Sorbet is just as sweet and satisfying as ice cream, but it’s based on healthy, filling fruit instead of cream and sugar. Make your own by pureeing fresh fruit, then tossing the mixture in the freezer, says registered dietitian nutritionist Caroline Passerrello, MS, RDN, LDN, spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If you plan to eat it the next day or later, either put it in the fridge to soften before serving or turn it into shaved ice by shaving the fruit into a dish. Find more delicious substitutes for dairy products.
Word of warning: Store-bought smoothies can be loaded with juice and other sneaky sugar sources, so your juice bar might not deserve its health halo. If you make your own smoothie, you can keep track of exactly what goes in so you don’t go overboard. Keep the calories down by choosing the right base. “In the summer especially, it’s a great time to just add water as the liquid that kind of helps it blend together,” says Passerrello. “I used to be skeptical, but adding water and frozen fruit is really nice.” If you crave more of a flavor punch, try coconut water instead, she suggests.
Anything from your garden
Gardening can burn about 200 to 400 calories when you’re yanking out weeds and digging holes, but the healthy benefits keep going after your homegrown tomatoes and herbs reach your plate. “It’s nice to do more of the slow-food and be mindful of where it comes from,” says Passerrello. When you’re eating something you cared for from seed to table, you’ll be more mindful while eating it. Eating slowly gives your body time to register when it’s full, meaning you’ll eat less during that meal. Don't miss these other incredible health benefits of gardening.
Get your ice cream fix from a fruit pop, which will give you all the cold and sweet satisfaction you crave in the summer. For instance, Nestle Push-Up pops have just 70 calories each—a quarter of the calories you’d get in a half-cup serving of Ben & Jerry’s (and who really stops at half a cup?). “You can even make your own,” says Alissa Rumsey MS, RD, owner of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness. She likes to blend plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, chia seeds, and a drizzle of honey, then freeze in ice pop molds. The protein in Greek yogurt gives the frozen treat staying power, so you won’t be tempted to go back for seconds. Try one of these other ice pop recipes with unbelievable flavor.
Mayo-based pasta salad isn't an off-limit food at a summer picnic, as long as you make a few tweaks. Sub white pasta for whole grain to get twice as much filling fiber, and double up on the veggies, says Passerrello. “The more vegetables, the more you can eat with less calories,” she says. For another twist, she suggests using spiralized zucchini instead of traditional pasta, then tossing with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs for a light and fresh side dish.
OK, your traditional cheeseburger isn’t going to help you lose weight, but you can still indulge by nixing the bun. “It’s not that I’m anti-carbs, but it’s more to save carbs for all the other summer fun side dishes,” says Passerrello. Lettuce wraps are a classic low-calorie choice, but sub in a mushroom instead if you miss the more substantial texture of bread. Passerrello recommends eating your burger patty open-face on a grilled Portobello mushroom cap, topped with pesto and mozzarella.
Corn on the cob
Corn gets a bad rap for being so starchy, but those carbs could actually help you slim down. Unlike the processed flour in burger buns, the complex carbohydrates in corn will keep you full and satisfied, says Passerrello. Plus, with just 60 calories per ear, corn on the cob won’t take up much of your calorie goal. Check out these other nutritionist-approved healthy carbs.
Go ahead and make that impulse buy when you see stacks of berries at the supermarket this summer. Fresh fruit is always a healthy choice, but berries are particularly versatile. Throw a handful in Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, high-fiber cereal, or even on a peanut butter sandwich, suggests Rumsey. “You get less sugar and more fiber compared to a jar of jelly,” she says. That fiber will fill you up and keep you full longer. Learn about the other healthiest fruits for your body.
This summer fruit is juicy and refreshing on a hot day, but it also happens to be a healthy snack that won’t put a dent in your diet. Watermelon gets its name for a reason—its high water content clocks it in at just 46 calories per cup, compared to about 65 calories in a cup of chopped apple. “You can eat a little bigger portion than some of the other fruits for the same calories,” says Passerrello.
Chunky monkey dessert
Attention, skeptics: Banana soft-serve is an Internet trend that’s actually as healthy and yummy as bloggers claim. Just throw frozen, overripe bananas in a blender until smooth, then top with crushed peanuts or chocolate chips. You can add a touch of honey or maple syrup if you’d like, but the overripe bananas should be sweet enough without “The carbs have converted to sugar more, and they taste pretty sweet by themselves,” says Passerrello. Don't miss these science-backed reasons to eat dessert every day.