Healthy and delicious alternatives to traditional summer snacks

If the jingle-jangle of an ice cream truck evokes childhood memories of long days spent playing in the sun, you’re probably one of many adults who associate ice cream (and its many delicious derivatives) with summer.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Who wouldn’t want to cool off with a scrumptious treat after spending hours playing in the hot summer sun?

The good news is we can still set our inner child free while being mindful of what we are putting in our body. Summer fun doesn’t have to be accompanied by junk food!

We’ve searched high and low to share with you some of the best brands and simplest recipesso that you can enjoy some summertime treats and still feel good about what you are eating. Read on to discover some of the best-kept secrets out there:

Cool treats

Ever take a bite of a product that says “sugar free” and wonder why it is so sickeningly sweet? That would be the artificial sweetener. And in most cases, it’s no better for you (or worse!) than sugar. But get this, your first bite (or lick) of these healthy popsicles might surprise you for a different reason.

They actually taste like the fruit pictured on the cover of the packaging (yup, we’re serious). And that’s because, well, each ice lolly has only one ingredient (e.g., apple, mango or pear) with the exception of the tropical flavor which combines a few fruits. These “real fruit” popsicles are seriously refreshingfor more than one reason.

If you don’t want to spend the extra bucks on a premium product, consider creating your own healthy popsicles (or freezies) by following these simple recipes (and getting this convenient pouch). You’ll be cooling off with a healthy, low-sugar treat in no time!

Unsweetened fruity treats are one thing, but it’s hard to imagine eating unsweetened ice cream. In fact, if you think about it long enough, you’ll most likely come to the conclusion that it would be quite revolting. Luckily, there’s this magical thing called “one ingredient” ice cream.

It’s super simple to make, and it’s naturally sweet due to its one and only ingredient: bananas! You can also find some other fun options that combine bananas (a.k.a., the natural sweetener) with other fruits of choice. Try it, and you may never go back to the real thing.  

On the BBQ

These glorious things are described as the “world’s best veggie burger.” And the truth is, they might actually live up to their name. Perfect for carnivores and vegetarians alike, these veggies burgers are a healthy (and tasty) alternative to a regular beef burger. And if you just can’t live without meat, it’s always healthier to make your own. You get to decide what goes in them, and how big they are. (We vote for sliders!) Simply opt for leaner meat options, like turkey, bison or salmon, or if you’re a traditionalist, buy the leanest beef you can find.

Sausages are another summer favorite, and no wonder! They’re bursting with flavor. And fat. And salt. But unlike hot dogs (which we don’t ever recommend), you can find some healthier alternatives if you start reading labels like a pro.

Look for lean sausages (you can go as low as 5%) that are low in sodium and have fewer ingredients than their counterparts. And try to limit how often you eat sausages, since even the healthier ones aren’t all that healthy. Unless you’re going with a vegetarian version, of course!

At a picnic

While it’s hard to imagine a picnic without finger foods, remember that snackables are more often than not pretty unhealthy. Sadly, even products marketed as a healthier alternative may not actually be any better than what they’re replacing. Take potato chips and granola bars, for example.

More and more potato chip brands are opting for “healthier oils,” like olive or avocado, giving consumers the impression that they can finally enjoy their favorite salty snack, guilt-free. Unfortunately, the type of oil doesn’t really matter, and here’s why. If you want to be sure that the chips you are eating aren’t bad for you (and have health benefits, to boot), you may want to give this recipe for nutrient-dense kale chips a try!

When it comes to granola bars, marketers have done a really good job of convincing the public that they are a healthy snack. Period. No questions asked. When, in fact, if you were to read the labels on some of the most common brands, you would see that they were high in sugar (or sugar alternatives), calories, MSG, bad oils and a number of other ingredients you don’t necessarily want to be consuming too often.

If you want to be sure that what you are buying is good for you, try these healthy, top allergen-free alternatives, or make your own at home! Not sure where to start? Browse these 22 recipes to find your favorite.

Keeping hydrated

Unless you’re sticking to water, we’ve got bad news: Most of the refreshing drinks you crave after sweating in the sun are incredibly high in sugar (and yes, this includes juice). So if you like to quench your thirst with a glass of cold fruit juice or iced tea, we say make yours at home! It’s easy, delicious and cheap. Here’s a recipe for homemade orange juice and iced tea, if you want to give it a go.

If, on a hot day, you tend to reach for a can of cold pop, why not try this sugar-free fizzy alternatives instead? This one is even loaded with prebiotics.

For more tips on how to snack healthily this summer, check out these tips from Today’s Dietitian.

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