Protein shake in a cone

SUSAN PEPPERELL
Last updated 05:00 20/03/2011
icecream
IAIN MCGREGOR/Waikato Times
ICECREAM OF THE CROP: Sean Nixon eats his favourite dessert.

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WHEN SEAN Nixon got home from a gym workout one night about eight months ago all he wanted was some icecream.

Nixon loves icecream but he also prides himself on his athleticism. Wouldn't it be great, he said to his mates, if there was a dessert that had as much benefit as a protein shake but tasted as good as chocolate ice cream.

That's about the time he decided to invent one.

Nixon is a Waikato University engineering student and rugby player aiming for a spot in the New Zealand Universities team this year.

He also considers himself an amateur expert on nutrition and even at 22, has had some experience in product development.

He began by researching scientific journals, then by experimenting in the kitchen of his student flat in Hamilton.

Flatmates became guinea pigs, classmates became involved in blind tasting of his chocolate concoction, and along the way, Nixon realised, with a little more work, he could possibly get his product into supermarket freezers.

"I learnt a lot last year, especially what I needed to do to perfect it."

So after completing his Bachelor of Engineering with first class honours, it was back to university this month to enrol in a masters degree.

Nixon has a long-standing interest in high-performance food for athletes and about 18 months ago set up a company, Tuatara Nutritional Technologies, with friends Scott Carter and All Blacks trainer Nick Gill.

They have several products in development and have already managed to get one to market. But the icecream – made with all natural products and locally sourced ingredients with low fat, less sugar and more protein – is the first of their products that will not only benefit athletes, but diabetics and obesity sufferers as well.

His samples so far have shown the icecream to have about 25% of the calories of normal icecream and in the blind tasting, it rated as tasting better than the full fat control sample. "It was quite a small group though," he says.

Nixon, a Sir Edmund Hillary scholar thanks to his rugby prowess, has also received a $17,000 Dick and Mary Earle Scholarship in technology to support his research.

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