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Mom And Pop-sicles

During the dog days of summer, nothing is more refreshing than an icy cold popsicle.

But chances are those sticky pops from your childhood are a little too sweet for your taste buds now.

As part of The Early Show's continuing series "Simple Solutions," the folks at Real Simple magazine set out to find the best store-bought treats, and even devised some easy pops you can make at home.

Top Popsicles For Adult Taste Buds

  • Dole Fruit 'N Juice Frozen Fruit Bars / Strawberry:
    This pop was found to be the favorite. Testers liked the chunks of real strawberries blended in, saying they tempered the sweetness and made for a more natural overall flavor.
  • Edy's Whole Fruit Fruit Bars / Strawberry:
    This pop was a close second. Again, testers thought it tasted very much like fresh strawberries and wasn't overly sweet.
  • Luigi's Real Italian Ice / Lemon:
    This sweet-tart treat was called "refreshing" and "as thirst-quenching as ice water."

    Make Your Own Popsicles

    Here are some recipes from Real Simple that are easy enough for kids to join you in the kitchen.

    Lemon-Blueberry Twist Pops
    Drain one 15-ounce can of blueberries, reserving the juice. Set aside 1/3 cup of the blueberries. Puree the remaining berries and 1 tablespoon of juice in blender. Fold in the reserved berries. In a small bowl, whisk two 6-ounce cups of custard-style lemon yogurt with 1/2 cup of milk. In pop molds or 3-ounce paper cups, alternate 2 rounded tablespoons of the yogurt mixture with 1 tablespoon of blueberry mixture. Swirl with knife, cover and freeze.

    Use canned blueberries instead of fresh or frozen because they are packed in juice and the flavor is concentrated. Also, canned blueberries are available all over the country, all year long.

    It's also important to use thick custard-style yogurt because it contains less water and will not separate when frozen.

    Raspberry Pops
    Combine 1-1/2 cups fresh raspberries, 1 cup raspberry juice drink, and 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup (or creme de cassis) in a blender and process until smooth. Add one or two raspberries to the pop molds or 3-ounce paper cups. Fold an additional cup of raspberries into the blended mixture and spoon into the molds or cups. Cover and freeze until firm.

    Mandarin Orange Cream Pops
    Place one 11-ounce can of mandarin orange sections (drained) in a blender and pulse to puree. Add two cups softened vanilla ice cream and 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest and pulse until well blended. Spoon the mixture into pop molds or 3-ounce paper cups. Cover and freeze until firm. For a lower-calorie recipe, halve the vanilla ice cream and add 1 cup of orange sherbet.

    Mint-Melon Pops
    Puree 1-1/2 cups cantaloupe chunks and 1 tablespoon of orange juice in a blender. Divide the mixture between pop molds or 3-ounce paper cups. Freeze until the top becomes firm, 30 minutes. Rinse the blender, then puree 1-1/2 cups honeydew chunks, 1 tablespoon of thawed limeade concentrate, and 2 mint leaves. Remove the molds from freezer and top with the honeydew mixture. Cover and freeze.

    General Tips
    Molds - You can buy popsicle molds almost anywhere, but you can also experiment with paper cups, conical water-cooler cups, ice cube trays and even tart tins.

    Sticks - Standard popsicle sticks are widely available - everywhere from arts and crafts stores to Williams-Sonoma. You can also buy skinny sticks that look more like lollipop sticks. The old-fashioned kind still works best.

    Freezing - It will take about three hours for your popsicles to freeze through completely. You can push a stick into the pop after it's been in the freezer for an hour or so.

    Real Simpler - Anyone who doesn't want to take the time to make popsicles can add chunks of fruit to ice cube trays with a splash of water. Drop these colorful cubes into sparkling water, teas or fruit juice for a special touch when entertaining.

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