From Decadently Dipped to Light & Healthy
by Kirsten Harrington
Invented by 11-year-old Frank Epperson more than 100 years ago, there’s something nostalgic about Popsicles. They evoke memories of carefree summer days, riding bikes and swinging on a front porch with a sweet, frozen treat in hand. These days, ice pops are experiencing renewed popularity with peak-season produce, savory spices, coffee, fresh herbs and even vegetables. They are easy to make, fun for kids, inexpensive and versatile enough to accommodate any diet. So, why not make some this summer? The only tools you need are a mold, a few ingredients and your imagination.
Fresh & Fruity
Perfectly ripe peaches, berries and melon blended with a little bit of apple juice make delicious and healthy ice pops. Try filling molds with fresh slices of nectarines, kiwi, strawberries and blueberries, covering the fruit with white grape juice and freezing. These “fruit salad pops” are stunning, simple and great for parties. Blend chunks of mangos or papaya with pineapple juice for a tropical treat; a few basil leaves with pureed watermelon make light and refreshing ice pops. Remember to start with very ripe fruit and taste the mixture before freezing. Sweeten to taste with a teaspoon of agave nectar or maple syrup. If you’re feeling bold, try a pinch of chili powder or hint of cinnamon for an added kick.
Cool & Creamy
Add a creamy dimension by blending in Greek yogurt, coconut or almond milk, or half-and-half to pureed fruit or juice. Add your favorite milk to bananas, mangos or avocados with a touch of honey or maple syrup to make smooth and silky pops. Pudding pops are an old-time favorite. Simply whisk one package of pudding mix (3.9 ounces) with 2 cups of milk for two minutes, stir in 1 cup of thawed Cool Whip topping and freeze in molds.
Blend and freeze your favorite smoothie recipe for a healthy, cool treat. Chia seeds look lovely frozen in fruit pops and add healthy omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Ground flax seeds, protein powder, nut butter, cocoa powder, dried goji berries, spirulina powder and fresh greens like spinach can all be added for an extra nutritional boost; blending in a very ripe banana adds sugar-free sweetness.
Dip & Decorate
Add the finishing touch by dipping or drizzling ice pops with melted dark or white chocolate and then sprinkling on chopped nuts, grated coconut or rainbow sprinkles. Experiment, have fun and be creative!
Remember, freezing dulls flavors, so make the mixture a little stronger or sweeter than normal to ensure bold ice pop flavors. Run frozen treats under hot water briefly to loosen from molds. Recipes yield about six ice pops.
Coffee & Cream Ice Pops
A perfect way to enjoy a favorite beverage this summer!
3 cups freshly brewed, strong coffee
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup half-and-half
Mix all ingredients together and stir well to dissolve sugar. Pour into mold and freeze 4-6 hours.
Chocolate-Dipped Banana Ice Pops
Fruit salad ice pops are stunning, yet easy-to-make, treats.
A creamy, nondairy treat that both children and adults will love.
3 very ripe bananas
14 ounces full-fat coconut milk (or substitute almond milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of cinnamon
1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)
1 cup of chocolate chips
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Chopped nuts or coconut flakes (optional)
Blend all ingredients except chocolate, nuts and coconut flakes in blender until smooth. Pour into molds and freeze three to four hours. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil in microwave in 30-second increments until smooth. Working quickly, remove ice pops from mold and dip tips into melted chocolate. Garnish with chopped nuts or coconut flakes if desired. Place on parchment paper. Return ice pops to freezer for about 10 minutes until chocolate hardens. ♥