By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Warm weather often means cravings for cool treats. Even if you're on a quest for a bathing suit body, it doesn't preclude indulging in ice cream, especially if you supercharge it.
Many popular chains offer, not just toppings, but mix-ins that become your own custom flavors. Emulate the process at home, but tweak those additions, and your scoop will hide some healthy treasures.
Many kinds of cereal, for instance, taste like sweets, but are high-fiber gems. Ditto for dried fruit and nuts, superfoods due, not only to fiber count but to antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Dark chocolate - the higher cacao content the better, shooting for package labels that note at least 70 percent - also is loaded with fiber and antioxidants. Delicious fresh herbs amp up both nutrients and sophistication.
Consider some of the following mix-in montages as springboards for creating your own. All ingredients are to taste. For further nutrition boosts, think about using sugar-free ice cream, sorbet or frozen Greek yogurt.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.
CITRUS SYRUP DELIGHT
Gently mix the juice of freshly squeezed tangerine, grapefruit and lime and add a dash of corn starch. Heat over low-medium heat in a saucepan, stirring occasionally, until it reduces and becomes the consistency of syrup. Let cool, stirring occasionally, to get more syrupy. Mix the syrup into lemon sorbet along with shredded fresh basil.
WHISK IN A WAFFLE
Toast whole-grain frozen toaster waffles. Carefully cut into squares. Drizzle with honey and, along with chopped toasted pecans, mix into sugar-free vanilla ice cream or frozen Greek yogurt.
Dice strawberries and gently mix with dark chocolate chips and toasted sliced almonds. Mix into sugar-free strawberry ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt, along with shredded fresh mint.
RAISING THE BAR
Mix into chocolate ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt, bran cereal, dark chocolate raisins, sugar-free strawberry pancake syrup, chopped cashews and minced fresh cilantro.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: Judging the best cook in the world is all relative - especially when that relative is your own. There's no question that many of us would respond with the name of our mother, father, grandmother, grandfather or other favored family member. That longstanding truth is sweetly conveyed in Rick Bragg's The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author from Alabama passes on his mother's Southern treasures, many of which are decades'-old family heirlooms. It's a delicious twist that he made this memoir a food-tinged one and included more than seventy recipes. If you like your recipes with a side order of superlative writing and storytelling, look no further.
Lisa Messinger at Creators Syndicate is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.