Saturday, July 11, 2009

Coolest Dessert? Ice Cream, Of Course!

By: Alison Barkman, MS, RD

In the spirit of summer eats, ice cream tops the list. I found a great article, "Get the scoop on eating ice cream regularly without wreaking havoc on your waistline" by Molly Kimball, RD, from July 10th issue of The Times-Picayune. Click the title and link to the full article.

The information and advice expressed in Kimball's article come close to my thoughts on ice cream. Ice cream is my #1 favorite dessert all year-round. My absolute fave is Ben & Jerry's. When my husband and I make our yearly visit to Lake Placid (NY) each summer, I won't lie, I visit Ben & Jerry's just about every day of our trip. I was saddened to find out my favorite B & J flavor Bananas on the Rum has been sent to the Flavor Graveyard. I digress!

If you love ice cream, but not having to shop for a bigger pants size, the key word is quite simple: moderation. The Times-Picayune article reviews all the different ice cream options out there, including low-fat versions, frozen yogurt, gelato, sorbet, and sherbet, plus what differentiates them from each other. It inspired me to elaborate a bit when it comes to choosing a frozen treat.

Sometimes you just want real ice cream and not trick yourself into thinking a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich or Weight Watchers fudge bar will do the trick. So if your in Cold Stone Creamery, Ben & Jerry's or Carvel, opt for a small size of the real thing. Go easy on toppings. Using Carvel as an example: a regular size cup of vanilla has 450 calories and 26 g fat. Turn that into a regular size hot fudge sundae and now it's 670 calories and 38 g fat. Go for a small vanilla cup for 270 calories and 15 g fat, a far cry from the other two options. If that's too boring, adding one topping rather than two or three, is the best option.

If you're just not comfortable eating regular ice cream, there are several "lighter" options. Low-fat or fat-free ice cream or frozen yogurt will be lower in fat, thus less caloric if you're comparing a small low-fat for a small full-fat ice cream. But beware: Low-fat and fat-free still has a ton of sugar. It does not mean you can upgrade your size and keep your slim thighs. Some frozen yogurt shops have all these crazy options like fat-free, low-carbohydrate (carb), no sugar added, blah, blah, blah. What the heck is that? I cringe when customers are at the counter asking how many calories is in the medium no-carb, no-fat flavor of the day. I mean, really? What's in it? If you are trying to watch your weight, go for something with flavor and substance, but be smart about it. Chances are if you keep eating these "fake" options, eventually you will binge out on the real thing.

Another great point in the Picayne article is to avoid shakes. I tried making my own ice cream shake at home and now realize why they are off the charts with fat and calories. It takes many scoops of ice cream to make just a small-sized shake. Depending on the flavor, Cold Stone Creamery Like It (small) size shakes have anywhere from 1100-1200 calories and a jaw-dropping 50-60g fat. And yes, that is the small size. Carvel small shakes are approximately 400-800 calories and 15-40g fat. Cold Stone's "Sinless Shakes" match the caloric value of Carvel's small shakes made with regular ice cream. Carvel has three flavors of smoothies all in the 300 calorie range and 0g fat. Cold Stone has a line of specialty smoothies, all ranging within 200-300 calories and 1-5g fat for the Like It (small) size. Smoothies definitely seem like a slimmer option at both chains when it comes to drinks.

Finally, supermarket freezers are packed with options. My personal favorite is Edy's Slow Churned ice cream. To compare, a 1/2 cup of Edy's regular cookies 'n cream is 160 calories and 8g fat. The Slow Churned version is 120 calories and 4 g fat, a pretty nice savings. And it tastes great too! They even started making them in single-serve cups if you don't trust yourself to spoon out the recommended 1/2 cup serving from a half-gallon container. Low-fat ice creams typically mean they are made from a non-fat milk base vs. whole milk or cream. They usually contain real sugar (no artificial sweeteners). The plainer the ice cream, the less calories and fat. My tip: buy yourself some small bowls that will hold approximately 4-6 fluid ounces of ice cream for indulging at home. Using a large bowl will tempt you to fill it, adding up to 2-4 servings at once.

Last witty thought: If you're training for a marathon, I would have to re-write this article to say you deserve a Cold Stone sundae after a 20-mile training run. Once again, exercise is key to not being a neurotic, calorie-counting, nut!

Check out the article (click on title link) to get some more great ice cream tips from Molly. I'll let you know when they resurrect my favorite flavor from the Ben & Jerry's graveyard!

CalorieKing. Retrieved July 11, 2009, from

Carvel Nutritional Information. Retrieved July 11, 2009, from Carvel Web site:

Cold Stone Nutritional Information. Retrieved July 11, 2009, from Cold Stone Creamery Web site:

Kimball, M (2009, July, 10). Get the scoop on eating ice cream regularly without wreaking havoc on your waistline. The Times-Picayune, Retrieved July 11, 2009, from

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