Summertime and frozen treats go hand in hand. Who doesn’t love a sweet ice pop, but if you look at the offerings available in the grocery store most are loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial colors and flavors. If you choose an artisanal or organic variety you’ll be running to the ATM.
Food and Wine magazine named Ice Pops in its list of Food Trends in 2011. Artisanal ice pop shops opened up in all major metropolitan areas, but making them yourself is both easy and inexpensive with readily available ingredients. You don’t even have to go out and purchase expensive “pop” makers. All you really need are ingredients, a blender or food processor, and a freezer. Our recipes all used fresh whole fruits, but there are plenty of “savory” recipes out there (think frozen Gazpacho on a stick). Wooden pop sticks are available in craft stores, you can be creative with containers you have around the house, or you can purchase plastic ice pop molds at discount and kitchen stores. You might even find an old Tupperware set in the attic! We used ice cube trays, bathroom sized cups (3oz), and small soufflé cups.
The recipes I chose to demonstrate in our cooking studio were ones that I knew would be delicious and nutritious, but might also be beneficial to our cancer population experiencing treatment related side effects. Being frozen, ice pops are an easy way for patients with mouth sores to increase fluid and nutrient intake. The ginger in the mango-ginger pops may help to settle a nauseous stomach, while the use of yogurt adds high quality protein. Blueberries are a well-celebrated super food, but the addition of flavonoid-rich basil adds antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. I’ll admit that the combination sounds weird because we’re all used to basil in tomato based Italian foods, but the combination with blueberries in this recipe is quite spectacular. Some recipes contain a small amount of added sugar because once frozen, flavors tend lose their intensity. You can eliminate the sugar by using fruits at their peak of ripeness, which means you need to choose seasonal and local fruits.
So take a step back in time and a step up in quality and nutrition and make some ice pops. The possibilities are endless!
Robin McConnell, MS, RD, CSO