There are a few times each year when we’re more apt than usual to indulge in delicious but not always healthy foods. Thanksgiving. Christmas. And summertime? You bet!
Think of burgers, hot dogs and corn dogs at a theme park, ballpark or beach boardwalk. Think of the deep-fried everything that’s fair food. Fourth of July barbecue. Ice cream and popsicles. Casseroles and other comfort foods at family gatherings. Rich entrees or desserts in restaurants while traveling, just as a “special treat.” Sodas, lemonade and other sugar-dense drinks.
Perhaps the one saving grace is that we also tend to be more active in the summer, so we burn off some of the excess intake.
But summer treats don’t need to be unhealthy. Instead of just saying, “No,” why not provide healthier alternatives? And by making the effort to provide better ones, we can be good role models for the children in our lives, showing how making healthy choices can be enjoyable.
Here’s a recipe for one such summer treat: a gluten- and dairy-free pineapple upside down cake, by Jim’s sister, Mary Hendrick, who’s currently writing a recipe book and launching a website on gluten-free cooking.
Mary’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- 11 tbs butter (1 stick plus 3 tbs) or coconut oil
I use unsalted butter, as it is cleaner than salted and doesn’t add so much sodium.
- 1 cup coconut palm sugar (or less, to taste)
This can be found in most natural or health food stores or ordered online. It may be a bit chunky. If so, just smooth it out with a rolling pin.
- Pineapple slices – enough to cover bottom of pan
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups of Pamela’s Pancake Mix
This can be found in most natural or health food stores or ordered online.
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
This can be found in the refrigerated section of most natural or health food stores or ordered online.
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Melt 3 tbs of butter OR take 3 tbs of melted coconut oil, and spread it evenly over the bottom of an 8″ square pan.
- Sprinkle 1/3 cup of coconut palm sugar evenly over the greased pan.
- Arrange pineapple slices on the bottom of the greased and sugared pan.
- In a medium bowl, cream together 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter or coconut oil and the remaining coconut palm sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla until light and fluffy.
- Combine pancake mix and salt, and add to creamed mixture alternately with the coconut milk.
- Spread the batter over the pineapple in the pan, making sure to cover the fruit completely.
- Bake 40 – 50 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Serve warm out of pan or, if desired, allow the cake to cool, then invert it onto a serving dish.
This dish works well with other fruits, too, such as apples, peaches or even a mixture.
And for more ideas on improving children’s nutrition, be sure to join us for our upcoming Children’s Wellness Conference, where Dr. Michelle Ratcliffe – Manager of the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Program – will be one of our featured speakers. Changing school food can improve children’s health and learning, develop healthy lifelong habits and connect schools with their local communities. Learn how to make a difference in your school and community with one of the key issues of our age – food!
Learn more about the inaugural Children’s Wellness Conference. The full program of speakers and sessions is available here.