Spirulina, otherwise known as blue-green algae or the less appetizing name pond scum, is a popular natural health remedy. It was a staple in the Aztec diet and is considered a sustainable food source. The United Nations identified it as a primary tool to fight global malnutrition and NASA is researching how it could be incorporated into astronaut diets on missions to Mars. It's been used to treat victims of arsenic poisoning and was used to treat children exposed to radiation after the Chernobyl disaster.
Spirulina a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and is especially effective in treating the brain and liver. It's also very rich in protein: 50 to 70 percent protein by weight, compared to about 27 percent for red meat. Spirulina is also a good source of B vitamins, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, manganese, potassium, iodine and zinc. These are all excellent benefits for people with autism.
One thing spirulina does not do is chelate heavy metals and toxins from the body. That's the work of chlorella, which is another form of algae. The two are often confused. I suppose you could also make chlorella popsicles if chelation is what you're after.
There are so many health benefits to spirulina, I was intrigued to see if I could put it into a popsicle. Tosh began eating popsicles earlier this year and they are his favorite treat. His ABA team uses them as a reward at the end of his sessions. I had been providing them with relatively healthy popsicles made from fruit and natural sugars, but I've never been crazy about giving him a sugary treat when ABA ends at 7 p.m. because it sometimes spoils his dinner and makes him hyper at bedtime.
So I decided to hit the kitchen and make him popsicles that are good enough to be considered a meal. These popsicles contain enough healthy ingredients on their own to qualify; spirulina was my attempt to swing for the fences. I'm proud to say we've scored a home run! Tosh absolutely loves them.
In fact, he loves them so much, he asked for one for breakfast this morning. I gladly indulged his request.
I'm sure it doesn't hurt that his favorite color is green.
Tip: if your child likes Shrek, The Incredible Hulk, TMNT or any other green cartoon or movie characters, name these popsicles after the character. That's how we got Tosh to drink green smoothies initially. It was a "Shrek smoothie."
Tropical spirulina popsicles
1 cup cubed mango
1 cup cubed pineapple
2 tsp powdered spirulina (start with 1 tsp and gradually work your way up)
8 oz orange juice
2 TBS Barlean's Omega Swirl oil
2 TBS coconut oil
Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight. Using frozen fruit will help the popsicles set faster.
Heather Anderson is a blissfully happy autism mom and lover of life in Southern California who is on a mission to help autism parents rediscover their happy place.
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