The summer is heating up and what sounds good? If you said ice cream, you got it! At our house, ice cream is a staple during the summer (along with sno-cones, of course). We work hard, we play hard, and we want a treat that is satisfying, cold and delicious. July is one of the HOTTEST months here in Oklahoma and also happens to be National Ice Cream month – perfect combination!
You may be thinking to yourself “OK lady, ice cream is good and all, but isn’t that a bad food?”. I hear this statement a lot. What pains me the most is that ice cream, just like so many foods labeled “bad”, can still be very nourishing to our body, mind, and spirit. There is so much more to food and nutrition than just nutrients and weight. It can bring fun, comfort, pleasure, and memories to mind as well. Just think about it – when you think back on childhood summers, do you think back to avoiding ice cream because “it’s fattening”, “there is sugar” or “that’s not allowed on my diet”? I sure hope not. I hope when you think of eating ice cream as a kid, it triggers a sense of nostalgia; of summers well spent swimming, running, riding a bike, and freedom. Of coming in from a hot day and just enjoying that delicious, cold treat without a care in the world. Of heading to your favorite ice cream shop for a cone. Or of helping your grandparents or parents make some yummy homemade ice cream. My parents made homemade ice cream all the time when I was growing up. They still do for family get togethers. And it’s the real deal – full fat and regular sugar. It’s so satisfying and one of my favorite food memories with my family.
Now, does this mean you should eat ice cream every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Yes. Just kidding, no (was your inner kid jumping with joy just then at the thought?)! But it does mean that you can enjoy some ice cream for dessert without fearing you are doing something “bad” to your body. Does it have sugar and fat? Yes, of course it does – its ingredients are milk, cream and sugar! But it also provides us with some key nutrients that are also very beneficial, like calcium, vitamin D, electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, and several B vitamins. Honestly, I hate breaking down food into such scientific terms, but in terms of de-vilifying food, it helps to look at its benefits, when we are so often blasted with its less healthy qualities.
I think one of the best things about ice cream is its versatility. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy your ice cream this summer
- Just plain Jane.
- Try a flavor you’ve never had (one of my FAVORITE flavors is Peppermint from Braum’s, here in Oklahoma – my dad and husband think I’m nuts!).
- Having a gathering? Make an ice cream bar with all the fixings!
- Throw on some fruit! Some of my favorite fruit toppings are grilled peaches or roasted cherries!
- Melt your favorite nut butter in the microwave and drizzle it over your favorite flavor – this is especially good over chocolate, chocolate chip, chocolate cookie dough, or just regular old vanilla.
- Make your own ice cream. Much like growing a garden, making your own treats can be fun and gratifying. And you can decide what to put in them!
- Squish some together between 2 cookies, for an ice cream sandwich
Happy Ice Cream Month – stay cool and enjoy!