Lactose-intolerant and vegan ice-cream lovers, rejoice! Häagen-Dazs is the latest mainstream brand to hop on the dairy-free bandwagon with the release of four new flavors, following in the footsteps of Ben & Jerry’s, the company that started offering dairy-free options in February 2016.
Here’s what the brand is offering: Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle, which is made from Belgian chocolate with blended-in swirls of salted fudge and chunks of fudge truffle. Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge features peanut butter mixed with swirls of chocolate fudge. Yum!
Then there’s Mocha Chocolate Cookie, which combines Belgian chocolate with coffee and pieces of chocolate cookie. And last but not any less delicious-sounding, Coconut Caramel, which is coconut cream with ribbons of caramel.
While most competitors swap out dairy with some kind of nut milk, Häagen-Dazs has opted against it. Every flavor in the new collection “begins with a core ingredient like real pieces of Belgian chocolate, actual peanut butter or real coconut cream. The result? Indulgent nondairy flavors with a creamier texture and an authentic taste that shines through,” the company explains on its website.
While this all sounds amazingly delicious, how does it compare to regular ice cream in terms of ingredients and sugar content? After all, just because it’s dairy-free doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthier for you than the regular dairy options.
Take the aforementioned Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge, for example. Just one serving (half a cup) contains 290 calories and 22 grams of sugar, while ingredients include several types of sugar and processed fillers. The company also offers a similar dairy-packed product — Peanut Butter Salted Fudge — that contains 340 calories and 24 grams of sugar. The other dairy-free flavors range from 240 to 270 calories per serving and 19 to 28 grams of sugar.
“The new nondairy varieties on a whole are still very much an indulgence, providing a very large dose of added sugar in one hit,” says Kara Landau, gut health expert and founder of TravellingDietitian.com. “Offering approximately five to seven teaspoons of sugar per serving and quite similar calorie contents to the regular dairy varieties, the new nondairy option is an alternative for those looking for a lactose-free ice cream that is still very much a dessert item.”
On the plus side, she points out that the nondairy flavors have slightly simpler ingredients lists. “Ingredients like soy lecithin and soy bean oil are removed and replaced with ingredients that some health-conscious consumers may feel more comfortable consuming, such as sunflower lecithin and coconut oil.” She also adds that the nondairy options also offer a few grams of prebiotic dietary fiber with the inclusion of pectin.
But before you run to your local grocery store to pick up a few pints of Häagen-Dazs’ dairy-free goodness, there’s a catch: Until early 2018, it will be exclusively available at Target, retailing for around $5.49 for a 14-ounce carton. At some point next year it will start selling everywhere else.
So if you’re dairy-free, by all means, give the new Häagen-Dazs flavors a try. But like any other ice cream or dessert (dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free — you name it!), practice moderation and try not to polish off the whole thing in one sitting. We’re speaking from experience here!
What Do YOU Think?
Have you tried Häagen-Dazs’ nondairy ice cream? Do you think you will? What is your favorite dairy-free ice cream? How often do you indulge in ice cream? Do you have other favorite indulgences?