Ice Cream, Hold the Cream

by Chris on January 20, 2011

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream.
Image credit: crischa on Flickr
Few foods are as widely and intensely loved as this frozen treat.  One friend of mine ate a half-pint of ice cream every night during college.  Another friend says that her number one requirement in a boyfriend is a love for ice cream.  I don’t share quite the same devotion as my two friends, but it’s hard to imagine a hot summer without ice cream cones.  And any time of year (and any hour of night) I’ll occasionally be struck with cravings for the creamy dessert that will not be suppressed.  But how are vegans (or the lactose intolerant) to get their ice cream fix?  Luckily there are number of great, dairy-free ice creams (or non-dairy frozen desserts, as they are officially titled) to quell your cravings.
Store-bought varieties of non-dairy ice cream rely either on soy, rice, or coconut milk as a base.  Kate Sheppard of Grist.org finds coconut varieties (such as Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss) to be the best, followed by soy products like SO Delicious or Turtle Mountain. I, aided by a team of ice cream fanatics, gave two popular non-dairy ice creams a taste test.

SO Delicious’s soy-based Chocolate Velvet (organic, $4.95/quart) scored mixed reviews.  Reviewers unanimously agreed that the product’s texture fell short of the rich creaminess of real ice cream–it was too icy and not quite smooth enough, but still good. Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge (organic, $4.95/pint), a coconut milk variety, was a hit.  “It nails the texture right on the head,” said one reviewer.  The texture is rich and creamy like the ice cream you’ve been craving for.  It was good enough to have me coming back for more spoonfuls in spite of the fact that the initial flavor is overwhelmingly of coconut, not chocolate, hazelnut, or fudge.  The flip side: Coconut Bliss has 240 calories per ½ serving (130 calories from fat) compared to SO Delicious’s 130 calories (30 from fat) and is twice as expensive.  If going light on the stomach and the wallet is more important than the perfect ice cream texture, SO Delicious is your best bet.  But if you’re craving to-die-for ice cream with no dairy, look for Coconut Bliss.
In addition to these store-bought ice creams there are a slew of non-dairy ice cream recipes available online, utilizing bases ranging from tofu to nuts.  Most require a blender or food processor and some call for an ice cream maker.  My favorite recipe makes use of frozen bananas (and no ice cream maker) to produce a jaw-dropping treat that amazed dairy eaters and vegans alike with its similarity to the texture of soft ice cream and its great flavor.  Try the recipe here at Vegweb.com.
Whether you are lactose intolerant or vegan, no one should have to live without the joy of ice cream.  Luckily, these dairy-free frozen dessert options provide all the joy without the cream.  Dig in!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Janice January 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm

If you’re craving to-die-for ice cream with the perfect texture, go for So Delicious Coconut Milk ice cream! Comparing their soy variety to Coconut Bliss is like comparing apples to oranges. But if you compare both coconut milk brands side-by-side, you’ll find So Delicious to be even creamier, richer, and more delicious!

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Chris January 22, 2011 at 2:17 am

Good point, Janice. I haven’t gotten a chance to try the SO Delicious Coconut Milk version, but SO Delicious soy and Coconut Bliss are in different price brackets. The affordable versions, like the SO Delicious I reviewed, still get my vote for everyday eating. Thanks for your comment!

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