Frozen Yogurt: One of the Hottest Cold Desserts
Enter frozen yogurt and health benefits in your favorite search engine and you’ll quickly find evidence of an ongoing debate about whether frozen yogurt is better for you than regular ice cream. There are even those who defend it as a health food. (Seriously?)
My thinking: Frozen yogurt is a frozen dessert. I don’t know about you, but if I have a hankering for a frozen dessert, I’m not thinking about health benefits—even if there are some. I’m thinking rich, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth-and-slide-down-your-throat yummy. Toward the end, I’ll share a little of what I found interesting in the debate, but for now let’s just look at the divine dessert known informally as froyo.
How does it differ from ice cream?
Well, according to Wikipedia—and good, solid logic—it’s different because it’s made with yogurt instead of milk and/or cream. Although frozen yogurt, depending upon the recipe, can include dairy products too. It typically is more tart than ice cream and a little lower in fat content (this does not make it a diet food). It may or may not contain active bacteria cultures—if you’re interested in that. (I’ve always found the idea of eating bacteria distasteful.)
Historically, it’s a baby
As early as the 10th century, ice cream was widespread among the Arab world’s major cities, including Baghdad, Damascus, and Cairo, according to Wikipedia. Whereas frozen yogurt has only been around since the early 1970s, taking off as a viable alternative to ice cream in the 1980s.
Another resurgence in popularity of this treat was seen from the fall of 2010 to the fall of 2011, according to a June 2012 U.S. News report by Rachel Pomerance. Pomerance’s article attributes part of the craze to frozen yogurt being a novelty and to the “health halo” effect surrounding frozen yogurt.
In my house, we’re traditionalists. Generally, we prefer ice cream (or a less caloric, but still not diet, alternative like gelato). But, for a while, we partook of frozen yogurt precisely because of that halo effect. We believed we could, in effect, have our ice cream and eat it, too.
But, like most desserts, the health benefits (or detriments) are as much dependent upon the one who eats as they are on what is eaten. In other words, Aristotle was right when he advised “moderation in all things.”
So, when considering a frozen dessert I now wonder less about how healthy it is or is not, and more about “if I’m going to eat this, how can I create the best version of it possible? What tools do I need and what recipes work best?”
Like any other food, it’s easier to make your own frozen with the right tools. And if the right tools are also fun, so much the better. One such tool is the Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Frozen Yogurt Maker. This machine makes a full two quarts of your favorite frozen yogurt—but that’s not all! It also creates sorbet and regular ice cream—as well as frozen drinks. The Pure Indulgence is fully automatic and allows you to put ingredients in the bowl—and let it do the rest in just 25 minutes. The freezer bowl (just place in your freezer the day before you want to use it) is double insulated for fast and even freezing.
Take it a step further
But, you can also make your own yogurt and then use that yogurt to make your own frozen yogurt. Cuisinart’s Electronic Yogurt Maker makes 50 ounces of nutritious yogurt from any type of milk, including soy, rice, or almond. Create six 8-ounce servings of any yogurt flavor all at once with one touch start and stop. When you create your own, you control the ingredients and can easily keep out–or put in–whatever ingredients best suit your family’s needs.
About those health benefits
Many of the health benefits attributed to frozen yogurt rely on the consumer’s self-restraint. If you load up your froyo with all sorts of candy add-ons, and if you let go of your natural tendency toward portion control, then frozen yogurt is likely no better for you than ice cream.
In my research, one of the most interesting (and balanced) pieces I found appeared on Shape.com and was written by Karen Borsari, an editor for the site. She examines five froyo myths and offers advice for those looking for a healthier frozen snack. Here’s a condensed version (but you can read the full article):
- Myth 1: Frozen yogurt is naturally nonfat or low-fat so I can have as much as I want. Borsari says this is sort of true, but remember the calories do still add up. Her advice? Moderation. Go for the smaller serving to save calories.
- Myth 2: The toppings (at a froyo store) don’t pack many calories. Again, sort of true, if you go for fruit toppings that are fresh, not in a syrup, she says. But avoid the granola toppings, which are typically high in calories.
- Myth 3: Frozen yogurt has health probiotics that support your immune and digestive systems. Another sort of true one. Borsari notes, however, that most of the probiotics, because of the processing and cold, don’t survive long enough to be of much benefit.
- Myth 4: Frozen yogurt is a great lunch. Borsari doesn’t equivocate here: False. Frozen yogurt (or regular yogurt) is not appropriate as a meal, she says. But it can be a healthy accompaniment to a light lunch that includes protein and vegetables.
- Myth 5: “Real” or “natural” frozen yogurt is better for you than a brand name. Not necessarily. She suggests always comparing the ingredients, calorie counts, fat counts, etc. As usual, be smart.
But this does point out another benefit of making your own: You control what goes in the frozen yogurt maker and therefore have more knowledge and say-so about the calorie and fat content.
Frozen yogurt is a great dessert option. Empower yourself to make the choices that are the best for you and your family.
Frozen yogurt recipes
These recipes come from our friends at Yogurt-Everyday.com and are used with permission. You can make any frozen yogurt recipe with less sugar if you are diabetic. You can use nonfat, low fat, or whole milk frozen yogurt. Whatever you need to suit your diet.
One of my favorite frozen yogurt recipes! Honey and lemon go together beautifully in frozen yogurt. The honey gives the dessert a smooth texture and natural sweetness, while the lemon imparts a bright snap to the taste.
- 2/3 cup of honey
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of grated lemon rind
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups of plain, whole milk yogurt
- 2 egg whites
Combine the first four ingredients in a heavy enameled or stainless steel saucepan over medium heat and stir until well blended. Then set the mixture aside to cool.
Mix in the yogurt and chill two hours.
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, gently fold them into the yogurt mixture, and churn the dessert according to manufacturer’s directions. Makes two quarts.
©Yogurt-Everyday.com. Used by permission.
- 1/3 cup fresh peaches, peeled and chopped
- 2-1/2 cups plain, whole milk yogurt
- 1/2 cup raw sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine all the ingredients, chill for two hours.
Place in frozen yogurt maker and churn to manufacturer’s directions.
©Yogurt-Everyday.com. Used by permission.