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coconut bliss compressedBelieve it or not, I still have a pulse — and taste buds.  And those taste buds have been dancing with delight over a new discovery.  Have you heard about Coconut Bliss?  If you haven’t, allow me to share the good news.  It’s a dairy-free ice cream made from coconut milk that you can buy in your health food store, and it’s oh-so-heavenly.

See, I’m on a dairy-free kick for a bit to check for sensitivities, and I really wanted an ice cream fix the other day.  I needed ice cream.  While I’m all about making coconut ice cream at home (hats off to Kimifor that brilliant idea), my new itty-bitty freezer doesn’t provide sufficient room for my Kitchen Aid ice cream maker bowl.  Oh woe.  Until I procure an additional freezer, then, I have to buy my frozen treats in the store. 

Fortunately, I remembered seeing an ad for coconut ice cream and decided to check out Whole Foods’ offerings.  Sure enough, both Nada Moo and Coconut Blissgraced the shelves.  We nabbed Maple Pecan Nada Moo (giggle with me over their tag line: “When Having a Cow Is Out of the Question”) and Vanilla Island Coconut Bliss.  We needed one of each.  For research purposes, you see. 

The Nada Moo was yummy, yes, and far better than rice milk ice cream, but it didn’t come close to touching the profound excellence of Coconut Bliss.  CB was rich, velvety, full-flavored, sweetened perfectly, and just plain fabulous.  My mother-in-law said she might like it even better than regular ice cream.  We all agreed that we’d consider it on even footing with gourmet ice cream. 

Because I wanted to be absolutely sure about this recommendation before posting it, ahem, I bought another pint over the weekend, this time of Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge.  Studded with gorgeous chunks of hazelnuts and a thin fudgy ribbon, it was heaven on a spoon.  I’m so hooked.

So if you’re dairy-free, vegan, or if you’re merely an ice cream fanatic looking for the next thrill, you musttry this stuff.  It costs a pretty penny ($5 to $6 a pint), but it’s made with only organic and fair trade ingredients, and the dessert is so rich, a pint can satisfy four people.  Even once I get my home ice cream maker up and running, I’ll indulge in CB’s version regularly.  You simply can’t get that knock-your-socks-off texture at home.  Check out CB’s website for more info on their ingredients, story, and where to buy their products.

One last thought: The Vanilla Island flavor was awesome topped with fresh, local peaches.  Mmmm!

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I know.  I eat a lot of ice cream.  I won’t deny it.  My former roommates could tell you stories about the ice cream they would buy and put in the freezer.  I would eat the ice cream, then go out and buy a replacement.  But they would leave it in there so long that I finally ate the replacement too, then had to buy another replacement.  Sigh.  I am not a person that can leave ice cream in the freezer, untouched, for weeks on end. 

Fortunately, my ice cream habits are far more moderate these days.  I eat it once a week, and lately, I’ve tried to eat only homemade ice cream (unless I’m a guest in someone’s home).  This allows me to avoid yucky ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavorings and colors.  Even better, it means I can bypass pasteurized dairy in favor of coconut milk or raw milk and cream.  And now, because of the new stevia I ordered, I can make sugar-free ice cream at home that tastes outrageously good. 

This is big. 

In fact, one could almost consider this kind of ice cream health food, right?  It’s made of whole, raw dairy or coconut milk (both sources of important, healthy fats that are great for fertility), stevia (no effect on blood sugar and, as the extract of a sweet herb, no negative impact on the body), and natural flavorings like vanilla and fruit.  Hmmm.  Health food, indeed!

Still, since I want to keep my waist line, I’m sticking with once a week for now.  I don’t want to get carried away.  The ice cream pictured above, however, is almost enough to make me temporarily forget about my waist and fitting into my jeans.  Cheesecake ice cream is a beautiful–and dangerous–thing.  I’ve made it three times now, but last night’s batch was special because I used my new stevia.  I wrung my hands nervously while it churned because I wanted so badly for it to be good.  Lo and behold, it was still fabulous!  As I mentioned in the notes to the last stevia-sweetened ice cream, it didn’t have the caramelly depth you get with an unrefined sugar like Sucanat or Rapadura, but it was still wonderful.  It’s probably more like using plain white sugar, though I haven’t done that in so long, I don’t really remember.  In any case, if you don’t tell the people to whom you’re serving this ice cream that it doesn’t have any sugar in it, they’ll never guess.

