Summer Thyme & Feelin' Light:
                           Healthy Cool-Off Treats

                     By Kristen Lazaroff and Lily Taylor

It's true-there's nothing more satisfying during the summer months than a frozen, healthy treat. Yes, we said healthy. Summer indulgences don't have to ruin a beach body! They taste great also. If it doesn't satisfy your sweet tooth, then what's the point of eating it?

Our top picks for healthy summer treats at 150 calories or less per 1/2-cup serving:

  1. Frozen Fruit
  2. Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet or Sherbet
  3. Soft Serve Ice Cream, Light
  4. White Wine Spritzer Drink
  5. Popsicles

Frozen fruit is one of the most satisfying summer treats for a cool-off. It tastes great, takes longer to eat and you will feel more satisfied from a smaller amount. Frozen grapes and strawberries are a great waistline bargain! Thankfully, frozen yogurt and sorbet options are easier to find these days. When in doubt choose these treats first. Your waistline will thank you! Also, a white wine spritzer made with 4 ounces of white wine, calorie-free lemon or lime soda water with lemon or lime wedges will set you back only 90 calories!

Popsicles date back to 1905 when eleven year-old Frank Epperson left his fruit soda outside on the porch overnight with a stick in it. The next morning, he found a delicious frozen treat. He called his dessert the Epsicle ice pop. It was a hit with his friends and family. Eighteen years later, he applied for a patent and renamed them Popsicles when his children began referring to them as "Pop's 'sicles."

The Popsicle has evolved from Frank's original version to a variety of sorts-some made with ingredients like fresh fruit, vegetables and yogurt. Popsicles packed with these ingredients are nutrient dense because they include fiber, calcium, and antioxidants.

According to the American Dietetic Association, fiber has been shown to lower cholesterol and may prevent colon cancer. Fiber also makes for a healthy digestive system. Calcium is essential for bone health and may prevent osteoporosis. Antioxidants improve immune function and may lower your risk for developing cancer.

Remember, all foods can fit in a healthy diet with a focus on balance and moderation. When nothing but mint chocolate chip ice cream will satisfy, just go easy on the portion size. A true portion is 4 ounces. This amount is typically much less than what is served at the ice cream shop. When buying containers of frozen dessert in the store, be sure to read the nutrition label. This will tell you the real story.

Making these frozen treats are simple and a great way to get your kids in the kitchen! Getting kids involved in making healthy treats gives them a good start on lifelong habits of eating properly.

When making your own treats, you're in charge of what goes in them. You can be assured that you're eating something good for you and for the environment. No mysterious ingredients - just pure, simple goodness, especially if you choose to purchase local and organic ingredients or use ingredients from your own garden! But don't worry; if you don't have the time to create your own, there are some healthy, local options here in Nashville. Try Las Paletas or Chilly Pops, both available at Whole Foods.

The following Popsicle recipe is packed with fruits and vegetables.

Yield: 9 servings (4 ounce Popsicle)

1 cup carrot 2 cups raw spinach 2 apples peeled and cored 2 bananas 2 cups of strawberries 1 cup orange juice
  1. In a blender or food processor, puree all ingredients.
  2. Pour into Popsicle molds, ice cube trays or recycled cans like Epperson himself! Add a toothpick or spoon. Freeze at least 4 hours or overnight.

**For a creamier Popsicle, try blending together one part plain yogurt and two parts fruit juice.

***Nutrition Information (per Popsicle): Calories: 65, Total Fat: 0 grams, Saturated Fat: 0 grams, Cholesterol: 0 grams, Sodium: 0 mg, Carbohydrates: 14 grams, Fiber: 2 grams, Protein: 1 gram.

Additional tips and flavor ideas:

The sky is the limit. With these healthy, fresh, and local desserts you can afford to experiment often. Enjoy!

Kristen and Lily are Dietetic Interns in The Dietetic Internship Program at Vanderbilt. They are expected to graduate in June 2011. Both plan to become Registered Dietitians. Kristen is from Michigan and hopes to work in the food industry and nutrition policy settings. Lily is from Iowa and plans to work in clinical pediatric nutrition.