- Food and Cooking
Kid-Friendly Green Popsicle Recipes
How to make delicious ice pops with green leafy vegetables and other healthy ingredients.
At my house, popsicles are on the breakfast menu almost every day.
Lest you think I start my family's day with a ton of sugar and empty calories, let me explain...
A few years ago, I started experimenting with recipes for green smoothies to help get more vegetables in our diet. A green smoothie, by the way, isn't necessarily green in color. Rather, it's a smoothie that contains green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale or swiss chard. Quite a few mornings I ended up with more smoothie than we could drink, so at my husband's request, I ran out to the dollar store and got some flimsy ice pop molds. We poured in the extra smoothie, and voila....popsicles!
My preschooler quickly discovered that while she liked green smoothies, she LOVED the frozen treats made from them. For her, there was no going back, so ice pops for breakfast it was. I ended up making them on a family trip, and my nieces and nephew discovered the wonders of ice pops with green leafy vegetables hidden inside.
And with that, my mom/aunt coolness factor rose greatly. (sorry for the bad pun, but I couldn't restist) I'd love to share my coolness with you so that your family can eat healthier and enjoy a lot of extra fun at breakfast or any other time of the day you crave a nutritious but very tasty treat.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/729362384/
Helping us live healthier with a huge dose of fun thrown in - A bit more of our frozen breakfast story
Why do I care about making spinach available frozen and on a stick?
Two words: healthy. fun.
A few years ago, my husband and I saw ourselves gaining weight. Though we tried to eat well, when we took stock of our pantry and our eating habits, we saw too much processed food for our comfort. And, as we thought about helping our then-toddler daughter BJ form eating habits for the rest of her life, we decided a change was in order.
Breakfast got a makeover first as we tried green smoothies. My husband and I still drink them nearly every day, but BJ was a different story. She liked them a lot at first, but I think the texture got to her. I know a lot of my friends have tried smoothies with their kids too, and it's either love it or hate it, mostly for the same reason BJ started giving them the cold shoulder.
I really didn't want to have to force nutritious food on my daughter. Truly, I'm not a mom who peddles to the every whim of her child's extra-picky palate. However, there are some very nutritious foods that don't taste good to my child in their regular form. While I'd love her to appreciate spinach, kale and other greens in their own right, at this point, my priority is her getting the goodness of their A vitamins, iron and more into her tummy.
I also want to show BJ that healthy food can be really, really fun. I mean, how many kids get to eat something usually reserved for dessert as part of their first main meal of the day? And if it gets messy, that's ok too. BJ usually ends up with an ice pop smile that goes from cheek to cheek, and at least one day per week it somehow ends up on her forehead.
Don't tell BJ, but I've been slowly upping the spinach in her breakfast. I don't think she minds. I think she's having too much fun eating something yummy and cold on a stick.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/3773262541/
Will you make green popsicles?
How likely are you and/or your family to try green ice pops?
My daughter at breakfast, complete with bed head and a smile
All the measurements given in this recipe are approximate. I just eyeball it each time and then add a bit more of this or that to taste if I think it's necessary. The nice part is that unlike with recipes that you're making for smoothies, preparing a recipe just for making popsicles doesn't require any ice or frozen fruit.
You'll notice that a few ingredients have the option of plain or vanilla. If you opt for the plain, you'll need to add a bit of vanilla extract to the mixture to add that flavor profile. Maybe 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon to taste.
- 2 Tablespoons ground flax seed (we use Bob's Red Mill brand)
- 2 Cups loosely packed raw spinach leaves
- 2 bananas - the more ripe the better. Over-ripe has the best flavor for this recipe in my opinion..
- 1/2 Cup plain or vanilla greek yogurt
- 4 -7 drops of plain or vanilla stevia extract - to taste. You can use another kind of sweetener...honey or sugar or whatever you wish. I prefer stevia for its low glycemic load.
