Nine ideas of light and healthy ice creams to make at home and in a jiffy
The charms of ice cream are hard to resist. Nobody prevents us from enjoying them all year round, but it is now when they most want to; They are very refreshing and have that special something that brings us back to childhood summer vacations. Today we know that industrial ice creams are loaded with sugars and fats, but we have healthier alternatives to make at home.
And since we do not want anyone to be left without their icy whim, we propose you light ice cream ideas that can be made in a jiffy without too many complications, even without having a refrigerator or special machine. With few ingredients it is very easy to prepare delicious healthy ice creams and some lighter homemade version that will make us forget the trademarks.
1. plain yogurt ice cream (or frozen yogurt)
A good quality natural yogurt is a great base for preparing all kinds of recipes, especially creamy desserts. As a child we liked to stick spoons directly into the yogurt lid to freeze it as is; Now I take the trouble to beat it a little with some fruit and fill pole molds, but the idea is the same.
In addition to popsicles, you can make slightly creamy ice creams using a yogurt base, better if it is Greek - real Greek, without added creams or thickeners. You can use skim, although with the whole yogurt they will be creamier, and they are also more nutritious.
You just have to drain the whey, beat it well to make it creamy and add a little vanilla essence, lemon zest or some spice. To sweeten it we can use a little syrup or invert sugar, which helps to avoid the formation of crystals, but being moderate. Although I prefer to sacrifice texture to avoid adding sugars, I like to incorporate fruit more.
The yogurt can be mixed with pieces of very sweet and aromatic fresh fruit, or prepare a mashed fruit puree and combine it creating swirls, which will give a nice color effect. With the mixture ready, all that remains is to pour it into a square or rectangular container and freeze.
If in the time it takes to freeze - about three hours - we bother every 30 minutes to beat the mixture with a mixer or fork, we will achieve a better final texture. With a good food processor you can get a creamy ice cream instantly, crushing frozen fruit and yogurt, like in this cherry ice cream recipe.
2. Watermelon sorbet (and other fruits)
I have had unpleasant surprises while drinking straws away from home. I always understood that they were fruit, water and sugar preparations, but it seems that many brands and some ice cream parlors also add dairy ingredients. Bad business if you are lactose intolerant.
At home we can make the simplest sorbet using a good natural fruit base. I love watermelon because it is very sweet, aromatic and with a high water content, so we can simply crush and freeze it without needing anything else.
I have also tried freezing the diced watermelon and mashing them directly for a very refreshing instant sherbet. It is very easy if we have an American type glass mixer or a food processor / chopper.
Here you have the most professional watermelon sorbet recipe, with a light syrup, although it will also be very rich without adding any sugar if the fruit is of good quality. With zest or juice of some citrus -I love lime- we will have an even more refreshing flavor.
The same technique can be applied to almost any other sweet and aromatic fruit, such as pineapple, mango, melon, papaya or peach. Others, such as green apples or raspberries, will give us a very refreshing acidic point.
We can also add yogurt to the mixture to give it a slightly creamier texture, as in this recipe for red fruit ice cream. In this case Carmen crushed all the frozen fruit, frozen the mixture in an ice bucket and crushed everything again just before serving. It is another technique that we can replicate with the fruit that we like the most.
3. Creamy ice creams with frozen banana base
What a great discovery the creamy ice cream with just two ingredients was! I had already tasted how delicious it is only to crush frozen ripe bananas, but adding a little peanut butter achieves a much richer texture.
Now that the bananas ripen very quickly, do not throw them away: take the opportunity to peel them, cut them and freeze them in individual bags to prepare healthy ice cream on the spot. You can play with everything you want, as it is a recipe to take instantly and you can try it on the go until you find the perfect combination.
Here are some examples of possible banana-based ice cream recipes:
- Frozen banana + butter / vegetable cream (peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts ...).
- Frozen banana + frozen cherries + netro chocolate chips.
- Frozen banana + cocoa + chopped hazelnuts.
- Frozen banana + frozen strawberries + orange zest.
- Frozen banana + 2 dates + tahina + vanilla.
- Frozen banana + coffee + almond milk.
- Frozen banana + frozen apple + cinnamon.
- Frozen banana + smoothie cheese + frozen red berries.
4. Simple fruit granita
To make a traditional homemade slush, we usually mix liquid ingredients with a syrup or invert sugar. If we do not have a refrigerator and we want a good texture, we must take it to the freezer and break the ice crystals every half hour, before it freezes completely. It is the technique used in lemon granita or rich coffee hail.
We can make them lighter by reducing the amount of syrup or sugar as much as possible, and we also have the option of serving an almost instant fruit granita. It is as simple as preparing a juice or a smoothie from the fruit you want and crushing it with ice.
It will be of great help to us to have a powerful kitchen robot such as Magimix Cook Expert or Thermomix, but it can also be made with a mincer or a good glass mixer. Another option is to use crushed ice, combining everything until you get a homogeneous texture.
Lemon granita is a classic, but you can prepare almost anything you want. Watermelon, melon, peach, mango, pineapple, passion fruit, cherry, orange, red berries ...If we use naturally sweet fruit we will not miss the added sugar.
5. Creamy ice creams with healthy fats
The creamy and mellow texture that we like so much of a good ice cream is the most difficult point to achieve at home. Various factors intervene to achieve this, such as the sugar content, the incorporation of air or the machinery used. And a key element of shortbread ice creams are fatty ingredients.
