Even Vegans Scream for Ice Cream

Even Vegans Scream for Ice Cream


by Cathe Olson

One of my extreme pleasures is a cold bowl of ice cream on a hot summer afternoon. I don’t know if it’s the memories of stopping at the local ice cream parlor on the way home from the beach when I was a kid, or if it’s just the refreshment of the cold sweetness on a sweltering afternoon. Whichever. But it was one experience I wasn’t quite willing to give up as a vegan. 

Luckily there are some pretty good vegan substitutes. Soy Delicious and Soy Cream both use organic soybeans, real cane juice, and contain no artificial additives or preservatives. For those avoiding soy, Rice Dream is another vegan ice cream alternative, though it isn’t made with organic rice. When choosing an ice cream substitute, I always check the ingredients on the label. Some brands contain artificial flavors and preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and other unhealthy ingredients that I do not want to feed to my family. 

I found the best way to satisfy my ice cream craving, however, is to make it myself. There is a great book called Vice Creamby Jeff Rogers (click here to check out my review of the book.) He provides delicious recipes for nondairy ice creams that are made in an ice cream maker. The key ingredient in his ice creams are cashews. The Peach Ice Cream recipe below uses that principle, though it is my own recipe. 

The other way I make my own vegan ice cream – the fastest, easiest and a totally yummy way – is in my food processor. I call it “Better Than Ice Cream.” Frozen bananas are the secret for the creamy richness and sweetness. This has been a huge hit with vegans and nonvegans – and it is healthy because it has no sweetener other than the fruit. 

All of these homemade ice creams are best eaten right after they are made. If you want to save them for later, I recommend placing them in individual containers before putting them in the freezer. Take them out of the freezer and leave at room temperature about 10 minutes before eating. 

So go ahead and have yourself a big bowl if ice cream this summer. Here are a few recipes to get you started. 

With an Ice Cream Maker 

Peach Ice Cream

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 3 cups diced fresh peaches
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch cardamom (optional)

Place cashews in blender and grind to powder. Add remaining ingredients and blend well, at least one minute. Chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours or overnight. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. 

Makes 1 quart 

Fudgesicle Ice Cream
This vegan ice cream is fudgier and icier than real ice cream – very similar in taste and texture to a Fudgesicle. It gets very hard in the freezer so if you have leftovers, plan to leave them out up to 30 minutes (depending on how much you have) to soften before eating.

  • 4 cups soy or rice milk
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unrefined sugar
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine 1/4 cup soy or rice milk with arrowroot and set aside. Pour the remaining 3 3/4 cups milk into a medium pan. Whisk in cocoa powder and sugar. Warm over medium heat until milk begins to simmer. Whisk in the arrowroot mixture. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and chill in refrigerator at least three hours. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. 

Makes 1 1/4 quarts 

Red Raspberry Sherbet
This beautiful fuchsia -colored sherbet is creamy, delicious and has no coconut taste even though it uses coconut milk instead of dairy milk.

  • 1 quart (4 cups) raspberries
  • 1 (14-ounce can) coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup unrefined sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place add ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, at least one minute. Put mixture in refrigerator and chill at least two hours or overnight. Freeze mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. 

Makes 1 1/4 quarts 

With a Food Processor 

Better Than Ice Cream

  • 1/2 cup nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.) (optional)
  • 1 cup frozen sliced bananas
  • 1 cup frozen diced peaches or berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup nondairy milk

Place nuts in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add bananas and berries or peaches. Pulse until fruit is coarsely chopped. Add milk a little at a time through top of processor, and puree until creamy. 

Makes 4 servings 

Note: To freeze bananas, peel, slice, and spread on a baking sheet. Put in freezer for an hour or so, until hard. Transfer to freezer bag or container. For peaches, slice then and spread on baking sheet. Freeze as directed for bananas. Berries can be purchased frozen or just rinse them off and lay on baking sheet to freeze. Strawberries should be hulled before you freeze them. 

Mango Sorbet
Frozen mango chunk are available at many supermarkets and at Trader Joe’s.

  • 2 cups frozen, diced mango
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

In a food processor, pulse fruit until coarsely chopped. Add juice a little at a time through top of processor, and puree until creamy. Serve immediately, or freeze in individual-size containers for later. 

Makes 4 servings 


Mango Ice Cream: Substitute nondairy milk (rice, soy, almond, or coconut) for pineapple juice. 

Piña Colada Sorbet

  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (fresh or canned)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen diced mango or peaches
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Place all ingredients in food processor and puree until smooth. 

Makes 4 servings 

Food processor recipes are reprinted from The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook Copyright 2005 by Cathe Olson. 

Cathe Olson

Author: Cathe Olson

Cathe Olson is the author of the new nondairy ice cream cookbook: Lick It! Cream Dreamy Vegan Ice Cream Your Mouth Will Love, as well as Simply Natural Baby Food and The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook. Visit Cathe’s blog at http://catheolson.blogspot.com.

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