These Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Bars Are Only 100 Calories a Pop

Nothing says summer like licking a sweet, cooling ice cream cone on a steamy hot day. Or, maybe a refreshing, fruity popsicle is more your style. No matter what your preference, summertime sweets are often less than healthy, loaded with sugar and fat that make them taste oh-so-good. So if you're looking to buy a healthier pint, it's natural to assume that choosing something with "low-fat," "low-sugar," and "low-calorie" slapped on the label is a good idea. But it's actually less than ideal.

"You have to look closely at the label because if it says 'low-fat,' it might be loaded with extra sugar, and if it's low-calorie, it might contain artificial sweeteners that can irritate your stomach and have you running to the bathroom," explains Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com, and author of Read It Before You Eat It - Taking You from Label to Table.

That said, there are plenty of healthy and delicious ice cream choices out there, but choosing the best cone, cup, or stick goes back to reading the ingredient list and nutrition label carefully in products. Here are some things Taub-Dix keeps in mind when she's shopping for healthy ice cream.

How to shop for healthy ice cream

Stick to treats that are less than 120 calories per serving. Taub-Dix points out that the FDA recently increased the serving size of ice cream to 2/3 cup to reflect what Americans actually eat. However, most products still list the calorie count for a 1/2-cup portion. So if you're really craving that full-fat ice cream with all the bells and whistles, go for it—but try to keep it at 250 calories per scoop, and let that be your one big indulgence for the day, Taub-Dix adds.

Look out for added sugars. Many labels now differentiate "added sugars" from natural sugars. So a raspberry sorbet may have 30 grams of added sugar (or the equivalent of 7.5 teaspoons!) on top of the natural sugars from the fruit.

Beware of 'low-fat' labels. What a product lacks in fat, it'll make up for in sugar. Ideally, you do want to have some fat in your ice cream because it'll make it more satiating and keep you from itching for more shortly after.

Stick to a cup or a cake cone. Those chocolate-dipped, sprinkle-covered waffle cones at the ice-cream shop are hard to resist, but each one can add up to a whopping 300 calories (even a plain waffle cone can have 150 calories or more). Instead, go with the small cake cone (around 25 calories) or a slightly more decadent sugar cone (45 calories).

Don't overdo the toppings. "I've seen people order a low-fat frozen yogurt, and then pile on so many toppings, like sprinkles, candies, and hot fudge, that it has more calories than a piece of cake!," says Taub-Dix. If you have to pile something on top of your scoop, go for healthier berries and nuts. But skip "wet walnuts" that have been sitting around in a bath of sugary syrup all day, Taub-Dix notes.

Make portion control easier by choosing pre-packaged popsicles, cups, or ice cream sandwiches. "The individual wrapping helps define the portion size," says Taub-Dix. She adds that if you really love that flavor that comes only in pints or quarts, you can portion it out into small plastic containers in the freezer, so you know exactly how much to grab when you're sitting down in front of the TV.

Make it yourself! For an easy and fun icy treat, Taub recommends you pour 100 percent orange juice into popsicle molds and add sliced fruit for extra flavor. "This is a great way for kids and adults to enjoy ices while getting vitamin C, with no added sugar. Frozen banana slices add a great creamy texture, and they store well in the freezer."

To help you make healthy ice cream choices, we rounded up some of the most nutritious pints and cones out there.

1

Best Overall

Mint Chocolate Chip Greek Yogurt Bar

Yasso amazon.com

Frozen Greek yogurt pops pack a hidden punch of protein, plus you get all the health benefits of probiotics from the cultured yogurt. These chocolate chip mint bars pack irresistible flavor, while helping you practice portion control. At 100 calories a pop, who could resist a minty bite on a hot day?

Nutrition info per bar: 100 calories, 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 40 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (0 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 5 g protein

2 Limoncello Italian Gelato

Whole Foods instacart.com

Summer is the perfect time for gelato—but who are we kidding, any season is perfect for the Italian treat! And the good news is that gelato has less fat than American-style ice cream because it's made with a combination of milk and cream, and by law, is 3.5 percent fat. This lemon-infused version from Whole Foods is the most refreshing flavor for a hot day, delivering a bright burst of citrus.

Nutrition info per 1/2-cup serving: 100 calories, 1.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 20 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 0 g protein

3

Best Light Ice Cream

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream

Halo Top walmart.com

Halo Top has become a best-seller for weight-conscious snackers in the last few years. But even though the container flaunts the number of calories in the entire pint, you should still stick to a half-cup portion of this low-cal, low-sugar treat, says Taub-Dix.

Nutrition info per 1/2-cup serving: 80 calories, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 120 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (3 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 5 g sugar alcohol), 5 g protein

4

Best Slow-Churned Ice Cream

Slow Churned Light Coffee Ice Cream

Edy's amazon.com

Taub-Dix is a big fan of Edy's slow-churned ice cream, which is made with a combo of nonfat milk and buttermilk, and has less fat and fewer calories than regular ice cream, while keeping a creamy consistency. 

