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Hot summer days are here and with them come some of the most delicious, sweet indulgences of the season. Unfortunately, many of these cool treats are loaded with sugar, unhealthy types of fat and excess calories. The good news is that, if we get creative, we can still enjoy by making healthier versions of these favorites.

Ice cream is obviously a summer staple, but isn't the best choice on a regular basis. Luckily, there are healthier alternatives that satisfy the craving:

Banana Ice Cream Base

Very ripe bananas make a perfect dairy-free base for “ice cream” without sugar.

  1. Chop the banana into dime size slices.
  2. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze.
  3. Once frozen, put the pieces in a blender to your desired consistency.

For those on more relaxed food plans, the possibilities for adding to this base are endless: You can add extracts, spices and nut butters. Chocolate, banana and peanut butter is, of course, a classic, delicious combination of flavors. To create this dessert, just add unsweetened cocoa powder directly into the blender with the banana base. Then melt 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter and drizzle on top.

Banana Bread ice cream is another delicious flavor. Add a pinch of pumpkin spice or cinnamon and nutmeg to the banana base and top with warm chopped, toasted walnuts.

Or create a sundae by adding fresh fruit. For example, unsweetened frozen raspberries heated on the stovetop make a fast, sweet delicious topping. Pour right on top and enjoy! Pina Colada is another option. Add a dash of coconut extract to the banana base and top with unsweetened dried coconut and chopped pineapple.

You don't have to deprive yourself of summer sweets. You can make healthier versions and, of course, treat yourself in moderation too!

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