Smart Swaps Keep Summer Treats on the Menu

Summer can still stir up a “school’s out!” holiday mood, even for grown-ups. It can also be a time of bathing suit-busting overeating. Here’s some sunny news: You don’t have to munch on carrots at every barbeque, picnic or state fair to stay beach-ready. Just follow these tips for swapping the season’s worst high-calorie offenders with healthier seasonal choices to keep your vacation mood going.

Hard Truth: You Can’t Have it All

Let’s face it, most of us do want it all – the hot dogs, potato salad, cobbler — when out with friends and family. Healthy living blogger and Sharecare expert Kath Younger, RD, says the reality of why she couldn’t lose weight hit home for her after a trim relative looked at a holiday spread and said, “You just can’t have it all.” She realized that mindlessly eating “meh” foods was the problem. Now it’s all about “real food” — nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods that are filling and satisfying. She also limits treats to best-quality favorites only. The changes helped her drop an extra 30 pounds for good.

Party Drink Swap

Fancy frozen concoctions with tiny umbrellas may scream “Summer!” but a sugar-laden boozy drink that equals a meal’s worth of calories should have you screaming “No thanks!” Still, you don’t have to sip diet soda at every party (in fact there are a few reasons why diet drinks aren’t a great idea.) Instead, fill half a glass of chilled white wine with frosty sparkling water and add slices of fresh fruit. You get all the party and none of the regret.

Sweet Tea Swap

Iced tea is summer’s most traditional way to rehydrate on a hot day. And it can be a healthy choice – tea is packed with disease-fighting compounds. But adding sugar just made it a diet-buster. Skip artificial sweeteners too. New research shows fake sweeteners may increase diabetes and obesity risks. Green tea is best of all, thanks to more cancer-fighting catechins. Another way to get a health boost? Add lemon to tea; it can help your body access more nutrients.

Get it all with Dr. Oz’s “Green Arnold Palmer”: Pour steeped green tea over ice with a squeeze of lemon.

Ice Cream Swap

Trying to resist a regular summer dive into a bowlful of ice cream can take Herculean strength, especially on warm summer nights. But RD Kath Younger is a fan of indulging in real ice cream — within reason. “A good brand of vanilla ice cream has less sugar than most fruit-sweetened frozen yogurts and you’re getting protein and calcium, too.” Younger says to look for a simple ingredient list — and skip the candy bar or cookie dough add-ins.

What to eat on one of your “no ice cream” days? Try fruit sorbet — a fat-free frozen cool treat alternative. Check nutrition labels to avoid those with too much added sugar. Or make your own Blackberry Sorbet featuring a summer fruit superstar.

Fruit Pie Swap

One delicious way to enjoy the bounty of summer fruit is baked into homemade pie. But adding a traditional pie crust can add lots of saturated or trans fat, thanks to butter, shortening or even (gasp!) good old-fashioned lard.

Instead, make one with a crisp granola or cobbler topping. Or better yet, try the no-bake pie recipe below. It packs summer fruit (and extra nutrition) into an almond, date and coconut shell.

Ice Pop Swap

Store-bought frozen ice pops are as summery as it gets. Granted, the calorie count is low, but they come chock-full of artificial colorings, preservatives and sugar. Making pops at home lets you control the ingredients, save money and keep awesome icy treats just a grab away (and you can make them with or without fruit). Plastic molds are inexpensive and easy to find.

More Summer Meal Ideas

Sure, hot weather means cool treats, but Kath Younger says don’t forget about fruits and vegetables. “Grilled zucchini, portobello mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, okra fries and fresh herbs are the best in summer,” she says. And entertaining at home makes it easier to keep the menu healthy. “A Greek yogurt veggie dip instead of one with mayo or sour cream is less fat and safer to serve outside.”


This article originally appeared on Sharecare.comthe leading online health and wellness social platform