July is National Ice Cream MonthIce cream is one of America's favorite treats during the hot summer months. The International Dairy Foods Association says ice cream and other frozen desserts are enjoyed by 90 percent of households.. July is National Ice Cream Month and although ice cream and other frozen desserts are a fun treat, they can differ widely in fat and calorie content. Check out the following tips on how to keep this sweet treat within a healthy diet plan and serve it safely.
Tips for cutting calories, keeping flavor, and food safety with ice cream:
· Ice cream and nutrition. Premium ice cream is usually higher in cost, fat, and calories. Ice cream with a higher fat content tastes richer and smoother. Typically a 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream will have around 150 calories and 7 grams of fat per serving. Reading Nutrition Facts Labels is a great way to compare brands and make healthier purchases. Check the nutrition label of your favorite brand and see how it measures up. As always, moderation and portion sizes are important.
· Frozen dairy product facts. Ice cream has the highest milk fat and milk solids content, ranging from 10 to 14 percent, with specialty versions as high as 20 percent. Ice milk usually has more sugar and milk fat ranges from 2 to 7 percent. Sherbet has less milk fat and solids (between 1 and 2 percent), more sugar, and usually contains fruit. Frozen yogurt is made from cultured milk and has less milk fat than ice cream and less sugar than sherbet.
· Storing ice cream safely. When buying ice cream and other frozen desserts, be sure they are frozen solid and the container is not sticky or frosted. Have ice cream double bagged or bring an insulated bag to reduce melting on the way home. Ice cream can be stored in the freezer unopened for up to two months and opened for two to three weeks at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. If stored longer than one month, overwrap the original container with freezer paper or wrap. Once the ice cream is opened, consume within seven to ten days for best quality. If ice cream or other frozen dairy products thaw completely, they should be thrown away due to the danger of bacterial growth.
· Cut the calories, keep the flavor. Typically when people are watching their weight, ice cream ends up on the "do not eat" list. Instead of serving a big bowl of ice cream with a handful of berries on top, flip the ingredients around. Enjoy a bowl of berries crowned with a small scoop (about ½ cup) of ice cream. For example, one cup of strawberries has about 50 calories and fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin C. A half cup of a light ice cream adds about 100 calories and calcium.
· Premium ice cream and portion sizes. Some premium ice creams just aren't available in low-calorie options. However, a small amount of a higher-calorie food is sometimes all it takes to satisfy the taste buds. Try scooping two or three tablespoons of a premium ice cream into a smaller container for you or your guests, such as a juice or shot glass. Serve on a small plate with a little cookie and keep calories around the 200 level.
Adapted from Lisa Franzen-Castle, PhD, RD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Nutrition