Healthy-ish Alternatives to Ice Cream

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While summer isn’t the only time we crave a frosty dessert, with the weather turning, it’s only natural to start dreaming about barbecues, beaches, the pool, dining al fresco and maybe splurging on that frosty ice cream cone.

If you’re trying to watch what you eat but still want to indulge in some of the season’s coolest treats, you’ve got options that are lower in fat, calories and sugar than regular ice cream that are still tasty, creamy and oh-so-refreshing. Get the scoop below!

DAIRY-FREE OPTIONS

Non-dairy ice creams are perfect for those who can’t (or prefer not to) consume traditional milk products. Gone are the runny, flavorless soy-based ice creams of the past; today’s crop of frozen desserts made with a plant-milk base are just as creamy as the real thing. In fact, these vegan-friendly ice creams have become so popular that entire shops are dedicated to this endeavor: Kippy’s Ice Cream (Venice Beach, California), Scoops & Plates (Brooklyn, New York), and Sweet Ritual (Austin, Texas), are leading the pack in non-dairy frozen desserts, and a slew of other brands can be found in your local grocery store’s freezer aisle.

For maximum decadence, choose ice cream made from coconut or cashew milk, as they have higher fat content, giving it the familiar creamy texture that makes ice cream so satisfying. However, make sure you read that nutrition label carefully: dairy-free doesn’t mean guilt-free if it’s loaded with sugar or other starchy add-ins like cookie bits and the like.


READ MORE > TASTE-TESTING: OUR DAIRY-FREE YOGURT RANKINGS


GO BANANAS

Vegans and other plant-based foodies have been hip to the wonders of “nice cream” for a while now. This simple frosty treat is made mainly with frozen bananas, processed in a high-speed blender until it takes on the consistency of soft-serve. A basic recipe uses three frozen bananas, a splash of almond milk (or similar liquid) and any additional flavorings that strike your fancy.

Frozen mango and pineapple give it a tropical twist, cacao nibs and frozen cherries make a “Cherry Garcia” inspired flavor — it’s an opportunity to get creative. If you’re not much of a DIY-type, don’t worry — this delicious trend has sparked a handful of banana-based “fro-yo” shops like Banan (Honolulu, Hawaii), and Fronana (Dayton, Ohio), so you can get your banana ice cream on without having to wash a dish.

TRY LOW-CAL SWEETNERS

The desire for guilt-free, yet “real” ice cream has spawned a few dairy-based options focused on remaining low in calories. Halo Top Creamery uses organic stevia and erythritol instead of sugar, adds plenty of protein (which helps with satiety, and is generally less dense than traditional ice cream, allowing for a 240–280 calorie count for an entire carton. Arctic Zero is a lactose-free frozen dessert that uses monk fruit concentrate (also erythritol) as a low-glycemic index sweetener. Moo-phoria, created by Ben & Jerry’s, is the brand’s line of ice creams that are just 140–160 calories per serving, made with 60–70% less fat and 35% less calories than their regular formulas. Each brand carries a variety of flavors that will appeal to just about everyone.

MAKE YOUR OWN

The frozen fun doesn’t stop there. If you’re looking for other desserts to chill out with this season, check out these DIY recipes:

> Refreshing, Low-Cal Granitas
> A Healthy Hack on Ice Cream for Breakfast
> Meet Your Lower-Calorie Ice Cream Alternative: Semifreddo

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