On those hot summer days spent at the park getting sweaty while the kids run around, there is nothing like coming home and grabbing something cold and sweet to cool down. For kids the ice pop is the ultimate summer treat. Those store-bought ones sure are convenient, but packed with extra sugar and food coloring. You can easily make healthier, kid-size frozen treats using your regular ice cube trays.
Basic Juice Pops
For this simple frozen treat, you can use your child's favorite juice, such as apple juice, strawberry, or combination juices like apple raspberry. Make sure you are using 100- percent fruit juice. You can always dilute with water to cut down on the sugar. Diluted or not, pour the juice into the ice cube trays. Cover the tray tightly with foil. Stick a wooden ice pop through the foil into each ice cube compartment tray. The foil will help support the ice pop stick. Place in your freezer until the cubes are frozen. Pop them out and give to your tot. These are small enough for him to enjoy before it starts dripping all over his hands -- and all over you.
Fruit Puree Pops
Sneak peaches, watermelon and pears into your fruit-hating child's diet with fruit puree pops. Simply puree any fruit or combinations of fruit in a blender. Pour the puree through a mesh strainer to get rid of pulpy solids, and then pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Although you may come across recipes that include adding sugar, fruit has natural sugars, so there is no need to add refined sugar.
For a creamy treat, pour your tot's favorite yogurt into the ice cube tray compartments and freeze. These are enjoyable as is, but you can also make a fruity cream pop by combining yogurt with a fruit puree. For a creamy chocolate treat, mix cocoa powder with plain yogurt and pour into the cream trays to freeze. Although you can make these into pops, you can also crush the ice and put it in a glass of milk for a slushy style chocolate milk or fruit-flavored milk. For any of the creamy treats, you can use plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, soy yogurt or coconut milk yogurt.
For a less drippy ice tray treat, make a fruit-flavored, sugar-free gelatin mix according to the box directions, and pour into the ice cube tray. The frozen gelatin has a gummy texture and drips a lot less than regular ice pops, reducing the chances of your tot leaving pink stains on your freshly-washed carpet. You can easily crush these and serve in a bowl instead of with an ice pop stick as well.
Ice Pop Safety
Ice pop sticks can pose a choking hazard if safety precautions are not taken. Make sure she stays seated and you are monitoring her at all times when eating an ice pop. Ideally using plastic, BPA-free or silicone ice pop molds that come with child-safe plastic handles are best. Large ice cubes also pose a choking hazard for toddlers, so for your youngest kids, it is a good idea to crush the ice cube treats after they are frozen in a plastic bag or a high-quality blender with an ice crush option. Serve the crushed ice in a bowl with a spoon.