With the weather starting to heat up recently it’s finally starting to feel like summer! That means its time for everybody’s favourite dessert: Ice Cream! Ice Cream is normally thought of as a guilty pleasure due to its association with weight gain, but it doesn't have to be that way! While most store-bought ice creams consist mostly of fats, refined sugars and artificial flavours and additives to make them more addictive. Making your own homemade ice cream is surprisingly quick, easy and gives you the freedom to customise the flavours and the calorie content to your needs on that day. It's actually got to the point where the more of my ice cream I eat, the more I lose weight (how insane is that!?). This has become one of my go-to "leaning up" recipes. This is because some of my "n-Ice Cream" recipes can be among the lowest calorie meals I make and they keep you really full for ages stopping you eating other meals instead.
"Nice Cream" is a vegan version of ice cream replacing the traditional base ingredient of dairy (which is the source of all the fat and calories in normal ice cream) with either fruit (such as bananas or berries), nuts (such as cashews) or even vegetables (such as cauliflower) depending on the flavour you are aiming for. The trick is knowing how, and that’s the purpose of this article! Standard "Ben & Jerrys" Ice Cream Flavours come in at 1,000-1,500 kcal per tub! (the highest being the "Peanut Butter Cup" Flavour at 1,480kcal!). Even their new Moophoria range of "low calorie" flavours, still comes in at around 600-700 kcal per tub. The front of the pack says only 150kcal (per serving) but if you read the back of the label you’ll be surprised to find out their “serving size” is a measly 100ml. The tubs are 465ml so if you end up eating the whole thing that’s still over 650 calories. You have to be careful of misleading advertising!
Other brands such as "Halo Top" certainly to a better job at the low-calorie ice cream option, with more clearly labelled packaging showing whole tubs coming in at about 350 kcal per tub. But they still have a limited range of flavours (especially if you want a vegan version) and aren’t usually that cheap. And more importantly they don’t even come close to how low I can drive the calories in my home-made versions with some flavours coming out at UNDER 150 CALORIES for a portion just as large as a whole store-bought tub! The key to home made low-calorie ice cream is a combination of 3 things, Ice, Protein Powder and the “Secret Ingredient” = Xantham Gum. Xantham Gum is a thickener that increases the volume of the ice cream as you blend it by drawing air into the mix and making it physically larger without adding any calories. which if you've been reading any of my recent blog posts and recipes then you'll know that this increased volume is the key for losing weight. One of my favourite flavour combinations is this "Cherry Bakewell Blizzard" recipe, I always keep a bag of frozen cherries in the freezer to I can whip this up quickly whenever we get a hot sunny day. Not only is this recipe one of my lowest in terms of calories, its also packed full of healthy antioxidants thanks to those cherries. I already spoke last week about how "purple foods are one of the best for your long term health" as they contain antioxidants called Anthocyanins that give these foods that amazing vibrant pigment. This ice cream is packed full of them in the cherries! So lets get to the recipe....
For the Nice Cream Base: 1 Cup Ice Cubes 100g Frozen Cherries (Pitted) 100ml Unsweetened Almond Milk 1/2 Scoop of Protein Powder - Vanilla or Coconut Flavour (16g)
1/2 tsp Xantham Gum
1g of Stevia (or other zero-calorie sweetener)
Toppings: 1 tsp Flaked almonds
30ml Skinny Syrup - Strawberry or Cherry Flavour Chickpea Cookie Dough (link to recipe coming soon)
Instructions 1) Add ice cubes, cherries and the almond milk to your blender. You can substitute the Almond Milk for any unsweetened plant based milk, I normally use soya for most things as it has the best protein-to-fat ratio but I find almond or coconut go better with this recipe to really add to the “Bakewell” Flavour.
2) Give it a quick blend to start to break it down, I find sometimes the ice cubes can fly around the blender at first so its good to break them down a bit before adding the powders or you end up wasting a lot of your protein powder stuck to the sides of the blender. 3) Add the powders (Protein, Xantham and Stevia). Blend again, this time allow it to run for a few minutes. You are trying to get it to “Churn” the ice cream, mixing it vigorously so keep an eye and check its moving around. This is where the Xantham gum will draw air into during the mixing process and making the ice cream grow a bit larger, increasing the physical volume.
4) I find it it helpful to give it the occasional smash with the blenders tamper (if you happen to have one) to keep things moving. 5) Once its all blended up and looks thick enough, scoop it out of the blender into a bowl and add the toppings: Skinny Syrup and Flaked Almonds.
6) If you are adding some chunks of Chickpea Cookie Dough then get them out of the freezer and throw them in now, but remember this will increase the calories (See the nutritional breakdowns below). Enjoy out in the sun!
If you look at the "Nutritional Breakdowns" I made below, you can see the whole ice cream recipe comes to under 150kcal and contains 7x more protein than fat! This first breakdown on the left includes all the toppings except the "Chickpea Cookie Dough". If you wanted more (or less) Ice cream you can always adjust the amount of ice used and not affect to total amount of calories in the recipe as ice contains zero calories.
I have included an additional breakdown to show what its like with the additional "Chickpea Cookie Dough" chunks added. As we can see it doubles the total calories, but still maintains a great protein-to-fat macronutrient ratio. At under 300kcal its still very low calorie for an ice cream that includes loads of lovely gooey chunks to dig for, which I think is most of the fun of store-bought tubs like Ben & Jerrys etc. So depending on your goals and calorie targets for the day, even with the higher calories I think this is a much healthier, freshly-made, whole-foods replacement to a processed store-bought tub! I'll be posting more different flavour "Nice Cream" Recipes in the coming weeks so check back for more ideas in the future!