Summer the season for fresh produce in the local farmers markets and the farms in around the suburbs… It is the perfect time to start a healthy and sustainable way of living. Enjoying fresh farm grown produce, be it fruits or vegetables is such a pleasure.
Summer is the time when every one feels more hungry and the days definitely are longer and we are all more active too. The easy way would be to just reach for the candy bars or the ice -cream sandwich which feels so good when we enjoy it but really does nothing to the hunger.
Most of the snacks we get are loaded with sugars and fat which while adding unnecessary calories does not help satiate our hunger. In my quest to make summer healthier I put together this list of healthy snacks:
From the kindergartner to the kid in you these snacks suit everyone in the family 🙂 –
Dried fruits mix – I buy Pecans, Walnuts, Peanuts, Raisins and other dried fruits (I like:) ) and make my own mix. I mix the nuts up with a drizzle of honey and roast them in the oven at 300F for 15-20 minutes and give them a good shake together and keep them in airtight jars. Keeping them all roasted and ready in different bowls and letting your little one make his/her own mix is a good way to start a healthy life style really young. It’s fun and Healthy!!
Bake Your Own Fruit Muffins -My favorite snacks have always included muffins and cookies. Now I have adapted my love of baked goods to include healthy baking. I use whole grains, bran, less sugar etc.. to make healthy versions of my favorite sweet snacks. I have substituted butter with apple sauce and have had decent results baking cupcakes and muffins. These are some of my favorites:
Cheese – It is just a matter of finding low fat cheeses and keeping the quantity in control. The variety available is mind-blowing, my favorite incidentally is the Laughing Cow wedges which come in different flavors too. One of my favorite appetizers is a slice of pineapple, an olive and a piece of cheese on a toothpick, try it I like the sweetness of the pineapple with the salty tartness of the olive and the cheesiness of the cheese, simply perfect!
Fresh Fruits – Chopped fresh fruits are always a very healthy snack to go. It is even more interesting when they are cut using cookie cutters, melon-ballers etc… different shapes make it more attractive and fun! I love making flowers (best fruits for flowers – Melons, pineapples, mango, grapes etc..)
Fresh Fruit smoothies – Love making smoothies (has been a favorite since childhood, now I avoid adding the scoops of ice-cream to it 🙂 ) Basically blend fresh fruits with milk and sometimes add nuts to give it a kick. One special one I make is the Apple, Pistachios and Milk smoothie try it you will agree it is yummy!! I use 1% milk and only use a cup per smoothie (there by keeping my calories under control). Some of my other favorites are listed below in the fruit bar category.
Fruit bars – I make my own fruit bars by freezing smoothies 🙂 beating together fruits and nuts in a blender and freezing them in yogurt cups,jello molds, ice trays etc to make healthy natural replacements for ice-cream! best ones according to me :
1. Strawberry banana with either yogurt or milk added (my secret ingredient with banana is to add half a pod of cardamom for flavor)
2.A Very berry icy – Strawberries, blue berries, black berries etc any berry you can find and milk. Adding a touch of vanilla adds a different flavor to it.
3. Choco Banana Icy – This one is for the Chocoholic – Banana and milk with a teaspoon of either drinking chocolate or cocoa powder. When using cocoa powder I tend to add a tsp of sugar to it.
4. I also like frozen pieces of fresh fruit when they are in season (it helps to keep cool when out in the sun) Fruits that freeze well – Grapes (especially when they are getting a little too ripe) Water melon (anything which is really juicy will crystallize and it makes it more sweet.
Vegetables cut into small strips with a healthy dip – Dips can be anything from peanut butter to a ranch dressing. I make my own ranch dressing which is lighter, tasty and fresh. With dressings I keep an eye out for the amount of oil and salt I use.
The recipe can be found here >> Easy to make Light Ranch Dressing
This is another dressing which I like to use >>
it is a Soy dressing from Food network
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy oil
- 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 1 generous tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- Salt to taste (I tend to avoid the salt as soy sauce has enough salt for my taste)
Whip all the ingredients together and drizzle on vegetables or salad greens.Enjoy!
Hoisin Dressing: (from the foodnetwork.com)
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
In a small bowl, combine the ingredients and whisk well to blend. (Will keep in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.)
Yield: 1 cup
My basic Vinaigrette (I like to make it fresh every time, keeps the tanginess intact)
- EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)- 4 tbsps
- 1/4 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbsps balsamic vinegar
- Chopped Fresh Basil,Thyme and oregano
a Tsp of dried thyme, basil and oregano
- Pepper and salt to taste
Whisk together the liquids until it becomes viscous (cloudy and white) add spices, pepper and salt to taste enjoy drizzled over your favorite greens!
1 cup of Fresh Lemon Juice
Mint leaves for Garnish
8 cups water + 1 cups of sugar (heat in the microwave for 4 minutes)
Add some ice to the sugar water mixture to cool it down. Mix in the lemon juice and your lemonade is ready. I serve mine with lots of ice and a mint leaf. Check for sweetness I am tad on the less sweet side.
Enjoy Summer with all the fresh ingredients and flavors at your local Farmers market. It is a fun way to spend time finding healthier produce and also getting to know the producers 🙂 So get out there Enjoy the dog days of Summer!
I would love to add any other ideas anyone would like to add to this list.
Some things which I think will help: