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Source: Karen Blakeslee, 785-532-1673, kblakesl@k-state.edu.
News release prepared by: Greg Tammen, 785-532-2535, gtammen@k-state.edu

Friday, July 2, 2010

K-STATE EXTENSION SPECIALIST GIVES THE SCOOP ON ICE CREAM: FROM HEALTHIER OPTIONS TO SAFETY WITH HOMEMADE MIXTURES

MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University Research and Extension specialist says just because we all scream for ice cream doesn't mean we also have to scream about the fat and calories that come with it.

Karen Blakeslee, extension associate in animal sciences and industry and at K-State's Food Science Institute, has advice on ways to enjoy ice cream and watch your waistline.

"We're hearing about obesity a lot, so watching your portion sizes is a really good way to cut calories," Blakeslee said. "The recommended serving size for ice cream is a half a cup, which is around 130-150 calories."

Nutritionally there is not much difference between commercially made or homemade ice cream, Blakeslee said, as both kinds are usually made with cream, milk and eggs.

Blakeslee said there are ways to reduce calorie and fat intake without giving up ice cream completely. Most grocery stores carry healthier alternatives, such as reduced fat ice cream, which contains 25 percent less fat; a light version, which has 50 percent less total fat and 33 percent fewer calories; low-fat ice cream, which has three grams of fat per serving; and non-fat ice cream, which has about 0.5 grams of fat per serving.

"There also are other frozen desserts, such as sherbet, gelato, sorbet and fruit bars, which are all lower in fat and just as refreshing as ice cream," she said. "If you don't want to give up ice cream, ice cream bars are a nice option because they are portion-sized for you already."

Even though reduced fat versions of chocolate and caramel syrups are available, Blakeslee recommends topping ice cream with fresh fruit -- strawberries, peaches and pineapple -- to sweeten the flavor and avoid the extra fat.

Homemade ice cream can be a treat, but it also can pose a health risk beyond its fat and calories, Blakeslee said.

"When making homemade ice cream, eggs are a traditional ingredient. When using raw eggs there is a chance of getting salmonella," she said. "This also can be a concern in commercially made ice cream."

To reduce the risk of contamination in homemade ice cream this summer, Blakeslee recommended starting with a custard base. To do that, cook the milk, sugar and eggs gently to 160 degrees and hold it at that temperature for about 15 seconds, she said. Once the custard is chilled, it can be added to the rest of the ingredients and churned.

Blakeslee said other options include using pasteurized eggs or a recipe that does not require raw eggs.

Ice cream may be the nation's favorite sweet food, and according to Blakeslee each American will consume an average of 23.2 quarts of ice cream or other commercially produced frozen dairy product this year. In fact, due to its popularity with the American public, President Ronald Reagan in 1984 declared July to be National Ice Cream Month, with July 18 as National Ice Cream Day, she said.

Blakeslee attributes the popularity of ice cream to its multitude of flavors and its versatility: shakes, malts, sundaes, ice cream bars, sandwiches or simply a scoop in a dish or a cone.