Healthy After-School Snacks: Popsicles
Ice pops, freezies, lollies, popsicles… whatever you call them they really are a childhood favorite—I delighted in them when I was growing up and I’m sure they’ll be prized by my grandchildren. Although this isn’t the 70’s anymore and these days we tend to frown upon ingredients that makes one’s children glow in the dark. So while I wanted my son to enjoy the same simple pleasures I had, I suffered a small palpitation when I read the ingredients list for so called ‘fruit’ popsicles.
Knowing my son had digestive issues made me even more sensitive to feeding him something that had more numbers than actual ingredients, so I decided to take the simple route and make my own. Really nothing could be easier.
The first lollies I made were from a store bought fruit juice; this is a very simple way of making a refreshing treat. I found the blends containing mango were the most popular as they have an added sweetness whereas pure citrus can become quite bitter when frozen. For the first couple of years that was my standby and it still works well.
But as time went on I realized that ice-lollies are an ideal way to, how shall I say it… sneak healthier foods into little bodies. Mixing whole fruits with the juice provides useful fiber, a key ingredient that is often missing in children’s diets. I found this to be a particularly useful way of adding greens into my preschooler’s diet as they are way more likely to scarf down a lolly than a salad and are unaware of their mother’s cunning machinations.
My first (and still a favorite) fruit and juice combination was apple juice and strawberries. They really are a match made in heaven and the resulting smoothie can also make a refreshing drink, add a little sparkling water for extra fun! Other combinations we’ve enjoyed are:
- Frozen Mango with Papaya or Cantaloupe melon
- Mixed berries and spinach – the dark color hides this taste-free green perfectly
- A gentle herbal tea such as chamomile or lemon balm along with an apple or pear juice/whole fruit.
A few things to remember when embarking up frozen treat making:
- Flavors become more bitter after being frozen so sweeteners will add to the enjoyment. If the pre-frozen mix tastes just a little too sweet then it is probably about right.
- Natural sweeteners work best, I don’t think you can beat Medjool dates whizzed into the blend but honey or maple syrup also give a lovely flavor. Avoid granular sugar unless you intend to heat into syrup.
- A runny texture is better. Thick smoothies lead to a stringy texture when frozen, adding a liquid solves this. You could add fruit juice, yoghurt or a dairy free milk such as almond or soy milk to thin the mixture and whizz in a couple of dates while you’re there.
- Add in some extras. An ice-lolly is a great disguise for something less fun that you child might need. Echinacea for immune boosting prior to a fun summer camp or family gathering, a simple herbal tea to soothe frazzled brows, even a little rescue remedy can help to combat end of day melt downs. As long as it doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the other ingredients they’ll never know they are eating a health lolly.
- Use a blender not a food processor. Food processors are not meant for lots of liquids and while they’ll do fine at first they won’t last. A simple blender or stick blender produces great results.
- Make small batches and test them, some will appeal more than others and it is a shame to waste ingredients on a large batch that isn’t popular. Also it is an excuse to keep making (and testing) lots of frozen treats!
Most importantly, keep it simple. Don’t feel you have to buy expensive molds or ingredients. A small paper cup and a stick will make a great mold and the fruit you have in your fridge can be whizzed into endless delicious combinations. It may not be gourmet but it will be additive free, nourishing, fun and it will contain the one ingredient no store can offer, loving care.
More healthy popsicle inspiration…
- Pop Stars by Parents.com
- Creamy Fudgy Creamsicles by Chocolate Covered Kate
- Green Ice Pops by Weelicious
- Hi-C Herbal Berry Pops by Frugally Sustainable
- Fruit Salad Pops by Martha Stewart