Cool (Homemade) Treats to Beat the Summer Heat

When the first heat wave of summer hit this week, it didn’t take long for my children to start begging for freezer pops. Not that I blamed them—nothing tastes better on a ninety-degree day. However, most of the brands found in the grocery store are laden with corn syrup, artificial colorings and flavorings — even the few that actually do contain some fruit juice. They’re expensive to boot, and after eating them you’re left with a pile of paper packaging and wooden sticks to dispose of.

A far better option is to make your own sweet treats with reusable molds and healthful ingredients. If you don’t want to buy a mold, try making your own from recycled yogurt containers or a muffin tin. You can wash and reuse the sticks and containers. Freezer pops are simple to make and cost just pennies.

The simplest ice pops, and the kind I make most frequently, are 100% frozen fruit juice. Our home-canned grape juice makes delicious freezer pops, but other flavors work just as well. If you want to jazz them up, try mixing in chunks or slices of fruit. Lemonade and iced tea make good pops as well.

Star-Shaped Ice Pop Mold

For a creamier option, whirl yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit and a bit of honey or other sweetener in the blender. Using seasonal fruit will help keep costs down and let you savor the progression of flavors throughout the year. Don’t be afraid to try nontraditional flavors such as pumpkin or mango, or to add spices such as cinnamon, vanilla or mint. Jams and jellies may also be used in place of fruit.

If you’re a pudding pop fan, try making your own version with homemade pudding. It’s relatively simple to make pudding from scratch. Check an old-fashioned cookbook or do an Internet search for recipes. If you’re not convinced it’s worth the effort to make your own, read the ingredients on a box of pudding mix next time you’re at the grocery store.

Coffee drinkers may want to experiment with frozen coffee confections by freezing your favorite mocha, cappuccino, etc., adjusting the proportions to taste. If you like iced coffee drinks, you’re already halfway there.

Get your kids involved and have fun experimenting this summer. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination!

Below is a simple recipe from Local Choices to get you started. If you come up with a particularly tasty concoction of your own, please leave a comment so other readers can try it as well!

Yogurt Fruit Smoothies or Freezer Pops

Add to blender: 3 C. yogurt, 1 C. fruit in season (strawberries, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, etc.), honey or other sweetener to taste, ½ tsp. vanilla.

Blend until smooth and enjoy as smoothies or pour into molds and freeze for a delicious and nutritious summertime treat. Enjoy!

Lisa Amstutz is the mother of four ice pop-loving children. She is a freelance writer and co-author of Local Choices. Lisa blogs at http://localchoices.wordpress.com.