If you know me, you know that I love ice cream and once composed an ode to it that got published on HelloGiggles. But ice cream is also not the best for you, so lately I have been trying to find alternative sweet frozen snacks that aren’t so loaded in fat and processed sugar. I had success with watermelon and blueberry popsicles and with plain ol’ frozen grapes and blueberries (can you tell I’m having a summer fling with blueberries?), but sometimes what I really crave is a smoothie.
Back in the Boggy Bayou (a.k.a. Niceville), there is a little smoothie place called Tropical Smoothie, which is actually just part of a chain that is all over Florida. In high school, the thing to do on Wednesday afternoons was to head to Tropical Smoothie for Big Cup Wednesday, a special deal where you get a HUGE smoothie for the same prize of a normal-sized one. I only did this once to see what all the fuss was about, and they weren’t kidding about that “big” part. It was basically a bucket of smoothie. I had to consume it in multiple smoothie-slurping sessions for the rest of the day.
But here’s the thing about store-bought smoothies: they are deceptively bad for you because they add so much sugar. At least at Tropical Smoothie, where I had a few friends who worked there over the summer. Adding sugar to smoothies is really silly, if you think about it, because the fruit and juice you’re putting in there already has so much natural sugar in it.
The only thing is I can’t really make a smoothie because we don’t have a blender or the space for one (goodness, I make it sound like we live in a third-world country with all the “we don’t have a _____” statements I seem to make). Additionally, when I used our mini food processor to make watermelon puree for those other popsicles I mentioned, I had to make them on the living room floor because of issues with the kitchen outlets and the length of the appliance cord.
I began to wonder if there was a way to replicate the healthful, fruity, frozen deliciousness of a smoothie without actually making a smoothie. And that’s when I stumbled upon this recipe for creamy frozen yogurt chips on Pinterest. Then the wheels in my head started turning. I didn’t want to use my ice cube trays to make “yogurt chips” because I need them to actually make ice, as (waaaaait for it…) we don’t have an automatic ice maker. But what I do have is a bountiful supply of aluminum foil, plastic cutlery from when we first moved in, and little paper Dixie cups. Thus, this was born:
I’ve decided to dub them Orangeberry Creamsicles because this manages to get basically all the ingredients and concepts all compacted together into two whimsical words.
What you need to make these popsicles is so simple, and there’s a good chance you might already have these things in your fridge:
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups of low-fat vanilla yogurt (strawberry would be nice, too)
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups of orange juice (just make sure the juice and yogurt are fairly equal quantities, OK?)
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh strawberries
- 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1. Combine equal parts yogurt and OJ in a bowl. If you don’t have vanilla yogurt, you could use plain (of either the Greek or normal variety) and mix in 1 tsp. of sugar and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract for a little more flavor. I thought this Dannon Light & Fit yogurt was plenty sweet and vanilla-y.
2. Set your liquid mixture aside and clean your berries, then proceed to chop up the strawberries. Make the pieces fairly small because strawberries get HARD when they are frozen and tend to be more manageable in smaller pieces.
3. Place a small layer of strawberries, then blueberries in each of your Dixie cups. I ended up making 10 fairly small popsicles, but it’s really up to you how it all pans out. Then pour your OJ/yogurt mixture on top.
4. Cut small squares/rectangles out of foil and cover the top of each Dixie cup. This will hold your popsicle sticks in place. Cut a small slit in the center of each foil top with either scissors, if you’re lazy like me, or a knife.
5. Stick popsicle sticks into each slit down into the cup. If you don’t have popsicle sticks or know where to find them easily in NYC, like me, be ghetto-fabulous and stick plastic utensils in instead. I used plastic knives, spoons, and forks, haha. The good thing about this is that you can save the cutlery when you finish the popsicles, wash and dry them, and then use them to make more popsicles! Which may or may not be what I’ve done here. Don’t think of it as cheap or weird so much as environmentally friendly and money-conscious.
6. Relocate your army of suited-up Dixie cups/makeshift popsicle molds into the freezer and then leave them there for at least 8 hours or overnight. Try to ignore your impatience.
I “made” these last night–I use the word “made” very lightly because it was basically the easiest dessert/snack ever–and finally got to try one today. To remove the popsicle from the Dixie cup, run the bottom portion of the cup (where the frozen good stuff is) under warm water, discard the foil, snip through the thick paper rim with scissors, and rip off the rest of the cup.
Final verdict: I think they turned out really well! The yogurt and juice combination has a really nice smooth and creamy texture when frozen, not icy like some other homemade popsicles I’ve tried. This part of the popsicle also kind of tastes like an orange creamsicle, hence, part of the inspiration for the name.
The fruit adds a pretty pop of color, which is why I decided to add the strawberries as a solid and not a puree. The sweetness of the frozen blueberries and yogurt is well-balanced by the tartness of the strawberries and orange juice.
Yeah, you can’t slurp it through a straw, but these quick and easy popsicles are still rather enjoyable. The best part is you can totally eat them for a second breakfast. Which I might or might not have done in my eagerness to try them out. The other best part is that they are completely fat-free, given that you used fat-free yogurt!
I think it would be fun to try different variations on this combination. You could use sliced bananas instead of blueberries, pineapple-orange juice instead of plain OJ, or strawberry yogurt instead of vanilla. This would also be a fun and safe version of “cooking” to do with kids, I think, if you have a few spare kids lying around (I don’t).
It hasn’t been nearly as unbearably hot here lately as it was when we arrived in late June, but as August is quickly passing and I’m finally about to start a new job next week (hooray!), I thought making popsicles would be a simple, nostalgic way to bid farewell to summertime.
What are your favorite frozen treats to whip up at home?