Summer ice cream craving? Try frozen treats with a healthier twist

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Cool treats are a great way to beat the heat -- what’s not so great are the calories and artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners that often come along with them. 

Dr. Kristin Kirkpatrick, of Cleveland Clinic, said if ice cream is a summertime vice -- natural ingredients are best.

“I would rather you go to your favorite ice cream shop and get something real that’s sugar, milk, cream -- that’s what ice cream is -- and whatever is added into it, such as strawberries, or chocolate, as opposed to every single night having a sugar-free ice cream bar with a lot of different artificial flavors in it,” she said.

If popsicles are preferred, Kirkpatrick recommends checking the label for fewer ingredients and real fruit.

“Try and find popsicles that are more fruit juice-based,” she said. “While that’s not going to impact the sugar, at least you can get some of the artificial colors out of there.” 

Frozen treats can be homemade too, which can help control the amount of sugar, as well as utilize fresh nutrient-rich ingredients.

“The more you make it yourself, the more you know what’s in it,” said Kirkpatrick. “If you take a bunch of blueberries and you mix it with some sugar and some yogurt, it’s not only tasty, but you get the health benefits of the blueberries as well.” 

Kirkpatrick said whole fruits -- like bananas and strawberries -- can even be dipped in dark chocolate and frozen for a tasty treat that’s more nutritious than a traditional popsicle.

If evening plans include ice cream as an after-dinner treat, Kirkpatrick suggests limiting sweets throughout the day to avoid sugar overload. 

But, remember, it’s best if high-calorie frozen treats, like ice cream, are eaten in moderation -- and not every night.