Popsicles: A Summertime Favorite

Popsicles: A Summertime Favorite

popsicle

by Melanie Wilson

Nearly every one of us ate Popsicles growing up, and if you grew up in the average American family, they were neon green, red, and orange, and filled with artificial flavors and refined sugar. I have fond memories of hot summer days eating those cold pops, but I wouldn’t dream of giving store-bought pops to my children on a daily basis. We prefer to make our own wholesome and nutritious Popsicles, and it’s no exaggeration to say that we have them in our freezer nearly all the time. 

When my daughter was 10 months old, we moved to Papua New Guinea. To say that it’s hot and humid there is an understatement! It’s about 90-100 degrees year round with 90 percent humidity. The entire first week living there I felt like I’d just stepped out of the shower. I never thought I’d get used to it, and my almost-toddler wore nothing but a diaper for weeks. 

We did get used to it, but we also had to get accustomed to drinking more fluids. Kalli was nursing, but that alone didn’t seem to be enough in the hot weather. We wanted to keep her cool and make sure she stayed hydrated, so we decided to give Popsicles a try. We’ve never looked back! We are Popsicle-making fools, and even in the dead of winter where we now live in Mongolia, you’ll find our kids walking around with frozen pops in hand (indoors, of course!). 

One thing I’ve discovered is that even picky eaters love frozen desserts, and all kids feel picky sometimes. Like any family, we sometimes have those days or weeks when our kids don’t seem to want to eat, when we worry about their nutrition. Other times they are sick, and just can’t keep any solid food down. It is during these times when I am most grateful that my kids love Popsicles. We fill them with soymilk or silken tofu for calcium and protein; fresh fruits like organic strawberries, peaches, mandarin oranges, and mangoes for vitamin C and fiber; and even sweet potatoes, avocados, or coconut for an added nutritional boost. 

A bonus of our pop-making hobby is that our kids have learned a lot about nutrition. We talk about what ingredients we’ve chosen and why. They also love to help us “shop for pops,” and making them together is a family affair. As they get older, children can push the buttons on the blender and even help pour the mixture into the frozen pop containers. The littlest ones can put in the sticks, and they are quick to remind us when we need to make more. 

Over the years we’ve tried a variety of Popsicle makers, and though it’s tempting to buy the ones with cute, little handles in bright colors, they aren’t always the easiest to maneuver. We don’t highly recommend the makers that include separate holders with snap-on tops for each Popsicle. Our favorite frozen pop maker has a single container with four Popsicle molds and sticks with built-in straws to catch drips as the kids roam the house. Sadly, we received it as a gift and have never discovered its origin. If we do, we’ll buy stock in the company! 

For those of you who don’t like to use plastic, or who want to try Popsicles with your kids before purchasing a plastic maker you aren’t sure you’ll use, there is another option. Buy small paper cups, aluminum foil, and wooden Popsicle sticks. Set the cups on a cookie sheet, fill to one half or two thirds (remember that liquids expand when frozen), cover each cup with foil, poke a stick through the foil, and place the tray in the freezer for several hours. You can either peel away the paper cup when they are ready to eat, or, as with plastic containers, hold the cups under warm running water for 30-60 seconds until the pops loosen and easily slide out. 

Summer is the perfect time of year to experiment with Popsicles, and here are a few of our family’s favorite recipes to get you started. Be adventurous and experiment with different colors, flavors, and textures. 

Tofudgesicles 
1/2 cup silken tofu
2/3 cup soymilk
1/4 tsp. vanilla flavoring
2 very ripe bananas
2 Tbsp. carob or cocoa powder
maple syrup to taste, opt. 

Place tofu, soymilk, and vanilla in a blender and mix until smooth. Add bananas, carob or cocoa powder, again blending until smooth. If desired, sweeten with syrup. Freeze and serve. 

Orange-Vanilla Creamsicles 
1 pkg. silken tofu
2/3 cup orange juice concentrate
1 sweet seedless orange, peeled and sectioned
2 tsp. vanilla flavoring 

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. Freeze and serve. 

Peach-Mandarin Orange Pops 
1 to 1 1/2 cups soymilk
4 to 6 fresh, ripe peaches, peeled
2 sweet mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned with seeds removed or 1 small can of mandarin oranges, drained 

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. Freeze and serve. 

Super C Frozen Pops 
2 cups fresh organic strawberries
1 cup fortified orange juice 

Place ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. Freeze and serve. 

Note: This recipe is best with very sweet strawberries. If they are too tart, try adding a little maple syrup to sweeten the recipe. We always buy organic strawberries, as the pesticides traditionally used on berries are particularly lethal, especially those grown outside the U.S. Methyl Bromide is outlawed inside the U.S. now last I heard, but I’ve read that it will be years before it is completely out of the soil in which many strawberries are grown. Choose organic! 

Melanie Wilson

Author: Melanie Wilson

Melanie Wilson is the former editor and publisher of Vegetarian Baby & Child magazine. She edits the family section of VegNews and manages Vegetarianteen.com online magazine.

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