So GoodAug/Sep 2009 Issue

Stay Cool with Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Frozen Desserts

As the sultry days of summer unfold, I love to prepare refreshing foods, like crisp salads, chilled soups, frosty fruit smoothies and ice cold lemonades, that make hot-weather dining so enjoyable. When I was a child, my all-time favorites were the season’s fun desserts—Jell-O®, peach melba, popsicles and ice cream. I thought my days to indulge were over, however, when I removed dairy, refined sugar, gluten, soy and artificial colorings and flavorings from my diet.

If some or all of these ingredients are no-nos for you, here’s the good news. Classic summer sweets can be deliciously remade using wholesome, all-natural ingredients—no dairy, sugar, gluten, soy or artificial additives in sight!

Coconut milk stands in for cow’s milk and whipping cream in creamy non-dairy ice cream. Honey and agave nectar provide sweetness instead of refined sugar. (For those who prefer to use table sugar, see the conversion table below.) Pure cocoa powder and baker’s chocolate substitute for high-calorie chocolate. Real fruit and fruit juice pair with gelatin to replace sugar-laden commercial gelatin products. Fresh, vine-ripened fruit lends taste and texture to delectable dessert sauces.

So dig in. Enjoy the richness of ice cream, the slurp of an orange cream pop, the chill of a fudge pop, the jiggle of gelatin. Beat the heat with allergy-friendly makeovers of your favorite treats.


Note: You will need an ice cream maker for Ice Dream recipes.

Vanilla Ice Dream

SERVES 10

Coconut milk replaces cream in this dairy-free, soy-free ice cream alternative. Serve it with a fruit sauce or fresh fruit drizzled with chocolate, fudge or caramel sauce. 

⅓ cup cold water
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin or
    ¾  teaspoon agar agar powder
¼-½ cup honey or agavé nectar*
⅛ teaspoon salt
3½ cups (two 14-ounce cans) unsweetened coconut milk (not lite)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1. Place water in a small saucepan and slowly sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand for 2 minutes until gelatin softens and dry spots disappear. Warm mixture over medium-low heat without stirring until gelatin dissolves. Scrape mixture into a blender; cover and process until smooth.

2. Add ¼ cup honey and salt and blend. Add coconut milk and vanilla, blending until smooth. For a sweeter taste, add additional honey or agave nectar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Blend, taste and repeat, if needed.

3. Pour mixture into one or more wide-mouth jars. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before churning or cool mixture more quickly using an ice bath.**

4. Scrape chilled custard into the canister of an ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately. For a firmer texture, spoon mixture into several freezer-safe containers. Cover and freeze for 3 or more hours. Soften solidly frozen dessert by placing it in the refrigerator for 30 to 45 minutes or on the counter for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

Each serving contains 187 calories, 17g total fat, 15g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 2g protein.

TIP For lower sugar content, use ¼ cup honey or agavé nectar combined with ¼ to ½ teaspoon pure stevia extract powder or ½ to 1 teaspoon clear stevia liquid.

**To make an ice bath, pour mixture into a bowl and place it into a larger bowl filled with ice and cold water. Chill mixture until cold.


Strawberry Ice Dream

SERVES 8

Look for small, organic strawberries that are grown locally. They should have dark red skins with moist green leaves and stems and a sweet aroma.

2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (not lite), divided
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin or ¾ teaspoon agar agar powder
⅓ - ½ cup honey or agavé nectar*
⅛ teaspoon salt
3 heaping cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, drained and hulled
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Add ⅓ cup coconut milk to a small saucepan. Slowly sprinkle with gelatin or agar agar powder. Let stand for 2 minutes until it softens and dry spots disappear. Warm over medium-low heat without stirring, until gelatin or agar agar dissolves. Scrape the mixture into a blender or food processor. Add ⅓ cup honey and salt. Cover and process until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

2. Purée strawberries in a blender or food processor. You should have about 2 cups purée. Add gelatin mixture, remaining coconut milk and vanilla. Blend until smooth, scraping sides with a spatula. For a sweeter taste, add additional honey or agave, 1 tablespoon at a time. Blend and repeat, to taste.

3. Pour into one or more wide-mouth jars. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before churning or cool mixture more quickly in an ice bath.

4. Scrape chilled custard into canister of your ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately. For a firmer texture, spoon into freezer-safe containers, cover and freeze for 3 or more hours. Soften solidly frozen dessert by placing it in the refrigerator for 30 to 45 minutes or on the counter for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

Each serving contains 179 calories, 12g total fat, 11g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 15mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g protein.

*TIP For lower sugar content, use ⅓ cup honey or agavé nectar combined with ¼ to ½ teaspoon pure stevia extract powder or ½ to 1 teaspoon clear stevia liquid.


Fresh Fruit Gel

SERVES 8

This light, refreshing gelatin makes a side dish, snack or dessert that’s perfect for pack lunches, parties and meals at home. Leftovers keep for several days in the refrigerator.

2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
4 cups fruit juice, divided
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch/powder or cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, optional
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon, lime or orange zest, optional
2-4 cups fresh fruit*

1. In a large bowl, slowly sprinkle gelatin over 1½ cups fruit juice. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, dissolve arrowroot in ½ cup fruit juice.

