I recently read an article that said eating ice cream without an ice cream topping is similar to eating a salad without salad dressing, or enjoying a bowl of pasta without any pasta sauce. I mean, these are all pretty valid points. These foods still taste good, but they are not nearly as good as they could be. Whether you enjoy a bowl of Nick’s Ice Cream or a dairy-free alternative like homemade nice cream, here are six nutritious ice cream toppings for your next ice cream sundae.
Healthy ice cream toppings
Traditional ice cream sundae toppings are synonymous with bananas and maraschino cherries. Skip the maraschino cherries that are soaked in sweetened syrup, but keep the bananas as a nutritious ice cream topping. Mike Allen, Founder of The Healthy Treehouse says, “Bananas are a great healthy ice cream topping because they’re sweet, creamy, and have some natural sugars. They also provide potassium that is beneficial for the heart and muscles.” Other nutrients found in bananas include:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
Bananas can also support cardiovascular health, digestive health and can even help with weight control.
If you are a chocolate connoisseur, ditch traditional chocolate chips. Instead, elevate an ice cream sundae with an intense punch of flavor via raw cacao nibs. Rich in fiber and protein, cacao nibs are low in fat and are packed with phytonutrients and inflammation-fighting antioxidants that can help protect heart health. They may even help boost energy levels. Raw cacao nibs also boast large doses of iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
If you don’t have cacao nibs, opt for dark chocolate. Dr. Myles Spar, Medical Director of Vault Health and an MD specializing in integrative health, says, “Dark chocolate is a great healthy ice cream topping. Flavonoids in cocoa can improve heart health by keeping blood vessels flexible, lowering blood pressure, and thinning the blood.”
Coconut oil may not be the first ice cream topping that comes to mind (or even the tenth). But if you are a fan of chocolate sauce or chocolate shells on your ice cream sundae, Heloise Blause, kitchen blogger and a former professional chef, recommends making your own homemade version.
“Mixing together equal parts coconut oil with tahini or melted chocolate creates a magic shell that will solidify upon contact with the cold ice cream.” (I know, it sounds super delicious, doesn’t it?) Plus, you will be skipping the store-bought versions that are laden with artificial ingredients, refined sugars, and sweeteners.
Looking for a sweet sauce to smother on top of your ice cream sundae? Try a spoonful of Manuka honey for a beneficial ice cream topping. Manuka honey is made by bees that collect nectar from the flowers of the Manuka bush in New Zealand. Although all kinds of honey contain antimicrobial properties, Manuka honey is the only honey that contains non-peroxide activity, which has greater antibacterial power and results in a nutritional profile greater than its generic honey counterparts.
Lisa Richards, nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet, further explains the health benefits of Manuka honey. “Manuka honey’s antimicrobial and antibacterial characteristics make it useful in immune health and in improving digestion. By consuming 1-2 tablespoons on a daily basis the consumer is taking in beneficial properties that can feed good gut bacteria, rid the body of potential toxins and ward off bacteria and infections.”
Nut butter or raw nuts
Nut butter and raw nuts are great options for nutrient-packed ice cream toppings. Raw nuts add a delicious texture to your ice cream sundae, while nut butter lends a super smooth layer of irresistible flavor. Whether you are all about almonds, crazy about cashews, or nuts for natural peanut butter, select your favorite nut butter or raw nuts and add them to your ice cream sundae for a creamy, or crunchy, healthy ice cream topping.
Seeds may be a staple in your pantry, but they’re also an excellent ice cream sundae topping. Chia seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds add a tasty crunch and provide an array of nutrients. Two tablespoons of chia seeds include 11 grams of fiber and are a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that cannot be produced by the body. They are also the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and add a nice little crunch to an ice cream sundae.
Ice cream may make you scream with delight, but your ice cream sundae toppings shouldn’t make you scream in fright. (What am I, Dr. Seuss?) Swap out conventional ice cream sundae toppings for more nutritious foods that make for some pretty fun and delicious healthy ice cream toppings.