Team creates healthy ice cream option

Emily Ayshford

Many people indulge in ice cream because of its creamy goodness, not because of its nutritional value.

But three food science doctoral students created a new product for a contest that could change ice cream’s unhealthy stereotype.

The group recently beat eight teams to win the “Best Overall” prize in Dairy Management’s Discoveries in Dairy Ingredients Contest for its creation called “ice cream poppers.”

Kristen Schmitz, Rohit Kapoor and Praveen Upreti said they spent approximately three weeks conceiving and creating the bite-sized, cylinder-shaped product.

Schmitz said the high-protein, high-fiber poppers are unique in the frozen novelty world because they can be eaten with the hands and are nutritious.

A cylinder casing that surrounds the ice cream center is made of ground almonds, fiber, starch and whey protein. One end of the popper is dipped in chocolate.

Group members said they knew they wanted to create something that would coincide with consumer trends, so they decided to create a low-carbohydrate product for the current “low-carb craze.”

To reduce the carbohydrates, the group used artificial sweeteners in the ice cream.

Schmitz said she thought people who were carbohydrate-conscious would enjoy the treat, but said it is not as tasty as sugar-sweetened ice cream.

“It wouldn’t be my ice cream of choice,” she said.

But Kapoor said he enjoyed the poppers.

“When we were making them I would just pop one in my mouth,” he said.

The group’s faculty adviser, Lloyd Metzger, said he tried the poppers and thought they were delicious.

“It’s hard to beat chocolate and ice cream,” he said. “It was a neat idea and they took advantage of some consumer trends.”

As part of the contest, the group also had to submit financial and marketing plans. Schmitz also created a simulated box for the product. She said they decided to make the box red because it’s the “color of indulgence.”

Although ingredients to create the product were donated, members said they spent as many as 15 hours a day working on the product.

But their hard work paid off. The group won a $5,000 prize for their efforts. Schmitz plans to use the money to travel. Kapoor said he will use it to pay off a newly purchased laptop computer and Upreti said he will put his share in savings.

A local company has already expressed interest in purchasing the product.