Things that come out when the weather gets warm include:
It’s that last one that concerns me, and I’ve made it my goal to figure out how to avoid being the “uncool” house with no treats.
This means I need to figure out homemade, whole foods, tasty summertime goodies that aren’t too expensive to share generously.
You know…Eat Well, Spend Less.
My kids were more than happy to taste test the first step toward my goal:
Kids Creating Treats for Kids
It’s important to me that my kids help in the kitchen, and although I’m certainly not as organized or patient as Jami of Eat Nourishing, who shared her awesome high expectations for kids’ responsibilities in a real food kitchen, I try to keep them involved and engaged when I can pin them down.
Some of their favorite tools? The loud ones. (i.e. the food processor and blender)
We had a great time whizzing up different juices and fruits to test popsicle flavors (and perhaps an even better time having popsicles for a snack – so that I could figure out which ones were good!).
After testing ice cube sized flavors, we made a few batches of our favorites for Paul’s “kid” birthday party, which was a simple soccer game and treat affair.
I was so glad I got both of them, ages 7 and 3-and-a-half, to participate in the “making” process.
When the kids help, they really get invested in the work.
They’re proud of the food they help create.
They’re excited to eat and to share with others.
Their enthusiasm is contagious.
And they learn about food, cooking terms, and life skills like following directions, taking turns, compromising (everyone can’t do everything), and teamwork.
I even let the 3-year-old take some photos of the work:
Recipe: Homemade Whole Food Popsicles
I love having these popsicles around, because they’re a dessert I can feel good about offering my kids after dinner. We had a bout of antibiotics recently, (blech) and along with taking probiotics, we had a day or two where the child wasn’t allowed to have any refined sugars, so it was nice to still have something fun for dessert. (I wish I had the children’s probiotics from Jack be Natural instead of guessing at how much of our adult form to give…)
The only thing I would have done differently with this project was allow each child to make up their own popsicle, from the ingredients to the proportions. Next time I will, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with! Here are a few of the “winners” we discovered:
1. Either purchased popsicle molds or one of the following options to hold the popsicles:
- Bathroom sized Dixie cups and wooden popsicle sticks (available at most craft stores)
- Snack sized (or smaller if you can find them) plastic zippered baggies
- Silicone muffin cups and wooden popsicle sticks
- Ice cube trays and sticks
3. Freezer with flat space available
1. Whiz together all the ingredients. A food processor works for coconut milk or pineapple, but stick with a blender for most of the recipes – even bananas if your machine can handle it. My food processor did a bit too much sloshing and splashing, and besides, blenders are much easier for pouring.
2. Pour into chosen containers.
- Baggies will hold about 1/2 cup. You can freeze them entirely flat for a very thin popsicle or roll in half, squeezing the liquid out of one half and making more of a “tube” shape on the other half. Cut off the short end of the baggie to serve, like the popsicles that come in tubes and you squeeze them up to eat.
- Ice cube trays are good for family taste tests.
- Insert sticks either right away if a thick popsicle mixture, or set a timer for an hour and then put sticks in the partially frozen treats so they stay straight.
3. Put in a flat space in the freezer. I like to place any of these options onto a cookie sheet in case of spills and to keep them flat.
Try making small batches in ice cube trays to taste test, or just jump in and choose one that sounds yummy!
- Tropical: 1 c. orange juice + 1/2 c. canned coconut milk
- Tropical Grape: 1 c. grape juice + 2/3 c. coconut milk + 1/2 c. orange juice
- Add 1 banana, frozen or fresh, to Tropical Grape
- Grape-pineapple: 1/2 cup each canned pineapple with juice, grape juice and coconut milk
- Add half a banana to Grape-pineapple
- Citrus-Strawberry: juice and pulp of one lemon (use a fork to twist the pulp out), 2 Tbs. honey, 2/3 c. water, 1/2 cup strawberries, 1/2 c. orange juice
We also tested a few things that didn’t really work great, such as adding a raw apple with some combinations (too chunky) and a lemonade version that is basically the last option there without the strawberries and orange juice (too hard, like gnawing on an ice cube).
In my opinion, the canned coconut milk makes the consistency really like a popsicle. If you don’t think you like coconut milk, it’s still worth a try, or at least use fruit to make softer popsicles.
Buy orange juice with pulp to at least retain some of the fiber naturally found in fruit. Or, just use an orange.
These frozen goodies were definitely made with other kids in mind. We don’t buy or drink grape juice or orange juice (although my kids appreciated the change of pace with our water kefir as we used up the grape juice in a couple batches). I know that fruit juice is not really good for you, but at least there isn’t any white sugar in these recipes. They’re a huge step up from purchased popsicles.
For my own family, I’d like to work on some more “whole foods” versions. I’ll be including:
- raw milk
- maybe yogurt cheese?
- lightly steamed and frozen greens like a green smoothie
- coconut oil?
And of course, whatever the kids come up with…
Other ways my kids help in the kitchen:
- slicing potatoes in food processor – Leah practically does this herself once I’ve scrubbed the potatoes
- making coconut muffins (from Healthy Snacks to Go) – I was teaching Paul to do this recipe completely himself after reading about Shaina’s kids making their own muffins and Jessica being inspired by it…but then we never found the time to get back to it between homework and baseball and playing with the friends in the neighborhood.
- cutting pineapple all together – I core it, Paul slices, and Leah dices!
- making homemade dressings
- stirring, measuring
- Paul has been making scrambled eggs at the stovetop for a year or two now, and he’s so good at it he thinks eggs are subpar if anyone else prepares them.
- potato salad – by about age two, they both have learned basic knife skills on soft things. Now they could pretty much make potato salad by themselves, too (although we always teamwork it).
- setting the table (we have a dedicated low cupboard for kids’ stuff)
- unloading the dishwasher
What do you love to make with your kids?
Check in with the other ladies of the Eat Well, Spend Less series for much more on kids in the kitchen:
- Amy at Kingdom First Mom
- Carrie at Denver Bargains
- Jessica at Life as MOM
- Aimee at Simple Bites
- Tammy at Tammy’s Recipes
- Mandi at Life Your Way
- Shaina at Food for my Family
Disclosure: Jack be Natural is a sponsor of KS this month. See my full disclosure statement here.