Cool & Fruity Treats for Sweet Summertime

What comes to mind when you think about summer? Barbecues, baseball, a break from school, longer days spent at the pool? Undoubtedly, you think about sizzling temperatures, too! As the temperatures continue to rise this summer, I’m sharing some fruity treats that are sure to help you cool down even as July continues to heat up.

Each one of these simple snacks highlights the natural sweetness summertime has to offer. Yes, these snacks are kid-friendly, but they’re adult-friendly too (because I don’t necessarily believe in “kid food”).


Make-Your-Own Banana Bites

IMG_1576What’s rich, creamy, and sweet AND loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants? Dark-chocolate dipped banana bites! You can find similar (and perhaps prettier, more uniform) versions of these cool treats in your grocery store. The catch? You’ll pay a higher price than you’d pay making them yourself. Plus, you’ll miss out on making them your own by adding peanut butter or Sunbutter between bite-sized pieces of banana, rolling them in chopped nuts or shredded coconut before the chocolate hardens, or dipping them in the darkest the chocolate you can find (for more health-promoting, disease fighting antioxidants). Here’s how you make them at home…

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Bananas
  • Dark Chocolate (I used a 16 oz. bag of dark chocolate morsels)
  • Optional: Assorted toppings such as Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Chopped Nuts, Shredded Coconut, Sea Salt, etc.

Instructions

  1. Peel ripe bananas and slice into bite-sized pieces or chunks…you can choose the size.
  2. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Cover and pop into the freezer until firm (at least 1 hour).
  3. If you plan to use toppings, place them in shallow bowls and keep them nearby.
  4. When bananas are frozen, melt dark chocolate over a double-boiler or in a microwave-safe bowl. The package should provide instructions for melting. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.
  5. Remove bananas from freezer. One-by-one, quickly spoon chocolate over banana bite until completely covered. The chocolate will harden quickly after touching the cold banana. Let any excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
  6. Now is the time to add your toppings, dipping or sprinkling them over the banana. Place the banana bite back on the lined baking tray and repeat until each banana bite is covered in chocolate. Note: You’ll want to keep the bananas as cold as possible during this process.
  7. Place banana bites in airtight container, and pop them back into the freezer until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Chilled Watermelon Pops

July is National Watermelon Month, and what better way to celebrate the perfect sweetness of watermelons than with Chilled Watermelon Pops? Watermelon is such a refreshing snack, and you may be surprised to know it can help with hydration.

Ingredients

  • Watermelon
  • Popsicle Sticks

Instructions

  1. Quarter watermelon lengthwise.
  2. Take each quarter of the watermelon and slice into 1″ – 1.5″ slices. The slices should be shaped like triangles.
  3. Take a sharp knife and make a small slit in the center of the watermelon rind.
  4. Insert popsicle stick into slit.
  5. Enjoy immediately or place in the refrigerator or freezer for an extra cool snack to be enjoyed later.

Yogurt Bark

During fall and winter months, I love making peppermint and other types of candy barks with white chocolate. In a frozen, nutritious twist on this holiday favorite of mine, the yogurt stands in for white chocolate and colorful fruit takes center stage rather than candy. By combining the fruit which contains carbohydrates with protein-packed yogurt, this snack is sweet and more satisfying!

Ingredients

  • 1 large container of yogurt (Choose your favorite flavor.)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional; best if using plain yogurt)
  • Assorted chopped fruits

Instructions

  1. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. If using plain yogurt, mix with vanilla extract.
  3. Spoon or pour yogurt onto baking sheet and spread to even thickness.
  4. Sprinkle chopped fruit onto yogurt, lightly pressing into the yogurt. Freeze 3-4 hours or until frozen solid.
  5. Break apart and enjoy! Store extra in the freezer in an airtight container or zip-loc bag.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy all the cool, fresh fruit summertime has to offer?

If you liked this post, you may also like:

 

Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin Spice Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Fall Recipe

If you’re like me, you have certain memories, flavors, and smells attached to each season. When I think of fall, my mind goes to changing leaves, cooler temperatures, college football, and my favorite comfort foods. Included in my list of fall comfort foods are soul-warming flavors like apple, cranberries, cinnamon, and pumpkin (so cliche, but so true, right?!).

