Summer is finally here, with the Canada Day long weekend marking the official start to our favourite time of year. The combination of sunshine, along with an extra day to spend time with family or friends simply can’t be beat. And since you’ll likely be indulging in a few extra treats this weekend, we wanted to give you some healthier options to try as well. All of them are perfect for the cottage, picnic at the park, or relaxing in your own backyard.
Summertime Iced Tea
This classic summertime drink is often filled with sugar and artificially flavoured syrups when you buy it from your local coffee shop. Make your own at home by brewing your favourite tea as the base, and then infuse with the flavours of fresh fruit and herbs. You can experiment with different combinations, or try our berry-basil iced tea to start:
Brew your favourite tea using one litre (4 cups) of water and 6 teabags. In a separate pot, boil one cup of water and 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey, to taste. Remove from heat. Toss in a handful of fresh basil (approximately ¼ cup), and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Add 1 cup of lightly mashed berries (strawberries or blueberries work well) and allow to cool. Combine the berry-basil mixture with the brewed tea. Strain, and chill before serving, or add ice and drink right away.
Nutrition Note: Basil is an herb that belongs to the mint family. While it adds a flavourful boost to many drinks and food dishes without calories, basil is also chock full of antioxidant nutrients, including vitamins A, C and K, and the minerals iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Grilled Fruit Kabobs
The BBQ doesn’t just have to be used for cooking meat! Swap a traditional fruit salad bowl for delicious skewers of grilled fresh fruit. To prepare, thread alternating pieces of fruit onto metal or pre-soaked wooden skewers. Place them directly on a piece of foil placed onto a pre-heated grill. Then grill, uncovered, over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, turning often. Brush lightly with honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon during the last minute of cooking. Serve warm.
Nutrition Note: Choose a variety of your favourite fresh fruits when preparing your kebabs. Summer fruits such as pineapple, peaches and strawberries work particularly well, and are absolutely delicious when served grilled and warm. Plus, these tropical treats are chock full of antioxidants and nutrients such as fibre and vitamin C.
Raspberry & Lemon Lentil Ice Pops
Lentil ice pops, you ask? Yes, it’s a thing! Enjoy these cool treats while relaxing outdoors on the long weekend. You’ll never miss the convenience store version of ice pop, which is essentially just water, sugar and artificial colours and flavours.
In a blender or food processer, puree together 1 cup plain yogurt, ½ cup cooked split red lentils, 1 ½ cups of raspberries, juice of one lemon, a splash of vanilla extract and 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk. Pour into ice pop molds and freeze for 5-6 hours. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Note: Lentils are a great way to sneak some extra protein and fibre into this delicious summertime treat. They’re also naturally low in fat and gluten-free. Each ½ cup of cooked red lentils contains approximately 7.5 grams of dietary fibre – that’s almost 30% of your daily recommended intake!
*Recipe adapted from www.lentils.ca
Banana Boat S’mores
No campfire this weekend? No problem. Here’s a healthier take on this traditional long weekend favourite. The kids will love helping you prepare this one!
Leaving the peel on, slice a banana lengthwise. Stuff with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips, and a spoonful of peanut butter, if desired. Sprinkle with a variety of toppings, such as dried fruit, nuts, and shredded unsweetened coconut. Wrap in foil and place on a heated grill for approximately 5-10 minutes, until toppings have melted. Serve immediately, with a spoon.
Nutrition Note: Do you avoid eating bananas because you think they’re fattening? Not true! At only 110 calories each and naturally fat-free, bananas can certainly be part of a healthy diet. They’re also a good source of dietary fibre (3 grams in each), potassium, manganese, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.