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TODAY contributor
updated 10/6/2008 3:28:02 PM ET 2008-10-06T19:28:02

In my world it’s never to late — or too early — for ice cream. I punctuate my summer with copious cones, sundaes and the occasional root beer float, but I’m also all about frosty treats in winter weather. Ever sit in front of a raging fire with an ice cream sandwich? Wrap a day on the slopes with a Fudgesicle? I highly recommend it. The only time I can imagine refusing ice cream would be if I were trapped on a frozen tundra or perhaps climbing Everest. Even then I bet I’d be more than happy to dig in once my frostbite subsided.

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But my weakness for ice cream doesn’t mean that I’ll welcome any scoop that’s thrown my way. I’ve got standards. And they’re high. I expect my ice cream to be 100 percent natural, made from organic milk and cream — from cows that have not been exposed to artificial growth hormones or antibiotics and that have not eaten feed that has been exposed to pesticides — and free from stabilizes, emulsifiers, fillers or anything else that was not derived from nature. When you break it down, ice cream is a pretty simple food, made from a just a handful of ingredients that are subjected to some seriously low temperatures. That’s it. And I strive to keep it that way.

So, though it takes more than a chill in the air to stop me from hunkering down with a bowl of the cold stuff, I can’t deny that ice cream is often viewed as a seasonal treat. For those of you who pack away your ice cream cravings along with your shorts and swimsuits, consider this the season finale — one last shot to sink into the cool, creamy organic goodness of the ultimate dessert.

I highly suggest digging into the following:

  • Though not a guaranteed equation, I’ve found that high quality organic milk often results in high quality organic ice cream. This is why a gallon of Horizon Organic chocolate ice cream has held a position in our freezer for the last three months (not the same gallon, of course). In an era of ice cream stuffed to bursting with cookie dough or brownie batter or peanut butter filled pretzels, simple, unadulterated chocolate ice cream is almost a throwback to another time. But the nuanced combination of milk, cream, sugar and cocoa (with some organic guar and carob bean gum to keep it all together) creates a taste explosion that reminds with every bite, that less is indeed more.

  • The same theory can be applied to frozen yogurt — the often-maligned cousin of ice cream. Stick with a quality organic yogurt manufacturer and you’ll end up with a solid pint of the frozen variety. Hence the joy I felt when I stumbled upon Stonyfield frozen yogurt in the freezer section. I’ve been a diehard fan of Stonyfield for years — I’ve probably eaten my weight in their lowfat vanilla — and was thrilled that they finally subjected their goods to a deep freeze. In my experience frozen yogurt quickly goes from bad to worse — thin, bland, icy, bitter, sour and so on — but Stonyfield has a lock on the formula, producing a creamy, flavorful variety (cookies ‘n’ dream is my top pick) that stands up to the real thing — that’s ice cream in case you’re wondering — with significantly less fat.
Image: Green and Black's chocolate pint
Green and Black makes one seductive pint of the cold stuff.
  • To upgrade your organic ice cream experience, check out Green and Black’s luscious gourmet flavors. As manufacturers of some of my all-time favorite organic chocolate bars, Green and Black’s had already earned my trust, but I wasn’t exactly sure what they’d do with ice cream. Phew. What didn’t they do with ice cream? The plain chocolate is stunning, made with actual chocolate (butterfat and all!) instead of cocoa powder, which results in an irresistible texture and flavor. This is not your everyday pint of organic chocolate ice cream. This is the type of chocolate ice cream you buy to dazzle the host of a dinner party, to seduce your crush, to drown every one of your sorrows. Green and Black’s also makes a delectable vanilla with ground whole vanilla beans and a white chocolate with a strawberry swirl.

Marisa Belger is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience covering health and wellness. She was a founding editor of Lime.com, a multiplatform media company specializing in health, wellness and sustainable living. Marisa also collaborated with Josh Dorfman on “The Lazy Environmentalist” (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang), a comprehensive guide to easy, stylish green living.

Please note: Neither Marisa Belger nor TODAYshow.com has been compensated by the manufacturers or their representatives for her comments or selection of products reviewed in this column.

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