I'm a dietitian and mom. Welcome to my no-judgments zone all about feeding kids! I began this blog in 2009 to reassure fellow moms that it’s okay to not be perfect, not have all the answers, and have kids who prefer mac-n-cheese to mushroom risotto.
These Blueberry Lemon Zucchini Muffins are packed with fresh zucchini and sweet blueberries and drizzled with a lemony glaze.
My name is Sally, and I’m a dietitian who doesn’t like zoodles. This brings me a certain amount of guilt.
I feel like loving zoodles–spiralized zucchini noodles–is practically in my job description. But the truth is that I just don’t. I love real pasta, the kind made with wheat. And when I get a fresh zucchini in my CSA box, I slice it into discs and grill with olive oil and salt. But mostly, I want to make zucchini bread.
This Fudgy Chocolate Zucchini Bread is my go-to. But this time I decided to make muffins instead of a loaf and swap chocolate for one of my favorite flavor combos: blueberries and fresh lemon.
I made a few batches of these as I tinkered with the recipe. Each time, my family devoured them. I also made it in loaf form and included those directions in the recipe below in case that’s what you prefer.
If you’re using frozen blueberries, thaw them first, then toss with a couple teaspoons of flour before adding it to prevent the batter from turning blue!
The lemon glaze is delicious–but of course also optional. The muffins are sweet and yummy without it.
If you want to freeze these muffins or loaf, freeze them without the glaze and add that later once they’re defrosted and ready to eat
The muffins and loaf are both very moist. For me, it worked best to store them in a plastic bag or container that’s only partially closed so they don’t become wet. If you’re not going to eat them in 2-3 days, store them in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease well.
Combine eggs, oil, yogurt, and sugar and mix well. Add vanilla and lemon zest and mix again.
Add flours, baking powder, and salt and stir just until combined.
Fold in zucchini and blueberries.
Divide mixture into muffin pan compartments and bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from muffin pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Mix powdered sugar, lemon juice, and milk until well blended and thin enough to drizzle. If you need to add more milk, add it in a 1/4 teaspoon at a time. Using a spoon, drizzle glaze on the muffins or loaf.
To make a loaf: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a loaf pan. Mix ingredients as indicated above and pour batter into pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Sick of “body after baby” stories about celebrities–but dismayed by changes in your own post-baby body? Here’s some important advice for self-love.
Are you sick of celebrity “body after baby” stories? I am. They’re unrealistic and unfair–and they do nothing to help women at a time when self-love is especially critical. But the truth is, many of us struggle with the changes our bodies go through after pregnancy. So how can you deal with those feelings in a healthy way? I asked Rebecca Scritchfield, author of Body Kindness, to share her wisdom. If you want a free copy of Rebecca’s book, consider participating in her research study about body image in women from pregnancy through five years postpartum. Find out more at the bottom of this post. And anyone can join her free Summer Scale Smash Challenge.
By Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, EP-C
When we’re pregnant, we’re told that we have a beautiful pregnancy glow–only to turn around and be gobsmacked by story after story of celebrities whose bodies miraculously “bounced back” after baby.
It used to be that women were given at least some body grace period. But these days, the message is clear: If you can’t get your pre-baby body back in 6 weeks, there’s definitely something wrong with you. We’re supposed to be in bikinis by the time we’re barely out of ice diapers. It’s not fair.
I did a quick Google search on “postpartum body image” and the headlines read as if it’s absolutely normal for women to be suffering from post-baby body hatred:
“How moms face their body image postpartum.”
“The uncomfortable truth about your post baby body.”
“How I’m learning to love my post baby body.”
This ridiculous pressure to force a body that’s supposed to be healing into submission is rooted in societal expectations of women. The message we get is that our value is in our appearance–and that we should be using all of our resources to achieve the ideal that society says makes us good, powerful, and lovable people.
