Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Healthy Ice Cream?

When I first came to the gluten free lifestyle, I arrived kicking and screaming. I loved bread and pasta. I lived on macaroni and cheese. And give up my bagels? Sacre bleu! But as with all changes in life, I adjusted. I discovered Cool Ranch Doritos are safe, gluten free pretzels taste just as good, and thank goodness, ice cream is usually sans gluten.

Two children eating ice cream


But as it frequently happens with those of us now responsible to forage the grocery store for allergen-safe nutrients, you start to notice other things on the labels, like added sugar, “color lakes,” and MSG. It occurs to you that perhaps there is more to be concerned about than just wheat and its many hidden forms.  You start looking for products with ingredients you can pronounce so they are a bit easier to look up on your smart phone while standing in the middle of the canned soup aisle. Little by little, you gravitate to products with less than ten ingredients on the label, to companies that ensure their nutritional information is easy to read and understand, and to foods that are a bit less processed than your average Twinkie.

The change is subtle, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But sure enough, whole foods end up being the preferred way of nourishing your body. And let’s face it, it’s a healthier way to eat.

I started making a lot of my own foods as I continued my gluten free journey. Soups, chicken fingers, pizza crusts – they all became as easy to make as a boxed meal. But there was one I was afraid to tackle.

Ice cream. That creamy luxury terrified me, the novice kitchen hack. Plus I didn't want to eat just any old frozen treat. I wanted a healthy ice cream.

How bad can it really be for you? Just flip over the quart of vanilla in your freezer. You’d be surprised how many odd ingredients you can find in your average flavor. And to make it worse, they aren’t required to make ice cream delicious. So with a bit of scouting on how to make ice cream, I discovered a few recipes to help me get started, purchased a simple ice cream maker, and was on my way.

Ice cream is surprisingly easy to make, and even mistakes end up being quite delicious (we’ve had a few smoothies and milkshakes with my recipe faux pas), and with a few tricks of the trade, you’ll be the local expert on how to make ice cream and impressing your friends and family.
  • Look for recipes that are easy. The more complicated the recipe, the less likely you are to get started. Save the tough recipes, like buttered pecan, for a later date when you’ve already tackled a dozen or so pint
  • Get an ice cream maker you can afford, but make sure it’s one that includes a self-contained freezer canister. Rock salt and ice get tedious, especially if you are making it for more than one person.
  • If you are making ice cream for adults, add a little alcohol to keep it from freezing hard. Two tablespoons of vodka or rum work perfectly, or if you are making a fruity recipe, Chambord might be ideal.
  • The more water you have in the recipe, the icier your ice cream will taste the next day. To maximize creaminess, use high fat ingredients. You can also add an avocado for an even creamier consistency.
  • Going for a dairy free recipe? Use canned coconut milk. It is a great substitute and creates a wonderfully creamy result.

Ice cream bowl with berries

Don’t be afraid to create your own recipe. Once you have a base, you can make any flavor you like, and even play a bit with some new ones.

Here’s my favorite vanilla ice cream base with nourishing ingredients – from here, you can create all sorts of delicious recipes!

Vanilla Ice Cream (6-8 servings)
4 eggs, pastured
4 egg yolks, pastured
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 can (15oz) + 1/2 can coconut milk (or raw milk in equal amount)
1/4 -1/2 cup raw honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Celtic salt
2 tablespoon vodka (optional)

Optional mix-in ideas: frozen berries, chopped up chocolate chips, mint extract, chopped nuts. I usually add these about halfway through the ice cream maker process, when the ice cream is just starting to thicken.

Mix all in a blender until smooth. Pour into your ice cream maker and follow the directions. Once this has thickened in your ice cream maker, transfer it to a freezer-safe container and let it freeze over night.

Made an amazing healthy ice cream recipe you’d like to share? Please do – I’m always looking for a new flavor to try.

Ally Bishop 
Contributing Writer

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