Grass Roots Nutrition: Spring Sweets

Grass Roots Nutrition: Spring Sweets

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Dear Holly: Is frozen yogurt healthier than ice-cream? -Spring Sweets


Dear Spring Sweets:
Frozen yogurt has a “health halo,”- the perception that it is healthy, without necessarily being so.


What is frozen yogurt? It is not a regulated term. Unlike ice-cream, which has a minimum 10% requirement of milk-fat, frozen yogurt has no legal standard definition. While it is a common assumption that frozen yogurt has live probiotics (the good bacteria), there is no guarantee.


If an ice-cream is lower than 10% fat, it is called ice-milk. Most soft-serve treats are not, in fact, ice-cream. Let’s consider the serving size. The recommended amount of frozen treats is one half cup or 4 ounces. This proper portion looks like two ping pong ball scoops. 1 cup, or two servings, looks like a baseball.


The container given to you at self-serve yogurt places is huge! The “small” bowl is 16 ounces and the large is 24. It is too easy to go overboard with your portions when starting with a bowl that mimics a bucket!


And what about the toppings? There seems to be a mental disconnect between the toppings and their calories when placed on top of yogurt. Candy, cookie pieces, and other sweet toppings still count, even if enjoyed with bites of frozen yogurt. I see the same phenomenon with salads; fried chicken is suddenly a healthy choice when placed on top of iceberg lettuce and smothered in ranch dressing. It is a salad, so it is healthy, right? Wrong!


Let’s compare frozen yogurt to ice cream. One ½ cup serving of Bryers vanilla ice-cream contains 150 calories, 7 grams of fat (4 grams saturated) and 15 grams of sugar. The ingredients are simple; Milk, Cream, Sugar, Tara Gum, Natural Flavor.


A few more bucks upgrades us to ½ cup of Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean ice-cream. One ½ cup serving contains 270 calories with 17 grams of fat (10 grams saturated fat) and 23 grams of sugar. It tastes better and costs more, because of the fat content. Fat is expensive! The ingredients are simple: cream, Skim Milk, Sugar, Egg Yolks, Ground Vanilla Beans, Vanilla Extract.


The interesting thing about comparing ice-cream to frozen yogurt is that self-serve yogurt venues typically list the calories in yogurt in calories per ounce. One local chain, Orange Leaf, carries a basic vanilla that has 40 calories per ounce. In order to compare to ice-cream, you must multiply that by 4 ounces to get ½ cup. In this case, ½ cup of vanilla frozen yogurt contains 160 calories – very close to the Bryers ice-cream! Also, let’s check out the ingredients listed for this frozen yogurt: Non-fat milk, sugar, corn syrup solids, coconut oil, nonfat yogurt, natural and artificial flavors, sodium caseinate, salt, potassium and sodium phosphate, guar gum, mono & diglycerides, soy lecithin, xantham gum, lactic acid bacteria. That’s three times the number of ingredients used to make the Haagen-Daz!


So which to choose? The one that you like best. Enjoy it as a treat once in a while, in a reasonable portion. Just don’t fool yourself that either one is a health food! You can also try my banana “ice-cream.” Peel a ripe banana, cut into chunks and freeze until solid. Place chunks in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Be patient, this takes a few minutes! Stir in peanut butter and cocoa powder for an extra decadent flavor. This truly is a healthy choice.


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What’s your question for Holly? Send them to For more information and to make an appointment to work on your goals, visit Grass Roots Nutrition, LLC and BrideBod, owned by me, Holly Larson, a Registered Dietitian. Visit me online at and follow us on Facebook. Have a delicious, healthy day!