Keep Ice Cream a Tradition

‘Who wants ice cream?’ is a question most people anticipate at a backyard barbeque or summer event. Americans love ice cream. It is reported that 87 percent of Americans have ice cream in their freezer at any given time. Within a calendar year, the average individual American eats 48 pints of ice cream.

Who can blame us? Few things are more refreshing on a hot summer day than smooth, cold, creamy and delicious ice cream. The rise in the summer heat is sure to inspire families to break out the ice cream maker or serve up a scoop of memories.

Homemade ice cream can get a healthy makeover with a simple switch to nonfat sweetened condensed milk and low-fat milk in place of heavy cream and whole milk. It’s good to remember that fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and fewer calories. Eliminate added sugars by opting for traditional vanilla and offer stir-ins on the side, such as fresh berries, toasted nuts or chopped fruit.

If ice cream is your weakness, but you are not interested in churning your own, don’t worry; there are still better options in the frozen food section. Buying single-serve containers helps guard against portion distortion. I also encourage you to be willing to look slightly past your go-to pint and give trendy frozen yogurts a shot. Frozen yogurtis similar to ice cream, but lower in fat and calories—a healthier way to satisfy your sweet tooth without sacrificing your waistline.

In recent years, frozen yogurt shops have popped up on every corner. Frozen yogurt should still be deemed a dessert. It is best to select a cup over a cone and top with fresh fruits, nuts or seeds. If you are lactose-sensitive, choosing frozen yogurt with active cultures over regular ice cream may ease digestion.

The bottom line is you don’t have to give up summer sweets in the name of good health. Use these tips to help keep frozen treats a delicious and nutritious family tradition.

Rebecca Turner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

Rebecca Turner