Who doesn’t love ice cream? Unfortunately, most commercial ice creams contain lots of gums, fillers, sweeteners and—air. Even homemade varieties are brimming with sugar, cream and egg yolks (i.e., unhealthy fats).
But what if you could enjoy traditionally rich, creamy, dense and delicious ice cream without any of the dairy, sugar or cholesterol? And what if it actually provided true nutritional value in each serving as well? In that case, who wouldn’t scream for ice cream?
Here’s how you make your own healthy ice creams—and enjoy every mouthful!
Base. The base forms the bulk of the ice cream, into which you add flavors and “extras.” Coconut milk is a natural for dairy-free desserts, but blended silken tofu also works well, as do almond or soymilk. Adding avocado for creaminess boosts the monounsaturated fats and fiber in your base. A couple of spoons of natural smooth nut butter will accomplish the same result.
Sweetener. To avoid refined sugar, opt for fruit purees as a first choice: they provide bulk and also prevent the ice cream from becoming rock hard once frozen. Fruits can also add a flavor boost: best choices are banana, pear, pineapple or berries. Other good sweeteners are agave nectar, coconut sugar, or stevia.
Flavoring. Fresh fruit, fresh lemon or lime zest, cocoa or carob powders, fresh herbs (mint and ginger are great) or extracts, nuts, seeds or chocolate chips all add delectable flavor and texture.
This Mint Chip Ice Cream is a healthy, delicious ice cream treat—and you don’t even need an ice cream maker!
Mint Chip Ice Cream
- 1 large ripe pear (6.5 oz), cored (no need to peel)
- about 1/3 cup avocado purée (from one small to medium just-ripe avocado)
- 45-70 fresh mint leaves (depending on the size of leaves and your taste)
- 2 Tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup
- 20-30 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to taste
- 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 1 can (14 oz) full-fat organic coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened plain or vanilla soy or almond milk
- 1/2 tsp pure mint extract, optional (but it really brings out the flavor)
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (1 Tbsp/15 ml per serving)
Prepare your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions; OR, place 10 silicone muffin cups in a muffin tin; or set out three silicone ice-cube trays.
Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in a high-powered blender and blend until perfectly smooth.
For ice cream maker: pour the mixture into the machine and prepare according to manufacturer’s directions, adding the chips just before serving. Scoop and serve.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker: pour the mixture into prepared muffin cups or trays and freeze until firm. Pop the frozen disks or cubes out of the muffin cups or ice cube trays and place in a clean food-grade plastic bag in the freezer until ready to use.
To make the ice cream, remove the desired servings from the freezer bag (one muffin cup per serving, or four ice cubes) and place in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture resembles the texture of bread crumbs, then scrape down sides and continue to process just until it begins to form a ball. Using a rubber spatula, spread out the mixture in the processor bowl to cover the bottom; sprinkle with reserved chocolate chips (enough for the number of servings selected). Replace the processor cover and pulse 5-10 times, just enough to break up most of the chips and distribute them through the mixture. Scoop into bowls and eat immediately. Makes eight servings.