Traditionally an ice cream has cream, whole milk and egg yolk, and may also include vegetable fats, condensed milk, evaporated milk or butter. Although fatty dairy products, taken in small amounts from time to time, do not have to be the devil, we can replace them with other more heart-healthy fats that will help to obtain that irresistible texture.
Butters or creams of nuts and seeds -like tahina- are a good option, very energetic but very nutritious and healthy, in moderate amounts. We can also play with the avocado, camouflaging its green color with, for example, cocoa powder, or giving it all directly with an avocado ice cream. It can be combined with frozen banana, yogurt or a vegetable drink to soften its flavor.
Another option is coconut milk, being aware that it is still a very caloric ingredient and that it has its advantages and disadvantages. In the market there are different types with different fat content, it is a matter of trying and adjusting to taste. The truth is that it gives fantastic results, as this recipe for pineapple and coconut milk ice cream shows, with only two ingredients.
6. Protein ice creams
Now that protein-rich foods are still trending, we can apply their principles to ice cream recipes. There is no need to invest in protein powder preparations - unless we are athletes and we are interested in adding them to our diet as a supplement - there are common ingredients that are very protein to add to ice cream.
There are more protein-rich yogurts that can be especially interesting, such as skyr type or a good natural Greek. A very easy substitute to find in any supermarket is skimmed smoothie fresh cheese and its close cousins: quark cheese, cottage cheese or cottage cheese.
We have the vegan alternative in silky tofu, a very creamy product ideal for making desserts, which has hardly any flavor and can be combined with fruits, cocoa, nuts, vanilla or vegetable milks. The aforementioned nut creams, or their ground version, are equally rich in protein, and we can use vegetable "creams" of oats, rice, soybeans or quinoa.
The other great food staple fitness, the egg white, will go from pearls to add creaminess to our ice creams. To do this, we have to beat a few egg whites - better if they are pasteurized - until they are almost cooked to the point of snow to incorporate them into the base of our ice cream. This will freeze with a better texture.
7. Healthy poles to everyone's taste
Anyone looking for the slightest hassle to make homemade ice cream just needs a few reusable popsicles. There are a thousand shapes and sizes, and millions of possible combinations. We have many homemade polo recipes for all tastes to start playing with; Dare to try different flavors at home.
Crushed fruit can be frozen as is, combined with milk or vegetable drinks, yogurt or skim cheese. Juices and other liquids like coconut water are also very good, better if we combine them with small fruits such as blueberries, cherries or raspberries. Very bright poles will come out if we alternate layers of different fruits or make eddies.
Any liquid or semi-liquid preparation is capable of being frozen in pole molds: milk with cocoa, custard cream, homemade juices or smoohies, yogurt with fruit, smoothies, etc. I remember from my childhood even rice pudding, so there are no limits to the imagination.
8. Frozen snacks
If we do not have polo molds or we want to prepare a smaller frozen sweet treat, the ice cubes give a lot of play. Just by freezing mashed fruit and we will have delicious mini frozen chocolates to eat at any time.
We can introduce small pieces of fruit and cover them with yogurt as in this recipe with strawberries, or directly prepare a banana and coconut ice cream in more beautiful molds. If we have more time we can do something similar to these frozen raspberry and cheese bonbons, first freezing a layer of chocolate before filling it with fruit and cheese.
Even easier is the recipe for frozen banana and chocolate lollipops or snacks. All you need to do is wait for the banana to freeze before giving it a bath of melted dark chocolate. The combination is delicious and can be topped with grated coconut, chopped nuts or whatever we can think of.
9. Ice creams without sugar
In general terms, the most conflictive ingredient when preparing healthy and light ice creams at home is sugar. We have already commented that sugar, syrup or invert sugar are a great help to avoid ice crystals, since they act as antifreeze; This is why many homemade recipes contain a lot of added sugar.
If we accept that we can sacrifice a certain texture to gain health, we will only have to find alternatives to sweeten our ice creams. You have to get used to the palate little by little to the not so sweet sweets, and for this we can start by resorting to caloric sweeteners.
There are many sweeteners on the market and they are all safe within reasonable consumption - safe, but not safe. It is important to read the labels to check the sweetening power they have and if they are suitable for mixing, heating or freezing. Liquid sweeteners are more practical in the preparation of sorbets and ice creams.
I prefer to leave the sweet paper in the hand of the natural ingredients of the ice cream. That is why it is key to use good quality fruit, well aromatic and juicy, at its point or slightly past maturity so that it is rich in natural sugars.
Crushed and hydrated dates are also extremely sweet and pair well in creamier mixes, such as banana ice cream or yogurt. We must not forget that they are very caloric; normally two or three will be more than enough to add that extra sweet spot.
To give a more sweet sensation, we can use natural aromas or confectionery essences, such as vanilla - better if we have natural pods -, cinnamon, zest of citrus, orange blossom, lavender, cardamom; or also use pure cocoa powder.
Summer is very long and there is time to indulge yourself with our favorite flavors, in the ice cream parlor or at home. But in order not to abuse and continue enjoying, we also have many healthy ice cream alternatives that are very easy to prepare. What is your favorite ice cream? Do you usually prepare popsicles or slushies at home?
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