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?

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Squeezing the Truth Out of Juicing

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a new policy statement regarding juice consumption, stating juice should not be introduced to infants before 1 year unless clinically indicated and should be limited for toddlers, children, and teens.

In the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, the federal government allows juice to count as a serving of fruit yet urges Americans to consume primarily whole fruits for the benefits Juice, Juice Bar, Juicing
dietary fiber provides. Meanwhile, Instagram feeds are chock-full of “green juice” posts and business continues to boom at juice bars, leaving many people perplexed about whether or not juice fits into a healthy adult’s diet. It’s time to squeeze the truth out of the longstanding juicing trend.

Juice is simply the liquid extracted from fruits and vegetables, leaving the fibrous material behind. Fruits and vegetables are primarily sources of carbohydrates, containing natural sugars that provide their trademark sweetness. Carbohydrates tend to digest quickly in comparison to other macronutrients, but the presence of fiber as in whole fruit helps slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream leading to greater satiety and less of a spike in blood sugar levels.

Juice is often promoted as a health food, a substance to cleanse or detoxify the body, or a means to lose weight. To set the record straight: juice is not needed for health, nor does it cleanse the body. The body has vital organs responsible for detoxification, and no one food causes weight gain or loss.

Though labels on bottles of juice boast containing the juice of 2 apples, 2 cucumbers, a cup each of spinach and kale, blueberries, and strawberries, most people could not imagine sitting down to eat all of this produce in one sitting! Downing a glass of juice is not the same as eating several servings of fruit just as sipping chicken broth is not the same as eating a chicken breast.

Still, juice can be a valuable source of vitamins and minerals on days it’s difficult to consume adequate fruits and veggies. Since most of the fiber is left behind during processing, juice is ideal for those with medical conditions warranting a low fiber diet. Similarly, individuals who struggle to take in adequate energy or have high calorie needs may incorporate juice for additional nourishment without filling up on fiber. For these individuals, the inclusion of juice boosts variety and consumption of important nutrients their bodies need.

Medical conditions and energy needs aside, let’s not forget this most basic truth about juice: Sometimes a cold, sweet glass of juice is just plain delicious and refreshing, and it’s perfectly normal to select foods (and beverages) purely for enjoyment from time to time.

Still deciding whether to juice or not to juice? Keep these strategies in mind:

  • Use your God-given juicers (aka teeth) most of the time. With consumption of more whole fruits and vegetables comes greater satiety, more fiber, and a slower pace.
  • To minimize peaks and valleys in blood sugar and appetite, incorporate appropriately sized portions of juice (typically ~1/2 – 1 cup) as part of a meal or snack rather than sipping it throughout the day or drinking it alone.
  • Add juice into smoothies with Greek yogurt or whey protein for a satisfying, balanced snack or consider blending your fruit rather than juicing it for a higher fiber beverage.

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