An ice cream cone on a hot day brings me back to my childhood.
But a serving of vanilla ice cream contains about half the calcium of the same size serving of whole milk, and is higher in fat and calories, so I limit our outings. Because my boys delight in the whole ice cream experience, including the anticipation, we often make our own version. This way they enjoy it without the health hazards.
I know, I know, you don't have time to make your own dinner, let alone your own ice cream. Just try it. It takes very little time, and kids of all ages will get a kick out of the process.
The trick is a sliced and frozen banana. Slice a bunch, freeze on parchment paper, and store for when the urge for ice cream hits. To prepare, whip a handful of the frozen banana pieces in a blender until creamy. Right here, you have the equivalent of soft serve without the plastic-like aftertaste or the chemicals. Then blend in other foods such as strawberries or pieces of dark chocolate to flavor. It is that simple!
My boys have concocted some rather unusual flavors. Peanut butter and jelly, made with half a tablespoon of peanut butter and a handful of fresh strawberries, was surprisingly good. Raspberry, lemon-lime and orange were refreshingly sweet. I served a honey-lavender flavor at a dinner party and had to scoop out seconds.
Frozen yogurt might appear to be a more healthful alternative to ice cream, but most frozen yogurts do not contain the beneficial live and active cultures found in healthful yogurt.
If you're buying from the freezer section, Haagen-Dazs produces a product with just five whole-food ingredients that gets my vote. It still should be eaten in moderation, because it is high in fat and calories, but being free of chemicals is a huge plus.
So start freezing those bananas!