Low Carb Low Fat Ice Cream (with a secret ingredient, shh!)

Every once in awhile I think I have an original, particularly ground-breaking idea. 99% of the time, that isn’t the case. This is one of those ideas that gave me false hope. Oh well, it was fun feeling creative until some googling showed me this link to Jessica Su’s cottage cheese ice cream at her Su Good Sweets blog (WARNING: NOT low carb). Do I get points for making it sugar-free and all natural?

This one goes out to the body builders, PSMFers, and those with gall bladder issues (love you, Mom!). Fool your friends with this creamy, delicious frozen treat that’s low cal, low sugar, and guilt-free. It doesn’t taste like cottage cheese, honest! My faithful testers weren’t able to detect anything except lemony goodness, although one of them made a face after I revealed the secret ingredient. You don’t have to portion control here, since a 1/2 cup serving has 90 tiny calories and 5 grams of carbs! It’s basically the most delicious way ever to get in a whopping 18 grams of protein and 15% of your RDA of calcium (I’m looking at you, vegetarians!) Yes, you can have ice cream while losing weight and eating for optimal health.

Be sure to look for a cottage cheese without scary additives. Gum thickeners are pretty natural, but the phrase “artificial flavors” is probably a bad sign. Use full-fat or low fat cottage cheese if you’re not watching your calories. I like Organic Valley products–no hormones! If organic cottage cheese doesn’t fit into your budget, Friendship 1% blends up nice and creamy with no strange additives. If all else fails, compare labels and pick the one with the lowest sodium content–the saltiness is noticeable, especially with the lemon flavor. You don’t have to fear dietary salt, but some people are more sensitive to the taste than I am. Did you know it’s actually more dangerous to eat a low sodium diet than it is to just eat how your tastebuds tell you to?

Bust out your old ice cream maker (or find a nifty automatic model on Craig’s List like I did) and get ready to be amazed. Even if you are enjoying your low carb cream n’ egg yolk based ice cream, give cottage cheese ice cream a fair chance. The protein is very satisfying, so it’s a wee bit easier to portion control than the best ice cream recipe in the world by my man, Alton Brown (low carb tweaks coming soon!).

Protein Packed Low Carb Ice Cream

Makes two servings

Ingredients:

Lemon Variation:
1 cup of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
4 tablespoons sugar-free sweetener–
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use both of the following:
-3 tablespoons erythritol
-1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract


Chocolate Almond Variation:

1 cup of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup liquid egg whites or lite coconut milk
4 tablespoons of sweetener–
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use both of the following:
-3 tablespoons erythritol
-1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Optional:
1 Tablespoon glycerin (to keep ice cream soft)

Preparation:
Combine ingredients in a blender or magic bullet. Puree until smooth and free of lumps, scraping down the food processor a few times. Freeze according to your ice cream manufacturer’s directions. Store in a tupperware container in your freezer and consume immediately, or within two hours of making your ice cream. It turns into an icy rock beyond that point (unless you add a tablespoon of vodka to the mix). You can always pop the container in the microwave for a few seconds to defrost.

This is all that was left of the chocolate almond!

  • Debs

    I have to disagree about the use of low-fat dairy. Dairy fat doesn’t cause obesity or cardiovascular disease risk, and actually might be protective against the latter, not to mention important for fertility and other aspects of health. I see low-fat dairy as a processed, detrimental food. I also eat butter by the chunk and use a lot of cream!

    Debs
    Food Is Love

  • Lauren

    I agree with you, Debs! Full fat dairy is part of a healthful, whole food centered lifestyle.

    The target audience of my post is those who are trying to actively lose weight (PSMF), body builders, those who have to watch their carbs AND calories. What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone.

    I love me some butter and cream as well. You should try Alton Brown’s ice cream recipe with real cream and egg yolks–it’s to die for! :)

  • Anonymous

    Excellent recipe! Thank you so much! I made this today, vanilla flavored, and it tastes just like vanilla frozen yogurt. I didn’t have any coconut milk, so i used heavy cream instead, and i also threw in a litte zanthan gum to see if it had any effect after i put it in the freezer. For sweetener, i used sweetzfree, and a dash of maltitol syrup, just a bit, to see if it made a difference in consistency. the flavor is excellent, a bit salty tasting though as knudsen cottage cheese is all i was able to get. thanks again, your recipes are brilliant. i loved the mock payday candy bars.

  • Mee-Lise

    This was so rich and creamy right out of the food processor, it was too tempting to eat it as a pudding. My mix never made it to the ice cream maker. But I’m okay with that!

  • Allie

    What a great idea to pack in the protein! I made the chocolate version last night with somewhat disastrous results. I used chcolate raspberry SweetLeaf brand stevia – which packs a very unpleasant aftertaste.

    Tonight I went for a tiramisu flavor (using my old standby -NuNaturals stevia), plus freshly grated nutmeg, vanilla extract, almond extract and about 1/2 teaspoon of rum. Oh yum…

    I confess that I ate it for dinner!

  • Lauren

    Anonymous – Glad you had success putting your own spin on the ice cream!

