The Dietitian

Healthy Ice Cream?

In the latest Food Revolution Summit, John Robbins spoke about his father, Irv, the founder of Baskin Robbins, the world’s largest ice cream company at the time.  Irv developed serious Diabetes and was facing potential blindness and amputation when he decided to take control and change his diet.  He adopted a plant-based eating plan with no sugar and he stopped eating ice cream entirely.  He reversed his diabetes so that he didn’t even need insulin or pills anymore.  He lived another happy, healthy 20 years.  John Robbins is the author of “The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World” and along with his son Ocean Robbins heads up the annual Food Revolution Summit- an amazing few days of interviews with some of the biggest names in food science.

I think most of us understand that ice cream is not a health-food.  But, many of us would agree that it’s delicious and that we would enjoy having it as a part of our life on occasion, right?  So, I’m dedicating this blog post to the topic of the healthiest available ice cream options… based on many years of grueling research. ; )

Best Option:  Make your own ice cream!  My favorite super-healthy version of soft serve is to blend a frozen ripe banana with just enough unsweetened almond milk to make it the texture that I desire.  You can use extra almond milk for a “milkshake.” (Note:  peel the banana and freeze it in baggies- if you freeze it with the peel on it’s very hard to remove.)  Just those two ingredients make quite a lovely banana ice cream- my clients are often surprised by how good it is.  You can make different flavors by adding things like peanut butter, cacao powder, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, or frozen fruit of your choice.  You can also add toppings like cacao nibs, fruit or granola.

Healthiest at the Store:  Coconut Bliss.  This dairy-free ice cream made with a coconut base is the best tasting non-dairy option out there and it also happens to have the best ingredients.  Here’s the ingredient list for vanilla Coconut Bliss: organic coconut milk (organic coconut, water, organic guar gum), organic agave syrup, organic coconut cream, organic vanilla extract, organic vanilla beans.  Sounds like what I might use if I made this at home.  Now, it’s not low-calorie (the vanilla is 840 calories per pint), so if you’re watching your weight try to keep it at a reasonable serving size.  Also, the price might help motivate you to not eat the whole pint in one sitting.  But, for an occasional indulgence, it’s a darn good choice.

Best of the Super-Low-Calorie Versions:  Halo Top.  I tend towards a plant-based, dairy-free lifestyle, but I’m not a “card-carrying vegan” and dairy foods (darn that delicious cheese and ice cream) happen to top the list of my favorite sporadic indulgences.  The problem is that once I start into a pint of ice cream I have a hard time moderating the portion.  Even if I space out my servings the pint is usually gone within two days.  So, of course I had to try Arctic Zero and Halo Top when I heard so much about these very low-calorie options.

How could ice cream exist that tastes good but only has 240 calories per pint?? And it has protein and fiber as well?  For me Arctic Zero was such a bust that I almost didn’t try Halo Top.  It was very icy with a taste so bad that I threw most of it away (ice cream does not usually go to waste around me).  Apparently some people like it, but it’s not my thing.

Luckily, enough of my clients raved about Halo Top that I finally had to give it a shot.  And I was pleasantly surprised!  It’s actually creamy and quite tasty.  And, the ingredients aren’t too scary.  Here’s the list for vanilla Halo Top:  milk and cream, eggs, erythritol, prebiotic fiber, milk protein concentrate, organic cane sugar, vegetable glycerin, vanilla extract, vanilla beans, sea salt, organic carob gum, organic guar gum, organic stevia.  I recommend letting it thaw for a few minutes before you eat it- it gets creamier (just like any other ice cream).

Finally, if you end up with your friends or family at your favorite local ice cream haunt, and you’re feeling it, just grab yourself a small scoop and enjoy every last bit of it.  Being happy is healthy too.


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