There’s perhaps nothing more reminiscent of summer than ice cream. However, the nutritional content of this fun, frozen treat can cloud the sunny memories. Fear not, those clouds can now be cleared up by a plethora of healthy and delicious ice cream recipes and alternatives.
Healthier brands. In this day and age, more and more brands are emerging with the mission of making healthier ice cream more appealing. Many of these brands incorporate healthier ingredients such as organic stevia, cane sugar, real milk and erythritol (a sugar alcohol food additive that can serve as a low-calorie and sugar sweetener). Some of these brands include Halo Top, Arctic Zero, Talenti and Enlightened, and they can be found in most grocery aisles in a variety of different flavors.
Adventurous alternatives. Your kids may argue otherwise, but there are many non-ice cream alternatives that can provide frozen relief on a hot summer day. Frozen fruits can often make a big splash, both in smoothie and popsicle form. Peel, chop and freeze your household favorites and add ingredients such as soy or almond milk, green tea or any other herbal liquid to give your recipes an extra healthy boost. Frozen yogurt is also a readily-available alternative, with several self-serve options around Michigan.
Mitten-based options. Speaking of Michigan, we encourage you to explore healthy ice cream alternatives in your own neighborhood.
- Furniture City Creamery (Grand Rapids) – Known for making their own ice cream in-house, Furniture City uses natural, locally-sourced ingredients. They also ensure that all components of their desserts are friendly to dairy-free/vegan customers—from cones to berry sauces to the ice cream itself.
- Milk & Honey (Traverse City) – One of the sweetest spots in northern Michigan, this downtown Traverse City location works directly with local farms and dairy businesses to meet the needs of those who aren’t big on sugar or even milk.
- Blank Slate Creamery (Ann Arbor) – This family-owned operation takes pride in creating sweet treats with natural products from around Michigan. This includes, but is not limited to, dairy-based products from Guernsey Dairy Farms, cream and goat cheese from Zingerman’s Creamery and honey from Great Lakes Raw Michigan.
- MSU Dairy Store (East Lansing) – An extra perk of having a food science and human nutrition department, the Dairy Store is a hotspot for both Spartan students and East Lansing residents. Much of the food-based research conducted is often translated into natural, homemade ice cream that keeps customers coming back for more.
- Detroit Water Ice Factory (Detroit) – This Campus Martius confectionary (with a pop-up location at Franklin Cider Mill in Bloomfield Hills) offers healthy frozen treats with a philanthropic twist. Founded in 2015 by Detroit author and journalist Mitch Albom and his friends, themed flavors like “Cobo Coconut” and the famous “Motown Twist” help raise funds for SAY Detroit—an organization that offers resources to Detroit citizens in need. Water ice is fat free, dairy free, cholesterol free and with 100% of profits going to charity, you can feel good eating this treat they promise is “stunningly delicious.”
Our favorite recipes. Want to put some of these ideas to the test? Check out a few of these summertime favorites.
- Fruit + Waffle Cones – both easy and affordable, these will be a hit at your next summer gathering. Gather any store-brand waffle cone, Greek yogurt, a mixture of your own favorite fruits and a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips. Add the yogurt and fruit to the cone respectively and top it all off with the chocolate chips or any other healthy compliment. A delicious and healthy home run!
- Vanilla Peach Pops – this vegan and dairy-free treat will provide some cooling relief at your next lake outing. Using vanilla almond milk, whisk in coconut oil, maple syrup and a pinch of salt. From there, create a popsicle mold with sliced peaches. Once everything is in place, pour the vanilla almond milk mixture over the mold, let them freeze overnight and enjoy.
- Homemade Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream – you read that right, chocolate and avocadoes have joined forces to create a sweet summer treat. Recipes like these often disguise the avocado taste, perhaps providing an opportunity to sneak a extra super food into your kids’ diet without them knowing. Although a homemade ice cream churner is required, the results are definitely worth the investment.
- Mint Chip Milkshake – In the mood for a quick, sweet treat after a long day of summer activities? Look no further than this minty recipe. The traditional soft-serve flavor taste gets a healthy twist with the addition of bananas, spinach and, of course, Greek yogurt. Set aside five minutes for blending and end your summer day on a high note.
So any time you’re craving a cold sweet treat, scoop into one of these delicious ice cream recipes for a healthier alternative.