Cool Treats

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If you grew up in an area that experienced warm summer weather, then you already know that enjoying tasty ice-cold treats during days when the temperature is soaring is one of the supreme delights of childhood. If your little ones are clamoring for delicious heat-relieving confections this season, you may be reluctant to provide them due to the amount of fat and sugar that many of these delectable delights contain. However, you can easily create frozen treats at home that will surpass the store-bought type in taste, as well as pack a hefty nutritional punch, while being light on the sugar and fat. All you need to get started is a freezer and some fresh produce from your garden or the local farmers market.

The most basic hot weather fruity treat is simply frozen berries. You can place them flat on a cookie sheet on wax paper. This works best for blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries and loganberries. After they are frozen, the berries can be popped into mouths that need quick respite from the heat of a sizzling summer afternoon. This method also works well with individual grapes.

Ice-cold fruity smoothies are another healthy option that can be quickly and easily made from berries and other summer fruit. Using plain yogurt, fruit juice and milk as a base, you can whip up delicious shakes in the blender using pretty much any type of fruit that you choose. Using frozen fruit reduces or eliminates the need for ice. All types of berries and bananas seem to go particularly well together, and those who want a little extra sweetness without using refined sugar can sprinkle in some cinnamon and drizzle in some honey. (Tip:  if you have too many bananas ripe at once, you can peel, slice and freeze one in a zip bag for future smoothies.)

Remember how much you loved slurping on old-fashioned popsicles back in your childhood days? Your children can enjoy the same treat without the bothersome sugar rush that used to drive your parents crazy when you and your siblings got all hopped up on empty calories. All you've got to do is put 100 percent juice in the blender, add some cubed watermelon, peaches, bananas, mangoes, apricots, plums, grapes or whole berries if they're small. Blend until well-mixed, pour into popsicle molds, and freeze. (You can use small paper cups with a stick or plastic spoon in a pinch.) In only a few short hours, you'll have a healthy and delicious hot weather snack that won't leave your children bouncing off the walls due to an overabundance of refined sugar.

Don't be afraid to get creative when making your summertime treats, and allowing your children to help out will teach them basic kitchen skills as well as spark an interest in good nutrition.


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