In one week, we’ve gone from sweater weather to heat wave. While the temptation is to cool down with ice cream and frozen yogurt, we’ve put together a list of healthy summer snacks that are both good for you and hydrating. The key is to prep everything in advance so that when you come indoors, hot and parched, you have immediate succor.
1. Fruit Salad
Cut up your favorite fruits—bananas, berries, grapefruit, melon, oranges, pineapple, whatever—and keep them in the fridge for cool snacking. Mix blueberries, blackberries, grapes, raspberries and strawberries for a salad packed with antioxidants. You can top it with a drizzle of honey, plain Greek yogurt, fruit or vanilla yogurt.
2. Frozen Grapes & Bananas
Just wash and dry ‘em (grapes), slice ’em (bananas), stick ‘em in the freezer and pop ‘em in your mouth. Frozen grapes and bananas take more time to eat, so the snack lasts longer. The frozen fruits are more lush and creamy than they are at room temperature.
Melon and berries are high in nutrition and fiber, low in calories, and hydrating. Photo courtesy CaliVirgin.com.
Did you catch our recent review of Dole Chocolate Banana Dippers?
3. No Sugar Added Ice Pops
Low calorie, “no sugar added” ice pops are perhaps our favorite cool-off snack. Popsicle makes them in Sugar Free Orange, Cherry and Grape (15 calories); Sugar Free Tropicals (15 calories); Creamsicle Sugar Free Pops (40 calories) and Fudgsicle No Sugar Added (80 calories).
You can make your own lower-sugar ice pops by diluting your favorite juice with fruit tea or spice tea, unsweetened or with a noncaloric sweetener.
Don’t have time to cut up a fruit salad? Any melon, chilled in the fridge, hits the spot. Cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon are packed full of vitamins, fiber and water. While you can cut a quick slice whenever you need refreshment, we like to cut them up in advance and keep some in snack backs in the freezer for grab-and-go.
5. Ants on a Log
This kiddie favorite can be made more sophisticated for grown-ups, filled with goat cheese, seasoned cottage cheese or seasoned Greek yogurt instead of peanut butter or other nut butter.
Cut celery in 3-inch long pieces, fill with the spread of your choice and top with a row of 3 raisins, dried cranberries or other dried berry, pistachios or peanuts.
Hummus with crudités and hard-cooked
eggs. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
6. Crudités & Hummus
There are so many different vegetables and so many different flavors of hummus, that this one never gets old.
Standard crudités include bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherry tomatoes, green beans, green onions (scallions), mushrooms, radishes, yellow squash and zucchini.
Add something less expected: asparagus, endive, fennel, jicama, snap peas, sugar peas or wax beans.
7. Cucumbers With Dill-Yogurt Dip
The phrase “cool as a cucumber” comes from the fact that the inside of a cucumber is 20 degrees cooler than the outside. Slice them and serve with a nonfat Greek yogurt (lots of dill and garlic to taste, lemon zest, mint or basil if you have it, seasoned with salt and pepper). Look for different types of cucumbers and serve a fun assortment—you can find some real beauties in farmers markets (check out these heirloom cucumbers).
You can use the same ingredients to make Greek tzatziki and Indian raita, cucumber and yogurt salads. Eat them from the spoon or as a dip with the crudités.
8. Barley Or Quinoa Salad
Chilled whole grain salads are great for summer snacking. Combine cooked barley or quinoa with chopped fresh or cooked vegetables (bell peppers, corn, edamame, onions/scallions, mushrooms, peas, zucchini, etc.), nuts, seeds, even berries or chopped fresh or dried fruits, including raisins. Dress with a light vinaigrette, or a citrus-olive oil dressing. Here’s a barley salad recipe; you can substitute quinoa for the barley. Eat with a spoon or in a lettuce leaf wrap or endive leaf.
9. Homemade Lemonade
While a cold jug of Crystal Lite lemonade can slake a thirst, homemade lemonade with zingy fresh lemon juice is a real treat. When you make your own, you not only spare the environment from bottle landfill; but you can use noncaloric sweetener including stevia or agave nectar instead of sugar. More about the different sweeteners.
For fun flavored lemonade, add grated ginger, fresh mint, lavender (here’s a lavender lemonade recipe), muddled berries or savory fresh herbs (basil, rosemary or thyme—crush gently to release the oils before adding to the drink).
A pinch of cayenne creates chile-accented lemonade: Add it pinch by pinch to the glass until you get your desired level of heat; or start with 1/2 teaspoon in a pitcher. (We prefer the more flavorful heat of ginger.)
Or make an Arnold Palmer: half lemonade, half iced tea. If you haven’t tried this combination, you’ll be delighted with the taste.
10. Iced Tea & Iced Coffee
There’s nothing like an ice-cold glass of iced tea or iced coffee to help cool down. Brew up decaffeinated versions if you like to drink lots of it but prefer to limit your caffeine intake.
To keep your drink even tastier, make ice cubes from iced coffee or iced tea—just pour it into the ice cube tray and freeze. Then, you won’t dilute your drink while keeping it cool; and adding ice cubes to a refrigerator-cold drink makes it super cold and refreshing.
We repurpose 64-ounce empty drink bottles to hold our brewed teas, and fill some repurposed 16-ounce drink bottles for grab-and-go.