Updated: Oct 2, 2020
These gut-friendly ice pops taste so good your kids won’t know that these probiotic-rich pops are actually healthy for them!
Summer. My best memories of summer involve our little Brooklyn backyard pool, running through the sprinkler, tubs of sherbet, and fudgesicles. Nothing better than a cold, smooth treat on a hot summer day, right?
Now, summer is a time when I turn my kids’ healthy smoothies into ice pops. I love experimenting with different ingredients to make what my kids consider a treat. I even let them have a second one if they want! I love it!
I know they’ll be a day when they can go out themselves and buy whatever they’d like, but, for now, I try to make healthy desserts for them for several reasons. Such as:
-to expose their palate to different tastes
-to desensitize their palates to the high fat and sodium content of commercial products
-to fuel them with healthy food while they’re still developing muscle mass, brain neurons, fat cells, hormones, and their gut microbiome
-it alleviates some of my power struggles….and that’s HUGE for me! Trying to keep an optimistic, positive household without a lot of yelling and saying, “No” isn’t easy. This is one way I can say, “Yes”.
So, let’s talk probiotics for a moment. With only one cup of plain yogurt in a couple of pops, these ice pops certainly don’t provide a therapeutic amount of probiotics, but every little bit helps.
Why are Probiotics and Prebiotics Important to My Health?
To read more about probiotics and the gut microbiome, see my article here.
The microbes in our gut help digest food, produce vitamins and essential building blocks of protein, produce short-chain fatty acids, and destroy disease-causing cells. They also digest food to generate nutrients for host cells and metabolize drugs. A healthy gut has more bacteria and more varied strains.
Prebiotics are non-digestible parts of foods (fibers) that offer health benefits. Prebiotics are very healthy as they can:
-add fiber to the diet, increase calcium absorption, decrease gastrointestinal transit time, and possibly lower blood lipid levels.
Which foods have prebiotics?
Legumes, soybeans, nuts, seeds, chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, wheat bran, barley, oats, apples, garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus, bananas.
How much probiotics do yogurts have?
Yogurt is a nutrient-rich food packed with protein, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B12, and some key fatty acids that your body needs.
You’ve probably seen the “Live and Active Cultures” seal on some yogurts. This is voluntary labeling with the National Yogurt Association. This indicates that the yogurt has a minimum level of live lactic acid bacteria. It does not, however, mean the amount, or variety, in a given yogurt is enough to confer health benefits.
On top of that, many yogurts on the market have no active probiotic strains at all. When commercial yogurt undergoes the pasteurization and sterilization process, often the live microorganisms that otherwise naturally occur in yogurt are killed off.
Is there a better choice than yogurt to get probiotics?
Kefir just might be.
Kefir is also a cultured milk product, like yogurt, but the amount and variation of bacterial strains are more powerful. Lifeway kefir has 12 species of bacteria and yeasts.
Kefir comes in delicious flavors (as does yogurt), but beware of sugar content. If you like plain, stick with that. Plain kefir or yogurt is definitely the base of all my kids’ smoothies and homemade ice pops.
Ice pops like these lend themselves to anything you can imagine! Stick with a plain yogurt/kefir/milk base and you’re already ahead of the game on sugar compared to commercial products.
I added chickpeas as a trial to these homemade ice pops and the kids didn’t know those prebiotic-rich, fiber-rich chickpeas were in there at all!
Chocolate Chickpea Peanut Butter Ice Pops
Makes about 6 pops
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup plain yogurt or Kefir
⅔ cup chickpeas, rinsed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Natural peanut butter
1 cup skim milk (more or less depending on your liking)
Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into ice pop molds. Freeze. Enjoy!
Serving size: 1 pop (In my molds, I made 6 pops):
Fat, total: 2 ½ grams
Protein: 8 grams
Carbohydrates: 25 grams