If any packaged variety of plain vanilla, non-dairy ice cream is at least 220 calories for every half cup, how is it that this ice cream is not only flavored, but packed with chocolate chunks and rum, and racks in at 170 calories per serving? And did I mention the health benefits?
Cherries - sweet, juicy, summer fruits packing just 91 calories for every full cup. Plus, they're brimming with antioxidants that lower cholesterol levels, decrease inflammation, and reduce the risk of heart disease. When compared to the highly revered Acai berry, cherries actually outshine the berry's nutrition benefit in certain categories. Since most ice cream recipes call for at least a 1/2 cup of sugar, which is around 400 empty calories and contains zero antioxidants, cherries seem like a mighty fine alternative for sweetening ice cream. In addition to two cups of fresh cherries, this recipe calls for one tablespoon of agave nectar.. and that's it. At 242 total calories of sweetener in a recipe that serves 8, that's about 30 calories worth of sweetener per person... which is like adding two teaspoons of sugar to your tea (only this is a half cup of creamy ice cream.)
Mmmm... chocolate. Mmmm... flavonoids? Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that lowers risk of heart disease, lung and prostate cancer, and diabetes. Epicatechin is a specific flavonoid found in cocoa that not only has heart health benefits, but insulin mimic action as well. So why is dark the only variety of chocolate to make the cut for health benefits? This is for two reasons, the first of which is simple: The darker the chocolate, the lower the sugar content and the higher the cocoa content (which is where the flavonoids are). The second reason is slightly more convoluted: scientific findings indicate that dairy interferes with the absorption of antioxidants in chocolate. A specific study divided subjects into three groups - the first group ate dark chocolate, the second ate dark chocolate and had a glass of milk, and third ate milk chocolate. One hour later, those who ate dark chocolate alone had the highest levels of antioxidants in their blood, including epicatechin. The milk chocolate eaters had the lowest levels of epicatechin of all. The message is clear: join the dark side.
Speaking of the dark side, last up for research is rum. If you care to learn about the nutritional aspects of alcohol, check out this page. I, however, can't volunteer any information since I'm not 21, so naturally I'd have no business studying things like that, right? I'd rather just sip my O'Douls in the corner while other people ate my ice cream, anyway... but on a serious note, there are some surprising studies about booze out there. All the more reason to dig into this summery, frozen delight.
Boozy Cherry Dark Chocolate Ice Cream:
Cherry sauce -
-2 C cherries
-1 tbsp lemon
-1/8 tsp sea salt
-1 tbsp honey, can be further sweetened to taste
Ice cream base -
-1 can lite coconut milk
-1/2 tsp stevia
-1/4 tsp fleur de sel
- 1/3 C + 1 tbsp rum
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 tsp xanthan gum (Ice cream can be made without xanthan gum, but it keeps the finished product from freezing as hard.)
Add in -
- 3.5 oz dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped in chunks
Bring cherries, lemon juice, salt, and honey to a boil in a small saucepan, then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and combine with all ice cream base ingredients except for xanthan gum in a food processor. Blend until smooth, then pulse while gradually sprinkling in xanthan gum. Chill in the refrigerator for at least a few hours, then churn in an ice cream maker. Add in dark chocolate during the last 5 minutes of churning. Makes eight 1/2 cup servings at 170 calories each. Enjoy!