Hot weather hacks for the ice-cream averse?
June 20, 2016 1:15 PM   Subscribe

This summer our family is going to try to wean Grandpa off his "pint of ice cream per night" habit. Help me with your ideas?

**Note, I am not asking if we *should* try to wean Pops. We are going to try, and that's that.***

So he likes a sweet, cold treat after dinner. And he gets up in the middle of the night to have some more. Help me think up some substitutes so he can get his cold/sweet satisfaction but stop gaining weight and suffering from Specific Health Issue.


Popsicles? I'm thinking homemade, juice-based. Alas the popsicle forms suggested by Sweethome have risen from $18 to $40+. What other implement can I try? What about a cookbook or the best online recipes? Any tips or tricks I should know?

Frozen...what else? Grapes? What's better?

What else can fit into this icy+sweet slot? This is all taking place in a very small town with one standard-type grocery store, so no obscure ingredients. Online purchases are okay.
posted by BlahLaLa to Food & Drink (41 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
How about [no fat] Greek yogurt and a tiny bit of maple syrup? Or yogurt and fresh berries?
posted by xaryts at 1:22 PM on June 20, 2016

I get them at Costco, but I assume other grocery stores probably carry them too--frozen chocolate-covered banana slices. The ones I get come four slices to a sleeve, and are 100 calories per sleeve. Definitely hits the cold, creamy, and sweet trifecta in a similar way to ice cream, but the portions are way easier to control and the sugar/fat hit is way lower.
posted by iminurmefi at 1:22 PM on June 20, 2016 [10 favorites]

Frozen banana sliced before freezing! Frozen marshmallows. Frozen mellon balls. Frozen watermelon chunks. Frozen berries. Frozen berries blended with a bit of milk to make sorbet. Frozen pudding.

They sell popsicle forms at my grocery store and target for like $5-$10, so see what's available.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:22 PM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

I feel like a good smoothie is as satisfying as a milkshake: frozen fruit (peaches, strawberries, mango, blueberries, blackberries, etc), a banana, a dollop of yogurt, and enough milk to make it blend. With a good enough blender, you might even get it as firm as soft-serve, but I like it drinkable.
posted by rikschell at 1:22 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Would some form of frozen yoghurt work? It's probably healthier than what he's having now.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:24 PM on June 20, 2016

Pre-made smoothies?
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:24 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've had to give up ice cream for [reasons] and I'm happily addicted to frozen Strawberry Outshine Fruit Bars. 60 calories each, 0 cholesterol, and genuinely tasty and refreshing. Like sorbet on a stick! They also have several other flavors but my small local store only carries strawberry, lime, and coconut.
posted by mochapickle at 1:25 PM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Dole makes chocolate coated frozen banana slices, along with chocolate covered frozen strawberries on a sleeve with 4 slices each. The key is to let them thaw for at least 1/2 hour (1 hour is better) They are cold, sweet, and delicious and much less of a problem than ice cream.
posted by mmf at 1:26 PM on June 20, 2016

You can get popsicle molds for less than $15 pretty much anywhere (kmart, target, amazon, your local kitchenware place, maybe even the grocery store), they don't need to be anything special.

Good popscicle flavors include:
- fresh-squeezed grapefruit or orange juice

- milk of choice (I like almond) blended with a banana, some cocoa powder and liquid sweetener, like maple syrup or corn syrup (you could also add some peanut butter).

- strawberries blended with a little sugar, a glug of black iced tea to help the berries blend, and a touch of either lemon juice or vodka

- chocolate pudding (you may need to make it a little thinner than usual)

You can also make "soft-serve" out of fruit. Frozen bananas are classic, frozen strawberries and milk are great too.
posted by snaw at 1:27 PM on June 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

Shaved-ice based drinks or dishes.
Basically, mix anything with enough shaved ice and it becomes a satisfying drink or dish.
Freeze a mixture into ice and shave it, and it's a drink or dish.
A cheap shaved ice machine runs about fifty bucks on amazon.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:27 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

