Sweet and Surprising Summer Food Combos by Clarisse Fullerton

With the prospect of fresher’s week on the horizon, your body deserves to be treated like a holy temple in these last few summer months, as your life will soon consist of excessive drinking and regretful 3am dinners.

Food wise, your first year of university will most likely consist of carb cramming to prep for a night out, and on your return, especially if you’re living off campus, lots of early morning cheesy chips or an iconic Tesco’s meal deal to aid your journey home. If you’re really committing to that student lifestyle, a Spoons breakfast or any food from Heart and Soul will make that hangover a little more bearable – that is, if you can bring yourself to get out of bed at all!

But, right now, this summer heat is making me crave fruits and ice cream aplenty, so these are some surprising food combinations to keep you healthy, and mix up your food palette, before that inevitably all falls apart in September.

Fig and Goat’s Cheese: An easy and versatile dish that can be eaten as a mid-morning snack or simply be added to a lunch spread. It may be a pain to find out where Tesco is hiding the figs, but once you’ve got that tasty treat in your hand then all you need to do is wash the fig, cut it in half and then place a slice of goat’s cheese and dressing of your choice onto the flat side. It’s ready in less than two minutes, which is ideal for fitting in all your summer plans.

Melon: Now, I’ll admit this isn’t exactly a meal or a recipe but rather a tribute to the glorious fruit that is melon. As a nation, I find we have somewhat neglected the melon. It makes a perfect snack, whether with grapes and cheese, frozen and made into a slushy, or thrown into a salad. And even better, melon is a fruit that you can buy on your student budget, and will last you more than one serving or meal. I’m all for the rise of the melon, in fact, I’m sure melon will soon be the new avocado – you heard it here first.

Fruit Salad: Fruits and salad – it sounds like a simple combination, but there is an art to the practice. Of course, you can add any fruit you want, any kind will sweeten up a boring bowl of lettuce, but personally, I think strawberries or raspberries work best. Simply chop them into quarters and sprinkle over the top, but don’t overdo it – the salad is still the main focus; we’re just adding a little more excitement and flavour.

Another tried and tested combination is apple, honey, walnuts and goat’s cheese. The sweet honey and creamy cheese compliment the slight acidity of the apple, creating a tongue tingling, balanced meal.

My final fruit salad recommendation often brings with it a lot of skepticism, and I, too, was hesitant at first, but let me tell you what makes this work. Add some cubes of watermelon and feta to a salad of your choice and you’ll find that the salt of the feta is balanced out by the sweet watermelon, whilst incorporating a lighter texture to really lift the dish. There you have it – a meal you wouldn’t hide shamefully from your parents, and in fact, you might even send them a picture.

Frozen Grapes: These are so simple and practical, as the risk with fresh fruit is that they don’t last very long, and the best before date seems to decrease even faster in the heat. By putting your grapes in the freezer instead of the fridge they last as long as you need and are instantly more fun and cooling to eat. If you want to go the extra mile you can dip them in melted chocolate before freezing and indulge in the luxury of your ‘cooking’ skills. If you’re willing to share, then these are great movie night snacks too!

Ice Cream: It’s about time we reinvented how to eat ice cream. An all-time classic when eaten out a bowl, or preferably the tub, but there are still alternatives…

Edible Watermelon Bowl: A quick fix to spice up your bowl is to make one out of a watermelon instead. Simply cut in half and hollow out, making sure to leave an inch or two of fruit around the rim. Once you’ve filled it with ice cream you can garnish with more fruit, seeds or chocolate chips!

Ice Cream Ice Cubes: These are perfect to add to a cold summer drink such as smoothies or milkshakes. Simply defrost your ice cream until soft and using a spoon, mold into an ice cube tray and freeze. These can be used in a drink or as smaller additives to any dessert.

If plain-old ice cream isn’t really for you, then here are two different replacements that are slightly healthier, but just as satisfying.

FroYo: Frozen yoghurt (or ‘FroYo’) acts as a lighter substitute that is equally as delicious; I recommend the classic Yeo Valley brand Strawberry flavour.

‘Healthy’ Ice Cream: If FroYo is not your thing, then it might be worth giving these two brands a try. While they are slightly pricier, they’re no more than the tub of Ben and Jerry’s that I know you’d be willing to dish out the cash for – except these brands are way better for you. Breyers (Creamy Chocolate flavour) and Oppo (Choc Chip Cookie dough) contain considerably less sugar, and yet manage to remain just as sweet. The Breyers tub is also high in protein, so is perfect for building that muscle this summer (#gains) – who said you couldn’t eat ice cream and have abs?

No matter what combination of food you have this summer, remember to eat things that make you feel good and try to figure out the right balance for you. Mine includes a square of chocolate in one hand, an apple in the other and a cup of tea on the table – everything in moderation


Created with images by Tanalee Youngblood - "Yummm" • Sonja Langford - "Sweet honey in a jar"

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