elderflower jelly ice with berries inside

By Georgina Hayden

Hands up, I admit it. I am a total fro-yo junkie. When it’s warm and sunny and my appetite has plummeted (it happens occasionally), there isn’t anything more satisfying than a frozen yoghurt smothered in stuff.

Now, there are healthy varieties out there – like organic fat-free yoghurt with a vast array of chopped fresh fruits – but most fat-free fro-yo is still laced with sugar and flavourings (pecan praline fat-free fro-yo anyone?) and sweets, the naughty one wins hands down.  It’s fat free! It’s fine! Right? Wrong. The sugars and sweeteners led to one of my friends needing fillings quicker than you can say “self-service sweetie bar”.

So, to curb my cold sugar craving this summer, I present to you a few ideas on cooling summertime treats – sans the fake sugars and flavours.

–       Make your own fro-yo! Freeze and churn some natural yoghurt blended with honey for a not-so-naughty sweet treat. Before freezing you could blitz in your favourite flavours, like banana, berries, even dark chocolate pieces, then top with fruits and toasted nuts to serve. My winning combo? Honey-sweetened yoghurt with slightly caramelised pecans and a little dark chocolate on top.

–       Eton mess is a top summertime pud and needn’t be naughty if you use fat-free Greek yoghurt as a wonderfully light alternative – one that I genuinely prefer to cream. Just mash sweet seasonal berries with a little agave syrup to ripple through the yoghurt, then add some smashed homemade meringues. You could even pop it in the freezer for an instant frozen dessert.

–       I absolutely adore jelly when it’s warm outside because it’s super refreshing, chilled and light. And making adult jellies is so much fun. Use ripe chopped-up fruits and berries in bowls as the base. Then soak gelatine leaves in cold water and whisk in a bain marie with apple juice or elderflower cordial until you have a light syrupy consistency. Top it up with Prosecco or Champagne, pour over the chopped fruits and leave to set. It makes an elegant pud that’s perfect for parties – take a look at Jamie’s jelly from Happy Days with the Naked Chef.

–       Ice lollies! Everyone loves an ice lolly, not just kids. But it’s nice to know what is going into your sweet on a stick, so making them yourself is a great idea. Just think about your favourite drink and start there. Mojito? Well sure, why not! Make the cocktail base by bashing the mint leaves with brown sugar in a pestle and mortar (taking most of the leaves out after, no one wants a frozen herb bush), then squeezing in lots of lime (and adding a little rum if you like it boozy). Top it up with soda and freeze. Totally delicious and refreshing, and almost better when frozen!

And where you can, break the (ice lolly) mould. Try cocktail style ice lollies without the booze to make them kid friendly. And try freezing their favourite smoothies for an ice-cream style variety – mango and pineapple with a little low-fat coconut milk, or strawberry, banana and fat-free yoghurt. You can also tweak your jelly recipe as the months go by. Come autumn try blackberries with sloe gin and tonic, and at Christmas I love pomegranate with clementine.

So there you have it, a few sweet treats for this lovely time of year, ones that will hopefully hit that sugar craving but maybe get a bit of goodness is you and still leave you with your teeth intact*.

*eat responsibly and remember to brush your teeth twice a day.