With this Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal, it feels like I’m basically eating fall in a bowl. I prefer to enjoy it with the back door open, letting the cool breeze in while listening to rustling leaves and watching them fall from the trees in our back yard. My ideal morning…and if it’s a Saturday, College GameDay may also be on TV in the background. Y’all know this kind of weather doesn’t last long in Memphis, so I take full advantage when I can!

That being said, I also recognize mornings rarely happen this way for many of you, and fortunately, this oatmeal is perfect for reheating on a busy work or school week morning. The recipe fills a 9 x 13″ dish, so there’s usually plenty leftovers to go around. Pair with a little protein (like eggs, milk, nuts, or yogurt), and you’ve got a delicious, nourishing breakfast that will put you back in your happy place for at least a few minutes before breakfast time is over.

Pumpkin Spice Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Fall Recipe

INGREDIENTS

For the cooked apples:

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 large apples, peeled and sliced (your favorite variety…I use Granny Smith)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

For the oatmeal:

1 cup steel cut oats
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 cups very hot water (*Kitchen Hack* I use our Keurig without a pod for this. Easy!)
½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 cups old-fashioned oats
¼ cup maple syrup
½-1 cup dried cranberries or walnuts (optional)
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
½ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Place the steel cut oats in a large bowl with 4 tablespoons of butter.  Pour the hot water over the oats and cover the bowl.  Let stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the apple slices, cinnamon, and sugar.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are golden brown and caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

After the steel cut oats have finished soaking, stir in the old fashioned oats, ½ cup of brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the pumpkin, milk and vanilla.  Stir the pumpkin mixture into the oat mixture. Stir in the walnuts or dried cranberries (optional).

Spread the apples over the bottom of a lightly greased 2 quart-ish baking dish.  Pour the oatmeal mixture on top of the apples.  Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

**To reheat leftovers, add a splash of milk and heat in microwave ~1 minute.

Adapted from:

Annie’s Eats & King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking


If you liked this post, you may also like:

Nourish Your Noggin with These 5 Brain Foods

The human brain is one of our most powerful and valuable organs. Though it accounts for only 2% of our body’s total weight, the brain requires a lot of energy and several key nutrients to function at its best. Last month, I had the opportunity to talk about nutrition for brain health on Local Memphis Live, and of course, I didn’t want you to miss out, so here are 5 brain-boosting foods to help you ensure your noggin stays nourished…

berries, brain food, antioxidantsBerries

Berries contain flavonoids, a specific group of potent antioxidants that give berries their beautiful colors. They also play a role in numerous cognitive skills like learning and decision making all while protecting brain cells from oxidative damage.

Incorporating berries into yogurt, oatmeal, or salads not only adds fresh, natural sweetness. Berries also contain antioxidants that help boost cognition, coordination, and memory.

Think you can only get a brain boost from berries during summer months? Think again…You can get your berry fix year round! Buy them fresh in the summer, frozen in the winter.

Eggs Brain Food

Eggs

If you’ve been avoiding eggs out of concern for the cholesterol and/or fat content, it’s time to add them back in. Research is now suggesting that eggs do not contribute to cardiovascular disease risk. In fact, our brains need cholesterol and fat to function at their best. With the brain being our fattiest organ, made up of 65% fat, including 25% of our body’s total cholesterol, you can be confident eggs are an egg-cellent choice and nutritional powerhouses.

Eggs contain choline, one of the superstar brain nutrients that many Americans are deficient in. Choline is necessary to produce acetylcholine, which plays a critical role in memory. For example, studies have linked acetylcholine deficiencies to memory loss and Alzheimer’s.

Eggs also contain B vitamins, folate, and vitamin D…nutrients that play a crucial role in brain health.

Tempted to ditch the yolk? Don’t do it! Eat the whole egg as the yolk contains most of the nutrients your brain needs. Plus, the protein and fat is likely to keep you satisfied much longer than that morning bagel alone!

Salmon, Brain Food

Salmon

When you’re researching (or googling) “what to eat for brain health,” you’ll begin to notice that DHA or omega-3 fatty acid is one of the single most important elements required for optimal brain health. With the brain being made mostly of fat, our brains need those Omega-3’s!