You don't need fancy popsicle forms to make popsicles. Just use little dixie cups and stick sticks in them. If you care about the stick sticking straight up, stretch some plastic wrap over the top of the dixie cup and stick the stick through that first.
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:28 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's pricey, but ArticZero scratches the itch for eating a full pint of processed frozen product. If all the other good suggestions (frozen marshmallows, genius!) would work for the daily sweet yen, a pint of ArticZero could fill the void for special occasions. If my brain is screaming "Give me all the bad food choices!", I know I can scarf a whole 300 calorie pint without regret.
posted by annaramma at 1:28 PM on June 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

I love this sorbet recipe if you have an ice cream maker. It's from the cookbook The Perfect Scoop (which has several sorbets as I recall, if you like the idea):

1 ripe cantaloupe (about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp lime juice, more to taste
2 T white wine (optional)

1. Split the melon in half and scoop out the seeds. Scoop the flesh from the rind and place it in a blender. Add the remaining ingredients except the wine, and blend until very smooth. Taste, and add more lime juice and the wine if desired.

2. Chill the mixture thoroughly, and then freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Pop the sorbet in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up before serving.
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:29 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

You could put popsicle sticks in silicone ice cube trays, and make little mini-popsicles that are very easy to pop out. I use that method to make perfect little ice cream pops.

Ignore if irrelevant but I have to chime in on one thing: the sugar in ice cream is absorbed much differently (much more slowly, much less disruptively) than the sugar in popsicles (if there is no significant source of fat in the popsicles.) I personally cannot eat half a popsicle without it throwing my blood sugar out of wack and causing big problems which cause me to eat *more* and feel anxious. Feel free to ignore if irrelevant, but those who have no experience with blood sugar issues don't always know to take into account the important effects fat has on blood sugar stability. (Full disclosure, I eat a pint of ice cream every day and am lean and muscular, in middle age.)
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 1:29 PM on June 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

When I make popsicles in the summer, I go more the paleta route--which is a whirrrr up fresh whole fruit and put that in the molds, rather than straight up juice. That way you get the benefit of all the parts of the fruit and not just the calories and sugar from the juice.

Strawberries and mangoes--separate and together--are my favourites, but other berries are great, too, as are unsweetened canned peaches.

You can also mix up a smoothie using whatever milk of your choice and low-fat yogurt and freeze that, which can add some fat but not as many calories as ice cream.

Frozen grapes are delicious, I love them on a hot day, but they are no ice cream.
posted by looli at 1:37 PM on June 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

The frozen fruity suggestions are good if he can transition, but they're still high in sugar and they don't satisfy that creamy craving. I am a lemon ice/frozen fruit lover but it's no substitute for ice cream for me.

You would be surprised how nicely thick Greek yogurt dresses up and freezes; it's very ice-creamy. So if he can do dairy then it's a satisfying option. I'm partial to vanilla mixed with a random collection of unhealthy things a la Ben & Jerry's, so for that, just add a scant dollop of agave nectar, a drop or two of vanilla extract, and frozen blueberries, toasted walnut chunks, unsweetened coconut shavings, dark chocolate chips, etc. Then freeze it all. It behaves like ice cream in the mouth but not the gut/bloodstream.
posted by headnsouth at 1:38 PM on June 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

Nthing the sorbet section of "The Perfect Scoop", which I've been using for strawberry sorbet lately (I have a glut). That ingredient list calls for:

1 pound of strawberries,
3/4 cup of sugar,
a squeeze of lemon juice,

And that is it. Slice up the strawberries and mix 'em with the sugar in a bowl, let that sit for an hour, then blitz it through a food processor and then chill it in the fridge. Then run it through your ice cream maker.

And speaking of ice cream makers - this little doohickey is what I use most often, because it's cheaper and smaller so it fits in my fridge better. But it may also help you with the portion control - it comes with two of those bowl-shaped base pieces, and that's what you keep in your freezer and only take out when you're ready to make ice cream. But each one of those bowls makes only a half a pint - and if you've only made a half a pint at a time, then once your Dad eats through that half pint, then there IS no more ice cream for him to have as a midnight snack. (Me, I use both bowls and make myself a pint at a time, but I admit to having a little more restraint.)

