While ice cubes are often made in trays, think outside the box and put them to good use to help you stay healthier this holiday season. Here are some ways to use your ice cube trays as effective tools to prevent weight gain.
- 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.
- 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 superquick, low-calorie breakfast, snack, or dessert.
- Veggies: Freeze pureed veggies such as peas, spinach, sweet potato, squash, and carrots 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. 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.
- Herbs: Whether you grow your own or buy them fresh at the store, herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary, and cilantro can be washed, chopped, and stuffed into each section of your ice cube tray, and then filled 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.