It's almost summer where I live, and with that comes ALL the treats! Campfires with s'mores, festivals with kettle corn and cotton candy, ice cream galore, and for my 5 1/2 year old son, popsicles. He's been obsessed with them since he was a baby, and most summer mornings he wakes up asking for one (he'll even do this in winter because he's crazy like that). But I just can't turn a blind eye to how much sugar is in most store-bought popsicles!
I'm not going to beat a dead horse with all the scary details of sugar (you can click here to read my post about it), but no matter if they're "100% fruit" or not, I wanted to be able to make my own popsicles with whole fruits, fibre and all. The fibre slows down the sugar high, and makes sure my boy who tends towards getting hangry often (he totally takes after me!) can feel fuller, longer, and have less mood swings.
The thing with food labels is that what's on the label isn't always what's in the box. I know, how frustrating! Let's look at a real-world example.
Below are my son's favourite popsicles before we started making them at home (I'll share his favourite recipe below and how to make them in 10 minutes or less!).
They're the PC Brand Blue Menu Fruit Bars, and here's the description:
Refreshingly tempting fruit bars made with real fruit purees, concentrated juices and natural flavours.
Even as a nutritionist, I'm tempted to think "Great! This is an easy healthy snack for my child", and frankly, as a new mom, I was too damn exhausted to make my own. So for a few years, he ate these at least once a day.
I couldn't find the nutritional information online to tell you exactly how many grams of sugar are in it (and how many grams of fibre - that you'd get from real fruit puree - aren't in it!), but here are the ingredients:
See how the Orange bar doesn't even have fruit puree in it? And how sugar and glucose are the #2 and #3 ingredient? Ugh, food labelling laws infuriate me!
This is called health washing, when a company markets a product as healthy when it's soooooo not, and unfortunately it's everywhere.
To me, the only solution is to make your own popsicles, which sounds like an annoying, long, and arduous process. But it's really not!
Before I get to the popsicle recipe, which is dead simple, I want to introduce you to your new best friend if you have kids or grandkids (or just enjoy a good popsicle that can be ready in less than 10 minutes!):
This 👆🏻 is a Zoku Quick Pop Maker, and it's the best thing since sliced bread. You can find it on Amazon or other high-end kitchen stores online (like The Bay here in Canada), and there's several options and shapes. You don't have to plug it in, and it makes fully frozen, ready-to-eat popsicles in 6 minutes. I kid you not!
The unit stays in the freezer, much like the ice cream attachment for a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, and it'll make 3 batches (i.e. 9) of fully frozen popsicles at a time before you need to re-freeze the unit.
You put any mixture of ingredients you want, pour them into the molds, set your timer for 6 minutes, and pull out your popsicles. I then put them into an airtight glass container or heavy-duty freezer bag, and store them just like regular popsicles for my son to help himself to ... which is sometimes up to 3 a day. 🤦🏻♀️ It makes me feel infinitely better that he's not getting loads of sugar when he eats several of these in one day!
We usually just make popsicles with whatever fruits are ready to go bad and need be used up, but the basic ratio is 1 cup of liquid to 4-5 cups of fresh or frozen fruit.
Aleks loves berries, so ours usually includes blueberries, strawberries, frozen cherries, apples, grapes, or mango, and our liquid is usually kombucha (which we brew ourselves at home for about $1 per gallon), but you could also use an unsweetened nut milk. I use Blue Diamond unsweetened almond milk which has added calcium, which is a nice bonus.
A few weeks ago I threw together a new recipe and it was SUCH a winner that I actually wrote it down. Aleks is obsessed with them, and we're making a third batch (in 2 weeks) tonight.
P.S. it might take your kids a few batches for their tastebuds to get used to them. When they're used to eating super sweet store-bought popsicles, these can seem relatively flavourless at first (even though they're not!). The less sugar they eat, the sweeter these will taste. Enjoy!
Strawberry Watermelon Popsicles
Prep time: 3 minutes
COOLING TIME: 10 mins - 4 hours
Makes 10 to 12 popsicles
5 cups of cut up seedless watermelon chunks
2 large handfuls of frozen, organic strawberries (about 2 cups)
1 cup of kombucha or other liquid like water or nut milk
3 drops of lime essential oil, or any other citrus oil like orange, lemon, or tangerine*
3 tbsp collagen (click here to find out why adding collagen is amazing!)
*see notes below
Blend all ingredients until smooth.
Add to popsicle molds.
Freeze until completely solid. In a Zoku this will only take 6 minutes, but we have other popsicle molds that go into the freezer and take about 3-4 hours to freeze solid.
Remove from the molds and enjoy!
1. If you have extra fruit puree, just cover and store in the fridge to make another batch in a few days.
2. Check your label to make sure the brand you have is safe for internal consumption. I recommend doTERRA essential oils, click here to find out more.
By Ashley Srokosz, RHN