I have a confession to make...I am a totally obsessed ice cream lunitic. I just can't get enough of the stuff. There is something magical about ice creams sweet melty goodness, especially on a hot summer evening, that I just can't get enough of. I routinely chat about the importance of reducing sugars in the second and third trimester with my midwifery clients. You may be shocked to learn that a part of that discussion always includes an endorsement of ice cream as a perfect pregnancy treat. Why? Read on :)
Why ice cream is an ideal Paleo friendly pregnancy treat
- Grassfed dairy or goat milk ice cream (Primal) is loaded with calcium, beneficial saturated fats (needed to absorb the calcium) and Conjugated Linoic Acid (CLA). These combined with a nice ratio of protein and carbohydrates, helps to negate the insulin spikes caused by added sugars. Dairy based ice cream could be included on a Primal diet or on a selective dairy based version of a Paleo diet.
- Coconut based dairy free ice cream (Paleo) also has many benefits including being rich in saturated fats and lauric acid. Lauric acid plays a fundamental role in building your body’s immune system. Once in your system, lauric acid transforms into an antibacterial and antiviral substance called "monolaurin" which destroys viruses and diseases. Lauric acid also occurs naturally in human breast milk and plays a vital role in nourishing and protecting babies from infections. Cocount is also rich in Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) which promote weight maintenance without raising cholesterol levels. Coconut based ice cream is also much lower in sugar than many other treats.
- Ice cream satisfies your sweet tooth. A healthy diet is all about not feeling restricted. Endulge in sensible moderation and enjoy food...it's magic.
Making Paleo ice cream at home
I bought a simple and inexpensive cuisinart ice cream maker a few years ago. Let me tell you, in the summer time it gets used frequently! Making your own ice cream is a bit delicate but once you get everything right, it gets much easier. Tips for perfect ice cream:
- Use a thickener: I use grassfed gelatin but agar-agar or tapioca starch can work too.
- Make sure all your ingredients are COLD. I keep my ice cream maker base in the freezer for 24hrs + before using it. I also pre-freeze my ice cream storage dish and refrigerate my ice cream batter before churning it in the mixer. 4-24hrs is ideal.
- Store your precious creamy treat in a shallow glass dish. This will help it defrost evenly and ensure you get pretty scoops.
- Don't eliminate fat by using "lite" coconut milk or "low fat" milk. The fat is essential for the texture and taste. Plus, it's where most of the benefits are found.
- Don't eliminate all the sugar (unless on 21day Sugar Detox), some sugar is required for good texture. You can sub half the sweeter with stevia if you like.
- Watch your portions. Standard portions are 1/2 cup - 2/3 cups.
I follow a dairy free Paleo diet and have been messing around with various ice cream recipes for years. Recently, I picked up a copy of Kelly Brozyna new book Dairy Free Ice Cream and it's changed my life! Her suggestions for thickeners using gelatin really helped the texture of the ice cream. It's something I'd experimented with before but couldn't quite get the ratios right. So far I've tried her recpies for chocolate, brownie batter, vanilla and used her ideas as a starting point for some of my own versions of classic treats including a mint chocolate chip and paleo cherry garcia (recipe below). Honestly, you have to buy a copy of this amazing book!
Want Ice Cream but don't want to make it?
Ok, so perhaps the process of ice cream making isn't your 'cup of tea'. Here are a few Paleo/Primal friendly tips to keep in mind when purchasing commercial based ice cream.
- Watch out for stablizers, additives and thickeners. Carrageenan is a common thickener that can cause digestive distress in some folks and is a bit controversial. See Chris Kressers post, here for more info.
- Check and see what the ice cream is sweetened with. Stay away from Agave nectar when possible. It is a sub-optimal sweetner for a number of reasons and I don't endorse it's use on a paleo or primal diet. In my opinion, agave is pure evil.
- If buying dairy ice cream, try to find grassfed dairy or goat milk dairy. Many local producers will make their own ice creams. In Canada Woolwich dairy goat ice creams are widely avaliable but grassfed dairy is harder to come by than it is in the United States. Mapletons Organic is pretty decent stuff although not grassfed.
- If buying non-dairy ice cream, stay away from Soy and read labels. The cleanest commercially available coconut based products I've found include: Screamin Brothers which is locally made here in Alberta and is honey as its sweetner. The widely avaliable So Delicious is transitioning all of its products from agave based sweeteners to organic cane sugar (yahoo) and it's coconut ice creams are pretty great.
Meg's Verion of Paleo "Cherry Garcia"
When I was a kid, cherry ice cream used to be my favourite. I would call it "beetle" ice cream because the cherries looked like beetles to my little 5 year old mind. I decided to try to recreate my childhood favourite after being inspired by Spunky Coconut's Kelly Brozyna.
Makes 6-8 servings
2 cups Sweet Fresh Cherries (frozen would work too) pitted
1 container Full Fat Coconut milk (BPA free and organic if possible)
1 cup unsweetened almond, hemp or coconut milk (carton)
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar or 1/2 cup soft dates made into puree
1 tbs pure vanilla exract
1 tbs natural almond extract
1 tbs grassfed gelatin disolved into 1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks (or dark chocolate bar chopped)
Puree 1 cup of cherries in blender and add coconut milk, date paste/coconut sugar, vanilla exract, almond extract and blend until well combined. Add hemp, almond or carton based coconut milk and blend another 1-2 mins. Add in disolved gelatin/water mixture and blend for an additional 2 mins. Transfer into a glass dish and set into fridge to cool 4-6hrs.
After your mixture has cooled it will resemble a pudding. Stir to break up any clumps and transfer into your ice cream maker. Process according to manufacturers directions (mine takes about 20 mins to set into a nice soft serve). Add remaining 1 cup of fresh cherries (cut into halves or quarters) and chocolate chunks. Process until these add-in's are well combined. Transfer into a pre-chilled shallow glass dish and let set in freezer for 1-2hrs or until desired consistency. To re-use your ice cream just set on counter top for 30 mins until soft. ENJOY!