Scorching summer days call for frosty ice cream nights. There’s nothing better on a warm summer evening, especially after a few hours of mowing the lawn, pulling weeds out of the garden or an afternoon of baseball or swimming. It doesn’t matter if the vanilla bean ice cream or the rich chocolate ice cream makes an appearance in the cone or dish, what does matter are the toppings that are pulled out to go with it.
You can find restaurants devoted just to ice cream and an array of toppings pretty easily. Why not take that idea and try it at home? An ice cream sundae bar is the perfect after dinner dessert and it’s a simple entertaining idea for inviting the neighbors over for an impromptu get together. Here’s the scoop:
Start with Vanilla or Chocolate Ice Cream
While these flavors seem boring and bland, simple options like vanilla and chocolate go with pretty much any topping allowing the toppings to shine through . No need to stock up on multiple flavors taking precious freezer space. The basics work just fine!
Drizzle on the Toppings
Here’s a quick tip to save calories. Purchase toppings that are sweetened with low calorie sweeteners, like aspartame, to reduce calories and carbohydrates allowing everyone to enjoy their dessert whether they are watching their weight or managing diabetes or simply just want to reduce sugar intake. Sugar-free sauces like hot fudge, caramel and strawberry are all easy to find in supermarkets and have on hand. And when you compare calories of regular versus sugar-free options, you are saving, on average, 30% per tablespoon while reducing carbohydrates significantly as well.
Fill Bowls of Berries
How do you get the kids to eat more fruit? Incorporate those berries into something they already love – ice cream! Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries…whatever you have, put some into small dishes to let everyone help themselves.
Look for the Crunch
Open the pantry cabinet and you might find baking chips, mini candy-coated candies, like M&M’s, and cookies, like Oreo’s, that would make the perfect crunchy ice cream toppings. Or you may even have a candy bar or two that can be quickly chopped. The number of choices is key here as it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Aim for two or three options.
Bring out the dishes and the spoons and serve up this fun ice cream sundae bar!
Whether it’s for friends or family, entertaining with a quick ice cream sundae bar is the perfect finisher to an outdoor party, a neighborhood gathering or after family dinner. It’s really the easiest entertaining you will ever do!
Jen Haugen RD, LD is an award winning registered dietitian based in Austin, MN. She is currently writing her first book, focusing on growing healthier families through gardening and cooking together. She is also a media expert frequently appearing on ABC 6 News . In 2012, Jen was named Emerging Dietetic Leader in Minnesota by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She continues to be a leader in her field with her supermarket and media expertise, garden program development and nutrition experience. Reach Jen on Twitter @JenHaugen and check out her blog JenHaugen.com.