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Healthy Ice Cream Recipes and Alternatives: Vegan Recipes Included!

Updated on June 28, 2012
Fresh fruit is the best base for healthy ice cream that is out of this world.
Fresh fruit is the best base for healthy ice cream that is out of this world. | Source

Making Dessert Healthy

One of the keys to good health is nixing processed foods, most of which have enriched rather than naturally wholesome ingredients. When watching blood sugar, trying to lose weight, or just looking for more natural alternatives, the first place most people go wrong is at dessert. One serving of ice cream from the super market often comes packed with fat, calories, and processed sugars.

But nature gives us so many options for creating healthy alternatives to iced heavy cream that can pack the same punch of sweet and chilly, such as fruit, coconut creams, and even kefir! And honey, a natural sweetener, is one of nature's small miracles. New research even indicates that honey does not raise blood sugars like sucrose!

In this article, I will show you some of my favorite simple, natural recipes for healthy ice cream and ice cream alternatives, many of which are vegan, too. So sit back and prepare that sweet tooth of yours.

Just Bananas "Ice Cream" (Vegan) Recipe

Total Time: 2 Hours | Active Time: 10 Minutes | Yield: Varies

  • Ripe Bananas
  • OPTIONAL: 1 TBS peanut butter
  • OPTIONAL: 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • OPTIONAL: 1 TBS honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, or Stevia powder
  • OPTIONAL: all of the above

Directions

Peel your bananas and cut them into one-inch pieces. Throw the banana pieces into a freezer baggy or on a plate/cookie sheet. Allow them to freeze for at least 90 minutes.

Throw bananas (and any mix-ins) into a blender or food processor. Blend, scraping down the sides as necessary.


Cocoa or carob powder can turn any plain, healthy vanilla ice cream alternative into a rich, chocolatey dessert.
Cocoa or carob powder can turn any plain, healthy vanilla ice cream alternative into a rich, chocolatey dessert. | Source

Basic Healthy Ice Cream (Non-Vegan) Recipe

Total Time: 2 Hours and 30 Minutes | Active Time: 30 Minutes | Yield: 4 Cups (1 Quart)

  • 3 cups low-fat milk, divided evenly
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 (14 oz.) nonfat unsweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, or Stevia powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 TBS water
  • OPTIONAL: 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa/carob powder
  • OPTIONAL: 2 ounces dark chocolate/carob chips

Directions

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and allow it to stand while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, mixing once or twice.

Heat 1 1/2 cups of milk (and whisked in cocoa/carob powder) in a large saucepan over medium heat until steam begins to rise off the surface. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sweetener, vanilla, and condensed milk. Add the mixture to the hot milk a little bit at a time, whisking as you go.

Continue cooking without boiling at all until the back of your wooden spoon (or a wooden toothpick) develops a coating when dipped into the mixture—4 to 6 minutes.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and into a large bowl. Add the gelatin mixture and whisk everything together until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of milk. Cover the bowl and refrigerate it for about 2 hours, or until mixture has chilled completely.

Give the mixture a quick mix and pour it into an ice cream maker. Follow your manufacturer's directions carefully. Once ice cream thickens, enjoy! Alternatively, you can freeze the ice cream in an air-tight container for at least an hour or so to help it firm up.

Loosely based on a recipe from Eating Well.


The healthy, natural fat in coconut milk makes it the perfect base for healthy ice cream alternatives.
The healthy, natural fat in coconut milk makes it the perfect base for healthy ice cream alternatives. | Source

Coconut Milk Ice Cream (Vegan) Recipe

Total Time: 15 Minutes to 3 Hours | Active Time: 5 Minutes | Yield: 6 Cups (1.5 Quarts)

  • 4 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, or Stevia powder
  • 4 tsp arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt or salt substitute
  • OPTIONAL: 3/4 cup cocoa or carob powder
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup nuts of your choice

Directions

Whisk together all ingredients (except nuts) in a medium bowl, or blend thoroughly in a blender or food processor. Add to your ice cream maker, being careful to follow the instructions of the manufacturer as closely as possible. Once mixture begins to thicken, add the nuts.

Remove from your ice cream maker and enjoy, or immediately store in an air-tight container in your freezer, which will help the ice cream to solidify further.

Non-Ice Cream Maker Version:

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (plastic wrap and wax paper works, too). Pour blended ingredients onto the cookie sheet and allow to freeze for at least 3 hours. Cut the frozen mixture into several squares and throw them into a freezer bag until you need them.

When ready for ice cream, simply toss as many squares as necessary into a blender or food processor and mix it up until it forms a ball that resembles regular ice cream. Some mixing with a spoon or spatula may be necessary throughout the blending process. When ready, sprinkle the nuts over the top and enjoy!


Use a pure vanilla extract for greater flavor complexity and depth.
Use a pure vanilla extract for greater flavor complexity and depth. | Source

Vanilla Kefir Ice Cream (Vegan) Recipe

Total Time: 15 Minutes to 3 Hours | Active Time: 5 Minutes | Yield: 4 Cups (1 Quart)

  • 4 cups coconut milk kefir (non-vegan: whole dairy milk kefir)
  • 1/2 cup honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, or Stevia powder, or 2 TBS honey and 8 drops pure Stevia liquid
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • OPTIONAL: 3/4 cup cocoa/carob powder
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup nuts
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup homemade strawberry syrup
  • VARIATION: 2 cups kefir and 10 ounces frozen berries

Directions

Blend together all ingredients (except nuts, but do include berries for the variation recipe) in a blender or food processor. Add to your ice cream maker, being careful to follow the instructions of the manufacturer as closely as possible. Once mixture begins to thicken, add the nuts.

Remove from your ice cream maker and enjoy, or immediately store in an air-tight container in your freezer, which will help the ice cream to solidify further.

Non-Ice Cream Maker Version:

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (plastic wrap and wax paper works, too). Pour blended ingredients onto the cookie sheet and allow to freeze for at least 3 hours. Cut the frozen mixture into several squares and throw them into a freezer bag until you need them.

When ready for ice cream, simply toss as many squares as necessary into a blender or food processor and mix it up until it forms a ball that resembles regular ice cream. Some mixing with a spoon or spatula may be necessary throughout the blending process. When ready, sprinkle the nuts over the top and enjoy!

Notes

Nemoseck TM, et al. "Honey promotes lower weight-gain, adiposity, and triglycerides than sucrose in rats." Nutrition Research. January 2011:55–60. PMID: 21310307.

Comments

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    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia 6 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Wow, thanks for the super ice cream (and alternative) recipes... yummy! I especially like the Coconut Ice Cream recipe-- we've been buying that at great expense for a teeny container and now I can make a large container for the same price. Rated you interesting and beautiful! (And pinned you under Finds for Father's Day and tweeted you as well!)

    • viking305 profile image

      L M Reid 6 years ago from Ireland

      I must admit I love to eat ice cream a lot. I always buy it and have never even thought of making home made ice cream until I came across your recipes here.

      Thanks for SHARING. Up and useful

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