Green Kitchen is a bi-weekly column about nutritious, inexpensive, and ethical food and cooking. It's penned by the lovely Jaime Green.
When you're in the midst of a week of high-90s days, as New York City is now, it is very easy and tempting to have all meals catered by The Messrs Ben and Jerry.
“There's no cooking,” you say. “I'm saving electricity and gas by not turning on my stove! And ice cream has dairy and protein and dark chocolate's antioxidants!”
I can't find it in my heart to counter any of those arguments, mostly because ice cream is so dang delicious. But what's one of the cardinal rules of eating green? Make it yourself!
Lucky for us, with our hotness, frugality, and environmental consciousness, there are plenty of frozen treats that can be made simply, cheaply, and to healthy and delicious effect. Even without a real ice cream maker.
I'd like to introduce you to my new favorite thing: my $1.74 clearance shelf popsicle mold.
In the last few weeks we've been through many adventures. Coconut milk and maple syrup. Arnold Palmers (that's lemonade and iced tea, my boyfriend's brilliant idea). Strong Earl Grey, coconut milk, and a little simple syrup. Pureed honeydew melon and mint. The possibilities for healthy, delicious, homemade pops are nearly endless, and I'm looking forward to a summer of popsicle experimentation.
(And yes, these are all entirely no-heating-up-your-kitchen, because you can make simple syrup in the microwave: 1 part water, 1 part sugar, microwaveable measuring cup; microwave until the sugar is dissolved, 2-3 minutes, stirring every so often.)
But so far – my favorite – the biggest hands-down, most glorious success: Cherry Chocolate "Ice Cream" Popsicles.
Food processor “ice cream” recipes abound on the internet, usually featuring frozen fruit, heavy cream, and sugar. Lately, I've been sort of obsessed with substituting coconut milk – a rich, lactose-free stand-in full of healthy fats - which tastes good just about any way you can conceive to use it. I find you don’t need the extra sugar, either, since the frozen fruit provides enough sweetness.
Variations on the food processor/fruit/coconut milk idea are infinite. Try changing the fruit. If you're down with dairy, use regular cream. If your fruit is tart or your sweet tooth is strong, add a little simple syrup. A flavorful honey might bring some magic to, say, a peach variation.
This particular mixture's creaminess gives a great texture to the popsicles but also makes it a little trickier to remove. Leave pops out at room temp for five minutes, or run the molds under warm water. Pull the sticks *gently*. If they don't come out, give them some more time. If you’re not down with that, the recipe can be served like ice cream, either straight out of the food processor or after 20 minutes or so to firm up in the freezer.
Granted, the end product isn't quite ice cream, but it's delicious, healthy, cheap, and puts a little less strain on the planet. Which is important to keep in mind, even when that damn planet and her damn seasons are putting so much strain on us.
If you like the idea of this, you might also enjoy pondering:
Chocolate Cherry “Ice Cream” Popsicles
Serves 4, at least by my popsicle molds.
½ c canned coconut milk (a type with emulsifiers, like guar gum, will actually do you better)
1/3 c dark chocolate chips (vegan, if that's your style)
1) Put cherries and coconut milk into bowl of food processor. Process until smooth and ice creamy.
2) Add chocolate chips, and process until mostly broken up and dispersed. (A renegade full chip never hurt anyone.)
3) Pour into molds. Freeze at least 4 hours.
Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
132 calories, 7.2g fat, 1.7g fiber, 1.2g protein, $0.81
8oz frozen cherries: 147 calories, 0g fat, 2.7g fiber, 1.3g protein, $2.40
½ c coconut milk: 111 calories, 12.1g fat, 0.6g fiber, 1.1g protein, $0.50
1/3 c chocolate chips: 268 calories, 16.8g fat, 3.3g fiber, 2.4g protein, $0.37
TOTAL: 526 calories, 28.9g fat, 6.6g fiber, 4.8g protein $3.27
PER SERVING (total/4): 132 calories, 7.2g fat, 1.7g fiber, 1.2g protein, $0.81