If you’re lactose intolerant, concerned about animal welfare and the environmental costs of dairy production, trying to reduce unhealthy fats in your diet, or all of the above, you’ve likely sampled traditional ice cream substitutes—“non-dairy frozen desserts” in industry speak. A lot has changed since these types of products became available a few years back (the coconut milk craze, for one), so we rounded up the latest pint-sized offerings at our local co-op—prices ranged from $4.89 (Almond and Rice Dream) to $7.29 (Coconut Bliss)—and passed around the spoons. Here are our impressions:
Almond Dream (Vanilla)
140 calories; 5% saturated fat; 12 grams sugar
Those who like vanilla-flavored almond milk will find a frothier version here. With a slightly grainy texture and appealing flakes of almond, the overall impression was favorably compared to cookie dough by one taster.
Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss (Cappuccino)
210 calories; 63% saturated fat; 12 grams sugar
A gelato-reminiscent all-around thumbs up for coffee lovers. Refreshing and not too sweet. Easily a group favorite.
Rice Dream (Organic Vanilla)
160 calories; 3% saturated fat; 14 grams sugar
Ugh! Although the package boasts a new, improved flavor, it still landed in the spittoon for a number of us. Sour rice pudding was mentioned.
So Delicious (Mocha Fudge)
130 calories; 0% saturated fat; 15 grams sugar
With a strong, appealing mocha flavor and an obvious soy milk base, plus a thick, smooth texture, this appealed to the tofu lovers in the bunch. There’s also an inspired item about the Sea Turtle Restoration Project on the packaging.
So Delicious Coconut Milk (Sugar-free Chocolate)
100 calories; 35% saturated fat; 1 gram sugar
A mousse-like texture and dark chocolate taste with coconut undertones. Inspiring an apt comparison to fudgesicles, this was also a clear group favorite.
Make at home non-dairy dessert recipe, courtesy of The Fresh Energy Cookbook: Detox Recipes to Supercharge Your Life, by Natalia Rose and Doris Choi. No ice cream maker required.
Basic Banana Soft Serve Ice Cream
Use 2-3 bananas, chopped into 1-inch pieces, frozen and then slightly thawed (20 minutes). Combine bananas with a spoonful of almond butter or fruit in a food processor (plain is delicious, too). Blend until smooth. Top with dark chocolate pieces or walnuts, if desired, and serve immediately. Yummm!