At a crucial time for mom and baby well-being, we should not be wasting valuable mental energy on self-loathing. We should be putting our effort into shoring up our self-compassion for the bajillion times we’ll inevitably tell ourselves that we’re messing up as parents and not doing anything good enough. (Because we all know we do that!)
Reclaiming a pre-baby body is about just as real as field of unicorns – a magical figment of imagination.
Pregnancy is one of the rare times in life when it’s biologically beneficial for fat cells to divide. After all, you’re supporting two lives. Though they may shrink, fat cells don’t go away. Many women’s bodies, like mine did, hold on to fat throughout nursing. Even when you’re a year or more postpartum, it doesn’t mean you should look like you did before you got pregnant. The truth is that all bodies change over time, whether you have babies or not!
Knowing this, what should we do? It’s important to figure out how we’re going to care for ourselves and grow resilient to these unacceptable messages that our worth should be tied up in our weight.
Appreciate or Accept Yourself
Certainly pregnancy does create body changes. Those are things that should be appreciated and valued and not used as a weapon to limit our worthiness. Reframe your thoughts toward body appreciation when you notice criticism pop up. Or, how about acceptance? Even if you can’t find something you appreciate about your body, can you accept that it just is, releasing the judgment of good or bad? Let me be clear: Acceptance is not apathy. You are not giving up when you accept what is. You can still care about making important changes to your eating and exercise habits, how you cope with stress, or any other change that is important to you.
Compassion Over Comparison
Resist the urge to compare your body to anyone else. It’s a human tendency to “compare and despair” as a way of assessing your self-worth. We can’t help that we do it, but we can control our response. Instead of body bashing yourself, just notice the comparison and give yourself a little mental hug, like you would your kids, letting them know you care. Say “It’s ok to be hurting about this, you are worthy and loved as you are.” This gentle response practically ensures that you will be in a better mindset to consider whatever self-care practices you can manage that moment: a drink of water, sleep, a balanced meal, a quick workout, a hot shower, or a good book.
Your Anger is Valid
Get mad. Go ahead and be angry, but make sure it’s positioned at the right culprit: the culture, not you! There is no such thing as a “bad” or “wrong” body. So what if you have more fat cells or cellulite after kids? Is that really the most important thing in life–or do you appreciate kindness and connection? How do you value being a mother, partner, friend? And how much does body shame interfere with your ability to truly be present and enjoy the moments of happiness you deserve to have? Is it worth it?
Make a Manifesto
I love writing down affirmations and intentions because they help me get through rough spots. Here’s a few to get you started. Add your own.
All bodies are good bodies (yes all bodies).
My body is worthy just for being born and for everything it’s done for me since then.
I respect my body exactly as it is right now even if I wish it would change.
I am fully committed to taking good care of my body as it is right now.
My well-being matters to me more then weight, shape, appearance, and pants size. What do I need right now for my well-being?
I will notice my negative thoughts and feelings, especially when I compare myself to others.
I will treat myself with kindness – the way I hope my children will care for themselves when they are my age – even when it’s difficult.
I have permission to have a bad body moment, day, or week without it being a judgment on how good I’m doing at body acceptance. I’m human.
Becoming a parent changes us, physically and mentally, forever. We will all do better when we embrace this new normal and reject unhelpful demands directed at our bodies. We deserve better.
If you’re either pregnant or up to five years postpartum (and a U.S. resident), consider participating in Rebecca’s research on body image. Now through the end of August, you’ll get a free copy of her book Body Kindness to read and a survey to complete. After finishing the survey, you’ll get a free e-kit she created called Body Kindness After Baby with resources and a video with practical, compassionate advice. Learn more here.
Rebecca Scritchfield is an award winning “health at every size” dietitian and exercise physiologist. She’s author of the book Body Kindness and host of the Body Kindness podcast. She provides one-on-one counseling, virtual support groups, workshops, e-courses, and more.
These healthy homemade yogurt tubes are made with just four wholesome ingredients and then frozen for a special warm-weather treat.
