Ice cream sundaes are the best summertime treat any day of the week. Each spoonful treats you to cool, sweet ice cream plus gooey chocolate or caramel sauce and other fruity, nutty or salty flavors. There’s something for almost every taste in an ice cream sundae. Unfortunately, standard versions also come with excessive calories, fat and sugar: According to FastFoodNutrition.org, a small hot fudge sundae from a popular chain ice cream shop contains 300 calories, 10 grams of fat and 36 grams of sugar.
Legend has it that the first sundae was created in the 1880s at a drug store where sales of ice cream sodas were restricted on Sundays, says What’s Cooking America. A customer asked for chocolate syrup on top of a dish of vanilla ice cream instead. The result, later named a “sundae,” was an instant sensation and is still popular today. You can embrace the spirit of invention that lead to the first sundae to create your own version that’s as good for your waistline as it is satisfying for your taste buds!
Keep reading for our step-by-step guide on building a healthier ice cream sundae:
1. First Base
Start your healthier sundae by making up a batch of our delicious “nice” cream. It’s quick and easy—no special equipment or tedious churning needed. You simply put a frozen banana in a food processor or blender with unsweetened almond milk. For extra creaminess, throw in some non-fat plain Greek yogurt. After whipping the ingredients together, you get a thick, cool, creamy base for your sundae. If you like “soft-serve” style ice cream, it’s ready to eat right away. For a firmer texture, put the “nice” cream in the freezer for an hour or so.
2. Blend Ins
While you’re making your base, you can punch up the flavor with other ingredients. Add a few drops of vanilla extract for a classic taste. Give it a minty flavor with either mint extract or fresh mint leaves. Mix in frozen blueberries or strawberries, which not only give your blend a flavor boost, but also supply you with valuable antioxidants. Try out our recipe for Mint Chocolate Chip Nice Cream here! >
3. Sugar-Free Solutions
Just like in that drug store all those years ago, it is the chocolate syrup that transforms a dish of ice cream into a sundae. You can enjoy a traditional chocolate or caramel sundae if you go with sugar-free syrups. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one tablespoon of a popular brand’s “lite” sugar-free chocolate syrup has less than 10 calories as well as no added sugar. If you love caramel as much as we do, try our Salted Caramel Nice Cream with the sugar-free sauce in the base and drizzled on top
4. Fruity Flavors
Fresh or frozen, whole fruit adds flavor and natural sweetness to your sundae. Bonus: whole fruit is loaded with fiber and nutrients to keep you satisfied and healthy. In addition to berries, you can try lemon zest (which we added to our Blueberry Lemon Sundae), pineapple chunks, sliced peaches or chopped mangoes. Fresh figs are an uncommonly good addition to sundaes because they are so sweet on their own. Do you love an old-fashioned banana split? We’ve reinvented it so you can dig in without hesitation. Get the healthy recipe here! >
5. Nutty Ideas
Peanuts, almonds, pistachios and walnuts give your sundae a shot of savory flavor, a light crunch and a bit of healthy fats and protein. Be sure to use unsalted raw or dry roasted options, so you don’t pile on extra oils or sodium. A sprinkle of unsweetened dried coconut flakes can give your sundae a tropical taste without adding lots of extra calories or sugar.
6. Crunchy Choices
When you’re craving crunch in your sundae, sprinkle a tablespoon or two of ordinary unsweetened rice puff breakfast cereal on top. You can also crumble up crunchy NutriFlakes Cereal from the Nutrisystem breakfast menu into little pieces! Along with the satisfying crunch, you also pick up fiber to keep you full for hours to come.
7. Cookies on the Side
Here’s another benefit to making your own “nice” cream: it’s so healthy, you can pair it up with one of our indulgent snacks! When we made our Caramel Toffee Crunch Sundae, we took it over the top by blending a packet of Nutrisystem Toffee Crunch Cookies into the base and it became an instant favorite.
We have many other scrumptious cookie choices so you can get exactly the flavor blend you love. Try out our Lemon Cooler Cookie in our Blueberry Lemon Ice Cream Sundae. Explore our full cookie selection on the Nutrisystem snack menu and get creative with our Chocolate Chip Cookies, Snickerdoodle Cookie, Peanut Butter Cookie and more.
8. Topping it Off
Classic whipped cream comes with loads of excess calories and saturated fats. Instead, top your healthier sundae with a bit of light or non-dairy (coconut or almond based) whipped cream, which tend to have less calories, fat and sugar than regular whipped cream. According to Cooking Light magazine, one popular coconut whipped cream contains only 10 calories in a two-tablespoon serving. Hold the maraschino cherry and finish your sundae with a fresh sweet cherry. Dig in!