Omega-3s are strongly anti-inflammatory which is great news as inflammation has been linked to multiple mental health concerns. For example, increased Omega-3 intake may help to alleviate a spectrum of mental health concerns, from anxiety and irritability to depression and even schizophrenia. In contrast, insufficient DHA is a potential factor in depression, bipolar disorder, premature brain aging, age-related cognitive decline, brain shrinkage, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Omega-3 fatty acids containing DHA can be found in oily fish like wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel, and tuna. These types of fish are also excellent sources of protein which is needed to form mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine as well as B12, an essential vitamin for a healthy brain and nervous system. It’s ideal to include these types of fish twice per week.

Walnut, Brain Food

Walnuts

Well, if you hadn’t noticed yet, the low-fat diet trend has officially been a “big fat failure,” especially when it comes to brain health. So many “brain foods” are loaded with healthy fats, and walnuts are no exception…plus, they look like little brains!

Walnuts contain a number of compounds that protect our neurons from injury or degeneration, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants. Bottom line: Research shows walnut consumption may support brain health.

Snack on walnuts, sprinkle them into your oatmeal, or even try out one of my favorite recipes: Walnut & Rosemary Oven Fried Chicken.

Steak, Vitamin B12, Brain Food

Beef

That’s right…BEEF is a brain food! Meat eaters can get a brain boost from beef, which provides plenty of energizing and balancing B vitamins, specifically B12 which is only found in animal foods.

Low B12 levels have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and age-related memory loss. If your levels are lower than they should be, you may also experience symptoms like poor memory, depression and fatigue, so fire up the grill and enjoy this nutritious and delicious meat!


I recently came across a quote that said, “Essentially, fats build your brain, and proteins unite it. Carbohydrates fuel your brain, and micronutrients defend it.” Even though this post highlights only 5 specific foods, it’s clear that there are many more that give our brains a boost, so So if you want to keep your mind nourished and healthy, getting a variety and balance of nutrients is a no-brainer!

What’s your favorite brain food and how do you incorporate it into your meals or snacks?

If you liked this post, you may also like:

Easy “Have it Your Way” Chili Recipe

Fleet Feet Sports Zoom Through The Zoo

Through much of my childhood, my dad owned a running shoe and apparel store called Fleet Feet Sports. I was still playing dress-up and lugging around my Barney & Baby Bop stuffed animals at the time he opened the store, but I still remember chowing down on this chili at that early age. Chili nights were the only nights that my parents didn’t have to beg me to drink my milk. Every bowl of chili I ate was served with a glass of ice cold milk to cool my mouth off from the spices in the chili.

Weird combination? Maybe. But I loved it!

Before you stop reading because you don’t like spicy food…

Have it your way: Spice

The thing I love about this chili is you can “have it your way.” In other words, yours can have as little or as much heat as your family prefers. In the 2-alarm chili kit (which you can find at your local grocery store or online), you’ll find little packets of pre-measured chili powder, paprika, salt, dehydrated onion & garlic, cumin, oregano, red pepper, and corn masa flour.

Use this guide for spicing up your chili…

How spicy do you like your chili (using 2 alarm chili kit)?

An added bonus…

No need to go purchase and measure out a bunch of spices for this chili! How easy (and inexpensive) is that?

Have it your way: Protein

Right about now, you may be asking: “How does your childhood and your dad’s store relate to chili?” Great question. One of my dad’s employees (who happened to be vegan) gave him the recipe for this chili, making him promise to never put meat in it. Since my dad made the promise, he typically incorporated veggie crumbles, but you could also make it with beans and veggies only.

As a meat-eater, I’m so glad I wasn’t the one who made that promise! My family typically incorporates ground beef, turkey, or venison into the recipe. All you’ll need to do is brown your protein of choice in a large Dutch oven before adding the other ingredients.

Whether you like your chili meatless, beefy, with ground turkey and with mild, medium, or spicy hot flavors, this chili recipe can be customized to your taste buds and flavor preferences!

Are you understanding why I call this Easy “Have it Your Way” Chili now?

Let’s recap…

  • All spices are pre-measured in one little box.
  • You can make the chili mild, medium, spicy, or super spicy.
  • You can incorporate the protein of your choosing.

Finally, guess what else you can do to have this chili your way?

