The “ice cream diet” has since become an annual summer ritual, not so much as a weight-loss tool but simply because it's so much fun. Because of the frequent rewards and short-term nature of the project — a single day — it's also a great way to practice dietary discipline.
The trick is to keep your servings small and intersperse them throughout the day with healthier, low-calorie snacks and meals. The other foods on my menu that memorable day — two apples, two bananas, two boiled egg white sandwiches, half a cup of Fiber One cereal and an undetermined number of baby carrots — were both filling and nutritious.
The calorie hit for all that ice cream wasn't bad, either: Each serving was around 150 calories, for a total of around 750. That's close to half a day's calorie total for me right there. But on such a hot day I thought it a worthwhile sacrifice.
For the record, here's what I consumed on that inaugural Ice Cream Diet Day, over a period of several hours:
—Two Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches.
—Two McDonald's low-fat vanilla cones.
—A “baby cup” of sugar-free butter pecan at the Old 27 ice cream shop in Decatur.
When it comes to fast-food ice cream, I've since learned that calories vary by size and restaurant more than you might think.
A small soft-serve cone from Dairy Queen, for instance, will set you back 230 calories, as opposed to 160 calories at Burger King and 170 calories at McDonald's. To take that DQ calorie hit down to 170 calories, order the “kid” size instead.
And at Wendy's, a kid's size Frosty is a much better fit (190 calories vanilla, 200 for chocolate) than the small, which adds another 150 calories.
This summer, two new homemade treats have entered my Ice Cream Diet repertoire. “Skinny Bovine” frozen treats taste somewhat like Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches, but are much cheaper with fewer calories. Chocolate Ice Bean is a nutrient-dense blender concoction that I now prefer over a Wendy's Frosty. (It packs more calories per serving, though, so I limit myself to half a cup at a time.)
“Skinny Bovine” frozen treats
Scoop 2 T. of fat free whipped topping between two halves of a chocolate graham cracker, then freeze for half an hour or so. I wouldn't go so far as to say these taste exactly like a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich, but they're in the ballpark — for only 85 calories, as opposed to 150 for the real thing.
Chocolate Ice Bean
This concoction, taken from Dr. Joel Fuhrman's The End of Dieting, is bursting with antioxidants and much more satisfying than chemical-infused diet ice cream.
Five out of six family members gave this a thumbs up, though our youngest remains dubious because she knows that one of the ingredients is black beans.
2 ripe bananas, frozen
1/2 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup canned black beans, drained
3 T. natural cocoa powder (We used Hershey's Special Dark, though)
10 pitted dates (or 5 Medjool dates)
1/2 t. vanilla
1 cup almond milk
Process all ingredients in blender, pour in Rubbermaid-style container and freeze until desired firmness is reached. (Note: This freezes fairly solid if left unmolested for a few days, so give it plenty of time to thaw. Better yet, just eat it right out of the blender like a smoothie. Serves 6. (167 calories per serving.)