As the temperature rises outside, it seems as though we are throwing ice cubes in everything! From a morning pick-me-up coffee to a refreshing afternoon herbal tea to a daily dose of water, ice cubes play a central role in our summertime plight to cool down. These hydrating jewels are often underappreciated so we are taking time to give these cubes the credit they deserve. Not only do they keep our summertime beverages cold and refreshing, but they can even help save time in the kitchen while keeping portions in check. Here are some of our favorite ways to put that ice cube tray to good use this summer:
- Create freshly squeezed citrus cubes: Squeeze fresh lemons, limes or oranges into a glass. Add some water to dilute. You can even add some zest for extra flavor. Pour into ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, add cubes to water or iced tea for a burst of flavor.
- Freeze thinly sliced fruit: Add small slices of fresh strawberries, peaches or cucumbers to water and freeze in cubes. Your glass will not only look more attractive, but as the ice melts, it will taste better too. All with an added bonus of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from the fruit.
- Spice up cubes with herbs: Freeze fresh mint or rosemary with water in ice cubes trays. When melted, it makes a refreshing and unexpected addition to iced tea or water.
- Sweeten water with juicy cubes: Craving something sweeter? Fill your ice cube tray with your favorite 100% juice – I like pomegranate or grape. Once frozen, toss ice cubes into your (or your children’s) glass of water. The juice will add sweetness to the water but will also be diluted, helping to avoid excess sugar and calories.
- Blend smoothie bites: Blend your favorite fruits (strawberries, banana, mangoes, blueberries) until smooth. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Enjoy your very own smoothie bites!
- Concoct creamy yogurt chews: Craving something creamier? Try adding in some non-fat Greek yogurt. Blend 1, 6oz container of Greek yogurt with a large banana, ½ cup fresh (or frozen blueberries) and a peach. Blend until smooth, pour into trays, freeze and voila – a perfect afternoon treat rich in calcium, protein and potassium!
- Cool down coffee: Freeze leftover coffee and add the cubes to the next morning’s batch. It will keep iced coffee cold without diluting it, helping to keep that caffeine buzz going all day.
- Pack portion-controlled savory cubes: Freeze small batches of tomato sauce, chicken broth or pesto for later use. Pull out one or two as needed. It’s a great time saver during the week as you can just pop from the tray and whip up dinner, without having to defrost the whole batch. Great for portion control!