Z loves eating her jewelry. Candy necklaces. Candy bracelets. Ring Pops... you get the idea. But when we switched to being artificial flavor and color free, I had to get rid of all of those. Still, it seemed a shame to waste those Ring Pop rings... Surely I could do something else with them...?
Get Ring Pops.
Dollar Tree sell the original brand for 4/$1 (Well, 3/$1, and the package has one "Free" inside.) I also found smaller ones there at 5/$1 for Valentines Day with hearts and lips and such, instead of "jewels." And I found some sturdier-looking ones in pretty pastel colors with Disney Princesses on them at the party store (I got them on clearance because the candy parts were broken. Yay!)
Remove candy.Now, you could do this the old-fashioned way, by
Play With Your Food!
1. Fruity Ring PopsFor a quick and easy treat, I started off with putting fruit onto the stick part. Strawberries were an obvious choice, since they're hollowish in the middle, so I only had to get through the greens on top. But this would work with grapes or chunks of melon really nicely too. And you could use mini cookie cutters to shape the melon first to make it extra special!
I gave Z the one strawberry on a ring and a bowl with more strawberries and she loved it! She worked on her concentration, problem-solving skills, and fine-motor skills while eating a much healthier treat than what was originally on that ring!
I see a super fun party food idea right there! Each child could have their own ring to re-use to skewer more fruits! And you could use mini cutters to make shapes to fit your theme!
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2. Frozen Fruit Ring PopsThis would also be fun with frozen fruit. Skewer fruit onto all your rings and stick them in the freezer for a few hours for a fun, cooling Summer treat!
3. Frozen Ring PopsiclesThe idea of freezing the fruit gave me another brainstorm - Ring Popsicles! We already have Jewel ice pop ring molds, but this way is much cheaper and more versatile, since you can use them with any shape ice cube tray to fit different fun themes! And if they're silicone, the ice cube trays themselves are more versatile, because they can be used for ice, frozen juice treats, even chocolates and candy making! Plus with these you can make more at once. The limit is only how many plastic ex-ring pops you have lying around!
Tropical shapes, flowers, stars, fruit, dinosaurs - even Lego figures and bricks! (Just search for "ice cube tray" or "silicone tray" and whatever shape/theme you're looking for!) And for around $1 you can find starfish, heart, flower and fish-shaped trays at IKEA (although the hearts are a little too big for the smaller-based rings.)
For the ring pops, I just used some watered-down fruit juice we had on hand. Trader Joe's dye-free pink lemonade left over from her birthday party, in this case. Another fun treat healthier than the original! And when the dreaded artificial dye- and flavor-filled ice cream truck comes tinkling around our neighborhood, she's just as happy with one or two of these versus an entire adult-sized frozen treat!
4. Frozen Yogurt Ring Pops!To add to that idea. my friend Keeley from the Keeley McGuire Blog suggested freezing yogurt or pudding like that too. I thought about adding my smoothie to them, but Z hasn't liked any of my smoothie blends so far, so I didn't bother.
5. Candy Ring Pops!I haven't tried this yet, but you could just as easily use chocolate in the silicone ice cube tray. And probably you could crush other hard candies and lollipops and fill the molds and melt them in the oven (6-10 minutes at 350 F,) then add the rings while the candy cools (outside of the oven, obviously.) The heat of the candy shouldn't melt them, since the original candy had to get on there somehow, right? Or, even better - make your own hard-candy base! With natural flavors and colors, of course.
And when she's done licking off whatever I've put on there, I toss the ring into my little bottle parts dishwasher basket and run it with the next load. These baskets work great for washing bento gear too. Silicone cups, plastic sauce and sprinkles containers, re-usable straws - you get the idea. Occasionally I even have room left to wash a nipple or two for the baby!