Icy treats to keep you cool this summer
I always take the first week of the summer holidays off with the kids and, while it should mean lots of downtime, I'm still writing this from the kitchen at 11pm.
I have working-mum guilt. And so while I am squeezing in one hour of work first thing, most things on my to-do list are getting squeezed out until next week. I asked the kids to make a list of things they were desperate to do, making no promises.
I had to scratch out NYC and a trip to Washington to Busch Gardens ... hmm, should have been more specific! Also, although Chloe put it on her list four times (points for persistence), we aren't going horse riding ... but we did buy pet fish (seems cheaper than a pony!).
So as well as two kids, two cats and two bunnies, we now have three fish. Belle has a fighting fish called Rocky (see what she did there?) and Chloe has two guppies called Wish and Star. Ah the romance!
Today, once the excitement from the fish had died down a little (Belle is still hugging her tank goodnight though, how cute is THAT!) we made ice cream.
It took for ever to find a recipe that didn't need an ice cream maker or mean setting an alarm for 3am to jump up and stir it, but eventually Google delivered. Rather than introduce a whole lot of rules, I just said we needed to be dye-free and other than that, anything goes.
Chloe made cookie dough ice cream and Belle made Rocky Road (not with Rocky the fish, thank God). The base is literally whipped heavy cream and condensed milk. Honestly, I had palpitations, however, I kept telling myself not to steal their joy. And it worked like a charm too!
The trick with things like real ice cream is to go organic if you can, but also serve it in a cone so the portion size is small. A two-third cup serving of Ben & Jerry's contains a whopping 37g of sugar. That's more than nine teaspoons. As an adult, you shouldn't be having any more than six teaspoons of sugar in an entire day. So stick to the cones, people.
And in case you need some extra help being good in the ice-cream department, I've made some notes for you below. These should help you make some better choices this summer so you can cool off without the hangover on your hips!
Skip your carbs with your main
If you're trying to lose weight, but have decided to go for it with dessert, then skip your carbs with your main meal. Dessert IS your carb, so having rice or potatoes (or even corn, carrots) will have you doubling up!
For little kids, try frozen fruit
If you have a little one, you might be able to get away with frozen fruit as an icy treat instead. At Natural Kids camp we found that frozen watermelon wedges (on a Popsicle stick) and frozen grapes were both a huge hit. If you have very small kids then be careful with the frozen grapes, to avoid choking. They are delicious though! You can also try frozen chunks of banana dipped in melted chocolate and then refrozen. So good!
Again for little kids, give Ruby Rockets a try (Supermart, Miles). These are made from fruit and vegetable juice only and are just sweet enough to excite toddlers, without going overkill on the natural sugars. For a Popsicle shaped Popsicle, try the Mott's Freezer Bars, which are juice only and dye-free too. I usually cut them in half for my kids and there are zero complaints (because they think they are that size anyway!).
Banana ice cream
You can buy special gadgets for banana ice cream but any high-powered food processor or blender will do. Throw some frozen banana and any other fruit (strawberries, cherries, peaches, mango etc) in as well. If you need a little liquid, try any kind of milk or unsweetened coconut water. The less liquid you use, the more rich and creamy the texture will be.
Be smart about no or low-sugar
Low or no-sugar is often a great thing, but not when it's been replaced by artificial sweeteners. Look out for sucralose and aspartame especially. Sugar alcohols are OK in moderation but can be laxative. So, although products like Halo Top say that you can eat the whole thing, you may want to be careful! My favourite sweetener in ice cream is probably monk fruit extract. The best-tasting versions (in my opinion) have a little sugar and some monk fruit. Of all the “diet” brands out there, I think the best pick is Arctic Zero, which doesn't have any weird or artificial anything.
Two of my top picks are vegan ice creams: the Booja-Booja brand and Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss (Supermart and Lindo's). These have a minimal list of ingredients, taste amazing and are lower in sugar than most regular, dairy-based ice creams. They're also free from artificial dyes.
• Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. For details: natural.bm, 236-7511 or, on Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda