Naturally Sweet Ice Creams this Summer

Source:  Ricki Heller

Coconut Ice Cream. Source: Ricki Heller

Who doesn’t love ice cream in summer? But most ice cream brands are not only loaded with dairy (tough for many with gluten sensitivity to tolerate), but also packed with processed ingredients and replete with refined sugar.

There are so many other, healthier, ways to add sweetness to your creamy desserts this summer! Try shunning the sugar every once in a while and making your own sweet treats. The results can be fast and delicious—and won’t cause spikes in blood sugar that could send you running for even more sugar-laden goodies.

How about adding some of the following to your creamy summer dessert repertoire this year?

Source:  Amy Green

Blueberry Lavender Granita. Source: Danielle Rouse

Fruits.  Sure, many of us use applesauce or banana puree to sweeten baked goods (thereby decreasing the fat content), but you can do the same for an ice-creamy treat, too.  Try freezing bananas or pears and then pureeing in a food processor for a super-quick and irresistible form of “sorbet.” I use the banana or pear as a base, then add other fruits for flavor. Banana and berries is a natural pairing; banana and mango or pineapple is also a stellar mix. And the beauty of adding fruits is that they won’t freeze solid as quickly as regular coconut-milk or cashew-based ice creams will.

Vegetables. You add veggies to a smoothie in the morning—why not ice creams? Root veggies can add sweetness as well as fiber and nutrients.  Try pureed sweet potato, carrot, beets, or even parsnips for additional substance and sweetness in your next dairy-free dessert.

Naturally Sweet Spices and More. Spices like cinnamon and ginger have some natural sweetness to them, as does carob and even coconut. Try using those and see if you can decrease the added sweeteners that way!

Source:  Ricki Heller

Chocolate Covered Fudgsicles. Source: Ricki Heller

If your frozen treats still need more sweetening power than fruits or veggies, go for natural sweeteners that will provide some nutritional value along with the flavor. Here are some of my favorites for ice cream:

  • Agave: Offers a sweet, neutral flavor and won’t freeze solid, so it keeps the ice cream scoopable.
  • Coconut nectar or coconut sugar: This low-glycemic natural sweetener is great for more robust flavors and colors, such as chocolate, coffee, berry or caramel.
  • Yacon Syrup: Similar in taste to molasses, this low glycemic sweetener works perfectly for spiced flavors, such as a gingersnap cookie ice cream.
  • Stevia: Naturally sweet and zero on the glycemic index, stevia provides an ideal way to lower the overall glycemic index of your treats if combined with other sweeteners.

Other summertime treats that are naturally sweetened:

Do you have others to add? How do you sweeten your ice cream at home?

Ricki Heller is the blogger behind the popular blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs, where you’ll find over 600 low glycemic recipes all free of gluten, dairy and eggs. Her second cookbook, Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free: 100 Allergy Friendly Vegan Desserts, will be released in September and is now available for preorder on amazon. She is an Associate Editor for Simply Gluten-Free Magazine and Brand Ambassador for Attune Foods. Ricki lives near Toronto with her husband and two dogs. Connect with her on Facebook, twitter, and Pinterest, too!

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