    Mee-lise – LOL, sounds good to me. Skip right to the good part! :)

    Allie – Your tiramisu version is so creative. Sounds delicious! I’ll have to try that.

  • Anonymous

    how does this recipe compare to the one you posted using ricotta? why do you use an ice cream maker for the cottage cheese version, but not for the ricotta version? does one version last longer than the other in the freezer?(is it possible to make a large batch of either and keep it in the freezer for a week?)

    have you ever experimented with making either kind using only fruit and/or honey instead of stevia/erythritol/xylitol to sweeten? i was thinking maybe using mashed bananas or dates(soaked first so they are softer) would work since they are both very sweet, and then picking other flavors that complement them…date hazelnut coffee flavor might be good, or pina colada(using a little coconut milk along with crushed pineapple and a little mashed banana).

  • Anonymous

    debs, how can you call low-fat dairy a processed food? do you know what skim milk is…its just milk that literally has the cream skimmed off the top. buy a gallon of real unhomogenized milk and let it sit, then get a spoon and scoop off the top layer…that isnt processing. now commercially available fat free dairy products that have a bunch of disgusting crap added back into them to get people to think it tastes like full fat dairy is completely different…that stuff is garbage.

  • Lauren

    Anonymous – Hi! Great questions. I use an ice cream maker for the cottage cheese version because now I HAVE an ice cream maker. :) Both versions are yummy, but the difference in texture from using an ice cream machine puts the cottage cheese version over the top! Also, the ricotta ice cream mix is much less runny than the cottage cheese mix. The latter is a nice pourable consistency—perfect for the ice cream maker! As for how well they keep, both versions are similar in that they harden up into a solid block within 12 hours of freezing. If you want sugar-free ice cream to remain soft and scoopable, you must add vegetable glycerin and erythritol to depress the freezing point of the ice cream mix. 1 tablespoon of vegetable glycerine is enough for high fat recipes. Low fat recipes like this cottage cheese ice cream will unfortunately never be soft enough to scoop because of the water content. I just nuke this ice cream in the microwave for 10-15 seconds before eating, so it melts to the point where I can dig my spoon in.

    Your flavor combinations with dates and bananas sound delicious! I cannot handle the carbs in large amounts of honey and sweet fruits, so you’ll have do a bit of experimenting with those. ;)

  • Playdoh

    hi there,

    i haven’t had a chance to make this again (previously posted anon / excellent recipe) but i haven’t forgotten about it *grins*

    i am still trying to figure out where i can get vegetable glycerine locally first. i have no idea what to look for, the only glycerine i ever bought was for soap making and i got it at the drug store.

    anyhoo, we’re going camping in two weeks. i am going to process the recipe, throw it in the mini fridge, and we’re going to put it in the ice cream ball. should be a hoot, a workout and a treat lol. i’ll let you know how it turns out, it shoud be fine. i can’t wait to try it!

    what are your thoughts on adding liquids? i had wondered at adding torani or davinchi syrups for flavor enhancement, but being inexperienced at this, i have no clue how much the structure of the recipe can be changed. ideas?

  • Lauren

    Hi Playdoh – Enjoy your camping trip! I would not advise adding any more liquid to this recipe. Added liquid = an icier, less creamy ice cream! The higher the water content, the more frozen yogurt-like it will taste. This recipe is best right out of the ice cream maker for that reason–less time for ice crystals to form!

    You should be able to find vegetable glycerine at your local health food store, but you might have to order from an online retailer like iherb.com. A couple of tablespoons really helps keep your ice cream creamy. :)

  • Mekkie

    I have a few questions:
    1. Could you substitute nonfat cc?
    2. Could you add some milk (or soymilk) to make it stretch a little farther (less calories)?
    3. Could you do it w/yogurt instead of cc?
    4. Wouldn’t guar gum work just as well as glycerin?

  • Lauren

    Mekkie – the first time I did this I used fat free cottage cheese! I didn’t look closely enough at the ingredients label, though–it actually contained “artificial flavor” and some other undesirable additives. If you can find an additive-free version of ff cottage cheese, or if you don’t care, go for it.

    The lite coconut milk or liquid egg whites already add enough liquid to the recipe to make it creamy without being icy, but you can try adding some soy milk and seeing if it freezes to a consistency of your liking! Guar gum and xanthan gum are thickeners/create a gel matrix, lending a creamy mouthfeel to whatever you use them in. Glycerin acts to depress the freezing point retarding ice crystal formation. They have different applications in the kitchen. Go ahead and experiment with this recipe–it’s pretty hard to screw up! :)

  • Mekkie

    I’m a diet addict! And I absolutely love making fatty things “almost no calorie” (my favorite right now is nachos/tacos). I’ve had trouble with ice cream though. I made some with fat free yogurt and fruit and it was fine right out of the ice cream maker, but after a day in the freezer and a little defrosting, it was…gummy and separated into chunks and water. Ewwww…any suggestions?

  • jacobithegreat

    That looks SOoooo interesting.

    I’m definitely going to try it.

