Beat the heat with these cool and refreshing recipes. Nostalgic as the ice cream truck jingle sounds in the summer, the high sugar, high-fat treats it dishes out aren’t the best way to keep cool in your older years. Instead, smarter strategies for “chilling out” call for lighter, nutrient-packed frozen and liquid treats that don’t pile on the pounds or aggravate good health.
Check out these five easy do-it-yourself recipes that you can easily make at home and let you stay cool in the summer with good health in mind.
Health Benefits: The blood-pressure lowering potassium from the bananas and the health-enhancing antioxidants from the dark chocolate makes for a guiltless treat.
DIY Recipe: Microwave 6 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips in a glass bowl on medium power for one minute, and then stir. Continue microwaving in 15-second increments until chocolate is melted. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Cut two medium bananas in half and insert popsicle sticks into cut ends. Dip banana sections in melted chocolate and freeze on tray for two hours, or until firm. Place in freezer bags and store until ready to eat.
Lazy Cook’s Substitute: Choose the dark chocolate version of Diana’s Bananas. With only 6 grams of fat, chocolate-dipped bananas are a tasty treat that you won’t feel guilty eating.
Health Benefits: A tasty, healthy way to stay hydrated. With a less-than-reliable thirst mechanism in later years, it’s common for your water reserve to drop too low. And with the summer heat, staying properly hydrated is especially important for seniors.
DIY Recipe: Clean and slice up to 1 cup of any of your favorite seasonal fruits or veggies and add them, along with a few sprigs of fresh herbs, to a 1-quart pitcher. Fill with water and let steep in the refrigerator for two hours or longer. Serve as is or strain out fruit mixture. For stronger flavors, muddle or crush fruits and herbs.
For example, if you want strawberry-lime-cucumber water, slice 12 large strawberries, one lime and one-fourth of a cucumber; add a few fresh crushed mint leaves along with ice and water and let steep.
Lazy Cook’s Substitute: Hint Water or Hint Fizz. There are no sugars or fake sweeteners in this drink. It is purely good old water (sparkling or still) with natural flavors such as:
- Blood orange
Frozen Fruit Bars
Health Benefits: Research confirms that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may reduce risk for heart attack and stroke.
DIY Recipe: Combine 1/2 pound of frozen mango chunks with 6 tablespoons light coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 tablespoon lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon lime zest in a blender. Puree until smooth and pour into juice bar molds. Freeze bars for four hours or until firm.
Lazy Cook’s Substitute: Fruttare Mango Fruit Bars. At a skinny 60 calories and only 11 grams of sugar, Fruttare Mango packs big flavor yet less sugar than most store-bought frozen fruit bars.
Health Benefits: Dark leafy greens are fiber-rich, full of vitamins and sport two potent antioxidants: lutein for healthy eyes and heart, and beta-carotene for a healthy immune system, skin, and bones.
DIY Recipe: Green smoothies typically start with at least one dark leafy green (kale, spinach) and add other vegetables, along with a bit of fruit to keep things sweet. Eating Well magazine’s Green Smoothie or Good Green Tea Smoothie are good choices that use whole fruits and vegetables and so offer plenty of healthy fiber.
Lazy Cook’s Substitute: Unfortunately, the supermarket choices here aren’t as good as they should be. Supermarket “green” drinks typically list fruit juices as their main ingredients and sadly contain very little of the “green stuff.” So what you’re sipping is a lot of simple fruit sugar that’s absorbed quickly instead of being buffered by the fiber in whole fruits.
For example, an 8 ounce glass of cola sports 93 calories and 26 grams of simple carbs. By comparison, 8 ounces (about half the bottle) of Naked Green Machine racks up a whopping 140 calories and 33 grams of simple carbs. Similarly, 8 ounces of Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness Fruit Smoothie (again, about half the bottle) weighs in with 140 calories and 30 grams of simple carbs.
Health Benefits: Filling half the plate with colorful fruits and veggies nets you all kinds of vitamins and disease-fighting chemicals. On that list:
- Anthocyanin to help keep blood vessels healthy
- Lycopene for heart health and cancer prevention
- Beta-carotene for immune, skin, and bone health
Whatever you pick, it’s all good.
DIY Recipe: The sky’s the limit on flavor combinations with fresh fruits, so go ahead and blend your own combos. You can also get easy recipes from Cooking Light for Double Berry Sorbet or refreshingly tart-sweet Pink Grapefruit Sorbet.
Lazy Cook’s Substitute: Haagen-Daz Strawberry Sorbet is one of the lowest sugar supermarket sorbets. Though there is more sugar here than in a homemade light sorbet, it has only 130 calories in half a cup.
Take advantage of these delicious and guilt-free treats to help kick off your summer. For additional information around nutrition, see the Health & Wellness section of our blog.