That unassuming little ice cube tray that sits in your freezer isn't just for water. It can actually be an effective tool to help you lose weight. Here's how.
- Cookies: Anyone who's ever baked a homemade batch of cookies knows it's impossible to eat just one. So the next time you craft a batch, bake half and scoop the rest into ice cube trays. Then when your sweet tooth kicks in, pop out one and bake it to satisfy your craving without breaking the calorie bank.
- Juice: Freeze juice from fresh-squeezed lemons, limes, or oranges to add a touch of sweetness to water or seltzer — it'll be much fewer calories than a full glass of juice or soda.
- Herbs: Whether you grow your own or buy them fresh at the store, stuff washed and chopped herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary, and cilantro into each section and fill with veggie broth or water. Pop the frozen herb cubes out to add to soups, sauces, and whole grains for a flavor boost without a lot of calories.
- Smoothies: Make a huge portion of your favorite smoothie recipe when fruit is overripe or on sale. Fill an ice cube tray (or two) and freeze, then pop a bunch out to easily blend in a blender for a healthy and super quick low-calorie breakfast, snack, or dessert.
- Ice cubes with a boost: Instead of adding plain ice cubes to the blender for smoothies, throw in frozen cubes made of coconut water. It's a great way to add potassium to your diet, which will help you rehydrate even more effectively. You can freeze soy or almond milk too.
- Fruit: Puree fruit such as strawberries, peaches, pineapple, or mango and freeze. Pop out a cube or two and stir into plain yogurt to make your own flavored yogurt — it contains fewer calories than store-bought brands that contain added sugar. You can also add the pureed fruit to oatmeal instead of brown sugar or thaw and pour on top of pancakes instead of high-calorie maple syrup.
- Veggies: Freeze pureed veggies such as peas, spinach, sweet potato, squash, and carrot to add extra fiber to soups, baked goods like these oatmeal cookies, mashed potatoes, dips, smoothies, cooked whole grains, pancake batter, and pasta dishes, or use as a sandwich spread. For a time and money saver, you can also buy greens like spinach and kale in bulk, and puree and freeze them for smoothies. Eating fiber fills you up so you eat less and it also keeps you feeling full longer so you're not tempted to reach for high-calorie pick-me-ups.
- Quick snack maker: Each section of an ice cube tray is roughly an ounce. Use it to quickly measure out one-ounce portions of nuts or cheese, and then spoon them out into your own snack baggies to take to work or throw in your purse or gym bag.
- Leftover vino: No need to polish off the last few ounces in that bottle of wine so it doesn't go to waste; you could end up drinking an extra 100 calories or more. Freeze it instead and you can use the frozen wine cubes in recipes later.
Remember, be sure to use BPA-free ice cube trays. These OXO Tot 2-pack baby food trays are meant for freezing homemade baby food, so you know they're safe. Plus they have a cover that slides on securely so you can stack a few trays without worrying about the contents spilling or getting contaminated.