I recently shared my tips for going dairy and soy free, one of which is to find ways to treat yourself. For many people ice cream is not only a favorite treat, but something they say they could never give up. I like ice cream as much as the next guy, and fortunately eliminating dairy and soy doesn’t have to mean giving up ice cream… or at least some pretty great substitutes. Here are some of my suggestions and thoughts on available substitutes.
Store Bought Options
So Delicious Dairy Free makes coconut milk frozen desserts, which are excellent ice cream substitutes. I have had the Vanilla Bean, Chocolate, and Mint Chip flavors, all of which are delicious, and they have several more flavors that I have not yet tried. They also have products like ice cream sandwiches and fudge bars, but I have not tried any of them yet either. Looking through their site, it also looks like they have almond milk frozen desserts that are dairy and soy free. I am going to have to look for them next time I am at the store! Ingredient-wise, So Delicious products are pretty good, too; they use mostly (if not all) natural ingredients, and even use organic coconut. There are just a few things to be aware of: these products contain natural flavors which could be processed with dairy, soy, and many other things (source), and guar gum which can have negative affects on individuals with soy sensitivity (source). So, if you (or your baby) have a severe reaction or sensitivity, it is best to avoid these products unless you know their source. I was very strict about these when I first stopped eating dairy and soy, but have since begun to eat them on occasion. I still avoid them, if possible, but don’t go to great lengths.
Coconut Bliss is another brand that has dairy and soy free frozen treats. I think the only flavors of this brand that I have tried are the Mocha Maca crunch and the Cherry Amaretto. They are both delicious, but I am mildly obsessed with the Cherry Amaretto. It is so creamy and decadent that there is no part of me that misses dairy ice cream when I am eating it. I think the reason that I haven’t tried many other flavors is that I see this at the store and can’t bring myself to not buy it. They have a lot of flavors that sound really interesting to me, like Ginger Cookie Caramel and Lunaberry Swirl. The ingredients in Coconut Bliss are actually a step up from So Delicious, as they are all organic. They do, however, contain guar gum, and some contain xantham gum as well. Again, people with several allergies should steer clear of these.
Haagendazs has a few sorbet flavors that do not contain dairy or soy, but do have natural flavors. This obviously won’t have the same creamy texture as ice cream, but might be easier to find in a regular grocery store that So Delicious and Coconut Bliss products. We have also had some generic brand sorbets from different grocery stores that are delicious. We don’t have Kroger near us, but my mother-in-law bought some of their store brand sorbet when we visited, and it was delicious. Check-out the brands that your store carries.
Ben & Jerry’s also has some dairy free sorbet options. From what I saw online, they also appear to be soy free, and do not contain natural flavors, guar gum, or xantham gum. Since their flavors tend to rotate, you will probably need to check in-store availability and double check the ingredients. I think the nice thing about this is that you can go on an outing with friends that eat dairy and soy and still partake. It’s great to see dairy free options becoming more and more common.
TCBY also has some sorbets that look dairy and soy free, but I feel like the ingredients really go down hill here. There are the ingredients I mentioned above that could be derived from dairy and soy, and also a lot of ingredients I don’t care for, like artificial dyes. Still, if you don’t mind these ingredients, and need an ice cream fix this could be an option for you.
These can all be great options depending upon your specific needs and preferences. It’s so convenient to be able to just pick-up a pint of dairy and soy free ice cream to keep in the freezer for when a craving strikes. The biggest disadvantage to me is that they tend to be much more expensive than regular ice cream; although this could actually be a good thing if it forces me to limit the amount of sweets that I eat. If the cost or the “other” ingredients in the store bought products bother you, there are other options. As an alternative, you can make you own ice cream out of almond milk or coconut milk, but this is obviously more labor intensive, and usually comes out more watery/icy than ice cream unless you add something like guar gum. But there is another option…
Banana “Ice Cream”! (Pictured above)You have probably seen this all over the internet, and it really is as easy as it sounds. You can use one of the small appliances made specifically for banana ice cream, like Yonanas, but if you have a food processor or blender, you can use that as well. All you need to do is slice a few ripe bananas, lay the pieces in a single layer on a plate, and freeze for 1 to 2 hours. Then toss the frozen banana in a food processor or good* blender and turn it on. You may need to pulse and scrape the sides a few times. At first it will look like it’s not going to work – the banana pieces will just break up and stick to the sides of the bowl. If you just keep blending, and scraping the sides as needed, it will all of the sudden turn into a puree the consistency of soft serve ice cream. You can eat it just the way it is, or try out different additions. I love it with a little bit of one ingredient peanut butter mixed into it and some dairy and soy free chocolate chips sprinkled on top. I have also added other fresh or frozen fruits for varied flavor. It is so easy, healthy, inexpensive, and yummy!
*Note about blenders: Any food process or blender that has multiple “levels” of blades should work fine. I have tried using a more traditional blender with one set of blades at the bottom, and it did not work as well; I ended up having to add almond milk which thinned it out into more of a smoothie or milkshake. The flavor was still great, but it didn’t have that soft-serve-like texture.
As you can see, there are several options for ice cream treats that area free of dairy and soy. So if the thought of depriving yourself of ice cream is holding you back from eliminating dairy and soy from your diet, try out some of these alternatives. You might even find a flavor or two that you like better than regular old dairy ice cream. If you try some of the suggestions above, or you know of some other options that I missed, please share in the comments!