The other day, I was leaving summer camp pickup with my friend Lynn and her kids and they started clamoring for some frozen yogurt. Thinking they were heading to one of those self-serve yogurt places with all the candy sprinkles, I invited myself and my kids along.
“Actually, they’re talking about frozen yogurt at home,” said my friend. “I’ve been literally freezing yogurt — they love it, and it’s pretty good for them!”
I was intrigued: a freezer full of homemade frozen treats? It sounded like a great antidote to a hot summer afternoon. I decided to start making frozen treats of my own. Not only would it be a fun project to do with my kids, but it would also be healthier than the store-bought versions since I could control the sugar and other bad-for-you stuff that went into them, and better for the environment, too, since my versions wouldn’t use wasteful packaging, and wouldn’t rely on the energy and resources needed to transport them in freezer cars to the supermarket.
Want to make your own frozen treats? Here what’s going to be in my freezer this summer:
- Yogurt Squeezes: My friend Lynn simply buys yogurt tubes and pops them right into the freezer. But I usually try to avoid individually packaged products, so I simply spoon yogurt from a larger tub into silicone freezer pop molds, and freeze them until they’re solid. Eating them reminds me of one of my favorite childhood treats: the frozen ice pops that you squeeze out of tubes of plastic.
- Fudge Pops: One of my other favorite summer treats is fudge pops, but if you’ve ever looked at the ingredient list you’ll see that it’s hard to find a version that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup. Instead, I found a homemade version from one of my favorite food bloggers, Brown-Eyed Baker. It’s even more delicious than the commercial versions, and I can make them in ice pop molds with reusable sticks (here’s one of my favorite ice pop makers)
- Popsicles: With the exception of the kinds made with real fruit juice or puree, popsicles have always given me the creeps. Sure, my kids think it’s fun to turn their tongues blue, while I worry about the artificial dye and copious amounts of sugar. But making your own frozen pops can be as simple as pouring some juice into a mold or as elaborate as rounding up the ingredients to make some more interesting flavors. The internet is rife with fantastic recipes that are far more advanced than your basic four-pack of cherry, lime, grape, or blue (what the heck is the flavor of a blue popsicle, anyway?!).
- Homemade Dippin’ Dots: My daughters always beg for Dippin’ Dots, those space-age balls of ice cream you see at festivals and baseball games. If you can get your hands on a tank of liquid nitrogen, you can make your own! Just be careful: nitrogen can be dangerous if it’s mishandled. Because the idea of having a tank of liquid nitrogen in the house makes me a bit nervous (and I’m not so sure it’s good for the environment to use it for something as banal as a frozen treat), I also found a recipe for Dippin’ Dots without using it, although it’s a little more labor intensive.
- Frozen fruit poppers: One of the most refreshing and delicious homemade treats is also one of the easiest. I like to spread grapes, small chunks of watermelon or blueberries on a baking sheet and freeze them individually. Then I transfer them to freezer bag. I’ll pour out a small bowlful and suck on the frozen fruit while I’m watching TV or checking my email — tasty, refreshing, and good for you!