Recipes

Summer Treats: DIY Ice Pops

Summer is here and the heat is on. With the hotter days, and nights, comes the request familiar to parents everywhere, “Can we go to the store for (insert your child’s favourite sugar-laden frozen treat).” To beat the heat, and the cost, while avoiding all that sugar and food colouring, you can make some delicious, fun, icy-cold treats at home.

A trip to just about any store that sells cookware – Wal-Mart, Target, Canadian Tire, Kitchen Stuff Plus – will yield up ice pop moulds in a variety of shapes and sizes for less than $15. You can also create your own moulds using ice cube trays or plastic cups and wooden Popsicle sticks. If you really want to go all out – and want your pops to be ready in half the time – Mastermind Toys offers the Zoku QuickPop Maker for $75.

Use whatever juices, fruits, and yogurts you have on hand to make frozen treats that fit your tastes and dietary preferences. It generally takes about 6 hours for the pops to completely freeze, so it’s best to plan ahead and start your treats early in the morning or the night before. To get you started, here are some fun ideas from around the web.

Watermelon Blueberry Ice Pops (EatingWell.com)
Ingredients:
3-3/4 cup chopped, seedless or seeded watermelon
2 tablespoons lime juice
1-2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preparation:
Puree watermelon, lime juice, and sugar (if using) in a blender or food processor until smooth. Divide blueberries among freezer-pop moulds. Top with watermelon puree. Insert the sticks and freeze until completely firm, about 6 hours. Dip the moulds briefly in hot water before unmoulding.
Makes about 10, 3oz freezer pops.

Vanilla Orange Freezer Pops (EatingWell.com)
This creamy treat is a healthier version of the ever popular Creamsicle.
Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups orange juice
1-1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
1-2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:
Whisk orange juice, yogurt, sugar (if using), and vanilla in a medium bowl. Divide the mixture among freezer-pop moulds. Insert the sticks and freeze until completely firm, about 6 hours. Dip the moulds briefly in hot water before unmoulding.
Makes about 10, 3 oz freezer pops.

Strawberry Fruit Pops (TheNourishingHome.com)
Ingredients:
1 pound fresh ripe strawberries
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tbsp raw honey (or pure maple syrup)

Preparation:
Remove stems from strawberries. Finely dice four of the strawberries and set aside. Cut the remaining whole strawberries into halves and place in your blender or food processor. Add the remaining ingredients listed above, except for the four finely diced strawberries. Blend until thoroughly combined. Then add the diced strawberries and blend on low just a couple of seconds to mix together.
Pour mixture evenly into six 3-ounce pop moulds making sure to leave at least a half-inch of space at top for expansion that occurs during freezing. Freeze for at least 4-6 hours. When ready to serve, run the pop mould under warm water for a few seconds to loosen before removing the mould.

Homemade Slushies/Granita (Adapted from CookingLight.com and MangiaBenePasta.com)

1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups fruit, sliced or chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preparation:
Combine the sugar and water in a blender; process until sugar dissolves. Add fruit and juice; process until smooth. Pour mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish. Place the empty pan and your stirring fork in the freezer to chill. Also chill the glasses you will be using to serve the granita in later.

Pour the mixture into the pan and place in the freezer. Every 30 minutes, using a fork, stir the granita, scraping it off the bottom and sides of the pan. Break up the frozen parts near the edges into smaller chunks and rake them toward the center. Continue to freeze and break up ice crystals until completely frozen, about 3 hours. If at any time the granita freezes too hard, simply leave it out at room temperature for a few minutes until it softens enough to be stirred again with a fork. Then return it to the freezer.

Check your granita mixture 20-30 minutes before serving to make sure that you can scoop the surface with a spoon. If it is too firm, let it stand at room temperature until serving time. To serve, scrape across the top of the frozen mixture with a large spoonRemove mixture from freezer; let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Scrape entire mixture with a fork until fluffy.

For more granita recipes, some with an adult twist, check out Cooking Light.

Resources:

For information on the nutrition pros and cons of the most popular types of frozen treats, check out Eating Right Ontario.