Ice cream is the quintessential summertime treat for kids and on a hot summer day, there’s nothing like it. Our family has a farm nearby that sells the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever had and we frequently go throughout the summer. We also have an ice cream shop that serves “freak shakes,” or enormous sundaes covered in candy, cookies and whipped cream. I’ve never tried them but it’s a favorite spot among the locals.
But with lots of calories, fat and plenty of sugar, ice cream isn’t healthy but there are things you can do to make it healthier for your kids.
1. Watch portion sizes
When ordering ice cream for your kid, pay attention to portion sizes. Whether your kid is 4 or 8-years-old, he shouldn’t have a large waffle cone with 2 or 3 large scoops of ice cream. Did you know a typical waffle cone with chocolate ice cream has nearly 600 calories! Instead, ask for a toddler cup, which is usually large enough for an adult, or one scoop which is enough to satisfy your kid’s sweet tooth.
2. Switch up your toppings
Instead of M&M’s or gummy worms, add fresh fruit as a topping or raw nuts. Avoid fruit that’s been soaking in syrup, however, because the sugar negates any of the health benefits.
3. Serve ice cream on the side
If you’re serving ice cream at home, make fruit the star of the show and add a scoop of ice cream on the side. Slice your kid’s favorite fresh fruit or grill slices of fruit for a delicious summer treat.
4. Make parfaits
Let your kids make their own parfaits with ice cream, fresh fruit—berries work well—and a low sugar granola or nuts. A parfait is a great way to control portions and add extra fiber and nutrition.
5. Make fake ice cream
When bananas start to get brown spots on them, cut them up and freeze them. Then place the frozen bananas in the food processor, blend them for a minute or so and you’ve got a delicious treat that tastes just like ice cream.