We’re in big trouble folks. The world’s temperature is rising at an alarming rate. 2015 was the warmest year ever recorded. Fires are raging, seas are rising, glaciers are melting. What can we do to combat global warming? Eat more ice cream, of course!!
Now, ice cream has it’s own perils, with all that deadly sugar. If global warming doesn’t kill us, all that glucose will. But wouldn’t it be nice if there were such a thing as healthy ice cream, so we could survive the heat in style?
Until recently, the words “healthy” and “ice cream” would never be found in the same sentence. But, thanks to the wonders of modern science, that is no longer the case. Below I review three frozen desserts, all of which prove that the words “healthy ice cream” are no longer like Microsoft Works–an oxymoron.
Each will be rated from 1-10 on these three criteria: Nutrition, taste, price. Two of the three adhere to the 5 grams of sugar per serving rule, and one has 6 grams of sugar. Most “normal” ice cream has about 25 grams of sugar per serving!
You should be aware that, since these desserts are relatively low in fat, they’re more ice than cream. That means that they’re all kind of glacier-like when you take them out of the freezer. You’ll need to wait about 15 minutes before digging in. Which is a good thing, since by then your overwhelming craving to devour an entire gallon in a single sitting will probably have subsided.
This popular brand is the only one tested with zero fat. Frankly, I’m not sure that’s such a good thing. First, most modern nutritionists now agree that fat is not the bogeyman we once thought it was. A little fat is actually good for you. Further, fat is satiating, meaning that you’ll get fuller faster and eat less. Finally, while fat has no flavor of it’s own, it’s a flavor conductor–absorbing, transferring and enhancing the taste of whatever it accompanies.
Unfortunately, this frozen dessert needs some fat. There is very little chocolate taste in the Purely Chocolate flavor. It should be named Barely Chocolate. It’s kinda brown, so you know it’s supposed to be chocolate, but that’s all you taste–brown. So if you like the taste of brown, this one’s for you!
Score (out of 10): 3
The lid touts that Arctic Zero is GMO-free, lactose-free and fat-free. As stated above, it’s also taste-free. But nutritionally, it seems pretty sound. It has 5 grams of sugar per serving, and a serving size is about a quarter of a pint. Any adverse effect of that small amount of sugar is blunted by the presence of hormone-free whey protein (3 grams), and chicory root fiber. It has two grams of fiber per serving. By comparison, a medium-sized orange has about 2.3 grams of fiber.
On Amazon you can get 6 for $34.88. That’s about $5.81 per pint. By comparison, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s can be picked up at Target or Walmart for about 4 bucks.
Final tally: 13 out of 30 possible points.
What a difference a little fat makes! The first two ingredients in Halo Top ice cream are milk and cream. And it tastes like it. It’s smooth and rich, with a satisfying punch of chocolate. It actually tastes like ice cream. Besides sugar, it’s also sweetened with erythritol and stevia. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that, unlike most sugar alcohols, does not cause stomach upset unless you consume elephantine amounts of it. Stevia is a natural sweetener made from the stevia plant found in Paraguay. For some reason, stevia is wonderful in cold foods and beverages, and nasty in warm ones.
Bottom line: Given about 15 minutes to soften, this is good stuff.
As discussed above, Halo Top is not for the lactose-intolerant. Remember, though, that dairy contains calcium, which is very good for you. Therefore, unlike Arctic Zero, a serving of Halo Top delivers about 12 percent of your daily requirement of calcium. Like Arctic Top, it has 5 grams of sugar per serving, and the serving size is 1/4 of a pint. It has more protein (6 grams) and fiber (5 grams) than Arctic Zero. It’s also a little salty at 109 grams of sodium per serving. That’s 5 percent of the amount of sodium you should consume in an entire day.
Halo Top is slightly more expensive. The price seems to vary between $5.49 and $5.99.
Final tally: 18 out of 30
Like Halo Top, this brand is made with milk and cream as primary ingredients. However, there seems to be a little less cream and salt in this dessert than in Halo Top. Health-wise, that may be a good thing, but taste-wise–not so much. Make no mistake, this brand’s Hot Cocoa flavor is tasty, with tiny morsels of dark chocolate sprinkled throughout. But salt and fat just make stuff taste better, period. So the taste battle has to go to Halo Top, by a grain of salt.
As stated above, this brand is fairly low in sodium, coming in at 50mg per serving. That’s less than half Halo Top’s sodium. It also has slightly more protein (7 grams) and supplies 20% of the recommended daily amount of calcium. However, there is that extra gram of sugar that both Artic Zero and Halo Top do not have. Still, because of the calcium and low sodium, I have to give the nod to Enlightened.
I bought a pint of Enlightened this morning at Sprout’s for $4.99.
Final tally: 18 out of 30.
As you can see, the battle between Halo Top and Enlightened is close indeed. You really can’t go wrong with either one. If you’re looking to lower your sodium intake, you should probably choose Enlightened. If you value taste over almost everything else except nutrition, as I do, then Halo Top is a better choice.
Now, before you grab a gallon of this stuff and plop down in front of a tv remember–it’s still ice cream. It’s an occasional treat, not a complete meal or dietary staple. If you eat a pint at one sitting, you’ve consumed 20 grams of sugar, which is way too much sugar at any one time.
The best way to enjoy it is to put a few scoops into a bowl with a tablespoon, put the rest back in the freezer, sit down somewhere quiet and enjoy every single spoonful.
Enjoyed mindfully, ice cream is one of life’s great delights, and now it’s available in a formulation that won’t ruin your health. It’s the best way to triumph over the world’s long, hot summer.