When the weather gets hot, we tend to hanker for something cold and refreshing — and a scoop (or two) of ice cream always hits the spot.
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While your favorite frozen dessert might tame those summer cravings, it usually doesn't offer up much in the way of nutrition, often packing in added sugars and unhealthy fats.
But don't go scrapping your scooper just yet. With a little creativity in the kitchen, you can whip up your own soft serve. And all you need to whip up these recipes is a blender or food processor — no fancy ice cream machine required!
These seven healthier homemade ice cream recipes still fit the bill and satisfy the sweet tooth while serving up whole-food ingredients for a major nutritional upgrade.
1. Strawberry Basil Ice Cream
Made with strawberries and fresh basil leaves, this fragrant ice cream is ideal for summer nights (or every day of the year).
At 58 calories per scoop, its total calorie count clocks in way below your average serving of store-bought ice cream — a half-cup can cost you between 150 and 200 calories, Leslie Langevin, RD, author of The Anti-Inflammatory Kitchen Cookbook and co-owner of Whole Health Nutrition, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Much lower in processed sugar, this impressive ice cream gets its rich texture from the plant-based fats in coconut milk. This ice cream recipe also provides anti-inflammatory benefits, a good dose of vitamin C and free-radical-fighting antioxidants, Langevin says.
Pro-tip: Serve your ice cream in a smaller bowl. This way you feel like you're having a bigger portion while in fact you're eating just the right amount.
Get the Strawberry Basil Ice Cream recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Tropical Key Lime Ice Cream
This tropical twist on key lime pie is a definite palate pleaser. "The avocado provides the necessary richness for a creamy ice cream while adding fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamins A and E," Langevin says.
Plus, a scrumptious scoop provides plenty of potassium — from banana and avocado — which you're less likely to find among varieties in your freezer aisle. Both a mineral and an electrolyte, potassium helps maintain the amount of water in your cells and your body, per the University of Michigan.
"Think of this ice cream as a nice electrolyte replenisher on a hot day," Langevin says.
Get the Tropical Key Lime Ice Cream recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Chocolate-Mint Ice Cream
If you're a mint chocolate chip fan, this healthier homemade version — with a pinch of peppermint extract — is for you. Made with bananas, this ice cream alternative is rich in potassium and naturally sweet, Langevin says.
"Using cocoa powder is my favorite way to add chocolate flavor without extra sugar and it brings some antioxidants to this dessert," she says.
This recipe also has 3 grams of fiber (most ice creams dish up less than 1 gram per serving), so it will keep you fuller longer and help stabilize your blood sugar levels while slashing sugar cravings — all good news for weight loss if that's your goal, Langevin says.
Get the Chocolate-Mint Ice Cream recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Banana Berry Protein Ice Cream
With 10 grams per cup, this raspberry-based, antioxidant-abundant ice cream provides a good amount of protein, Langevin says. While you can stick with whey protein powder, plant-centered kinds like pea or hemp offer dynamite dairy-free alternatives, too.
In addition to protein and satiating fats from coconut milk, this fruity ice cream is also full of fiber (5 grams per serving). This winning combo of nutrients makes it a brilliant breakfast option as well, Langevin says.
Alternatively, a scoop could also serve as nutritious snack to help you get through the midday slump when your energy levels dip and your sugar cravings kick in.
Get the Banana Berry Protein Ice Cream recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Banana Coconut and Salted Macadamia Nut Ice Cream
People with lactose intolerance need no longer lament — this delicious dairy-free ice cream will make your dreams come true.
A mixture of sweet bananas and organic light coconut milk form the base of this creamy concoction that won't upset your stomach. Meanwhile raw macadamia nuts round out the coconutty flavor, adding a satisfying crunch and more healthy fats for a hunger-crushing, satiating snack or dessert.
"If you're worried about keeping your carbs or calories in check, limit your portion to a half a cup," Langevin recommends.
Get the Banana Coconut and Salted Macadamia Nut Ice Cream recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Avocado Ice Cream
You can make this simple yet satisfying vegan avocado ice cream with whole-food ingredients found in your fridge and pantry.
Ripe avocado and coconut supply a super source of fiber and vitamins A and E while mint leaves lend a fresh burst of flavor and natural sugars from maple syrup and banana sweeten the deal, Langevin says.
This is a nutrient-dense dessert with a large concentration of healthy fats, but if you're watching your caloric intake, this recipe — almost 300 calories per serving — might overextend your daily budget, she adds. Again, you can still enjoy this flavorful frozen dessert by reducing your portion.
Get the Avocado Ice Cream recipe and nutrition info at **Feel Good Foodie.**
7. Cappuccino Nice Cream
Talk about a cold brew. Free from artificial ingredients, preservatives and added sugars, this cappuccino-flavored ice cream is clutch for all you coffee lovers out there.
Packed with potassium and fiber, this low-calorie (less than 100 calories per serving) "nice" cream contains cocoa powder for a fleck of chocolate flavor and an antioxidant boost, Langevin says.
For even more free radical-fighting power, mix in some morsels of dark chocolate, which contains antioxidants that are linked to reduced inflammation and protecting your heart health.
Get the Cappuccino Nice Cream recipe and nutrition info at Feel Good Foodie.