My dad has no tolerance for sugar. We know he’s notdiabetic, but even a sip of Gingerale has been known to make him sleepy. Sweetshardly tempt him anymore, but one particularly unbearable summer in Alabama, hereached for a box of sugar-free popsicles. I joked that the only realingredient in those treats was water, but they were cold, and as far as weknew, 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 specificswith me over the phone, but used “hallucinatory” more than once. We didn’t makethe connection for weeks. Was it stress? Indigestion? Hypnosis? My dad, beingthe practical scientist that he is, looked at the ingredient label for his onlyindulgence and came up with a theory. Two weeks without the flavored chemicalsin his system, and the dreams stopped entirely.

Being lactose intolerant myself (another sugar-phobicquality inherited from my dad) I had my own love-hate relationship withpopsicles. When the ice cream truck came through our neighborhood, my friendsdripped chocolate dipped cones and cookie ice cream sandwiches down their chinswhile I sucked on my 25 cent cherry popsicle. The ice cream man had to digaround in his freezer to find an old stash—most had leached all their flavor andstuck to my tongue when I finally took a bite.

But times have changed. An ice pop made with fresh, naturalfruit is, to me, the most refreshing way to cool off on a hot summer day. Thecombinations are endless, and adding an unexpected herb or spice reallyamplifies the fruit and excites the palette (much like a cocktail). How aboutpeach and ginger? Raspberry and basil? Pomegranate and lime? A fresh ice pop isa canvas for creativity, not to mention easy to make, pretty to look at, andhealthier 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!