Soft-serve can be healthful

By

Published:

 

Something about soft-serve ice cream makes it irresistible on a sweltering summer day. Don't deny your taste buds — just make sure to keep it healthful. This homemade version combines the idea of soft-serve with the health benefits of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt and raspberries. The result should be smooth, creamy and thick. It is the perfect combination of sweetness and tartness.

With a simple ingredient list, this homemade dessert not only is easy to prepare but also beats store-bought varieties because you will know exactly what you're putting in your body.

Greek yogurt has a rich, creamy texture and is thicker than regular yogurt. Compared with regular yogurt, Greek yogurt contains nearly twice the protein, fewer carbohydrates and less sugar because of the straining process, which removes some of the whey.

Greek yogurt, like all varieties of yogurt, is made by introducing "live cultures" (good bacteria) to milk. This is what gives yogurt its sour taste and thick consistency. The addition of the live cultures helps with digestion of lactose, making yogurt more tolerable for those who cannot typically digest lactose in other dairy products. So, if you are sensitive to lactose, try yogurt in small amounts, as it contains less lactose than ice cream or milk.

Live cultures also promote overall gut health and boost immunity. Make sure your yogurt has the National Yogurt Association's "Live and Active Cultures" seal or lists live active cultures such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, L. reuteri or Bicfidobacterium bifidum (or Bifidus) on the ingredients list.

Nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt is a great way to consume important nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin D, protein, potassium and B vitamins. However, with Greek yogurt, some of the liquid whey (and therefore calcium) is removed. Check the nutrition label to see whether calcium has been added back.

Raspberries are a delicate yet powerful little fruit. A cup of raspberries offers up high amounts of both heart-healthy dietary fiber and the powerful antioxidant Vitamin C.

For convenience, you can use unsweetened, frozen raspberries. If you are able to get fresh raspberries at your local farmers market, you can select red, black, purple or gold raspberries and freeze them prior to preparing the recipe. They are in season from early June through July.

When selecting fresh raspberries, look for dry and firm berries without the stem attached. The sign of a good raspberry is when each cell of the raspberry is plump. Do not rinse them until just before using them.

This summery treat is very satisfying without being too filling. With every bite, you can enjoy knowing that it does not contain any added sugar. In fact, one serving contains only seven grams of sugar but also 12 grams of protein -- all for just 97 calories.

Lightened-Up Raspberry Soft-Serve

Makes ¾ cup (1 serving)

Fresh raspberries may be used, but they need to be frozen until firm to achieve the proper soft-serve consistency. The plain yogurt needs to be frozen for 30 minutes before blending. The soft-serve is best on the day it’s made. From Elaine Gordon, a master certified health education specialist.

½ cup plain Greek-style nonfat yogurt

½ cup frozen (unsweetened) raspberries (see note)

Scant ½ teaspoon powdered stevia, or to taste

1 teaspoon agave nectar/syrup (optional)

Freeze the yogurt for 30 minutes.

Transfer to a mini food processor or blender. Add the raspberries and powdered stevia; blend until smooth. Taste, and add stevia or agave nectar, if desired.

Serve right away.

Per serving: 97 calories, 12 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 48 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar