5 Healthy Swaps for Your Favorite Summer Treats

Ice cream, fruit pie and sweet tea all made the list.

Medically reviewed in February 2022

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Summer can still stir up a “school’s out!” holiday feeling, even for adults. It can also be a time of bathing suit-busting overeating. Here’s some sunny news: You don’t have to munch on carrots at every barbeque to stay beach-ready. Just swap the season’s worst high-calorie offenders with healthier choices, and keep your vacation mood rolling.

Not only do these treats satisfy your sweetest summer cravings, but they may even boost your weight loss efforts.

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Indulge in your favorites

Let’s face it, most of us do want it all—hot dogs, potato salad, fruit cobbler—when we’re out with our friends and family. Healthy living blogger and Sharecare expert Kath Younger, RD, says the reality of her own weight loss struggles hit home after a trim relative looked at a holiday spread and said, “You just can’t have it all.”

She soon realized mindless eating was a problem for her. Now, she says, she focuses on “real food,” which is nutrient-dense, unprocessed and satisfying. Treats are limited to favorites. These changes helped her drop 30 pounds and keep them off.

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Sip good-for-you cocktails

Fancy frozen drinks are quintessential summer cocktails, but a sugar-laden boozy drink with more calories than a meal should have you rethinking your beverage choice. Still, you don’t have to sip water at every party. Instead, fill half a wine glass with chilled white wine before topping it with ice-cold sparkling water and a few slices of fresh fruit. You get all the party with none of the regret.

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Get the benefits of green tea—without the sugar

Iced tea is a traditional summer drink and it can be a healthy choice—tea is packed with disease-fighting compounds. But if you add sugar, you could be creating a thirst-quenching diet disaster. But don’t reach for those packets of artificial sweeteners, either. Research suggests artificial sweeteners may increase your diabetes and obesity risks

A better option is green tea, with its cancer-fighting catechins. Add more flavor by squeezing in some lemon, which can help your body access more nutrients. For more health-boosting benefits, stock your fridge with one of these refreshing green tea recipes.

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Dig into healthy ice cream

Trying to resist a dive into a bowlful of ice cream can take Herculean strength, especially on a warm summer night. But Younger is a fan of indulging in real ice cream, within reason. “A good brand of vanilla ice cream has less sugar than most fruit-sweetened frozen yogurts, and you’re getting protein and calcium, too,” she says. Younger recommends looking for a pint with a few simple ingredients; skip those with add-ins like cookie dough or fudge chunks.

Ice cream isn’t the only option for a frozen summer treat. Fruit sorbet is a great fat-free alternative. Check nutrition labels to avoid those with too much added sugar, or make your own sorbet featuring some of summer’s fruit superstars.

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Ditch the pie crust—try fruit cobbler

Who doesn’t love a homemade pie, brimming with berries and other summer fruits? But filling a traditional pie crust can add loads of trans and saturated fats, thanks to butter, shortening and even lard. Instead, ditch the crust and make a dessert with crisp granola or cobbler topping.

Check out Dr. Oz’s peach-berry cobbler recipe!

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Hydrate with homemade ice pops

Store-bought frozen ice pops are as summery as it gets. While the calorie count is low, they are usually loaded with artificial colors, preservatives and sugar. Making these frozen treats at home is a great way to control the ingredients and save some money. Plastic molds are inexpensive and easy to find. Pick one up and whip up a batch of homemade fruit pops

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Try more summer meal ideas

Sure, hot weather means cool treats, but Younger reminds us not to forget about grilling fruits like peaches and pineapple and vegetables. “Grilled zucchini, Portobello mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, okra and fresh herbs are best in summer,” she says. Use these fresh ingredients to make healthy meals at your next get together. “A Greek yogurt veggie dip instead of one with mayo or sour cream is an easy way to cut calories,” Younger says.

For more healthy ways to get your grill on this summer, check out these recipes:

Ultimate Grilled Turkey Burger
Ginger Grilled Shrimp
Easy Chicken Barbeque Kebobs

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