Scoop up some nutty fun in June

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

There is something so wonderful about the beginning of June. Okay, so it’s the month of my birthday, but honestly, I wasn’t even going down that path here! June signifies the onset of summer vacation, the official opening of neighborhood swimming pools, the delight of sleeping late instead of rushing off to catch the school bus, and let’s not forget the magical melody of the ice cream truck. 

As luck would have it, there is an entire holiday devoted to this, which happens to be celebrated every year on June 2: National Rocky Road Day!   Yes, you guessed it, this day is all about Rocky Road ice cream: thinking about it, buying it, enjoying a scoop atop your favorite cone or in a sundae, or better yet, making your own. 

For those of you who may be hardcore chocolate or vanilla fans and have never been properly introduced to this frozen delight, Rocky Road ice cream contains mini marshmallows, chunks of semisweet chocolate and nuts, typically pecans and/or walnuts, all blended into vanilla ice cream, rendering it chewy, sweet, crunchy and, well, not all that awful nutritionally. 

If you are going to splurge, this is not a bad way to go.  Preparing your own batch using an old-fashioned ice cream maker can be done in a fairly healthy manner.  The base can be prepared using skim or 2 percent milk, honey or coconut sugar in place of the usual refined white sugar, and the highest quality pure vanilla extract you can find in local natural markets. If you feel particularly daring, start with vanilla frozen yogurt and add the mix-in’s.

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Semisweet chocolate contains less milkfat than milk chocolate, an automatic plus in terms of nutritional density.  I cannot honestly say too much in the way of extolling the virtues of the humble mini marshmallow, but I can tell you that the nuts are chock full of goodness!

One ounce of pecans (approximately 19 pecan halves) delivers nearly 27% of the recommended daily allowance of heart- healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This serving size is low in carbs, only 3.93g, and provides 5% of the recommended daily allowance of protein.  As an added bonus, pecans are loaded with vitamins A, B and E, as well as potassium, magnesium, immune-boosting zinc and antioxidants. One ounce of walnuts contains 24 percent of the RDA of unsaturated fats along with heart-protecting omega-3 fatty acids, offers 3.89 carbs per ounce, and a whopping 9 percent of the RDA of protein. Similar to pecans, walnuts feature vitamins A, E and folic acid. They’re also rich in important antioxidants.  If you are a true nut fan, the fact that they are delicious is already a given!

So there you have it: ice cream lovers can enjoy a refreshing treat by embracing this unique holiday with little or no regrets.  What are you waiting for? Grab a spoon and dig in!