If you’re a smoothie lover who likes to experiment, you know that making a morning blend can get pretty messy. The struggle was real for Kathryn Bernell when she was in grad school, trying to balance her busy workload with trying to, you know, feed herself. “I would make smoothies each morning. But anytime I made anything with whole fruits and veggies, my kitchen would end up a full-blown war zone,” she says. “Eventually, I grew tired of all the prep–and cleaning–that went into making my favorite blends.”
To make the whole smoothie-making process easier, Bernell had the idea to stuff the fruits and veggies she was using to make her smoothies into ice pop molds. “I stripped out all the things that bulk them up, like ice, water, or milk, and just packed the ‘good stuff’ into pops that I could snag from the freezer and head out the door with,” she says. Her friends quickly took notice of her healthy (and delicious-looking) habit and started asking her for smoothie pops, too. Today, she’s making them for the masses thanks to her brand reBLEND.
ReBLEND features smoothie pops made with fruits and veggie scraps that would otherwise be wasted, sourced from farmers and manufacturers. Think of them as a way more nutrient-rich version of the colorful Otter Pops you snacked on as a kid.
Bernell says that as soon as she started reaching out to farmers and food manufacturers about sourcing produce for her pops, she was blown away by how much she learned was wasted. “The sad reality is that most products in the market are made with processed purees, concentrates, juices, and flavors. Few products actually start with whole fruits and vegetables,” she says. “This means that there is a massive supply all around us of unnecessarily discarded produce, but few manufacturers that can include them into their supply chain.”
To give this would-be waste new life, Bernell started partnering with farmers and manufacturers to purchase their “imperfect produce” and other perishable byproducts. “For example, we source cauliflower stems from a company that makes cauliflower rice,” she says. It’s just another example of the brilliant upcycling movement taking the food industry by storm–a positive shift in terms of sustainability.
Bernell says the hardest part about making the smoothies wasn’t actually sourcing the ingredients; it was figuring out the sweetness level for the various flavors. “I am always enlisting input from customers on what they like and what they want more of. I have intentionally crafted the smoothie pops to include sweeter flavors, like our new Raspberry Lemonade ($15), Very Berry ($15), and other refreshing flavors, like Frose All Day ($15). These are intended to please a variety of pallets,” she says.
Bernell says she also knew she wanted to perfect the texture and taste without using any ingredients consumers would have to Google to know what they are. “For example, we omit ascorbic acid [typically used to enhance color],” she says. “I am committed to living within the boundaries of fruits, veggies, and superfoods and I target ingredients that come from these three buckets.”
Nutritionally sound, sustainably sourced, and refreshing, these smoothie pops check off all the boxes. Besides, there’s something about enjoying a smoothie in ice pop form that’s just more fun.
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