Walk down the frozen aisle of any health food store and you'll find an incredible selection of nondairy ice cream. Sorbet, rice- and soy-based ice cream, coconut milk varieties, and bananas-based alternatives all occupy the shelves. Choosing the best selection depends mostly on your taste buds' interpretation. Some like their vegan ice cream creamy. Others demand it mimic the real thing. While some connoisseurs flavor the lightness of a low-calorie, fruit-based option. No matter your preference, many dairy-free frozen treats will satisfy your sweet tooth, whether you're a vegan or not.
Soy Vegan Ice Cream
The most popular ice cream alternative to hit the shelves comes from organic soybeans. Soy-based ice cream has a lower fat content than its milk-based counterpart and comes in a variety of popular flavors. The taste and texture of soy alternatives perfectly replicate the rich creaminess of traditional ice cream, which is great news for lactose-sensitive individuals. If a milk-based scoop gives you a tummyache soon after you eat it, soy-based ice cream may alleviate the issue. Because conventional soy is often genetically modified, you might want to choose certified organic soy ice cream. So Delicious and Soy DREAM both make a non-GMO version.
Coconut Milk Vegan Ice Cream
With speculation over soy farming practices, some vegans turn to ice cream made from coconut milk. Both Coconut Bliss and So Delicious make a healthy alternative that is chock-full of good fats and provides a milk-like texture with a naturally sweet coconut flavor. For a fun at-home treat, prep your ice cream maker and follow the simple steps for making this Asian coconut ice cream. Feel free to leave out the sugar (you won't miss it) or add fruit for this spin on a summertime favorite.
While the creaminess of soy and coconut milk are favored options for those looking for a true ice cream consistency, the fresh taste and lightness of a sorbet made with in-season fruit makes for an excellent treat. Plus, you don't need an ice cream maker to whip up a batch. To do so, make a simple syrup on the stovetop with sugar and water. Then, combine it with fresh fruit in a blender or food processor. Place the mixture in a dish and chill it in the freezer until it reaches your desired doneness. Scoop the frozen concoction into a dish and top it with fresh mint, thyme, or lemon peel for a gourmet dessert that both kids and adults will love. Or go the easy route, and buy gourmet sorbets like Talenti and Ciao Bella at your specialty grocer.
Banana Vegan Ice Cream
Those looking for an unprocessed way to get their ice cream fix can find it by using a monkey's favorite fruit. The natural fruit base of bananas is perfect for those following a raw vegan diet, too. And Paleo eaters can enjoy banana ice cream too, because, in its pure form, it contains no added sugar. For a quick fix, slice a few bananas, throw them in the freezer, and then combine them with cocoa powder and blend them to the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. If more sweetness is desired, toss in a pinch coconut sugar—a healthy alternative sweetener that's allowed on most strict meal programs.