My kids love ice cream. Antoine and Aurélie cannot resist chocolate and Émile, vanilla. They always say "yes" to popsicles, even when the temperature is around -30 degrees Celsius! Last summer, they also discovered frozen yogurt. You best believe I heard "Mom I want more!" many times. Yet, is there a frozen dessert healthier than another?
Real ice cream must contain at least 10% milk fat under the Food and Drug Regulations. The packaging says "ice cream" and not "frozen dessert." High-end ice creams contain less air, thus making them firmer. Furthermore, their ingredient list begins with CREAM and MILK and is much shorter, because the manufacturer does not need to add stabilizers and emulsifiers to obtain the desired texture. Finally, in the real ice cream and especially in high-end ice creams, containing more fat and less air, there is usually more calories ... Children need energy, fat and calcium, you say? Know that 125 ml (1 / 2 cup) of ice cream can represent some 80% of the needs in saturated fat for a 4 year old (which is a lot for such a small amount of ice cream) and only 10% of their calcium needs (which is very little compared with the large amount of fat and calories). So ice cream is something you should eat with ... moderation!
Frozen yogurt usually contains more sugar and less calcium and protein than regular yogurt, which is not on its favor. It is also good to know that the good bacteria found in yogurt are sensitive to temperature variations. Knowing this, frozen yogurt manufacturers cannot guarantee the beneficial effects on health, but they can still display that their frozen yogurt contains good bacteria on the packaging! In short, frozen yogurt is not as healthy as regular yogurt. Frozen yogurt is still lower in fat than ice cream, but it is just as sweet, if not more. The amount of calories is equivalent to low-end ice creams or frozen dairy desserts. The amount of calcium is highly variable from one product to another. The choice between ice cream and frozen yogurt is yours.
For a really healthy version, the homemade mixture of "frozen yogurt and fruit” is less sweet and is richer in protein and calcium than a frozen yogurt bought at a grocery store. And, it's simple! In a food processor, mush 125 ml (1 / 2 cup) regular or Greek plain yogurt, add 375 ml (1 ½ cups) frozen fruits of your choice and a little (or no) sugar or maple syrup depending on the frozen fruit you choose. Enjoy it now or put in the freezer to make popsicles.
Popsicles are as follows: water, sugar, artificial colors and flavors! Those advertising "made with real juice" are often disappointing. The list of ingredients and Nutrition Facts table often reveal that there is more water than juice and more sugar than fruits! A homemade popsicle made from 100% pure fruit juice, full of vitamin C and energy, is still the best solution. But did you know that we can offer ... too much? In fact, large juice consumption is often at the expense of milk and water. Taken in excess, fruit juice gives too much energy and not enough fiber. The maximum daily juice intake recommended is 125 ml (1 / 2 cup), the equivalent of one serving of fruits. Therefore, it is best to limit the amount of fruit juice popsicles, even 100% pure. A healthy solution: offering fruits that have been previously frozen in the freezer (parts of grapes and chunks of honeydew melon) or even watermelon on a stick! A fruit puree can be frozen. A mixture of strawberries and mango, for example, would be very tasty.
What to think of all this?
Homemade versions of frozen desserts are definitely the most nutritious. High end frozen desserts are often more filling and satisfying than the versions filled with air, sugar and food coloring. In any form, frozen desserts are to be eaten moderately. Pick the one you like best and take the time to enjoy it!
By Nathalie Regimbal, RD and the team of dietitians in Mangé Futé