Today Ice Cream is More than Just Frozen, Sweet Cream!

>> Sunday, December 6, 2009

Strawberry ice cream in a cone.Image via Wikipedia
The subject of ice cream came up recently in a conversation and as I also have a sweet spot for the stuff, I thought I'd put my response out here for more to share.

Ice cream should be an occasional treat and we can probably all start in agreement on that point. It's typical high in calories considering the concept of it is frozen, sweetened cream. In America it's probably eaten more often than it should. Working in a downtown area, it is unsurprising to see people eating as they walk down the skyways at any particular time of the year. So what exactly are we eating when we devour this evilly-delicious stuff?



Breyers LogoImage via Wikipedia
To keep it simple, let's start with a plain vanilla. All the ingredients you really need for that are: milk, sugar, vanilla. Once upon a time, the closest and most easily-available commercial brand of ice cream you could buy that met this ingredient list was Breyer's Vanilla. This was back before they were bought out by Unilever, which is coincidentally before they started churning out new flavor after new flavor. Previously they had about three flavors; vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Obviously, if you go to the store to examine their products now, it's hard to count how many there are. I'm sorry to say that Breyers has gone the way of so many other "natural" or "organic" products out there: adulterated and not worth your dollar. They do still sell their original vanilla with minor modifications, now.  Their vanilla is now made from "milk, cream, sugar, natural vanilla flavor, and natural tara gum" Before Breyers, I had not heard of tara gum, so I looked it up, and it turns out to be a thickening agent and stablizer when used in food. This, then, is added so that the ice cream maintains a specific texture for a longer period of time in the freezer. Obviously, since they didn't have it before, they don't need it now - and you don't need it in your body. The only other thing wrong, besides sugar which of course is always bad, is the milk and cream that are listed. If a product doesn't specify that its dairy comes from cows that are not treated with rBGH (growth hormones) then you should assume that it IS. Thus, my verdict is that you should simply stay away from Breyers.


Image of Coldstone Creamery in Hudson, Ohio.Image via Wikipedia
Locally near where I live, you can find a few dedicated ice cream chain stores, of which the most popular two are Cold Stone Creamery and Maggie Moo's. Cold Stone Creamery's ingredient lists are huge paragraphs full of unpronounceable and unrecognizable things. If for some strange reason you hold any faith that their products are even remotely healthy, I'll come back and detail some of what's wrong with them, but if you value your life, or your health at least, please stay away from the Stone.

Jumping over to Maggie Moo's, the vanilla, or Udderly Cream, is only slightly worse than Breyer's so on a day when you're really in the mood you could probably break down & eat it without too much concern for your health.


MaggieMoo's Ice Cream and TreateryImage via Wikipedia
It includes "Milkfat and non milkfat, sugar, corn syrup mono and diglycerides (derived from vegetable products), carob bean gum, guar gum, and carrageenan." Okay, so I personally wouldn't eat it, but if you really felt like it, feel free. What you're looking at here is milk which probably has rBGH and has had some of the fat removed. When manufacturers remove fat from milk, they return body to that milk by adding powdered milk back in. The problem with powdered milk, then, is that it contains nitrates and oxidized cholesterol (the really bad stuff). This actually promotes heart disease and cancer!

So, after the milk, Maggie Moo's has listed sugar, which I should not need to explain is bad, and then corn syrup. You should be working to remove corn as an ingredient in your processed foods, if for no other reason than that it is in nearly everything already. 70% to 80% of all corn in America is genetically modified, which makes it allergenic and generally unhealthy for your body.  I cannot say anything yet as to mono- and diglycerides, but since (again) they are not needed in the creation of ice cream, they do not belong there. Carob bean gum and guar gum are processed thickening agents. They're not going to kill you but you don't need them. And carrageenan, a seaweed extract, while natural is also a glutamate, which has similar properties to MSG.

The rest of Maggie Moo's products, although on occasion contain amazingly-good ingredients such as coconut oil or real fruit, are riddled with everything from artificial colors and flavors to trans-fats. With snacks like these, who need doctors? Oh wait - everyone.


An example of a Trader Joe's storefrontImage via Wikipedia
If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, there you can buy a tolerable ice cream. It's a bit heavy on the sugar - 23g per 1/2 cup - but it's delicious and uses milk and cream without rBGH. Its ingredients are: "cream, milk, sugar, egg yolks, natural vanilla flavor, carbon bean gum, guar gum" - so you have the stabilizers there at the end which you don't really need, but again, this is a tolerable option. If the worst ice creams were all this bad, we'd be fairly well-off.

If you would like to have your ice cream and eat it, too, what you can do is just make it yourself. There's a point of pride to be cherished when your batch of home-made ice cream turns out a picture of perfection. And sometimes it's the easiest thing in the world to make. The only downside is that you will need some kind of kitchen equipment like a really good blender (Vita-mix!) or an ice cream maker.

The Image via Wikipedia

To make a delicious Mango ice cream, just blend all these together and serve:
  • 1 lb of frozen mangoes
  • 1 cup of milk (coconut milk or almond milk are options)
  • a splash of vanilla
  • sugar to taste (from none to 1 tbsp)
For delicious vanilla ice cream at home, combine the following in an ice-cream maker:
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • up to 2/3 cup sugar
  • about 2 tsp vanilla
Feel free to experiment and just remember that you don't have to follow a recipe exactly for it to turn out deliciously. I recommend working your way to raw milk, stevia instead of sugar, and fruits for flavorings. Have fun, and be healthy!


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3 comments:

samann1121 December 7, 2009 at 10:05 AM  

If you have a Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy store near where you live (mainly OK, KS, and MO), you can get some decent ice cream there. And I believe all their milk is rBGH-free. Here's the ingredient list for their plain chocolate:

Fresh Grade 'A' whole milk, sugar, cream, cocoa processed with alkali, stabilizer blend (monoglycerides, cellulose gel, cellulose gum, carrageenan), natural vanilla.

Dr. Susan Rubin December 7, 2009 at 10:10 AM  

Considering the cold thermal nature of ice cream, why would anyone want to eat it when it's cold outside? According to Chinese medicine, ice cream is both cold and damp....two things you just don't want in the winter time!

One way to make ice cream more special is to eat it seasonally. My family enjoys ice cream between Memorial Day and Labor Day. We often make it ourselves but will buy ice cream with ingredients we can pronounce ( this leaves out toxic versions like Maggie Moos and Cold Stone).

psychiclunch December 7, 2009 at 12:43 PM  

I admit to eating ice cream (at home, usually) during the winter, but my wife often comes down on the side of not eating cold things in general. More specifically she recommends not eating/drinking cold things especially if you're sick, saying that it will make things worse. For me... well, the jury is still out on THAT subject, but in general I would agree that cold-when-it's-cold is not a great idea.

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About Psychic Lunch

Psychic Lunch was founded in 2009 by a nerd and father who wants people to be healthy. The information on this site is researched, but should be considered opinion; that is, you should always do your own research and come to your own conclusions about what is and what is not healthy. Products endorsed on this site are actually believed in and used by the author.

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