published Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Pierce: Low-cal cool-downs for summer

It seems everyone is jumping on the 100-calorie bandwagon. Those ubiquitous little packages designed to help dieters with portion control offer everything from candy, cookies and popcorn to Little Debbies and even soft drinks.

With the temperatures soaring into the 90s the last couple of weeks, I’ve been looking for low-cal ways to cool down. Ordinarily, I’d be scooping out something from a Mayfield’s carton after work, but I knew that wasn’t an option while on this weight-loss project for the Shape We’re In.

However, while wistfully browsing the dairy freezer at the Bi-Lo, I discovered Mayfield Dairy has a line of less-than-100-calorie ice cream novelties on the shelves.

Although they were new to me, they’ve actually been around for some time, according to Alan Owen, marketing manager for Dean Foods’ southeast region.

What is new, Mr. Owen said in a telephone interview, is the packaging of these Mayfield products to put the 100-calorie call-out on the front of the carton.

“We have some that are 100 calories or less and some that are 50 or less. Temperatures in the 80s are ideal for ice cream; when temperatures are pressing 100 degrees, people are looking more for thirst-quenching items. That’s when water-ice products such as pop sticks and snow cream tend to do well,” he said.

In the name of research, I tried three of Mayfield’s less-than-100-calories novelties. Here’s the verdict:

* Cream Bars: 90 calories, 1 fat gram, 6 to a box.

*In a word: Awesome! Baby boomers who grew up with Dreamsicles will love these. These treats are orange sherbet on the outside with vanilla frozen yogurt inside.

They are creamy, flavorful popsicles that you’ll just want to kick back and slowly savor as each bite melts in your mouth.

* Light Brown Cow Juniors: 80 calories, 5 fat grams, 12 to a box.

The packages for these delicious cylindrical bars declare they are artificially flavored/no sugar added, but you’d never guess that while you chip away at the chocolate-flavored shell coating the vanilla beneath.

However, the box also has a disclaimer stating it is “not a low-calorie food.” I couldn’t figure out why other than each Junior has 5 fat grams and 25 milligrams of sodium.

* Fudge Stix: 45 calories, 0 fat grams, 12 to a box.

These have no sugar added, are fat-free and, unfortunately, almost taste-free. If flavor were a hair color, these Fudge Stix would be dirty blonde: bland with no distinctive feature.

Shoppers can find other light ice cream treats to tempt them in the dairy case, such as Casper’s or Weight Watchers, but expect to pay more for these.

So when temperatures in the 90s make you feel cranky and stressed, just remember: “stressed” is “desserts” spelled backward.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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