(Healthy!) Icy Treats for Summer Days

20180630_124257Some days in Kansas it feels like there’s more truth to this meme than science will admit, whatever astronomers may say. 😉 Sticky days when it’s near (or over) 100 degrees and you walk outside and the air is sweating on you—this is summer in Kansas…and sometimes spring… It seems if we’re not having sub-freezing temperatures we’re cooking on the pavement.  They say if you don’t like the weather in Kansas, just wait five minutes.

 But if “five minutes” hasn’t fixed it, here are a couple of tasty treats to beat that summer heat. 🙂

Pineapple Lemonade Popsicles

My family loves these! They don’t last long around here. Adjust them to be as sweet or as sour as you like.

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Cut up a fresh pineapple and measure out approximately 12 oz. freshly chopped. Put this in a blender and add ½ c. fresh-squeezed lemon juice, ½ c. water, ¼ c. raw honey, and a half-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (if you don’t have fresh ginger you can use a pinch of powdered ginger). Blend this on high until smooth. IMG_3934

Do the taste test. Do you want it to be sweeter (perhaps the pineapple wasn’t as ripe as it could have been and the lemon is overpowering it)? Add a bit more honey. Or do you love to pucker? Add a bit more lemon juice. (I remember once making these when we had friends staying with us. I must have skipped the taste test because we were definitely puckering, lol.)

And before you pour this frothy mixture into popsicle molds, you can (optionally) add 2 drops of ginger oil, and 4 drops of lemon oil (if you happen to be an essential oil junkie).

Freeze in molds until firm. (And don’t let Daddy find them too soon.) 😉 IMG_3938

Kombucha Kooler

During hot summer days as a kid I would go to the Hawaiian shaved ice stands and order a cup of ice, generously doused with a colorful, sugary flavoring. Or I would go to the gas station and pump a big Coca-Cola icee.

Ice cold sugar heaven. Happy sigh.

But, trying to skip on all the sugar, corn syrup, and food coloring, I haven’t had a “snow cone” (as we called them) or a soda pop icee in years.  

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Over the last couple of years, Cliff and I have taken to really enjoying kombucha, a healthy fermented drink. And it occurred to him one day that we could create a healthy version of our favorite frosty treats from childhood.

So we froze Gingerberrry kombucha in ice cube trays (the brand I buy is GT’s and can be found at Wal-Mart–in the refrigerated fruits and veggies section–and health food stores). Then we blended the cubes to make “shaved ice” (I did mine in a Vitamix). 

Finally, after apportioning this into fancy glasses, I poured some more kombucha over the ice.

Oh. My. Goodness. It took me right back to those glorious snow cone days. Sweet, cold, and refreshing. Incredibly satisfying. 20180503_203808

There are many things you could do with this. You could do part juice and part kombucha and freeze it in trays before blending it. There are also many different flavors and brands of kombucha, and I have even found some that are made to taste like root beer! Sometimes I just freeze the kombucha in trays and my kids help themselves to the cubes. (You can save quite a bit by buying the kombucha in large rather than personal drink sizes, available at health food stores. Or even make your own, like my sister does.) 20180503_204050

So just what is kombucha and why is it good for you?

It’s made by fermenting black and/or green tea and sugar with bacteria and yeast (called a “SCOBY,” which stands for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”). The fermentation process produces lots of healthy bacteria…also known as probiotics. I discussed fermented foods and the importance of healthy bacteria to our gut in a previous post, so I won’t go into too much detail here. But essentially it’s very good for gut (and brain) health. The kombucha becomes naturally carbonated, giving it that wonderful fizzy, bubbly characteristic, reminiscent of soda pop. It’s high in B vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants, and probiotics, and the good bacteria found in it actually helps combat bad bacteria (lab studies found it to have antibacterial effects).

Dr. Josh Axe writes,

Research from the University of Latvia in 2014 claims that drinking kombucha tea can be beneficial for many infections and diseases “due to four main properties: detoxification, anti-oxidation, energizing potencies and promotion of depressed immunity.”

The main thing when choosing kombucha is to make sure it is raw (not pasteurized), and the sugar content is not too high. My family has been enjoying this drink for a long time. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea (pun intended), if you haven’t yet, give it a try! 🙂