By Alyssa Ashmore
Fireworks, food, family, fun…and heat — welcome to the Fourth of July on the Gulf Coast! Thankfully, you have the freedom to make food choices that won’t weigh you down, including dessert. Whether you want to catch a break from the heat or you’re simply trying to eat healthier, read on for tips to make healthy and fun patriotic desserts you can enjoy at your celebration.
When it comes to a refreshing treat, fruit is one of the first foods to come to mind. Its natural sweetness will prevent a sugar crash, and the juices mean you’re getting water to help with hydration. Want to make it festive? Serve patriotic-colored fruits, or make fun melon shapes with cookie cutters.
Fruit also is the go-to choice of dietitians when making healthy desserts. Brynn McDowell, the Domestic Dietitian, specifically mentions the color they provide, which can be a great way to make an attractive dessert without sugar-laden frostings and heavy toppings. Jenny Shea Rawn, the recipe developer and food blogger at My Cape Cod Kitchen, likes to pair summer berries with classic desserts. She did this in her mini berry s’mores sundaes, which are featured on her blog at jennyshearawn.com.
Similarly, Sarah Pflugradt, the Salubrious RD, shares her homemade lemon pudding with blueberries at salubriousrd.com and states, “I think anytime you can add fruit into a dessert, you bump up the health factor by including nutrient-dense foods.”
These extra nutrients mean an energy boost that can carry you through to that long-awaited firework finale.
One of the best ways to avoid feeling sluggish in the heat is to avoid eating large quantities of food, as an overly full stomach means your body must focus on digestion. McDowell likes to make small-bite desserts, stating that they are “a great way to enjoy all the sweets and treats without going overboard on portion size.” Not only will this boost your energy, but it gives you the taste of dessert without too many calories. She shares a mini brownie parfait on thedomesticdietitian.com blog that features bite-sized brownie chunks, blueberries, raspberries and whipped cream that are adorable and oh-so festive.
If you’re feeling the brunt of a Mississippi heat wave, there’s nothing like grabbing a scoop of ice cream or a popsicle to cool off. Choose 100 percent fruit popsicles, or make your own bite-sized popsicles by placing washed grapes in the freezer for a fun, all-natural cold treat. Craving ice cream? Enjoy an ice cream cone, stick or a 3-ounce cup for a portion-con- trolled way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Alyssa Ashmore of Passionate Portions Nutrition & Wellness is a registered dietitian nutritionist, author, speaker and nutrition therapist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.alyssaashmore.com