Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Orange Leaf self-serve frozen yogurt stores seem to be popping up all over the Midwest. I saw an Iowa friend mention one on Facebook a couple weeks ago, and since then I have seen them in Joplin and Fayetteville. The other day, I spied one on familiar ground near the Starbucks on Pleasant Grove Road in Rogers. The woman behind the counter said they had only been open 10 days.
On first glance, Orange Leaf seems very kid friendly. There are cheery pastel colors, and plastic, indestructible seats. There is also a salad bar full of chocolates, fruits, sprinkles, brownies and the like. The clerk quickly determines that I am an Orange Leaf virgin, and hands me three small sample cups. She points toward a couple walls of frozen yogurt machines, and says that I should definitely try the coconut. Once you have decided on flavors that you like, you can fill a cup or a waffle cone with your choice of frozen yogurts and toppings. “We make the waffle cones right here in the store,” she says with a proud tone.
Since the clerk says to definitely try the coconut, I do, and it is amazing. The choices are myriad. I sample bits of chocolate, white chocolate, coffee and even peanut butter yogurt. But one could go in a completely different direction by mixing fruit yogurts such as mango, peach, banana, pineapple and strawberry. I decide to mix chocolate and coconut in the smallest available cup. The clerk tells me that one pays by the ounce, but says a cup will cost varying amounts depending on what I put in it. A fellow customer asks about the price and tells me that he discovered that the price is 42 cents per ounce. Before you pay, you are invited to travel through the salad bar of toppings. This is like a yogurt self-serve version of Cold Stone Creamery. I add some chocolates, walnuts and a very small brownie to my yogurt. A little online research shows that the chocolate and coconut each have approximately 32 calories per ounce, only 1 gram of fat per ounce, 5.5 grams of carbohydrate per ounce and 1 gram of protein per ounce. http://www.myfitnesspal.com/nutrition-facts-calories/orange-leaf These figures do vary according to the type of yogurt that you choose. My cost was $4.30, so apparently I had close to 10 ounces in my half cup. I have to admit that I had not expected it to be that expensive. I have not even filled a small cup.
The Orange Leaf website bills this as a healthy snack alternative. And that it is. A small (10 ounce) Oreo blizzard at Dairy Queen has 550 calories, with 21 grams of fat, 74 grams of carbohydrate and 13 grams of protein. So the portion size should be relatively comparable to the 10 ounces I put in my cup at Orange Leaf. My 10 ounce cup of Orange Leaf frozen yogurt had approximately 320 calories, 10 grams of fat, 55 grams of carbohydrate and 10 grams of protein. Of course, blizzard calories and other nutrition facts vary considerably depending on the type of blizzard you order. The Oreo flavor seems about average among blizzard flavors. A 10 ounce blizzard goes for about $3.20 in Northwest Arkansas. You can see a full variety of flavors and nutrition values for blizzards at http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/search?search=dairy+queen+blizzards
While the coconut frozen yogurt was some of the best I have ever tasted, the other flavors seemed unremarkable. I don’t have a lot of experience with frozen yogurt, but I have tried other chocolate frozen yogurts in containers purchased from the supermarket. I have had Breyer’s and Yarnell’s chocolate frozen yogurts, and they were both very good compared to Orange Leaf. The small brownie was great though, and some of the fruit toppings were fresh. There were fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, just to name a few. Orange Leaf definitely has a future here. Just remember that the price adds up fast.