We were at the beach the other day when someone with an ice cream cart came down the beach, ringing a bell. My 3 year old wanted to get something from it, but I didn’t have cash on me (and didn’t have my Thieves sanitizing spray or Thieves sanitizing wipes)!
But it did get me thinking about being a child, and the Good Humor ice cream truck I grew up with.
As a kid in suburban New Jersey, I’d hear the jingle of the ice cream truck coming down the street on a hot summer afternoon. I’d run to my parents for money and then go to the truck with my sisters or friends. Every single time I ordered the same exact thing: a Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bar. It was the best!
I haven’t tried one since I was a kid, and wouldn’t now because of the sugar & processed ingredients (not to mention dairy!). It’s probably just as well. Judging by the reviews online, that nostalgic taste from my childhood doesn’t exist anymore. Whether they changed the formula, or quality control went downhill, I think I’d be sorely disappointed. Apparently it’s a bright pink/red now, with very little coating and the taste is different. If I had to guess I’d say that the ingredient list IS different from when I was a kid. Maybe it was more whole food ingredients then, and not as highly-processed as today. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking.
Either way, it’s an opportunity ripe for one of my favorite activities: updating a nostalgic treat with healthy & natural ingredients!
If you look at the side of a box of Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bars, you’ll see:
Nonfat Milk, Cake Crunch [bleached Wheat Flour, Sugar, Palm Oil, Coconut with sodium Metabisulfite, Salt, Sodium Bicarbonate, Artificial Flavor, Soybean Oil, Red 40 Lake, Soy Lecithin, Red 3, Red 40], Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Palm Oil, Soybean Oil, Coconut Oil, Less Than 2% Of: Whey, Strawberry Puree, Citric Acid, Mono And Diglycerides, Locust Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Red 40, Potassium Sorbate, Caramel Color, Vitamin A Palmitate.
Some of these ingredients are high on my list of processed food ingredients to avoid.
- Nonfat Milk & Whey
It may sound silly for me to point out that conventional ice cream has dairy, but factory dairy farming is incredibly damaging to the environment and your health. Switching to a plant based diet is one of the most impactful things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, and reduce inflammation and weight gain for yourself.
- Soybean Oil
Soybean oil is high in Omega-6 and low in Omega-3 fatty acids. This combination has been linked to obesity, heart disease, cancer and other inflammatory diseases. 94% of the soybeans consumed in the US are genetically modified (GMO), another reason to avoid.
- Palm Oil
Palm oil is a major driver of rainforest deforestation and exploitation of workers, including child labor. Unless it’s certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, avoid if possible. It’s also high in saturated fats, which can clog arteries and contribute to heart disease.
- Red 40 lake, Red 3, Red 40
Artificial dyes are generally made from petroleum and have been linked to cancer as well as ADHD/hyperactivity in kids.
- Corn Syrup & Sugar
Corn syrup is a cheap processed sweetener, almost exclusively from GMO corn. “Sugar” (as opposed to “Cane Sugar”) generally means GMO sugar beets. The vast majority of GMO crops are engineered to tolerate the pesticide Round-Up / Glyphosate. Glyphosate is a carcinogen, and traces of it end up in the food we eat. Sugar & corn syrup also are empty calories. They spike blood sugar, contributing to type 2 diabetes, and contain no other benefits.
I’ll just stop there, since this could take all day. But the point is this is a processed food full of chemicals and toxins that can harm you. I’m a firm believer that treats are part of a balanced, healthy diet, but I don’t think of something as harmful as this a treat. So… if you want to enjoy a pop like this, just make it yourself! You can use REAL, WHOLE FOOD ingredients, it’s easy, delicious and you’ll feel good about eating it! It’s also a super fun activity to do with your kids, which is an important consideration these days.
This version has just 5 whole-food ingredients in the bar and the crumb topping is more of a ‘treat’ but relatively clean.
- Organic Strawberries have polyphenols (antioxidants) to protect your cells, vitamin C to support your immunity and dietary fiber. They promote healthy cholesterol and combat type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. They are also delicious without being high in sugar.
- Coconut milk has healthy fats (MCTs) that can actually assist with weight loss and lowering cholesterol.
- Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that also has trace minerals, so you get benefits along with the sweetness.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Please let me know what you think in the comment section below!
In good health,
Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars (Vegan & Gluten Free)
- ¾ – 1 cup organic frozen strawberries, about 10 oz
- 1 14-oz can full-fat coconut milk
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp pink Himalayan salt
- Add the ice cream ingredients to a Vitamix or blender
- Blend until smooth
- Pour into BPA free ice pop molds (like this)
- Freeze 4 hours or overnight
- While the pops are freezing, blitz the topping ingredients in a Cuisinart or blender
- Remove the pops from the mold and let it sit out on a parchment or wax paper lined cutting board or baking tray for a minute or two to just soften on the outside
- Roll in the cookie crumbs and re-freeze
*Note: for a two-tone effect like the original, blend half the ice cream mixture without strawberry, pour into the mold, blend the other half with strawberry and pour down the center of the mold then freeze carefully.