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Your Frozen Favorites - The Cold Facts

From eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource

When it comes to fond memories of my youth, there are few things more comforting than my recollections of Saturday night ice cream excursions.

Imagine seven super-excited kids spilling from the family station wagon and making a beeline for the tiny ice cream stand window.

As the oft-times frazzled father of two young ones of my own, I can only now appreciate the mix of mirth and madness my mom and dad must have suffered during the McGran Family ventures to the Valley Hi Drive-In.

I can picture us trying our best -- and doing our worst -- to keep our precious soft swirl from melting away like the water-doused Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz. The task of neatening our ice cream fell on mom and dad, who were always at the ready to repair and rebuild our sagging small cones.

Ahhhhh... small cones. Hard to believe, but we were content to lap away at our single servings. In this age of bigger is better -- a time when the kid with the everything-but-the kitchen sink concoction is deemed the coolest -- single servings of plain, old chocolate or vanilla are for babies!

Well, I'm here to tell you the baby cones I now buy for my kids at Stewart's Drive-In are the perfect size for the determined dieter. Yes folks, BIGGER AIN'T ALWAYS BETTER!

That surely holds true for both the phone bills I pay and the food I feast upon.

Which brings me to the troubling trend of larger servings and the little extras that add up to a lot of unneeded -- and hopefully unwanted -- fat and calories.

We all deserve a little sweetness in our life. For me, it's extremely important during my dieting days to have something to satisfy my sweet tooth. That's why you'll find fat-free fudge pops and banana bars in my freezer more often than you'll find light beer in the fridge.

What I'm trying to tell you is there's no need to give ice cream the cold shoulder... not even when you have to lie back on your bed and suck in your stomach to snap closed your size 7 jeans.

No, a little goodness goes a long way toward keeping you on track. HOWEVER... a lot of goodness goes a long way toward destroying the best diet.

So before you storm your local Dairy Queen for a frothy Blizzard, chill out with a few nutrition facts. The ice cream giant has nearly 5,900 worldwide locations so odds are there is one a stone's throw from you. We've got the scoop on the new All-American Blizzard (thanks to my North of the Border buddies Nicole Matzke and Jennifer Brixius who toil at DQ's Canadian headquarters).

For you novices, a Blizzard is basically a cup of ice cream containing goodies like M&Ms and other candy bits of your choice.

The All-American comes complete with red, white and blue M&Ms and a liberal dose of chocolate. A small (12oz.) packs 620 calories and 22 grams of fat; a medium (16oz.), 820 cals and 29g of fat; a large (21oz.) 1,130 cals and 39 grams of fat.

Yes, we said 1,130 calories and 39 grams of fat. For more nutritional info be sure to check out the DQ website at www.dairyqueen.com.

Now before you swear off DQ for good, keep in mind there are healthier options available under the red-and-white sign. You could opt for the fat-free Vanilla Orange Bar (60 calories), the fat-free Fudge Bar (50 calories), the Lemon DQ Freez'r (80 calories per half-cup), or the Starkiss (80 calories).

What's that you say? "But John... those choices are good, but they aren't a Blizzard!" True... OK, so when the mood strikes get a small and share it with a friend or two. Or try to fool yourself by sprinkling a few M&Ms on a small vanilla cone (you'll ingest a far more appetizing 230 calories and 7 grams of fat).

If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, the menu makers at Dairy Queen must be tickled pink by McDonald's McFlurry... the ice cream and candy/cookie bits treat that comes in a cup... and is eaten with a straw-like spoon contraption.

The similarities extend to the nutritional numbers. An Oreo McFlurry will McMaul you with 570 calories and 20 grams of fat. The other choices are worse: a Nestle Crunch McFlurry (630 calories and 24 grams of fat), an M&M McFlurry (630 calories and 23 grams of fat), and a Butterfinger McFlurry (620 calories and 22 grams of fat).

You're far better off foregoing the McFlurry for a Vanilla Reduced Fat Ice Cream Cone which has just 150 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.

Sadly, this diet-devastating trend of ice cream/candy concoctions has also invaded the freezer section of your local market. Earlier tonight, during a quick jaunt to the local Wal-Mart, I saw shelf after shelf of fatty offerings.

Keep in mind that the recommended serving size for ice cream is typically a half-cup... that's four ounces, not a pint or a half-gallon. Four ounces of ice cream would about fit in the palm of your hand. Don't try it -- it will be cold and messy!

Anyway, back at Wal-Mart, I noticed Ben & Jerry's is still coming up with catchy names for its outrageous ice creams. The aptly named Chubby Hubby mixture boasts 330 calories and 21 grams of fat per serving! Fudge Central dishes out 300 calories and 18 grams of fat per serving.

Edy's line of candy bar/ice cream mixes (Snickers, Twix, Mars w/Almonds and M&Ms) fares a bit better. Per serving, the chunked-up choices range from 170-190 calories and 9 to 10 grams of fat.

The bottom line: if your favorite ice cream is packed with a few "little" extras (nuts, candy, cookie bits, cookie dough, etc) there's a good chance you are packing your paunch plenty of fat and calories you could do without.

  • Until next week, the kitchen is closed. But if you have any questions and/or comments, feel free to write me, eDiets editor-in-chief John McGran at john@ediets.com.

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