Healthy Ice Cream Bars, Take Two!

After much tweaking and experimentation, here’s a vanilla version of my Easy Ice Cream Bars. The texture isn’t as smooth as it is with the peanut butter, so you should let ‘em sit out for a moment before taking a bite. The yogurt brings a pleasant tang to the party.

Let’s take a moment to talk about the miraculous calorie-free naturally occurring sweetener: Erythritol! Erythritol is totally safe and has no aftertaste or unpleasant side effects like the other sugar alcohols. It has 70% of the sweetening power of sugar, with many of the properties that sugar imparts in baking (structure, mouthfeel, etc.) The one caveat: the “cooling” effect you can taste when erythritol re-crystallizes. It’s the weirdest sensation. You have to figure out a way to make the majority of erythritol present in the recipe stay dissolved so you can avoid that effect. I’m still tinkering around with it in recipes, but it’s slow-going because erythritol is precious stuff and I’m on a student budget. Z-sweet is the brand available locally. You pay a premium for buying it in stores, but it is worth the cost if you’re looking for a product not produced with genetically modified corn. I’ve been ordering 5 lb bags of erythritol online lately because I go through it so quickly. The best price I’ve found for it is at iherb.com, and online supplement retailer. No, erythritol is not something that cavemen would’ve consumed while foraging for food, but it does not wreak havoc on your body like sugar does. My justification for using it is that it was impossible to consume concentrated amounts of any form of sugar while living off the land, making erythritol the more “natural” way of eating than using, say, honey or maple syrup. We were not able to eat any refined sweeteners or copious amounts of fruit on a regular basis before the advent of agriculture, so it makes sense that our bodies are not designed to handle the 300+ carb per day diet that is standard now. Did you know that bears are the only animal in the wild showing signs of tooth decay?

The one I chomped into (shown on the left, obviously) is filled with a layer of mooshed up Sugar-Free Brownies. Yum! 

Easy Ice Cream Bars (Vanilla version)

Makes 6 small rounds

Ingredients:

Filling:
2 oz heavy cream, preferably organic
2 oz cream cheese
3 Tablespoons of ricotta cheese or strained greek-style yogurt
2 Tablespoons of erythritol (or 1.5 Tablespoons xylitol)
A pinch of pure stevia extract

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Coating:
1 Tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
2 squares Lindt extra dark 85% chocolate bar (or Ghirardelli 86% chocolate bar)
A pinch of pure stevia extract
Chopped nuts (optional)

Peanut Butter Coating:

4 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil or non-hydrogenated shortening
A pinch of pure stevia extract

Preparation:

Beat heavy cream with a mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Do not over beat or it will get clumpy, and turn to butter! Set whipped cream aside. Measure out granular erythritol or xylitol and powder in a coffee grinder or blender. Beat cream cheese, yogurt, erythritol, sweetener, and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth and clump free. Test for sweetness. It should be a bit sweeter than you want the finished product. Using a spatula, fold cream cheese into the whipped cream until well combined. Shape ice cream rounds on a pan lined with parchment or waxed paper. Freeze for 1 hour or until firm.

Melt coating ingredients in the microwave in 10 second intervals, until liquified. Stir until smooth and add sweetener, to taste. Remove rounds from freezer and dip into coatings, or top with a layer of mushed up brownie/cookie dough/etc before dipping. You may need to set the round on the paper and spoon the coating over bare spots. Sprinkle bars with nuts immediately after dipping in the coating, if desired. Chill for another few minutes until the coating hardens.

So stuffed from all of this experimenting in the kitchen! Goodness, healthy eating is so trying. I’ve gotta go dump these off on my friends asap. For some reason, I don’t think they’ll mind.

  • Jude theislandgirl

    Greetings from a fellow foodie, one who also very much is into “health food that doesn’t taste like health food”. We have more in common than not; only big difference being I’ve been reading and cooking LC and nutritional biochemistry since about 1998 ;-)

    I’m SO impressed with your bang-up “start”. And especially with your photo quality; care to share some secrets? I just can’t seem to get the decent photos, and yours are quite literally amazing.

    Love to commune over foodie-isms and LC sometime, and see you on LCF.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t sleep on that cookie recipe….i’m waiting for it :)

  • Reamz

    just discovered your blog, which is fantastic! you’re pics and recipes are great! Also awesome to see someone into natural foods and health etc.
    p.s i love erythritol too!

  • Donna Kay

    Just ran across your blog – amazing – I lost 60 lbs last year on LC and now I need to get back(100%) on the plan – this looks like a wonderful place to start!! Your pic are great!!!!

  • Lauren

    Jude- Thanks so much for the nice comment! See you on LCF.

    anon- Still working out the kinks in the cookie recipe. ;)

    Reamz- Erythritol is nothing short of miraculous. I’d to love to hear any tips for working with it!

