Blueberry Pie Probiotic Popsicles
My big habit this summer has been to turn anything and everything into a popsicle. We had a lot of extra blueberries this week and I wanted to do something fun with them. I also had some leftover Biokplus (liquid probiotic supplement) in blueberry flavor so decided to layer it all into a popsicle mold and see what happens. I basically used the same layered set up as an old raspberry cobbler pops recipe I did a couple years ago with cookie crumbs and yogurt, but this time added fresh blueberries and a layer of the Bio K for the top layer and they came out fantastic! The combination of the icy, the creamy, and the crunchy makes these Blueberry Pie Probiotic Popsicles just as tantalizing for adults as it is for kids. I secretly just ate 2 while Maisie and Tommy were napping. Now for the question...
What makes these probiotic popsicles?
Probiotics essentially means, for life. According to the World Health Organization probiotics are "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host." This includes fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir, as well as supplements for their concentration of freeze-dried bacteria. Humans have been consuming probiotics for thousands of years in the form of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria and others.
Yogurt contains a concentrated form of this beneficial bacteria as it greatly benefits gut health. The key is to choose a kind that’s low in sugar and other additives and free of antibiotics. I’m not a fan of the “lite” or fat-free varieties since they’re void of nutrition (remember they eliminate the fat which helps stabilize blood sugar and register to the body that it’s eaten) and often contain more of the undesirable ingredients I mentioned above. There are also several dairy-free yogurts usually made of cashew or coconut that can work, though the protein levels are a bit less. Organic Kefir is also a great option. It’s a bit thinner than yogurt but has a nice concentrated form of beneficial bacteria. I often use it for smoothies and baking.
Siggi’s brand (though not officially organic) contains no growth hormones and staying true to Icelandic tradition, does not contain any artificial preservatives, thickeners, sweeteners, flavors or colors.. I also tend to reach for plain organic brands like Stonyfield, Maple Hill, and Wallaby Greek, and add my own fruit or mix with a flavored to cut sugar by 50%. But really, if you can get your hands on yogurt from a local farm that’s always the best option. Most of these varieties also offer Kefir so it’s nice to switch it up.
Vani Hari (the food babe), a detective in the food industry and healthy eating advocate, has a tremendous blog post about what’s in your most popular yogurt brands and how to best navigate the world of dairy.
These are some brands to consider tossing if they’re already in your fridge
Yogurt, like so many other healthy “real” foods have been turned into junk foods by the large food industries so be extra careful when you see things marketed to children. This goes for any food product really. Maisie can watch Elmo on Sesame street. She doesn’t need to see him on a box of food.
Tommy and Maisie both take good quality probiotic supplements daily. Some in powders, and some chewable. I like to switch off brands every few months to be sure the bacteria content is varied. There are also liquid brands (found in the fridge aisle of health food store) and one of those is Bio K. These are a bit pricey but I keep a few on hand for belly aches or acute constipation for it’s fast-acting liquid delivery, and because I think they’re super sweet, turn into popsicles in the summertime.
Several scientific studies have linked the strains in this product to reduction of gastrointestinal symptoms, antibiotic associated diarrhea, reduction of cancer cells, and clostridium difficile infections. Simply put...both adults and kids need good bugs!
Note: Freezing these probiotics will put them into a dormant state then reactivate once warmed inside the body so benefits are not lost.
For more info on gut health see my post, How to build a Healthy Gut.
What blueberries can do for you
Blueberries are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat for their concentration of polyphenols (plant compounds that have been shown to enhance cognitive performance, digestive, and cardiovascular health.) Foods with deep rich, blue and purple pigments are responsible for these benefits. Their antioxidant concentration also makes them at the top of the list for cancer prevention.
I eat a handful every morning in the summer and add frozen to smoothies in the winter. They’re also great in salads, yogurt parfaits, chia pudding, muffins and oatmeals.
Tommy and daddy picked some wild blueberries I used for this (see picture above). Getting the kids involved in the process of how food gets onto our plate has opened up more possibilities in the kitchen as their eating habits begin to follow suit. Maisie (20 months) eats pretty much everything I eat but Tommy (4) has some sensory issues so with him I need to get a bit more creative and allow him the space to explore.
Blueberry Pie Probiotic Popsicles
These made about 12 pops (feel free to ½ the recipe to make 6). I began with 1 cup cookie crumbs and had some leftover. Don’t feel like each section has to be measured precisely. They come out pretty no matter what.
1 ripe banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 cups full fat yogurt (I used siggis vanilla)
½ cup fresh blueberries (to layer in)
1 cup cookie crumbs, processed in food processor (homemade or any healthy brand you like)
2-3 Bio K blueberry probiotic cups (or any flavor you wish)
Popsicle molds (I used my favorite silicone molds with wooden sticks)
Process the banana and berries in food processor until smooth. You can also mash with fork or use stick blender. Set aside.
Process cookie crumbs into a second bowl and set aside.
Fill the molds beginning with the yogurt (about 2.5 Tbsp in each). Then add 1-2 tsp cookie crumbs, small handful of berries (maybe 6), and finally about 6-8 Tbsp of the bio K. This format is extremely forgiving since the pops come out pretty anyway you set it up. All popsicle mold sizes are different. If pops aren’t all the way filled, feel free to add an extra layer of yogurt, puree, berries, or bio K until about full.
Place in freezer and freeze 6-8 hours or overnight.
Pop out of molds and serve!
If you’re loving the healthy summer treats, be sure to check out these recipes too!
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Baldwin, C., M. Millette, M.T. Ruiz, F.M. Luquet, D. Oth, M. Lacroix. 2010. Probiotic L. acidophilus and L. casei mix sensitize tumoral cells to 5-fluorouracil-induced apoptosis. Nutrition and Cancer, 62:371-378.
Textbook of Nat Med Hawrelak Probiotics Chapter 116