#213 Summertime Treats

Tell a friend

I went to the bank and asked to borrow a cup of money.
They said, "What for?" I said, "I'm going to buy some sugar."

Steven Wright

7 Low-Cal Summer Sweet Treats

By Jude Buglewicz

In the hot, sticky dog days of summer, nothing refreshes quite like a cool sweet treat (unless it's an ice-cold beer, but that's another article). Instead of heading to the local ice cream parlor for relief, why not give one of these seven healthy and easy-to-make scrumptious recipes a try? They're low in calories—each one under 200 per serving—and just the ticket when you want to beat the heat with a cool sweet treat!

  • Fruit and Pudding Parfait
    1 pack sugar-free instant pudding and pie mix
    1-1/2 cups nonfat milk
    2 cups fresh fruit (berries, mango, kiwi, banana, etc.)
    1/2 cup nonfat whipped topping

    Prepare pudding mix with nonfat milk. While it's thickening, divide half the fruit among 4 parfait glasses. Spoon half the pudding mix over that, then repeat with another layer of fruit and pudding in each glass. Top with nonfat whipped topping and serve. Serves 4. Calories (per serving): 135

  • Frozen Berry Bars
    2 cups nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt
    2 cups berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.)
    2 Tbsp. protein powder, vanilla
    1/2 cup Grape Nuts cereal (optional)

    Blend yogurt, berries, and protein powder, then pour (or spoon, depending on how thick you want it to be) into an 8" x 8" pan and freeze. Cut into squares and serve. Optional: Stir in Grape Nuts before freezing for a crunchy, fiber-rich version! Yields: 9 bars. Calories (per bar): 34 (with Grape Nuts: 57)

  • Melon Salad
    3 cups assorted melons (1 cup each: watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew)
    1 cup pineapple chunks
    2 kiwi fruit, skinned and sliced
    1 banana, sliced
    1 cup grapes (seedless, red or white)
    2 Tbsp. coconut shavings

    Scoop out all melons into a big serving bowl using a melon ball scoop. Add other ingredients and sprinkle with coconut shavings. Serves 4. Calories (per serving): 183

  • Tangy Strawberry Surprise
    1 cup strawberries (halved)
    1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

    Slice strawberries and drizzle with a bit of vinegar. (Add a pinch of sugar if it's too tart for you.) Chill an hour or two, then serve! Serves 1. Calories: 85

  • Frozen Banana-Peanut Crunch
    1 banana
    1 Tbsp. peanuts (raw, no salt), coarsely ground or chopped

    Peel slightly ripened banana, then roll in ground peanuts, hard enough for peanuts to stick. Wrap with foil and freeze. If you absolutely must, dip a bite or two in a little bit of chocolate syrup—yummy! Serves 1. Calories: 185

  • Lemonade Delight
    2 cups pomegranate juice
    8 cups lemonade, sugar free

    Pour pomegranate juice into an ice cube tray and freeze. Add frozen cubes to glasses of lemonade—enjoy! Serves 8. Calories (per serving): 45

  • Grilled Pineapple
    Pineapple, whole
    4–6 vanilla beans
    2 Tbsp. honey
    2 cups ice cream, vanilla (low-fat)

    Pierce pineapple with skewer in 4 to 6 places, then insert whole vanilla bean into each slit. Grill pineapple until soft, then drizzle with honey, slice, and serve with a scoop of ice cream. (Pineapple slices can also be chilled before eating if you prefer a cooler treat!) Serves 4. Calories (per serving): 182

For more delicious low-fat dessert recipes, check the Recipe Archives at the Team Beachbody® Club. Not a member? Click here to start your membership right away!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on a newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. Check Steve Edwards' Mailbag for his responses to reader comments

You can catch up with Steve as he recovers from his Tour de France training regimen. Read all about it in his blog, The Straight Dope.

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Miracle Foods to Tame That Sugar Spike

By Joe Wilkes

Something that has recently received a lot of media attention is how our bodies are affected by blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels indicate the amount of glucose that is present in our blood. High levels of glucose (hyperglycemia) trigger the pancreas to produce the hormone insulin to help the body use the glucose for energy and store the excess as fat. Low glucose levels (hypoglycemia) cause us to feel hungry and tired and crave more sugar.

Your blood sugar spikes when you get a large, rapid dose of sugar which gives you a rush of energy, followed soon by a crash. This is the so-called "sugar coma" you get after a big meal or a sugary treat. Eating small, regularly spaced meals throughout the day can prevent the spiking, and keep your body burning fat at maximum capacity. Going on crash diets, or eating one big meal a day, can cause your body to enter starvation mode and begin storing calories as fat rather than burning them for energy.

Different foods burn differently in your body, and thus the Glycemic Index was created. Foods with high numbers, such as sugars and simple starches like white flour, potatoes, and white rice have high numbers and will cause your blood sugar levels to spike. Foods containing complex carbohydrates such as apples, beans, grapefruit, peaches, and peanuts will deliver sugar to your body more slowly and evenly, giving you energy over a longer period of time, without spiking. By keeping your diet on the low end of the Glycemic Index, you will burn fat more efficiently. You can read more about the Glycemic Index in Steve Edwards' "Is the GI Diet Right for You?"

Recently, studies have been completed on two common ingredients that have been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels and even promote weight loss.

  • Vinegar
    Studies where participants were given two tablespoons of vinegar before a meal, showed that the people who drank the vinegar had much more stable blood sugar levels than those who didn't, and at the end of the study the vinegar drinkers also experienced more weight loss. Now the idea of drinking a shot of vinegar before each meal may not sound very appetizing, but you get the same benefits from including it on a salad, adding it to your soup, or drinking it diluted in water. Also, vegetables pickled in vinegar (not brine) are an effective means of getting your two tablespoons before a meal. By substituting a vinaigrette (click here for an easy recipe) for a mayonnaise-based dressing, you're not only saving a ton of calories and fat, but you're also helping your body digest the rest of the meal without causing your blood sugar to spike.

    Unfortunately for those who don't care for vinegar, the jury's still out as to whether vinegar capsules are as effective, but there is some evidence that lemon juice has similar effects.

  • Cinnamon
    The effects of cinnamon have not been studied as extensively as vinegar, but there is some evidence to suggest it has properties that stabilize blood sugar levels and even lower "bad" cholesterol. A half a teaspoon sprinkled in your morning oatmeal or using a cinnamon stick to stir your coffee or tea is all it takes to give you the benefits.

While neither of these ingredients has been conclusively proven to be a magic bullet for weight loss or blood sugar–related illnesses like diabetes, there appears to be little downside to adding a little vinegar or cinnamon to your diet. This isn't a license to eat giant frosted cinnamon buns or salt-and-vinegar potato chips, though. That would be a bit like drinking a martini for the nutritional benefits of the olive.

Your best bet for keeping your blood sugar stable and your body running efficiently is still to eat several evenly-spaced, small-portion meals throughout the day, filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fat. But why not add a little vinegar and cinnamon to your diet? It's cheap, it's easy, and it might just work!

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