Seriously cool treats…

May 20th, 2011

Breakfast Television was a blast this morning! Ryan and I chatted about “seriously cool treats” and healthier alternatives to help beat the summer heat. Check out the video clip here. Thanks again BT!

Summer has finally arrived, and that means it’s time to switch gears in the kitchen and move from the warm and comforting foods of winter to the more cool and refreshing foods of summer. When it’s hot and humid outside there’s only one thing to do – cool off, and quick.

Everyone needs a sure-fire way to cool off, but if that way is an ice cream everyday it will most certainly add up in the calorie, fat and sugar department. Most ice cream has at least 150 calories per ½ cup (125 ml) and many gourmet brands have more than double that amount. Frozen yogurt and low-fat ice cream might be low in fat but they can be high in sugar and calories. Make sure to read the label and compare the product to the regular ice cream version. Try not to eat straight out of the ice cream carton, lol. It’s hard to tell how much you’ve eaten and it makes it easy to eat too much. Serve yourself a small portion in a separate bowl. A reasonable serving size is ½ cup (125 mL).

Iced cappuccino is popular this time of year too, but such frozen speciality beverages are usually more than just coffee. Many iced cappuccino’s have upwards of 300-350 calories and 4-5 tsp of both fat and sugar. If it’s too hot for a steaming cup of coffee, consider getting your coffee just over ice and skip the fancy flavours.

The good news is there are many “Blizzard” alternatives that can be easily prepared at home using simple and seasonal ingredients and are sure to cool you down, in a healthy way, on the hottest of summer days.

Try these seriously cool treat ideas…

Have fun with fruit.

 Why not get a serving of fruit while still enjoying a cool treat? Add a Popsicle stick to strawberries or bananas. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze for one hour. Once frozen, add nuts or a drizzle of dark chocolate. Or add fruit to skewers and enjoy fresh, or better yet grill your fruit skewers and enjoy that little something extra!

Go bananas.

Kids go crazy for these delicious freezer treats. Take a whole banana, cut it in half and insert a Popsicle stick. Roll the banana in yogurt and then granola or plain chopped nuts. Freeze and enjoy – delish!

Try granita!

Granita means flavoured ice in Italian – and indeed, granita looks like shaved ice (or a crunchy “slushie”). Popular flavours are chocolate, espresso and fruit. Start with a liquid – puree some fruit with water or brew up a large pot of coffee and let cool. Pour the liquid into a shallow glass or ceramic container and place in the freezer. Every 30 minutes, use a fork to break up the ice crystals that are forming. After two hours you should have a mixture of crunchy flavoured ice crystals. Grab a cup and a spoon and enjoy!

Herb-up your H20.

Plain water with ice can be given that extra kick with everything from lemon wedges, to floating frozen berries, but what about fresh herbs? Fresh chopped mint or lemon balm is amazing. Super refreshing and calorie free!

Choose sherbet or sorbet instead of ice cream or gelato.

Made with fruit, water, a little bit of honey and sometimes low-fat milk (for sherbet) they have less fat than ice cream. Try making your own Strawberry Banana Sorbet for a light dessert.

Make your own “Smoothicles!”

Smoothies can be made into the most delicious ice-cream like treats. I like to call them “Smoothicles.” Using Greek yogurt, skim-milk and your favourite addition (berries, bananas, espresso, pure vanilla, peanut butter etc.) create a delicious smoothie, then freeze in speciality cups or even ice-cube trays with Popsicle sticks and enjoy!

Cool down with soup.

Soups are not just for winter! Enjoy soups that can be eaten cold too. They’re refreshing, delicious and can be enjoyed as a meal or as a “soup shot” during your next dinner party. Carrot-Orange Soup is simply carrots, onions and garlic gently cooked in chicken stock until tender. Orange juice is added at the end to brighten the flavour and take the soup to another level. Puree with an emersion blender. Serve chilled and garnished with finely chopped scallion. There is a lot of nutrition packed into a small portion and a great way to increase your daily vegetable intake!

Happy summer!