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Creating good-for-you food treats

Published August 07. 2010 09:00AM

In order to regain the 24 pounds of weight I lost during a rather serious bout of infectious mononucleosis at the start of my junior year in high school a weight gain my doctor decided was essential in order for me to participate in the upcoming basketball season he gave me this advice: End each day by downing a pint of ice cream.

Talk about total teenage bliss. And a potential malpractice suit.

I loved the mint chocolate chip at a nearby Carvel Ice Cream store. Little did I know and the doctor probably didn't either! that each night just before bed I was ingesting 105 grams of sugar and 65 grams of mostly saturated fat as part of those nearly 1100 calories.

In a month, however, I had added the needed weight as well as a bad habit.

While I kicked my ice cream jones more than 30 years ago, some habits die hard. To this day, I still eat large, late-night snacks.

And I still remember rather fondly those nights of intentional ice cream overload.

So what's a guy to do?

Give in to the urge, but get resourceful. Create a high-protein, low-calorie ice cream substitute.

I have been eating it every night for months. I absolutely love the stuff.

Would you feel the same? Maybe. Maybe not.

But that's not the point. The point is my body fat is as low as it's ever been, even though I feel I'm indulging myself by eating this treat.

Those bad foods you crave don't have to undermine your health-and-fitness goals, not if you're resourceful.

So let me explain how to make a mint chocolate ice-cream substitute. Who knows? You may even be tempted enough to try it.

More importantly, it may give you the insight and the ambition to experiment in the kitchen with some of those foods that you know you shouldn't eat and transform them into good-for-you treats.

To preface things, you need to know that if I wouldn't be so particular, I could feed my need at the grocery store. Blue Bunny makes a fine-tasting "light" version of mint chip ice cream, but 20 ounces of it the amount of the substitute that I eat every night would total 550 calories, 70 grams of sugar and only 10 grams of protein.

Blue Bunny's no-sugar-added, reduced-fat version mint chip ice cream, doubles the amount of protein and ironically the amount of fat. In fact, the reduced-fat version is more than 53 percent fat by calories, which is primarily why there's 100 more calories per 20 ounces than the light version.

Another option would be to buy the high-protein ice cream substitute sold over the Internet by Parrillo Performance, a great athletic-performance company that makes absolutely the highest quality products. Unfortunately, highest quality also means steep price.

The trade-off for no sugar, nearly 95 grams of protein, and only 405 calories per 20 ounces of ice cream substitute is that each serving would cost $6.25 and require the purchase of an ice cream maker.

Yet because I buy some of my items in bulk, my concoction costs about a third of that. It also contains about half the calories of the Parrillo option, 50 percent of which are protein.

To make my ice cream substitute, place the following in a blender: 2 ounces of Hood Calorie Countdown Fat Free Dairy Beverage, 2 packets of Swiss Miss Sensible Sweets Diet hot cocoa mix, 1 ounce of Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup, 2 heaping tablespoons of Walden Farms Chocolate Dip, one packet of Stevia, 2 tablespoons of the sugar substitute Erythritol, and 4 drops of peppermint extract. Blend until smooth and then slowly add 8 ounces of Great Value Fat Free Small Curd Cottage Cheese, using a spatula to aid in the process.

(Please be aware that if any of the name brands are changed to a competitor's, or if you use skim milk instead of the Hood product, the previously mentioned nutritional information changes a bit. Generally, the calories go up without the addition of extra protein.)

After a minute or so of mixing or whenever you can't see curd place the mixture in a suitable container (a 24-ounce cottage cheese container works well) and place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes, depending on the temperature setting of your refrigerator freezer. Remove, stir the partially frozen mix to a milkshake consistency and freeze again for 20-30 minutes.

Stir one last time to take the frozen sections to milkshake consistency and eat.

While I love the mixture this way, adding a packet of Alba Creamy Milk Chocolate Snack Shake Mix before the cottage cheese makes it even better, a change that adds 70 calories, 6 grams of naturally occurring sugar, and 5 grams of protein.

For those intrigued enough to try this, Walden Farms products are sold at Shop Rite supermarkets and are easily available on the Internet.

Additionally, eating such a high-liquid yet thick snack such as this is consistent with the theory of Volumetrics, an idea forwarded in a book of the same name by Barbara Rolls, Ph.D. Roll's research shows that we generally eat the same amount of food in weight each day, so the way to lose weight without feeling hungry is to reach that same volume of food while consuming fewer calories.

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