There is a disconnect that sometimes occurs between what we should do and what we actually do. While that maxim can be applied to all types of things, it seems to be especially true when it comes to our standard American diet.
Yes, we all know we should eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, but how exactly do we do that? Specifically, are there any simple, healthy treats, that are not only quick and easy to prepare, but can also help keep us cool amidst the south Texas heat?
Heck yes, there is!
Here then, are three quick, easy, whole-food based sweet treats that offer some nutritional goodness without breaking the caloric bank.
Cold, creamy, and super easy to make, try a plate of banachos next time you have a craving for ice cream or a similar treat. They may just be the go-to snack that gets you through the summer.
Start with a ripe organic banana. Carefully peel it, throw it in a Ziploc bag and stash it in your freezer until completely frozen. Once it’s solid, slice it into small pieces, add a dollop (one tablespoon) of all natural organic peanut, and dust the whole thing with a bit of cinnamon. Dip the frozen slices in the peanut butter, and enjoy.
Nutritionally, you’re looking at about 250 potassium-packed calories, about eight grams of positive fats (mono and polyunsaturates), five grams of protein, and five grams of fiber. Not bad for a cool, wholesome treat.
Behold: Chocolate covered strawberries! (sort of…)
Truth be told, it’s more like chocolate dipped strawberries, and well, the chocolate isn’t exactly chocolate. But the effect and sensation are kind of the same.
Here’s the really great thing: Strawberries are considered a superfood since they’re rich in flavonoids (plant-based antioxidants) and contain positive nutrients, like vitamin C, folate, potassium, and fiber. But wait, it gets better, because you can eat an entire pound of strawberries for only 150 calories. Seriously. One hundred and fifty calories in a single pound of food!
Trust me, you can’t do that with doughnuts (which in case you’re wondering, come in at about 1,800 calories per pound).
So, start with a fresh pint of organic strawberries. Rinse them well and set them aside. In a small bowl, toss in one scoop of chocolate protein powder, then slowly start stirring in a few tablespoons of water until you make a smooth, thick sauce. Throw it in the fridge to chill for a while, and when it’s done, go to town dipping the strawberries into your protein-rich, guilt-free chocolate sauce.
The good news is you’ll get some tasty, all natural goodness along with about 20 grams of protein for about 250 calories. The bad news is you’ll wish you’d bought a second pint of strawberries at the market.
Behold: Purple Monster Smoothie!
Smoothies are a great way of getting in some plant-based nutrients, but they can also be on the calorically dense side if you don’t pay attention. To keep things potent and relatively light, try this basic recipe.
In a large blender, drop in half of a frozen banana, four to six organic frozen strawberries, a cup of organic frozen blueberries, a small handful of organic baby spinach (you won’t taste it a bit), one tablespoon of organic all natural peanut butter, and one scoop of your favorite protein powder. Pour in enough cold water to keep your blender from blowing its transmission, blend, pour and enjoy.
Not only do you get 25 grams of protein, some positive fats, and tons of phytonutrients, but a concoction like this also creates a fair amount of volume, meaning it will chill and fill your belly, while weighing in at about 400 calories.
And while there are lots of things you can do to modify and perfect your own creation, be aware of the added caloric load. Mixing the Purple Monster with two cups of milk as opposed to water will add more than 200 calories, an extra tablespoon of peanut butter is another 100, and throwing in a cup of yogurt will kick it up another 150. Some folks may need or want those extra calories, but in the event you don’t, split your smoothie in half and save the rest for later – or even better, share it with a friend.
Tom Trevino is a writer, artist and wellness coach based out of San Antonio. His column, “The Feed,” covers all things related to health and wellness. He holds a B.A. from the University of Texas at San Antonio, with training and certification from the Cooper Institute. He has a fondness for dogs, NPR, the New York Times, and anything on two wheels. When he’s not writing, training, or cooking, you can find him wandering the aisles of Central Market.