Chill Out!

While no one in their right mind would ever elect to speed through their summer fun, on days when the thermometer soars past the three digit marks, some of us almost long for chillier days… almost.

Pretty much all of us at least crave a chillier treat.

Between spots where you can whip up your own freezy flavor of ice cream or stores where you can find milkshakes by the millions, it’s hard to resist the temptation and only made more difficult when you’re melting in to a human puddle. Add kids to the mix – be it your little ones, or just your inner child – and your doomed from the start.

Just chill out… and cool off without slacking off.

I Scream

When Pinkberry (finally!) hit the East coast after becoming a huge sensation out West, the jury was out for awhile on what the health benefits in the frosty peaks are. Well , the truth is the good stuff does contain probiotics which are a great benefit of yogurt. Also, as far as Pinkberry is concerned, if you stick to a small size you’re not tacking on tons of extra sugar and additives.

The problem most folks run in to when they go for frozen yogurt options is getting swept away by the all-too-famous “but it’s healthy!” premise. Sure, a salad is a great option for a low-fat lunch, but make it a ginormous portion, add tons of cheese and dressing and you’ve missed the point. It’s the same idea for Pinkberry, Red Mango and such. Those gummi bears may look bouncy, fluffy and oh-so-tasty, but throw them on top of a super-sized snack and you’ve tacked on tons of extras. Stick with a smaller size and go for the fresh fruit toppings.

Besides the obvious – like the hulking pieces of candy as toppings – but from the moment you saunter in to one of these spots on a sweltering day… you’re in for a little deceit. At Red Mango, skip the smoothie – just because it sounds healthy doesn’t make it so. You’re looking at a huge helping of sugar and way too large of a portion. Same thing with their parfait options, those could run you from 300 to 330 calories. (However, if it’s really unbearable out and you want to make it your lunch instead of a snack – go for it!)

At both Red Mango and Pinkberry – read your serving sizes carefully. A small is about 1.4 servings. Good news is, pick a small with just some fresh fruit toppings and you’re keeping it roughly about 200 calories. Even better news, you don’t have to hunt down a “healthy” fro yo place to help fulfill your craving. McDonalds – yes, the golden arches themselves – offer a small ice cream cone that only clocks in at 150 calories.

Also, don’t get creamed at home when it comes to your frozen fun.  How many of us are tempted by the allure of the plethora of pints that taunt us from the frozen food aisle? Especially if you’re a card-carrying member of the “Clean Plate Club” it’s nearly impossible not to overdo it on portion size. Luckily, brands like Edy’s are offering portioned out versions of their Slow Churned for between 150-170 calories.  And Skinny Cow offers everything from cups to ice cream bars.

Now that’s fresh, balanced and super cool.

Summertime Sips

In the most extreme heat it’s all too easy to say “eff it” and reach for a mega milkshake in place of a sensible dinner.  Implore you, folks, resist the urge to drink your calories! Ice water will do the best job of quenching the never-ending thirst that only a summer day can bring.  But if it’s a sippable frozen treat you crave, I’ve got good news – the good people of Starbucks have your best interests at heart.

This spring, they launched DIY Frappucinos – which means you can choose all the goodies that go in to it. A few key ways to keep your freezy treat on the low-cal side is to stick with a “Tall” size and go for non-fat milk. When it comes to adding in the java itself, the Starbucks standard is three pumps. Aim for three or less and this way your mid-day cool down won’t lead to an energy crash-down later. When it comes to whip cream – it’s best to just skip it. As for the flavored syrups, go for as few pumps as possible if you’re looking for a little extra kick to your coffee. And while the sugar free ones might save calories – they’re also artificial. Stick with one or two pumps of the regular kinds or skip them altogether – the regular coffee flavor is pretty cool on its own.

Ice, Ice Baby

As far as keeping the calorie count down, icy treats are a safe bet. There’s not a lot to most ice-pops and are at the basis frozen water. However, lots of those popsicles are chock full of artificial syrups and sugars. For a balanced icy sweet, reach for a sorbet made with 100% real fruit. Even better – a new trend in frozen fun is POPPING (har har) up in places like NYC. “Pop Bar” is a new concept – sorbetto or gelato on a stick; refreshing treats made from all natural ingredients with no artificial colors or preservatives. Choose the Sorbettos because they will be the lowest in calories as they are simply made with nothing but fresh fruit . Um… YUM! Again, here you just want to avoid options like brownie chunks when creating your bar.

As for keeping it cool at home, there are plenty of options to stock your freezer with thatdon’tconsist of a frozen glob of high fructose corn syrup molded in to the form of Spongebob Squarepants. Go for choices like Whole Foods 365 frozen fruit bars are under 110 calories or Edy’s All Natural Fruit Bars. Both are fewer than 100 calories, are a nice healthy portion size and contribute to vitamin C intake. That sounds pretty sweet!

No need to get hot and bothered this summer – choose right and chill out.


Heather Bauer, RD CDN
Heather Bauer, RD CDN

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