Frozen Treats For SummerPosted: January 3, 2012
From my Healthy Living column in Moncton’s Times & Transcript.
An unfortunate accident involving my brother, my dog, and a container of chocolate ice cream got me thinking about frozen desserts earlier this week. Although I found it was still a little chilly to start eating ice-cold food, I decided to do some experimenting in the kitchen over the weekend and to come up with some healthy frozen dessert ideas to share in this column.
Personally, I am not a huge fan of frozen snacks and desserts. I don’t think I’ve eaten a commercial frozen treat since I moved to Moncton (although I have family in Moncton and have visited Moncton nearly every summer since I was born, I’ve only lived in Moncton for the past three years). When I lived in North Carolina, frozen snacks were necessary for survival on hot summer days and I ocassionally enjoyed frozen grapes and berries at snack time. However, even then I usually preferred desserts like cake or brownies (which I always make healthier than the traditional versions by using whole grain flour and fruit-based sweeteners) to ice cream treats and the like.
My goal for this column was to come up with a few frozen desserts that were healthier than the sugar-laden, super rich store-bought kind and that still appealed to me. The easiest way to do this seemed to be turning to the fruit bowl. I used bananas, apples, oranges, and blueberries to make serveral healthy frozen dessert bars.
The first bar I made was simple. Using the typical chocolate coated ice cream bar as my inspiration, I took a large banana and cut it into two lengthwise halves, coated each half in about ¼ cup melted chocolate chips, and then rolled the halves in a mixture containing equal amounts of finely chopped walnuts and cranberries seasoned with cinnamon. I was originally planning to stick a popsicle stick into each banana half before freezing it, but since I could not find popsicle sticks among the kitchen cupboards, I ended up wrapping them in wax paper instead. When I later enjoyed my creation, I was quite pleased with the taste and texture and found that the wax paper had been a suitable alternative to the popsicle sticks. Making these banana treats was foolproof, although I did have to keep a close eye on the chocolate to keep it from hardening while I worked. Bananas were a particularly good choice for freezing since they didn’t take as much time to freeze compared to the more water dense fruits I experimented with.
Although I’ve never heard of people eating frozen apple pie, I decided to make an apple pie bar after making the banana bars. I chopped a Golden Delicious apple (this is the type that is particularly good for pies) and cooked it over medium heat in a small pot containing about ¼ cup of apple juice. Once the apple was fork tender (less than ten minutes later), I mixed in some cinnamon and ginger and poured the mixture into a popsicle mold. I then added a bit more apple juice and put the bars in the freezer. The end result was delicious (but what else can you expect from a Golden Delicious apple?). The only thing I might have changed if I made these again was the peel on the apple pieces. I might peel it off in the future. That being said, I should note that the peel could be left intact without compromising the texture of the bars, especially since it contains more vitamins than the flesh of the apple.
The last bar I made with this article in mind was an easy orange blueberry bar. I mixed one chopped orange (peel removed obviously) and about ½ cup blueberries and then, after adding a little orange juice, I put the mixture in a popsicle mold and froze it. The bars were satisfying and although I was a bit concerned about the frozen orange pulp’s texture, it wasn’t really an issue.
Nutritious frozen treats are only limited by creativity. They are easy to make and even easier to eat.
Originally published in the Times & Transcript on May 22nd, 2010.