Nutrition info per 1/2-cup serving: 100 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 30 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (0 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 3 g protein

5

Best Mini Bites

Strawberry Mochi Ice Cream

My/Mo walmart.com

This traditional Japanese dessert is portion-control heaven. Each bite consists of a little scoop of creamy ice cream cloaked in a soft, chewy, slightly sweet dough, so it's easy to limit yourself to just one or two at a time. Bonus: For vegans and dariy-free folks, My/Mo also makes a cashew-cream version.

 Nutrition info per piece: 110 calories, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 15 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (0 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 1 g protein

6

Best for Portion Control

Organic Ice Cream Sandwiches

365 Everyday Value amazon.com

When you choose organic, you omit processed ingredients and artificial flavors, so you know you're getting the real deal. These ice cream sandwiches from Whole Foods' household brand is the perfect combo of chocolate and vanilla, and makes an easy treat to serve at cookouts and parties. 

 Nutrition info per sandwich: 160 calories, 8 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 3 g protein 

7 Simply Yogurt Bars, Blueberry

Outshine amazon.com

Packed with calcium and protein, this pretty blue yogurt bar will fill you up and satisfy your sweet tooth. And because it's made with real blueberries and probiotic-rich yogurt, you can feel good about serving these to your kids.  

Nutrition info per pop: 90 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (0 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 5 g protein

8

Best Fruit Pops

Organic Freezer Pops Variety

Goodpop amazon.com

These pops made from 100% fruit juice (with no added sugar!) are a satisfying, completely guilt-free sweet treat—plus, they're great for people looking for a dairy-free option. 

 Nutrition info per concord grape pop: 45 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 10 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (0 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 0 g protein

9

Best Creamy Caramel Treat

Salt-Kissed Caramel Greek Frozen Yogurt Bar

Skinny Cow amazon.com

Salted caramel is a one of our favorite decadent flavors, and these Greek frozen-yogurt bars satisfy that craving in just 100 calories. Skinny Cow's ice cream bars use skim milk, instead of whole, to cut back on the saturated fat while still making it a filling treat.

 Nutrition info per pop: 100 calories, 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (0 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 5 g protein

10

Best Vegan Ice Cream

Dairy-Free Coconutmilk Frozen Dessert Bars

So Delicious amazon.com

These dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan pops leave out the ingredients you don't want, but have all the yummy ones you do want—chocolate, almonds, and coconut. They're higher in fat, though, so indulge wisely.

 Nutrition info per pop: 180 calories, 13 g fat, 12 g sugar, 2 g protein

11

Best Low-Sugar Ice Cream

Passion Fruit Sorbet

Sharon's Sorbet instacart.com

Most fruit sorbets are loaded with up to 30 grams of added sugars, but this tangy passionfruit pint has a reasonable 10 g in half a cup. Unlike other pints, this one also has minimal ingredients: passion fruit, water, cane sugar, and pectin.  

Nutrition info per 1/2 cup serving: 80 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 8 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (0 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 1 g protein

12

Best Fudgy Treat

Chocolate Brownie Batter Light Ice Cream Bars

Chilly Cow amazon.com

Remember those impossibly messy fudge pops you loved when you were a kid? This brownie-batter swirl pop is the grown-up version, with an extra punch of protein and less fat. But you'll still probably need lots of napkins. 

 Nutrition info per pop: 110 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (6 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 5 g sugar alcohol), 6 g protein

13 Birthday Cake N Cookie Dough Ice Cream

NadaMoo amazon.com

NadaMoo's dairy-free ice cream has all the flavors you crave in a slice of cake for 130 calories. Made with organic coconut milk, agave nectar, and chunks of chocolate chip cookie dough, you'll feel satisfied with every. single. bite. 

Nutrition info per 1/2-cup: 130 calories, 7 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (5 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 0 g protein

14

Best for Lactose-Intolerant Folks

Lactose-Free Vanilla Ice Cream

Beckon amazon.com

Beckon's ice cream is best for people who love the richness of cow's milk ice cream but can't tolerate the lactose. Their secret? They use rBST-free milk, which is a hormone that farmers inject into their cows to boost milk production. This insanely delicious pint of vanilla features double-fold Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract, so you're not only getting great flavor but also quality ingredients.

Nutrition info per 1/2-cup serving: 220 calories, 16 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (0 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 15 g added sugar), 4 g protein

15 Coconut Bliss Ice Cream

Luna & Larry's amazon.com

One bite of this ice cream will immediately transport you to a tropical island. Made with organic coconut milk and real coconut, this dairy-free dessert tastes just like a pina colada, but with fewer calories, sugar, fat, and oh, zero regrets.

Nutrition info per 1/2-cup serving: 220 calories, 16 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 10 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (3 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 2 g protein

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