Roasted Strawberry and Coconut Popsicles

Roasted strawberry and coconut popsicles are a cool, creamy and tart treat for summer! Just barely sweetened with honey. 
Roasted strawberry and coconut popsicle
Is it just me, or has this summer not felt at all like summer to you too? I mean, I can see the calendar hanging on my wall and it clearly says July, but I still don't believe it. Maybe it’s because I haven't spent every weekend at a wedding or wedding related event as I have every other summer since college. Or maybe it’s because I’ve already returned from our big summer vacation. Or maybe it's the fact that's it's rained every single day. For a month.
Yup, that's definitely our problem.
Even though we're barely halfway through summer, I keep thinking as if it's fall. I've prepared more soups and chilis this month than salads. At last weekends farmer's market, I passed up eggplant for Brussels sprouts. For the fourth, my husband kept begging me to make pecan pie! Apparently, it's Thanksgiving.
Clearly, I need to do something to bring back that summer feeling!
After seeing this recipe on Joy the Baker, I had to make it immediately.  I mean, what food brings back more childhood summer memories than a popsicle? I was always partial to the frozen lemonade popsicles we made at home. My budding young dietitian taste buds were too discerning for those icky, plastic wrapped ice freezes. Could anyone eat one without gouging open the inside of their cheek, or was it just me?
But these popsicles, oh boy!  They are summer in a delicious frozen little package.  Toasted coconut enhances the flavor of rich, full fat coconut milk. It smells kinda like sunscreen, in a good way.  Mmm, and the roasted strawberries!  Roasting them concentrates their…strawberriness?? No worries if you don't own popsicle molds. Just use the same trick I did has a child and freeze it in a ziplock bag with a spoon!
 Coconut
Food fads usually annoy me, but I'm kinda excited about this whole coconut trend. I will admit, I'm probably definitely biased, since coconut has always been one of my favorite flavors.
Maybe you're scratching your head right now. Isn't coconut packed with artery clogging saturated fat?  Yes and no.  Coconut oil is the most highly saturated fat, even more saturated than butter or cream. But recent studies indicate that coconut oil has a neutral and possibly even beneficial effect on cholesterol levels. The saturated fat in coconut is comprised of lauric and stearic fatty acids, which affects cholesterol differently than the saturated fatty acids found in, oh, let's say a rib eye. These fatty acids do raise harmful LDL cholesterol, but they also proportionally raise HDL (good) cholesterol in a way that doesn't effect their ratio.

Coconut oil is still controversial in the medical community and after seeing some of the bogus claims on the internet, I can understand why. No, it's not a miracle weight loss supplement nor will it cure cancer. However I am confident that research is going to continue to show health benefits from coconut fats. Why the confidence? Coconut products like coconut milk, extra-virgin coconut oil and coconut butter are minimally processed plant foods, and just like every other plant, it is full of many other health promoting compounds. If the history of bad diet advice has taught us anything, we know the health of a food isn't determined by a single nutrient.

To settle the debate, let's look at the big picture. Most recipes that call for coconut products use it to replace butter, cream and other dairy fats, which we know for certain do not promote heart health.  When examining it's healthfulness, consider coconut's ability to replace animal fats. For example, in this recipe coconut milk is used instead of ice cream. And guess what? It's equally delicious!

Strawberries

Have you ever noticed that strawberries look like little hearts? Well, that's just God's way of reminding you they are good for your heart!  Super cheesy, but I like it! And it's true - one study found strawberries reduced makers of cardiovascular disease, including cholesterol and clotting proteins in people with metabolic syndrome.

Berries are the most nutrient-dense type of fruit and compared to all other berries, strawberries are the fourth highest in antioxidant capacity. Basically, they're the nutrition version of being top 10% of your class at Harvard. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, a nutrient associated with a lower risk of heart disease and improved immune function. One cup of strawberries contains 150% your daily needs of vitamin C, which is more than an orange, the food we usually associate with vitamin C.

Roasted Strawberry and Coconut Popsicles
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: depends on popsicle mold size, but about 10
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Juice of 1 lime, divided
  • 1 15-ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Place a rack in the upper 1/3rd of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Spread the coconut evenly on a baking sheet and toast for about 3-5 minutes until golden. You may want to give it a good stir halfway so it doesn’t burn on one side.
  2. Place the strawberries on a baking sheet and toss with the coconut oil. Roast until soft and juicy looking, about 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a food processor. Add chia seeds, 1 tablespoon of honey and juice of half the lime. Blend until pureed.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the coconut milk, lime juice, 1 tablespoon honey and vanilla extract. Stir the toasted coconut into the milk.
  4. Divide the strawberry into the popsicle molds, filling halfway. Freeze for one hour until firm. Remove from freezer and top with coconut milk mixture and add popsicle stick. Place back in the freezer and chill overnight or 6 hours.
  5. Before eating, run briefly under hot water to loosen the mold. Make 60 more to last you till fall.