I’ve been on a huge popsicle kick lately. It’s not difficult to get on that type of a kick when you suffer through Texas summers of 100+ degree temps. There has to be some sort of reprieve from the heat, and popsicles serve just that need. Being on this health kick lately and having an insatiable sweet tooth has proven a challenge for me. Therefore, I’m also attempting to find alternatives that’ll satisfy my sweet tooth sans high amounts of sugar and calories.
As part of my recent amazon.com cookbook splurge, I picked up Fany Gerson’s book Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas. One of the recipes that immediately caught my attention was for Paletas de Yogurt con Moras (“Yogurt Ice Pops with Berries”). Essentially, it’s greek yogurt, berries and a little additional flavoring. I’d picked up a large 2 pound container of strawberries, so I figured I’d try it with strawberries. Her recipe uses blackberries, but she does say you can substitute any other berry. You can also puree the fruit if you want more of a marbled popsicle… which I did. Doesn’t it look pretty? :)
I made the recipe exactly as is just to test it out. However, while mixing everything together I found myself thinking of healthier alternatives for various ingredients (sugar, mainly). I decided to replace the sugar with agave which is pretty sweet, so you can’t just replace equal parts. For every 1 cup of granulated sugar, reduce that amount to 2/3 cup of agave. If liquid is used in a recipe, you should reduce the amount by 1/4 – 1/3 cup. Since this recipe called for 1/2 cup sugar, that meant the agave should be reduced to 1/3 cup.
I ended up making 3 batches of these popsicles – the original and 2 of my modifications. I hate saying this (only because it’s the “unhealthier” option), but the original was definitely the best. The texture was smoother, plus it had a nice lemon flavor. I want you to have the option of making either, as my modified recipe is definitely tasty and does not contain granulated sugar. I will list mine first and then the original.
Here are all the yummy ingredients from the first trial:
The only special equipment you’ll need for this recipe is popsicle molds and possibly popsicle sticks (depending on the molds you have). I purchased two different kinds and will provide brief reviews on them both in the Cook’s Notes. If you’re going to puree the berries, you’ll just need a blender, food processor or the like to blend them. Otherwise, it’s a very easy and quick recipe! The bonus?
They’re low in calories!!
This is from the 2nd batch when I swirled them together:
Yogurt and Strawberry Popsicles
2 cups plain unsweetened Greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons agave
1 1/2 cups quartered strawberries
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, honey and agave; set aside.
2. Puree the strawberries and set aside.
3. Alternate the yogurt mixture and the strawberries in your popsicle molds. If desired, use a skewer to swirl the two mixtures together.
4. Put lid(s) on molds and place in freezer. If using the Norpro molds, set your timer for 45 minutes and place the popsicle sticks in at that point. They stick pretty well with the yogurt mixture, but with regular popsicles the sticks will go straight to the bottom unless you let it freeze up slightly. Freeze at least 4 hours or overnight.
5. Run molds under warm water until the popsicle releases from the mold. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups plain unsweetened Greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons honey
2 cups fresh berries (or about 1 1/2 cups pureed berries)
1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the lemon rind in strips. Reserve the lemon for another use.
2. Combine the water, sugar and lemon peel in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve and refrigerate until cool.
3. Whisk together the yogurt, honey and chilled simple syrup.
4. Proceed the same as above in steps 3-5.
Tovolo Popsicle Molds – These were the first molds I bought, and in many ways they are my favorite. They come in lime green or yellow.
a. Individual molds, so it’s easier to remove each popsicle individually and enjoy one popsicle at a time.
b. They are a larger size which is good for adults, but not as good for smaller kids.
c. The plastic holders catch any drips while you enjoy your popsicle.
d. Super easy removal – a quick run under warm water and they slide out like butt-ah.
a. Large size (not good for kids).
b. Plastic sticks/tops are reusable which means less waste, but there’s something about multiple people eating off the plastic stick that kinda grosses me out. I think it’s because I have childhood memories of our Tupperware popsicle molds and they were all gross and chewed up. :-)
Norpro Ice Pop Maker – I ended up buying these for my 2nd and 3rd trial run because I kinda liked the look of them better and they produced more popsicles. Plus, they use regular wooden popsicle sticks. Don’t get suckered into buying the combo mold + 100 sticks deal on amazon. Just add the sticks separately as an add-on for much cheaper.
a. Smaller size, which is good if you have kids.
b. The molds use wooden popsicle sticks which is more sanitary. :-)
c. The design of the popsicle mold produces a more “traditional” popsicle.
a. The plastic molds are held in place by a metal lid/frame and are not easily removable. Some people have apparently removed them, but I’d rather not try. Therefore, it makes them a lot harder to remove since you have to get water in between all the spaces to warm up the interior molds.
b. The plastic lid on top is a little hard to remove. You kinda have to wiggle the lid back and forth to slide it off. It’s not a major negative, just kinda annoying.
Tovolo (original) Calories: 136; Fat: <.2g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 27mg; Carbs: 29g; Dietary Fiber: 1.3g; Sugars 27g; Protein: 6.2g
Tovolo (amended) Calories: 100; Fat: .1g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 36mg; Carbs: 17g; Dietary Fiber: .8g; Sugars 16g; Protein: 8g
Norpro (original) Calories: 82; Fat: .1g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 16mg; Carbs: 17.3g; Dietary Fiber: 2.4g; Sugars 16.2g; Protein: 3.7g
Norpro (amended) Calories: 60; Fat: 0g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 21mg; Carbs: 10g; Dietary Fiber: .5g; Sugars 9.5g; Protein: 4.8g
*Please note the nutritional information is only an estimate.*