By Maureen Callahan Next Avenue
Nostalgic as the ice cream truck jingle sounds, the high sugar, high-fat treats it dishes up aren’t the best way to keep cool in fiftysomething years.
Smarter strategies for “chilling out” call for lighter, nutrient-packed frozen and liquid treats that don’t pile on the pounds or aggravate good health.
Check out these five easy DIY recipes (and store-bought alternatives for when you don’t have time). Finally, adult treats that let you chill with good health in mind.
1. Chocolate-Dipped Bananas
Fiftysomething benefits: The blood-pressure lowering potassium from the bananas and the health-enhancing antioxidants from the dark chocolate make for a guilt-less treat.
DIY recipe: Microwave 6 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips in a glass bowl on medium power for one minute; stir. Continue microwaving in 15-second increments until chocolate is melted. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Cut two medium bananas in half and insert popsicle sticks into cut ends. Dip banana sections in melted chocolate and freeze on tray for two hours, or until firm. Place in freezer bags and store until ready to eat.
Lazy Cook’s substitute: Choose the dark chocolate version of Diana’s Bananas. Just two ingredients here — bananas and dark chocolate.
2. Fruit-Infused Waters
Fiftysomething benefits: Hydration. Hydration. Hydration. With a less-than-reliable thirst mechanism in later years, it’s common for water reserve to drop too low.
DIY recipe: Clean and slice up to 1 cup of any of your favorite seasonal fruits or veggies and add them, along with a few sprigs of fresh herbs, to a 1-quart pitcher. Fill with water and let steep in the refrigerator for two hours or longer. Serve as is, or strain out fruit mixture. Try, say, a strawberry-lime-cucumber water: Slice 12 large strawberries, one lime and one-fourth of a cucumber; add a few fresh crushed mint leaves along with ice and water and let steep. Note: For stronger flavors, muddle or crush fruits and herbs.
Lazy Cook’s substitute: Hint Water or Hint Fizz. No sugar. No fake sweeteners. This is just good old H20 (sparkling or still) with natural flavors such as apple, blood orange, blackberry or grapefruit.
3. Frozen Fruit Bars
Fiftysomething benefits: Research confirms that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may reduce risk for heart attack and stroke.
DIY recipe: Combine 1/2 pound of frozen mango chunks with 6 tablespoons light coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 tablespoon lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon lime zest in a blender. Puree until smooth and pour into four juice bar molds. (Popsicle mold sizes are wildly variable so adjust amounts as needed.) Freeze bars for four hours or until firm.
Lazy Cook’s substitute: Fruttare Mango Fruit Bars. At a skinny 60 calories and only 11 grams of sugar, Fruttare Mango packs big flavor yet less sugar than most store-bought frozen fruit bars.
4. Green Smoothies
Fiftysomething benefits: Dark leafy greens are fiber-rich, full of vitamins and sport two potent antioxidants — lutein (healthy eyes & heart) and beta-carotene (healthy immune system, skin and bones).
DIY recipe: Green smoothies typically start with at least one dark leafy green (kale, spinach) and add other vegetables, along with a bit of fruit to keep things sweet. Eating Well magazine’s Green Smoothie or Good Green Tea Smoothie are good choices that use whole fruits and vegetables and so offer plenty of healthy fiber.
Lazy Cook’s substitute: Choices here are abysmal. Supermarket “green” drinks typically list fruit juices as their main ingredients and sadly contain very little of the “green stuff.” So what you’re sipping is a lot of simple fruit sugar — think adult soda pop — that’s absorbed quickly instead of being buffered by the fiber in whole fruits. Don’t believe us? Compare the numbers. An 8-ounce glass of cola sports 93 calories, 26 grams of simple carbs. Eight ounces (about half the bottle) of Naked Green Machine racks up 140 calories and 33 grams of simple carbs. Eight ounces of Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness Fruit Smoothie (again, about half the bottle) weighs in with 140 calories and 30 grams of simple carbs.
5. Fruit Sorbets
Fiftysomething benefits: Filling half the plate with colorful fruits and veggies nets you all kinds of vitamins and disease-fighting chemicals. On that list: anthocyanidins (that help keep blood vessels healthy) in berries, lycopene (good for heart health and cancer prevention) in pink grapefruit and beta-carotene (for immune, skin, and bone health) in aprictos. Whatever you pick, it’s all good.
DIY recipe: The sky’s the limit on flavor combinations with fresh fruits so go ahead and blend your own combos. Or check out these easy recipes from Cooking Light for Double Berry Sorbet or refreshingly tart-sweet Pink Grapefruit Sorbet.
Lazy Cook’s substitute: Haagen-Daz Strawberry Sorbet. One of the lowest sugar supermarket sorbets. More sugar than a homemade light sorbet but just 130 calories in half a cup.