An ice cream treat is revamped for a Missouri grandmother and her family
Credit: Lee Harrelson

THE READER: Norma Parrott, 71, retired nurse anesthetist, Kansas City, Missouri

THE RECIPE:  Ice Cream Treasures

THE STORY: This recipe is a favorite family treat. "I remember making it for the first time with my daughters when they were teenagers," she says. They prepared the dessert―butter brickle ice cream sandwiched between a buttered mixture of coconut, almonds, and rice cereal―for parties, showers, and get-togethers. But now Parrott says it's more important for her to eat healthfully since her daughters have children of their own. "I make a lot of simple dishes with fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, and want to give my family a taste for healthful foods," she says.

THE DILEMMA: With its few ingredients, the recipe delivered big taste―as well as calories and fat. A single serving provided a hefty 428 calories, mainly from fat―half of which was saturated fat from the ice cream, butter, and coconut. "We love it but do not make the dessert as often as we'd like because we feel so guilty when we eat it," says Parrott.

THE SOLUTION: Since the main sources of calories and fat were the ice cream and butter, we worked on these areas first. Instead of purchasing butter brickle ice cream, we made our own by adding crushed toffee bars to softened reduced-fat vanilla ice cream. This shaved about 40 calories and almost eight grams of fat per serving. And because the cereal, coconut, and almond mixture holds together when frozen with the ice cream, there is no need to use butter as a binder. We reduced it to a judicious two tablespoons for the whole recipe, which saved each portion another 55 calories and six grams of fat. The last trouble spot was the toasted almonds and coconut, which provided a nice crunch, as well as 60 calories and five grams of fat per serving. We reduced the amounts of both, and toasted both ingredients to intensify their flavors. We also decreased the amount of cereal and brown sugar, and added whole-grain cereal to boost the fiber.

THE FEEDBACK: "My family was surprised since it tasted very similar to the heavy version," Parrott says. They liked the lighter version because "it still had the nutty flavor" and was just as sweet as the original. Now, Parrott says she can pass this recipe on to her granddaughters knowing that it is a more healthful summertime treat.

Before | After

Serving size
3/4 cup | 3/4 cup

Calories per serving
428 | 253

25.6g | 8.4g

Percent of total calories
54 | 30