Many baked goods, such as pumpkin pie or gooey butter cake, taste even better with a hefty dollop of whipped cream, or as my grandpa used to call it: snowbanks. The slightly sweet and airy fluff makes any dessert just a little more decadent. But have you ever wondered what to actually buy for better health? Should you go for whipped cream in an aerosol can, frozen whipped topping, or make it yourself with either whipping cream or heavy whipping cream?
Cream is the high butterfat dairy product that gets scraped off the top of milk. Whipped cream in a can generally contains real cream as the first ingredient, but also has added sugars and chemical stabilizers. Frozen whipped topping is also made with real cream, but it's first ingredients usually consist of water, hydrogenated oils, and sugars. The advantage is that it holds its shape longer and can still be whipped after freezing.
Making your own whipped cream is quite simple, but you have to use a full-fat cream or it won't work. Heavy whipping cream contains the highest percentage of fat (36%) but whipping cream also contains enough fat (33%) to whip into whipped cream. Vanilla extract is typically added, and the cream is mixed with a mixer until firm peaks form, about eight or nine minutes later. Use it rather quickly as it will only hold its shape in the refrigerator for a few hours. Light cream or half and half, which is a combination of milk and cream, are better uses for coffee or for making a creamed sauce.
So back to the original question: which is best to buy? Truthfully, none of them! Cream is made up of artery-clogging saturated fats. Frozen whipped topping has much less but since its made with hydrogenated oils, it has another bad fat: trans-fats. The best bet is to look for whipped topping without hydrogenated oils in the ingredient lists. Otherwise, use real whipped cream, whether homemade or in a can, but use it sparingly.
Berry Cheesecake Whip (Printable PDF)
3 cups non-fat strawberry yogurt
2 oz. (½-4 oz. box) sugar-free instant cheesecake pudding
8 oz. fat-free frozen whipped topping; thawed
3 cups frozen mixed berries
Let frozen berries slightly thaw in the refrigerator (about 4 hours). In a large bowl, stir yogurt and pudding mix until well-combined. Fold in whipped topping. Stir in partially frozen berries and serve.
Yield: 10 servings, ½ cup each
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 110 calories, 0 grams fat, 270 milligrams sodium, 16 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams protein