Dairy-free peanut butter ice cream

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ingredients

1 cup raw cashews, soaked
6 medjool dates, pitted and soaked
1 can full-fat coconut milk
3 tbsp natural peanut butter
¼ cup maple syrup
Generous splash of vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

 

 

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make it

  1. Start by soaking your cashews: to a small bowl add cashews and cover with cold water. Soak for 6-8 hours (or overnight) in the fridge.

  2. After 8 hours, drain and rinse the cashews. Add to your blender.

  3. Pit the dates and add to a small bowl. Cover with warm water and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain the water and add the dates to the blender.

  4. Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender along with the cashews and dates. Blend on high for a 5 minutes (you want to incorporate some air into the mixture).

  5. Pour the mixture into a freeze-safe container and freeze for at least 6 hours. Keep in mind the mixture will freeze differently from real ice cream. It gets very solid but don’t panic at the ice block it turns into. It softens perfectly as it thaws! Remove from the freezer 20-30 minutes before serving.

    Notes:

    - I recommend using a glass container with a lid to freeze the ice cream. This way you don’t have to worry about the freezer impacting the flavour or too many ice crystals forming.

    - It’s also best to divide the batch into several smaller containers if you aren’t serving it all at once. Since you need to pull the ice cream out to thaw before serving, it’s not ideal to thaw and re-freeze the unused portion. Try to freeze it in serving sizes that you will use all at once.

    - If you want your ice cream extra smooth: once it is slightly thawed, add it back to your blender to puree for a few minutes. This will yield a texture like soft serve ice cream.

 

Out of all my favourite foods, ice cream is right on top. It definitely has potential to be my number one favourite food, though I struggle labeling one food as my all time favourite. But I truly love ice cream and it’s one of the foods that I crave the most. I would probably say that cookie dough is my favourite basic ice cream- I say basic because you can easily find a tub of this flavour at any grocery store. But peanut butter ice cream is on a whole other level. This flavour is so special because you can’t really find it at the grocery store, you usually have go to a fancy ice cream shop that makes its own version. So at the end of the day, peanut butter ice cream is my all time favourite, because it’s so special. Pro tip: whenever you see peanut butter ice cream somewhere, order it. You may not see it again for a while and you will not regret it.  

I’m a big advocate for treating yourself and enjoying all the amazing food you want in moderation. From the foodie side of my brain, ice cream is definitely nice treat to have every now and then. And if you’re going to have it, do it right and get the good stuff. Don’t get a low fat version or a cheap brand, it just won’t be worth it. Get the expensive, high fat, high sugar variety and savor every spoonful. 

However, form the holistic nutritionist side of my brain, I definitely can’t ignore the effects of the dairy and sugar content of traditional ice cream. Dairy can create so many problems for our digestion and for the integrity of our gut bugs. This can lead to inflammation in the gut as well as throughout the whole body. Chronic inflammation in the gut can lead to digestive imbalances, improper nutrient absorption and food sensitivities. 

Sugar brings its own set of problems for our health. It can also promote inflammation and such a concentrated amount of sugar will really affect overall blood sugar levels. It’s part of the reason why you feel so tired an hour after indulging in ice cream and also why you get so thirsty afterwards. A half-cup serving of ice cream has a whopping 22 grams of sugar- that’s over 5 teaspoons per serving! And let’s be honest, who only eats half a cup of ice cream at a time? 

So while it’s more than okay to indulge in ice cream every now and then, it can become more of an issue if you are already struggling with your health. If you are already experiencing digestive issues or other health concerns, treating yourself to ice cream even once or twice, can actually be making the issue worse. Even a small exposure to dairy can be enough to create more imbalances in the body. In situations where there are already concerns or you notice that dairy very obviously upsets your system, it’s best to avoid those trigger foods altogether. If you want to learn more about digestion and gut health, check out my gut health series posts here and here.

Traditional ice cream also contains additives and stabilizers to improve its texture. Food manufacturers will often add stabilizers like carageenan to prevent ice crystals from forming and to keep the texture soft and smooth even right from the freezer. Some brands will also add artificial flavours and colours to their ice cream. These additives can also promote inflammation in the body and it’s best to avoid artificial ingredients altogether.

While there is a time and a place for a little bit of dairy in our lives, sometimes you just want to indulge in something like ice cream and not feel like crap afterwards (or feel like crapping afterwards which can also happen if your body really hates dairy). Making your own recipe at home means that you are also in control of the ingredients and sugar content. This recipe contains a fraction of the sugar that you would find in store bought versions- even store bought versions of dairy free ice cream! A quick search of Haagen Daz dairy free ice cream showed that it still has 22 grams of sugar per half cup serving. So while you’re avoiding the dairy, you’re still loading up on sugar. Most of the sugars in this recipe comes from naturally sweet dates and only ¼ cup of maple syrup! 

This perfect dairy free ice cream still feels just as indulgent as the traditional stuff. It’s so good that I’m actually craving it as I type this post right now, and it’s 9 a.m. It’s SO rich and creamy and it will be a hit with both dairy and non-dairy people. You can enjoy this ice cream and still feel like you’re having a treat, it certainly doesn’t feel like you are sacrificing anything. I touched on this in my sweet potato brownie recipe: when you are craving a treat like ice cream you want ice cream, you don’t want something that tastes like a healthy version of it. Usually in the healthy versions of recipes, taste or texture are the first things that get sacrificed. With all of my recipes I do my best to not sacrifice anything. This recipe checks all the boxes and it tastes like a rich and creamy ice cream- period. 

I know you’ll enjoy this just as much as I do!