blog Aug 06, 2015

There it is again, “Music Box Dancer” by Frank Mills. A song that for decades has been heard throughout neighbourhoods everywhere, at least the ones I've lived in, announcing the ice cream truck is somewhere close by. And before parents even have the slightest chance of distracting those little (and not so little!) ones, they are out the door and running to join the rest of the neighbourhood kids on the hunt for some cool, refreshing, sweet summer treats.

Ice cream, popsicles, sno-cones, ice-capps we love them all. And with the heat we have in the Okanagan this time of year, I'm sure parents find themselves giving in, indulging their kids and themselves more often than they would like to. Taking into account the amount of sugar these treats contain (remember, dividing the number of grams of sugar by 4 = the number of teaspoons of sugar found in that treat) finding some healthier options is definitely recommended. So, can you have cool, delicious summer treats and do it in a way that provides more nutrition and less sugar? You bet.

Hands down, the best way to decrease sugar and increase nutrition is to make it yourself. Now that does not mean you have to be a dessert chef or devote hours to the task, simple is best. Let's take ice cream for example. A few years ago, my girls began making “ice cream” with frozen bananas. Slice and freeze a few bananas, then whip with food processor, blender, or magic bullet-type machine until smooth. A little almond milk may be necessary to achieve a smooth consistency. Voila, ice cream! This is great on it's own or experiment with your own additions. By adding walnuts and a drizzle of honey you can create a scrumptious maple walnut cream.

Are popsicles your child's treat of choice? Easy peasy. Popsicle holders can be found at most dollar stores, so pick up a few and get your child to help. Just a FYI, kids love making their own treats and are more open to trying new things as they get older if they had the opportunity to participate in the food preparation growing up. Using plain Greek yogurt as your base, let your child choose his/her favourite fruit to add to it, a splash of milk and a drizzle of honey, or some stevia to taste and blend well. Fill the popsicle holders and freeze. Or, if chocolate is your bent, a great tasting chocolate protein powder blended with milk and some Greek yogurt to thicken makes a very satisfying “fudgsicle”. Parents, if you make this a bedtime project, your child could actually have popsicles for breakfast and get far more nourishment than boxed cereal. And what kid wouldn't be excited for popsicles at breakfast?

Let's not forget the older kids and the parents. This time of year blended drinks like frappuccinos, ice-capps and slurpees seem to be everywhere. These are loaded not only with sugar, but fat, artificial ingredients and often contain a huge calorie count as well. It is possible however to make your own delicious blended creation and actually have it double as an entire meal replacement which is great for busy people. My favourite is a mocha “frappuccino”. I use a mix of almond milk, cold coffee and water, about a cup total, blended with one scoop of chocolate Core protein and a large handful of ice cubes. Or, create your own nutritious pina colada using coconut milk, water, frozen mango, pineapple and half of a fresh squeezed orange. Of course throwing in a scoop of vanilla protein means you could actually call this delicious blender drink lunch.

Hopefully, after seeing how simple and easy it is to create delicious, nutritious, low or no sugar treats, everyone reading this will decide to create some original sweet summer treats for themselves and their family. And you can bet the next time your kids hear “The Music Box Dancer” off in the distance they'll come running to the kitchen instead of the ice cream truck.

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