Yogurt & Fruit Pops

Ice Cream

Kids love having a popsicle as a treat, especially during the summer. A store bought pop made of Kool-aide is sugary, has artificial flavors, and provides no health benefits. Why not turn their love for a popsicle into a way to sneak fruit into your child's diet? Fruit is absolutely necessary for optimal health. Low in calories and high in fiber, fruit is a key ingredient in helping to combat childhood obesity, a big concern these days.

Fruit helps protect children from certain illnesses and diseases. Fiber-rich foods keep your child's digestive system working properly and helps prevent heart disease and Type 2 diabetes later on in life. Fruit supplies important vitamins and minerals that can help kids avoid cancer and other diseases. Children around elementary school age need at least one cup of fruit each day, and teenagers should have about two cups.

The best way to make sure children have adequate fruit in the diet is using it to replace sugary treats. A cool popsicle is a real treat for children, especially in hot weather. The trick is to replace choices like Kool-aide with a healthy popsicle. Don't just simply freeze fruit juice to make popsicles. Use whole fruit with ingredients like yogurt and honey to make a delicious popsicle that will be more attractive to kids, as well.

For your popsicles, use about three cups of fresh fruit such as strawberries, blueberries or peaches. Puree the fruit in a blender. If you use strawberries, you can remove the seeds by pouring the pureed fruit through a strainer. Mix the fruit with about 1/3 cup of water, 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of honey. If you have time, mix the yogurt in only half of the fruit mixture, then layer for fun striped pops.

Blackberries, kiwi, citrus and some peaches are naturally tart. In addition to honey, adding about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of sugar will make the pops more palatable. Always taste first so you don't add more than needed. Even with added sugar, these pops will be far less caloric than other sugary treats.

Mix all ingredients well in a blender. Funnel the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for about 4-5 hours, or overnight. Now you will have a cold, healthy pop the kids will love anytime, especially in hot weather.

 

Real Fruit Popsicles

Fruit ice cream isolated on white

Homemade Treats

Instead of serving store-bought Popsicles to your family, make homemade ice pops from nutritious juices and fruit. Summer is a great time to make freezer pops at home because it is easy and inexpensive to find many varieties of fruit at roadside stands, farmers markets and grocery stores. Throughout the summer months, moms can prepare different recipes of ice pops to freeze for use in the autumn. Once you know the basic recipes for the bases of ice pops, it is easy to puree or chop fresh fruit and make a large batch for future use.

Food Processors

Toddlers often prefer eating smoother textures of foods due to having fewer teeth, leading to using pureed fruit to make homemade ice pops. Pureeing blueberries, nectarines and bananas is simple with the right equipment such as a food processor or blender. You can even make natural fruit juices by using a juicing machine. One of the main purposes of making ice pops at home is using organic produce grown without pesticides. Because popsicles bought at a store contain high levels of corn syrup and artificial flavors, moms can control the ingredients in the homemade versions while still providing a delicious treat for their families.

Avoid Sugar

Several cups of fresh fruit such as strawberries or watermelon will reduce in amount as it is pureed and strained. Straining is vital to remove seeks and fibers that many children do not like. Most ripe fruit is naturally sweet, allowing you to avoid adding sugar. Taste the fruit first for tartness to determine if a small amount of sugar is necessary. You can always use alternates such as coconut sugar or honey. Oranges, limes and lemons make delicious ice pops but usually require a sweetener to make the snacks more enjoyable. Older children may want to have more texture in their ice pops, so you can add small chunks of fruit to the ice pops.

Flavor Combinations

To freeze homemade ice pops, you need containers that are easy to fill with juice and fruit. Special containers are available at stores, or you can improvise with small cups (paper Dixie cups are best) and wooden sticks (or even small plastic spoons). You can use one or more types of pureed fruit and juice to make this delicious treat. Great combinations include orange juice mixed with banana chunks or pureed raspberries mixed with lemon juice. If you have a child who is reluctant to try a new fruit, then add it to their favorite flavor of ice pop. Also, try blending in some plain or vanilla yogurt for a more creamy pop without using ice cream.

 

Easy Freezer Jam

Portion Of Peach Jam

For busy moms, people new to making jam, and others hoping to try something new, freezer jam is a great place to start. Homemade jam has a fresh flavor that can not be duplicated in store bought versions. Freezer jam is fairly simple and very quick to make. Once made, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a week, or in appropriate containers in the freezer for up to a year. There are a few points to ponder before beginning to produce your own.

