Chill Out! Dessert Doesn’t Have to be Off Limits

While I’m not trying to wish away your summer fun, those days when the thermometer soars past the three digit marks makes some of us almost long for chillier days… almost. Since we can’t fast forward to fall, we at least crave a cold treat to cool us down. Between spots where you can whip up your own freezy flavor of ice cream to stores where you can find milkshakes by the millions, it’s hard to resist the temptation of a frozen sugar-bomb when you’re melting into a human puddle. Just chill out! Choose wisely with my tips below and you’ll cool off, without slacking off.

We All Scream for Ice Cream

Do-it-yourself frozen yogurt shops seem to be popping up in every town across America, from Pinkberry to Menchies and Red Mango to 16 Handles. The problem most folks run in to when they go for frozen yogurt 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 frozen yogurt. Stick with a smaller size and go for the fresh fruit toppings. Besides the obvious, like the hulking pieces of candy as toppings, from the moment you saunter into one of these spots on a sweltering day, you’re in for a little deceit. The smoothies and other menu items are usually laden with added sugar. Always read your serving sizes carefully. A small at some of the bigger chains such as Pinkberry 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.


Home Is Where the Ice Cream Is

Looking for options to stock in your freezer that aren’t buckets of full-fat ice cream? Brands like Edy’s are offering pre-portioned versions of their Slow Churned goodness for between 150-170 calories. And Skinny Cow offers everything from single-serving cups to ice cream bars. Or make your own treat. I like to slice up a banana, lay them flat on a plate and throw in the freezer for about an hour or until they’re frozen. Once out of the freezer, mash them up, sprinkle with a tablespoon of cacao nibs or crunch up 1-2 tablespoons of high fiber cereal as sprinkles. You can even add a little packet of stevia for some sweetness. Another at-home remedy for your sweet tooth: in a blender, mix an individual serving cup of 0% Fage Yogurt, 1 packet of stevia, some blueberries and strawberries and ice. Then either pour the mix in ice molds or a bowl and freeze for an hour before enjoying your homemade fro-yo!


Ice, Ice Baby

As far as keeping the calorie count down, icy treats are a safe bet. 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 are my favorite popsicles from Ruby Rocket’s. These delicious pops are not only all-natural, non-dairy and non-GMO, but they’re made from fruits AND veggies and contain probiotics. A win-win-win for the whole family!


Summertime Sips

In the most extreme heat it’s all too easy to say “screw it” and reach for a mega milkshake in place of a sensible dinner. I Implore you, resist the urge to drink your calories! Ice water will do the best job of quenching the never-ending thirst that comes with a humid summer day. Bored of water? Check out my tips for spicing up even the blandest of beverages here. But if it’s a sippable frozen treat you crave, there are a few options. At Starbucks, you can get a DIY Frappucino -- stick with a Tall size, get non-fat milk, skip the whip cream and get just one or two pumps of the regular flavored syrups (the sugar-free versions are all artificial), only if the flavor is a must, to keep your treat on the low-cal side of the scale.

No need to get hot and bothered this summer – choose the right treats and chill out!

Heather Bauer, RD CDN
Heather Bauer, RD CDN


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