Traditionally, ice milk and sherbet filled the void when ice cream had to be omitted from the diet. But the health benefits of yogurt have given its frozen counterpart even more appeal as a stand-in for ice cream, and today frozen yogurt is recommended by dietitians as a superlative option. It boasts the nutritional appeal of less fat while offering the familiar smooth, creamy consistency attributed to ice cream.
For those concerned with excess fat in their diets, the creamy goodness of ice cream, particularly some of the high-butterfat super-premium brands with as much as 16% to 20% butterfat, may carry too high a price for good taste. Frozen yogurt returns choice to the consumer life style.
The California Milk Advisory Board confirms an upswing in the appeal of frozen yogurt, reporting a 255% increase in its sales since 1980. Per capita consumption has soared to about 1.5 quarts. Like the popularity enjoyed by yogurt, the frozen variety has benefited primarily from its health attributes, according to the industry.
"It is perceived as a wholesome food on the West Coast," said Adri Boudewyn, the board's director of communications services. "It gets very little promotion, yet sales have been on the upswing."
The recipe for frozen yogurt is a simple one--milk, sweeteners, stabilizers and cultures. It has nearly the same number of calories as ice cream but a fraction of the fat. It is recommended by dietitians to those on low-fat diets since it can be substituted in recipes for pies, popsicles and desserts where ice cream would otherwise be used.
"In our program, we recommend frozen yogurt as one choice for a low-fat frozen dessert," said Linda Dahl, president of the California Dietetic Assn., and coordinator of outpatient/community nutrition services at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks.
The increasing number of nonfat frozen yogurt selections available in stores makes it preferable to the low-fat, Dahl said, but the low-fat is "certainly an improvement" over the fat content found in ice cream.
According to Dahl, nonfat frozen yogurt and sorbet have no saturated fat and are the most highly recommended frozen dessert for those on heart-healthy diets. Sherbert, another option, also is very low in fat, with less than the equivalency of 1/2 pat of butter (or 2 grams of fat) per 4-ounce serving.
Low-fat frozen yogurt and ice milk, (each with an equivalency of about 1 pat of butter per 4-ounce serving or less) are suggested for those not on strict diet regimens but who are interested in cutting back. By comparison, ice cream has upwards of 10 grams of fat for the same size serving--2 pats of butter at minimum, Dahl reports.
Consumers are encouraged to use frozen yogurt to make reduced-fat desserts. Typical mud or ice cream pie can be made with homemade graham cracker crust using half the amount of fat, eliminating the sugar and substituting with low-fat chocolate yogurt. Let stand 20 minutes to soften before serving.
PEACH MELBA YOGURT FREEZE
1 pound peaches
1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 quart plain yogurt
Immerse peaches in boiling water about 30 seconds to loosen skins. Remove peaches with slotted spoon to cold water, then slip off skins. Halve, pit and chop coarsely. Combine with berries and sugar. Let stand until sugar has dissolved and juices flow. Stir in yogurt.
Churn freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve at once. Or freeze firm and let stand at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.
PEACH DAIQUIRI FROZEN YOGURT
1 large peach, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons dark rum
1 pint plain yogurt
Combine peach, corn syrup, sugar, lime zest, lime juice and rum in blender and process until smooth. Add yogurt and blend just until mixed. Chill thoroughly. Pour into chilled cylinder of 1-quart compact ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve at once or pack into freezing containers for storage. Makes 7 servings.
BANANA YOGURT FREEZE
4 large or 8 small ripe bananas
1 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla, or more to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg
Peel bananas, cut in chunks and seal in plastic bag. Place in freezer until hard, about 24 hours. Place yogurt and vanilla in food processor with frozen bananas. Using pulsing action, process until almost smooth, then process several seconds until mixture is completely smooth. Add nutmeg to taste and more vanilla, if desired. Serve immediately or store in freezer up to 2 hours. Makes 4 servings.
FROZEN YOGURT POPS
1 pint strawberries
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Place strawberries in food processor or blend and process to about 1 1/4 cups puree. Combine gelatin and water in saucepan and stir over low heat until dissolved. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat and set aside.