Cleared sugar, dairy and carbs from your diet? That seriously limits your summer treat list, or so you think. But summer is for enjoying yourself, so beat the heat with these fast, easy and delicious treats.
Sugar Makes You Thirsty
A reason for everyone to skip the added sugar in the summer: It makes you thirsty. So that “cooling” ice cream, sorbet or lemonade actually works at against you. Sugar depletes your body’s cells of water, just like salt. And while you might actually need a bit of sodium, along with other electrolytes, after heavy exertion in the summer heat (say, several hours out in the garden), you don’t need the sugar.
But You Want Something Tasty and Refreshing!
Sugar isn’t that tasty. It’s just sweet. As you clear your system and palate of added sugar, you’ll likley find that many foods are “sweet enough” as is — and you’ll taste their actual flavors more intensely.
4 Fast No-Sugar Refreshers: The What, Why and How’s
1. Watermelon-Mint Soup
Why: Watermelon is 92% water! And besides packing a lot of flavor (and even cooling off your mouth), mint is just plain good for you. The lime, besides adding a burst of flavor, helps keep the soup bright pink until served.
How: In a blender, place 3 cups of cubed, seeded watermelon, 3 tablespoons fresh mint, juice of 1 lime. Puree until smooth. Chill at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours. Serve with fresh blueberries, sliced peaches and a dollop of unsweetened coconut yogurt.
2. Cucumber-Mint Slushie
Why: Cucumber is actually part of the melon family, and like its big red cousin, the watermelon, boasts a lot of water per bite (or sip)– 96 percent! And this vegetable (okay, fruit) offers a host of health benefits as well. Filled with anti-oxidents and vitamins B-5 and K, sipping on this slushy will cool you off and might help give your skin a healthy glow!
How: Peel, seed and chop 1 cucumber coarsely. Place into a blender with 1 tablespoon fresh mint, and 4 ice cubes. Blend on low until ice is crushed, then on high for 30 secs. Pour into a chilled glass and enjoy.
3. Hibiscus and Lime Cooler
Why: Hibiscus tea is reputed (with some medical studies supporting this idea) to reduce blood pressure and lower blood sugar, along with other health benefits. (For this same reason, if you are diabetic or on hypertension medication, some health information sites suggest checking with your doctor about consuming it.) The culinary upshot is that it leaves you feeling refreshed, especially when mixed with lime sparkling water as a summer “mocktail.”
How: Place 1 bag of Tazo Iced Passion Tea in 32 ounces of water. Set container in refrigerator and let steep overnight. Pour 1 cup of steeped tea into a 20-ounce glass; add ice and all-natural, unsweetened lime-infused sparkling water (LaCroix or Bubbly? Your choice.) to taste. And, yeah, feel free to garnish with a mint leaf.
4. Mango Coconut Cream
Why: Coconut Cream is a clean-eater, paleo-propopent or vegan’s best friend, at least for dessert. An amazing plant-based replacement for dairy cream, coconut cream is also pretty heart healthy: It has as many calories as the cow’s milk variety, for sure, but its form of saturated fat actually helps improve your HDL (good) cholesterol levels, instead of building up your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Mango is reputed to both help bolster healthy sex and beat heat stroke. So come Saturday night when you want something special (or maybe just somethin’-somethin’), mix this up in about 10 minutes, and share with your sweetie.
How: Peel and slice 1 mango. Purée in a blender. Take 1 can chilled coconut cream, and scoop out the solid cream and place into a chilled mixing bowl. Discard the watery remains in the can. Beat cream with a hand-held electric mixer for 1 minute, until fluffy. Gently fold in the mango purée. Split between two bowls and serve, top with fruit if desired.