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Healthier Summer Treats for Kids

Kristina is a parent of two, writer, remote worker, and volunteer. In her spare time, she enjoys nature, trying new things, and lots of DIY.

When it's close to 100 degrees in the middle of a hot Iowa summer, I feel like I'm melting. The temperature could always be worse (hello relatives in Kansas!) but mid-upper nineties is hot enough for me. My kids and I make attempts to cool off, like heading to the splash pad, but it's hot enough to burn your fingers on the steering wheel before you get there. This weather starts me thinking about chilly treat ideas to help beat the heat (and if the treats are a little healthier than a loaded hot fudge sundae, that's a double win). Trust me, my kids don't need more energy from loads of sugar every summer day...they have enough already!

When I asked my mom to describe her favorite childhood summertime treats, she reminisced about going for ice cream at the Tastee Freeze with her family. I also went there as a child, and it brings me a sense of nostalgia (note to self: must bring my own kids there). Another favorite of hers (and mine too!) are banana splits, a classic summer dessert. Bananas, cherries, fudge, pineapple, and whipped cream; what's not to love? I'm a real fan of classic summer treats, but here are five suggestions for cool treats when you want something a little lighter.


1. Banana Ice Cream

Bananas can be a surprising substitute for real ice cream! We were gifted a Yonanas Banana Ice Cream Maker, but you can still easily make banana ice cream without the machine. Simply peel a banana and freeze it. Then when you're ready for a treat, take it out and let it thaw until you're able to mash it with a fork (but it should still be cold and mostly frozen). Yum! Just remember to peel the banana before you freeze it. I made this mistake once and it was a real mess to try to peel the banana in it's frozen state. My kids currently think banana ice cream is the same as real ice cream, but I know they will catch on to me someday!

(Update: now that my kids are older, this trick doesn't work anymore, but they still like banana ice cream!)

Lemonade Popsicle

Lemonade Popsicle

2. Homemade Lemonade Popsicles

We love popsicles in our house, but a lot of them are made with artificial colors and flavors. Popsicle molds are typically inexpensive, and homemade popsicles are easy to make with your kids. One that we tried recently is homemade lemonade popsicles. Use fresh lemons (or lemon juice), water, and sugar; then stir and freeze. They were tangy and refreshing on a hot day! That's what makes homemade popsicles so fun - experimenting with different juices and fruit. One summer, we tried popsicles made with cucumber. I had so many cucumbers harvested from my garden and needed ways to use them (even after giving a bunch away!) I discovered a pineapple, cucumber, and lime paleta recipe, and we made them everyday until the cucumbers were gone.

3. Healthy "Orange Julius"

I love a real Orange Julius, but know they have quite a bit of sugar. Check out this recipe for a healthier alternative, shared from the blog Happy Go Lucky.

Healthy Orange Julius Smoothie

This drink is so refreshing, and a great pick-me-up in the late afternoon when the heat has you dragging!



4. Watermelon Slices

To me, nothing says summer like a big, juicy, watermelon! Biting into a slice, feeling the juice drip through your fingers, and tasting the cold, refreshing sweet flavor just reminds me of picnics, lightning bugs, and fireworks. It really screams summertime! Don't just enjoy this treat sporadically at picnics and BBQ's. Pull the watermelon slices out of the fridge anytime you want a nice cool treat. It's one of my kid's favorite summer snacks.

Ice Milk

Ice Milk

5. Ice Milk

Ice milk is a nice alternative to ice cream. It's lighter and not as creamy as ice cream, but it has a delicious vanilla flavor and it's a perfect way to cool off. Here's a recipe, via that has directions on making ice milk with or without an ice cream machine.

Simple Vanilla Ice Milk

I would decrease the amount of sugar in this recipe because I don't like it overly sweet, but according to the reviews, many people like it as is!

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What are your favorite healthier summertime treats? What is your favorite summer treat from your childhood? I always need new ideas for my kids and would love to hear yours! Happy snacking, and don't melt!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Kristina Bouxsein-Hearn


Kristina Bouxsein-Hearn (author) from Iowa on March 24, 2020:

Thank you so much for your kind comment Mitara! I hope you enjoy!

Mitara N from South Africa on March 18, 2020:

These are such lovely ideas, will definitely be trying it all

Thank you for sharing

Kristina Bouxsein-Hearn (author) from Iowa on August 30, 2017:

Thanks for your comment! If you decide to make some, I hope they like them. They are so refreshing! And thinking about them, i'm getting thirsty too! :)

Kierstin Gunsberg from Traverse City, Michigan on August 23, 2017:

The paletas recipe is making me SO thirsty! My kids love cucumber, I wonder what they would think of this.

Kristina Bouxsein-Hearn (author) from Iowa on June 15, 2017:

Awesome! Thank you for reading and for your comment!

Kristina Bouxsein-Hearn (author) from Iowa on June 15, 2017:

It sure tastes like the real thing! Thanks for your comment!

Kristina Bouxsein-Hearn (author) from Iowa on June 15, 2017:

I agree! I do like dipped cones as well and never think to get one. Frozen blueberries and cherries sound amazing!

Bre on June 14, 2017:

My favorite is a vanilla ice-cream cone, double dipped in chocolate, or a plain old vanilla malt. Anything is good with chocolate and caramel and nuts. But for a healthier choice,I love frozen blueberries and cherries.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 14, 2017:

Even I think that banana ice cream is real ice cream. I'm sure that all these treats are delicious. Thanks for the suggestions.

Jason Mackenzie from Perth WA 6000 on June 13, 2017:

Yummy! I would make these for my kiddos! Thanks for sharing this article :)

Kristina Bouxsein-Hearn (author) from Iowa on June 13, 2017:

Thanks Dani! I agree, frozen grapes are great!

Dani Sikes on June 13, 2017:

I love frozen grapes! Such a healthy cold treat for a hot day.

Thanks for the ideas, Nina! Great ideas :)

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