When the days get long and warm, nothing sounds better than a refreshing icy snack or drink. Instead of reaching for the usual suspects, often loaded with refined sugar and preservatives, why not make your own? It's easy and fun with an ice-cream machine, available for around $50 for the most basic (and perfectly good) model. It only takes about 30 minutes to achieve a soft-serve consistency. If you don't have an ice-cream maker, not to worry: Simply pop one of these recipes in your freezer and stir every so often as it hardens. Make it a family affair by enlisting your kids, and get them to suggest and experiment with different flavor combinations.

It's a great way to chill out.

Mixed Berry and Mint Granita

Serves 12 / This refreshing dessert can also be served as a slushy. Spoon into goblets and garnish with fresh lemon peel or mint sprigs for a partylike feel. View recipe...

Lemon-Ginger Slush

Serves 8-10 / Reminiscent of frozen lemonade, but for grownups. This can also be mixed with tequila for an afternoon happy hour — we won't tell. Prep tip: To make ginger juice, grate fresh ginger, skin and all, onto a plate, gather into a mound, then squeeze with fingertips to extract juice. For 1 tablespoon juice, you'll need about 3 inches fresh ginger. Or use bottled ginger juice, available in natural foods stores. View recipe...

Dark Chocolate Sauce

Makes about ¾ cup / Excellent drizzled warm or cold over icy desserts. You can also warm it and dip fresh strawberries or bananas into the mixture for a chocolate fondue. Prep tip: For variety, substitute a flavored liqueur, such as Frangelico or amaretto, for the vanilla extract. View recipe...

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Serves 10 / Substitute any number of fruits — peaches, when in season, are wonderful — or use a different flavor of yogurt, to create one-of-a-kind combinations. Prep tip: If you're preparing this recipe ahead, don't add the fresh strawberries to the ice-cream maker (step 3); instead, top the frozen yogurt with sliced strawberries when serving. View recipe...

Vanilla Bean Gelato

Serves 12 / In this lightened but ultrarich gelato, nonfat and low-fat milk replace whole milk. View recipe... Prep tip: For intense vanilla flavor, use a whole vanilla bean (about 6 inches long) and scrape out the seeds after warming in the milk mixture. Serving tip: Top with summer berries and a dollop of Dark Chocolate Sauce (left).

Tropical Popsicles

Serves 16 / Prep tips: If you prefer a less-tart treat, add more sugar to compensate for the lime juice. Vary this recipe by substituting other juices, such as grapefruit, for the orange or pineapple juice. View recipe...

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt Pie

Serves 10 / Perfect for your Fourth of July party. Top with fresh blueberries, raspberries, sliced peaches, or a dollop of whipped cream, if desired. View recipe...

While creating these recipes, Melissa B. Williams found out she was pregnant with her first child, which helped explain her hankering for ice cream long past summer's end. She's the editor of Healing Lifestyles & Spas magazine.

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