The Busy Little Bee
|When he's not playing, he's "helping"|
in the kitchen. He's too sweet!
One of his favorite foods...
Would definitely be popsicles. What kid doesn't like popsicles?? No matter how tempting it is to buy the "100% fruit" popsicles, they're still loaded with sugar, stabilizers to keep them smooth, and there's no telling how long they've been on the shelf. I'm not saying they're the DEVIL, I'm just saying their packaging is so alluring you'd think you're doing something good for your child when in reality it's almost like giving your child a snack. In fact, many pediatricians say things like fruit cups, even in their own juices, are considered a "snack" because they lose so much nutritional value being cooked, pasteurized, and processed, and also packed in a fruit juice that is solely there for sweetening, not for nutritional value.
So what do I do to make popsicles on the cheap and easy? First you go to your local Walmart store and on nearly every aisle you'll find these Crayola crayon-shaped popsicle molds. They're always hanging around, begging for an impulse-buy, and I finally give in. They're inexpensive, they are really nice, hard plastic, no BPA, and there's seriously nothing cuter than the giant crayon shape. Of course you don't have to use these particular molds, but that's what we have in our house! So there's the first super-cheap step.
Secondly, I have a blender. A food processor (even a mini prep processor) works just as well. Blenders for this kind of work are super cheap so you don't have to break out your $1,200 Blendtec. You can easily get away with a $20 Rival brand for these popsicle recipes. It's crucial though unless you like to endure the pain of a mortar and pestle every night --and I do make these every night. Here are the recipes I make the night before and you'll see some repeating ingredients, but that's because they've always been shown to work wonderfully. BIG PLUS: A lot of the ingredients I choose are because my son is underweight, so I've got some fatty, yet healthy, ingredients in what would otherwise be a zero-fat snack!
Recipe 1: The Orange Creamsicle, revamped!
1 container Activia regular vanilla yogurt (not "lite") or Greek-style
2 T heavy whipping cream*
Approximately 4 oz. fresh-squeezed or Simply Orange juice (can be fortified)
|Thicker & More Protein!|
Approximately 1/3 cup of whole milk
2T heavy cream**
Quarter of an avocado (check out my article about avocados! Holy Guacamole! Article)
1/2 cup Carnation Instant Breakfast Chocolate (of course has a lot of sugar, but in moderation, and it's loaded with essential vitamins and minerals that definitely can't be found in a traditional fudgesicle!)
Blend all together in blender (easy enough!) Fill molds according to manufacturer's instructions, freeze, and
enjoy! I even find this popsicle to be mighty tasty... I've even added peanut butter to this recipe once for a nice kick of iron, fat, and protein. These are a great source of calcium, vitamin D, protein, vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and Instant Breakfast is crammed with vitamins and minerals already so it's fortified with more good stuff. That doesn't mean you can skip out on the fresh ingredients!
Recipe 3: The "Poop-sicle"
Wow... Really should have thought through that title...
1/2 container Activia vanilla yogurt or Greek-style yogurt (NO LITE!)
1/3 cup "Plum Smart" juice
|Tastes more like cran-grape!|
not using whole fruits in this recipe I like to supplement it a little bit with some protein and calcium so I don't feel quite as bad about just freezing juice. Either way you do it, it's a winner in this household because "plum smart," though it
Recipe 4: Banana-Berry Spinach??
Whole container of Activia regular Vanilla or Greek Style (Again, no "lite." No artificial sweeteners.)
Half sliced banana
Palmful of blueberries (fresh is best, frozen is still great!)
A few baby spinach leaves (make sure you blend until they are merely teeny flecks!)
2T heavy cream*
Blend together until the spinach leaves are nearly undetectable. If your mixture is too thick, feel free to add in watermelon or a tiny smidgen of fruit juice --whatever you have on hand. Mix to your desired consistency, fill the molds. You know the drill!
Notes: You can add just about any ingredient you can think of with these recipes, these are merely "starter recipes" and ones I use most often. Encourage yourself to go nuts with them! Some recipes I add silken tofu, some recipes I add sweet potato puree, sometimes I even throw in very-finely shredded carrots. The key here is to pack in as much healthy stuff as possible! A lot of these recipes are considered a half serving of fruit, dairy, vegetables, lean protein, and good fats. Another important thing to know is that "fresh is best" and though these are horrendously-convenient and you can feed them to your child every day without feeling guilty, you should never entirely substitute fresh fruits and vegetables with popsicles. Not only is that giving their bodies less of a chance to process their own foods, it's letting a toddler "win" by being rewarded with popsicles instead of a piece of fruit. So if you have a busy little man like I do, it feels good to give him a snack he can carry around while he's pretending to be "Sir Toppam Hat" or calling relatives on our phone :)
Also, these recipes can be put in an ice cream maker and turned into a nice, soft ice cream. Your child will never be the wiser :) It also helps letting your child get involved when you make the popsicles the night before. It can become a new bonding routine! Every night, pull a chair up next to your "workstation" and let your child pick out what goes into their popsicle the next day. Chances are they'll come up with some pretty creative combinations and eat them regardless of taste and feel proud about what they've created, rather than balk at the idea of having to eat... Again. This really goes for all food preparation, really. Within safety reasons, let your child get involved! Let him/her make a mess, it'll all come out in the wash, and soon you'll have your own little chef you never knew existed :) Who knows? Maybe one day he'll cook your dinner! haha. That's not happening any time soon with me, but Elias does clean his dishes and with great relish!
Happy eating, y'all! xoxo
*Can be omitted; I use it to add extra fat because my son is very petite, just like I was, and in combination with his extremely-active lifestyle he burns a ton of calories. I don't feed him junk, so it's hard for him to pack on the pounds. Plus, it does add a bit of creamy-dreaminess to it. If your child is lactose-intolerant, you can skip this step. Yogurt usually doesn't upset tummies of lactose-intolerant children, but always talk to your doctor if you are unsure about a particular ingredient.
**Again, can be omitted. In this recipe it does "double-duty" because not only does it add a good amount of fat, it ads a bit of a creaminess that is reminiscent of fudgesicles. If your child has a lactose sensitivity, feel free to replace this and the whole milk with yogurt. If the recipe is too thick, add a teensy bit of fruit juice, or just don't use Greek-style yogurt which is much thicker than regular yogurt.
HEED! This blog entry should not substitute true medical advice from your pediatrician. It is merely a mom who has done her research and is sharing recipes and ideas that have worked for our family. If you have any concerns about your child's weight, food sensitivities, refusal to eat, or anything you find to be alarming, always check with your pediatrician. These recipes are designed to be customized in any way, shape, or form you desire, so the best advice is... Have fun!