I’ll admit it – I love ice cream. But healthy plant-based ice cream?
Let’s talk about the whys and wherefores of real ice cream, and healthy plant-based ice cream.
Traditional Ice Cream
Ice cream is basically custard that’s been frozen.
To make the custard, you need milk and/or cream, cane sugar, eggs. Commercial ice cream also contains thickeners, emulsifiers, stabilisers and/or colouring and flavours.
Full cream ice cream must have a minimum of 10% milk fat in it.
Suffice to say that ice-cream is a delicious summer indulgence that almost everybody loves.
The trouble is, these days, ice cream doesn’t necessarily love you right back.
When I got my first car, my favourite thing to do was visit the Hungry Jack’s drive thru in Morley, and pick up a vanilla thickshake.
I loved that creamy texture and instant brain freeze. So good.
My other favourite was swirling a big spoon of Milo into vanilla ice cream until the ice cream was half-melted.
Unfortunately though, ice cream usually made me feel foggy headed, full of mucous and tired.
Ice Cream Side Effects
Sure, some people can eat ice cream without any issues at all.
But with the new wave of food-related health issues, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, good old ice cream can cop a bad rap.
Ice cream is obviously out for anyone with an allergy or intolerance to dairy, eggs, or certain preservatives.
It’s no good for anyone who wants to avoid sugar, or lose weight (particularly Fast Oxidiser metabolic types, or Endomorph body types).
A little bit of ice cream is ok, but it’s one of those so-called “avalanche foods” that’s pretty addictive, hard to stop eating, and easy to overeat.
That means extra calories and excess weight.
And of course, if you’re a vegan, then you are staying away from animal products – which is pretty much entirely what traditional ice cream is made of.
The Case for Healthy Plant-Based Ice Cream
Why should anyone miss out on ice cream?
Healthy plant-based ice cream substitutes are an ideal way for you to enjoy an ice cream-like treat without the side effects, symptoms or guilt of traditional ice cream.
They’re also great for people following a ketogenic, low carb or low sugar eating plan.
The main difference between traditional ice cream and healthy plant-based ice cream is essentially that:
- traditional ice cream contains cane sugar, saturated animal fats, emulsifiers, stabilisers and potentially allergenic ingredients
- healthy plant-based ice cream replaces those ingredients with whole plant foods and minimal processing.
You are essentially replacing cane sugar and animal fats with plant-based sugars and fats.
And yes, you can buy these sorts of ice creams commercially, they’re typically labelled as “vegan” ice creams.
In any case, it’s easy for you to make them yourself and control what goes into your body.
Healthy Plant-Based Ice Cream Ingredients
There are four different sorts of base foods that are best for making a healthy plant-based ice cream at home.
- coconut cream, and
- bananas or other fruits.
You pick ONE of these as a base, then freeze it (except for the avo). Add your flavourings (below) later!
These are easy to use and readily available, and you can get raw, unprocessed varieties of each of these foods.
You’ll note that three of these are naturally high in fat, and the fourth (bananas) is naturally high in sugars and also has a creamy texture.
Don’t kid yourself that healthy plant-based ice cream has fewer calories or less fat or carbs than traditional ice cream.
Sometimes it does, and sometimes it’s doesn’t.
The beauty is that you can control what goes into the ice cream in the first place…and it’s EASY to make.
Healthy Plant-Based Ice Cream Flavours
You can only truly say “healthy plant-based ice cream” if your flavourings are ALSO natural and healthy.
Luckily, nature provides a bounty of healthy plants that can add delicious natural flavours to ice cream.
Common flavourings include:
- fresh ginger
- rhubarb, mango, berries or citrus fruit
- spinach or kale (!)
- vanilla extract or vanilla beans
- raw cacao powder
Talk about hiding healthy stuff in your kids’ food!
Just grab your frozen base, and add your flavouring, and blend on high speed for 2 – 3 minutes until smooth and creamy.
With avocado, it’s slightly different. Blend your avo with flavouring ingredients and THEN freeze.
What’s your favourite?
Which vegan or healthy plant-based ice cream do you like the best?
Let us know in the comments below!
Or learn more about our Healthy, Plant-Based Ice Cream Recipe book, here!
Chief Inspiration Coach
I’m a quirky scientist and a Health and Wellness Coach who helps 35+ women to understand and eat right for their body type.