Stocking Your Healthful Freezer: Frozen Treats (Part 2)

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Yesterday, I enjoyed a soft-serve vanilla and chocolate twist ice cream with chocolate jimmies (“sprinkles” for those of you not from New England!). The ice cream was so smooth and creamy and hit the spot — plus, it was also lunchtime and I didn’t have an opportunity to grab something a little bit more healthful.

I have a fondness for ice cream, but at home, I only keep the light ice cream in my freezer. And it’s actually quite good, I have to admit. The “churning” process that food manufacturers are now using really does lend enough creaminess so that you don’t miss the “real” stuff quite so much.


There’s more to frozen treats than just ice cream, though. Fudgesicles, popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, Italian ices, even sherbet and sorbet add enough variety that one need never get bored eating the same thing! What kind of frozen novelties do you enjoy?

This week, we’ll continue our look at frozen treats.

Frozen yogurt. Frozen yogurt became popular back in the 1980’s, giving ice cream some long-needed competition. Frozen yogurt does contain yogurt — but it also contains milk fat, sugar, gelatin, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and flavorings. It may or may not contain live bacterial cultures, and like ice cream, it comes in a hard form and a soft-serve form. Over time, the lines between frozen yogurt and ice cream have blurred somewhat; often, one can’t really distinguish between the two. The “sourness” or “tanginess” of most commercial frozen yogurts has disappeared, with the exception of frozen yogurt from stores such as Pinkberry (found in Los Angeles and New York City), TCBY, and other frozen yogurt shops.

Nutritionally, frozen yogurt can vary in terms of calories and fat. Nonfat frozen yogurt is available: A half-cup of Hoods Chocolate Fat Free Frozen Yogurt contains 90 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 19 grams of carbohydrate. You can also get low-fat frozen yogurt. Ben & Jerry’s Low Fat Black Raspberry frozen yogurt has 140 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 28 grams of carbohydrate per half-cup serving. Calorie, fat, and carbohydrate-wise, frozen yogurt isn’t a whole lot different than light or fat-free ice cream. And there’s no guarantee that the frozen yogurt you eat contains live bacterial cultures (which are deemed to be beneficial), although you may find some brands that bear the “Live & Active Cultures” seal.

Sherbet. The meaning of the word “sherbet” has undergone a metamorphosis over time. Originally, sherbet referred to a Turkish drink made from fruit juice, sugar, and chilled with snow. Today, at least in the US, sherbet is a frozen concoction made from fruit juice and water, and usually milk, egg whites, and maybe gelatin. The process of making sherbet is pretty much the same as making ice cream; what really varies are the ingredients. Sherbet contains less butterfat and much less milk than ice cream. Also, if you’re a sherbet-eater, you’ll notice that most sherbet flavors are fruit-based: orange, lemon, raspberry, and rainbow, although you’ll occasionally come across chocolate sherbet. Calorie-wise, sherbet falls along the lines of light ice cream. One-half cup of Edy’s Berry Rainbow Sherbet contains 130 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 29 grams of carbohydrate. Some people think that sherbet is a better bet in terms of carbohydrate than ice cream, but that’s really not the case — as always, read the label!

Sorbet. Sorbet sometimes gets confused with sherbet because both of these frozen treats are typically made with fruit. However, the difference is that sorbet doesn’t contain any milk. It’s essentially a frozen fruit puree with perhaps some sweetener added to boost the flavor. Sorbet is also available in nonfruit flavors, such as chocolate and coffee, and you may even come across savory sorbets with flavors such as beet, tomato, and basil. Sorbets are often used between dinner courses to “cleanse the palate.” How does sorbet stack up, nutritionally? A half-cup of Häagen-Dazs’ Chocolate Sorbet has 130 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, and 28 grams of carbohydrate. Other brands may contain closer to 100 calories per serving, but the carbohydrate is still close to 30 grams (2 carbohydrate choices). Sorbet can be a good choice for someone who is lactose intolerant or who has a milk allergy. But don’t count on sorbet being a “free” food.

By the way, if you’re curious, gelato, an Italian-style ice cream, has become quite popular in the US. Gelato is typically lower in fat and sugar than regular ice cream, and it’s more dense. Some gelatos have a custard base, meaning that they contain eggs. Calories and fat can vary, but gelatos average about 170–220 calories per half cup, about 8 grams of fat, and 24–36 grams of carbohydrate.

More next week!

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