Happy National Ice Cream Day (Learn about Fun Facts and Dairy Free Alternatives)


In 1984, President Ronald Regan declared July as National Ice Cream Month. He further declared that the third Sunday in July would be National Ice Cream Day. While not everyone is aware of this day, there are some places that turn it into a major celebration. For example, Philadelphia just celebrated its 4th Annual Ultimate Ice Cream Festival on Saturday, July 17 at the Reading Terminal, which featured ice cream eating contests and free giveaways of Bassetts Ice Cream.

Consequently, Baskin Robbins decided to use this celebration as a time to announce their discontinuation—that’s right…their retirement—of five signature flavors. Listed in no particular order, they are Caramel Praline Cheesecake (1970), Campfire S'mores (1975), Apple Pie a La Mode (1976), Superfudge Truffle (2007), and French Vanilla (1945), one of the company’s longest standing flavors. The flavors are being retired in order to introduce five new flavors later this year. Some other flavors that have been retired in recent decades include 'Miami Ice' from the 1980s and 'Beatlenut' from the 1960s. (Check out CNN's article.)

Ice cream, of course, is made from cream (dairy), which is blended with other flavorings and sweeteners. Ice cream has a light and fluffy texture because of the whipping process. Thus, it is said that up to 60% of the volume of a container of ice cream is air.

In recent years, I discovered that I actually have a mild milk allergy, and my son, unfortunately, has one as well. While ice cream is still my favorite treat, my son’s milk allergy has made me look into other forms of “ice cream type” desserts as well. Thus, I have compiled a list of other frozen desserts (along with their possible health benefits) that may be worth trying.

Gelato typically does not have the same amount of butter fat that is found in most regular ice creams. In the United States, ice cream must have a minimum of 10% butter fat; gelato contains less. A few other differences between gelato and ice cream is that gelato contains less air whipped into the product over American ice creams, and it is typically displayed/served at a slightly warmer temperature. Gelato is sometimes preferred over regular ice cream because it contains less fat and calories.

Sorbetto or Sorbet
Sorbet is a frozen dessert that is made from fruit purée and contains no milk. Thus, sorbet is usually preferred because it contains less calories, little to no fat, and is lactose free.

Sherbet is a fruit product similar to sorbet, but milk is added for creaminess. By law, it can contain no more that 2% butterfat. Thus, it has slightly more calories and fat than sorbet but less than ice cream and gelato.

Frozen Yogurt
Frozen yogurt has been around awhile and has dramatically improved in flavor since it was first introduced in the 1970's. Frozen yogurt is typically viewed to be a healthier alternative to ice cream. First, the yogurt contains enzymes that assist in breaking down dairy, and therefore, some people who are lactose intolerant can eat it without problems. It also has high levels of protein and minerals without the same amount of fat and calories found in regular ice cream. Frozen yogurt, still however, contains dairy and can be relatively high in calories. Stonyfield Farm has organic low fat and no fat varieties in flavors such as Gotta have Vanilla, After Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Fudge Swirl, Gotta have Java, Crème Caramel, Minty Chocolate Chip, and Cookies ‘n Cream. If you register with Stonyfield Farm, you can receive free coupons.

Goat’s Milk Ice Cream
Relatively new to the market, goat’s milk ice cream is favored for its superiority in protein and calcium (higher than most ice cream). Goat’s milk is also considered to be easier to digest than cow’s milk. Like frozen yogurt, some people who are lactose intolerant, can eat it without problems. Laloo's ® is made with 100% goat's milk. According to its website, “Laloo's ® rivals gelato, but with less than half the fat.”

Soy Milk Ice Cream
Soy milk ice cream is a great dairy free/lactose free dessert that is also certified vegan, cholesterol free and trans fat free. Soy is considered to have many health benefits; however, some people are allergic or intolerant to soy. (There has also been some other controversy linked to soy from reputable sources.) Nevertheless, soy milk ice cream is a popular non dairy alternative; and therefore, there are many brands and flavors. Two popular brands on the market today are Turtle Mountain’s SO Delicious and Soy Dream. Both brands promote numerous flavors that are USDA Certified Organic. Soy Dream also has a frozen dessert similar to ice cream sandwiches. Coupons are available for Turtle Mountain’s products by registering at their site.

Coconut Milk Ice Cream
Coconut milk ice cream, with its smooth and creamy texture, is a dairy free/lactose free, cholesterol free, and soy-free alternative to ice cream. Purely Decadent by Turtle Mountain has a coconut milk ice cream that is “dramatically lower in fat, calories, and sugar than most premium ice creams” because it is sweetened with agave syrup. It is made with organic ingredients and is gluten free and certified vegan. Flavors include Chocolate, Coconut, Cookie Dough, Mint Chip, and Vanilla Bean. Coupons are available for Turtle Mountain’s products by registering at their site.

Rice Milk Ice Cream
Rice milk ice cream is another frozen non-dairy dessert (lactose free) that boasts of no refined sweeteners, no cholesterol, and no soy. Rice Dream is a leading brand that is currently marketing its “new and improved” taste with six flavors ranging from the standard Vanilla and Strawberry to Carob Almond, Cocoa Marble Fudge, Cookies n Dream, Mint Carob Chip, Neapolitan, Orange Vanilla Swirl, and Swiss Almond. This line also makes other frozen desserts including Chocolate Pies, Mocha Pies, Vanilla Bars with Chocolate Coating, Bites, and Vanilla Nutty Bars.

Almond Milk Ice Cream
Almond milk ice cream has all the same benefits of rice milk ice cream except almond milk is said to provide “an excellent source of Antioxidants Vitamins A and E.” Almond Dream almond milk is also fortified with Vitamins B 12, D, and calcium. New to the market, the most common flavors are chocolate and vanilla; however, Almond Dream also makes a frozen dessert known as Almond Dream Bites too.

Hempmilk Ice Cream
Hempmilk ice cream, similar to coconut milk ice cream, is prized for being dairy free/lactose free, cholesterol free, soy-free, gluten free, trans fat free, and certified vegan. The difference is that this ice cream is meant to have certain healthful/nutritional benefits as well. Living Harvest has a hemp milk ice cream called Tempt. The website says, “At Living Harvest, our essential foods center around one key ingredient - hemp seeds, one of nature's most perfect foods. Hemp seeds contain all 10 Essential Amino Acids (EAA's) - the building blocks of protein. They're also rich in naturally-balanced Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's). Additionally, hemp is high in magnesium, iron, potassium, fiber and phytonutrients, plus natural antioxidants like vitamin E.” Finally, eating this product is considered earth-friendly since hemp is “a renewable resource (requiring neither pesticides nor herbicides).” Tempt currently has five different flavors ranging from the standard Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Fudge, and Mint Chip to the unique Coffee Biscotti, and Coconut Lime. (Vanilla Bean, Coffee Biscotti and Chocolate Fudge are tree-nut free.)

Finally, if you don’t have a milk allergy, I say splurge! Look for a local National Ice Cream Day event by you, and if there isn’t one, then treat yourself to an old fashioned ice cream sundae at home or out on a car ride.

P.S. Get ready for National Ice Cream Sandwich Day on August 2nd!

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