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Classic Cold Treats Get a Makeover!

posted Jul 1, 2016, 7:02 AM by Rachel Griffin   [ updated Jul 1, 2016, 7:04 AM ]
What better way to begin our July blog series, “Cool Foods for Hot Days”, than with a post about desserts? Ice cream, snow cones, and popsicles are synonymous with summer, so it only makes sense! Unfortunately, these treats can contain an overload of sugar and fat which actually don’t do your body much good when it comes to cooling down and staying healthy in the heat. Our dietitian shares her favorite ways to make your favorite summer treats work for you, not against you:
  • Ice cream It’s no secret, dietitians (like everyone else!) love ice cream and we enjoy it in many ways. When selecting an ice cream, your main focus should be on simple ingredients and using whole foods: 
    • If you’re going for the “real thing”, stick with ice cream that is made with simple ingredients, (milk, cream, sugar, natural flavors) and stick to a ½ cup portion (1 packed standard ice cream scoop). Some of our favorites are Turkey Hill All Natural and Haagen Dazs. Until you find your favorite, you must read the ingredients list since many “natural” ice creams contain unnecessary ingredients such as food grade gums and starches. Similarly, “light” ice creams contain fillers to “bulk them up” to provide a similar mouth-feel as full fat ice cream.  They also typically contain more sugar to compensate for the decreased fat! This leaves you feeling less satisfied, thus causing you to overeat the light ice cream.  In the end, this can lead to being disappointed in your choice and possibly with a stomach ache!  We say, stick to an ice cream with simple ingredients and know your portion size.  If the 1/2 cup seems too small, add fresh fruit such as peaches or strawberries to bulk up your bowl!  
    • Make your own so that you can control the ingredients. You can make a traditional ice cream with dairy milk or yogurt, or with your milk replacement of choice. Just be sure that you use a tested recipe so that you’re not left with a goopy mess. You don’t even need an ice cream maker! Again, portions are important so keep it small and savor every silky bite. 
    • Blend up frozen fruit for a “soft serve” type ice cream. This is typically accomplished with bananas, but can also be replicated with frozen peaches, pineapple, or mango. Try a combination of all three or mix in peanut butter, chocolate chips, shaved coconut, nuts…the list goes on. This is a perfect option if you don’t want the dairy or the extra fat and sugar. Since this is lower in fat, calories, and sugar, you could get by with a larger portion (~1 cup) but remember that it is a still a treat! 
  • Snow Cones Who doesn’t have fond memories of eating a snow cone in the summer? Those electric-colored sugar-syrup-covered mounds of shaved ice are what kid’s dreams are made of. For a more sophisticated version, try topping shaved ice with your favorite 100% juice such as cranberry, pineapple, pomegranate, orange, or tart cherry. These will be just as colorful and will provide some added nutrients without extra sugar. You can also do this in the winter with clean snow
  • Popsicles are a summer staple that can also be full of sugar and some alarmingly bright colors. These are a little bit more challenging to make as most require special molds, however, once you make the investment, the possibilities are endless! Don’t want to have to store yet another kitchen gadget?  You can make most of these popsicles in a small paper cup.  Finally, you can put together a makeshift “popsicle” by putting a clean popsicle stick into a watermelon wedge, frozen banana, or frozen pineapple spear. 

We hope you give one or several of these a try this summer!
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