A Dietitian's Confession and Vanilla Bean Yogurt and Orange Blossom Mango Pops

There is nothing more awkward than explaining to someone you are counseling on weight loss strategies that you make homemade ice cream. I think as a dietitian people assume you subsist on field greens and skinless chicken.  And when hunger hits, you simply pull out your bag of celery sticks and twiggy carrots and quickly reach snack nirvana.

I am not sure who first promoted this tactic as a method of weight loss.  But I propose this person has ruined lives. And I hope he finds himself in some weird purgatory where there is nothing but an endless buffet of celery stalks and baby carrots—the ones that have gone through a nice chlorine rinse—and fat-free French dressing.  Because fat-free French dressing is about as joyless a substance as one can encounter.

Anyway, it seems the perception is dietitians are incapable of experiencing any real pleasure other than that which is brought from baked chicken and infinity celery.  It is one of the reasons why my office computer screensaver is a picture of homemade ice cream. 

To get technical, it is actually frozen yogurt.  But it contains full fat dairy and heavy cream, two items society implies dietitians—and perhaps women more broadly—are not supposed to look at, let alone ingest. 

Unless, of course, we are status post breakup.  Or premenstrual. Or are depicted in advertisement wearing silk and red lipstick, consuming a 100-calorie version to stay sexily deprived.

So even though the picture occasionally gets me into trouble with a few evangelical lactose haters and black-and-white thinking dieters, I keep it up.  For one, it is a humanizer.  I am a real person.  I have needs.  Sometimes those needs include high fat dairy. 

But it is also a symbol of the importance of savoring.  We have become pretty terrible at allowing food enjoyment.  Instead we have guilt, substitutions, and green coffee bean extract to counteract our sins.

I also believe that if you have the opportunity to make ice cream, you gain appreciation of the time it takes to create.  And this might also help slow down consumption so that the whole pint is not sacrificed in a single sitting.  Maybe.

I realize in saying all of this that I come here today with a yogurt pop recipe.  I assure if it is ice cream you desire, there are plenty of catalogued recipes.  In fact, this black raspberry one and this chocolate truffle version, courtesy of the famed chef Fergus Henderson, are two all-time favorites. 

Either way, the concept is the same.  The inclusion of fat is a must.  As is the use of ingredients you can pronounce. 

The difference is really a matter of investment.  I am six weeks away from getting my master’s degree.  I would also wager that you are likely pretty busy and may not have the time (or desire) to make ice cream.  So although the yogurt needs to drain overnight, the actual prep requires all of ten minutes.  And dirties fewer dishes. 

So please accept this very solid substitute for busy souls. 

The popsicles are tangy, and floral, and tart.  I prefer grassiness of sheep’s milk yogurt, but any regular whole milk yogurt will do.  The coconut and mango lend a subtle tropical vibe. And the stripes of bright orange running through white vanilla bean-flecked sections are not the worst thing to look at, visually speaking.

The point is there are numerous ways to enjoy frozen dessert without sacrificing your sense of self.  That and maybe … just maybe … there is more to life than celery.

Vanilla Bean Yogurt and Orange Blossom Mango Pops


1¾ cup whole milk yogurt (see note)
scant ½ cup coconut milk cream (see note)
1 vanilla bean
2 to 3 tbsp honey
1 Ataulfo mango or small regular mango (see note), skin removed and chopped
juice of ½ large or 1 small lime
½ tsp orange blossom water
pinch salt


The night before, place the yogurt in a fine mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter or heavy-duty paper towel. Set over a bowl so the liquid can drain out; refrigerate overnight.

The next day, discard the drained liquid.  In a medium bowl, combine the thickened yogurt and coconut cream. Split the vanilla bean with a knife and scrape the seeds into the yogurt.  Add the honey to taste.

In a food processor, add the mango, lime juice, orange blossom water, and salt. Whirl until pureed.

In the base of each popsicle mold, layer about one-third of the yogurt mixture and then alternate with the mango and yogurt until the molds are filled, ending with yogurt (you will have enough for 2 to 3 layers of each pending preference). Insert popsicle stick or handle.  Freeze until solid (at least 4 hours).

Makes 6

-I prefer sheep’s milk yogurt, but no matter the animal I recommend full-fat.  The yogurt should drain to about a 1 cup portion.

-Coconut milk cream is the separated substance found at the top of a can of unshaken coconut milk.  I added it to increase the fat and reduce the water content so the popsicles are not as icy.

-Ataulfo mango is honey-flavored and easy to puree, which makes it a no-brainer for this recipe.  I suspect other versions could be employed in a pinch.