Dad’s Coconut Peach Pops
When I was a child, as soon as school let out each year, we would pack up our worldly possessions (which for me was rarely more than a few Barbies, some old paperbacks from a garage sale and three bathing suits…actually, that was the sum total of my worldly possessions) and drive our groaning old van three hours north to the cottage. We were lucky, really, because having parents who worked for the school board meant that everyone in the family had summers off. My friends would wile away the hours in town by spreading out on the couch and sullenly watching terrible summer soap operas, or getting shipped off to day camps where all of the crafts involved egg cartons, regardless of the age group, and it was unheard of to return without nits in your hair. We spent the days swimming from the dock to the raft, back to the dock, over to our neighbor’s raft, back to our own raft, and back to the dock. We would fish for spiny little rock bass, paddle down to the deserted end of the lake and dare each other to get in the darker, murky water, and chase each other with sticks when we needed some variety. Again, as children, my brothers and I were very fortunate.
After tearing around in the sun for a few hours, we would be craving refreshment. My father would always oblige, ambling out to the deck with homemade iced tea garnished with mint sprigs from the garden, freshly squeezed lemonade and a chunky oatmeal cookie, or a healthful fruity Popsicle, each one wrapped in waxed paper and handed to us with a flourish.
The thing was, at our house we would get orange juice thinned with 6 tins of water to dilute the natural sugar content. If I ran across the beach to a friend’s house, we would get sweet, delicious Tang! At our house, there were raisin oatmeal cookies made with a sprinkle of wheat germ on top. At their house, there were Moon Pies and Wagon Wheels! They had fudgesicles, freezies and Tiger Tail ice cream. We had Popsicle made with yogurt and seasonal fruits. Sure, you may be nodding your head and saying, “Oh yes, you WERE a fortunate child! What healthful and delicious treats!” Well, let me tell you. At six years old, when you’re gazing longingly at your best friend’s AstroPop, keening for your teeth to turn the same unholy shade of teal, a yogurt pop doesn’t hold a lot of charm.
The thing was, they were delicious. Gently sweet without giving you a sugary stomach cramp that would delay swimming back to the raft (and back to the dock…and back to the raft), they were nutritious, refreshing, and the perfect treat for a summer’s afternoon. My brothers and I would gobble them up as soon as they were set, and our friends also couldn’t seem to get enough.
The ingredients were always simple enough; my Dad would blend together his healthy homemade yogurt with raspberries and peaches, blueberries and apricots, or strawberries and banana. There were no secrets, no hidden ingredients, and just a drizzle of honey to sweeten the pops if the fruit wasn’t enough. My favorite Popsicle, which was accordingly the one that he made most often, was a peach and coconut pop. When fresh, sweet and juicy Ontario peaches were at their peak, he would blend them together with yogurt, honey, and a few handfuls of dessicated coconut. That may sound like an odd combination, but the shredded coconut would leave the pops with a coarser, nubbly texture that, frankly, was just fun to lick. Making these pops brings back memories of those hot, happy summers by the lake, and reminds me how lucky I am to have such an awesome Dad.
Coconut Peach Pops
Makes 6 Popsicle, 4 oz each
- 4 very ripe peaches
- 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt *
- 1/2 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut **
- 2 tbsp wildflower honey
- pinch of salt
* Greek yogurt will yield a slightly creamier pop, but regular unsweetened natural yogurt is fine.
** If you don’t like texture and prefer a smooth pop, substitute 1/2 cup coconut milk and possibly a drop or two of coconut extract if you have it on hand.
Cut the peaches in half and discard the pits. Coarsely chop the flesh into chunks and place in a blender or food processor along with the yogurt and honey.
Puree the mixture until the consistency is smooth and the yogurt is well incorporated. Sprinkle in the coconut and mix together briefly until the coconut is dispersed.
Pour into 6 ice pop molds that hold 4 ounces each. Insert the base and stick into the pop and freeze for at least 4 hours. If your molds are smaller than 4 ounces, any leftover peach and coconut puree is delicious as a smoothie. No molds? No problem. You can pour the mix into large Dixie cups or small coffee cups, and insert the sticks when the mixture is stiff and partially frozen (approximately 1-2 hours later). Don’t forget to leave 1/4″ of space at the top of the mold to allow for expansion when the pops freeze.
To unmold the pops, set them at room temperature for a few minutes and then slide them out of the mold, or run the exterior of the mold briefly under hot running water until the popsicles release easily.
A few weeks ago, I was up at the cottage with my brother and his family. His two sons, aged 2 and 3.5, had been cavorting in the water for hours and were summer-drunk with the sheer joy of it. When they had finally had enough and were ready to head into the shade, my father appeared on the stairs brandishing the same popsicles that we had eaten so greedily as children. Their faces lit up as they sucked hungrily on the creamy peach pops that we knew so well.
There is such a gentle, mellow sweetness to these pops, with ingredients that quietly dance together instead of competing. Timeless, tasty, and perfect for a summer day, healthy can be just as delicious as Tang.