When long-hot summers drag on, with feels-like temperatures rocketing over 100 degrees, you may feel the need to seriously chill.
One way to take the edge off: fresh and frosty desserts. And if there are options for healthier versions of those same desserts – well, that’s even cooler.
Chef Blakely Trettenero, who writes about her culinary adventures on her blog, Everyday Gourmet with Blakely (www.gourmetwithblakely.com), is offering up recipes for tasty treats that won’t make you break a sweat or send you into sugar shock.
“I can see myself enjoying any of these delicious goodies on a warm Florida day,” says the chef from Fort Myers.
Trettenero taps into summer with peaches, popsicles and her great-grandmother’s wannabe snow cones called Granita.
“It is extremely easy to make,” she says. “You can store it away and do like I do – pop your head into the freezer every other night, OK, EVERY night, and get a big spoonful.”
The Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef also encourages cooks to look beyond white sugar when making these desserts, suggesting substituting honey to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Honey is a natural sweetener that, when used in moderation, offers beneficial antioxidant properties not present in processed sugar.
Trettenero also touts her Breakfast Popsicles as a dessert option that leans heavily on yogurt and fresh fruit, making it healthier than most anything on a stick found in your grocer’s freezer.
“It is so tasty and beautiful,” Trettenero says of the layered dessert. “You’ll feel as if you’re eating something naughty, but actually it’s healthy!”
Beat the heat at the pool or the beach with these refreshing recipes:
Keep the grilled fired up after cooking dinner for this tasty dessert that is peachy keen
• 3 large peaches, cut in half and pit removed
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup brown sugar*
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• Vanilla ice cream
1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high heat
2. Cut ripe peaches in half, remove pit and put peach halves in a medium-sized Ziploc bag
3. Add vanilla extract, brown sugar* and cinnamon to the bag and close
4. Gently turn bag to coat peaches with mixture
5. Arrange fruit flesh-side down on the grill or grill pan. Grill for 2 minutes or until a nice grill mark appears on the peach. Flip fruit to the skin side and cook for another minute.
6. Serve warm peaches with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy the peachy keen sweetness
*To make a lighter version of this dessert, substitute two tablespoons of honey for brown sugar.
These layered popsicles can be made the night before for a fun breakfast or a cool treat on a hot summer day
• 1/2 cup each of blueberries and sliced strawberries
• 1/2 cup water
• 2 teaspoons maple syrup
• 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
• 1/2 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup granola
• 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
• Popsicle molds with sticks
1. Put blueberries and sliced strawberries in separate saucepans on medium heat each with ¼ cup water and 1 teaspoon maple syrup
2. Bring both to a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.
1. In a mixing bowl combine Greek yogurt, almond milk and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth.
2. In another bowl mix granola with plain or vanilla yogurt
1. In popsicle molds, begin with a Greek yogurt layer, then a layer of strawberry mixture, another Greek yogurt layer, and a blueberry layer leaving room at the end for a layer of the granola-yogurt mixture.
2. Fill molds until you run out of ingredients
3. Add popsicle sticks
4. Put in freezer for a minimum of three hours or overnight
A popular semi-frozen dessert in Italy, the texture of Granita can be smooth as gelato or coarse like a snow cone
• 3 cups water
• 2 1/4 cups sugar*
• 3 lemons
• 3 oranges
• 3 bananas
• Zest of 2 lemons
• Zest of 2 oranges
1. Make a simple syrup in a saucepan over high heat, mixing water and sugar.
2. While stirring, let it come to a boil for 5 minutes, ensuring sugar is dissolved.
3. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. In a blender, combine zest and juice from oranges and lemons with peeled bananas. Blend until mixture is smooth.
5. Pour into a clean bowl.
6. Add simple syrup to bowl and mix.
7. Let sit until it is at room temperature.
8. Move mixture to a ceramic baking dish and put into the freezer.
9. After 4 hours, remove from freezer and with a fork, scrape the mixture making it light and fluffy. (Mixture won’t be frozen completely)
10. Put baking dish back into the freezer for 2 more hours.
11. To serve, scrape again with a fork and place in dessert bowls.
*Substitute 1 and 2/3 cup honey for sugar as a natural sweet alternative.
About Blakely Trettenero
She is a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, Fla.
She is a world traveler, having visited more than 30 countries, and is becoming a frequent guest on TV.