3. Bring remaining 2 cups fruit juice to boil in a medium saucepan. Add dissolved arrowroot. Simmer and stir mixture until clear, 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Pour the hot juice mixture over the gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve. Add vanilla and citrus zest, if desired.

5. Divide the juice between 8 parfait glasses or custard cups. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or freeze for about 1 hour until set but not firm. Do not let mixture freeze. When half-jelled, stir in fresh fruit. Chill until firm and cold. For a layered effect, chill or briefly freeze one layer until set. Then add another layer.

*TIP Gelatin will not set with fresh or frozen pineapple, papaya or kiwi.

Variation

For Vegetarian Fruit Gel, replace unflavored gelatin with 2 teaspoons agar agar powder (or ¼ cup agar agar flakes) and soak in 2½ cups fruit juice for 5 to 10 minutes. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer agar agar powder for 1 or 2 minutes (agar agar flakes for 8 to 10 minutes) until dissolved. Dissolve arrowroot in ½ cup cold juice. Add to simmering liquid, stirring until clear, 1 to 2 minutes. Proceed with recipe.


Peach Melba

SERVES 8

Here’s a healthy remake of the classic French dessert. Poached peaches also make a great breakfast side dish or snack. You can prepare the peaches up to two days ahead.

2 cups cold water
¼ cup honey or agavé nectar*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large ripe peaches
1 quart (8 scoops) Vanilla Ice Dream or non-dairy frozen dessert of choice
1-1½ cups Raspberry Sauce
❧ Raspberries, for garnish
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds or nuts, for garnish

1. Combine water, honey, vanilla and peaches in a 2- to 3-quart pot. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes until peaches are fork tender. Turn peaches about every 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Remove peaches and reduce poaching liquid to about ½ cup by boiling an additional 15 minutes uncovered. Cover peaches and refrigerate until cold.

3. To serve, peel, halve and pit the peaches. Divide reserved poaching liquid among 4 dessert dishes. Add a scoop of Vanilla Ice Dream or non-dairy ice cream, placing a peach half on either side. Spoon raspberry sauce over top and garnish with raspberries and seeds, if desired. Serve immediately.

Each serving contains 244 calories, 14g total fat, 12g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 22mg sodium, 30g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein.

*TIP For lower sugar content, replace water with white grape juice and omit the honey or agave. Or use water, decreasing honey or agave to 2 tablespoons and adding ¼ teaspoon pure stevia extract powder or clear stevia liquid.


Orange Dream Pops

MAKES 8

Remember sherbert push-ups? Now you can make them at home without artificial colors, flavors and fillers. For easy preparation, pour the creamy orange mixture into popsicle molds and freeze. For a fluffy texture, churn mixture in an ice cream maker, as instructed.

⅓ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin or ¾ teaspoon agar
    agar powder (not flakes)
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons honey or agavé nectar*,
    more to taste
⅛ teaspoon salt
¾ cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
3 cups unsweetened coconut milk (not lite)
❧ Zest of 1 medium orange, finely grated
1 teaspoon natural orange flavoring or orange extract, optional
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, optional

1. Place ⅓ cup juice in a small saucepan. Slowly sprinkle with gelatin or agar agar powder. Let stand for 2 minutes until gelatin softens and dry spots disappear. Warm over medium-low heat without stirring until dissolved. Scrape the mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth.

2. Add honey or agave and salt. Blend. Add orange juice concentrate and coconut milk. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape sides with a spatula. Add orange zest and orange flavoring, if desired. For a sweeter taste, add additional honey, 1 tablespoon at a time, to taste.

3. Pour mixture into wide-mouth jars. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours before churning or cool more quickly using an ice bath.

4. Scrape the chilled custard into the canister of an ice cream maker. Add optional orange liqueur. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately or spoon into several freezer-safe containers. Cover and freeze for 3 hours or more. Soften solidly frozen dessert by placing it in the refrigerator for 30 to 45 minutes or on the counter for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

Each serving contains 140 calories, 18g total fat, 16g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 49mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 3g protein.

*TIP For lower sugar content, use ¼ cup honey or agave nectar with ¼ to ½ teaspoon pure stevia extract powder or ½ to 1 teaspoon clear stevia liquid.


Fudge Pops

MAKES 8

This revamped version of classic fudgsicles is easy to make and fun to eat. If you don’t have plastic popsicle molds, use small paper cups and wooden sticks (sold in craft stores and online).

3 cups unsweetened lite coconut milk
½ cup honey or agavé nectar*, extra to taste
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch/powder or cornstarch
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 ounces unsweetened baker’s chocolate, chopped into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons coconut butter or nut butter or 1 tablespoon coconut oil
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Combine coconut milk, honey or agave nectar, arrowroot, cocoa powder and salt in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently. Continue to cook and whisk as mixture bubbles and thickens, about 6 minutes.

2. Remove from heat. Add chocolate, coconut butter or nut butter and vanilla and stir until completely melted and smooth. Taste and add additional honey or agave nectar, as desired.

