ST. LOUIS - July was declared National Ice Cream Month in 1984 with President Ronald Regan stating that ice cream is “the perfect dessert.” Thirty-four years later, that statement has stood the test of time. Nothing says summer quite like ice cream does. The sound of the ice cream truck driving through the neighborhood brings excitement to kids of all ages. Whether it’s a scoop of your favorite flavor melting down the side of a cone, a hot fudge sundae, or a classic root beer float, ice cream has become the perfect companion for hot summer days.

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Not only does this frozen dairy treat pair well with the season, it also fits into a healthy eating plan. Because ice cream is made from milk, it contains calcium, high-quality protein and other essential vitamins and minerals found in milk and milk products. Nutrition Educator, Erin McGraw, notes, “Although these nutrients are less concentrated in ice cream than in milk, yogurt, and cheese, they still make ice cream a nutritious option when compared to other dessert items.”

Ice cream and frozen dairy desserts come in many different flavors, making it hard to choose just one. If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between the choices of frozen treats, here’s a breakdown:

Ice cream is made from milk or cream, sugar, flavorings and stabilizers and must contain at least 10% milk fat. Eggs are an optional ingredient in ice cream.

Frozen custard is similar to ice cream but always contains eggs, which provide the required 1.4% egg yolk solids and give it a thick creamy texture.

Gelato is an Italian-style ice cream made from milk, sugar and flavorings. Gelato contains more sugar than ice cream (16-24% versus 12-16% for ice cream), but may contain less fat. Gelato melts faster than ice cream because of its semi-frozen consistency.

Sherbet is made from milk, sugar and flavorings and is classified as a “frozen dairy dessert” because it contains less than the 10% milk fat required for ice cream. Sherbet is usually a low-fat product, containing 1 to 2% milk fat, but is higher in sugar than ice cream.

Frozen yogurt is a mixture of pasteurized milk, flavorings and stabilizers. Because there is no standard definition of frozen yogurt, the content will vary. Milk used to make frozen yogurt is pasteurized, so it does not usually contain the live, active cultures found in conventional yogurt. Frozen yogurt can be found in low-fat or non-fat varieties.

“Luckily, there are 92 days of summer, which is plenty of time to enjoy the tried and true flavors as well as try something new,” says McGraw. Freezing ice cream with liquid nitrogen right in front of the customer is one new way that local shops are serving ice cream. This new approach to the freezing process allows the customer to have their ice cream made-to-order.

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Whether you grab a novelty bar from the ice cream truck, enjoy a bowl of frozen yogurt sprinkled with berries, or try a customized frozen treat from a local store, be sure to follow St. Louis District Dairy Council on Facebook @STLDairyCouncil. We’ll be sharing scoops of fun information about ice cream throughout July to help celebrate the special month!

Three Ingredient Vanilla Ice Cream
This tasty treat is easy as 1-2-3 to make. Create your own flavor by adding nuts, berries, or crushed pieces of your favorite candy. Makes 12 servings.

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 can (14.5 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Optional ingredients: nuts, berries, crushed candy bar pieces

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix with an electric mixer for 5 minutes on medium speed until thick whipped peaks form. Mix in additional ingredients, if desired. Transfer ice cream batter to a 13 x 9 baking pan and place in the freezer for 8 hours. Cut into 12 equal pieces.

Nutrition Info: 250 calories, 18 grams fat, 12% DV calcium, 3.5 grams protein

Orange Creamsicles
Enjoy these creamy, refreshing treats all summer long! With only 3 ingredients and a couple of supplies you can whip these up any day of the week. Makes 6 servings.

2 cups (1 pint) vanilla ice cream, softened
1 can (6 ounces) frozen orange juice concentrate
1 carton (6 ounces) low-fat orange yogurt
6 (5-ounce) paper cups
6 wooden sticks

Directions: In a large bowl, mix softened ice cream, juice concentrate and yogurt, stirring until thoroughly blended. Pour into paper cups. Cover each cup with foil. Make a slit in foil with knife and insert stick into orange mixture. Freeze until hard (about 6 hours). Remove foil and paper cups to serve.

Nutrition Info: 175 calories, 5 grams fat, 10% DV calcium, 5 grams protein

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