Healthy summer treats

Summer is a fantastic season for fresh produce, tempting enough to satisfy the most discerning sweet tooth, but with an innately healthful twist. Here are ten quick and easy ways to savor the sweetness of the season.


    <b>Mango Parfait</b>

    Why I like it: This parfait incorporates the delicious tropical flavor of my favorite fruit, fresh mango.

    How I make it: Top plain Greek yogurt with chunks of fresh mango and a couple of tablespoons of granola. To tell if a mango is ripe, squeeze it gently. If the mango has a slight give, it’s ripe and ready to eat.

    What’s healthy about it: Mangos contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals and a 1 cup serving is just 100 calories. Fresh mangos are just one possibility. To help make the most of this season’s offerings, I asked some of the nation’s top nutritionists to weigh in with one of their favorite summer treats.

    <b>Dark Chocolate-Dipped Figs with Sea Salt</b>

    Why I like it: “I eat based on taste first—and these figs are tasty, for sure. Plus, fresh figs aren’t available all year round; so I love showcasing this unique fruit as often as possible when in season.”

    How I make it: “I melt 3 ounces dark chocolate pieces (at least 60 percent cacao) in a microwave-safe teacup on high for about 75 seconds. Holding the stem, I individually dunk 8 large California figs into the chocolate, coating them two-thirds of the way up to the stem. Place them on an unbleached parchment-paper lined tray and sprinkle immediately with a pinch of fleur de sel. Chill to set, but serve at room temperature.”

    Why it’s healthy: “You only need one of these divine and stunning treats to satisfy. Each is about 100 calories. Figs fit nicely within a Mediterranean-style diet and are good for the gut since they’re a terrific source of soluble fiber. To make this a win-win, you’ll get heart-friendly polyphenol benefits (and more!) from the chocolate.”

    - Jackie Newgent, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of "1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes,"

    <b>Grilled Peaches</b>

    Why I like it: “The carmelization of the natural sugars in the peach makes it taste like candy.”  

    How I make it: “Cut the peaches in half, brush lightly with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and grill on each side for about 3-4 minutes.”

    What's healthy about it: “It's a low-calorie dessert with no added sugar and peaches are loaded with potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C.” - Rachel Begun, registered dietitian nutritionist, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,

    <b>Strawberry Cheesecake Bites</b>

    Why I like it: “This is a cool summer dessert that is essentially fresh strawberries filled with a reduced-fat cream cheese and lemon powdered sugar filling.”

    How I make it: “Cut out the leaves and stems of 20 strawberries and fill each berry with the cream cheese mixture. Then, roll the tops of the berries in Graham cracker crumbs. For Memorial Day or Fourth of July, I also sometimes add a single blueberry on top of each strawberry for a real red, white and blue dessert.”

    What's healthy about it: “It's made with strawberries, which are antioxidant-packed, provide fiber, folic acid and vitamin C. Plus, this recipe has just 40 calories compared to more than 300 calories in a slice of regular strawberry cheesecake.” - Julie Upton, registered dietitian, co-founder of Appetite for Health,


    Why I like it: “What’s not to like? Fresh grapefruit sections are so sweet and juicy.”

    How I make it: “Nothing to make. Just peel the grapefruit and go. Sometimes I like it with a little balsamic vinegar, and you can serve it as an appetizer in a lettuce leaf (spinach or romaine) to make it look pretty.”

    What’s healthy about it: “Grapefruit has vitamins A and C, a little fiber, some antioxidants and tons of water content to hydrate.” - Elisa Zied, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of "Nutrition At Your Fingertips,"


    Why I like it: “I love making smoothies for my kids and it’s one of my (favorite) late afternoon snacks. Smoothies are a refreshing and delicious way to squash hunger and stay healthfully hydrated.”

    How I make it: “Although I could write a smoothie cookbook…the one that I enjoy most often is made with 1/2 baked sweet potato, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup skim milk, and 3 ice cubes. You can be inventive and also include frozen raspberries, blueberries, kale… just put the ingredients together in a blender and combine.”

    Why it’s healthy: “This smoothie is rich in protein, potassium, calcium, and an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The protein content helps to fill you up and the calories are low enough to keep from filling you out!”   - Bonnie Taub-Dix, registered dietitian nutritionist, author of "Read It Before You Eat It," and nutrition expert in New York,
    Adam Evans

    <b>Smoothie Pops</b>

    Why I like it: “They are easy to make, refreshing and perfect for curbing a sweet tooth naturally.”

    How I make it: “Blend 1 cup of your favorite milk or yogurt with 2 cups of your favorite fruit or fruit combos. Pour into popsicle molds, freeze, enjoy. You can also throw in a handful of spinach, too.”

    Why it’s healthy: “They are healthy because they are made with simple, whole food ingredients and they contain bone-building calcium, vitamin D, immune-boosting vitamin C and filling fiber.” - Dawn Jackson Blatner, registered dietitian and author of the "Flexitarian Diet."

    <b>Chocolate Coconut Cherry Pops</b>

    Why I like it: “The coconut milk base is as rich and satisfying as cream, but it's plant-based fat has been shown to boost 'good' cholesterol, rev up metabolism and fight belly fat.”

    How I make it: “I pour coconut milk into molds, add plenty of pitted cherries and chunks of dark chocolate and freeze as an ice cream novelty alternative.”

    Why it’s healthy: “Cherries are rich in immune-supporting vitamin C and contain natural substances that quell inflammation, a known trigger of aging and disease. And the good news about the health benefits of dark chocolate (I use 70 percent cacao or greater) continues to grow. It's antioxidants are heart protective, it’s been shown to curb cravings for both sweet and salty foods and it provides magnesium, a mineral that helps alleviate fatigue and improve mood. Dark chocolate is also linked to better circulation and brain activity, and best of all,  it's natural substances trigger the same sense of euphoria we experience when we’re in love!” - Cynthia Sass, registered dietitian, author of the New York Times best seller "S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches,"

    <b>Corn on the Cob</b>

    Why I like it: “The one thing I look forward to more than anything when summer is here is local corn on the cob. The taste is so sweet I feel like I am eating something I

    How I make it: “My favorite way to prepare it is to remove the husk, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with pepper and then roll in tin foil. I put it on a hot grill for around 20 minutes, constantly turning it. A delicious treat each and every time.”

    Why it’s healthy: “Corn is low in saturated fat and sodium, and is a good source of fiber, thiamin and folate.” - Keri Gans, registered dietitian nutritionist, author of "The Small Change Diet,"

    <b>Frozen Grape Kebabs</b>

    Why I like it: “Fruit kebabs are a colorful and stylish way to add nutrition to a dinner or buffet table. And kids love them too.”

    How I make it: “I always use different varieties of California grapes--the green, red or black for variety and color. Then I add other fruits like watermelon, pineapple and strawberries.  Or, for a frozen summer treat, I’ll freeze different varieties of grapes and make frozen grape kebabs for a popsicle-like treat the whole family will love.”

    Why it’s healthy: “All fresh fruit gives a nice dose of Vitamin C.  Grapes provide potassium, Vitamin K and loads of antioxidants for good health.” - Tara Gidus, registered dietitian nutritionist, and author of "Pregnancy Cooking & Nutrition for Dummies,"
    Copyright©2010 Robert Linton
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