Aaron Chy, BSc General, PharmD Student
We all have our vices, and for many of us, it’s ice cream. Whether it’s dessert, comfort food, or just a treat you’re looking for, ice cream’s got you covered. Unfortunately, if you’re trying to maintain any type of diet or keep your weight down, ice cream can be a bit of an issue due to the high amounts of sugar, fat and calories typically found in most products. That gets even worse when what starts off as a few spoonfuls of dessert turns into an entire tub eaten in one night (don’t worry, we’ve all been there).
Fortunately, “healthy” ice cream products have recently become popular for being just as delicious as what you’re used to, but free of all the guilt.
We’d like to thank Taylor Peters (ClinicalAndCappuccinos) for sharing her thoughts on various healthy ice cream brands currently available in Canada. Not only does she share her own personal experiences, but she brings along her knowledge as a healthcare professional to help you decide what’s best for you. Be sure to check out her blog here and let us know in the comments what you think about our featured content!
Taylor Peters, P2 Pharmacy Student
When you hear the words “ice cream” and “healthy” in the same sentence, it’s usually because the prefix “un” comes before healthy! But not this time – you may have noticed a ton of healthy ice cream products and ice cream alternatives surfacing on social media and in your local grocery store in the last year or so, and I’m here to tell you what they’re really like (if you haven’t tried them yet). I have a couple different brands and flavours to discuss today!
First up: I was randomly walking through the ice cream isle one day last year in my local supermarket, when I came across Cool Whey ice cream products. Yep, this was back when they were still called Cool Whey (they’ve recently rebranded as Cool Way).
I was so excited by the “only ____ calories!” and “high protein” claims that I grabbed two pints, chocolate chip and caramel-something, and I headed home. I tried them right away and was surprised about the creaminess – for “healthy” ice cream these products were surprisingly good. I had heard about Arctic Zero (which I actually haven’t ever tried) being like literal ice. I also liked that I could attempt to fit protein into something as enjoyable as dessert as I find it hard to get my protein in everyday. I wasn’t in love with the flavours, though. Something about them wasn’t wowing me and the ice cream is of course more expensive than traditional, regular ice cream so I wasn’t willing to buy more. I’m pretty sure these pints sat half-eaten in the back of my freezer until I threw them out when they were freezer burnt. I believe both pints came in around 320 cal/ 425mL (1 pint) with about 28g of protein. The protein in these is insane – which is great if you’re really particular about your macros. This nutrition info could be a bit outdated because they have changed their website, and I could be wrong, but I don’t believe they carry the caramel flavour anymore. I should definitely give this brand a try again – I dont think I was fair to them!
Fast forward a couple months: there’s no way you haven’t heard about Halo Top yet, as its all over Instagram and there are ads everywhere. I tried Halo Top for the first time when I was in the US. The first flavour I tried was birthday cake – and I wasn’t sold. It was icy, the flavour was off and tasted fake, and sadly, there were no sprinkles in the tub (I know there aren’t supposed to be, but I need sprinkles for it to be real birthday cake and I personally really like stuff being in my ice cream to add to the flavour and experience). I thought everyone who said Halo Top was “sooooo good” lied, and I was turned off. The birthday cake flavour comes in at 280 cal/425mL (1 pint) with 20g protein.
More recently, Halo Top came to Canada, and I was willing to give it another try. I grabbed the oatmeal cookie and peanut butter swirl flavours and gave ’em a whirl. I tried the oatmeal cookie first and was so surprised! Yes, these ice cream products are a bit more “icy” than what you’re used to with traditional ice creams, but I think this is expected when you look at the fact that they are made with skim milk (to save calories and fat and make them what they are – healthier ice cream). The oatmeal cookie legitimately tastes like an oatmeal cookie – this flavour is spot on, so good job whoever developed this at Halo Top. In terms of the peanut butter swirl – its good but not nearly as good as the oatmeal cookie. Oatmeal cookie comes in at 280 cal/ 425mL (1 pint) with 20g protein, and the peanut butter swirl (listed as peanut butter cup on their website, probably the way it is branded in the US) is 320 cal/ 425mL (1 pint) with 20g protein. Pro tip: add chocolate chips to the oatmeal cookie and it tastes just like an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie!