    Donna Kay- Good luck getting back on plan! Glad to help in any way.

  • French goddessss

    Hooooo, and WHERE is that recipe for the cookies? I stumbled into the marvelously decadent world of your blog a-Googlin for the net carbs in rutabagas (since they make such wonderful “potato” cumin wedges, to dip into miso gravy… arggg)… and glad I did, congrats! Will send the link to clients, if you don’t mind – I’m a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and the Weston A Price alley is right up, well, mine. Have you read “Nourishing Traditions”, by Sally Fallon? And “Traditional foods are your best medicine”, by R. Schmid? You can order these for a good price on Amazon… sound like you’d love those!

    Beautiful photos, creative gal all around :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18347139249250743291 Marsha

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Marsha

    Waiting on those cookies and peanut butter bars!

  • Lauren

    French goddessss – Thanks for the kind words! I hope my recipes give your clients some inspiration. Great recommendations for further reading–I will look into those! Anything Weston Price-related sounds good to me.

    marsha – Still perfecting the cookies! ;)

  • BkBabe

    Great! I was wondering what brand of erythritol to get from iherb, and also found a way to ‘pay it forward’ for all your hard work and asssistance.

    FYI:
    Lauren’s iherb.com REWARD # NIN467. It also gives you $5 coupon off your order for 1st time buyers, and free shipping over $60. Can’t beat that :)

    Code: NIN467

    Thanks so much again Lauren!

  • Anonymous

    Hi,

    I was just wandering if you had heard that erythritol was made from GMO corn?

    I just read that on a diabetes board.

    I knew that most xylitol is made in China from GMO corn – only a few brands are actually made from the birch bark (and they advertise this fact) – but I had never heard that about erythritol until now so am a little concerned.

    Love to hear what others have heard.

    Kind regards,
    Kate.

  • Lauren

    Hi Kate,

    I suppose it depends upon your source! If you are concerned about it, I would contact the company who produces your preferred brand. Otherwise, use whatever other sugar substitute you prefer. I find peace of mind in going the natural route, with a molecule that exists in nature. I figure if we tried to worry about every little detail (moreso than we do!), we would have nothing left to eat. We have to find what works for us. Thanks for the comment!

  • Anonymous

    re: above comment….there is not a whole lot natural about genetically modified corn (or genetically modified anything). If you ever find a non gmo brand please post as I’m sure this will help others.

  • Lauren

    Anonymous, there are no other natural low carb calorie-free sweetener options that hold up well under heat and taste as good as erythritol, which is already present in nature and the human body. If you’d like to use Splenda, harsh fibers, or sweeteners full of insulin-triggering carbohydrates, then do so! Erythritol and xylitol are compatible with my diet of 95% unprocessed foods. Certified non-GMO brands are cost prohibitive for me and for many others I’d imagine (compounded by the cost of almond flour, organic dairy, good unsweetened chocolate, etc.). If I worried about every single detail concerning the organic/free-range/grassfed/fair trade/GMO/sustainable nature of our food, I’d go crazy!

    Just eat low sugar fruit and forgo these fancy desserts for the ultimate “natural” WOE. ;)

  • Anonymous

    Hi Lauren,
    I read your post on cheeseslave. I am glad you have now found a non GMO brand of erythritol. I wouldn’t trust any erythritol that doesn’t advertise it being non GMO. Lots of people cook your fabulous recipes (containing erythritol) so it might be a good idea to advise them to look for the non GMO brands. Could you add a little post to your erythritol info section in future? Most people reading this site may not even know about this.
    Ben.

  • frenchgoddessss

    I found this link again somewhere in my toolbars, thankfully… bumped it up. :-)

    Did you end up getting “Nourishing Traditions”? It’s THE book I recommend if I must pick just one: I’ve given it so many times as a gift! In the same line, about “healthy” whole dairy, you’d probably really enjoy “The milk book”(William Campbell Douglass), “The cholesterol myths”(Uffe Ravnskov), and “The untold story of milk”(Ron Schmid, ND, foreword by Sally Fallon). Fabulous, informative readings… keep up the recipes! :-)

  • fomle

    Hi! I was just wondering about the taste or Erythriol and Xylitol versus Splenda? I made a cake today that had the worst after-taste becase of the sugar Splenda! Have you ever tried it? I need something that doesn't taste like crap. I've already orderer both of these sugars you use, but I was wondering, as I see you use them a lot. Thanks! Ida

  • Lauren

    Ida, xylitol and erythritol have a much more well rounded flavor and than splenda and stevia alone. :) I use them in conjuction with stevia for the best taste. Splenda by itself does have quite an aftertaste! ;)