- generous 1/2 Cup of blueberries
- 1 1/2 to 2 Cups strawberries
- 3/4 cup red grapes
- 1/2 to 2 cups water for consistency. Start out with just 1/2 cup then add more to thin out the mixture if necessary. Using frozen fruit will make you use more water.
- OPTIONAL: 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon vanilla to taste if you don't use vanilla stevia extract.
- If you have a high-powered blender, just put flax seed thru the grapes in the blender, add 1/2 cup of the water, and turn it on, adding water as necessary for your preferred consistency. If you're using a regular blender, you may need to chop up some of the fruit before adding to the blender, then proceed as above.
- Taste the mixture and tweak it a bit if you want.
- Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until hardened.
- photo credit: BunnyFabulous (that's me)
Favorite ice pop making tool #1: The mother of all blenders - If you make green smoothies or ice pops regularly, it's totally worth investing in a high-powered
While I was skeptical when my husband wanted to get a pricey blender, I've got to admit that now that we've got a Vitamix, I'm in love. It's super-easy to clean, I just fill it half full of warm water with a bit of dish soap, turn it on for 30-60 seconds, and it's clean. I had a great 'regular' blender before, and the difference in texture of anything we make with it is quite noticeable. Since I make smoothies daily, I've saved a ton of time because I don't have to chop up fruit (especially frozen fruit) before blending. You just plop it in, use the tamper to mash it down onto the blades, and the Vitamix blends it. It'll even blend entire frozen bananas. No joke. It's incredibly easy to hide leafy greens in popsicles and smoothies; there aren't visible pieces like other blenders would leave in there. Added bonus: this thing makes creamy peanut butter and other nut butters.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana-sicles - These are reminiscent of ice cream, but more icy and less creamy. Delicious, in any case.
I got the idea for this recipe from the dozens of Pinterest pins about how to make healthy 'ice cream' from frozen bananas. You don't have to freeze the bananas beforehand for this popsicle recipe, but it's a similar concept and flavor profile. Yes, these can look a bit green. If you want these to look more brown to entice skeptical children to try them, by all means, use a little more cocoa powder or cut back on the spinach at first.
Another random note: most smoothies taste great as popsicles and vice versa. However, this recipe is great as a popsicle, but is a very so-so smoothie. Just sayin'
- 2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
- 4 very ripe bananas
- 2 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder -- or more if you wish
- 2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter or other nut butter
- 4 -8 drops of stevia extract (or small amount of your choice of sweetener - to taste)
- small amount of water - if needed for consistency
- 1 -2 cups loosely packed raw spinach leaves
- Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until fully incorporated. Sweeten to taste, and/or add a bit of water if needed for consistency. Pour into ice pop molds and freeze.
- photo credit: BunnyFabulous (that's me)
Top 10 Reasons to Love Green Ice Pops - At least in my opinion. Let me know if you think of more!
- It's an easy way to get raw leafy greens into you and your family's diet
- They taste delicious
- You have control of the ingredients
- They're cool and refreshing on a hot summer day
- Everything's more fun when it's on a stick
- They make breakfast more fun and nutritious
- They're an easy snack when you're craving something sweet but healthy
- They're easy to make
- One ice pop recipe makes lots of ice pops
- You can try all sorts of green popsicle recipes to find your favorites
Favorite Ice Pop Making Tool #2 -- Ice Pops in an instant....almost - It takes the wait out of popsicle making. 'Meh,' you might say, but when you make ice pops
Ok, so this is a kitchen gadget I never dreamed I'd use until I got it as a gift. It's lovely to fix up a healthy ice pop mixture, pour it into this nifty little mold, then 7-10 minutes later have a popsicle ready to eat. You can do all sorts of fun patterns and whatnot in your popsicles with the Zoku, but I've never tried. It's still worth it for the sheer time savings, especially when you have popsicle-hungry kids around. I've been able to whip up healthy, yummy treats for my daughter and her cousins quickly, and that's of gigantic value to me.
I keep mine in the freezer to be able to make frozen yumminess whenever the mood strikes.