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Cool down this summer with frozen pops

There are few things more refreshing on a hot summer’s day than cooling down with a flavorful ice pop. But before you dash to the grocery store, consider making frozen pops at home. Store-bought pops are often chockablock full of sugar, artificial flavoring and dyes. How else can you get those neon colors not found in nature? While it’s fun for the kiddies to stick out their electric blue tongues, we can make better-for-you pops they will love.

Do-it-yourself frozen pops are so easy, you can literally put any flavors you wish in a pop mold, freeze them and make people happy. The molds can be found online, in any grocery store or even at the dollar store. Or you can go old school and use wooden sticks in muffin tins or a paper cup like back in the day when I was a kid.

Making frozen pops at home can be as healthy and virtuous or as indulgent and decadent as you wish. They don’t have to be complicated; you can simply freeze fruit juice, soda or instant pudding and the kids will love them. Made with yogurt, fresh fruit and rolled in granola, they’re a breakfast treat. Made with coffee or your favorite cocktail ingredients, they’re an adult treat. And the best part? You can have an infinite number of flavors and they’re still totally cheap.

Making frozen pops is also a great activity to do with kids. This is a wonderful opportunity to experiment in the kitchen learning about nutrition with fruits, veggies and high-quality dairy.

The recipe I’m sharing today is meant to truly help you beat the summer’s heat. I’m making a very healthy, light, refreshing frozen pop filled with electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals (which include calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium) your body needs. Electrolytes regulate hydration, muscle and nerve function, blood pressure and your body’s pH levels. Imbalances or deficiencies in electrolytes can cause everything from muscle cramps and fatigue to irregular heartbeat and seizures. When we perspire, we lose electrolytes. How fun to make a frozen pop that helps to replace them.

I start with a coconut water base and add a simple syrup made with ginger. Coconut water rehydrates and replenish electrolytes, especially potassium. When choosing coconut water, look for one that’s 100 percent juice with minimal ingredients, namely “coconut water.” Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory with antioxidant properties. Next, add watermelon and blueberries, both packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

COCONUT FRUIT POPS

This recipe yields approximately 3 3/4 cups. This makes 10 3-ounce frozen pops.

What you’ll need

2 tablespoons candied ginger, minced

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch sea salt

2 cups coconut water

1 1/2 cups watermelon

1/2 cups blueberries or blackberries

Here’s how

In a small saucepan, bring ginger, sugar, salt and 1/4 cup water to a boil. Let this reduce for about 5 minutes or until approximately 1/3 cup. Set side to cool. (I put mine in the freezer to expedite getting my frozen pops on.)

When cooled, add the coconut water and combine. Use either a melon baller or knife to make bite-sized pieces of watermelon that will fit into your molds. Divide the watermelon pieces and blueberries among the molds. Fill with the coconut ginger mixture, add your wooden sticks and freeze at least four hours. Overnight is even better.

These treats are perfect when the heat has got you beat. The health benefits are especially important for children and the elderly. I like to serve frozen pops as a nostalgic surprise ending to a dinner party. It’s a perfect way to end the evening on the patio, feeling like a kid again. See you next week.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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