When you walk through the frozen section of Safeway in North Beach, San Francisco, the shelves are covered in a new wave of ice cream brands. From Halo Top to Arctic Zero, the idea of “healthy” ice cream is being marketed to every dieter standing in the ice cream section who is desperate for a taste of the good stuff without sacrificing their calorie count for the day (I have my own issues with this type of dilemma, but I’ll save that for another post). Everyone cannot wait to get their hands on these ice creams that promise a whole pint for only 250 calories. Sounds awesome! But also, sounds too good to be true, and usually, if something sounds too good to be true, it means it is.
How to get a pint of ice cream to 250 calories
So how do they do that? Answer: process!! I’d like you to imagine Dexter’s arch nemesis, Mandark, when reading that because that’s how I thought it in my head as I typed.
They use ingredients that you probably couldn’t grow in your backyard like vegetable glycerin, guar gum, and whey concentrate. I will admit that a lot of these ingredients aren’t weighted purely in cons. They have some pros too. Guar gum, for example, is known to cause digestive issues. But it can help slow down glucose absorption. Regardless, what I’ve found is that the more a plant or food is changed from its original form, the harder it is for my body to digest and the worse I feel. But to be completely honest, my biggest beef with these healthy ice cream brands isn’t that they have processed ingredients, it’s the way they market their products to make the consumer think they can eat an entire pint.
Please stop eating entire pints of ice cream in one sitting
If you’re reading this, and you regularly down an entire pint of halo top (keyword “regularly” because I’m not going to judge that break-up or bombed interview pint), pleaseeee stop. I used four e’s to really emphasize my point. Eating an entire pint of ice cream, no matter how many calories, is not good for you. And sugar substitutes like what’s in these ice cream brands have shown to make you crave more sweet foods. The more you eat of them, the more you crave. Soon you’ll be knee deep in Halo Top pints, you won’t even know what to do! My point is, ice cream is still ice cream. Unfortunately, there’s no magic way (yet) to healthily binge on your favorite treat.
The ice cream I choose
Now, I love ice cream. So this whole post is not me telling you to stop eating ice cream because that’s never going to happen. Because it’s best to eat the recommended serving size of about 1/2 cup, I don’t even mess with that Halo Top stuff. Instead, I’ve found a couple brands of naturally sweetened, vegan ice cream that I can indulge in without upsetting my stomach for the rest of the night. My two favorite brands are Jöne’s Gelato and Vixen Kitchen (number one if I had to choose). The reason I like Vixen Kitchen just a bit more is that they are better at limiting their ice cream to more natural, whole ingredients (think cashews, maple syrup, sea salt, and vanilla bean).
These are brands that I’ve found at my local Whole Foods in San Francisco. I’m not quite sure how far their distribution goes, but if you can’t find these exact brands near you, always try to look at the ingredients of what you’re buying. When I look to new brands, I think: “Could I explain what each ingredient is? Could I make this myself? Is it made with a nut milk (relevant for me but not everyone)?” All questions that, if answered yes, are a good sign for me.
Do any of you have ice cream brands that you can’t live without? Let me know! Always looking for more options to try.