Lots of people are going dairy-free these days, and you don't have to be lactose intolerant to consider making the switch yourself. Why? Dairy can lead to problems like gut biome irritation (messing with the healthy bacteria naturally found in your digestive system), gas, congestion, and acne. Plus, consuming dairy tends to disrupt weight loss due to the way it spikes your insulin.
It's worth mentioning, of course, that most dairy products (especially ice cream) are far too easy to overindulge on. Before you know it, you may be consuming way more calories than your body needs for fuel—thus promoting body fat storage.
So, whether you're a vegan, cutting out the dairy for health reasons, or you're simply looking for a new sweet treat to try this summer, consider these non-dairy options for ice cream. Don't expect any of these to taste exactly like the "real" thing, but also don't be surprised if you find yourself genuinely enjoying the taste, too!
5 Dairy-Free Ice Cream Alternatives
1. Coconut Milk Ice Cream
Coconuts are considered by many to be a superfood: they're high in healthy fats, amino acids, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and many more nutrients. As a dairy-free substitute, coconut ice cream is typically among the creamiest and tastiest, too. Try So Delicious and similar brands, or follow this recipe to make your own at home.
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2. Soy Milk Ice Cream
While some health experts feel that soy isn't the best option for your health (primarily due to its tendency to mimic certain hormones in the body, potentially disrupting various bodily functions), it is an easily available and affordable non-dairy option. The Silk brand offers a yummy recipe here.
3. Almond and/or Cashew Milk Ice Cream
For a richer, nuttier flavor to your dairy-free ice cream, try some based on almond or cashew nut milk. These are legume-free as well, and easy to find in the store. Think So Delicious, Almond Dream, and similar brands. Even Ben & Jerry's offers a non-dairy ice cream made with almond milk (and a lot of other unhealthy ingredients like sugar and corn syrup, so be aware of that).
4. Hemp Milk Ice Cream
The hemp plant offers an excellent variety of nutrients, including high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (important for skin, heart, and brain health, among other things). Feeling particularly adventurous? Try making your own hemp milk ice cream with the help of recipes like this or this (note the author recommends substituting regular Greek yogurt for a dairy-free version).
5. Rice Cream
While rice tends to be higher on the glycemic index (meaning it spikes your blood sugar more, causing an increased release of insulin which, done chronically, can contribute to weight gain), it is gluten-free and well-tolerated by most people. Try this simple recipe for your homemade version.