With the rising popularity of green smoothies, it was only a matter of time until someone thought to pour those creations into some popsicle molds and toss them in the freezer. Anni Daulter is that someone and she shares her best of the best of frozen health food on a stick in Ice Pop Joy (2011, Sellers). In it, there are 50 (yes, 50!) recipes for frozen treats, which are divided into seven groups based on their main ingredient: pure fruit, veggie, yogurt, tofu, herbal tea, chocolate, and specialty pops. But this is more than just a recipe book. An expert on conscious family living, Daulter sees these ice pops as the perfect embodiment of the notion that food does not have to sacrifice fun and flavor in order to be healthy and organic. She presents these pops as a strategy for including kids in food preparation in a way that they will enjoy. By not hiding the veggies and other good-for-you ingredients, but instead celebrating them, Daulter challenges us to shift our mindset and to start thinking about the many ways that foods nourish us in mind, body, and soul.
At the beginning of each chapter Daulter addresses the main ingredient and offers basic background information (such as the difference between varieties of yogurt), tips for buying fresh, suggestions for storage, and where to source hard-to-find items. Then come the recipes, which span the gamut from the expected fare of strawberries and lemons to blow-your-mind combinations of red kidney beans, pineapple, and pecans. I will admit that I was skeptical. The idea of eating frozen quinoa or balsamic vinegar seems so out-there, but really, why not? Smoothies have been a lifesaver for me in getting my toddler to eat more food variety; I just start with a base of yogurt, throw in whatever is leftover in the refrigerator (including quinoa and beans), blend, and we both drink it up. Taking the next step and freezing it into pops just gives us one more option for a healthful summertime snack.
I have a pretty wicked sweet tooth, so I will admit that the all-fruit and chocolate pops were my favorite, but the other recipes are balanced and even the savory ones have their place. The gorgeous photography alone will inspire you to give them all a try. The ingredients that Daulter uses fit in nicely with many healthy diets: natural sweeteners, milk alternatives, nuts, and of course, plenty of veggies. I was disappointed, though by the choice of references cited to support her health claims. Among them are ehow, Associated Content, corporate websites, and websites that clearly state they have no authority to make nutritional claims. I don’t think her claims are necessarily inaccurate (although I don’t share her enthusiasm for agave nectar), I just think she would have been much more convincing had she chosen more reputable sites. Also, she encourages the use of disposable wooden sticks, which doesn’t jive with the overall eco-friendly lifestyle that she touts. On balance, though, I think this is a fun, healthy, and yummy collection of recipes. I look forward to trying them all.