Tasty Treat Tester

I've been doing my part in the quest to discover the perfect healthy treat. We're talking serious research here. The jury's still out, though, so I will stand by my firm belief that extensive additional testing is required. This is a burden that I will sacrifice my shoulders to solemnly bear. Or something.

The Best Husband Ever and I have been systematically hitting up our hometown's various ice cream and frozen yogurt hot spots. If you're looking for a true treat, Big Dipper's ice cream is the way to go. My favorite flavor is vanilla & Reese's (vanilla with chunks of peanut butter chocolate), and runners up include yellow cake and white mint Oreo. Amazing!

If you'd like some creamy sweetness without the unhealthier aspects of ice cream, though, frozen yogurt is a great alternative. My Montana hometown offers quite a few options for yogurt fans. Moxiberry, a fat-free frozen yogurt boutique in the vein of Pinkberry, is delicious, with regular and green tea flavors. You can top your yogurt with fresh fruit -- I love mango, kiwi, and strawberries -- or other goodies like shredded coconut, Captain Crunch cereal, and graham crackers. It is on the pricey side, though, so expect to pay upwards of $4.00 for a medium yogurt with toppings.

Costco's food court serves up a 12 ounce soft-serve frozen yogurt with a couple of different options -- vanilla, chocolate, a swirled combination of the two, or vanilla topped with strawberries. The vanilla, my favorite, clocks in at 270 calories and costs just under $1.40, while the strawberries cost another $0.15. It's fat free and darn tasty, and very smooth. If they only had the option of rainbox sprinkles, this would be my perfect frosty treat. I do love my sprinkles! I'm tempted to bring my own along next time we visit Costco.

Baskin Robbins also has a fat-free vanilla yogurt flavor, although it is the texture of hard ice cream as opposed to soft-serve. I love to get mine in a waffle bowl with rainbow sprinkles and hot caramel. Delicious, a bit high on the sugar, but mostly harmless; one plain scoop of the yogurt in a waffle cone totals 310 calories with 4 grams of fat (1 gram of saturated fat). Plus, Tuesday night's $1/scoop special makes this treat easy on the wallet.

I have gotten the same treat from Cold Stone Creamery, except that Cold Stone's version is more expensive both economically and nutritionally. One scoop of Sinless Sans Fat Sweet Cream is 140 calories, while a waffle bowl is 160 calories (again, 4 grams of fat and 1 of saturaged fat), with 80 calories for butterscotch and 25 calories for sprinkles. However, Cold Stone does offer better options in terms of fruit toppings than Baskin Robbins.

My verdict? Costco's soft-serve yogurt seems to be the best in terms of value and nutrition. It makes a great low-calorie snack, has plenty of calcium, and you get a lot of yogurt for not a lot of money! Besides, it tastes great. Who would have thought? I certainly regarded my husband with skepticism the first time he brought up the bulk store as a purveyor of treats. But it's true! Don't believe me? Try it for yourself!

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