By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com
Oh the sweet sounds of summer! The birds are chirping, the kids are yelling as they pelt each other with water balloons with the yard, and, in the distance, a familiar melody tinkles. As the ice-cream truck rounds the corner, they race inside to the coin jar. The screen door slams, and they're back outside, lining up for sugary treats.
In the good old days, the ice-cream man's arrival meant a special treat, but with treats accessible at every event at school, friend's houses, and even sporting events, those treats seem like overkill.
No need to ban treats on hot summer days. But kill two birds with one stone by making your own frozen treats with foods that are healthy and naturally delicious, like fruit and yogurt.
Why take the time to make your own freezer pops?
It's cheap! Slushies can run up to $2.00 each and the ice treat truck up to $3.00 each. Make your own for about 25-40 cents each.
No ice cream makers or special equipment needed. Got paper bathroom cups? Wooden craft sticks or even plastic spoons in house? If you answered yes you are ready to go.
You control what does inside the freezer pops. No blue dyes, less sugar, plus added fiber or protein--if you choose.
Tips for making the best freezer treats
- Make sure fruit is ripe to avoid adding excess sugar.
- Keep in mind that your fruit will seem less sweet after you freeze it, as freezing dulls some of the flavor. Rather than reach for sugar, consider adding herbs or sweeter fruit.
- If popsicles will not release from the mold, hold the mold under running warm water for 20 seconds to release. If using paper or plastic molds just snip the top edge with scissors to release.
- Looking for ways to add some vegetables or protein into a treat? Try mixing spinach or protein powder into your mixture before freezing.
- For parties, make mini ice cube popsicles to add flavor to water or herbal teas. The ice cube will chill the beverage and impart flavor at the same time.
A general recipe for frozen treats is equal parts fruit and liquid or yogurt--let your imagination go wild!
If you want some inspiration, try one of these recipes:
100-Calorie Banana Split: Order a banana split at the drive thru, and you're looking at 800 calories. This version has less than 100, and it's easy enough for kids to make!
Mini White Chocolate-Peach Freezer Pops: This mini treat recipe is a great start but try adding a slice of strawberry to top of the cup or chopped pistachios, or better yet make a chocolate peach smore by sandwiching top and bottom with circles of graham crackers.
Strawberry-Kiwi Yogurt Freezer Pops: These are so cute and colorful! The kiwi in the bottom of the cup not only adds more fruit and color to the freezer pop, it also holds the stick in place.
Do you ever make your own freezer pops? What's your favorite flavor?
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SparkPeople Healthy Cooking Expert Meg Galvin is a World Master Chef, culinary instructor, and the author of " The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." A farmer's daughter and marathon runner, she lives in northern Kentucky with her husband and three teenage sons.