The warm weather and the upcoming 21-day vegan challenge that Terra and some of our readers are taking on, has me thinking about none other than ice cream! As a vegan myself, people always ask me what foods I miss most, and my answer usually involves ice cream. Who doesn’t love ice cream? Before my vegan and healthy chick days I used to live on chocolate peanut butter ice cream, so on occasion I still reminisce about that hunk of fake peanut butter that I would dig out from the middle of the carton! And there is something about spring and summer at the jersey shore that makes you want to indulge in some cold creamy yumminess.
So what’s an ice cream loving, healthy vegan girl to do? Well, to be honest I have, and do on occasion reach for the soy varieties in the super market freezers. But, with all the soy, refined sugars and other unrecognizable ingredients, these are no healthier than the real thing. But have no fear, there are dairy-free, vegan alternatives that are actually good for you and have this healthy chicks seal of approval.
Coconut Milk Ice Creams - There are now a few non-dairy ice creams that are made from coconut milk versus soy. The thing that I like about these is that many (but not all!) of these are free of refined sugars and chemicals. Look for varieties that have as natural and as few ingredients as possible. My favorite is Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss. This line is not only dairy free, but gluten free and sweetened with agave. Try the coffee, naked coconut or chocolate peanut butter! Purely Decadent makes a line of coconut milk ice creams as well that are equally as delicious, however some flavors are made with more natural ingredients than others, so be sure to read your labels!
Sorbet - While sorbet doesn’t exactly have the creamy texture of ice cream, I feel like it is a nice alternative, and the fresh frozen fruit can be really refreshing during those hot summer months. My favorite is Ciao Bella, made from simply fruit and organic cane juice. The coconut is probably the closest to an ice cream texture, but the raspberry and mango are also delicious! (Ciao Bella also makes a line of gelato made from dairy, so be sure to read your labels!!)
Raw Ice Creams - Raw ice creams are a bit more difficult to find, and will cost you a pretty penny, but on a rare occasion are definitely worth it! Raw means that it is made from completely unprocessed and uncooked ingredients. These dairy and gluten free ice creams are almost always organic and usually made from things like raw cashew cream, agave and raw coconut. Look for these at your local health food stores. If you are lucky enough to live in the big apple, vegan and raw restaurant Pure Food and Wine makes a line called One Lucky Duck. If you feel like dining there, order the hot fudge sundae (all raw).. it is the most amazing thing I have ever eaten!
Make Your Own - This is something I do often. Its cheap, its easy, its quick and its probably the healthiest option. Plus it saves me from throwing away and wasting fruit that is on its way out. Here’s what you do: keep a handful of bananas in your freezer. (Make sure to peel them first, then throw them in a zip lock bag.) I also usually keep some frozen berries, mango or pineapple in there too. Cut up one or two frozen bananas and throw them in a blender with a splash of water, coconut milk, soy milk, rice milk.. or whatever non dairy milk you prefer. Don’t add too much liquid though, cause you will end up with a smoothie and you want an ice cream consistency. You can throw in anything else you’d like to add some flavor - other frozen fruits, coconut, nut butters, etc. You can also add a little agave or other natural sweetener if you’d like. Blend till the desired consistency and voila!, homemade vegan “ice cream”. Another option is to just puree some fruit (fresh or frozen) and then pour it into ice trays or plastic cups with a popsicle stick and freeze. Instant homemade ice pops!
Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter “Ice Cream”
1 Frozen banana
Splash or two of unsweetened almond milk
1Tbspn of all natural peanut butter (raw almond butter can be used too!)
1Tbspn of raw cacao powder
1 Tsp agave
Add all ingredients to a blender or food process and blend til desired consistency! Add some optional topping: ground nuts, ground flax or dried coconut!
All of these options are great for the vegan and non-vegan alike. What’s most important is that they are healthier versions of the real thing, so we can indulge this summer (and who am I kidding, all year round) without feeling guilty! Feel free to leave a comment with your favorites!
Keep it Fresh!