For a lot of you, ice cream isn't even on your food radar. Once you started to lift and get healthy, you pushed that last pint of now-forgotten Ben & Jerry's to the back of the freezer and now it's so caked with frost that it looks like something Norwegian explorer Amundsen left behind in Antarctica.
C'mon, were you really never going to eat ice cream again? What the heck were you going to put on your pie? Wheat grass? What did you plan on doing the next time you were at some kid's birthday party? Ask for some quinoa instead? Get real.
If you're truly anti-ice cream, there's a new type of ice cream that might cause you to re-think your stance. It's called Halo Top, and while calling it a "healthy" ice cream might still be a bit of an oxymoron, it's something you could easily introduce into your diet with little guilt, remorse, or ill effects. Hell, it might even work as an occasional part of a post-workout meal.
Okay, What's So Special About It?
Halo Top is exciting because it has only a fraction of the carbs and fat that regular ice cream has. It also contains between 20 and 24 grams of protein per pint, depending on the flavor. Take a look at the nutrition stats for a pint of vanilla Haagen-Dazs:
- Calories: 1,000
- Fat: 68 grams
- Saturated Fat: 40 grams
- Carbohydrates: 84 grams
- Sugars: 80 grams
- Protein: 16 grams
Now compare that with a pint of vanilla bean Halo Top:
- Calories: 240
- Fat: 8 grams
- Saturated fat: 4 grams
- Carbohydrates: 52 grams
- Sugars: 20 grams
- Protein: 20 grams
That's a pretty remarkable contrast.
How Do They Do It?
If you look at the ingredients, a lot of the answers will fall into place like so many ice cream sprinkles. The list of ingredients in the vanilla Haagen Dazs is admirably sparse: cream, skim milk, cane sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla extract. Admirable or not, though, those ingredients translate to a fat-butt ugly, carb, fat, and calorie profile.
Now look at the ingredients in the Halo Top version: milk and cream, eggs, erythritol, pre-biotic fiber, milk protein concentrate, organic cane sugar, vegetable glycerin, vanilla extract, vanilla beans, sea salt, organic carob gum, organic guar gum, organic stevia.
While Halo Top uses, like its more nutritionally bloated counterpart, cane sugar as a sweetener, it also contains the natural low-cal sweetener stevia, along with the sugar alcohol erythritol, which has only a one-fourth of a calorie per gram. Together, they equate to far fewer carbs.
Halo Top's reduced fat content appears to be a combination of a couple of factors. For one, they probably skimp on the cream, milk, and eggs in their product and replace them with added milk protein (some flavors have 24 grams) and pre-biotic fibers and organic gums, which appear to have been carefully balanced to give a mouth feel similar to fat.
The second factor that influences total fat (and total carb) content is mass. While a pint of Haagen Dazs weighs around 400 grams, a pint of Halo Top only weighs around 250 grams.
Apparently, they've whipped the hell out of the stuff to add volume, so we're not exactly comparing apple-flavored Halo Top to apple-flavored Haagen Dazs. Still, if both products had the same weight, Halo Top would still have a lot fewer than half the calories of a pint of Haagen Dazs.
Oh Yeah, How's It Taste?
If someone slapped a snowball of one of the 24 flavors (and counting) of Halo Top into a cone or onto a piece of apple pie, you really couldn't tell that you were eating a reduced calorie, low or lower fat, ice cream.
That being said, it can't match the richness and creamy mouth feel of other premium ice creams, but who cares? It's ice cream and you can eat it without beating yourself up.
So Is It Healthy?
It'd be a bit of a stretch to say that Halo Top was "healthy." After all, it's not pureed broccoli. Still, there's nothing egregiously bad about it, health wise. It might even make an acceptable, occasional, post-workout meal, especially if you followed it up with a scoop or two of Mag-10®.