3. Pour into 8 popsicle molds or small paper cups. Allow to cool slightly and insert popsicle lids. Or freeze briefly and insert wooden sticks. If using paper cups, cover with foil, poking the stick through the foil.

4. Freeze until solid. To unmold, hold the stick and warm the outside of the cup with warm water until pop loosens. Serve immediately.

Each serving contains 310 calories, 24g total fat, 20g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 51mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein.

*TIP For lower sugar content, reduce honey to ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons and add 1 teaspoon clear stevia liquid.

Variation

For Mocha Fudge Pops, replace 1 cup milk with 1 cup strong brewed coffee.


Blueberry Sauce

SERVES 16 (4 CUPS)

This chunky, bright-blue sauce cooks up quickly and is delicious over ice dream.

Try it drizzled over waffles or pancakes or spooned over sliced fruit. Stir it into plain yogurt for fruit flavor without all the sugar.

4 cups fresh blueberries*, rinsed and drained
⅓-½ cup honey or agavé nectar**
2 tablespoons arrowroot starch/ powder
❧ Pinch salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or orange juice

1. Combine blueberries and honey in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the berries bubble and release their juices, about 5 minutes.

2. Dissolve arrowroot and salt in lemon juice and add to fruit. Bring mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 2 to 4 more minutes until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and cool.

3. Transfer mixture to wide-mouth jars or glass bowls. Cover when cool and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature or warm briefly in a small saucepan over low heat.

Each serving contains 47calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 4mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 0g protein.

*TIP For a smoother sauce, mash half the berries with a potato masher or pulse in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.

**TIP For a sweeter sauce, add ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon pure stevia extract powder and/or additional honey, to taste. For lower sugar content, use ¼ cup honey or agave nectar and add ¼ to ½ teaspoon pure stevia extract powder or liquid, to taste.


Raspberry Sauce

SERVES 8

A colorful, low-calorie topping that dresses up frozen desserts and morning melons. This sauce freezes well.

1 pint (2 cups) fresh raspberries, rinsed and
    drained or 1 (12-ounce) package frozen
    (unsweetened) raspberries, thawed
3-4 tablespoons honey or agavé nectar**
2 tablespoons orange juice or 1 tablespoon orange
    liqueur + 1 tablespoon water

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring raspberries, honey and orange juice to a boil. If using orange liqueur and water, add them in step 3. Reduce heat and simmer 3 to 5 minutes, stirring a few times.

2. Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium-size bowl. Pour fruit mixture into strainer, pressing pulp and scraping away seeds. Discard seeds and skins.

3. Stir in orange liqueur and water, if using. Add additional honey or agave nectar, to taste.

4. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Use within 1 week or freeze.

Each serving contains 42 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 0g protein.

*TIP For a thicker sauce, dissolve 2 tablespoons arrowroot in 3 tablespoons cold water. Add to sauce and simmer over medium heat 2 or 3 minutes, stirring to thicken.

**TIP For a lower sugar content, use only 2 tablespoons honey or agave and add ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon pure stevia extract powder.


Coffee Ice Dream

SERVES 8

Coffee and canned coconut milk team up to make a rich, robust frozen dessert, just like ice cream. This recipe is sweetened without processed white sugar. For extra taste and texture, add allergy-friendly chocolate chips or cacao nibs during the last few minutes of churning.

1 cup brewed dark roast coffee (double strength)*
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin or
    ¾ teaspoon agar agar powder
⅓ - ½ cup honey or agavé nectar**
⅛ teaspoon salt
3 cups unsweetened coconut milk (not lite)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons light rum, brandy, Kahlua or cognac, optional

1. Simmer coffee in a saucepan until it reduces to ½ cup. Slowly sprinkle with gelatin or agar agar powder. Let stand for 2 minutes until it softens and dry spots disappear. Warm over medium-low heat without stirring until gelatin or agar agar dissolves. Scrape the mixture into a food processor. Cover and blend until smooth. Add honey and salt and blend.

2. Add coconut milk, vanilla and rum, if desired. Blend. For a sweeter taste, add additional honey, 1 tablespoon at a time to taste.

3. Pour into wide-mouth jars. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before churning or cool mixture more quickly in an ice bath.

4. Scrape chilled custard into the canister of an ice cream maker. Churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately or spoon into several freezer-safe containers. Cover and freeze for 3 hours or more. Soften solidly frozen dessert by placing it in the refrigerator for 30 to 45 minutes or on the counter for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

Each serving contains 214 calories, 18g total fat, 16g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 49mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 2g protein.

*TIP For best results, use dark-roasted coffee beans to make brewed coffee.

**TIP For lower sugar content, use ⅓ cup honey or agavé nectar combined with ¼ to ½ teaspoon pure stevia extract powder or ½ to 1 teaspoon clear stevia liquid.

Variations

For Mexican Coffee Ice Dream, add ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg.

For Mocha Chip Ice Dream, coarsely chop 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips. When ice dream reaches soft-serve stage, add chocolate bits; churn 1 or 2 more minutes

Some recipes adapted with permission from The Ice Dream Cookbook (Planetary Press), by Rachel Albert-Matesz.

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