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Play it cool and smoothie for summer

Summer officially arrives Thursday, and so does Happy Smoothie Day.

On the Coast, summer temperatures came early. The heat in the middle of the day is sweltering. It is important to stay hydrated when the thermometer is rising.

Some year-round day care centers and preschools already have had several black flag days or days when the temperature is too hot to let the children outside. The heat is just too much for the little ones.

It certainly feels too hot for older kids and teens and adults, too. My lawn guy came to cut the grass a week early because he said the temperature was going to be high this week.

What better way to cool off with a fruit-filled or protein smoothie. Sometimes it gets too hot to eat. That’s when a smoothie is the most refreshing. Smoothies can be made of healthy greens and fruits or peanut butter, organic cocoa, honey and almond milk or soy milk. The choices are almost endless.

Honey or agave make good sweeteners for smoothies. Chia seeds, which still remind me of the ‘70s chia pets, grapeseed extract, turmeric and cinnamon also are healthy additions to a smoothie.

I thought today would be good to kick back and enjoy a cold smoothie, but most assuredly tomorrow on Happy Smoothie Day.

No-disaster grilled chicken

The reader needing tips for grilling chicken need look no further.

James King of Biloxi has come to the rescue. He shares his favorite method for bone-in chicken pieces. Use 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and your go-to seasoning and/or marinade.

Here’s King’s method for a charcoal grill.

“Marinate your chicken if desired. Season it to your taste.

“Set up the grill with coals on one side for medium-high heat and an aluminum pan on the other to catch drippings. If you want a smokier flavor, add a small chunk of hardwood such as applewood or pecan to the coals.

“Place the thighs skin side down over the direct heat. Let cook for 4 or 5 minutes with the lid off, checking after a few minutes to ensure the skin isn't burning.

“Move thighs to over the drip pan, skin side up. Place lid on grill. Cook for 40-50 minutes until done, adjusting the air vents on the grill as necessary to keep the temperature around 350 degrees. After 40 minutes, use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature in the meaty portion of the largest thigh. If it's 165, the chicken is done.

”You can add barbecue sauce if you want and finish the thighs over the direct heat to caramelize the sauce,” King says, “But they're darned tasty as is.”

Readers, feel free to share your grilled chicken tips, too.

Wanted: Cakes made with stevia

Readers, I have gotten no response on the gluten-free cakes made with stevia that Rhonda Hughes of Gulfport requested. She wants a yellow cake made with stevia and rice or almond flour. I know that some of you use stevia regularly and bake with gluten-free flours. I have not cooked with stevia much, so readers I am counting on you to provide the recipe.

Send your recipes to me, so I can share with Hughes.

Here’s to a smooth and cool summer.

FRESH FRUIT SMOOTHIE

2 cups frozen or fresh mixed berries (substitute mango, banana, strawberries and other fruits as desired)

4 tablespoons of honey

2 cups plain yogurt (substitute flavored yogurt as desired)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until well blended.

Note: Sue Bee Honey was used in this recipe. – Recipe from www.siouxhoney.com/

SOY-FRUIT SMOOTHIE

2 cups vanilla-flavored soy beverage, well chilled

1 cup frozen sliced peaches

1 medium banana, cut into chunks

8 medium strawberries

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a blender, combine the soy beverage, peaches, banana, strawberries and cinnamon. Blend until smooth and creamy. Makes 2 servings.

Nutritional data per serving: 248 calories; 3.3 grams total fat; 0.6 grams saturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 122 milligrams sodium; 4.8 grams dietary fiber. – From “New Foods for Healing”

DATE NUT GREEN SMOOTHIE

1 cup loosely packed baby spinach

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

15 pecan halves

1/2 large ripe banana, peeled, cut into chunks, and frozen

1 medjool date, pitted

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a blender, puree all ingredients until smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutritional data per serving: 406 calories; 18 grams fat (3 saturated); 45 grams carbohydrates; 29 grams sugar; 7 grams fiber; 22 grams protein. -- From Self magazine and www.self.com/

ORANGE DREAMSICLE SMOOTHIE

1 cup 2-percent reduced-fat Greek yogurt

2/3 cup ice cubes

1/2 cup chopped peeled ripe mango, frozen

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1 medium orange, peeled and sliced into segments

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in blender and process 1 minute or until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses.

Nutritional data: 164 calories; 2.6 grams fat; 1.6 grams saturated fat; 0.1 gram monofat; 0.1 gram polyfat; 11 grams protein; 25 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 8 milligrams cholesterol; 39 milligrams sodium; 113 milligrams calcium; 22 grams sugars. – From Cooking Light magazine and www.myrecipes.com/

Andrea Yeager can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507.

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