Nobody loves a good frozen treat more than I do, which is why it bugs me when I see store shelves overflowing with “diet” offerings that fool folks into thinking they’re better than good old ice cream. The next time you’ve got a hankering for a frozen treat, here are some useful tips.
Low-Fat Ice Cream
Light and low-fat ice creams make up for the removal of fat by adding thickeners like guar gum, locust bean gum and carrageenan (just to name a few). Since fat also provides flavor, some lightened varieties include more sugar to make up for it, which means the calories can wind up being similar to regular ice cream. More sugar, less fat, same calories – not exactly healthier. And don’t be fooled by the term slow churned; some brands may be using new technology to alter the consistency, while others may simply have more thickeners added in.
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Even a frozen treat connoisseur like myself can get confused with all the icy options out there. Grab your ice cream maker, you’ll be itching to make something after you read this.
The classic: sweet, velvety, delish. Ice cream is typically made with a combo of cream and milk (and sometimes egg yolks). Premium varieties of vanilla ice cream average about 230 calories and 13 grams of fat per ½ cup.
Ice cream ala Italy. This frozen confection is basically ice cream, but less is more! Gelato is made with less air whipped into it. The result is a dense and creamy delight. The nutrition facts stack up similar to ice cream (see above) but we did find a few store-bought brands that scored lower in both the fat and calorie department. Trader Joe’s and Ciao Bella are 2 personal favorites.
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Happy National Ice Cream Day! As a former scooper and life long ice cream-aholic, I consider myself somewhat of an aficionado. Even though my career is all about nutrition, I know there are many reasons to love this creamy cold confection.
Ice Cream Facts
Originating in ancient China, ice cream is a combination of cream, milk, sweeteners, flavorings and add-ins like fruit, nuts and candy. Did you know these fun facts?
- The first ice cream parlor opened its doors in America in New York City in 1776.
- We have an inventor from the 1904 World’s Fair to thank for making ice cream more portable — with a cone.
- While softening in the microwave is a popular method, you risk over-melting or even burning the ice cream. For best results, allow it to sit out on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes before dishing it out.
- Ice cream relies on fat to make it smooth and creamy – the higher the fat content, the less time it will take to soften.
- Research has found that eating ice cream in a cone may be the smarter choice. Licking away with the warmth of the tongue releases the flavor better, plus a cone takes longer to eat.
- One-ingredient banana "ice cream" and assorted toppings.
There’s been quite a buzz over this frozen treat, so we tried our hand at the one-ingredient wonder – homemade banana “ice cream.”
Banana muffins and banana bread are classic go-to recipes for over-ripe bananas, but there are some cooler options. When you’ve got more bananas than you know what to do with, slice them into large pieces and place in freezer-safe bag in the freezer for at least 4 hours (overnight is better). These frozen fruit chunks make creamy and frothy smoothies and a surprisingly similar dairy-free alternative to ice cream.
One medium banana totals about 105 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein. You’ll also get healthy doses of vitamins C and B6 and potassium. Bananas are also free of fat and cholesterol.
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- Creamy, frosty and dairy-free cookies and cream ice cream.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for…non-dairy ice cream? If you don’t do dairy like me, you may be looking for other cool treats to eat in the dog days of summer. Fortunately, grocery stores now carry a plethora of non-dairy frozen desserts using rice, soy, almond, or coconut milk, and a refreshing fruit sorbet is always dairy free. But ever since I purchased an inexpensive ice cream machine, I’ve been churning my own and the flavor possibilities are endless.
I’ve been starting with a simple vanilla base using light canned coconut milk. It’s rich, creamy, and mild, without that tropical coconut flavor.
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Hitting up the local ice cream shop or freezer section to beat the heat? As if ice cream wasn’t enough of a treat, you have a rainbow of toppers to choose from. Ice cream lovers tend to forget that these colorful confections can pile up the calories and fat. Consider our tips before making your next sundae.
5 swaps for a better sundae »
In this week’s nutrition news: Ben & Jerry’s drops “natural,” study finds children don’t drink enough fluids and fat blasters approved by the FDA.
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- Low-Fat Chocolate Pudding - Photo by Kate Sears/Food Network Magazine
A few nights a week, you want a sweet treat, but don’t want the calories or time commitment to get out of control. We’ve got 5 dessert recipes that are just what you’re looking for.
See all 5 desserts »
I remember back when DQ only had vanilla and chocolate soft serve, and maybe a few sundaes to choose from. Nowadays the menu is bursting with all kinds of frozen concoctions. We scanned the options for the best (an worst) offerings.
See what to order and what to avoid »
We’ve told you how to drink more water, fit in more exercise and eat more fruit—this week it’s all about calcium. If you don’t get enough of this important mineral, here are 5 ways to help.
Eat your way to stronger bones – here’s how »