Summertime__treats

Easy (and kinda healthy) Summertime Treats

There’s nothing like a few quiet moments with an ice cold treat to cool you down in the hot summer months.  And with so many varieties and options, you can discover your favorite this summer, a new favorite next and a different one each following year. From Strawberries and Cream pops to grapefruit granita, there’s plenty to try.  With kids, (and even without) simple recipes are best.  Low prep time in a summer kitchen is vital, as well. The thought of having to sweat in the kitchen might make you abandon your intended plans!  With so many wonderful recipes out there for you, I don’t need to reproduce them here. Instead I’ll offer some general ideas and let you either experiment on your own or look up recipes with these ideas in mind.

Ice Cream.

Dig out that wedding gift or yard sale find and use it!  There are many approaches to ice cream and several good books at the library to outline these approaches.  Many people like to cook a custard for their ice cream base and it does make a wonderfully creamy dessert.  But standing in front of the stove usually doesn’t appeal to me when I’m planning a summer treat. And I think there are wonderful benefits to NOT cooking my fresh eggs and milk.

So I simply blend egg yolks (one or two) with ANY combination of ANY kind of milk or cream to equal about three cups.  This can be cream, half and half, skimmed milk, coconut milk or any other milk you prefer or happen to have on hand that day.  Then add about a third to a half cup of your preferred sweetener (I usually use sucanat, maple syrup or honey) and a dash of vanilla extract (or some vanilla bean).

Simple flavor additions can then be added and you can either mix or blend with a stick blender or in a blender.  Try cocoa powder or strawberries and you’ve got your classics covered.  Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and wait as patiently as you can for the yummy results.

Leftovers?  Try them in…

Popsicles! 

Popsicles just sing SUMMER for kids and for most grown ups, too!  You can easily find plastic popsicle molds, but there are also silicone ones available. And maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find some stainless steel ones at a yard sale.  No molds? Try dixie cups or even jelly jars.  You can let the mix freeze a little before adding the sticks so they stand upright as they freeze solid.

Now, what to add to those molds?

  • leftover ice cream. If you made it yourself, you know it’s full of goodness and love.
    – pudding (leftover or not) for homemade pudding pops
  • coconut water.  This isn’t very sweet, but a wonderfully hydrating pop for kids who have been hard at play outside.
  • leftover smoothies
  • soda POPsicles. The Captain made this one up and, of course, the kids were thrilled with it.
  • herbal tea/infusions.  Very nourishing and even healing, depending on what you use.  Try licorice and mint for a treat that doesn’t even need added sugar.
  • yogurt or kefir pops.  Add a few pieces of cut fruit and a little sweetener and vanilla.
  • juice. Seems like this one could go without saying. You can do plain juice or add juice to coconut water, infusions or yogurt to sweeten things up.
    • For some parents, this is a lot of sugar.  Adding juice  to another liquid cuts down on the sugar content and, even if you go with plain juice, your pops will be FAR better than any commercially produced pop.
    • Freezing the juice (or soda) means your kids can’t gulp it down. They’ll be going a little more slowly.
    • consider juicing your own fruit for a better product
    • try adding some quality fat to slow down the absorption of the sugar.  This might include coconut oil (either in coconut milk or on its own), egg yolks, nut butters and full fat dairy, either plain or cultured.
    • I tend to avoid red and purples.  It’s very hard for little kids to NOT drip on themselves, though these days there are all kinds of contraptions to help with dripping pops.  I lean toward white grape, apple and other light colored juices.

Fruit

Frozen fruit is refreshing and instantly appealing to kids.  My kids love frozen grapes. For very young kids I cut the grapes in half after they’re frozen.  Keep a bag of these in the freezer and you have an instant treat at any moment.  We called these Monkey Eyeballs.  I know, not that appetizing sounding. But it was weird enough to get my kids’ attention.

Other fruit ideas include:

  • frozen bananas.  Add a popsicle stick for a banana pop.  You can add chocolate syrup if you like, but the bananas alone are yummy.
  • fruit kabobs.  Cut fruit into chunks and slide onto kabob sticks and freeze.
  • watermelon.  Frozen chunks popped into your mouth OR blended with some lime juice and sweetener for a true summertime indulgence!  Drink right away and  then freeze the leftovers into popsicles.

What are your favorite summertime treats?

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