Work with the sorbet family and make small batches.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:38 PM on June 20, 2016

Almond milk ice cream is considerably less calorically dense than dairy ice cream. Ben & Jerry's pretty recently came out with 4 nondairy flavors made with almond milk.
posted by Gymnopedist at 1:44 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Pudding Pops.
Jell-O Pudding Pops used to be everywhere until Popsicle bought the brand and they eventually disappeared. One of my local grocery chains, however, has a store brand (Stop & Shop) so yours might as well. They're cheap ($1.99 for a box of 12) and still have some creamy sweetness so Gramps may not mind so much.
posted by otters walk among us at 1:44 PM on June 20, 2016

As long as you're freezing banana slices anyway, if you run a frozen banana through the food processor for long enough it becomes a magical creamy concoction that is almost indistinguishable from ice cream and doesn't taste overpoweringly banana-ish. You can add cocoa powder or whatever (unsweetened, there's already natural sweetness from the fruit). If you put it in a cardboard pint and don't tell him what it is, he might not even notice it isn't ice cream. It is legitimately the craziest food thing I've ever seen.
posted by babelfish at 1:45 PM on June 20, 2016 [16 favorites]

Trader Joe's has diced frozen mango (item 2 in the link). Lovely rich mouthfeel, lots of flavor, and very cooling.
posted by Atrahasis at 1:46 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

You might also want to consult Specific Health Issue forums and resources for ideas. (For example: if the issue is diabetes, some of these answers may be better than others.)
posted by gnomeloaf at 1:48 PM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

If frozen yogurt is suitable: a crazy easy way to make that is to get popsicle sticks, get (low-calorie) yogurt in individual plastic pots, stick the popsicle sticks right in (if the lid is foil or thin plastic, just cut a small slit in that) and freeze them that way.
Hold the pots under the warm tap for a moment to unstick them so they slide off the frozen contents.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:49 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding babelfish with this one-ingredient ice cream from the Kitchn
posted by sarajane at 1:52 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

um, why not just a good old-fashioned fudgesicle? each one is only 60 calories (whaaat magic) and yeah, they've got sugar in them, but one fudgesicle TOTALLY gives you that really creamy, sweet hit. they have no sugar added ones and 100 calorie bars too but don't be tricked, they're awful and should be removed from this earth pronto. stick with the classics.

other things that are low-calorie but good: frozen fun-size 3 musketeer bars (creamy nougat!), sugar-free pudding (not frozen, but just in the fridge. he likes sweet and cold right?), frozen reddi-whip bites (just squirt some reddi whip on a parchment covered cookie sheet and freeze. they're like ~15 cals each so i never feel bad about eating like 10 of them haha), chocolate-covered ice cream bars (my personal favorite - each one is about ~100 calories and i get this really great ice cream + chocolate hit without eating an entire pint of ice cream), frozen blueberries.
posted by kerning at 2:13 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried it myself, but I've heard good things about the Yonana frozen dessert maker. I personally don't like the running a banana through a food processor thing because it still had a strong banana flavor - but I did like it when I used half frozen cherries, vanilla, and cocoa powder. I also make smoothies with frozen cherries, frozen bananas, almond milk, and chocolate syrup. If you use frozen fruit, the consistency is close to soft serve ice cream.

I don't know if the Yonana works better than a blender or food processor, but I wouldn't discount that as a possibility.
posted by FencingGal at 2:31 PM on June 20, 2016

Ever poured milk over frozen fruit? It creates this creamy shell on them. If it's the fat you're trying to cut down (and if you don't have time for some of the awesome ideas above), try frozen blueberries or strawberries plus 2% milk.
posted by salvia at 2:38 PM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

I blend frozen raspberries (strawberries would probably work too) with a bit of coconut cream from a can (and sometimes a splash of vanilla extract) and it's sorbet-like but creamy. You have to blend it right before you eat it, though--putting it in a container in the freezer would make it turn into a solid block of ice. And depending on what specific health issues he is dealing with, it may or may not be better than ice cream.
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:44 PM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Frozen banana blender ice cream is pretty healthy, and amazingly creamy and legit tasting.

