You Heart What You Eat: Popsicle Parade Part One (Monkey Bars) |

You Heart What You Eat: Popsicle Parade Part One (Monkey Bars)

Tera Johnson-Swartz/For Steamboat Today
Explore's food contributor Tera Johnson Swartz is providing readers with delicious recipes for summertime popsicles.

— Late spring and early summer is probably my favorite time of year. All of the crops, plants and flowers I’ve spent so much time planning, arranging, planting, and transplanting are usually in full bloom thus giving me time to kick back and bask in the glory of gardening. In the meantime, the sun is starting to really beat down by now and cool snacks and treats begin to beckon. Enter: Popsicle Season.

When I was growing up I hated popsicles. They were usually too sweet and too cold (if that makes sense) for me to crave or even enjoy. As a mom however, I found that they are a necessity in the summer to minimize ice cream and brand-name popsicle madness. Still, I kind of pride myself in my various pop flavors, all of which are healthy, filling and tasty (even to me!). This series highlights some of my favorites. If you think about it, you can pretty much have a breakfast, lunch and dinner pop and not feel guilty at all!

The secret ingredient for these popsicles that replaces a typical simple syrup sugar combo comes from a homemade date paste I create in bulk. While sugar and sugar cane have little to no nutritional value, dates carry an amazing source of vitamins and minerals. Providing energy and fiber (32 percent), they also contain iron (6 percent), potassium (19 percent), magnesium (11 percent), and manganese (13 percent) as well as riboflavin (4 percent), niacin (6 percent), folate (5 percent), vitamin B6 (8 percent) and vitamin K (3 percent) not to mention are a supposed aphrodisiac to boot!

Popsicle Parade Part One (Monkey Bars)

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tbs. chocolate chips

  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 tbs. plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 tbs. date paste
  • 1/8 to 1⁄4 c. almond milk

  • 3 tbs. almond butter
  • 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla

  • 1 tbs. flaxseed
  • pinch salt

  • 2 tbs. raw rolled oats

Date Paste – in a medium to large sized bowl place 1-2 cups of dates. Pour enough scalding hot water to just cover them, cover with plastic wrap or pyrex container lid and set aside 3+ hours (overnight is even better). In the morning pour the rehydrated dates and about 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 the date-water in a blender or food processor and blend until an applesauce-consistency paste is formed. Put into a tightly sealed container and in between uses keep in the refrigerator (lasting 1-2 weeks).

Monkey Bars – in a magic bullet, ninja, vitamix or whatever your choice blender for making smoothies is called, combine all ingredients listed above until a thick, creamy “smoothie” or “pudding” texture is formed. Taste and decide if there’s something you’d like more flavor of – banana, almond butter or if it’s too sweet that pinch of salt makes all the difference. Next, spoon your mixture into popsicle molds and freeze (3-4 hours) until ready to serve. Enjoy!

YOU HEART WHAT YOU EAT is a weekly blog offering a twist of healthy alternative tips and recipes for some of our most coveted comfort foods. From decadent desserts to main dish favorites, you’ll surely look forward to our next edition. Questions or suggestions you’d like included in one of our future blogs should be directed to Tera Johnson-Swartz via email at

Tera Johnson-Swartz is a mommy first, but also enjoys working one of her many, many side gigs whether it be freelance writing, music, massage therapy, independent childbirth, lactation or health educating. She is eternally grateful she is able to follow her passion each and every day and loves her supporting husband and their two young children  and couldn’t imagine living a better life outside the city limits of Steamboat Springs.

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