Summertime and the living should be easy.
But with pools, camps and playgrounds mostly closed due to COVID-19, kids are restless. While this year is tough on all of us, small surprises like icy popsicles may ease the heat and stress.
Also, popsicles made with kombucha, kefir and yogurt may boost the probiotic content in your family’s diet. Plus they are incredibly easy—and fun— to make. You can ferment your own, but shortcuts like store-bought kombucha, kefir beverages and yogurt will be just as delicious.
These recipes make six popsicles. Prepare the ingredients as below, put in a blender, and pulse until smooth. Then pour into popsicle forms and freeze for about 4 hours. That’s it!
- Strawberry Ginger Pops: Add one-cup sliced strawberries to one-cup ginger kombucha.
- Pineapple Coconut Pops: Use one-cup canned or fresh pineapple with ½-cup coconut water and ½-cup plain kombucha
- Berry Pops: Mix one-cup blueberries with one-cup milk-based kefir drink.
- Mango Pops: Mix one-cup fresh mango with one-cup plain creamy kefir drink.
- Orange Creamsicle: Combine one-cup orange sections and one-cup yogurt in blender. Add orange zest.
- Chocolate Creamsicle: Mix one-cup nut milk yogurt with 1 tbsp of cocoa powder and two bananas.
As you can see, variations on these healthy treats are endless. Feel free to swap vegan, plant-based options for the milk-based ingredients. And take advantage of the fresh fruits as they appear in the grocery stores and farmers stands throughout the season. Any of your children’s favorite fruits will be delightful.
Another idea: add small chunks of fresh fruit to the blended mix right before freezing. Lace with chopped up fresh mint (spearmint or peppermint) to add an exotic bite.
Now, try to keep cool!
Unfreeze the Brain
Yogurt is produced by fermentation of milk (mostly cow’s milk but also from goat, ewe, camel and water buffalo). Soy, rice and nut milks are also fermented into yogurt-like alternatives for those requiring or preferring plant-based foods. Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria ferment lactose and produce lactic acid giving yogurt a creamy texture and tart flavor. For more on yogurt, see a recent IPA blog Yogurt: Beyond Breakfast.
A 2019 article titled Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease is a good resource on kombucha and kefir, from which the following paragraphs are adapted. Warning: not a beach read.
Traditional kombucha is produced through aerobic fermentation of black or green tea and white sugar by a combination of bacteria and yeast, known as the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).The bacterial and fungal species constituting the SCOBY typically include acetic acid bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, and yeasts. Though there is little accumulated research on the effects of kombucha on gut health in humans, new research highlights potential health promoting properties.
Traditional kefir is a fermented drink produced by adding a starter culture termed “kefir grains” to milk. Kefir grains consist of yeasts as well as lactic and acetic acid producing bacteria. A wide range of microbial species — more than 50 species have been identified in kefir grains. Kefir has exhibited antimicrobial activity and has shown impact on the gut microbiota in animal and human studies, as the review supports.
Dimidi E, Cox SR, Rossi M, Whelan K. Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2019; 11(8):1806.