A double chocolate brownie and two big scoops of any ice cream flavors chilling in the freezer...more often than not, that bowl of magic was my post soccer practice treat. Fast forward one year to a celiac diagnosis and a new dairy-dissing tummy, and my workout treats have gone bananas - in the best of ways!
As any of my Instagram followers know, banana "nice cream" has carved out a special place in my heart and my stomach. Dairy free, nutrition packed and adaptable to my picky taste buds...it's easy to see why I devour one huge jar everyday for my breakfast or post-workout snack.
At popular demand, I'm finally dishing my tips to make a fruity frozen treat only a few melted drops away of passing Dairy Queen's "upside down ice cream" challenge!
The base of any "nice cream" is frozen fruit and enough liquid to allow the blender the work. Although bananas - the namesake of this dairy free magic - are the typical poison of choice, I love stuffing my freezer with bags of various cubed frozen fruits - from strawberries to kiwi to peaches - and veggies to throw in my blender. I eloped with a Nutribullet six months ago and we are still in the honeymoon stage - this blender may be loud, but it's the perfect tool for thick, frozen smoothies! If you don't have a high speed blender, you can use fresh fruit but the result won't be as thick and frosty.
I don't use exact recipes anymore when making my smoothies (ain't no college student have time for that!), but my base recipe looks something like this. I also refuse to eat a smoothie that doesn't need a spoon, so I include thickeners like chia seeds, coconut flour, avocado and yogurt. The amount of these can be adjusted based on the preferred spoon-straw scale.
1 TBSP chia seeds (ground if smoother texture is desired)
A couple spoonfuls of yogurt and/or avocado
One heaping handful (or more if tolerant) of greens
Handful of frozen fruit (chopped bananas, apples, peaches, pears, berries, grapes, etc)
Optional extra veggies (beets, celery, broccoli, zucchini, squash, etc) - about half as much of these as fruit to keep the smoothie sweet!
Enough milk/liquid to allow blender to work (I prefer canned coconut milk - the creaminess is out of this world!)
My dad always sticks out his tongue when he sees my ingredients sprawled all over the kitchen counter, but every bite to me tastes like dessert!
But since getting the proportions of fruit-veggie-flavor extras can be tricky at first, I'm sharing the three flavor combinations - and one bonus nice cream parfait - that keep popping up on my Instagram homepage!
First, berry beet. Until I few months ago, I'd never tasted a beet before. Red, round and usually dusted with dirt, I didn't exactly drool over them in the grocery store. Chocolate Covered Katie's idea to blend them into hot-pink smoothies changed all that! All I do to prepare mine is chop up a raw beet into mid-sized cubes, pop it in the freezer and add a handful when it's smoothie time!
The beet has a very mild taste, especially when paired with a handful of berries (any kind will work, though raspberries do pack a tart punch!), other frozen fruit, and my base smoothie recipe. Even a small piece, though, will make the nice cream as pink as a frozen flamingo. I recommend starting with a small amount of beets and adding as your taste adjusts. If you have acai powder, this is also a great add-in! Homemade acai bowls crash my breakfast party at least once a week!
One of my newer creations is the "citrus greens" smoothie that uses a couple of slices of an orange (peeled or non-peeled) and a small section of a lemon (start with a little then add more until flavor reaches desired level). This smoothie reps the typical "green smoothie" and I like to pack even more vegetables, like cucumber or broccoli, inside.
Next, a holiday favorite: the cacao-mint! I love using Nativas Naturals Cacao Powder and add about an 1/8th of a teaspoon to a lot of my smoothies for a little chocolate oomph. I also recently scored a little vile of peppermint extract that gets my taste buds ready to sing, "Merry Christmas!" For an extra luxurious kick, throw some raw cacao nibs on top. Mint chocolate ice cream without the dairy and extra sugar? Here ya go!
Finally, a favorite combination of mine - a nice cream parfait! The only difference is spooning and microwaving about 3 TBSP of oatmeal or oatmeal substitute (I prefer a blend of rice and buckwheat flakes with 1 tbsp of chia seeds for thickness) and cooking it in the bottom of the smoothie jar. Put it in the freezer to cool while making the banana nice cream, then pour the smoothie right on top! It sounds weird, but the combo of cold and creamy with slightly warm and gooey kills my taste buds every time...
Honestly, though, the options are endless. One day I'll dump in pumpkin spice and cinnamon and call it liquid pumpkin pie. Another morning I'll sprinkle in maca for a hint of caramel. Playing with the proportions of fruit is another way to change the flavor - I swear frozen blended blueberries and grapes taste strangely similar to chocolate!
To top off my ridiculous ice cream feasts, I've learned that there's nothing better than a little crunch. Puffed rice always lands in there, as well as homemade granola, tons of seeds (hemp, pumpkin and sunflower dominating the bowl!) and a final sprinkling of frozen fruits like blueberries and pomegranate seeds.
Some people think I'm crazy for spending so much time preparing and beautifying my frozen breakfasts and snacks - but I eat with my eyes as well as my tummy, and with these nice cream masterpieces, both are more than satisfied!
Join in on the "nice cream" Instagram fun! Post your favorite creations and tag "collegeceliacKC" in the comments! Winter may be coming, but lets get everyone screaming for ice cream!
What your favorite flavor of ice cream? Have you ever tried making nice cream before? Comment below!