This post was created in partnership with The American Dairy Association North East.
Somehow when yogurt pouches are popped into the freezer, they become a special treat. At least my kids think so.
Frozen homemade yogurt tubes are also easy to DIY. Make them yourself and you know they won’t include extra thickeners, faux flavorings, or synthetic dyes. You’ll also know there’s a whole cup of real fruit in each batch, in the varieties your kids like best–plus calcium, potassium, protein, and vitamin D in each tube.
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Sharpen your grilling skills! These 10 simple tips for grilling burgers and steaks will help you cook juicier, tastier meat.
Thanks to the Ohio Beef Council for sponsoring this post!
Last month I traveled to Colorado with the Ohio Beef Council to visit a cattle ranch and feedlot (more on that in a future post) and learn about cattle farming. Our group also spent a day at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, including time in their culinary center with the chefs. It’s long been a goal of mine to learn how to grill a better burger–and a better steak, which I inevitably overcook. So I was thrilled to pick up a slew of tips (ie: learn what I was doing wrong, which was all the things). In the weeks since, I’ve been putting my newfound knowledge to work at our backyard grill, eventually earning this compliment from my 13 year old: “Mom, this it the best burger you’ve ever made.” Here’s what I learned:
10 Tips for Grilling Burgers and Steaks
1. Clean the gratesbefore you start. Dirty grates are not only gross, but they’ll also give your food a charred flavor you don’t want.
2. Set your grill to medium heat. You’ll know it’s ready when you hold your hand a few inches above the grates and feel heat coming off the grill. Keep in mind that the back of the grill is hotter than the front. So if you want your steaks or burgers to cook evenly, place them in the same location on the grill.
3. Pat your steaks dry. If you’ve marinaded your steaks (or if they’re damp), pat them dry with a paper towel before placing on the grill. Too much moisture on the steaks can cause them to steam or spark flames.
4. Don’t overwork ground beef. Overworking ground meat will toughen it up. To form burgers, roll the beef into a meatball, then gently press into a patty. Using your thumb, create a slight indentation in the center so your burgers don’t puff up in the middle.
5. Only flip steaks and burgers once. Or at least try really hard to only flip once! Every time you flip the meat, you lose some of the juice. How to know when your burger or steak is ready to turn: It will come cleanly off the grill with the spatula. If it’s sticking to the grates, don’t flip it yet.
6. Salt meat AFTER cooking. Salting before can pull out moisture. (Mind blown with this one–I had always salted meat first!)
7. Create fancy grill marks. To get those steakhouse-style grill marks on your meat, use tongs and turn the meat from 10pm to 2pm partway through cooking.
8. Avoid the dreaded spatula squeeze: Don’t press down on your burgers or steaks as they’re cooking–you’ll squeeze out some of the juices!
9. Use a meat thermometerto determine when your steaks & burgers are done. Don’t be like my former self and cut into them to peek at the color, allowing precious juice to escape. Color doesn’t tell you the whole story anyway. Instead, insert a thermometer into the center. Remove burgers when they’ve reached 160 degrees F. Remove steaks when they’ve reached 10 degrees lower than the target temperature for the doneness you like best:
Medium rare: Remove at 135 degrees F (so it reaches 145)
Medium: Remove at 150 degrees F (so it reaches 160)
Well done: Remove at 160 degrees F (so it reaches 170)
After you remove your steak or burger from the grill be sure to let it rest for 5—7 minutes to let it finish cooking. This will also ensure you have a great juicy steak or burger.
10. Toast your buns: Place your hamburger buns on the grill briefly so they’ll be crisp, not soggy, when you pile on your burgers and toppings. This quick step makes a big difference!
Here are more tips for cooking beef–including selecting the right cuts–from Beef It’s What’s For Dinner.
Apologies if I seem un-American with this confession, but I’ve never been wild about traditional backyard cookouts. I know most people love them, but I’m just not a big fan of foods like hot dogs and baked beans.
