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The next time you find yourself in the novelty freezer section, take a step back. You’ll likely notice that there are a lot of other desserts besides ice cream, many of which are lower in fat. Be aware of sugar content in low-fat desserts, as food companies will often increase the sugar content to compensate for the lack of fat. High sugar intake has been linked to an elevated risk for heart disease.
Consider swapping in one of these lighter alternatives for a higher fat ice cream.
Considered ice cream’s cousin, nonfat frozen yogurt contains just 2 grams of saturated fat per serving. Besides finding it in the grocery store, frozen yogurt shops have risen in popularity across the United States. Just be sure to look at the labels: Not all frozen yogurt is nonfat, and regular varieties can have as much as 4 grams of saturated fat per 1/2 cup, which is almost as much as ice cream.
Sherbet is another milk-based dessert that’s similar to ice cream. Like nonfat frozen yogurt, many sherbet flavors contain just 1 gram of saturated fat per 1/2-cup serving. Sherbet is typically made in fruity flavors, like this blackberry lime buttermilk sherbet. But again, read the labels since some brands contain more fat.
For a totally ice-based dessert, try sorbet. At heart, it’s just sugar and fruit cooked together and then frozen in an ice cream maker. There’s no dairy in the mix, so it’s safe for cholesterol levels. It has a similar texture and flavor to Italian ice, and tends to come in a variety of fruity flavors. This recipe for frozen strawberry daiquiri sorbet is great for a summer backyard barbecue, while cinnamon peach sorbet is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth craving any time of year.
Don’t think that popsicles are just for kids: The variety of flavors has expanded beyond the red, white, and blue firecracker-shaped pop! Choose whole fruit popsicles over ice cream versions, and look for sorbet or frozen yogurt varieties as well. If there’s no dairy, there’s likely less fat (unless coconut milk is used), but double check the label just to be sure.
Nondairy Frozen Desserts
Skipping dairy-based desserts but miss that creamy texture? Check out the ice creams made from alternative milks such as soy, almond, coconut, and cashew. Of course, look at the nutrition labels carefully to ensure you’re not getting more than you bargained for!
As the name implies, milkshakes are made from milk-based ice creams. For a more healthful dessert drink, turn to fruit and vegetable smoothies. While you can buy prepackaged smoothie mixes and kits, it can be just as easy and more fun to make your own at home. If you want a creamier texture, go ahead and add alternative milk ice cream or yogurt like in this raspberry smoothie recipe. Frozen bananas or fresh avocado also provide creaminess to blended drinks, without dairy.
It may seem obvious, but plain frozen fruit is one of the healthiest options since it is naturally a low-fat choice without added sugar. Try rinsing off grapes and freezing them for a bite-sized afternoon snack, or freeze banana slices for an after-dinner dessert.