Thursday, July 17, 2014

Iced Tea and Lemon Ice Pops

When you have food allergies and Celiac disease you give up a most of the premade convenience foods, which means you either go without, or you find a new way to make your own “convenience foods”. During this heat wave this brings new meaning to make it yourself.

For our area this is a very high tempuratures. Those who live in areas that are always warm have air conditioners, then they are like us and only need it for a few weeks a year. We are using fans and frozen foods to cool down.
 No one really wants to spend their time in the kitchen during the summer and especially not when the weather is hot. I am not complaining about the heat, it is wonderful, but you need to have ways to cool down. Sometimes to cool down we need an extra-large slush, a Popsicle or maybe ice cream. This is ok until you read the label and see what they are made from. The ingredients are mostly things I cannot pronounce and things I do not want in my body. Some of the labels I have read contain artificial flavour, Artificial Sweetener and Artificial colour; Do you know what any of those are? I wonder what parts if any of these treats are real.  I also avoid all artificial sweeteners as they are known migraine triggers and I have also read that they promote inflammation in our body. I also watch how many calories are in my cool treats, so if I can make my own and eliminate the extra calories I will do my best to make my own treats.   So where does this leave me? There are so many good reasons to make your own treats that it is hard to justify any other method.

As you can see these are the only ingredients. Very clean and simple. I am finding that food in its natural form and with very simple methods of preparation taste so much fresher than the artificial. So not only is it healthier it also tastes better.

 I will always choose the healthier choice.
One of my favorite low calorie, chemical free treats is to make my own healthy ice pops. They are so easy and very refreshing on a hot day. The other plus besides the fact that they are good for you is that they are very easy to make and they are usually good for you too. I could make my popsicles from juice, but it is high in calories and pure or organic juice can also be fairly expensive. Flavoured tea pops are a delicious option that are low in calories, fits in a clean eating or allergy diet and actually taste great.

Iced Tea and Lemon Ice Pops
2 Tbsp. of a favorite loose leaf tea (or two tea bags)
5 Tbsp. sweetener of your choice (local honey, agave syrup or pure maple syrup)
½ of a fresh lemon
Fruit of your choice (frozen is ok too)
I like to start my Ice pops with a really good tea, I prefer loose leaf teas myself but bags will work too. For the pops I made today I used a tea from Steeped, They are a home based business and they have a wonderful selection of teas. I chose to use ginger peach today, but I have many other teas by other brands of tea that would be equally refreshing. I really enjoy a tea by Silk Road, Japanese sour cherry green tea. I also like to use Twinning’s Citron & Ginger or Stash goji berry green tea. Or you can go very traditional and use a Red Rose or Tetley tea. The only limit is really if the tea tastes good cold or that you like the flavour and scent yourself.

The plant is a lemon tree that I started from seed. I found the yellow pots and they seemed just right for my little trees
The first step in making your iced tea popsicles is to make the tea. For my tea today I used a round tea infuser filled with as much tea as I could fill it with. Fill your kettle with water and bring it to a boil. I add my tea infuser ball, the juice of half a lemon, the remaining lemon half after it is squeezed and the sweetener of choice into a clean pitcher. I try to limit myself to local honey, pure maple syrup or agave. I understand that locally harvested honey is very good for the immune system, especially if you are prone to allergies. Today I was out of honey so I used agave syrup, but usually honey would be my first choice. If you are using a glass pitcher, prepare your tea when the container is room temperature rather than cold as it could break if you pour in the boiling water into a cold container. Give the mixture a little stir with a long spoon, to blend the lemon, sweetener and tea. Let it rest for at least an hour.

I let my tea steep and cool to room temperature or until the tea is a nice colour. 

Remove the tea infuser ball and the lemon rind. Fill your Popsicle containers with your fruit of choice.  Today I used frozen raspberries, as that is what I had on hand, but strawberry, cherry, blueberries or mango would all be good choices. I was even thinking about strawberry rhubarb which I have found to be a perfect ice cream flavour.  If you have other fruit you like it will probably work great too. You could choose a combination of fruit too.

I was given a brewing tip for green tea that I have found really helps to prevent the tea having a bitter taste. Boil your water in your kettle as you would normally. Set a timer when the kettle is done for five minutes. After a five minute resting break, you can now pour the boiled water over the green tea infuser. I do not know why it works, but it does.

Fill the Popsicle holder at least half full with loosely packed fruit and then top it off with your steeped tea mixture. Transfer your Popsicle holder to the freezer and wait until they are frozen solid. You may have to rinse the Popsicle container under running water to release it from the holder when they are ready. Feel free to drink any remaining tea in liquid form too. It is much better than the canned or frozen mix and it only takes moments to prep. There is a delay in time while you wait for the tea to steep. But it is very worth the wait.

At this point you can choose to drink your tea as is, or take the next step and fill your popsicle molds, or better yet do both. Just add a few ice cubes to the glass to cool it down. I really like this style of popsicle holder as they are sealed while they are in the freezer which keeps the flavour pure. It also makes it easier to make more even before the first batch is gone. This creates a continual supply.
As each of my popsicles come in a closed container that rests in an upright holder, I find it very easy to keep the freezer stocked with a supply of popsicles. There is nothing better to cool down with on a very hot day, than an ice pop, except for a cool dip in water. The other advantage to making your own ice pops is the price. If you go to the store to buy premade popsicles they can be rather expensive, while making them yourself is usually more economical. There are just so many reasons to make your own ice pops; it is hard to come up with the justification to buy the readymade treats.

Having your cup of tea works perfect this way. You can serve it any way you choose, hot, cool with ice or frozen.

Thanks for joining me for todays cup of tea. Whaterver you do, try not to melt yourself. 


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