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Ice cream is a go-to dessert for many dessert-lovers, and luckily, healthy options are a breeze to whip up in the kitchen. Tempting dairy-free ice cream alternatives are achievable with help from a few pantry staples.
When it comes to vegan and gluten-free alternatives to ice cream, bananas are a miracle ingredient. Blended bananas acquire a texture nearly identical to soft serve. The high pectin content of the fruit satisfies the sweet tooth, while the flavor allows for infinite culinary experimentation. Banana ice cream can be combined with virtually anything—nut butters, vanilla or peppermint extract, honey, other fruits and even spices like cayenne and cumin.
Avocados make nearly everything better—including ice cream. Mixed with a few ingredients, avocado ice cream makes for a light and refreshing summer treat. Plus, avocados offer a boost of fiber that can’t be beat. About 25% of the fiber in avocado is soluble, meaning it aids in gut and metabolic health.
For a creamier treat that’s lactose free, try adding coconut milk. Coconuts are rich in fiber and highly nutritious with vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6. Coconut should be consumed in moderation due to its high saturated fat content. However, this fat is mostly in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), specifically lauric acid. Rarely found in nature, lauric acid is rapidly metabolized by the liver for a quick source of energy.
Here are three simple and flavorful recipes featuring these fruits that can easily be made with a high-power blender or food processor—no ice cream maker needed.
Banana Ice Cream
- 1 banana*
- Mix-ins of choice (honey, peanut butter, fruit, cinnamon, chocolate chips, etc.)
Peel, chop and freeze the banana once it’s just ripe. Once frozen (around two hours), blend the chopped banana in a food processor. Keep scraping the sides with a spatula and be patient…soon the bananas will reach a creamy, soft-serve-like consistency. Add in your mix-ins at this point. Place in a container and enjoy once frozen.
*Freeze up to 6 bananas for a bigger batch.
Nutrients per serving (100g): Calories: 135, total fat: 4g, sat. fat: 1g, polyunsaturated fat: 0g, carbs: 24g, fiber: 3g, sugars: 12g, protein: 4g, sodium: 58mg, cholesterol: 0mg
Avocado Ice Cream
- 2 avocados
- 1/4 cup raw honey
- 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
- pinch of sea salt
- squeeze of lime
Mash the avocados in a bowl with a fork. Mix in the raw honey, almond milk, lime and salt. Blend this mixture and transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container for 24 hours.
Nutrients per serving (100g): Calories: 168, total fat: 11g, sat. fat: 2g, polyunsaturated fat: 0g, carbs: 19g, fiber: 5g, sugars: 13g, protein: 0g, sodium: 14mg, cholesterol: 0mg
Coconut Ice Cream
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 2 pitted dates
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Shake the can of coconut milk well and pour into a blender or food processor with the other ingredients. Blend and pour into a freezer-safe container. Freeze for about 30 minutes, then whisk briskly to incorporate air. Repeat until firm (about 6 hours).
Nutrients per serving (100g): Calories: 239, total fat: 20, sat. fat: 17g, polyunsaturated fat: 0g, carbs: 17g, fiber: 3g, sugars: 14g, protein: 2g, sodium: 13mg, Cholesterol: 0mg
Also see Mocha-Coconut Almond Fudge Ice Cream.
Samara Napolitan is a writer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her writing has appeared in Relix, The Post & Courier and The Collective Quarterly, among other places.