Healthier Summer Treats for Kids
When it's 90-some degrees at the start of a hot Iowa summer, I feel like I'm melting. The temperature could always be worse (hello relatives in Kansas!) but mid-nineties is hot enough for me. My kids and I make some attempts to cool off, like playing around at the splash pad, but it's still just so hot, hot, hot. It gets me thinking about chilly treat ideas to help beat the heat (and if the treats are healthier than a hot fudge sundae, that's a double win). Believe me, my kids don't need any more energy from loads of sugar...they have enough already!
When I asked my mom to describe her favorite childhood summertime treats, she reminisced about going for ice cream at the Tastee Freeze with her family. I also went there as a child, and it's so nostalgic to hear it mentioned again (note to self: must bring my kids there!) Another favorite of hers (and mine too!) are banana splits, a classic summer dessert. Bananas, cherries, fudge, pineapple, and whipped cream; what's not to love? I'm a total fan of classic summer treats like ice cream and popsicles, but here are five additional suggestions for cool treats with a healthier spin!
1. Banana Ice Cream
Bananas can be a surprising substitute for real ice cream! We were gifted a Yonanas Banana Ice Cream Maker, but you can still easily make banana ice cream without the machine. Simply peel a banana and freeze it. Then when you're ready for a treat, take it out and simply let it thaw until you're able to mash it with a fork (but it should still be cold and slightly frozen). Yum! Just remember to peel the banana before you freeze it. I made this mistake once and it was a mess to try to peel the banana while frozen. My kids currently think banana ice cream is the same as real ice cream, but I know they will catch on to me someday!
According to the Paleta Girls website, "Paletas are Mexican fresh-fruit ices, traditionally made with all natural ingredients." There are a large variety of paleta recipes on the internet. Last summer, I made cucumber paletas for my kids. I had so many cucumbers harvested from my garden and needed ways to use them (even after giving a bunch away!) I came across a pineapple, cucumber, and lime paleta recipe, and we made them everyday until the cucumbers were gone. If cucumbers aren't your thing, no worries! There are many, many different combinations of fresh fruit paletas that you can discover and try.
3. Healthy "Orange Julius"
4. Watermelon Slices
To me, nothing says summer like a big, juicy, watermelon! Biting into a slice, feeling the juice drip through your fingers, and tasting the cold, refreshing sweet flavor just reminds me of picnics, lightning bugs, and fireworks. It just screams summertime! Don't just enjoy this treat sporadically at picnics and BBQ's. Pull the watermelon slices out of the fridge anytime you want a nice cool treat. My kids love it! I know some people who love their watermelon with salt, but we just stick with the unsalted version.
5. Ice Milk
Ice milk is a nice alternative to ice cream. For several summers, my mother has been making ice milk in her ice cream machine. It's much lighter and not creamy like ice cream, but it has a delicious vanilla flavor and it's a perfect way to cool off. Here's a recipe, via Food.com that has directions on making ice milk with or without an ice cream machine.
I would decrease the amount of sugar in this recipe because I don't like it overly sweet, but according to the reviews, many people like it as is!
What are your favorite healthier summertime treats? What is your favorite summer treat from your childhood? I always need new ideas for my kids and would love to hear yours! Happy snacking, and stay cool!