Stocking Your Healthful Freezer: Frozen Treats: Ice Cream Bars (Part 3)

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Continuing with our look at frozen treats, we’ll turn to the category of “frozen novelties.”

I always thought the term “frozen novelty” (meaning frozen treats that come on a stick, as a bar, or in a cone or sandwich) was a little strange, but I suppose the name fits. According to the dictionary, a novelty is a “state or quality of being novel, new, or unique.” When it comes to ice cream treats, this definition actually works. According to a study from Mintel International Group, a market analysis company, frozen novelty growth is expected to surge in the ice cream market. Sales of these treats grew 7.2% from 2002 to 2007, more so than ice cream. Sadly, while the number of ice cream trucks and ice cream parlors are dropping, sales of frozen treats are booming, primarily in supermarket and convenience stores.

So why frozen novelties? Wouldn’t people rather sit down and enjoy a bowl of ice cream? While ice cream and frozen yogurt remain popular, consumers want convenience, variety, and new flavors. I guess we’re just not satisfied with the same old cherry or grape flavored popsicles.

As with ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sherbet, frozen novelties require the discretion of a careful consumer. That’s probably not surprising, given that Häagen-Dazs, Dove, and Klondike treats certainly pack a calorie and fat wallop. Let’s take a look at what’s out there.

Ice cream bars. Marketing companies are right. It’s much easier — and quicker — to eat your ice cream on a stick or in an ice cream sandwich. It saves the effort of having to go to the freezer, dig out a spoon and bowl, and scoop out a portion (or two). But some ice cream bars are no nutritional bargain. Here’s a glance at a few of the more decadent bars:

  • Klondike, The Original: 250 calories, 14 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 29 grams of carbohydrate
  • Dove, Milk Chocolate With Vanilla Ice Cream: 250 calories, 21 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 31 grams of carbohydrate
  • Häagen-Dazs, Vanilla Milk Chocolate: 290 calories, 21 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 22 grams of carbohydrate

These treats may taste delicious but they are definitely not part of a healthful eating plan, thanks to ingredients such as cream, coconut and palm oil, and corn syrup. Save these for a really rare treat. Your arteries and waistline will thank you.

Luckily, there’s a way to have your ice cream bar and eat it too, meaning that there are some better choices out there, including the following:

  • Skinny Cow, Fudge Bar: 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 22 grams of carbohydrate
  • Healthy Choice, Mocha Swirl Bar: 90 calories, 1 gram of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 17 grams of carbohydrate
  • Weight Watchers, Giant Chocolate Fudge: 110 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 25 grams of carbohydrate
  • Blue Bunny, Sweet Freedom Fudge Lites (two bars): 70 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 19 grams of carbohydrate

Don’t do dairy? No problem. Tofutti has dairy-free Totally Fudge Premium Pops that weigh in at just 95 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, and 19 grams of carbohydrate.

What about some of the other ice cream bars that seem to be healthier? For example, Breyers makes Smooth & Dreamy bars. Are they a good choice? Let’s look at one.

  • Breyers, Smooth & Dreamy Chocolate Covered Strawberry: 120 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 17 grams of carbohydrate

The calories and carbohydrate are in line, but the saturated fat content is a little high (recall that a low-saturated-fat food has no more than 1 gram per serving). So, while it’s not a total wash, there are better choices, as I mentioned, above.

Speaking of Breyers, they’ve started a line of frozen treats called “CarbSmart”, sweetened with Splenda and acesulfame-K. The CarbSmart Fudge Bar contains 100 calories and just 9 grams of carbohydrate. Sounds like a carb-counter’s dream. But the fat content is somewhat concerning: 7 grams of fat and 4.5 grams of saturated fat. Not exactly a heart-healthy bargain.

Just so that you don’t think I’m picking on Breyers, I’ll highlight Klondike’s No Sugar Added Vanilla bar: 170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, and 21 grams of carbohydrate, along with aspartame and maltitol, a sugar alcohol. It’s like they didn’t even try with this one.

Your head can spin when you’re standing in front of the freezer case (and we haven’t covered everything yet). Remember that it’s OK to splurge once in a while. Just make sure your “once in a whiles” don’t start occurring “once a day.” If you must indulge in a cool, creamy treat on a daily basis, go for some of the lower-calorie and lower-fat options that I mentioned above. Aim to keep the saturated fat to no more than 2 grams per serving, too.

More next week!

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