HEALTH

Frozen yogurt with a health kick: The hottest summer treat

  • Pichuberry frozen yogurt.

    Pichuberry frozen yogurt.  (Manuel Villacorta)

  • Strawberry-beet frozen yogurt.

    Strawberry-beet frozen yogurt.  (Manuel Villacorta)

  • Dark chocolate frozen yogurt.

    Dark chocolate frozen yogurt.  (Manuel Villacorta)

Frozen yogurts are the hottest summer treat and are constantly in demand. Almost everywhere I go, malls, movie theaters and even airports, I see frozen yogurt shops with delicious options, beautiful colors and long lines. I frequently hear “they are low fat and healthy.” But, are they really good for you? 

Most frozen yogurts from your regular shops have added sugar and little to no nutritional value, no matter how low-fat they are. I’ve seen the “plain” or the “low-fat” options, which are supposed to be the “healthiest,” with up to 80 grams of sugar for a large serving (about 2 cups). And that is not including the toppings that alone can give you a sugar overload. 

As a registered dietitian who loves the kitchen and good food, I put myself to the challenge to see if I can make these delightful treats with less sugar and adding more nutritional power. To start, I decided to use Greek yogurt, which is known as a good source of probiotics. Research has linked certain probiotics with a lowering effect on abdominal fat and body weight. 

Moreover, certain bacteria has also been shown to help in the absorption of a few indigestible nutrients, while others help resist the colonization or growth of pathogenic organisms, stimulating the immune system in return. 

Then, I began to think of fruit and vegetable colors as well as Peruvian superfoods that could make these frozen delights explode with great nutrients.

Give these frozen yogurt superfoods a try, and remember: although they are a lower calorie treat and made with superfoods, you should always be mindful of the portion size.

Pichuberry frozen yogurt
Pichuberry, the “lost Incan crop,” is one of the most nutrient dense fruits. Pichuberries contain rare phytochemicals called withanolides, which have demonstrated to suppress carcinogens. Not only that, but they are also rich in antioxidants and vitamins, including vitamin E, A and B-complex vitamins. This small berry, which also packs a deliciously tart and sweet flavor, makes it versatile for any food combination. Here, I use it to make a scrumptious version of my frozen Greek yogurt. Serves 4 (Serving size: 1/2 cup)

Ingredients:
2 cups Pichuberry, chopped
1 cup 2 percent Greek yogurt
1/2 cup agave nectar

Directions:
1. Using a food processor or blender, puree the pichuberries. Add the remaining ingredients and puree until well mixed.
2. Cover and refrigerate for one to two hours. Then prepare according to your ice-cream maker manufacturer instructions.

Strawberry-beet frozen yogurt
The strawberry is a classic summer fruit and a good way to use it is in frozen yogurts. But who knew beets can also be used. With this recipe, you’ll get not only your fruit serving but also a veggie serving. To top it off with more nutritional power, I added Peruvian superfood camu-camu powder. Camu-camu is a tropical fruit that is one of the world's most potent sources of vitamin C — packing more than 60 times the vitamin C per serving than the almighty orange. Better yet, the vitamin C in camu-camu is more easily absorbed than from supplements, as your body better utilizes nutrients that come from natural sources. Serves: 8  (Serving size: 1/2 cup)

Ingredients:
1 ½ lbs. strawberries, fresh
½ cup beets, raw, chopped
1 cup 2 percent plain greek yogurt
½ cup coconut sugar (or agave nectar)
1 tsp camu-camu powder

Directions:
1. Using a food processor or blender, puree the strawberries. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until well mixed.
2. Allow to cool in your freezer for 1 hour. Remove and whip around mixture. Repeat after another hour and serve, or follow your ice cream machine instructions.

Dark chocolate frozen yogurt
Chocolate is something that is enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Whether you enjoy it in hot chocolate or as a simple snack, it’s hard to say no to this beautiful ingredient. Probably one of the most popular dessert options that uses chocolate is ice cream, of which the healthier version would be frozen yogurt. Here I make the frozen yogurt using cacao. Studies have shown that cacao acts as a natural appetite suppressant and can help reduce food cravings and aid weight loss. Full of antioxidants, it also helps prevent inflammation, making it a heart healthy ingredient. This recipe combines the health benefits of cacao and Greek yogurt to give yourself a delicious and healthy dessert that you can feel great about. Serves 8  (Serving size: 1/2 cup)

Ingredients:
1 cup milk 1 percent (or milk of choice)
½ cup agave nectar
1 cup cacao powder, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups 2 percent Greek yogurt plain

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for one to two hours, then prepare according to your ice-cream maker manufacturer instructions.

Manuel Villacorta is a registered dietitian in private practice, MV Nutrition, award winning nutrition and weight loss center in San Francisco. He is the founder and creator of Eating Free, an international weight management and wellness program and author of three books, Eating Free: The Carb Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Peruvian Power Foods: 18 Superfoods, 101 Recipes, and Anti-Aging Secrets from the Amazon to the Andes and his newest book, Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Superfoods Diet to Detoxify, Energize, and Supercharge Fat Loss.

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