Fast Easy Sugar-Free Blueberry Thyme Syrup

IMG_6588You may not have realized this yet but I’m really incredibly lazy.  Yup that’s right LA-ZY!  I take cooking shortcuts, I opt for the easy recipes, I go for the fast stuff that LOOKS like I’m an incredibly hard working chef slaving away in the kitchen.   In reality I’m a totally lazy mom with absolutely no time to cook.  Here is one of the best and easiest recipes ever.  It makes a wonderful syrup that’s great for pancakes, snow cones, ice cream sundays and cocktails for mommy.  The addition of thyme gives it an interesting flavor that makes it a bit more complex without taking away from its yummy sweet fruity taste.  This fancy sounding syrup has 3 ingredients, takes 10 minutes to make and will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.  If you want to make a bigger batch and can it…well you’re a mom with way more time on her hands than me.

 

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Ingredients:

4-5 sprigs fresh thyme

1 small basket fresh blackberries

1 cup apple juice

 

 

 

 

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Step 1:  Toss all ingredients in a heavy sauce pan

 

 

 

 

IMG_6577Step 2:  Bring to a hard boil that can’t be stirred down for a minute or two.

Step 3:  Use the back of a spoon to smoosh any remaining berries. Strain ingredients into a heat proof jar like pyrex or a canning jar.  Refrigerate.

Best Sugar Free Popsicles Ever – And How to Get your Kid to Eat Them

IMG_3301Got a blender and some left over fruit and juice?  Making healthy and delicious popsicles is the easiest thing on the planet. Getting your kids to eat them though may not be.  Why will your kid reject the delicious home made popsicle for one of those nasty colored sugar water things at the grocery store?  One word – marketing!  If you’re gonna get your kid to make those healthy choices you’re going to need a marketing plan of your own.

As any good marketer can tell you the food companies are spending millions of dollars researching how to make your kid believe without a doubt that otter pops are way better.  I’m not talking about ads either I’m talking about the color, the packaging and the name.  All of these things go into our perception of how food tastes and this determines our choices.

Packaging  Any chef will tell you that you eat first with your eyes and that’s where most food marketing starts.   It has been shown time and time again that if you give someone the exact same food in two different packages they will think one is better tasting than the other. I’m taking a tip from what the food industry has already figured out.  Kids love things in squeeze packages.  There is something tactile fun about pushing up those otter pops.  There are some reusable silicone ice pop molds out there, but in the end they scream “home made” to your kid, and you know that means “not as good” to them.  I found these amazing zipzicles at amazon and my frozen treat worries were over!  Kids love these things and as an added bonus they travel well.
The Name  Would a popsicle by any other name taste as sweet?  Apparently not.  Try this test.  Mix Orange and Pineapple juices and freeze them in your favorite popsicle mold.  Put two out on plates.  Tell your kid one is an orange pineapple popsicle and the other is an “arctic orange monster blast” or a “tropical pirate chiller.”  See which one gets chosen.  So experiment with fun names for your pops!

Color  Use lots of colorful fruits and juices to make your pops pop!  Kiwi and honeydew mellon will make a wonderful exciting green.  Pomegranate juice makes intense purple/pink and adds a lot of sweetness.  I wish I could make something blue somehow but it’s simply not a color found in nature…which is why we probably shouldn’t eat it!

 

Now to the recipe.  Really you don’t need one, just a few guidelines.  Toss some fruit and juice in your blender and freeze.  Apples tend to give an odd texture and the “pulp” part of the apple will rise to the top for some unappealing pops.  Make sure you have more juice than pureed fruit because again you’ll get a layer of fruit pulp at the top.  I make pops most Fridays with whatever left over fruit is sitting around.  When there is left over bits from breakfast during the week I just toss them into a zip lock back in the fridge for later blending.  Make any combo you like with whatever you’ve got laying around.  Here are a couple of my favorite experiments:

Tropic Blast Pops

1 ripe banana

1/3 cup orange juice

1/3 cup pineapple juice

1/3 cup mango juice (or some left over mango)

 

Chi Chiller

Almond Milk

Pitted Dates

Sprinkle of cinnamon

Sprinkle of cardamom

Amazing new research shows that the bipolar brain is wired differently

Bipolar disorder has long been a puzzle for doctors and scientists.  It runs strongly in families yet there is no single gene to blame.  It effects 200 million people worldwide yet treatments is like shooting darts at a blackboard blindfolded hoping to hit a target.  Promising new stem cell research shows specific differences in how the bipolar brain works and these differences could lead to better treatments down the road.  One of the most exciting things about this research is HOW they did it.   This amazing stem cell research could lead to further research in other disorders that effect the brain.

First stem cell study of bipolar disorder yields promising results — ScienceDaily.