Thankfully, I’ve noticed cookout menus are expanding, featuring foods beyond the burgers and potato salad of my childhood.
This Power Salad With Citrus Vinaigrette, created by ALDI Test Kitchen chefs, is totally something I’d bring to a cookout. It features shredded cabbage, Brussels sprouts, arugula, nuts, and dried fruit, tossed with a sweet and zesty vinaigrette dressing. Toss it together for your next cookout, and I’m guessing there will be a lot of guests (like me) who welcome something healthy and unexpected alongside the classics.
Veggie burgers: For guests who are vegan or vegetarian, or who want a change from burgers and dogs, ALDI has a new line of Earth Grown patties, including a Black Bean Chipotle Burger and Quinoa Crunch Veggie Burger you can cook on the grill.
Gluten-free snacks: If you have guests who need to avoid gluten, pick up a package of ALDI snacks like liveGfree Gluten Free Pretzel Mini Twists or liveGfree Black Sesame Brown Rice Crisps (their entire liveGfree line just earned the prestigious Good Housekeeping Seal, so you know they’re good!).
A quick marinade makes these Grilled Turkey Kebabs flavorful and juicy. This is a quick, family-friendly weeknight meal your kids will enjoy!
Thanks to the National Turkey Federation for sponsoring this post!
I had fallen into the Turkey Trap: packing turkey sandwiches in lunch boxes, using ground turkey in burgers and tacos, devouring turkey and all the trimmings on Thanksgiving, and calling it a day.
Why it hadn’t occurred to me to explore the many other cuts of turkey in the meat case is beyond me. But as soon as I did, it was like a whole new avenue suddenly opened up in my weekly meal plan. Now meals like Slow Cooker Turkey Tenderloin and Turkey Pot Pie are part of our dinner rotation, and my family is thrilled. (June happens to be Turkey Lovers’ Month®–
Is coconut oil healthy and worthy of its hype? Here are the facts you need to know about this trendy fat–and what YOU should do.
It’s a frustrating fact that certain foods and nutrients seem to fall in and out of favor among health experts, depending on what the latest science says. So what does it all mean for you and your family?
This is the second post in my new blog series Nutrition Flip-Flops. I’ll give you the lowdown on what we used to think, what we know now, and what YOU should do. Last time I tackled the topic of SALT. This post addresses COCONUT OIL.
Is Coconut Oil Healthy? The Backstory
This tropical oil used to be enemy #1 among many health advocates. It was accused of being “artery-clogging” because more than 80 percent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated fat, the kind linked to increased cholesterol levels that can up the risk for heart disease. Coconut oil actually contains a higher percentage of saturated fat than butter or even lard.
Is Coconut Oil Healthy? The Latest
In a survey conducted by The New York Times two years ago, nearly three-quarters of consumers labeled coconut oil as “healthy”. So why the sudden change? With more people eating a vegan or plant-focused diet, there was a greater need for a fat that could fill in for butter in baking and cooking (but contain no animal products). Wellness gurus began touting coconut oil for everything from weight loss, stress reduction, and clearer skin to hormone imbalances and Alzheimer’s disease.
Some scientists also started backtracking on the idea that saturated fat was a cholesterol-raising villain after all. They also pointed out that half of the saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, a kind that doesn’t raise “bad” LDL cholesterol as much as other kinds–and that may even boost “good” HDL cholesterol. The net effect might be that coconut oil has a neutral impact on cholesterol levels. They also argued that coconut oil is only damaging to health when it’s hydrogenated, which creates trans fats (the kind of coconut oil you buy in jars is not hydrogenated).
At the height of coconut oil fever, The American Heart Association made waves last year when they released a Presidential Advisory that recommended against using coconut oil. In their analysis of dozens of studies, they concluded that the the LDL-raising effects of coconut oil cannot be discounted, since elevated LDL is a risk for cardiovascular disease. They also argued that there are no proven favorable effects of using it.
