Vegan Ice Cream: Creamless, But Creamy
When I was growing up in Vermont, a dairy state, consuming rich flavorful ice creams, little did I know that one day I would be making decadent gourmet vegan ice creams! Yes, you read that right: plant-based ice creams. Similarly, when I was studying hotel and restaurant management in college and learning the finer points of food preparation, I had no idea that I would one day be using my kitchen skills to make vegan foods or to write vegan recipe books.
While still in college I began a fascinating journey. It was a journey of focusing on the cause-and-effect relationship between my diet and my health. It was that journey that eventually brought me to a plant-based diet. The last dairy food I gave up was from my friends, Ben and Jerry! While I felt better and my health had improved with my dietary changes, I did miss the rich textures and flavors of the super-premium ice creams I had grown accustomed to. The vegan ice creams that were on the market at that time (early 1998) were tasty, but they were not quite rich enough for my taste and many had unique aftertastes I didn’t care for. The thought occurred to me that there must be a better way to make vegan ice cream. It didn’t take me long to discover the key. After making some amazing vegan corn chowder using cashew milk, I realized that cashew milk was the answer for making decadent and delicious vegan ice cream.
I eventually invested in an ice cream maker and began experimenting with cashew ice creams. I was amazed at the quality and flavor of these ice creams as well as the ease of making them, and was shocked that nothing like this was on the market. I experimented with other vegan “milks,” such as almond, hazelnut, and coconut milks, and included those in my repertoire. I recreated classics like Mint Chocolate Chip and Maple Walnut. I also created new exotic flavors like Durian Coconut and Piña Colada. From my first batch of vegan ice cream, I no longer missed the dairy ice creams I had been brought up on.
All these years later I can tell you I not only don’t miss the dairy versions of ice cream, I also do not miss the health issues I’d had: the migraines that I had grown up with; the regular colds and flus; or the high blood pressure that I had developed in my early 20s. By focusing on that cause-and-effect relationship between food and well-being, I was able to take responsibility for, and much more control over, my health. And I can still enjoy rich, luscious foods that are also dairy-free.
First published June 2014