A popular way to beat the heat is by noshing on ice cream, snow cones and frozen treats (not to mention the hot dogs, potato chips and hamburgers that frequent summer cookouts). While sugar-packed snacks and foods high in fat are often the treat of choice, try a “summer swap out” to help your family have a more balanced diet.
“At the grocery store, fill you cart with fruits like bananas, apples, watermelon, grapes and berries,” Herrick said. “You can freeze the grapes, dip the bananas and apples in low-fat caramel, make a watermelon fruit salad and use the berries in yogurt or homemade popsicles.”
When you’re ready, spend some time in the kitchen whipping up your own cold concoctions, such as smoothies and frozen fruit juice bars. Herrick mentioned two recipes from Healthnews.com that make the most of your frozen fruits. She noted that Greek yogurt could be used to boost protein.
1 quart orange juice
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 cup low-fat orange or strawberry yogurt
Place all ingredients in blender and process until pureed. Pour into molds and freeze for at least 6 hours.
Peach Mint Icicles
from YumSugar (makes 6)
3 ripe peaches
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
1/4-1/2 cup sugar, depending on desired sweetness (you may be able to omit this if the peaches are fully ripe and sweet)
Slice peaches and remove pit (peel if skin is tough). Place peaches, limejuice, 1 tablespoon of mint and 1/4 cup sugar in blender and pureed until well incorporated. Stir in rest of mint. Fill icicle molds with the puree and place in freezer. Wait 4-6 hours to freeze completely and enjoy.
Herrick noted that bite-size vegetables such as baby carrots, broccoli and cherry tomatoes are delicious to dip in a low-fat ranch dressing. She also recommended a trail mix of raw walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds and dark chocolate cocoa nibs.
If your summer involves time spent by the grill, Herrick shared these tips from the American Heart Association for a healthier cookout:
- Swap hot dogs for fish. High in nutritional benefits such as omega-3 fatty acids, fish are a heart-healthy alternative to fatty meats. Try rubbing a filet with lemon juice, parsley or rosemary for “enhanced” flavor.
- Add some veggies to that meat. Try kneading chopped onion, green pepper or other vegetables into your hamburger meat before cooking. Avoid making extra large patties (remember that a serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards). Be sure to buy lean (or extra lean) beef and drain off the excess fat after cooking.
- Lighten up your fries. Swap out greasy frozen fries with homemade ones. Slice white or sweet potatoes into sticks, lightly spray with olive oil or cooking spray, pepper and paprika and bake on a cookie sheet for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.
- Have a vegetable vision. Serve skewers of mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash and other veggies. Spray lightly with olive oil and grill until slightly blackened. Or, offer up grilled corn on the cob. Leave the husks on and grill for 30 minutes over medium flame, rotating occasionally. Remove husks before eating.