Preventive Maintenance: Cooling off in the summer

by Karen Bowen

Outside, it’s hot and the air conditioning in your cab can’t seem to cut through the humidity (or maybe it’s not working at all). It’s time to take a break with something to cool you off. A hot coffee doesn’t sound very refreshing. Pop might be okay, but it’s not very healthy. (Regular pop packs a lot of sugar and no nutrition; diet pop has those sweetening chemicals that many nutritionists are concerned about.) So, what else is there?

Let’s take a look at some popular, cool choices: Ice cream, iced caps, milkshakes, frosties, sundaes and smoothies.

When compared to other desserts, ice cream has a lot of nutrition to offer. Since its main ingredient is milk, it has milk’s nutrients, primarily: protein, riboflavin, and calcium. In fact, each cup of ice cream contains about 170-200 mg of calcium which is 20% of your daily requirement, since the average adult needs about 1,000 mg each day.

Unfortunately, most regular ice creams also have a lot of fat. However, excellent progress has been made in this area in the past 10 years and fat-free ice cream (that tastes great) is now common.

Low-fat ice cream usually contains three grams of fat or less per serving and fat-free has less than a half gram per serving. Along with ice cream there are lots of other cool choices.

What about the popular 10 oz Iced Cappuccino from Tim Horton’s?

It will give you 10% of your daily calcium, while adding 250 calories to your day. However, this smooth drink delivers 17% of the fat recommended for your day, since it’s made up mostly of fat and carbohydrates, with very little protein and iron along for the ride.

I’d suggest that you make this an occasional summer treat. However, if you order an Iced Cap made with milk, you drop 100 calories, making it a much better choice.

How about stopping for a milkshake under the golden arches? A small McDonald’s vanilla milkshake should fill you up quite well with 440 calories, almost 25% from fat and 72 grams of carbohydrates.

In addition, you would also get 30% of the calcium and 2% of the iron you’ll need for your day. At 440 calories, this takes a pretty big bite out of the total calories you should eat in a day. I recommend this as an occasional summer indulgence.

A better choice would be a McDonald’s strawberry sundae. At 280 calories (60 from fat), this treat delivers 49 grams of carbohydrates and 20% of your required calcium. Even better yet, why not try a vanilla cone? It’s only 150 calories with 24 grams of carbohydrates and 10% of your calcium and 2% of the iron you need for your day.

Maybe you prefer a different type of cone? A 4 oz scoop of Baskin-Robbins French Vanilla ice cream packs 280 calories (160 from fat), and includes 15% of your daily calcium and 2% of your iron. Dairy Queen soft-serve is quite similar in calories, but lower in fat content. One half of a cup has 140 calories and only 4.5 grams of fat.

Perhaps you’ve decided to stop at Wendy’s for a small chocolate Frosty instead.

At 310 calories (70 from fat), this cross between a milkshake and a sundae will deliver 30% of your day’s calcium, 15% of your iron, and 56 grams of carbohydrates.

Another way to cool down this summer is to sip a smoothie.

Smoothies have become quite popular in recent years, and for good reason! Fruit and protein smoothies are a fun and delicious way to get great nutrition from something that tastes more like a treat.

Since there are so many varieties of fruit and protein smoothies, you could have a different smoothie every day and not get tired of them.

Don’t worry; smoothies can be found on the road. Dunkin’ Donuts offers a delicious small strawberry/banana smoothie made of fruit and low-fat yogurt. This 16 oz fruity drink is 360 calories (25 from fat), and holds 25% of your daily calcium, along with 100% of your vitamin C, and fiber and protein, too. This is an excellent choice!

At home, the simplest way to make a smoothie is to blend chunks of fruit with milk or yogurt in your blender. If you love chocolate, add some mocha powder or cocoa. Or, increase the protein content by scooping in a few tablespoons of protein powder.

If you have never tried making a fruit and protein smoothie, start with a few recipes, then experiment with any kind of fruits, yogurt, protein powders, fruit powders and even peanut butter.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to keep your cool on the hot roads this summer. So, when things heat up, take a break and chill out with some of these delicious, cold treats.

– Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at

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