Is Coconut Oil Healthy? What YOU Should Do
Remember that New York Times survey showing nearly 75 percent of consumers say coconut oil is healthy? In that same survey, only 37 percent of nutrition professionals said the same. Like so many things, this isn’t black and white–or even healthy or unhealthy. The answer is somewhere in the middle. So here’s my advice:
Don’t scoop with reckless abandon. If you like the flavor of coconut oil, use it. But remember that it’s easy to go overboard and take in a lot of calories very quickly (about 240 for two tablespoons).
Keep other healthy fats in the mix. There’s simply not as much evidence that coconut oil is beneficial to health in the same way that liquid vegetable oils like canola and olive oil are. Canola and olive are both a mix of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and have been shown in research to be good for your heart.
Be wary of weight loss claims. Coconut oil contains a kind of fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that are thought to be burned quicker by the body than long-chain fatty acids. But the studies that are cited about weight loss use something called MCT oil, which is 100 percent MCT. Regular coconut oil is less than 20 percent MCT. Since it’s unclear whether the research findings on MCT also apply to regular coconut oil, it’s smart to use it sparingly, like you would any other oil.
Ditto for miracle health promises. There is some research being done with the kinds of fats in coconut oil and diseases like Alzheimer’s and diabetes. But the research is in early stages, so it’s largely speculation at this point. Including coconut oil along with other oils in a healthy diet is a reasonable approach. But coconut oil will not cure disease.
Learn the label lingo. Know what you’re getting in your jar. Here are some terms you’ll see on labels:
“Unrefined” or “Virgin”: This oil is extracted from fresh coconut meat, and no further processing was done. It will have a deeper, tropical flavor. Not recommended for high-heat cooking like frying.
“Refined”: This oil is extracted from dried coconut meat and undergoes some kind of processing like steaming, filtering, and bleaching to remove impurities and pigments. This oil has a more neutral flavor and a higher smoke point, so it’s better for higher-heat cooking than unrefined.
“Cold-pressed” and “expeller-pressed”: The oil was extracted by a machine that presses and grinds the coconut. Cold-pressed is done at a lower temperature to lock in more flavor. No additional chemicals are used in these methods, and these oils tend to be more expensive.
Beware the health halo. Just because a recipe swaps out butter or vegetable oil for coconut oil doesn’t make it automatically “healthy”–no matter what Pinterest tells you. Desserts are still desserts, no matter what kind of fat is used.
I’ve always had a sensitive stomach, even as a kid. I remember my mom taking me to the pediatrician, who wasn’t sure how to explain my recurring tummy pain. In college and my early 20s, stress and worry (and a not-so-nutritious diet) added fuel to the fire. A doctor eventually told me I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). And though I was happy to finally have a name for it, I didn’t yet know how to feel better.
IBS may be thought of as a grown-up condition, but it actually affects up to 20 percent of kids too. It’s marked by symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation that really impact quality of life. Nobody’s sure what exactly causes IBS, but stress seems to aggravate it. Genetics and the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut may play a role too.
What helps a lot of people with IBS is a low-FODMAPs diet, which limits certain kinds of carbohydrates—namely ones that tend to be poorly digested by some people such as those found in wheat, beans, dairy, certain fruits and vegetables, and some sugar substitutes. (“FODMAP” stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, the classes of these carbohydrates.) For people with IBS, one or more of these classes worsen symptoms like gas and bloating.
Examples of high-FODMAPs foods are watermelon, onions, chicory root, chickpeas, ice cream, honey, and apple juice. To figure out which FODMAPs are provoking symptoms, you eliminate all high-FODMAPs foods for a few weeks, then slowly reintroduce them, one class at a time. (Get a free FODMAP Guide and a FODMAPs food list.)
