Vegetables are showing up in the most unlikely places. Sure, a kale chip makes sense, a carrot juice shocks no one … but a vegetable popsicle? Meet Shawn Brennan, the Mill Valley chef/entrepreneur who created Plenty Pops.
Q: Why put veggies in what traditionally is thought of as a frozen treat or dessert?
SB: Aside from the nutritional benefits of eating more vegetables, there are so many beautiful colors, flavors and textures that come from fresh vegetables. Why NOT incorporate these amazing foods into a treat? Avocados are so creamy. Beets have a color that is just amazing, as well as a natural sweetness. Yams have both! I want to showcase how amazing food can taste with no added tricks, like thickeners or artificial colors, flavors or enhancers. Most desserts or treats on the market are so sweet and full of things that taste artificial, I just would love to see the shift back to real food.
Q: As a mother of three, did you have trouble getting your kids to eat vegetables, and do the pops help?
SB: Having a background in cooking helped me get creative with really colorful and flavorful combinations, and that is how the pops were born. My kids love veggies. The first time my kids were given frozen pops with dyes and sugar I was nervous and thought that would be the end of them wanting to eat Plenty Pops, but I was thrilled when after a couple of bites of the sugary pops, they gave them back and said they didn’t like them. I knew then that I was on to something good! But yes, the pops help them eat more veggies because if they had a choice between a frozen pop or a plate of broccoli as a snack or a treat, they would always choose the pop.
Q: What is your most popular flavor?
SB: It’s a tie between the Strawberry Beet and the Avocado Coconut Cocoa.
Q: What is the most vegetable-rich pop you make … and how does it taste?
SB: My goal is to put as much vegetable as I can in all of these pops. I start the recipe out with the veggie by weight and then try to add less fruit. Of course leafy greens such as kale and spinach do not weigh much, but I make sure there is a lot in there. I do not put just a touch of veggie juice in these pops. This is the whole food in there.
Q: Are people surprised to learn the pops are packed with veggies when they eat them?
SB: Yes. I have a lot of customers who are skeptical of a “veggie” pop and even nervous to try, but, every single time they are blown away. I love it when people make a point to come back after eating the pop to tell me that it was truly awesome.
Plenty Pops are sold at Good Earth Natural Market in Fairfax, and Good Earth’s new location opening this spring in Mill Valley’s Tam Junction. Brennan will also be back at her stand at the Sunday San Rafael Farmers’ Market this spring. For more information on Plenty Pops and other retail locations, visit PlentyPops.com.