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Sweet Dreams?

My dad has no tolerance for sugar. We know he’s not diabetic, but even a sip of Gingerale has been known to make him sleepy. Sweets hardly tempt him anymore, but one particularly unbearable summer in Alabama, he reached for a box of sugar-free popsicles. I joked that the only real ingredient in those treats was water, but they were cold, and as far as we knew, harmless. For a while he snacked on those “cherry,” “orange,” and “grape” pops frequently, sometimes finishing a box of eight in a weekend.

Then the weird dreams started. He didn’t get into specifics with me over the phone, but used “hallucinatory” more than once. We didn’t make the connection for weeks. Was it stress? Indigestion? Hypnosis? My dad, being the practical scientist that he is, looked at the ingredient label for his only indulgence and came up with a theory. Two weeks without the flavored chemicals in his system, and the dreams stopped entirely.

Being lactose intolerant myself (another sugar-phobic quality inherited from my dad) I had my own love-hate relationship with popsicles. When the ice cream truck came through our neighborhood, my friends dripped chocolate dipped cones and cookie ice cream sandwiches down their chins while I sucked on my 25 cent cherry popsicle. The ice cream man had to dig around in his freezer to find an old stash—most had leached all their flavor and stuck to my tongue when I finally took a bite.

But times have changed. An ice pop made with fresh, natural fruit is, to me, the most refreshing way to cool off on a hot summer day. The combinations are endless, and adding an unexpected herb or spice really amplifies the fruit and excites the palette (much like a cocktail). How about peach and ginger? Raspberry and basil? Pomegranate and lime? A fresh ice pop is a canvas for creativity, not to mention easy to make, pretty to look at, and healthier than the ice cream truck (or chemically enhanced) alternatives.

Try our recipe for Minted Watermelon and Lemon Ice Pops and check out homemade pop recipes from some of out sister publications. Delicious!