Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Guilt Free Ice Cream and Easy Homemade Milk

This post is a two-for-one: it allows Greg to indulge in his love for ice cream while I can avoid grodiferous milk.

In the fairness of full disclosure, I should mention that I have never liked milk. Granted, there are extremely compelling vegan and health reasons for not drinking dairy, and I agree with those wholeheartedly. Since I try to avoid the preachy on this blog, though, I'll just front with another fact of life. I have always disliked milk, even when I used to eat 5-inch thick steaks. Seriously. My mom used to add chocolate to my milk when I was a kid and simultaneously pay me a dollar or so (which was truly a fortune to a 5 year old!), and I wouldn't do it. I hated the taste; it made me gag. My parents used to order chocolate milk for me to drink at lunch each day, and I just gave it to whatever kid had forgotten his or her lunch that day. I finally confessed after third grade I never drank it, and my parents kindly stopped ordering it for me. I always did - and still do - eat cereal totally dry. You get the picture.

Now in a drastic shift from my sour feelings towards milk is Greg's adoration of ice cream. It's kind of funny, actually, because Greg is by far the healthiest eater I know. We just signed up for a CSA, and although it's no shock I'm all for it, Greg is really excited about it, too, and all of the things we can do with our weekly allotment of fruits and vegetables. Truth be told, we may need to buy a bigger share because Greg will likely polish off today's box in the next two days. So needless to say, it's always a surprise to people how much he adores ice cream. But Greg being healthy Greg, he always feels bad about it. Even though I certainly think he deserves a treat and is in tremendous shape, he feels bad about this particular indulgence of his.

How do we reconcile these things? Raw almond milk! I was reading Ani Phyo's Ani's Raw Food Kitchen when I sort of saw her recipe for Vanilla Mylk but didn't really think about it. (Remember, my relationship with milk is long and torturous.) But then, I noticed her suggestion that her mylk can be run through an ice cream maker and turned into "ice cream." She had my attention.

As my previous posts have indicated, I love using our ice cream maker, but there is a drawback: when making ice cream, the recipes I use have to boil the ingredients on the stove top, and then I have to wait 3 or 4 hours for the mixture to cool before I make ice cream. Since I have no patience for these things when my sweet tooth is calling, I tend not to make it much. With raw ice cream, though, you can go straight from blender to ice cream maker, no waiting. Hooray!

After making mylk for the first time, I also realized that the recipe for vanilla mylk is a perfect base for making other flavors of ice cream. Want mint chocolate chip? Add a small amount of peppermint extract to the blender and dump in chocolate chips during the last 5 minutes of churning in the ice cream maker. Have a ton of seasonal fruit? Blend it directly into the mylk or cut it into chunks and add it towards the end of the churning - or both! Basically, this can't go wrong. And, bonus - the mylk tastes good as milk and can live in the fridge for a few days. Woo hoo! Maybe there is hope for me!

As for Greg, he loves the raw ice cream experiments. First, it's vegan, so no guilt. Second, he's even more impatient than me when it comes to ice cream, so there's only a half hour wait for his treat to go from blender to maker to spoon. Third, this stuff is definitely nutritionally better than what you would get at the store. The only "sugar"? Dates. The only fat? Almonds, and there's protein, too. No cholesterol. And a bonus: cheap to make!

Ani also has a recipe for chocolate mylk, which would probably make another great ice cream base. Once I make that, I'll report back with a recipe update.

Vanilla Mylk, adapted from Ani Phyo/Raw Ice Cream Base
Yields: Pitcher of mylk/3.5-4 quarts of ice cream (my 3.5 quart ice cream maker can hold this recipe)

1/2 c. almonds
1/2 c. pitted dates
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
4-5 c. water
Other ice cream favorites (fruit, peanut butter, cookie dough, chocolate chips, nuts - be creative!)

1) To make mylk, combine first five ingredients until smooth in a blender. There will be some almond bits floating around at the end; you can either strain them out or leave them in, it doesn't matter.
2) For ice cream: before combining ice cream ingredients, add any fruit or flavored extracts you'd like to try, and then blend. If you like slushier ice cream, add closer to 5 cups of water. If you like a stiffer ice cream, then go closer to 4 cups. Again, for a smoother ice cream, strain out any extra bits, but you can leave them in if you like.
3) Freeze mylk mixture according to ice cream maker instructions. If you are adding mix-ins (nuts, fruit chunks, peanut butter), add them during the last five minutes of the churning process.

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