Because Halo Top is new to Canada, everyone in my city is going nuts for it, and it therefore sells out extremely fast from grocery stores. I was wandering through a grocery store I frequent, sort of looking to try a couple new Halo Top flavours. I found another flavour, candy bar, and decided to grab it. This flavour is one of Halo Top’s more high-calorie options (still lower-cal than regular ice cream), coming in at 100 cal per 125mL (this is about 1/2 a cup, or 1/4 the pint)/380 cal per 425mL (1 pint). I tried this flavour out, and it definitely has more chunks of stuff in it (peanuts, chocolate) – probably the reason the calories are higher – but the flavour is still sort of lacking and the consistency is still icy. On this same day, in the same ice cream aisle, I happened upon a Canadian competitor to Halo Top
This new ice cream I found is known as Good North. They were $1 less than Halo Top, and since this grocery store was out of most of their Halo Top flavours, I decided to try out two flavours – why not, right? I grabbed mocha chocolate biscotti and cookies and cream. Holy crap guys – these flavours are to die for. They are not even remotely icy like Halo Top is, and they actually taste so good. The cookies and cream has oreo-type cookies swirled throughout, and the mocha chocolate biscotti has chocolate chunks and chocolate-covered crisp biscotti pieces throughout. The nutrition for these are about the same: 370-ish cals/425mL (1 pint) and 22g protein (around 100 cal per 125mL). These are on the higher end of calories for low-cal, “healthy” ice creams but they are well worth the little bit of extra calories over Halo Top, IMO.
Halo Top definitely has more fibre per serving, and the Good North flavours (on the left) have more protein, less calories, less sodium, and sliiiightly more sugar.
Texture ! On the left is the Halo Top candy bar flavour – not horribly icy but I think when compared to the Good North flavours you can see the difference in consistency. The two Good North flavours (middle is cookies and cream and right is mocha chocolate biscotti) are more creamy, but the pints are both a bit underfilled for some reason :(.
- really high protein which is great for the people who are really watching macros
- creamy consistency
- flavours didnt thrill me too much – nothing too exciting
- ties Good North for price (~$5 CAD)
- tons of flavours to choose from
- (some) flavours are extremely low-cal
- “worst” protein content out of all three brands included in this post (still not bad protein content, however)
- very icy – I would suggest letting the pint sit out 5-10 minutes before eating so it melts a bit and takes on a more familiar, icecream-y consistency
- most expensive out of all the icecreams included in this post (>$6 CAD), but this may be because it is brought in from the US
- best consistency by far – really like true, classic icecream
- best taste (in terms of the flavours I have tried), plus actually includes things like chunks of biscotti/cookie to add to the flavour
- decent protein content
- only 4 flavours to chose from 🙁
- pints tend to be a tad underfilled
- highest calorie content in comparison to all icecreams included in this post, however its a small amount of calories and if you’re going to eat icecream I think this is more worth it as it is more enjoyable
- ties Cool Way for price (~$5 CAD)
If I had to recommend one to you, I’d say go for Good North every time. However, I’m not sure about the availability of this brand in the US. Plus, Canada has a very limited selection of Halo Top flavours so I’m sure there are some flavours the US has that are better than the ones we have here.
What about good old Ben and Jerry’s? Why wouldn’t I just eat my favourite and enjoy it, since you are saying some of these flavours aren’t that great?
Fair question. I love Ben and Jerry’s like anyone else, but take a look at these calorie/fat/protein counts:
As a comparison – all of the “healthy” ice creams listed in this post have 100cal/125mL (1/2 cup) or less, and 5g of protein per 125mL or more. Sorry Ben and Jerry’s, you lose on this one. I’m a firm believer in moderation and enjoying your favourite things! However, I am the type of person to eat ice cream every day (lol work gets rough… pretty much everyday) so this makes it more feasible, and allows you to enjoy and indulge more often without completely ruining your healthy eating.
I am in no way a dietician or someone who should be giving diet or nutrition advice, so take my opinions as what they are – opinions! I think all of these brands are worth a try to find out what you like! There is nothing wrong with eating “normal” ice cream as a treat either – as I said previously, I literally eat ice cream on the daily so that would get a bit excessive. This also allows me to eat a larger quantity of ice cream, lol – because who doesn’t love eating a whole tub?!
Have you tried any “healthy” ice creams? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!