Nicey poles: healthy icy pole recipes

Icy pole season is here! But did you know that some store-bought versions can be laden with added sugar? Why not try these healthier frozen swaps instead. 

Cutting down on sugary drinks like soft drinks, juices and flavoured waters is a no brainer. Especially, if you’re trying to limit your added sugar intake. 

But what about frozen treats, like icy poles? These summer faves are, after all, sometimes made up of the same two core ingredients as most soft drinks: water and sugar. 

We take a look at how much sugar is in regular icy poles, and how you can make simple swaps to cool down this season – the healthier way! 

Limiting added sugar

When the World Health Organization (WHO) issued new sugar guidelines recently, the public health body strongly urged us to look at our ‘free sugar’ intake. 
 
But, what exactly are ‘free sugars’? According to the WHO, free sugars refer to sugars, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose (table sugar) etc, that are added to food and drink by manufacturers, cooks, or that we add to our food at home, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. 
 
It doesn’t, however, refer to the sugars found naturally in fresh fruit (fructose) and vegetables (glucose), or milk (lactose), as there is no evidence that consuming the sugars in these foods is bad for your health. 
 
So, how much free or added sugar can we consume? WHO experts recommend reducing our daily intake of added sugar to less than 10 per cent of our total daily energy intake. For most adults, that’s about 12 teaspoons (48 grams) of added sugar. That’s the absolute maximum. 

To really reap the health benefits though, the WHO recommends cutting this down by half – to 5 per cent or 6 teaspoons (roughly 25 grams) of added sugar. 

Sugar freeze

So back to icy poles… Even if they’re fruity flavoured, many store-bought icy poles are made up of water, sugar and additives.  

The added sugar content in these products can range from 5 grams per serve, or per icy pole, up to 20 grams per serve! That means one humble icy pole treat, be it plain lemonade or raspberry twist, could tip you over your total daily sugar intake. 

Healthier frozen swaps

The good news though is that switching to lower-sugar alternatives can be easy. These tasty fruity homemade icy pole ideas mean you’ll never need to reach for a store-bought version again. Why not try these healthier options instead this summer:
Watermelon, strawberry, raspberry and mint icy poles 
Makes: 12
Difficulty: medium
 
What you will need: 
  • 600ml freshly squeezed watermelon juice*
  • 200g strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 75g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½-1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh mint leaves
What you need to do: 
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until combined and smooth. Strain through a fine sieve (optional). 
  2. Pour into moulds (we used ones that hold 80ml, but you could use anything you desire, take away cups etc.). Freeze until just starting to set. 
  3. Insert pop sticks and freeze until completely frozen (6-8 hours).
  4. To remove icy poles from moulds, dip mould briefly in a room temperature water bath. Pull stick to gently release.
  5. Eat immediately or alternatively place in a container and freeze.
*Note: to make watermelon juice, simply blitz watermelon in a food processor and then pour through a sieve. 
Watermelon icy pole
Tropicalia – mango, pineapple and passionfruit icy poles
Makes: 12
Difficulty: medium
 
What you will need: 
  • 500 ml pineapple - fresh or tinned in natural juice
  • Flesh from 2 mangoes
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Pulp from 1 passionfruit
What you need to do: 
  1. Combine all the ingredients (except passionfruit) in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Stir through passionfruit. 
  3. Pour into moulds (we used ones that hold 80ml, but you could use anything you desire, take away cups etc). Freeze until just starting to set. 
  4. Insert pop sticks and freeze until completely frozen (6-8 hours).
  5. To remove icy poles from moulds, dip mould briefly in a room temperature water bath, and pull stick to gently release.
  6. Eat immediately or alternatively place in a container and freeze.
Berry good smoothie pole
Makes: 6
Difficulty: medium
 
What you will need:
  • 300g strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ⅔ cup plain yoghurt
  • ⅓ cup milk
What you need to do: 
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into moulds and freeze until just starting to set. 
  3. Insert pop sticks and freeze until completely frozen (6-8 hours).
  4. To remove icy poles from moulds, dip mould briefly in a room temperature water bath and pull stick to gently release. 
  5. Eat immediately or alternatively place in a container and freeze.
frozen banana
Frozen choc-dipped bananas
Makes:
Difficulty: Easy peasy
 
What you will need:
  • 4 bananas
  • 200g chocolate (milk, plain or white)
  • Crushed nuts (optional)
  • Coconut flakes (optional)
What you need to do: 
  1. Chop the bananas in half and insert the paddle-pop sticks in the flat end.
  2. Place a sheet of baking paper on a tray and place the bananas on top. 
  3. Place in the freezer for two hours or ideally overnight.
  4. When you fancy a banana icy pole, take the frozen banana out of the freezer and set aside.
  5. Melt your chocolate of choice over a double boiler (or a bowl placed over a saucepan of water.)
  6. When the chocolate is melted and smooth, gently dip your frozen banana in it so the chocolate completely covers it in a thin layer.
  7. If you’re decorating your banana with extra toppings such as crushed nuts roll the chocolate-covered banana in the topping before the chocolate sets. 
  8. Pop back in the fridge to allow it to set and enjoy! 
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