Be sure to pick fruit that has ripened to perfection and is in season :

Freezer jam is akin to fresh fruit. To get that freshness of biting into ripe fruit into your creation, you need to pick only ripened, in season fruit. (Strawberry and raspberry are popular choices.) If you choose underripe fruit, your jam will most likely taste sour. It will also not jell enough. If you choose overripe fruit, it will produce a foul tasting concoction that may jell too much.

Pectin allows your jam to jell:

There are two types of pectin:  powdered and liquid. These pectins are not interchangeable. Be sure to follow the recipe you are using to ensure yours will come out correctly.

Using the appropriate containers:

Plastic, freezer proof containers can be used for recipes. You may also use freezer proof glass, wide mouthed jars. Be sure to use small containers.

GINGERED PEACH AND APRICOT JAM:
-3 cups crushed peaches (about 12 small peaches)
-1 cup apricots (about 3 small apricots)
-2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
-1 1/4 cups sugar
-2 Tbsp. lemon juice
-1 packet of powdered pectin (1 envelope)

Mix crushed peaches, apricots, grated ginger and lime juice. Using instant powdered pectin, mix together pectin and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Stir pectin into prepared mixture of mashed fruit for three minutes.

Put jam into appropriate, small, freezer proof containers. Allow jam to set in refrigerator. For extended storage, place containers in freezer, but only after jam has fully set.

Choosing other fruit for your jams:

Using the same basic gingered peach/apricot recipe, you can substitute strawberries or raspberries in place of the apricots for a delicious taste sensation . Be sure to add the same amount of crushed raspberries or strawberries, in place of the same amount of apricots that are called for.

Strawberry and raspberry flavors add a very distinct, fresh taste. As long as you don't double the recipe, as it alters how the finished product jells, you can interchange fruit in the same quantities. Experiment with unusual fruit combinations. And welcome to the tasty world of jam making!

 

Cool Treats

13-07-15 watermelon popsicle 533x533

If you grew up in an area that experienced warm summer weather, then you already know that enjoying tasty ice-cold treats during days when the temperature is soaring is one of the supreme delights of childhood. If your little ones are clamoring for delicious heat-relieving confections this season, you may be reluctant to provide them due to the amount of fat and sugar that many of these delectable delights contain. However, you can easily create frozen treats at home that will surpass the store-bought type in taste, as well as pack a hefty nutritional punch, while being light on the sugar and fat. All you need to get started is a freezer and some fresh produce from your garden or the local farmers market.

The most basic hot weather fruity treat is simply frozen berries. You can place them flat on a cookie sheet on wax paper. This works best for blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries and loganberries. After they are frozen, the berries can be popped into mouths that need quick respite from the heat of a sizzling summer afternoon. This method also works well with individual grapes.

Ice-cold fruity smoothies are another healthy option that can be quickly and easily made from berries and other summer fruit. Using plain yogurt, fruit juice and milk as a base, you can whip up delicious shakes in the blender using pretty much any type of fruit that you choose. Using frozen fruit reduces or eliminates the need for ice. All types of berries and bananas seem to go particularly well together, and those who want a little extra sweetness without using refined sugar can sprinkle in some cinnamon and drizzle in some honey. (Tip:  if you have too many bananas ripe at once, you can peel, slice and freeze one in a zip bag for future smoothies.)

Remember how much you loved slurping on old-fashioned popsicles back in your childhood days? Your children can enjoy the same treat without the bothersome sugar rush that used to drive your parents crazy when you and your siblings got all hopped up on empty calories. All you've got to do is put 100 percent juice in the blender, add some cubed watermelon, peaches, bananas, mangoes, apricots, plums, grapes or whole berries if they're small. Blend until well-mixed, pour into popsicle molds, and freeze. (You can use small paper cups with a stick or plastic spoon in a pinch.) In only a few short hours, you'll have a healthy and delicious hot weather snack that won't leave your children bouncing off the walls due to an overabundance of refined sugar.

Don't be afraid to get creative when making your summertime treats, and allowing your children to help out will teach them basic kitchen skills as well as spark an interest in good nutrition.