Healthy Snacking

Lighten Up: Cutting Fat and Sugar from Popular Summer Snacks

Summer is filled with spending time with friends and family, enjoying outdoor barbecues, long weekends, vacations, and camping trips. But as much fun as it is to take advantage of the beautiful summer weather, these gatherings always seem to include a lot of snacks—many of which are high in sugar and fat. And it can be difficult to really enjoy summer when you eat a lot of unhealthy food, ruining your efforts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and beach-ready body.

There’s nothing better than enjoying a yummy snack without feeling guilty. So for your next get-together, make healthier, but of course, delicious, alternatives to what you would normally make by cutting fat and sugar from popular summer snacks…

 

1. Homemade Ice Cream

A scoop of ice cream on a hot day does wonders to cool you off and satisfy your sweet tooth. Not to mention the fact that summer is typically a time when you crave ice cream the most. By making your own ice cream, you control what goes in it, significantly lowering the fat and sugar intake. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, a blender can work too. Freeze a couple cups of fresh fruit, then blend with 2 cups of low-fat plain yogurt, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Blend to the consistency you want and serve. Or for something even simpler, use frozen bananas and blend. They can be used to make ice cream all on their own.


2. Vegetable Dip

A lot of those veggie dips you buy at the grocery store are high in fat, and as a result, take away the healthiness of eating vegetables as a snack. The truth is that a lot of people won’t even eat raw veggies without dip, so it’s important to find a healthy alternative. The easiest way to cut down on fat is by replacing sour cream with fat-free plain Greek yogurt. Using yogurt and adding sautéed spinach, garlic, onions, and fresh herbs will make a dip packed full of flavor, but with much less fat.


3. Fruit Popsicles

Popsicles are a popular summer snack, but many store bought popsicles are really high in sugar. So what’s the solution? Homemade popsicles! They’re not only refreshing, but easy to make and low in sugar and fat. You can make several different flavors to satisfy your cravings. A really low-sugar recipe uses watermelon and blueberries as the main ingredients. Puree 4 cups of watermelon, 1 tablespoon of sugar (or use agave or stevia) and a couple squeezes of lime juice. Using freezer Popsicle molds, divide the puree and 1 cup of blueberries among each mold. Put your pops in the freezer for roughly 6 hours or until completely frozen.


4. Frozen Chocolate Bananas

If you love banana splits, you’re bound to fall in love with frozen chocolate bananas—and you’ll consume a fraction of the sugar and fat. Cut large bananas into thirds and dunk into melted semi-sweet chocolate. If you want, roll them in coconut and crushed nuts before placing on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Freeze for about 2 hours or until frozen. While semi-sweet chocolate obviously has sugar in it, a serving of frozen chocolate bananas only has around 6 grams of sugar, which isn’t even close to the daily recommended sugar intake and is nothing compared to what a real banana split would have.


5. Fruit with Dip

Dipping fruit in whipped cream or chocolate sauce is packed full of more than just flavor—it’s high in both sugar and fat. It may seem like a somewhat healthy snack because of the fruit, but if your dip is sugar-based and creamy, it’s far from healthy. To enjoy fruit and dip without the guilt, use plain Greek yogurt or low-fat yogurt as the base. For more flavor, add a touch of honey, peanut butter, or vanilla extract for natural sweetness. If you’re making a platter for a gathering, make fruit skewers using wooden sticks to dress up the presentation.


6. Potato Salad

Who doesn’t love a potato salad in the summer? It’s a must-have at every pot luck and works well as a snack. However, potato salad is typically very high in fat, mainly because of the mayonnaise-based dressing—many recipes call for a couple cups of this creamy ingredient! The easiest way to reduce the fat is to remove or drastically cut down on the amount of mayonnaise in the dressing. To avoid mayonnaise completely, use lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper. If you prefer creamy dressings, replace about half of the mayo with low-fat plain yogurt. And make sure you use low-fat mayo if you go the creamy route.


7. Vegetable Guacamole

Guacamole is a crowd favorite. Unfortunately, it’s very high in fat. Although the fat in avocados is good fat, it’s still high in calories. Luckily, there’s an easy way to lower the fat content in guacamole by adding vegetables. The more vegetables you add, the more the fat will spread out. Adding vegetables also gives you the option of making a smooth or chunky guacamole, both of which will still be a crowd pleaser. For smooth guacamole, add a cucumber to your recipe. If you want to try a chunky kind, add chopped jalapenos and a green bell pepper. Everyone will love your new take on guacamole, and you’ll lower their fat intake with each bite.


8. Watermelon Freezies

While some freezies only have a few grams of sugar, others can have up to 12 teaspoons of sugar, not to mention the artificial flavors and colors. You can cut down and actually completely remove added sugar and artificial flavors by making your own freezies. Watermelons are the easiest and simplest way to do this. Using just seedless watermelon and ice, blend together until smooth. Freeze in a container until you have a thick slushy consistency and serve in bowls. This summer snack will cool you down and taste delicious. You can add mint leaves or basil to the mixture for an even more refreshing flavor.


9. Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are a popular, bite-sized snack that’s always a hit at gatherings. The rich, velvety texture of the middle can be addictive, and it’s easy to get carried away with eating several at a time. But as good as these snacks taste, they’re definitely not healthy, containing a lot of fat and calories. Cut down drastically on the fat and calories by using the following: only two-thirds of the yolks and replace what you remove with non-fat cottage cheese, low-fat mayonnaise, low fat hummus, or yellow mustard.


10. Fruity Crepes

Crepes are a popular snack and brunch item because they’re light yet filling, and there are so many different recipes that you never have to worry about making the same kind twice. Summer is the season of sweet fruit, which make the ideal filler for crepes. There’s no need to use whipped cream and high-fat cheese to make this snack delicious. Nectarines, cherries, peaches, and bananas, or any other fruit you like, can be sliced and combined as the filling. Using Greek yogurt or cottage cheese to replace the standard cheese used in crepes will cut down on the fat greatly. This lower-fat-style crepe offers sweet flavor without the high sugars.

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