The trouble with heading back to school is that it invariably happens when it still feels like summer. And sitting inside a hot classroom on a sunny summery day can be a total downer.
While you can't do much about the weather or school calendar, you can offer your little ones a few cool and refreshing afterschool treats to help them beat the back-to-school blues.
Start them off with a frosty glass of watermelon lemonade, a sweet and refreshing drink you can feel good about serving. It's nothing more than watermelon, ice, lemon juice and a splash of honey blended until thick. And feel free to add frozen strawberries, raspberries or other fruit for an even thicker slushy-like drink.
AP Photo - - Watermelon Lemonade.
Then move on to some ice cream so healthy I sometimes serve it to my son for breakfast. You do need a food processor to make this frozen fruit-based treat, but the result is similar to soft serve. And since it has no added sugar, I don't feel guilty about letting my son add candy sprinkles to complete the ice cream effect.
When I make this recipe, I usually use organic mango, which typically is sold in 10-ounce bags. Conventional mango often is sold in 12-ounce or larger bags. Don't worry about the extra; this recipe is particularly forgiving. If you find it too thick, simply add water, orange juice or lemon juice until you get the consistency you want.
Frozen grapes are a great treat on their own, too. To freeze, wash fresh grapes then arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet or pan. Freeze until firm, then transfer to a bag or container for longer storage.
Ham and cheese sandwich gets makeover
By J.M. HIRSCH
Ham and Cream Cheese with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Start to finish: 10 minutes. Serves 1.
2 ounces cream cheese
2 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
5 oil-packed sun-dried to-matoes, drained and patted dry
3 slices deli-sliced ham
Ground black pepper
Butter or cooking spray
Spread the cream cheese evenly over 1 side of each slice of bread. Top 1 slice with the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and ham. Season the ham with black pepper, then finish the sandwich with the remaining slice of bread, cream cheese side in.
Heat a small skillet over medium. Add either a bit of butter or coat the pan with cooking spray. Add the sandwich and toast for 4 minutes on each side. Serve immediately, or let cool before wrapping in foil and adding to a packed lunch.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 570 calories; 290 calories from fat (49 percent of total calories); 33 g fat (14 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 90 mg cholesterol; 45 g carbohydrate; 31 g protein; 8 g fiber; 1,410 mg sodium.
Both recipes also include a pinch of salt. While not essential, the salt goes a long way to heightening the natural sweetness of the fruits.
Start to finish: 5 minutes. Serves 4.
4 cups ice
4 cups watermelon chunks
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey (sugar can be substituted)
In a blender, combine all ingredients. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. You may need to stop the blender and stir the ingredients once to ensure everything blends evenly. Serve immediately. The drink will separate some as it sits. Either blend again or simply stir to combine.
Other frozen or fresh soft fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, bananas, peaches or grapes (especially frozen grapes) also can be added when blending. If so, you may need to increase the amount of lemon juice to balance the other flavors.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 80 calories; 0 calories from fat (0 percent of total calories); 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 24 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 65 mg sodium.
Mango-Grape-Banana Ice Cream
If you have frozen pop molds, pour any leftovers into those and freeze for a great treat for later.
Start to finish: 10 minutes. Serves 3.
10-ounce bag frozen mango chunks
1 cup frozen red grapes
1/4 cup orange juice
Candy sprinkles, optional
In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Process until very smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. You may need to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice to ensure all of the fruit is processed. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 140 calories; 0 calories from fat (0 percent of total calories); 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 36 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 4 g fiber; 80 mg sodium.