Trouble is, some parents may confuse their child’s IBS symptoms with celiac disease (which is much less common, affecting only one percent of the population) and cut out gluten. While cutting out wheat may be helpful for some kids with IBS, many gluten-free foods and drinks are actually high in the other FODMAPs.
In a study published in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers analyzed kid-friendly foods and drinks that were assumed to be low in FODMAPs including breads, snacks, cereal, and dairy alternatives. They found that many were actually high in FODMAPs, including gluten-free bread, muffins, and cereal. For instance, the gluten-free bread and cereal they tested were both high in fructose (a monosaccharide and the “M” in FODMAPs).
What To Do
The best way to figure out if your child is suffering from IBS (or celiac disease) is to see your pediatrician, who can refer you to a specialist if needed. IBS may be diagnosed if a child has abdominal pain and discomfort once per week for at least two months, without another disease or injury that could explain the pain. Kids may have constipation or diarrhea, and symptoms often improve after having a bowel movement. You can read more about IBS and kids, including how it’s diagnosed and what tests may be given, here.
I don’t remember what I did before podcasts came into my life. Actually I do: I did housework in silence and skipped through the songs on my iPod wondering if I should download something recorded before 1995.
These days, I listen to podcasts when I’m getting ready in the morning, when I’m driving, when I’m cooking, and when I’m in my office. I turn on a podcast, stick my iPhone in my pocket, and clean the house or do laundry. It makes the time fly. And I learn new things with every episode, which feels like the ultimate multi-task win.
In case you’re new to podcasts too–or just want some fresh ideas–here are some of my recent favorites. I’ve included the podcast’s description from iTunes or their homepage, plus why I like it.
New to podcasts? Download an app for your device such as Overcast (for iOS) or Stitcher (for either iOS or Android) and search for podcasts by name or subject. When you find a podcast you like, subscribe to get new episodes delivered when they’re released.
Description: This Unmillennial Life is a podcast that offers a roadmap through midlife for women who’ve fallen into a generational gap.
Why I like it: This podcast has a way of reading my mind. It covers the questions and topics that are most relevant to where I am in my life right now–like what do I say to a friend who has a serious illness, why can’t I sleep, and what’s the deal with Botox, grocery delivery, and those period-underwear I see advertised on Facebook? They’re the topics you sit around and talk to your friends about, all presented in a non-judgey, we’re-in-this-together tone.
Description: Debra Newell is a successful interior designer. She meets John Meehan, a handsome man who seems to check all the boxes: attentive, available, just back from a year in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders. But her family doesn’t like John, and they get entangled in an increasingly complex web of love, deception, forgiveness, denial, and ultimately, survival.
Why I like it: This jaw-dropping story pulled me in right from the start, and I couldn’t wait to see where it all led.
Description: Being a person is hard, and The Lazy Genius Podcast is here to help you be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t. From laundry to cooking chicken to making new friends, Kendra is here to welcome you into an easier way.
Why I like it: I really like this gal. She’s funny and genuine and just makes me feel better about life. Episodes range from coping with family tension and setting goals to cleaning the bathroom and shopping at Costco.
Description: When Elizabeth Andes was found murdered in her Ohio apartment in 1978, police and prosecutors decided within hours it was an open-and-shut case. Two juries disagreed. The Cincinnati Enquirer investigates: Was the right guy charged, or did a killer walk free?
Why I like it: I found it as addictive as the first season of Serial, with multiple suspects, twists, and turns.
Description: Provocative, up-to-the-minute, alive and witty, KCRW’s weekly confrontation over politics, policy and popular culture proves those with impeccable credentials needn’t lack personality. An antidote to the self-contained opinion bubbles that dominate political debate.
Why I like it: The panel includes, true to the podcast’s name, people from the left, right, and center, so you hear multiple perspectives and opinions on a range of topics. I truly appreciate hearing all sides of the issues.
