Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Creative and healthy eats for summer snacking

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(Litlnemo/Flickr)

(Litlnemo/Flickr)

Finding the perfect snack for summer days or family cookouts can be time-consuming and involve a lot of cooking. But there are many easy, fast and fun options that can be shared on those warm days when you don’t want to turn on the oven.

The transition from cold winter nights to hot summer days brings along new fashion trends, spring sports and agricultural growth. It also signifies a transition from hot, heavy stews to fresh fruit and vegetables.

Local farmers’ markets provide fresh fruit that can be washed and eaten at any time during the summer. The markets also feature locally-grown vegetables such as carrots, celery and bell peppers than can be cut up and stored for a healthy, any-time snack.

To add some pizazz to summertime fruits, try putting them in the freezer. Frozen grapes are a perfect healthy substitute for a Popsicle and can cool you down just as much on hot days. Putting them in a glass of water or lemonade as a garnish and flavorful alternative to ice cubes is another useful option. Frozen bananas are a great snack, as well, and can be dipped in chocolate to add a little sweetness.

In addition to frozen fruits, juice pops are a fun and easy treat to make. Whether it’s orange juice, cranberry juice, apple juice or a homemade smoothie, freezing it in an ice cube or Popsicle tray makes for healthy Popsicle snacks.

For breakfast or a midday snack, parfaits are great in the summer. Grab your favorite yogurt, layer it with granola – homemade or store-bought – and top it with fruit like blueberries or strawberries. Then add a dash of honey for a tangy sweetness.

For lunch or dinner, spice up a mundane salad by adding fresh fruit, like orange slices or blueberries, and nuts or seeds like sunflower seeds, walnuts or pecans.

Experiment with different types of lettuce, too. Try arugula paired with goat cheese and cranberries or baby beet greens with mango and caramelized nuts. Baby spinach is also a great alternative to lettuce and adds a significant amount of iron, potassium and protein to your typical salad. Caprese salads, made of tomato, basil and mozzarella, are a popular and satisfying summertime lunch.

If salad is not your favorite, chilled cucumber soup is a delicious and refreshing alternative to heavy winter stews. Grilled vegetables like corn on the cob, squash or eggplant, are also a great side to any barbeque dinner.

Make a homemade salsa using fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapeños and cilantro for a great way to spice up a meal or just to have a healthy snack on hand. Try making guacamole with those same ingredients and fresh avocado as the base.

As for drinks, sangria, margaritas and piña coladas are summertime favorites. Whether you’re old enough to drink or simply want to try the non-alcoholic versions, these refreshments are perfect for any summer night.

Besides ice pops, summer dessert options are plentiful. Puddings and mousses are light and satisfying in the hot weather, as well as homemade ice cream or sorbet. Making fruit tarts or crisps can also allow you to take advantage of the fresh fruit in season. Strawberry shortcake and pineapple upside-down cake are two summertime favorites, especially for parties or cookouts.

Whatever it is you choose to eat this summer, make sure to relish it. Some of these summertime favorites are only enjoyable when the sun is out.

Kelsey Hebert can be reached at [email protected]

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