What could be a better refreshing, summer treat than homemade ice pops! It’s fun to get the kids involved and have the whole family enjoy these on those warm summer afternoons. Keep reading as we go over some ice pop 101 and even share our tricks for hidden veggie popsicles!
The Basics of Healthy Homemade Popsicle Making
Before you start making your homemade ice pops, you’ll need to choose your adventure! What flavor profile are you seeking? Do you want a fruit-based pop or a creamy one? Once you’ve established this, there are a few basic rules to making your own popsicles.
- Flavor: Ripe (or overripe) fruit is the best for popsicles because it’s naturally super sweet! If your fruit isn’t ultra-sweet a drop of maple syrup or sweetener of choice is fine to use, if needed. Not many folks know that when food freezes the taste becomes less intense. Taste your mixture and make it slightly sweeter than you would a smoothie, making for a better treat when frozen.
- Mold: You’ve got your perfectly flavored mixture and you’re ready to mold it! Either use your store-purchased favorite ice pop mold or if you don’t have a popsicle mold, make one! You can use recycled yogurt containers, muffin tins, small throw-away cups, or even ice cube trays! Just be sure to leave a little space in the top of your mold when you add the mixture!
- Stick: Without sticks they’re just yummy ice cubes. Add popsicle sticks, making sure they’re food-safe and environmentally friendly! The lid of your mold should help them to stand straight, but if you have issues with them leaning, tightly wrap the top of the mold with aluminum foil then poke your popsicle sticks through the foil and they will stand upright!
- Freeze: Next comes the freezing! Depending on how thick your popsicles are, it should take anywhere between 4 and 8 hours to freeze solid.
- Unmold: The quickest way to unmold and enjoy your pops is to simply run the mold under warm water. Hold the bottoms of the mold under running water, moving it around to evenly warm each mold. After about 10 seconds your popsicles should come out easily!
Fruit and popsicles are just a match made in heaven. Making homemade ice pops with fruit is not only fun, but healthy! Adding fruit is a great way to add nutrients like vitamins and fiber, which are often an afterthought when it comes to these refreshing sweet treats.
Start simple and pick some fruit. Berries work great in popsicles and mango, pineapple, kiwi, banana, peach, or watermelon are great choices too! The riper your fruit, the sweeter it will be. But don’t worry, even though riper fruit is sweeter, it's still full of nutrients too.
After you pick your fruit, add your liquid and your sweetener. You can use water but using juice in your popsicle mix adds even more flavor (especially a squeeze of fresh lemon juice!). Our dietitians like adding coconut water, for a touch of added electrolytes! Finally, add a bit of sweetener if it’s needed.
You can blend up all the ingredients into a slurry, or “pulse” them together for added texture. Then pour the mixture into your mold, let freeze, and enjoy!
Fun Tip: Want to make layered fruit pops? Add your first fruit mixture to your mold and fill about halfway. Freeze this mix and once frozen, add your second fruit mix ture and place back in your freezer. Once fully frozen, remove from the mold and enjoy your two-tone ice pop!
Hidden Veggie Popsicles
Our dietitians are crazy about adding extra veggies wherever they can – and that even means popsicles! As a rule of thumb, most things that make a good smoothie also make a great popsicle! Case in point: green smoothie popsicles!
Spinach has a neutral flavor that blends seamlessly into most mixtures, so try adding a handful to your next batch of pops to start off your veggie-filled popsicle journey. Feeling adventurous? You can also try adding avocado, shredded carrots, roasted sweet potato, zucchini, or roasted beets!