We’ve been on a popsicle kick, and I decided it was time for me to up my game as Mommy, the supplier of frozen treats. Now that summer is here, my kids spend hours each day digging in the garden and spraying each other with the hose, and when they eventually get grumpy and need a snack break, popsicles work like magic to restore happy moods. Since this is becoming a daily habit, I want to be sure I am giving them healthy ones.
When we used to make the occasional popsicles, we would just use 100% juice. At least it was a little better than buying standard popsicles at the store that are basically sugar water. But as we know, even 100% juice isn’t great for kids to have on a regular basis. Eating whole fruit is the ideal option, because it retains the natural fiber and has less overall sugar than juice, so I started to experiment with making popsicles out of just pureed fruit instead. Watermelon and other melons are fantastic for this, as well as pineapple, mango, kiwi, strawberry, and peach.
You can find these type of whole fruit pops at some upscale grocery stores, but they can be expensive, and if your kids are like mine and want them daily, making them at home is the way to go. The trick is to use whatever fruit is in season, ripe, and sweet to begin with. You don’t need to add anything else.
My favorite gadget to use at the moment to puree the fruit is our pull chopper, which is basically a little non-electric food processor that you operate by pulling a cord to turn the blades. My kids, ages 4 and 1, love to take turns pulling the cord. Plus, it’s quiet and my little guy doesn’t cover his ears and run to hide like he does when I use the food processor.
Any small chopper, food processor, or blender should do the job. With a standard blender, you have to use a spoon to press the fruit down until it starts to liquefy.
Upgrading my molds has been a game changer too. Our old molds cracked, so I ordered a silicone mold that makes 4 mini pops at a time and uses old-fashioned wooden sticks.
The size is just right. Don’t get me wrong, I love popsicles, but I don’t always feel like finishing the half-eaten large ones that my kids hand me. With this mini size, my kids can finish them before they melt (and I can select my own flavor when I want one.) Also, with this new design, you fill and freeze the pops in a horizontal position, so you can easily spoon in layers of color and also drop in berries or slices of other fresh fruits for decoration and flavor.
The pops are so easy to take out of the mold — you don’t need to run them under warm water. All this being said, it doesn’t really matter what you have to make the pops out of. Even little paper cups work well, like we used to do when I was little. What really matters is how the popsicles taste. These do taste amazing, and my kids love them. This morning, they asked to have them right after breakfast and I let them, because all they are is pureed frozen fruit.
In fact, I’m having so much success with these pops that I am convinced they have magic powers beyond peace keeping in the garden. My youngest will eat any version we offer him, whereas he is very picky with sliced or whole fruit. I was so surprised when the little guy polished off both the kiwi and honeydew versions.
The versions I usually make have just one or two flavours and are based on whatever is in season and is reasonably priced at the store or farmer’s market. I did have fun making rainbow pops just to play around with the colors.
They actually weren’t very hard to make, and are impressive for a special occasion. The Berkeley girl in me likes that the colors mixed a little and look like tie-dye. But for next time, I would make sure to put the sticks into the mold before filling them, as some juice leaked from the molds when I filled them.
You can play around with whatever fruits and colors you and your kids like. I do have to confess that I am personally pretty excited about this homage to the Big Stick, which I loved as a kid.
What is the Big Stick equivalent for today’s kids? The Unicorn Frappuccino? Maybe it is time to make some unicorn whole fruit pops. I’m thinking raspberry, blueberry, and honeydew? Those sound pretty magic, too.
Magic Summer Fruit Pops
These easy to make pops have no added sugar, and retain all of the natural fiber of the fruit.
-2 cups cut, juicy, seasonal fruit, such as cubed melon, mango, kiwi, strawberries, or peach
–Additional fruits like berries for decoration (optional) or natural flavors like lime juice or fresh mint
–Place the cut fruit into a chopper, food processor or blender. You can keep them separate or mix them, as you prefer. Process until liquefied. Some small chunks are ok, too. Add in any other flavors you like, such as a squeeze of lime juice.
–Spoon the pureed fruit into popsicle molds (or paper cups), drop in any extra fruits for decoration, if using, and add sticks. (If using silicone molds, adding the sticks first and then the fruit will help to prevent leaks.)
–Freeze until solid, about 3 hours.
–Unmold and enjoy.
Makes 4 to 6 popsicles, depending on the size of the molds used.