It may be getting colder outside, but that doesn’t mean ice cream is no longer on the brain. In fact, all sorts of seasonal indulgences lie ahead (Thanksgiving turkey, pecan pie, etc.), so why would a cool scoop of sweetness be any different? Luckily, you don’t always have to sacrifice your health goals for a tasty treat, especially when you can control all of the ingredients by making your own version.
With just a few simple ingredient swaps you can make a major difference in the nutritional makeup of any dessert. If you follow an Atkins or Keto lifestyle (which encourages a low-carb, high-fat diet) or if you’re just looking for healthier alternatives to traditional ice cream options, you’ll want to try out these healthy recipes. Indulge in familiar flavors like pistachio mint chip and pumpkin pie that have all the flavor with a low-carb twist. Intrigued? Indulge in four of our favorite low-carb ice cream recipes below.
Pistachio Mint Chip Ice Cream
The Recipe: Leave it to Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest to create what she calls a “real deal” mint chocolate chip ice cream that uses only natural ingredients to one-up the classic flavor. The recipe calls for actual mint leaves and pistachios, so no green food coloring is necessary to attain the bright shade of green. Besides creating a natural green hue, the flavors combine for the perfect refreshing treat, bursting with refined sweetness.
The Low-Carb Twist: This recipe is healthier than the average ice cream cone thanks to a coconut milk substitute instead of the usual heavy cream. It calls for honey instead of granulated sugar, a natural way to get that sweet taste. You can also substitute an unsweetened almond milk for a low carb swap or try using a sucralose based sweetener like Splenda instead of sugar.
Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream
The Recipe: This simple low-carb ice cream recipe from Minimalist Baker calls for only five ingredients and is doable with or without an ice cream maker, making it a great recipe to start with if you’re new to homemade ice cream. Vanilla bean and vanilla extract blend together with coconut milk for a creamy dessert with fresh flavors; plus, it’s vegan and gluten-free. This non-dairy ice cream is perfect for pairing with cake, filling an ice cream sandwich, or adding to a healthier milkshake thanks to its pure and light ingredients.
The Low-Carb Twist: Non-dairy ingredients like coconut milk help keep this recipe low carb. You can also substitute the sugar with agave nectar, or a sugar-free sweetener of your choosing. Most of the carbs found in this recipe come from the vanilla bean pod used to give your dessert that fresh, real vanilla flavor. It’s a natural alternative to other processed ingredients, but you can substitute vanilla powder for fewer carbs, and your ice cream will still have that fragrant vanilla taste.
Creamy Chocolate Soft Serve Avocado Ice Cream
The Recipe: If you have doubts about a dessert that calls for avocado and chocolate together, this recipe from Half Baked Harvest will ease your mind. As long as the avocados are ripe and you use a generous amount of sweetener, you’ll hardly taste the healthy green stuff, especially underneath the strong chocolate flavor. The best part of this soft serve recipe, though, is that you don’t even need an ice cream maker. Just blend all the ingredients together in a food processor or high-powered blender and stick the combination in the freezer for 30 minutes to get a soft-serve consistency, or leave it in the freezer overnight for more of a traditional ice cream taste.
The Low-Carb Twist: The main source of carbs you’ll find in this recipe is from the avocados, but the fruit contains healthy fats and proteins your body needs, so as far as ice cream goes, this is a great low-carb recipe. It also calls for coconut milk, which contains fewer carbs than traditional dairy products, and honey instead of pure sugar. You can also swap the milk chocolate for an unsweetened version with fewer carbs. Valrhona and Ghirardelli are both great brands that offer chocolate blocks made with pure and unsweetened cocoa powder.
Vegan Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
The Recipe: It’s fall, so a pumpkin-flavored recipe had to make this list. Thanks to Dana Shultz of Minimalist Baker, you can celebrate the season of all things pumpkin with a 10-ingredient vegan pumpkin ice cream recipe that can be adapted for just about any diet. Besides only calling for 10 ingredients, this recipe also boasts no chilling required before churning and is loaded with real pumpkin purée for taste and nutrition (pumpkin purée contains a good amount of dietary fiber and fulfills about 10% of your daily potassium requirement). Roast up some brown sugar pecans to top your homemade treat, and you’ll have the perfect fall dessert that’s healthy and delicious.
The Low-Carb Twist: While you can’t get away with a completely carb-free ice cream recipe that calls for pumpkin purée, this vegan recipe is full of healthy ingredients. The base is made of puréed cashews, which contain some carbs, but the nutritional value of nuts is a great way to incorporate a few healthy carbs into your diet. Unsweetened almond milk serves as the low-carb alternative to dairy, and maple syrup can be substituted with agave or honey for a healthy sweetener if you aren’t vegan.
What low-carb swaps do you make in the kitchen? Share your alternatives in the comments below.