Make us your home page
Instagram

For National Ice Cream Day, we tested four low-calorie options

Halo Top peanut butter ice cream

Halo Top peanut butter ice cream

Low-calorie ice cream is everywhere by the dainty pintful right now, because manufacturers of frozen treats are here for us. They know that to survive summer, we need a cold and refreshing bowl of dark chocolate and peanut butter without feeling like a sea cow in the morning.

In honor of National Ice Cream Day on Sunday, we put four low-cal or health-conscious ice creams to the test.

Did the contents of the pints resemble actual ice cream? Not always! Were ingredients like "cream" present in any discernible form? Sometimes no!

But that's okay. Low-cal ice cream is supposed to be light, like air, which you will also feel like after eating it. Pay no attention to the monk fruit concentrate and just give in to the artificial cake batter flavoring.

Which option did the best job of tricking us into decadence? In a very rigorous and scientific poll conducted during a Features department meeting, a panel of 14 taste-testers came to some iron-clad conclusions.

Fourth place: Arctic Zero Cake Batter

$4.19 (price at our local Publix)

150 calories per pint

There was quick and impassioned consensus in the room about this ice cream, which promises only 150 calories for the entire pint. You can tell. The consistency is more like ice cream that someone didn't seal properly then left in the freezer for 6 months — icy, brittle and thoroughly uncreamy. The only form of dairy in this product is whey protein concentrate; the first ingredient is water. It is also an odd pale yellow shade. One of our tasters said it's "unnatural in every way," agreeing with at least one other taster that it smells bad. Another came out with this bold statement: "Literally, I cannot swallow the cake batter one." Everyone who participated in our taste test ranked this one last. Though one person who has had the brand's cookie dough flavor deemed it not "that bad."

Third place: Thrive Creamy Vanilla

$4.99

600 calories per pint

Many of the comments in praise of this flavor contained the phrase "very creamy." Indeed, the consistency is spot-on, with a notable vanilla flavor that doesn't taste quite as luscious as the real stuff but certainly gets the job done. As one taster put it: "How is this fake?" Another said it is "as good as any 'normal' vanilla," and one astute observer noted its "pleasant tongue-coating quality." Of all four options, this one did seem to have the most ice cream-like texture, with little to no "fake" aftertaste or weird mouthfeel.

ICE CREAM DAY IN TAMPA BAY: The area's best cones (and cubes)

Second place: Halo Top Peanut Butter Cup

$5.79

320 calories per pint

It was a tight race between Halo Top's peanut butter flavor and the winner, with just one point separating the two. One taster noted this option is "cloyingly sweet," and another found it "boring," but the rest of the comments were unanimous in their praise. "I could eat this whole pint and not feel too terrible," someone said. "Not a huge peanut butter fan, but this is delightful," said another. The very peanut buttery taste of this option (there are little ribbons of what appear to be peanut butter running throughout) and a perfectly pleasant consistency made it my favorite. We hear it's a favorite of fitness gurus on Instagram, and we can see why. Someone suggested mixing this option and the chocolate-flavored winner together, which seems like your best bet.

Winner: So Delicious Dark Chocolate Truffle

$5.49

680 calories per pint

This cashew-milk based concoction triumphed over all the rest, suggesting that if you're going to create a frozen treat light on cream and milk, a non-dairy base is probably the way to go.

Our tasters were fanatic about the So Delicious option:

"The chocolate is as good as every caloric ice cream I've ever had. I can't believe it's dairy free."

"So Delicious is SO DELICIOUS."

"Little flakes of chocolate — nice touch. Thumbs up emoji."

Those little flakes did help boost the overall yum factor here, as did a thicker consistency that made this one seem the most like "real" ice cream. It also has the most calories of the four options we tried, which should be a lesson to us all: There is a reason ice cream contains so many calories in the first place.

For National Ice Cream Day, we tested four low-calorie options 07/14/17 [Last modified: Friday, July 14, 2017 11:23am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 24

    Events

    Zac Brown Band: The country, folk and Southern rockers embark on the "Welcome Home" tour in support of the album. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $27.50-$77.50. (813) 740-2446.

    Handout photo of the Zac Brown Band, performing at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on 9/24/17. Credit: Shore Fire Media
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 23

    Events

    Smithsonian Museum Day Live: Museums across the nation partner with the Smithsonian to offer free admission for one day. Among them are Florida Holocaust Museum, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs.Cracker Country in Tampa, Ringling Museum of Art. Note: Dalí Museum is free for Pinellas County …

    The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is among the museums participating in the Smithsonian's Museum Day Live, offering free admission. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Special to the Times)
  3. Tampa Repertory's 'Flying' soars in some places, sputters in others

    Stage

    TAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre has always insisted on putting on plays that mean something. Several shows over the last couple of years have zeroed in on the social and cultural baggage that comes with being female (The Children's Hour, Silent Sky and Grounded come to mind). None of those …

    The Southeastern premiere of Flying, Sheila Cowley's play at Tampa Repertory Theatre about veterans of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots, includes (from left) Holly Marie Weber, Rosemary Orlando, and Becca McCoy. Photo by Megan Lamasney.
  4. After 22 years, it's last call for beloved Ybor venue New World Brewery

    Music & Concerts

    YBOR CITY — Steve Bird spreads his tools across a patio table. He has awnings to unbolt and paraphernalia to unpry, from the busted Bop City neon by the stage to the Simpsons "El Duffo o Muerte" mural in the courtyard. He'll uproot a fountain and dismantle a roof and attempt to keep his bar intact. The …

    Various decor and memorabilia fill the walls and shelves at New World Brewery in Ybor City.
Long time music venue and hangout New World Brewery in Ybor City will be closing it's doors and moving locations. Patrons enjoy one of the last events before New World Brewery changes its location to Busch Blvd in Tampa.  [Photo Luis Santana | Times]