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Monday, October 20, 2014

Popsicles: Cool treats and good eats

Leila Melbourne (2), of Phoenix, enjoys a homemade fruit popsicle. Photos by Daniel Friedman.

Summer may have just begun, but if you’re not already exhausted from the heat or bickering children, you are a better mom than I am.

The kids are hot, bored and hungry. The last thing I want to do is turn on the stove.  Pulling microwaveable snacks out of the freezer isn’t the healthiest choice.

My solution? Popsicles.

The problem with most commercial ice pops is that they are simply artificially flavored and sweetened water colored with dyes to make us think “grape.” So-called “whole fruit” versions still contain added sugars and the sugar-free ones are made with artificial sweeteners.

I make the best of summer’s bounty of produce and a few cheap popsicle molds and create my own.

I am not a fan of “hiding” fruits and vegetables in other foods. Making popsicles, however, is a perfect opportunity to combine fruits and vegetables to find a palatable combination for your kids—without deception.

Summer produce is bright and sweet, eliminating the need for additives. (Though if it isn’t quite sweet enough for you, add a teaspoon or two of honey.) Use whole fruits instead of just the juice to get the fiber so many of us lack in our daily diets.

Younger kids can fill measuring cups with fruits. Older ones can operate the blender (with help) and dream up and test their own flavor combinations.

Blend about two cups of ingredients until smooth, pour into your mold of choice and freeze. Most molds come with handles, but standard popsicle sticks work if, like me, you’ve lost half of them. The sticks stand up straight in these thicker purees. Leftovers that didn’t fit in the mold? Add a straw and hand it to the nearest kid.

If you have trouble releasing the finished popsicles from the mold, run some hot water over the outside of the mold until you can pop out the frozen treats. Store popsicles in a re-sealable bag in the freezer and reuse the molds with new flavor combinations.

 

Make your own popsicles!

Greek Yogurt Creamsicles
Depending on the size of your molds, these pops potentially have more protein and less sugar than many popular squeezable yogurt tubes. Bonus: Your kids will think you are the coolest mom ever when you let them have these “ice cream popsicles” for breakfast.

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup orange juice (about the amount from a large orange)
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey (to taste)

Beet and Berry
This flavor is my daughter’s favorite! Vacuum-sealed beets available in the produce section of many stores make these a snap to throw together. Warning: These are deliciously messy. You might want to have the kids jump in the pool after they’ve devoured these.

  • 1½ cups berries of choice
  • ¼ cup diced beets
  • ¼ orange juice

Honeydew, Cucumber and Pineapple
These are especially refreshing. Because of the high water content of these fruits and vegetables, you shouldn’t need any extra liquid to get things moving in the blender.

  • 1½ cups honeydew cubes
  • ¼ cup diced cucumber
  • ½ cup pineapple chunks

Whole Fruit and Coconut Water
Coconut water is popular these days. While it contains natural electrolytes (beneficial on especially sweaty days), it has high sugar content. Many packages contain multiple servings. These pops are a good way to control portion size.

  • 1-2 cups fresh fruit, cut into small pieces
  • Coconut water

Arrange a mixture of fresh fruit in your popsicle molds. Pour the coconut water in the molds to fill the extra space. Pop in the sticks and freeze.

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Meleyna Nomura

Meleyna Nomura, of Phoenix, is majoring in health sciences with a focus in nutrition at Arizona State University and is the mother of Parker (6) and Leila (2).

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