Remember the joy of breaking a Popsicle in two and sharing the fruity, icy sweetness with your best friend on a hot summer day?
If you want that nostalgic treat, without all of the sugar, homemade ice pops are ridiculously easy to make. Few special tools or equipment required: Simply make or buy an extra batch of your favorite drink, pour into any small cups or ice pop molds, add a wooden stick and freeze for a simple, refreshing treat that's delicious - and can be nutritious.
Just because it's an ice pop doesn't have to mean it's sugar-laden or artificially sweetened. Pretty much anything that we enjoy sipping can be turned into a frozen treat on a stick and help us beat the summertime heat.
Here are 11 variations of a traditional Popsicle that use some of our favorite drinks, including tea, coffee and veggie juices, plus "mocktail" pops and electrolyte-rich hydration pops.
This is just a bit of inspiration to get you started; there's no right or wrong. If you enjoy drinking it, chances are you'll love it as an ice pop, too.
Protein Latte Pops: It's super easy to make a protein-rich iced latte or mocha latte with coffee, espresso or a coffee concentrate like Cool Brew by using a ready-to-drink vanilla or chocolate protein drink like locally owned ICONIC and adding coffee. Just make an extra batch and freeze into latte pops for a refreshing afternoon pick-me-up.
Nuun Pops: Nuun drink tablets -- a blend of electrolytes, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, sweetened with plant-based sweeteners, such as stevia and monkfruit -- are an excellent go-to option for hydration. Nuun tablets, which you drop into water, are available in a variety of flavors, and it's easy to get creative with add-ins like fresh or frozen fruit and fresh herbs. The tablets are available online.
Coconut Water Pops: Naturally rich in electrolytes, coconut water is nature's sports drink. Freeze it plain, or add fresh or frozen fruit for a refreshing, hydrating treat.
Carrot Juice Pops and Beet Juice Pops: Carrot juice and beet juice are each available as 100 percent pure vegetable juice, with no sugar and fruit juice added - find them in stores like Whole Foods Market or Trader Joes.
Green Juice Pops: Whether you juice the leafy greens yourself or buy a store-bought blend that's already juiced (two of my favorites are Suja 12 Essentials and Daily Greens Purity), just make or buy an extra bottle or two to make a batch of nutrient-packed, low-calorie freezer pops.
Red Tea Pops: Use antioxidant-rich rooibos tea for a deep red color. Add in any type of herbal tea to mix up the flavors - think cinnamon or chai tea, or try pre-made blends like Celestial Seasonings Moroccan Pomegranate Rooibos Tea or Yogi Tea Caramel Apple Spice Tea made with rooibos tea. And I love the heat and spiciness of The Republic of Tea's Get Burning herbal tea with rooibos, ginger, cinnamon, holy basil, black pepper, cloves, chili peppers and stevia.
Green Tea Pops: You can't go wrong with ice pops made with plain green tea - or any of the endless options of green tea flavors, from ginger mint to blueberry to passionfruit green tea. For a green color that really pops (and to boost antioxidant content), try adding a teaspoon or two of matcha green tea powder to the batch of steeped tea before freezing into pops.
MOCKTAILS and COCKTAILS
Skinny Margarita Pops: Your favorite "mockgarita" (I love Rebecca Miller's Frozen Margarita Mocktail with juiced lemon, lime, orange, seltzer water and Swerve) can easily be made into frozen treats. Same goes for the regular "adult" version of a frozen margarita - and even with tequila, it will freeze into 'Popsicles.'
Champagne Pops: Perfect for a bridal shower or poolside party, mix berries into champagne and freeze. For lower-alcohol popsicles, go halfsies with champagne and a flavored sparkling water like La Croix.
Berry Kombucha Pops: Inspired by Big Easy Bucha's Berry Bucha Fauxjito, simply muddle fresh berries into kombucha and freeze to make probiotic-rich pops.
For more on these topics, check out Molly’s column every Friday for Nola.com/ The Times-Picayune.