Description: Journalism’s most insightful interviewer. The biggest names in news, politics, and popular culture. Candid, unscripted conversations that go beyond the soundbites to reveal how we got here and what’s really going on. Unexpected. Unconventional. Un-buttoned up.
Why I like it: I have always liked Katie Couric and her breezy, friendly style. And I love that she’s still a relevant voice in news and media, doing these in-depth interviews of everyone from actresses like Amy Schumer and Laverne Cox to political figures like Maxine Waters and Christine Todd Whitman.
Description: Slate editors and guests review and debate the latest parenting news, and try to stay civil..
Why I like it: The panel chats about all things parenting and kids, from toddlers to teenagers. They begin every episode talking about a parenting “triumph” or “fail” they each had that week and then debate topics like potty training, how to handle hormone-addled teenagers, and getting along with your spouse’s ex. (They also drop some f-bombs, so be aware of that if you’re listening with your kids around!)
Do YOU have any favorite podcasts you recommend? I’d love to add more to my playlist!
How to make homemade fruit soda using just four ingredients, including real fruit! Perfect for parties and special occasions.
Thank you to the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association for sponsoring this post.
In our household, we have a love-hate relationship with soda. Meaning, my kids love it. I hate it.
I’m okay with my two boys having an occasional soda at a restaurant, but I generally keep it out of the house. Even for parties. (Yes, I’m THAT mom.)
One fizzy exception is seltzer water. I like that it’s unsweetened but still seems sort of special. My kids like it too, especially with a splash of fruit juice.
It occurred to me that I could make my own party-worthy soda using actual, real fruit. Imagine that: A berry-flavored soda made with actual berries—and no funny additives or artificial ingredients.
My freezer is always full of frozen fruit, which I toss into smoothies and oatmeal almost every single day. Going frozen over fresh means there’s no risk of waste, since leftovers simply go back into the freezer. And because frozen fruits (and veggies) are typically frozen quickly after being harvested at their peak, nutrients and flavor are locked in. Cascadian Farm frozen fruit is organic and made with just one ingredient (whole fruit), no added sugar or flavors needed. And the fruit is so naturally sweet and good, I’ve taken to eating a little bowlful of frozen berries at night when I’m watching a show because they’re like little bites of sorbet!
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE REAL FRUIT SODA
To make real fruit soda, make a simple syrup with frozen fruit. You can use any variety of fruit your kids like best. For a party, I like the idea of mixing up a few different syrups and offering kids a choice.
A classic simple syrup is made with granulated sugar and water, but you can swap in honey if you prefer. Simmer the mixture on the stove, pressing the fruit with the back of a spoon (or using a potato masher) to extract the juice. Then let it steep to infuse even more of the fruit flavor into the syrup.
Strain the mixture so it’s completely smooth.
Pour a quarter-cup of the fruit puree into a glass with ice (more or less to taste), top with about a cup of plain seltzer, and enjoy!
Yes, homemade fruit soda still a sweet, special occasion drink, with about 7 teaspoons of added sugar per glass. But that still beats the ten you kids would get in a can of soda.
Real Fruit Soda Simple Syrup
2 cups Cascadian Farm frozen fruit (plus more for optional garnish)
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar (or 2/3 cup honey)
Place frozen fruit and water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring or mashing to break up the fruit.
Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and allow to steep for 45 minutes.
Pour mixture through a strainer, using a spoon to stir and push the liquid through. Chill the mixture until ready to use.
To serve, pour one-quarter-cup puree into the bottom of a glass with ice (you can add less puree for less sugar, but one-quarter-cup is the amount my kids liked best). Top with about one cup of seltzer and garnish with more frozen fruit if desired.
I’m happy to be partnering with the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association this year because I couldn’t get by without the foods I find in the frozen and dairy aisles of the store. I don’t have the time or patience to make everything from scratch–and I don’t feel like I have to, since there are plenty of nutritious, convenient frozen and refrigerated foods that make meal prep (and life in general) a lot easier.