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Take 2 popsicles; call in morning

(ran ST, SP, TP editions)

Years ago during a record-breaking heat wave I was laid low by an evil cold. Tottering to the refrigerator in search of relief, I gazed into a freezer compartment thoughtfully stocked with homemade chicken broth, but, somehow, the thought of hot soup only made me feel more feverish.

What appealed was a bottle of vodka, syrupy from the freezer's cold, and a frosty, dark green watermelon below in the refrigerator. A light bulb came on in my head: adult popsicles for summer cold relief! I would comfort myself with crimson confections of blenderized watermelon with vitamin C for my cold and vodka to numb my sore throat pain.

The envisioned adult pops never hardened into frozen solids. In my misery, I had not remembered that alcohol sharply lowers the freezing point of liquids and splashed in entirely too much. Even so, the icy pink slush I sipped over the next two days was quite effective. When I returned to full consciousness on the third day, I felt marvelous except for a pounding headache that had nothing to do with my sinuses.

Since that summer, I have relied on adult popsicles for treats that beat the heat. Popsicles, it turns out, really are colder than ice cream because they have little or no butterfat. Fat in ice cream provides smoothness by separating ice crystals that clump together in lowfat frozen confections like popsicles, sorbets and sherbets.

You too can create frozen refreshments for dog days and nights. Use my recipes for Orange Creamsicles of vanilla yogurt and frozen orange juice concentrate; Apricot Dreamsicles with canned apricots, orange and lemon juice and cream; Pina Colada Pops with canned pineapple juice, sweetened coconut cream and a tap of rum _ or create your own recipes.

Fruits: Fresh berries, peaches and seeded melons, pureed in the blender. Canned apricots, plums, pineapple and pears for better-than-fresh flavor. Raw pineapple and kiwi, with enzymes that inhibit freezing, are not suitable. A ripe banana, pureed with other fruits or fruit juices, hinders formation of ice crystals for a smooth frozen confection.

Fruit juices: Frozen concentrates of orange and apple juice, lemon- and limeade. A tablespoon or two of fresh lemon juice intensifies the flavor of bland ripe fruits such as melons and bananas.

Sweeteners: Sweeten pureed fruits or juices to taste with sugar, honey, maple or corn syrup. Artificial sweeteners, such as aspertame and saccharine, are okay too, though frozen desserts made with them have less volume and are icier than those made with regular sweeteners.

Dairy products: For the more healthful treats, choose low- or nonfat yogurt and half-and-half instead of heavy cream.

Alcohol: A tablespoon of spirits like rum or gin or two tablespoons of wine is usually enough. For Pops for Tots, omit alcohol entirely.

Pop molds: Use 3-ounce paper cups by the box from the supermarket. For easy handling, arrange empty cups in a small pan before filling with pop mixtures. Freeze until a wooden stick will stand upright in a semi-frozen pop, at which time slip a stick into each pop, then freeze until solid. Transfer frozen pops to resealable plastic bag for freezer storage.

Pop handles: Wooden sticks may be purchased by the bag at hobby or craft shops.

Frances Price is a dietitian and chef who writes and cooks in Baltimore.

Orange Creamsicles

1 cup (8 ounces) nonfat vanilla yogurt

2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate

Blend yogurt with orange juice concentrate in covered blender container until smooth. Pour into 4 3-ounce paper cups. Freeze 1 hour or until wooden stick will stand upright in center of pop. Freeze until firm.

Makes 4 2{ ounce popsicles. Nutrients per popsicle: 56 calories, 3 gm. protein, 11 gm. carbohydrate, 0 fat, 1 mg. cholesterol, 35 mg. sodium, 0 fiber. Exchanges: { milk.

Breakfast-on-a-Stick

Soften creamsicle slightly by microwaving on High 10-20 seconds. Peel off and discard paper; roll creamsicle in toasted wheat germ to coat.

Pina Colada Pops

2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice

{ cup canned sweetened cream of coconut

1-2 tablespoons light rum (optional)

Blend pineapple juice, coconut cream and rum in covered blender container until smooth. Pour evenly into 8 (3-ounce) paper cups. Freeze 1 hour or until wooden stick will stand upright in center of pop. Freeze until firm.

Makes 8 2{ ounce popsicles. Nutrients per popsicle: 102 calories, 1 gm. protein, 13 gm. carbohydrate, 5 gm. fat including 5 gm. saturated fat, 0 cholesterol, 6 mg. sodium, 0 fiber. Exchanges: { fruit, 1 fat.

Apricot Dreamsicles

1 (16 ounce) can apricot halves in heavy syrup

\ cup half-and-half

2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Blend apricots, half-and-half, orange juice concentrate and lemon juice in covered blender container. Pour into 8 (3-ounce) paper cups. Freeze 1 hour or until a wooden stick will stand upright in center. Freeze until firm.

Makes 8 2{ ounce popsicles. Nutrients per popsicle: 65 calories, 1 gm. protein, 15 gm. carbohydrate, 1 gm. fat including 0.5 gm. saturated fat, 3 mg. cholesterol, 6 mg. sodium, 1 gm. fiber. Exchanges: 1 fruit.

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