Summer is a great time for outdoor play, beach trips, and summer snacking. Unfortunately, a lot of our favorite summer foods are loaded with sugar and goodness knows what else. Of course we can’t resist the occasional trip to the ice cream shop or indulging our kids with those candies we gorged ourselves with as kids, but if you’re trying to keep an eye on your family’s overall health, here are a few of my favorite swaps to make those sweet summer moments a little healthier and as a bonus, they're tons of fun to make WITH the kids, no matter what their age!
There’s nothing like a cold lemonade on a hot summer day! But the stuff you get in the grocery store is usually far too sweet and loaded with a ton of unnecessary ingredients. Whether you’re making it from a can or buying it off the shelf, it doesn’t make much difference. You’re getting a lot of sugar, and virtually no vitamin c, as vitamin c degrades with heat, light, and time.
Instead, squeeze your own lemons, add some water, and your sweetener of choice! For a completely sugar-free version, you can use stevia. If your kids don’t love the stevia aftertaste, try adding a bit of a natural sweetener like maple syrup. You’d be surprised how much less you’ll end up adding when you get to choose your sweetness level! For a fun twist, you can toss in fresh or frozen berries to add fun flavor options and to add a bit of sweetness, naturally. Or throw the squeezed juice into a blender, add water, ice and a date or two and et voila you’ve got a blended lemonade without any added sugars!
2. Ice Pops
It’s so easy to make your own healthy ice pops, it’s a wonder anyone even buys the store-bought versions! At its most complex, if you can make a smoothie, you can make an ice pop! Simply blend together your favorite fruit and veggies and freeze. Want to get more creative? Add non-dairy milk, cacao powder, nut butter, whole pieces of fruit….anything you can think of! Then pour into BPA-free ice pop molds like these ones, pop into the freezer and hit the beach. Such an epic treat to return home to!!!
If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few great combos for inspiration:
- Frozen strawberries, cacao powder, almond milk
- Pineapple and coconut milk
- Naturally flavored sparkling water with frozen berries
- Kale, kiwi, avocado & lime
- Your leftover lemonade from above - add a few sprigs of mint to totally elevate this sweet treat!
The possibilities really are endless, and you can have so much fun with the kids trying new combinations! I’d encourage you to use actual fruit and veggie in place of simply freezing already processed juices. Ice pops are a great way to please your kids AND make sure they’re getting in some good vitamins, phytonutrients, and essential fiber too!
3. Frozen Bananas
There are a lot of great ice cream alternatives available on the market today, but even those aren’t something you want to be eating all the time. One of my favorite kid-tested alternatives is frozen bananas. With 3 simple ingredients you have a total summer-time winner here!
Now, this isn’t just any old frozen banana, it’s both a culinary masterpiece and an activity that the kids will LOVE too!
- The night before, peel bananas, cut each in half crosswise, and insert an ice pop stick into the flat/cut end. Lay them on top of parchment paper on a tray, and pop into the freezer.
- The next day, mix together vegan chocolate/carob chips* (a handful will cover approximately 4 banana halves) and 1-2 tsp of coconut oil and melt in a double boiler.
- Remove the bananas from the freezer, and dunk in the chocolate, spooning the chocolate over until it's fully encased. The coconut oil will allow the chocolate to form a shell around the banana, almost instantly! No more "magic shell" from a squeeze bottle with 10+ questionable ingredients!!
- From there, eat as is or roll your banana in shredded coconut, chopped nuts, whatever your heart desires! The kids will have LOTS of creative ideas, I’m sure!
* my favorite brands are Enjoy Life, Lily's and Simple Truth - look for dark or semi-sweet chips and check the ingredients... some are better than others. The morsels melt really fast!
Love frozen bananas? Also, check out my Nice Cream Recipe for even more inspiration!!
A few additional quick ideas:
- wash and freeze grapes - they're like little individual balls of sorbet! Same goes for blueberries!
- grind up ice cubes in the blender and make a mixture of 1 tsp water & 1 tsp maple syrup in a squeeze bottle and let your kid dress their own snow cone!
- fill a bowl with frozen raspberries and drizzle a little balsamic glaze over the top!
- mix up fresh berries and seasonal stone fruits, add fresh chopped mint and some finely diced dates!
Making healthy versions of summer treats can be a lot of fun for the whole family, and lets your creativity shine! It need not be complicated and nor do you need any special equipment. Simply throwing some fruit and fresh mint into an ice cube tray and topping with water is such an easy sweet treat to add to a big glass of water for when the temperatures rise and really helps keep everyone hydrated too!!
What are your favorite ways to health-ify summer treats?