Summer Just Got More Fun with Low-Sugar Treats

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Strawberry coconut energy bites
Photo Credit: James Stefiuk

Updated Jun 19, 2018 @ 4:13 pm

By Heather Reid

Swimming, road trips, catching fireflies, playing in the park—no matter what your family’s fave summer activities are, there are usually treats involved. No doubt you want your family to enjoy something sweet without the sugar rush (and crash), so we tapped registered dietician nutritionist and family nutrition consultant Laura Hoover for her best strategies to find that balance.

“Sugar is everywhere, and summer can be a particular challenge,” says Hoover, author of Mom’s Sugar Solution: 150 Low-Sugar Recipes for Your Kids’ Favorite Foods, Sweet Treats, and More. “But there are options for everything. I like to think of myself as a sugar consultant rather than a sugar cop.”

Mom's Sugar Solution

Introducing healthy alternatives early on can help create a foundation for improved nutrition in the long term for families, she says. “Talk about moderation versus restrictions and have that dialogue,” she says. “We have such a short time to feed our kids before they are eating without us.”

It’s also important to know your kids as individuals and what approach works for them. “Some kids need rules, some need more flexibility,” Hoover notes. “We can find a balance between what they need and what they want. It’s up to grownups to present a variety of foods that make them feel good for a long time while also teaching them how to make choices on their own.”

Start with these three recipes from her book—they bring all the indulgent flavor, minus the sugar bomb.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

  • Serves: 7
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
Chocolate hazelnut spread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shelled hazelnuts
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1⁄8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1⁄4 cup unsweetened almond milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast about 5 minutes, being careful not to burn.
  2. Rub the hazelnuts together in a paper towel to remove most of the skins.
  3. In a food processor, blend the nuts until they form a butter consistency. This may take up to 5 minutes.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and blend an additional 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl using a spatula, until it’s nice and creamy. Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
Note:

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread is a classic treat, but unfortunately the store-bought versions are loaded with sugar. This all natural version uses much less sugar, allowing the earthy taste of hazelnuts and the rich taste of cocoa powder to shine through. Spread it on whole-grain toast for a satisfying snack without the guilt.

Calories: 120 | Fat: 10g | Protein: 2g | Sodium: 160mg | Fiber: 2g | Carbohydrates: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Added Sugar: 3g

Adapted from Mom’s Sugar Solution: 150 Low-Sugar Recipes for Your Kids’ Favorite Foods, Sweet Treats, and More! by Laura Chalela Hoover, MPH, RDN. Copyright © 2018 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. Photographs by James Stefiuk; Food styled by Jen Solazzo.


Rocket Pops

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:
Rocket pops

Ingredients

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons honey, divided
  • 1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1⁄4 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries

Directions

  1. Place blueberries and 1 tablespoon honey in a blender and purée until smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. Pour the blueberry purée into 6 ice-pop molds, dividing it equally among them so each mold is about 1⁄3 full. Place pops in freezer to set, about 30 minutes.
  3. Combine yogurt, milk, and 1 tablespoon honey in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  4. Pour the yogurt mixture into the ice-pop molds on top of the blueberry mixture, dividing it equally among them so each mold is about 2⁄3 full. Place pops in freezer to set, about 30 minutes.
  5. Place raspberries and remaining 1 tablespoon honey in a blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour over the yogurt mixture in the molds, dividing it equally among them.
  6. Finish the pops by placing sticks in each mold and freezing until set, about 2–3 hours.
Note:

These red, white, and blue pops have serious patriotic flair and are totally free of the artificial dyes that color the store-bought version. They look best when you make them in a rocket shaped ice-pop mold, but they’ll still look gorgeous in a classic-style ice-pop mold. The layering and freezing process takes a little extra time, but it’s totally worth the effort.

Calories: 120 | Fat: 1.5g | Protein: 6g | Sodium: 25mg | Fiber: 4g | Carbohydrates: 23g | Sugar: 17g | Added Sugar: 8g

Adapted from Mom’s Sugar Solution: 150 Low-Sugar Recipes for Your Kids’ Favorite Foods, Sweet Treats, and More! by Laura Chalela Hoover, MPH, RDN. Copyright © 2018 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. Photographs by James Stefiuk; Food styled by Jen Solazzo.


Strawberry Coconut Energy Bites

  • Serves: 12
  • Prep Time:
Strawberry coconut energy bites

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1⁄2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1⁄2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1⁄3 cup honey
  • 2 cups freeze-dried strawberries

Directions

  1. Combine almond butter, oats, coconut, flaxseed, and honey in a large bowl; beat with a mixer on low until combined, about 2 minutes.
  2. Roll mixture into 24 (1") balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until firm.
  3. Pulse strawberries in a food processor or high-powered blender until powdery, about 30 seconds. Roll the balls in the strawberry powder. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Note:

Freeze-dried fruit has nearly the same nutritional profile as fresh fruit, but with more ease and convenience. This recipe takes advantage of freeze-dried strawberries to create a bright, naturally sweet coating for these energy bites, without needing any artificial colors. They can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Calories: 290 | Fat: 17g | Protein: 8g | Sodium: 55mg | Fiber: 6g | Carbohydrates: 33g | Sugar: 23g | Added Sugar: 7g

Adapted from Mom’s Sugar Solution: 150 Low-Sugar Recipes for Your Kids’ Favorite Foods, Sweet Treats, and More! by Laura Chalela Hoover, MPH, RDN. Copyright © 2018 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. Photographs by James Stefiuk; Food styled by Jen Solazzo.


BIO: Heather Reid is a Chicago-based writer, blogger and avid cook. She writes about baking bread and other adventures at heatherreidwrites.com.
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