To truly get the texture right, the bananas need to be VERY frozen and the blender needs to be strong enough to quickly disintegrate them without heating/mushing them up too much(i have a blendtec, but something like a nutribullet will do it). I've had this fail in a regular magic-bullet type pulse blender.

Basically anything can be added to it and be good, too. Cocoa powder is the default, but i tried a number of add-ins and it was always at least interesting, and often great.
posted by emptythought at 3:07 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

There are lower calorie portioned ice cream treats (skinnycow comes to mind ) depending on the goals, ice cream sandwiches to lower calorie/sugar/fat) can be used for portion control.

If he doesn't like it and won't eat it goal is accomplished !

Frozen cool whip is a wildly wierd and processed but way better than ice cream alternative.

If your watching sugar juice is generally a bad alternative. It is full of sugar.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:44 PM on June 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

I got this Healthy Choice Frozen Yogurt at Costco and loved it, and I am generally a Ben & Jerry's fan who won't put up with garbage ice creams.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 4:04 PM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Does he have specific go-to flavors? Yogurt smoothies can be good if he likes fruity ice cream (featuring the prefered fruits), chocolate-covered bananas if he's craving something chocolatey, etc. But if his favorite flavor is, say, chocolate peanut butter then a fruit smoothie likely isn't going to do it for him.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 5:41 PM on June 20, 2016

Huge slice of watermelon!
posted by sulaine at 7:26 PM on June 20, 2016

Trader Joe's has these wonderful fruit pops-- all juice. Boy, they're good.
posted by my-sharona at 10:15 PM on June 20, 2016

Frozen watermelon chunks. Cut into small bite-sized pieces. Dust lightly (or heavily) with sugar. Freeze on a sheet-pan with a sil-pat on it. Bag up for tasty mini-popsicles.
posted by DaveP at 3:41 AM on June 21, 2016

Yeah, it sounds like you need to impose some portion control that doesn't require you to be present -- i.e., during late night fridge raids -- and the best way to attack that is at the time of production/packaging/forming.

If I was in your shoes, I would make ice cream, but form it into ice cream bars (like the ones we served at Haagen-Dazs when I worked there). That way you can depend on there being a hard limit to how much ice cream is in each portion.

Ice cream molds should work for this, or you could even make your own molds out of something lined in plastic wrap. We make our own ice cream, but not everyone has time or interest in doing so. (Poor souls...) Using store-bought ice cream is tricky, because if it's too soft it might get ice crystals as it re-freezes, so you'll need to experiment. Kids are good for disposing of any "mistakes."

To make these more desirable for someone who is used to limitless grazing, form a bunch and when they're frozen hard, dip them in melted chocolate and re-freeze.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:52 AM on June 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

(I know you said "ice cream-averse" but you might get better cooperation by guiding him than by cutting him off, cold turkey.)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:54 AM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am also weaning myself off of the "pint of ice cream per night" ice cream habit. I am having good success with Jello pudding cups. They are cold, creamy and portion controlled - as long as I just eat one. Heh.
posted by dorkydancer at 8:29 AM on June 21, 2016

Confirming that if the issue is diabetes/blood sugar, fruit juice or popsicles that are frozen sugar-water are likely to be even worse than ice cream.

A treat with fat (frozen custard, full-fat greek yogurt, some blended fruit thing with avocado maybe?) will help him feel satisfied more easily and with less sugar, and the fat also slows down the sugar hitting the bloodstream so the body has more of a chance to deal with it. Ditto for fiber (e.g. in blendered whole fruit or frozen bananas).
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:40 AM on June 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Along the same lines as ArcticZero suggested above, Halotop is a really good tasting "healthy" ice cream.
posted by spec80 at 5:50 PM on June 21, 2016

iced watermelon. cube up a watermelon, put it in tupperware in the fridge, and consume at will.
posted by soy_renfield at 10:42 PM on June 21, 2016

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