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Measuring is key when it comes to ice cream toppings

April 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
It may sound hard to believe, but you can enjoy a scoop of ice cream without ruining your diet. But you will have to watch what you put on top of your dessert.

A sprinkle of this, a dollop of that, certainly seems harmless until you do the math.

For example, hot fudge-- a thick, creamy favorite-- is 65 calories if you actually measure one even tablespoon. Don't know many who would do that.

But if you choose caramel, the same amount will cost you 10 calories less.

If you like rainbow or chocolate sprinkles, a tablespoon is 60 calories, and something bigger and tastier like M&M's are 80 calories a tablespoon. But again, it's a rare human that measures out a true tablespoon.

The same amount of chopped walnuts are 50 calories, but health experts will tell you those are calories well worth it, because they provide a nice dose of heart healthy fat, fiber and vitamins.

Surprisingly, non-dairy whip is a pretty good deal at just 10 to 15 calories a tablespoon and your dessert will look and feel extra fancy.

But let's say you were going for it with fudge, the sprinkles, whip cream, nuts and a maraschino cherry, you've topped off your freezer treat with 200 calories, which is more than the ice cream itself.

Also keep in mind that there is a big fat difference between a low-fat vanilla, such as Dreyer's slow churn, and something decadent like Chubby Hubby from our buddies Ben & Jerry's - the premium stuff is twice the calories and loads more fat.

If you keep your ice cream to a half cup and go for a low-fat version, you could afford a topping if you measure carefully.

But if the premium pint is calling your name, you could be headed for trouble if you're weight watching.

And if you are getting your freezer treat at a shop, they rarely weigh and serve a flat 4 ounces. So it's likely you're getting more fat and calories than you bargained for. So ask for a child's portion.