I never thought I’d enjoy ice cream again. During the 4 months I spent volunteering in Costa Rica, I became obsessed with ice cream. It wasn’t my fault; it seemed that the whole population was obsessed. At the end of a long work day, one could spot businessmen nursing a McDonald’s soft-serve cone, leaning their bodies back from the drips that threatened to send their suits to the dry cleaners early.
This obsession with ice cream, which is damp and cold, is probably not the best thing for people of Kapha constituion, but I knew very little about ayurvedic medicine back then. I also had no idea that one could be intolerant to dairy, which I now know that I am. My almost-daily ice cream treat contributed to a 40-pound weight gain in those 4 short months.
Now that dairy is out, ice cream is also gone from the freezer and my snack list. I know that there are non-dairy ice cream options, coconut milk ice cream and the less popular soy ice cream, but now that I am staying away from processed and prepared foods, they haven’t yet caught my interest. I’m also suspicious of the inevitability of added sugar and preservatives that keep these products looking new as they sit in health food store freezer for months on end. Not to mention the price.
Now that the heat wave has rolled onto our Toronto shores, I’ve been craving something soft and creamy. So, I decided to try making my own coconut ice cream. I haven’t perfected the recipe yet – there are a variety of other additives to try such as thickeners like arrowroot, almond or peanut butter, avocado or other fruits and cocoa powder to change the flavours – and it can best be described as “soft-serve”, but the taste is delicious and this recipe provides the perfect backbone for an array of dairy-free ice cream alterations. The sugar content is low and it’s made of coconut, which totes belly-fat-reducing medium chain triglycerides. Topped with fruit, you could even have this ice cream for breakfast, almost guilt-free. You also don’t need an ice cream maker.
Homemade Coconut Milk Ice Cream
1 can full fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2-3 bananas (depending on how sweet and thick you want your ice cream. Most recipes call for 3 but I tried my version with only 2).
1 tsp vanilla extract
Optional: 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut for texture, or fresh or frozen berries for added fibre, antioxidants, flavour and colour.
Blend the ingredients together until smooth. Mix in the shredded coconut and stir so that the mixture is homogenous. If you have an ice cream maker, add the mixture to that. If you don’t, proceed to do the following (you can also turn this recipe into delicious popsicles, using a popsicle maker, if you have one): Add to a freezer safe container and freeze for 1-2 hours, checking on your mixture at regular intervals, giving it a stir to make sure that it doesn’t freeze into a hard block.
Once the mixture has obtained an ice-cream-like consistency, solid but still soft, (this could take anywhere from 4-6 hours, depending on the state of your freezer and the contents of your mixture), remove from the freezer. Then, using a stand mixer or your hand, whip up the mixture for about 5 minutes to oxygenate the mixture and to give it a light, fluffy texture. (Feel free to taste test as you go; even as a liquid this coconutty goodness is delicious!) You should end up with a creamy, semi solid ice cream or ice milk.
Serve topped with berries or chocolate syrup, or use to garnish fruit crisp, paleo pie, or to complement another dessert.
To store, pour the ice cream into a small, flat pan, cover with plastic wrap and return to the freezer.