Banana Walnut Almond Ice Cream

The day after I posted about purchasing an ice cream maker I spent a few hours in the kitchen trying to come up with the perfect recipe. I had read that using low-fat options, like skim milk, made the ice cream more ice than cream. I had read of some success people had with 2% milk and half-and-half, so I I thought I would start there. Instead of 2% milk I wanted to try Vanilla Almond Milk – the fat content is about the same, but the calories in almond milk are almost 1/2 AND the almond milk already had the vanilla flavoring and sugar, saving even more. The half-and-half was just because it is hard for me to purchase real cream (that will have to change).

So I began my simple recipe of 2 ingredients. I removed the bowl from the freezer and put the lid on to star the machine. The directions said it should be running when you add ingredients to prevent sticking. I added about 1 1/2 cups of almond milk and 1/2 cup of cream to my running ice cream maker.

As you can see from the picture the “ice cream” was more like ice milk. It had vanilla flavor but was not creamy. I was disappointed, but not defeated. We had tried banana ice cream in the food processor a few weeks ago and I remembered how thick and creamy the banana dessert was. We had a few ripe bananas on the counter, so I grabbed two, mashed them up and added them to the mix. I let it run for another 20 minutes. The mixture was creamier but also runnier since the bananas hadn’t been frozen.

I remembered another trick I had read on a blog somewhere – freeze the mixture in ice cube trays for later. I grabbed an extra ice cube tray and filled it up the mixture. The next day J and I decided to give it a try. We popped out 8 ice cubs of banana-vanilla-almond ice cream and put them in the food processor. I then addded about 1/4 cup of walnuts. I pulsed the mixture until it looked like a crumbled mess. Then I turned it on and let it go. The mixture will eventually turn into a ball and then smooth out. The final result (after about 2 minutes of running) was this:

Pretty nice, huh? The texture and taste were just like ice cream but not as sweet, so we both felt satisfied after our serving. I was quite pleased for my first attempt. The walnut pieces were still pretty big, so if I did this again I would first blend the walnuts into a walnut butter and then add the cream mixture. You could also use peanut butter instead. I will cotninue to experiment and be back with more recipes (possibly some that include real cream).

Homemade Frozen Desserts (WITH an ice cream machine)

At first glance, the title might appear to be a duplicate post from last month. Note the subtle difference… “WITH.” That is right, we got an ice cream machine. After a quick search on Craigslist I found a new, still in the box, 1.25 quart ice cream machine for only $20. A simple request of $15 for the machine if the seller could meet  that day resulted in us driving away with our own ice cream machine just a few short hours later.

We decided to get this ice cream machine for two reasons (besides the great price). First, the non-machine methods are time consuming and aren’t quite the same as the real thing. Second, the “real thing” is just too sweet for me. Don’t get me wrong, sweet is delicious, but that is just the problem. Something that sweet is just too hard to say, “no” to when it stares me in the face. I want something that is subtlety sweet and just as delicious, so that when I finish my bowl I am satisfied…not feeling like a drug addict who just needs one more. By making our own ice cream I am determined to come up with the recipe that is just that.

The non-dietitians reading this might think that this sounds crazy, but there is a method to my madness, I promise. Your taste buds change every 3-4 weeks. This is why if you give up a food for a month the next time you eat the food, it just doesn’t taste like you remember. All of our taste buds are programmed to like sweet, salty, and savory (fat), because those are the things that ensured survival back in the days of hunters and gatherers. Unfortunately, our society now has more sugar, salt, and fat at our disposal, and food companies monopolize on the idea. Most things we eat have more of these ingredients than they really need to taste good. These ingredients are cheap, so it is to the manufacturers benefits to use more than needed. Why? First, they will ensure that everyone’s taste buds are digging the food. Second, they will work to change our taste buds to like more sugar, salt, and fat, leaving us more addicted (we are fatter, they are richer).  I could go on and on, but I think you get the point 😉

I am so excited to try it out and have complied a few recipes to test. Here are just a few. If you have a favorite, please share! Once I perfect my own recipe I will take pictures and post.

Once I find the perfect recipe, I will need to make some ice cream sandwiches. August 2nd is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, so I better get to work! Here is a list of ice cream sandwiches to try. I plan to first perfect a healthy vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt and then scoop in between two of my favorite cookies.

Homemade Frozen Desserts (without an ice cream machine)

I recently learned that you can use ripe, frozen bananas to  make creamy frozen desserts…why did I not know about this before?! This began my search for homemade frozen treats that I can make during this (excessively) hot summer. I have yet to try them, but I am accumulating a list and figured I’d organize them here. Most of these recipes don’t require anything you wouldn’t already have at home, but there is a new product out there called Yonanas that is like a soft serve machine.

Healthy Options

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt made with yogurt

A take on Chunky Monkey and Chubby Hubby with yogurt and bananas

Fruit-flavored frozen yogurt with jell-o and yogurt

Strawberry frozen yogurt

Bananas in a bag recipe

2-ingredient banana ice cream (peanut butter and bananas…my favorite food combination!)

Less Healthy Options (okay in moderation!)
Most of the ice cream recipes seem to need heavy cream of sweetened condensed milk. I am guessing this is due to the fact that you aren’t using a machine but still want a creamy texture. If you try any of these recipes and make healthy modifications, please share!!

Homemade ice cream in a bag

Mix and chill homemade ice cream 

Homemade ice cream in a pan

Simple sorbet

Easy mix-and-freeze ice cream

The ice cube method for making ice cream