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Summer on a Stick!


Summertime bliss…a cold glass of lemonade, fireworks on the 4th of July, your favorite music, watermelon seed spitting contests and eating a popsicle at lightning speed to keep it from melting all over your hands!  Doesn’t get much better than that, especially if you are a kid!  Although we want our kids to experience this “bliss,” as parents (and the ones with the buying power) we really need to recognize…many popsicles we find at the store are really just a lot of processed sugar on a stick!  Remember Michael Pollan’s food rule “avoid foods that have some form of sugar listed among the top three ingredients?"

IMG_1393Check out this example of the first few ingredients from a store-bought box of popsicles:  water, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar…umm, how many ways can you say “sugar?”

If you haven’t really paid attention to this before, you are probably not alone.  Believe me, I don’t want to burst that “summertime bliss” bubble!  So all is not lost…you can easily make your own popsicles that the kids (and adults) will love!  All you need are some REAL ingredients, popsicle sticks and some molds or small cups – and the best part is you know exactly what’s in them!  Because does anyone really know what Red 40 and Blue 1 are?

Have you ever wondered where popsicles come from?  The story is that in 1905, Frank Epperson was 11 years old when he left a fruit flavored soda with a stir stick in it outside on the front porch where it froze…stick and all.  He thought it tasted great, but it took 18 more years for him to receive a patent for the “frozen ice on a stick” called the Epsicle ice-pop, which his children later named the “popsicle.”  In 1925, he sold his famous popsicle to the Joe Lowe Company of New York and now Good Humor owns the rights to the popsicle.

Since Frank’s simple discovery, a lot has changed in how popsicles are produced, especially those that are mass produced.  Which is why we encourage making your own…the benefits are better taste, better health and some great memories to share with your kids, family or friends!

It is easy to make your own great-tasting popsicles!  Take advantage of these tips for your homemade popsicle making:

  • If using fresh fruit, use ripe fruit…it will have the best flavor.
  • It is easiest to blend the fruit with the other ingredients because, if you use large chunks of fruit, they will fall to the bottom.  If you want to prevent this, freeze the popsicle in layers, freezing each layer for about 30 minutes, and then add the popsicle stick when freezing the final layer.
  • No fancy molds required!  Popsicle molds are inexpensive and you can find them at most grocery stores this time of year, but you can also use small cups or glasses along with popsicle sticks.
  • If you use paper cups, they should just tear away from the frozen popsicle.  If you use plastic or glass cups, you will likely need to run them under some warm water (not hot) for about 20 seconds to loosen the frozen popsicle.
  • Popsicle sticks work great, but toothpicks are not the best idea unless you are using ice cube trays to make your popsicles.  Toothpicks can break easily and are difficult to hold.
  • Don’t overfill your molds or cups — no one wants a sticky, messy freezer!
  • Depending on the temperature of your freezer, most popsicles will take 3-5 hours to completely freeze.

The possibilities for homemade popsicles are endless!  Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Greek yogurt mixed with milk (almond, soy or rice milk too) can replace heavy cream and still provide an ice cream consistency.
  • Sweeteners such as agave syrup, maple syrup and honey work great and can be adjusted to your taste.  Keep in mind, depending on what type of fruit you use, you may not need much sweetener at all!
  • If you use fizzy or sparkling water or liquids, open them and let them de-fizz for a few minutes before adding them to the popsicle molds so they won’t fizz over and leak out.
  • Less waste!  Don’t throw out the bananas that are going soft…freeze them (peel before freezing), and blend with cocoa powder and vanilla extract and turn them into chocolate banana popsicles!  Or better yet, clean out the refrigerator and see what flavor combinations inspire you (leftover yogurt, orange segments, kiwi, etc.)!
  • When coming up with your own unique flavor combinations, it is best to use ingredients that grow in the same season such as watermelon and mint, peaches and blueberries, or tomato and basil (yes, savory popsicles are great too!).
  • Don’t forget to write down your unique creations - if you find that special popsicle creation everyone loves, avoid the frustration of not being able to remember what you did!
  • This is a great way to get kids in the kitchen!  You can freeze almost anything…so let them get creative!  What’s the worst that can happen?!
  • Some other great flavor combos:  cucumber mint, orange rosemary, and peach lavender!  You can even combine jam and yogurt to make Strawberry Jam Yogurt Pops!

We hope you enjoy the ideas and decide this is a great way to enjoy a healthy frozen treat!  If so, invest in some popsicle molds and get creative!  You may be surprised how much the kids (and maybe some adults) enjoy and eat new things, especially if they are frozen and on a stick!  Please share your ideas - we would love to tell other Get REAL Wichita members about your unique popsicle creations!

IMG_1401In honor of the 4th of July, we have included a recipe to make Red, White and Blueberry popsicles.  We did a taste-test with our own kids and these got great reviews!  “Much better flavor than the store bought ones, and they look cool!”

Red, White, and Blueberry Popsicles  (makes about 8 popsicles)

Recipe adapted from weelicious.com

Ingredients:
1 cup frozen blueberries (slightly defrosted)
2 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup almond milk (or rice or soy milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup frozen raspberries (slightly defrosted)

Directions:

  1. Place the frozen blueberries under cool water to slightly defrost them, then drain.  In a blender, add frozen blueberries and 1/2 Tbsp of agave or honey.  Blend until smooth.  Spoon mixture into popsicle molds, fill each mold about 1/3 full.  Freeze for 30 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, add the yogurt, almond milk, vanilla extract and 1 Tbsp of agave or honey.  Stir until combined and then fill each popsicle mold 1/3 full with the yogurt mixture layer (the mold should now be 2/3 full).  Freeze for another 30 minutes.
  3. Place the raspberries under cool water to slightly defrost them, then drain.  In the blender again, add the frozen raspberries and 1/2 Tbsp of agave or honey.  Blend until smooth.  Spoon mixture into the popsicle molds, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top of the mold so they don’t overflow.  Add the sticks in the popsicles and freeze.  It may take 3-5 hours for them to be completely frozen, depending on the temperature of your freezer.  Enjoy!

Tips:  If you don’t have popsicle molds, don’t worry, you can also use small cups and popsicle sticks.  If you use paper cups, the paper will easily tear away from the frozen popsicle.  If you use plastic or glass cups, you may need to run the popsicles under warm water (not hot) for about 20 seconds to help release the popsicle.

You can also find this recipe at https://eatrealamerica.com/recipes/red-white-blueberry-popsicles/.

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