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Refreshing, wellness popsicles

by | August 7, 2020

Refreshing, wellness popsicles

Written by and recipes by Vanessa Kahler, BSc (Hons), BA (Hons), Dip ION Nutrition therapist and certified health coach

Edited and reviewed by Bojana Jankovic Weatherly, MD, MSc

As the summer heats up, the ice cream queues get longer and all our kids are dreaming of a daily cool treat. Why not try adding some variety by making some of them at home using the flavors and foods that nature has gifted us with, and a little less of the nasty stuff?

It may surprise you to realize that herbs make a great companion to fruit in a refreshing ice pop! Not only do they taste great and look pretty, but they also add to the diversity of plant nutrients that you consume in your daily diet.

Historically, herbs have been used medicinally and in cooking for thousands of years. Today most of us are less inclined to use all the herbs available to us and even less to have an appreciation of the value they bring over and above what they taste like. Herbs are a wonderful and simple way to get back into gardening, to experiment with cooking, and to teach kids about growing their own food because they give so much reward in their smell and how fast some of them grow.

These recipes are intentionally simple and require minimum equipment in order to fit into busy families’ lives. It’s always possible to add complexity, but in so doing we reduce the chance of us following a recipe, and most importantly, repeating it!

Also, keeping it simple encourages kids to make their own ice cream easily and be creative with their friends.

My base method for making our popsicles at home is to take an herb, blend it with either water or a milk, add fruit and a little something sweet if its needed. Then pour the mixture into molds.

For the popsicle molds, I use stainless steel to avoid the use of plastic. I also use a simple gelato maker that creates an instant soft scoop ice cream, which requires you to make a smoothie type mixture first, to pour in. Ice cream is done in 15 minutes.

The Herbs used in the recipes below and their benefits:

Cinnamon

Cinnamon’s effects on blood sugar have been a topic of active research. Some studies have found that cinnamon, when added to the standard of care for diabetes, can modestly improve blood glucose levels. By adding it to a recipe, we can more easily enjoy the natural sweetness already in the food. On top of this, as with most plants, it is a rich source of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Sweet Basil

The aroma that we get from herbs come from their unique essential oils. Even though they contain a variety of nutrients, we eat only small portions of herbs per meal, compared to fruit and vegetables, so it is largely the essential oil and other unique plant chemicals that we use herbs for.

Basil contains a significant amount of vitamin K and by the nature of how we eat basil (in pesto and in salads), we can eat quite a large quantity.

Research done in animal models suggests that sweet basil may help improve fasting blood sugar levels and reduce blood pressure.

Hibiscus

Another beauty from nature, the stunning hibiscus has been well researched and studies have found that it may help reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol as well as help protect the liver. Hibiscus has also been shown to switch on autophagy, which is a natural process the body triggers to clear out our old or dysfunctional cells. Autophagy is the process trigged during fasting.

Mint

Using peppermint to aid digestion, by helping to relax the GI tract, is probably its most popular and well accepted medicinal use. Menthol, the volatile component of the essential oil of peppermint, has also been found to help relieve migraine headaches when applied on the skin.

Lavender and berries

The oral intake of a particular Lavender oil preparation has been shown to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, while intake of polyphenols found in berries, cherries, other fruits and vegetables, and red wine has been inversely correlated with depression.

Lavender oil has also been shown to influence the gut microbiome of mice with colitis, and thereby reduce the severity of inflammation and intestinal damage.

Recipes

Disclaimer

Nothing stated or posted in this article is intended or should be taken to be the practice of medical or counseling care. The information made available in this article, including, but not limited to, interviews, text, graphics, images, links to other articles, websites, and other material contained in this article, is strictly for informational and entertainment purposes only. The information in this article is NOT (and should not be used as) a substitute for professional psychiatry, psychology, medical, nursing, or professional healthcare advice or services, nor is it designed to suggest any specific diagnosis or treatment. Please always seek medical advice from your physician or a qualified health care provider regarding any medical questions, conditions or treatment, before making any changes to your health care regimen, medications or lifestyle habits. None of the information in this article is a representation or warranty that any particular drug or treatment is safe, appropriate or effective for you, or that any particular healthcare provider is appropriate for you. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking help from a health care provider due to something you have read or seen in this article. Your reading/use of this article does not create in any way a physician-patient relationship, any sort of confidential, fiduciary or professional relationship, or any other special relationship that would give rise to any duties. This article does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, healthcare providers, procedures, or treatments, and if you rely on any of the information provided by this article, you do so solely at your own risk.

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About the Author

Dr. Bojana

Dr. Bojana

Dr. Bojana (Boy•ana) Jankovic Weatherly is an award winning physician, double board certified in internal and integrative medicine. After completing internal medicine residency, she did a fellowship in integrative medicine, trained in functional medicine, nutrition and mindfulness. Her approach is rooted in evidence-based medicine that is personalized to each individual she works with.

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