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Low-fat ice cream ‘a fair substitute’ for the real thing

Lorie Hutson Food editor

Low-fat ice cream is a dead giveaway. When your taste buds are expecting a creamy, rich treat there can be nothing more disappointing than an icy, thin mouthful of frozen yuck.

Ice cream makers have been trying to find a low-fat, low-calorie way to simulate the real thing for years. They’re getting closer, but haven’t perfected the recipe quite yet.

Most of The Spokesman-Review’s reader food panel members liked the flavor and texture of Skinny Cow Ice Cream, but they weren’t wowed by it. Made by the folks who crank out Dreyers brand ice cream, there are now several different flavors to scoop in addition to the ice cream sandwiches and fudge bars that have become a favorite for Weight Watchers.

The food panel recently tried Vanilla and Chocolate Fudge, giving each a score in the “good” range. The Chocolate Fudge earned three-and-a-half stars, while the Vanilla flavor received a slightly lower score with three stars.

“Intense dark chocolate flavor — like a fudge bar,” said food panelist Jenny Whittaker.

Donald Clegg seconded her assessment, saying: “Rich chocolate taste with darker chocolate syrupy veins running through. A nice bitter aftertaste — really good.”

Some thought that Dreyers passed the texture test with their ice cream; others said it failed that all-important test.

Tina Johnson liked it. “Great homemade vanilla taste,” she said. “Good mouth feel without coating your tongue.”

But Marilyn Moore said there is no substitute for the real thing. She left no doubt about her feelings: “Synthetic ice cream texture. Makes me think of glue/paste. Not a good vanilla flavor. I want the real ice cream.”

Andy Hoye was more measured with his assessment. He didn’t like the texture of the Chocolate Fudge and he thought the Vanilla lacked flavor.

“But (it’s) a fair substitute for the real thing,” he said.

And Dreyers is still tweaking the recipe. If Skinny Cow ice cream doesn’t pass your taste test, soon there will be a new choice. Dreyers Grand Light slow-churned ice cream is beginning to appear in the freezer section of stores.

The company calls it “unbelievably rich and creamy.” It is supposed to taste as good as full-fat premium ice cream but contains half the fat and a third fewer calories.

Perhaps the food panel will have to give Dreyers another try.

Skinny Cow Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream

Price: $4.99 for 1.75 quarts

Nutrition per 1/2 cup serving: 110 calories, 2 grams fat (1 gram saturated, 16 percent fat calories), 3 grams protein, 24 grams carbohydrate, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams dietary fiber, 60 milligrams sodium.

Taste: • • • 1/2

Value: • • 1/2

Comments: “Can’t possibly get any creamier than this. The fudge ribbon puts the proverbial icing on the cake.” — Skip Hubbard

“Gooey texture. Good flavor, though.” — Andy Hoye

“What happened to that high butterfat ice cream?” — Marilyn Moore

“Rich chocolate flavor with dark chewy-chocolate ribbons. Doesn’t coat your tongue, so hopefully it’s not too awful for you! — Tina Johnson

Skinny Cow Vanilla Ice Cream

Price: $4.99 for 1.75 quarts

Nutrition per 1/2 cup serving: 100 calories, 1 gram fat (no saturated, 9 percent fat calories), 3 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 2 grams dietary fiber, 60 milligrams sodium.

Taste: • • •

Value: •• 1/2

Comments: “This resembles the consistency of buttercream frosting.” — Jenny Whittaker

“The term ‘plain, old vanilla’ no longer applies.” — Skip Hubbard

“Custard vanilla flavor. Creamy texture.” — Peggy Kazanis

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