Adapting favourite recipes to be allergen-friendly for yourself or friends and family with allergies or ingredient sensitivities can be daunting - if you don't know where to start! Each month FBC member and nutritionist, Sondi Bruner, will take a favourite dish and show you how to adapt it to be allergen-friendly, as well as delicious and healthy. Today she tackles a summer time favourite - ice cream!
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who makes it through the summer without relishing an ice cream cone. Warm sunshine, sandy beaches, cool water, licking the drips from your scoop before they turn your fingers sweetly sticky – these are all part of the quintessential summertime experience.
Unless, of course, dairy sends you running to the bathroom with diarrhea, eggs give you hives, or sugar aggravates your chronic headaches. Then ice cream becomes considerably less enjoyable.
Dairy products and eggs, common ice cream ingredients, are two of the most common allergens in Canada. And let’s not forget gluten, which sneaks into everything these days, including frozen goodies. But food allergies and intolerances don’t mean you’re doomed to eat fruit for dessert all summer long. In today’s Allergen-Friendly Remix, I’ll show you how to whip up delicious frozen desserts that are allergen-friendly, and good for you!
Let’s look at something classic like chocolate chip ice cream. A typical recipe might contain ingredients like this:
- Milk or cream
- White Sugar
- Chocolate Chips
Here are a few suggestions to McGuyver this recipe so it’ll be gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, and egg-free.
Swapping Out Dairy in an Ice Cream Recipe
There are a few things you can use as the foundation for your dairy-free treats. Coconut milk is one of my absolute faves, and it’s my go-to as the base for ice creams and fudgesicle/popsicle-like treats. You can swap coconut milk 1:1 for the milk or cream in your dairy recipes. Use the full-fat version, as that will give you a more creamy texture. (Don’t worry, that fat is good for you – but that’s a story for another blog post.)
If nut allergies aren’t an issue, you can use a base of nuts like cashews or almonds and water to provide a thick, hearty texture. Try soaking one cup of nuts overnight in water, rinse them well, and blend with two cups of water. Play around with your nut-to-water ratio, and see which thickness you prefer.
Avocados offer a luxurious, melt-in-your-mouth joy to ice creams, plus they add a whack of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, protein and fibre. Toss an avocado in with your coconut milk or nut milks, and it will thicken things up considerably.
If you’re looking for a lighter ice cream base, try frozen bananas – just be mindful that they often influence the overall flavour of your treats and make them taste, well, banana-y.
Leaving out the Eggs For Allergen Friendly Ice Cream
Eggs or egg yolks are used to help ice cream mixtures emulsify and to give them a soft, creamy texture. Given the velvety, unctuous properties of substitutes like coconut, nuts and avocados, you can skip ‘em entirely. If this sounds like ice cream heresy to you, consider the time you’ll save by not having to prepare an eggy custard – and the sooner your ice cream is ready, the quicker it’ll get in your belly.
Sugar Substitutes For Ice Cream
You likely don’t need me to tell you that white, refined sugar is bad news. It makes you gain weight, induces diabetes, rots your teeth, suppresses your immune system and strips your body of vitamins and minerals. It causes premature aging and raging mood swings. And we want to be happy all summer, right?
I prefer using raw honey or maple syrup for my frozen desserts. Honey is rich in enzymes and antioxidants, and it has anti-bacterial properties, while maple syrup has a bunch of minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc. Plus, they can be found locally in most places across Canada.
These sweeteners blend well, and a little bit goes a long way, especially if you’re using other sweet elements in your ice cream like fruit. If I’m going for a caramel swirl, I’ll use some date paste, or coconut syrup.
Chocolate Chips - Yay or Nay?
Most bagged chocolate chip products contain dairy, so look out for dairy-free versions. An easier option is to chop up a bar of dark chocolate (just check the label to ensure there’s no dairy or other allergens). I also like to toss in a handful of raw cacao nibs, which are full of magnesium (nature’s relaxant mineral) and antioxidants.
Let’s pull this all together. Taken what we’ve learned, here’s our new and improved dairy-free chocolate chip ice cream recipe:
- 2 14-oz cans coconut milk
- ½ cup raw honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup chopped dark chocolate
- Blend the coconut milk, honey and vanilla together.
- Taste, and adjust sweetness level if necessary.
- Pop the mixture in the ice cream maker, then add the dark chocolate in the last couple of minutes. Freeze and enjoy!
Sondi Bruner is a holistic nutritionist, freelance writer and food blogger. She educates people who follow allergen-friendly diets about how to eat simply, deliciously and safely, allowing them to rediscover the pleasure of food. When she’s wearing her writer’s hat, she works with natural health brands to create content that will help their customers live fulfilling, healthful lives. Find out more at www.sondibruner.com. Or you can follow Sondi on Facebook or Twitter