A few notes: First, really do try to find raw milk for this recipe.  Go here for more information on why raw milk is so much healthier than pasteurized milk and for help finding a raw milk source in your area.  If you live in the Houston metro area, email me (alison [at] wholesomegoodness [dot] net), and I’ll tell you what I know.  Second, use an organic, cultured cream cheese if possible.  Cream cheese was originally a cultured product, but most companies these days make it without the healthful probiotics.  Organic Valley makes a wonderful organic, cultured cream cheese that I have been buying at my local grocery store.  If your market is not well stocked with healthy items, you may need to check out a health food store to find it.  Finally, never use Now, SweetLeaf, or a store’s generic brand stevia for this recipe.  Because it is sweetened 100% with stevia, only the best-tasting stuff will do.  I have tried several brands, and the only one I will use now is NuNaturals NuStevia (some health food stores carry it, but I order it online; shipping is free on orders over $35).

I served the cheesecake ice cream with a strawberry sauce, but I’ll wait to share that recipe as it still needs tweaking.

 

Sugar-Free Cheesecake Ice Cream

(adapted from this recipe found at www.epicurious.com, a great recipe resource)

1 1/2 cups whole raw milk
8 ounces organic, cultured cream cheese
4 packets NuNaturals NuStevia NoCarbs Blend (or another form of NuNaturals NuStevia to taste)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch sea salt (Celtic Sea Salt or Real Salt are ideal)

In a blender, mix all ingredients until smooth.  Follow your ice cream maker’s churning instructions.

Although you can eat this immediately after churning, I prefer to leave it in the freezer for 1.5 to 2 hours before serving.  If left longer than that, you may need to let it thaw on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes before scooping.

Serves 4.

 

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Last Thursday, HMK asked for a completely dairy-free, sugar-free basic ice cream recipe that really works.  I got busy over the weekend and came up with this amazing solution.  I adored this ice cream.  My husband used the words “crisp,” “vivacious,” and “sweet” when I asked him for his thoughts.  For my part, I found it light and refreshing–like sherbert.   I’m still in shock that ice cream with zero sugar can taste this good!  It’s a dream come true for this hypoglycemic, and it’s a perfect solution for diabetics and candida-sufferers too.  

This recipe is yet another variation on The Nourishing Gourmet‘s original Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream.  I have experimented before with the recipe, trying to reduce the sugar content by using part agave nectar and part stevia, but going 100% stevia has never worked.  That stevia aftertaste eventually becomes too overpowering.  The difference this time around is the brand of stevia.  I have tried several before, but nothing comes close to NuNaturals NuStevia.  Recommended by Kat James in The Truth about Beauty and by a friend, this stuff rocks!  I admit that it does not lend the same mellow, round sweetness to the ice cream that an unprocessed sugar like Rapadura or Sucanat would, but it does produce a light, sherbert-like sweetness without the dreaded stevia aftertaste.   

Please, please, please do not attempt to make this recipe without some fabulous stevia on hand.  Neither Now nor Sweet Leaf brand stevia will do the trick, and definitely don’t go for a store’s generic version.  I have never tried Body Ecology’s stevia, which is supposed to be better than most, but a friend who has tried them both find NuNaturals NuStevia superior.  NuNaturals offers a number of stevia products, including liquid extract in glass or plastic bottles, pure powdered stevia, powdered stevia in maltodextrin (to help with measuring), powdered stevia in erythritol (again, for measuring ease), and individual serving packets of stevia.  You may be able to find a limited selection of NuNaturals products in your local health food store, but ordering from them online may prove easier, in addition to giving you access to their other products, like xylitol, erythritol, and herbal formulas (the site is a diabetic or hypoglycemic’s paradise).  They even offer free shipping on order of $35 or more.  I used the NuStevia NoCarbs Blend packets for this recipe.  I cannot promise the same results with other forms of stevia, though you are more than welcome to experiment.  I’ll certainly be doing that myself.  Let me know what you try and how it turns out in the comments.  I’d love feedback on this one!

Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream (Dairy-Free & Sugar-Free)

12 oz (by weight, not volume) strawberries, fresh or frozen
2 14 oz cans coconut milk (do not use light varieties and watch out for preservatives in the ingredient list)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 or 4 packets NuNaturals NuStevia NoCarbs Blend

In a blender, combine the strawberries, coconut milk, and vanilla extract and blend until very smooth.  (It is not necessary to thaw frozen strawberries first as long as your blender is powerful enough to completely pulverize them.  As a bonus, using frozen strawberries will help the ice cream to freeze faster.)

Add three packets of stevia, blend, and taste.  If you would like additional sweetness, toss in the fourth packet and mix.

Pour the batter into your ice cream maker and follow the appliance’s freezing instructions.

Like most homemade ice creams, this one has the consistency of soft serve when finished and gets very hard after spending time in the freezer.  In the latter case, leave it out on the counter for ten or fifteen minutes to soften before serving.

Bon appetit!

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Wow!  I can’t believe how great this recipe (slightly adapted from The Nourishing Gourmet) turned out!  Even though I can eat raw cows’ milk products with no problems, I will make this again and again.  I had to scramble to give it away before I ate the entire batch.  Fortunately, we have a five-year-old girl living next door who was recently diagnosed with a milk allergy.  I’m guessing she hasn’t had ice cream in a long time, so I took a generous serving over there for her gastronomic delight.  Then I shared some with our boarder.  All told, after my husband ate some too, I consumed a reasonable amount.  Thank goodness for friends and neighbors! 

Verdict: we all adored this ice cream.

It was wonderful soft-serve style straight out of the ice cream maker.  After about an hour of curing in the freezer, it was still fantastic.  Later than that, it got a bit too firm for my taste, but setting it out the counter cured that in a jiffy.

Although I will certainly experiment with this recipe, I want to go ahead and post it because it’s fantastic as-is, and I don’t want my friends to live without it any longer than absolutely necessary (that means you, Marie).  As you can see in the recipe below, I used half agave nectar and “half” stevia to sweeten the dessert.  In the future, I may try using all stevia.  Using these sweeteners makes this ice cream ideal for diabetics and hypoglycemics.  Agave nectar has a lower glycemic index than sugar (although there is some debate on agave’s overall healthfulness), and stevia has no impact on blood sugar at all (and zero calories), as it’s simply the extract of a sweet herb.

Other planned modifications include using melted unsweetened chocolate instead of cocoa powder [Update 9/7/08: This didn’t work well texturally], adding a little vodka to the batter to keep it from freezing too hard, and adding chili and cinnamon for a Mayan twist [Update 9/7/08: The cinnamon was great!  Shredded coconut works nicely too].  I’ll definitely update this recipe with the results of my experiments.

An important note: do not attempt to use light coconut milk.  It will not produce the same texture or flavor, and, on top of that, you’ll miss out on the great health benefits of the medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut.  Also be careful not to accidentally pick up coconut cream, an entirely different and heavily sweetened product.  If even goats’ milk is a problem for you or a family member, use all coconut milk, which is how the recipe was originally written.  You can find agave nectar and stevia in your local health food store or Whole Foods-type market and some HEB locations.  The stevia hangs out in the supplements section. 

 

Chocolate Coconut Dairy-Free Ice Cream

(slightly adapted from a recipe by Kimi of The Nourishing Gourmet, a great blog with many healthy recipes)

1 can unsweetened coconut milk (I used Thai organic, which is a high-quality brand)
~1 cup raw goats’ milk (when added to the coconut milk, enough to bring liquid volume to 3 cups)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (use a high-quality one because you’ll really be able to taste it)
1/4 cup amber agave nectar
24 drops stevia (the equivalent of 4 tablespoons of sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour the coconut milk into a large measuring cup and add enough goats’ milk to equal a total of 3 cups of liquid. 

Pour about 1 cup into a small bowl and gradually add the cocoa powder, whisking vigorously to remove all lumps. 

Add the cocoa mixture to the rest of the milk and stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Prepare the dessert according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

 

For dairy-free recipe ideas, visit Kimi’s blog, The Nourishing Gourmet.  I think you’ll like it!

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