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You Scream, I Scream: The Scoop on Balanced Ice Cream

By: Miriam Ward, Dietic Intern with University of North Florida

It’s getting hot…real hot…the type of hot that allows you to fry eggs sunny-side-up on the sidewalk.  When it gets this hot, nothing is sweeter than a heaping scoop of ice cream. I could truly compose a compelling dessertation reminiscing on childhood memories of crisp waffle cones, juicy maraschino cherries, and warm fudge.

In 1984, July was officially declared National Ice Cream Month. Looks like I’m not alone in the obsession! High sales of this month contribute to ice cream production being well over one billion gallons a year and rising.  Americans have consistently relied on classic favorites, vanilla (49%), chocolate (43%) and strawberry (8%). I have love for all varieties…I don’t play flavorites! Cinnamon-basil, pumpkin, banana, and buttermilk-peach are just a few of the legen-dairy options to hit the market.

Did you know that this frozen treat can also be nutritious? Dessert can always be incorporated into a balanced diet. Do we have any recommendations? You sherbet we do!

Types of Ice Cream:


Unlike American ice cream, gelato—a frozen dessert from Italy—is made with whole milk rather than cream and contains no eggs.


Sherbet is a sweetened frozen dessert made with fruit and some sort of dairy product such as milk or cream. The oldest mention of sherbet is found in a Persian book of 12th century.


Sorbet is a frozen dessert made using ice combined with fruit juice, fruit purée, and does not contain dairy products. Sorbet has origins from Iran.

Frozen yogurt:

American-style dessert uses cultured milk, which may contain probiotics.

Soft serve:

Also known as soft ice, is also an American-style frozen dessert, like ice cream but softer and less dense due to air being introduced during freezing.

Got Mylk?

There are also some frozen desserts made from dairy alternatives, called mylk (which is faux milk) made from rice, soy, coconut, almond to almost any nut or seed.   I say the more the merrier because variety keeps life spicy


A Fruitful Choice:

How about the idea of fruit, but not your typical fruit.  But a beautiful rainbow of tropical fruits all over your ice cream!  Dragon fruit, jackfruit, and papaya are becoming a more common sight in the produce section. This sounds so yummy!

We got the Sauce:

  • Instead of butterscotch and caramel sauce, try honey as an ice cream topping. Swirls of golden honey provide a nutritious sweetness and gooey texture to sundaes. Honey is a source of iron and zinc, and phosphorus.
  • You can also try date syrup! It's high in minerals that support heart function, like potassium and magnesium.

Enhance the Flavor:

  • Fresh mint
    • anti-inflammatory in nature and help relieve indigestion
    • source of phosphorus, calcium and vitamins like C, D, E and A which improve the body's immune system
  • Fresh berries
    • high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants
  • Raisins/craisins (unsweetened)
    • good source of soluble fiber, which aids digestion and reduces stomach distress.

We all get a little nutty sometimes:

Nuts and seeds contain high amounts of fiber, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, and omega-3 fats which all have anti-inflammatory effects. Peanuts are a traditional sundae favorite, but here are some alternatives for a new adventure:

  • Hazelnuts
    • Buttery hazelnuts are the ingredient that gives Nutella its signature flavor. Try mixing chopped hazelnuts with chocolate chips to imitate the flavor of the popular spread.
  • Cashews
    • Toasted, caramelized cashew nuts are a sweet crunchy topping that will make you forget all about chopped peanuts.
  • Pumpkin Seeds
    • Try roasting pumpkin seeds with different spices to create sweet, spicy, or savory flavor combos.
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