Have it your way: Toppings

Garnish you chili with the toppings of your choice! Try cheese, avocado, scallions, red onion, cilantro, sour cream, or Greek yogurt.


Easy “Have It Your Way” Chili

This recipe makes quite a bit of chili which is great for leftovers or freezing for a later date. The chili tastes great reheated in the microwave or on the stove. If thick enough, it could also be incorporated into a chili cheese quesadilla.

INGREDIENTS

1 pound ground beef, turkey, venison, veggie crumbles (protein of your choice)

8 ounce can tomato sauce

1 can Rotel (10 oz)

1 can red beans (16 oz), drained & rinsed

1 can navy beans (16 oz), drained & rinsed

1 can kidney beans (16 oz), drained & rinsed

1 can pinto beans (16 oz), drained & rinsed

1 box 2 Alarm Chili Kit (see notes below)

  • Add salt to taste. Personally, I’ve never used the whole packet.
  • Add red pepper to taste.
    • Mild: Skip the red pepper.
    • Medium: Use one-third to half of the packet.
    • Hot: Use at least 1/2 of the packet.
    • Super spicy: Use the whole packet.
  • Omit masa (unless the chili needs to be thickened).

1 cup water

DIRECTIONS

  1. In large pot, brown ground beef. Drain if needed.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer.
  3. Top with cheese, sour cream, avocado, or other toppings of your choice.

It’s chilly outside, so what better time to make this easy “Have it Your Way” Chili inside? How will you be making your chili? What are your favorite chili toppings? I’d love to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like these posts:

Feed Your Family (Without Becoming a Short-Order Cook!)

design-3

Sally: I’d like the chef salad please with the oil and vinegar on the side and the apple pie a la mode…

Waitress: Chef and apple a la mode.

Sally: …but I’d like the pie heated, and I don’t want the ice cream on top. I want it on the side, and I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it’s real. If it’s out of a can, then nothing.

Waitress: Not even the pie?

Sally: No, just the pie, but then not heated.

Waitress: Uh huh.


Some of you may remember the above scene from the 1989 movie When Harry Met Sally. Perhaps you could substitute your child’s name for Sally’s and your name for the waitress’s. Is pleasing your family at meals or getting everyone to eat the same thing a daily struggle? Now that your family is getting back into a new groove with the new school year, perhaps it’s time to incorporate some new strategies at your family meals…

Internationally recognized Registered Dietitian and Family Therapist Ellyn Satter developed the Division of Responsibility in Feeding also known as the gold standard for feeding children. She outlines the concept in her book How To Get Your Kid To Eat…But Not Too Much: “Parents are responsible for what is presented to eat and the manner in which it is presented. Children are responsible for how much and even whether they eat.”

How do you apply the Division of Responsibility in your home?

1. Choose a time to plan the next week’s meals, allowing your children to give their requests or preferences. As you plan, ask yourself these 2 questions:

  • Have I included a “safe food,” one I know my child will accept, at each meal?
  • Am I choosing a variety of foods at each meal?

Once your plan is complete, consider posting the menu somewhere in your home so everyone will know the answer to that ever-important question: “What’s for dinner?”

2. Serve meals and snacks at the table with minimal distractions at consistent times throughout the day.

3. Allow your child to choose from the foods you are offering.

Don’t make substitutions an option. By including a “safe food” at each meal, you are ensuring your child will not go hungry. By providing regular meals and snacks, you are guaranteeing an opportunity for your child to “make up for” those times he or she eats less at a particular meal.

4. Make mealtimes pleasant, and avoid pressuring your child to eat.

Remember: Children are responsible for whether and how much they choose to eat. Enjoy this built-in opportunity to model healthy eating for your child by eating a balanced meal when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied. Brigid Kay, Registered Dietitian at Schilling Nutrition Therapy encourages her three children to try “one bite to be polite.” It may take 15-20 bites over time for a child to accept a food, so continue offering a variety of foods at meals whether your child enjoys them or not.


Feeding your family doesn’t have to mean being a short-order cook. Planning meals may take a little time on the front end, but imagine the fun and peace that could come from implementing the Division of Responsibility in your home starting this school year!

A link to this article may also be found in the April 2015 Edition of Good Health Magazine.

1353177816609_3434885