Ice Pops to Keep Your Kids Healthy (No, Really)
So health fads are one thing, but if you have kids that interact with other kids at school (or right now, at summer camps) and are accordingly apt to bring home a diverse array of energetic germs, "probiotic" isn't a buzzword of the food and wellness worlds that you want to ignore. Probiotics play a huge role in promoting healthy gut bacteria, bettering digestion, and boosting the immune system... all great things in the grand scheme of general wellness, but especially great things when you and/or one of the kiddos have been hit with a nasty bug.
That said, it's not exactly normal for kids to be chomping at the bit for probiotic-rich food items, like kombucha, Greek yogurt, or kefir. So we thought--Hey, why not stick these mega power-foods into something everyone already enjoys eating anyway?
Thus, probiotic pops were born. These pops rely on the immunity-boosting ingredients mentioned above, plus a touch of sweetness and kid-appeal. They're perfect for casual afternoon snacking or for intentional delivery of body boosting agents during sickness. You know how it goes, when your child (or husband) is ill, it's especially tough to get the exhausted little grumpster to eat much of anything--forget something "weird" and healthy. But ice pops tend to always go over well.
Beyond being a sneaky way to serve medicine on a stick, these pops are just flat-out tasty. They're stinking easy to make and beat the heck out of sugar- and fake color-loaded pops from the freezer aisle. And in the heat of summer, it's crucial to stay cool and hydrated, which means lots of hydrating foods, plenty of water, and of course--pops.
These pops are made with three different bases of probiotic-rich goodness, so you can easily find a favorite flavor or a mix of different flavors to your liking. As mentioned above, the three bases used here are kombucha, kefir, and greek yogurt for maximum probiotic power. Kombucha is a form of fermented tea, and greek yogurt and kefir are both forms of cultured milk.
Another great thing about the homemade popsicle (you know, besides the nutritive benefits) is that the construct is so incredibly flexible/customizable, a strict recipe isn't necessary--some basic instructions are all you need. Below are my suggested flavor combinations. You'll need to scale the ingredient amounts to the size of your popsicle molds are and how many batches you plan to make, but given that these are all very simple in terms of ingredient list, that's easy to do. The basic formula you'll want to follow is: 2/3 base (kombucha, kefir, or Greek yogurt) + 1/3 remaining ingredients to fill each mold. Always taste your mixture before freezing to make sure it's where you want it flavor-wise.
Earlier this spring, I wrote about my experiences in home-brewing kombucha, and spoke about how easy and cost-effective it is. For three flavors of these popsicles, I used an unflavored homemade brew as the base, but you can just as easily purchase bottles of store-bought kombucha as well. Going with a flavored kombucha will make for a sweeter pop, which is likely to go over well with the kids.
Blueberry-Lemon Kombucha Pops
- plain or blueberry flavored kombucha
- fresh blueberries
- lemon juice
Orange-Honey Kombucha Pops
- plain kombucha
- fresh orange juice
Raspberry-Chia Kombucha Pops
- plain or raspberry flavored kombucha*
- fresh raspberries or raspberry jam
- soaked chia seeds
*For the combo above, you can also simply purchase store-bought raspberry-chia kombucha, which is where I drew the inspiration for this flavor. Chia seeds, when soaked, take on gel-like texture that is suspended in liquid... sounds weird, but it's delightful in pop form.
Kombucha popsicles deliver a tangy personality that I love, and it works really well with citrus or sweet-tart fruits like strawberries and blueberries. The great thing about kombucha in general is that it's a great base for infinite flavor combinations. And if you or your kids aren't a fan of drinking kombucha (totally valid), enjoying it in popsicle form is a more approachable way of getting those good-for-you benefits from it. These kombucha pops are also a dairy-free way to get those good probiotics.
That said, the other two bases I played with, Greek yogurt and kefir, make for ultra creamy pops that feel a little extra indulgent and ice cream-like. Kefir is a bit thinner and tangier than yogurt, so you may want to add a little bit more sweetener to this base. Greek yogurt is a good options for holding any heavy ingredients you might want to incorporate into your pops--like peanut butter, crushed cookies, and whole berries--as it is thick enough to keep them from sinking to the bottom.
Peanut Butter Cup Kefir Pops
- plain kefir
- crushed peanut butter cup pieces
Chocolate-Fudge Kefir Pops
- plain kefir
- cocoa powder
Mixed Berry Yogurt Pops
- plain greek yogurt
- mixed berries
Cookies & Cream Yogurt Pops
- plain greek yogurt
- crushed oreos
Peanut Butter Swirl Yogurt Pops
- plain greek yogurt
- peanut butter
Again, for each popsicle, I made sure the base was always 2/3 the total amount and the rest of the ingredients were 1/3. Because your popsicle molds may be larger or smaller than mine, use your judgement (and taste buds) to align your ingredient amounts perfectly. When you have your ingredients in the molds, you can use a narrow knife, popsicle stick, or skewer to stir the ingredients into a swirl so that berries or cookie chunks don't settle in one spot. Plus, the swirl just looks just really cool.
Put your mold(s) into the freezer and let them freeze for a few hours before serving. The easiest way is to ensure that they're completely frozen is to freeze them overnight. To remove your pops from the molds, run the bottom portion under hot water for a few seconds, and then wiggle the pop free.
*Note: If the pops aren't completely frozen, they may break or come out of the molds incompletely.