Ice cream rates as America's favorite dessert and leading comfort food in 2009, according to The Food Channel.
Ninety-eight percent of all households purchase ice cream -- vanilla being the most popular flavor and chocolate syrup the favorite topping.
Each American consumes a yearly average of 23.2 quarts of ice cream, ice milk, sherbet, ices and other commercially produced frozen dairy products with consumption the highest during July and August.
What is your favorite frozen treat to order at the drive-through this summer? If it's a milkshake, think again if you're out for a healthy snack. Milkshakes are usually made of ice cream, full-cream milk and sugar and have enough calories to count for two meals. A large, chocolate, soft-serve shake can easily add up to 1,150 calories, 30 grams total fat and over 3/4 cup sugar. That's more than half the total calories and fat for a day for most people.
Adding chewy baked brownie pieces and chocolate chunks to the shake puts you over the top with 1440 calories, 67 grams total fat and 33 grams saturated fat -- more calories and fat than two large bacon cheeseburgers!
The calories in a medium vanilla soft-serve cone can vary between 150 and 330. Dipping that medium cone in chocolate adds 140 calories and doubles the grams of fat. Waffle cones, candy, syrup, sprinkles, and whipped cream add calories, sugar and fat.
Fast-food restaurants post on-line nutrition calculators that are easy for customers to use. Just do a web search using the name of the restaurant and the words "nutrition information." Customers can also look for nutrition information charts located inside the store. Ask for information if you don't see it posted.
In the 1970's, frozen yogurt was introduced as a healthier alternative to ice cream. It is similar to ice cream, but is lower in fat due to the use of milk instead of cream. Sweeteners, colorings and flavorings are mixed in and air is incorporated into the mixture to create extra volume and smooth consistence.
One-half cup of frozen yogurt has about 100 to 120 calories compared to 150 to 220 calories for the same amount of ice cream.
Light, low-fat, and no sugar added ice cream options are also available. Be sure to read the Nutrition Facts Label to make healthier choices.
Other types of frozen delights include gelato, which is traditionally made with milk rather than cream; sorbet, which does not contain milk or cream; and frozen custard, which is similar to ice cream and made with eggs in addition to cream and sugar and prepared fresh on-site.
Since ice cream treats are such universal favorites, there are many calorie-conscious alternatives available. If you're still in the mood for a cold dessert, share one with a friend or enjoy a 100-calorie fudge bar.
Note: Information for this article came from Kathy Walsten, BS, Nutrition Educator, Family Nutrition Program, Department of Human Nutrition, Kansas State University.
Editor's Note: Ann Ludlum is a K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences and 4-H extension agent assigned to Bourbon County. She may be reached at 620-223-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.