Cool Cantaloupe Pops

CC Pics 014

There’s a bad apple in every bunch. And there’s often a lot of bad bunches of produce. It’s especially true these days. It can be so hard to find a bunch, bushel, or bag of fruit that’s not bad. As someone who eats an exorbitant amount of fresh produce on the regular, I know this to be true. I sometimes wonder if producers know that American markets know nothing about picking ripe, fresh produce. I’m no expert, by any means, but for all the time I’ve spent picking out produce, I’ve come to question this.CC Pics 024

The positive is that I’ve also learned a few how-to’s along the way. Sometimes when I’ve had one too many bad picks–pale, tasteless grapefruit and old, flavorless spaghetti squash being the biggest repeat offenders–I look online for tips. Other times, I look to whoever is standing close to me and looks like they know what they’re doing.

So when I was standing at Hy-Vee contemplating cantaloupe, I asked the woman to my right, who was also thumbing through, thumping, and smelling every melon in the bin. And let me tell you, she knew what she was doing. In an all-business tone, she let me know that a nice golden rind is going to be the freshest, juiciest, most flavorful pick. She was also frustrated that we couldn’t smell them. I knew about the smelling-for-sweetness trick, but what she told me next surprised me: If they wash them well, you can’t smell them for ripeness; the smell gets scrubbed off.CC Pics 025

Did I pick a winner?

You bet. It was good. Plus I let it sit on my warm kitchen countertop in my anti-AC apartment for a few days to ripen up a bit more. Oh, my sweetness! It was…

And then I turned 1/4 of that Candy Cantaloupe into this: Pops! You know I’m a popsicle fiend, especially during these hot summer days. So while I resist faux coolant, I find a pleasurable defense in popsicles. And these ones are good! I know I say that often, but seriously, the cantaloupe, a little stevia for sweetness, and a little yo for smoothness makes this recipe better than any Dreamsicle I’ve had. Cross my heart and have my cantaloupe if I’d steer you wrong. Try it!

Makes 4 medium-sized popsicles or six small ones.CC Pics 026

Ingredients

1 cup cantaloupe chunks

spritz of lemon

splash of vanilla

1 T stevia

1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt (dairy-free coconut is the best!)

Directions

Cover of Pops! by Krystina Castella whom I interviewed for a summer 2011 feature in the Kansas City Star. Click the image to link to that story.

Cover of Pops! by Krystina Castella whom I interviewed for a summer 2011 feature in the Kansas City Star. Click the image to link to that story.

So easy. Place your fruit and all other ingredients in blender. Blend ’til smooth.

If you like, drop a few more thin slices of cantaloupe (or other pretty fruit, like orange slices without the rind) down the sides of your pop molds and then distribute your blended concoction evenly between the molds. Freeze for 3-4 hours or until solid.

Advertisements

Sweet-On-You Valentine’s Fruit Skewers

SAM_4898

So you can put any kind of fruit on any kind of skewer, chill it, and it will add a lovely, bright touch to any potluck.SAM_4897

Or you can bring out your inner-Martha side and pick fruits you can shape. Melons are great for this.

As you can see, I had a Valentine’s Day potluck for my writing center. Wanting to deliver a healthy treat, I picked the reds (no, not wine, strawberries!!) and used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to shape the pinks (watermelon, not kisses).

They were pretty adorable.SAM_4893

And they must have been good because I didn’t even get to try one. They were gone in a flash, and that just proves my theory on presentation and my theory on healthy choices. On presentation, that’s 50% of a good dish. On healthy choices, I don’t care when anyone grumbles, they always reach for it and appreciate it.SAM_4896

Canta-nana Chiller

Those that know me know I’m not a big drinker. I like the idea of happy hour because, in theory, it’s a time to kick back, unwind, and connect with a good group of friends. There’s no greater form of social engagement than sharing a meal or a drink.

But because I almost never drink, I often feel like I miss out on this “sharing,” if you will, and the delicious frozen drinks that come with it.

That’s why I love making this Canta-nana Chiller for my nearest and dearest. It’s very similar to my watermelon-banana frosty, but it’s more of a subtle sweet.

Of course, this recipe only makes one, but I hope you end up doubling or tripling or quadrupling to share with others.

Ingredients

1 cup cantaloupe, cubed or balled

1/2 banana, frozen and sliced

splash of vanilla

twist of lemon

optional: stevia or organic maple syrup

optional: rum, gin, or other spirit of choice

Directions

Simply blend the frozen fruit for a few minutes, then add in remaining ingredients. If you have a frappe option, I recommend using that.