By Ali Lopez
MRG Contributor

Summer has definitely arrived, and with it … lots of heat! You will not find me complaining though. I am soaking up every sunny, 90-degree day because before we know it, we will be shoveling! Okay, well maybe I am exaggerating a little. Summer in northern Michigan is so beautiful and I try to spend as much time as possible outdoors soaking up vitamin D and vitamin S(unshine). We have so many great lakes and rivers to cool off in after a hot, sweaty run or bike ride. It is so easy to stay active.

All of this activity seems to make our sweet tooth even stronger. And then, of course there is ice cream.

According to Moomers, the nationally-known ice cream maker based in northern Michigan, at least 600 gallons of ice cream is made each day in July at their operation! And while I love an occasional waffle cone with mocha almond fudge, I also like some lighter, healthier summertime treats. If they are treats, they have to taste good — and they can also be good for us. Best of all, the recipes can’t be too complicated because it’s summer!

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a slight obsession with watermelon in the summer. And not just because it tastes amazing on a hot day. It also is a really healthy treat.

Here are a few fun facts about watermelon:

  • It is actually a fruit and a vegetable. It is a fruit because it grows from a seed and has a sweet flavor.
  • It is also a vegetable because it is a member of the same family as cucumbers, pumpkin and squash.
  • You can eat the rind and the seeds, which have iron and zinc.
  • Watermelon is more than 90% water and is a great source of vitamin C, potassium and magnesium and is full of good anti-inflammatories.

Sure, you can just cut a slice and eat it, but how about trying this delicious drink instead! Agua Fresca literally means “fresh water” in Spanish. They are delightfully, sweet fruit waters that are very popular in Mexico.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

4 cups diced seedless watermelon

1 cup cold water

1 lime, juiced

1 tablespoon honey, agave or simple syrup

pinch of sea salt

Blend together the watermelon with the water, the lime juice, sea salt and honey in a blender until smooth. At this point you can strain it through a fine strainer or drink it as is (my preference) over ice! A little fresh mint or basil is nice too.

MRG-AliBananaCreemie

Here is another great, quick and easy summertime dessert made with every runner’s favorite: the banana. Yes, of course bananas are portable, and full of potassium, vitamin C and B6. But did you know you can make a delicious frozen treat by whipping frozen bananas??? Sometimes called “banana whip,” I prefer “banana creemie.” That’s what we call soft serve in Vermont.

Frozen Magical Banana Creemie (this makes one portion!)

1 ripe banana, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

Put the bananas in an airtight container or a freezer bag and freeze for at least 2 hours, but overnight is fine.  Remove them from the freezer and add to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse them at first to break them up, then mix until a smooth, creamy ice cream forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. How easy is that!

You can really go crazy and add some mix-ins or toppings to the creemie. If you want to make a flavored creemie like peanut butter, chocolate, maple, add the ingredients in before blending. But things like chocolate chips or nuts should be added after the bananas are blended.

Here are a few ideas for some mix-ins to make it even more decadent!

Spoonful of peanut butter, almond butter or Nutella

Drizzle of maple syrup or honey

Handful of chocolate chips

A few almonds, pecans or walnuts

Teaspoon (or more) of cocoa powder

A sprinkle of cinnamon, cardamom, or ginger

Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries

MRG-AliIceCream-1

Another healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth in the summer is with fresh fruit. Sure you can eat a peach or a handful of berries, but you can also turn them into a delightful frozen treat! An easy way is to just take some frozen fruit and puree it in your food processor with some fresh herbs. (Frozen mangos and basil are amazing!) But if you want to get a little more indulgent, try this homemade frozen yogurt.

Frozen Fruity Yogurt

1 (16-oz.) bag (or 4 cups)
 frozen peaches, strawberries, mangos, blueberries or your choice of fruit

1/2 cup 
plain yogurt

1 tablespoons
 honey or maple syrup (optional)

pinch of sea salt

Fresh basil or mint (optional but delicious)

Add the frozen fruit, yogurt, sweetener, herbs and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Process until creamy. Eat it right away or put it into an airtight container and store it in the freezer.

Have a fueling question for Ali? Post it below in the comments section or email MRG with your healthy-eating questions at heather [at] michiganrunnergirl [dot] com 

Ali will answer your questions in upcoming columns here on MRG. You can read her post about the Power of Smoothies, here »  She’s also written about superfoods and shares a great recipe for kale salad here »

Ali
Ali

Ali Lopez is a northern Michigan runner, chef and health coach. You can learn more about her at her web site Healthy Chef Ali. She’s also on Facebook here »

You can listen to a conversation about running and eating between Ali and Heather on a recent MRG podcast episode here »

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