We wanted to bring you both a recipe and some of our favorite quick kitchen tips for National Celiac Awareness Month. This article centers around ice cube trays; a long underused kitchen tool.
Ice cubes trays are not just for ice cubes! There are tons of ways to utilize them to make food prep quicker and easier throughout your busy week, or help you prepare for a social gathering! Most of these ideas work great if you pick a few hours on Sunday to devote to your food prep for the week.
Freeze vegetable broth – whether you make your own, or take the shortcut of using vegetable bullion, or buy it pre-made, freezing your broth in ice cube trays allows for you to use as much or as little as you want. These are perfect for single serving soups – just grab a few cubes, toss them in a mug with some veggies and pop in the microwave, or heat in a small saucepan.
Pesto – make your pesto ahead of time and freeze it into cubes. For a night when you need a quick and easy dinner, thaw out a few cubes and toss them with your favorite gluten-free pasta or some delicious veggies, like steamed asparagus.
Wheat grass – We like to buy those little pots of fresh, growing wheat grass at the grocery store and trim it once a week (it grows fast!). We then throw the handful of trimmings in our blender, pour some water in it, and blend it until it is nice and smooth. We then pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it. Every morning when we make a fruit smoothie, we toss a few of the wheat grass cubes in the smoothie!
Fruit juice – Summer is the perfect time to make ice cubes out of fruit juice. Use it in place of water cubes for iced tea, other fruit juice, or fruity cocktails. Instead of your drink getting diluted, it gets more flavorful!
Coffee – Use coffee ice cubes in your iced coffee drinks so that they don’t dilute your coffee.
Fruits and Herbs – It is important to drink plenty of water every day, but it can sometimes get boring. Fill an ice cube tray with water and drop blueberries, thin lemon slices, mint, cucumber, whatever you like in each cube tray. Once frozen, drop it in your water to lightly flavor it as it melts!
Edible Flowers – Want your entertaining to look like you slaved for hours, when it was really effortless? Fill an ice cube tray with water, then drop an edible flower in each cube before freezing. These flower ice cubes will look gorgeous floating in some lemonade, water or white sangria.
Layered Ice Cubes – Really wow your guests with layered fruit juice ice cubes. Gather some of your favorite fruit juices in an array of colors, such as orange juice, cranberry juice, peach nectar and grape juice. Put a small layer of one juice in entire tray, freeze about an hour, then a put a thin layer of another juice in a contrasting color in the entire tray, then freeze about an hour, then another juice in a contrasting color, and freeze about an hour. Do this until the tray is full. You will have beautiful, striped ice cubes. You can get creative, like using pomegranate juice, water and blueberry puree for the Fourth of July, or just using water and concord grape juice for a purple striped effect.
Remember that, with any of these, you will want to seal them in a Ziploc bag, or airtight mason jar, to avoid cross-contamination of flavors in the freezer!
And now that you are ice cube-savvy, here is one of our favorite ways to dazzle guests with simple lemonade, while making it look like we are entertainers extraordinaire.
Vegan, Gluten-Free Lavender Lemonade
5 cups water
1 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup culinary lavender
Rinse lemons and zest two of the lemons. Set lemon zest aside. Juice the lemons and combine the juice, water and agave nectar in a pitcher and stir well. Fill an ice cube tray with lemonade and sprinkle a few sprigs of lavender and a pinch of lemon zest in each cube. Freeze. While freezing, put pitcher of remaining lemonade in fridge. Once the ice cubes are fully frozen, add them back to the pitcher of lemonade and serve.
This is a beautiful beverage to serve on a hot summer day. Barbecue some Tofu Pups (affiliate link), pour yourself some lavender lemonade, and enjoy a beautiful, sunny day!