped strawberry and blueberry pieces as well. Freeze and serve when chilled for a protein-packed treat.
Angel Food Cupcakes
Instead of your typical cupcake mix, opt for light and airy angel food cake. You can purchase an angel food cake mix and distribute evenly into cupcake trays. Avoid topping with regular frosting, which is typically laden with trans fat and high fructose corn syrup. Instead, add a dollop of light whipped cream and garnish with fresh berries. This is a crowd-pleasing dish that is perfect for the summer. Angel food cake is also a light swap in standard trifle and cake dishes.
Mojito Fruit Salad
Jazz up your classic fruit salad with this refreshing twist. Start by using a melon-baller to scoop out watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. Next, add one cup of berries of your choice. Chop about three sprigs of fresh mint and add to the fruit. Next, combine ¼ cup fresh lime juice with three tablespoons of powdered sugar and mix evenly throughout the fruit salad. Place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes and then serve.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Nice-Cream
You can make an all-natural ice-cream substitute by simply blending frozen fruit. My favorite recipe starts with blending one frozen banana with one tablespoon of raw unsweetened cocoa powder. You can add a scoop of peanut butter for extra flavor, as well as a drizzle of raw honey for added sweetness. Pro tip: Peel the banana, then slice and place in a Ziploc bag before freezing.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking more creatively when it comes to healthy eating during the summer months. These nutritious swaps are a great way to save calories and stay on track with your health goals during the summer.
Stefani Pappas, MS, RDN, CDN, CPT, is a clinical dietitian nutritionist at St. Francis Hospital. She also provides private and group nutrition counseling at her office in Great Neck. Visit www.StefHealthTips.com for more info.