1. Extra virgin olive oil
Harvard Health Publishing also notes that olive oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which has made it a household staple for many looking to follow a healthy diet. But I suspect that even if you had some in your pantry, you never tried to pour it on your ice cream. Well, this is why you should do it. As it turns out, when poured over ice cream, the olive oil thickens to a syrup-like consistency and adds a sweet, nutty flavor along with a dose of healthy fats. I’ve tried my scoop of extra virgin olive oil, which has the most nutritional benefits but also has a stronger flavor (good oil can be spicy). Personally, I enjoy the flavor of pure olive oil better on salads.
If you try it, keep in mind that, like ice cream, olive oil is high in fat and calories associated with it, which will rise quickly. Keep the ice cream serving size small (about ½ cup) and add a little olive oil.
Rating: 2/3 scoop
2. Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil isn’t the only salad dressing that works well with ice cream. The key is to choose high-quality old-fashioned balsamic vinegar, which is more of a syrup than the stuff you sprinkle on salads. Balsamic vinegar is a lot like wine (and me): it gets better with age. Since its acidity declines to sweetness over the years, it pairs well with sweet foods alike. That’s why you’ll often see recommendations for sprinkling a little strawberry, cheese, or panna cotta. A light drizzle over your ice cream adds sophistication you won’t find in an average pint. This is another layer that can help you focus on truly tasting the flavor of a small meal.
Balsamic vinegar has been linked to potential cholesterol-lowering effects in previous and recent animal studies. Of course, more research is needed before balsamic vinegar is recommended for this purpose, but it doesn’t hurt to add a splash to your bowl! I’ve used an old balsamic vinegar that I absolutely love on salads, and while I can appreciate the refreshing flavor it added to my ice cream, this is not a blend I personally would love to replicate.
Rating: 1/3 scoop
3. Wasabi peas
Wasabi is a Japanese radish that is famous for its delicious seasoning. While some people detest the taste of wasabi and don’t dream of touching the bright green paste made with this root, others just can’t get enough of enjoying a snack of crunchy dried peas topped with wasabi flavor. The signature wasabi kick blends beautifully with the sweet and luscious creaminess of ice cream. Plus, they add protein and fiber to your plate, according to the USDA. Try them ground or whole, whichever suits you best.
Peas are a starchy vegetable, so if you’re tracking your carb intake, be sure to take that into account before choosing this unique topping. The beauty of wasabi peas is that you can adjust the number you use according to your preference, and you can always add more after the first or second bite. The rich and creamy flavor of the ice cream is really softened by the spice of the wasabi peas. So, even if you’re not usually a fan of wasabi, this crunchy topping is worth a try.
Rating: 2/3 scoop
I may have had coffee ice cream, but not like that. While caffeine is probably what comes to mind when you think of “a cup of joe,” coffee, which comes from beans, is also a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Research shows that including coffee in your diet may reduce the risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and certain types of cancer, and may even help you live longer – not a bad list!
If you are looking for a creative way to enjoy your coffee, sprinkle some coffee beans on your ice cream. Along with these potential health benefits, the coffee’s flavor and mild flavor will add. Use fresh bagasse for best results and highest nutrient content. For me, adding ground coffee to the ice cream raised my overall experience. This is a combination I will surely repeat in the future! Disclaimer: I love coffee and everything about it. If you don’t fall into this camp, you may not enjoy these flavors as much as I did. If you find that the ground coffee is too coarse, try ground espresso, as it is usually finer. (Espresso powder is often used in baking to enhance the chocolate flavor, so I have a feeling it goes well with chocolate ice cream.)
Rating: 3/3 scoop
5. Protein powder
Protein ice cream (nut milk, pea protein powder, sweetener, pudding mix) has become a popular health food trend on TikTok. Sprinkling protein powder over ice cream is a faster and simpler version. Protein powder adds protein (naturally) to another carb-rich treat, which may help balance the effect on blood sugar, according to previous research. I’ll be honest…as much as I try to keep an open mind with new food groups, this is a pairing I pretty much knew I wouldn’t love. But boy, was I wrong! I started with a small pinch of chocolate protein powder, and after a small bite I quickly added more, because it was so tasty, it even added a slight crunch. Start with half a teaspoon of protein powder and increase the amount as per your preference.
Rating: 3/3 scoop
For starters, furikake is a delicious Japanese seasoning mix that traditionally contains seaweed and sesame seeds with a small amount of salt and sugar. It’s commonly used to season rice, but it’s also delicious on popcorn and ice cream. The sweet, savory, and umami flavors of furikake also work with ice cream, and they bring a nice crunch, too. Plus, the seaweed in furikake is naturally rich in iodine, according to the USDA, making it an excellent vegetarian source of this essential nutrient.
This combo, although it may sound strange, is definitely worth a try. It was by far my favourite! The sweet and savory ice cream in freekick make for a mouthwatering flavour, and the crunch from the sesame seeds is just as delightful. Not only Will be Trying this again, I can tell you for sure that I definitely will. Start by adding 1 teaspoon to the top of your ice cream – you won’t regret it!
Rating: 3/3 scoop
Mmmm, tahini… This delicious dough is made with ground sesame seeds and, according to Food Network, is the most commonly used in hummus. If you have a little of it, be sure to add a little ice cream to your ice cream – you won’t be disappointed! Tahini and the sesame seeds made from it contain powerful plant compounds that may help lower cholesterol levels, according to the Harvard Health Bulletin. The nutritious seeds also contain calcium and magnesium, which may improve blood pressure levels. Just keep in mind that sesame seeds were recently added as the ninth most common food allergy, according to Food Allergy Research and Education. If you are allergic to sesame seeds, avoid tahini as well.
Tahini brings a fun, creamy texture and a light nutty flavor to your bowl. Go ahead and add 1 tablespoon to the top or rotate until you’re sure to get a little more in each bite.
Rating: 2.5/3 scoop
8. Hot sauce
Heat seekers, this one is for you! I recommend choosing a fruit-based hot sauce (like habanero peach) for the most natural flavor combination, but the choice is entirely yours. My favorite hot sauces are the raw and fermented ones, because they are low in calories, have little flavor, and are a source of probiotics. Anytime you can introduce probiotic-rich foods into your diet, I recommend doing so. While this area of nutrition is still new, Harvard Health Publishing says recent research suggests that probiotic foods may help with a number of health conditions, including allergies, arthritis, certain types of cancer, heart disease, and digestive problems. They even suggest that eating more probiotic-rich foods may help you lose weight. Of course, this potential advantage is negated somewhat by the fact that you’re eating ice cream – all the more reason to stick to a half-cup serving!
I enjoy spicy food, so while this flavor combination was offbeat, I definitely didn’t hate it and would be interested to try it again. Certainly, this is not for everyone. I couldn’t resist urging my husband to try, and he looked me straight in the eye and let out a resounding “Of course not!” If you like, start by adding just a few dashes. A little goes a long way, and you can always add more if you’re interested in it.
Rating: 2/3 scoop
No matter what you choose to top your ice cream with, be sure to keep your portion small and fully enjoy every bite. When it comes to ice cream, the healthiest one is the one you love the most. Good nutrition isn’t always about making the perfect choices, it’s about finding the right balance of healthy ingredients and real enjoyment. So enjoy!