Cacao Blueberry ‘Ice Cream’

food fervourIn case you haven’t gathered by now, I’m a bit of an ice cream fan. I used to be crazy for it and, while I can still ‘slide’ back into the habit of buying commercial stuff (whether it be a small tub from the supermarket, or a few scoops from a gelati shop) on the odd occasion, I’ve become pretty well disciplined to experiment at home when the desire arises.

It’s actually quite surprising how easy it can be. If you have nuts (& a range of spices) in the pantry, a heap of ‘stuff’ in the freezer and a very powerful blender (mine’s a Thermomix) you can have ice cream in minutes; ice cream will be way better for you than any mass-produced product out there and that should easily satisfy a ‘craving’.

I’ve come across a wide variety of recipes for ‘alternative’ ice creams with the help of Google, so if you want to experiment further do a little research on the net. The most astonishing recipes I came across were for vegan ice creams made entirely from nuts… which really did work! Fat is the key to ice cream however, having said that, some fruits (particularly banana and mango) when frozen thicken beautifully in the blending process.

Drawing on these ideas, along with some others I’ve gained through the Thermomix community, I created this no-added-sugar “ice cream” with a handful of all-natural – mostly frozen – foodstuffs. I have an almost permanent store of frozen fruit and yoghurt cubes in my freezer, which means I’m well prepared to make ice cream at the drop of a hat. Now, if you don’t like yoghurt you can try freezing cubes of coconut milk (vegan option) or perhaps even ordinary cow’s milk (I’ve never tried this), but creams (dairy especially) tend to split when frozen so they’ll affect the texture of your finished product.

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ready-to-freeze yoghurt

Forewarning: don’t expect the smoothest ice cream texture (because of the extra, natural, ‘great-for-your-gut’ fibre in it) and it definitely isn’t as sweet as your commercial counterparts…

Armed with 20gm hazelnuts, 4 dates, 1 frozen banana (cut into chunks), ½ cup frozen blueberries, 100gm frozen yoghurt cubes (approx 8) 1 heaped tablespoon of cacao powder and 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (optional) I created a taste sensation that could have served 2 people… but I ate the whole lot!

Place the hazelnuts and dates (try more than 4 if you are a real sweet tooth) in a high powered blender and blast until the nuts become ‘meal’ (Thermies: 10 seconds, speed 9-10)

Scrape down the sides of the jug/bowl then add the rest of the ingredients: banana, blueberries, yoghurt/milk cubes, cacao & (optional) vanilla. Blend until smooth. This may take 2-3 rounds: repeat blending, stopping, scraping down and mixing a little by hand. (Thermies: I started around Speed 5 and worked my way up to Speed 9 over a 30 second period, stopped, scraped down & mixed then hit it again at Speed 9 for another 30 seconds)

It should be solid enough to dish out in balls that look like huge scoops of ice cream. I topped mine with cacao nibs (coz I love chocolate chip ice cream) and devoured it in a matter of minutes.

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Believe it or not, this is a ‘kale’ (& mango) ice cream, I made from a green smoothie base. 10/10 for imagination?

Let me know how you go, and please feel free to share your variations or own personal experiments 🙂

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You Don’t NEED Ice Cream…

I have a sweet tooth, there’s no doubt about it. So satisfying the night-time urge I usually get can be tricky, considering I generally try to avoid sugar.

food fervourThe best thing to do is …make something yourself. This is pretty much my entire philosophy towards food anyway. If YOU make it, you KNOW what’s in it. It’s that simple (aside from being really important).

I used to looooove ice cream. I could eat whole tubs in one sitting, no joke. But I just don’t need to, don’t WANT to, buy it anymore because I have found the perfect, more nutritious substitute. Greek yoghurt.

Full fat Greek yoghurt. Because fat really does satiate. And I find Greek yoghurt less tart than natural yoghurt (maybe it’s just me, but it makes me feel like I’m eating thick cream…). Unlike its other dairy relatives, yoghurt is full of natural probiotic organisms = Good for the Gut!food fervour

I’ve made so many varieties in the past, but my favourite usually involves blueberries, banana, cacao in some form and a teensy bit of either maple syrup or coconut sugar (IF I even feel like I need added sweetness). Like this one I’ve just gobbled down tonight.

It’s too easy and too quick and these are two of my favourite things! Quick. and. Easy.

I sliced one banana, grabbed a handful of blueberries and plopped them in a bowl with 3 heaped dessertspoons of yoghurt. I scattered maybe a dessertspoon of cacao nibs over the top then drizzled about 1-2 teaspoons of maple syrup over it all. Bloody yum!