    Could you also use liquor to keep it from freezing so hard?

  • Lauren

    Jacob, I edited the post to show that adding vodka would work well too. I hadn’t discovered that little trick back when I posted this. Thank you for the reminder and I hope you like the ice cream!

  • Metqa

    Lauren,
    Saying that this can be prepared in a food processor is a little misleading. I just threw out a whole batch of this cause it was grainy and I thought my cheese had gone off, when actually it was just under processed. A magic bullet must be a remarkable device to get those lumps of cheese into a smooth slurry, but I had to use my double bladed, Wave Action, Ice crushing blender to get this to a smooth consistency. I suggest recommending folks start this project with a true blender to avoid wasteful disappointments like mine. BTW, the flavor was really nice.

  • Anonymous

    Hi, just discovered your blog (looks fantastic!) and tried my hand at the lemon ice cream variation. I thought I had a good idea in making a simple “sugar” syrup by melting the erythritol with the lemon–thought it would be smoother but what a disaster. It recrystalized so quickly and I ended up with very crunchy ice cream (probably worse than if I hadn’t put the lemon and erythritol to the heat at all). SO…my first question is, should the erythritol for this recipe be powdered (doesn’t say so here)? And/Or is there a way to make a simple “sugar” syrup using erythritol or a safe substitute like xylitol? Clearly science trumped my efforts as erythritol doesn’t behave like sugar. Thanks!

  • Lauren

    Metqa, thank you for the suggestion! I’m sorry you had trouble with getting the consistency smooth without a Magic Bullet. Recipe revised per your feedback. :)

    Anon – I have had a good experience by simple pureeing the erythritol with the cottage cheese for a couple of minutes. I did not notice the erythritol recrystallizing, so I am not sure what happened! I will have to give this recipe a try again when I can have access to my ice cream maker at home. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Anonymous

    I used a magic bullet for this recipe and its simply amazing!!! BTW, smooth as silk and could double as a pudding perhaps…? The absolute easiet way to make a quick icecream treat! I wanted vanilla, so subbed the lemon for vanilla and I'm in heaven!! Thankyou for this amazing recipe!
    ~Emm

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14870936422719227893 Kim

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  • Anonymous

    I have a Cuisinart 1 1/2 qt. ice cream maker. Do you know what the smallest amount you can make is? Can you make this 2 srving recipe in there or won't it mix well?

  • Erica

    I made a coconut variation of this:

    1 cup of cottage cheese
    3/4 tsp coconut extract (could bump it up to a teaspoon)
    1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
    1/4 cup lite coconut milk
    1 Tbs rum (coconut rum would have been better but I didn't have any)
    4 packets Splenda (but you could use your all-natural sweetener instead)

    Delish!!

  • Erica

    OK made another variation…this one was the best yet!

    1 c cottage cheese
    1 tsp grapefruit zest, finely chopped
    1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
    1 Tbs lemon juice (I used the bottled stuff)
    3-4 Splenda packets
    1 Tbs vodka

  • Anonymous

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  • Rachel C – thinladysings

    Ah! A little vodka! Genius! My ice cream always turns to rock too, because I just use stevia.. I will have to try that!

  • Essentia

    Lauren, I've become obsessed with your blog. You are helping me become a celebrity chef in my own home. :) I tried this cottage cheese ice cream (a chocolate with chocolate flakes version) a week or so ago, and everyone loved it.

    Today, I tried a buttered rum coconut flavour, with a lemon-lime curd swirl… it mixed a little differently than expected and basically came out a very rich key lime & coconut flavour, and everyone in the house is in heaven. It's a good thing it's so decadent and protein rich, because we each could easily eat the whole batch. :)

    I just need to find a way to decrease the carbs a wee bit. The whole batch probably has about 45 carbs (if I accounted for my mix of sweeteners properly… I tend to lose track while cooking! Bad girl.). I don't think 45 in the whole bit is so bad, but I guess it all adds up – when the 2 main low-carbers in the house have already each had 2 of your sunflower seed bread rolls today too. :)

    Mostly, I'm just stopping by to say 'thanks' – for the inspiration, the tips, etc., and to share my success stories. But also… do you have any tips for making a slightly lower carb-count ice cream that's similar to your cottage cheese recipe? None of us are big on the idea of potentially-raw eggs in our ice cream, and the cottage cheese is just brilliant. But have you whipped up any new ideas that fall somewhere in the middle? :)

    P.S. Just a note: my main sweetener thus far has been a (Canadian) brand called Krisda – its a mix of stevia, erythritol, and inulin from chicory root. It seems the easiest to find (aside from plain semi-bitter stevia – and not the NuNaturals brand you speak of). I've also been using pure erythritol, and just with this latest ice cream have tried a wee bit of xylitol to see how it affects us… I would prefer to use the Erythritol in most everything – it reacts well, it tastes good, and it's effectively 0 carb. But it's hard to come by, so Krisda it is – which unfortunately is, apparently, 1 carb per packet – sounds like nothing, until you start baking or making ice cream and adding a heck of a lot more than 1 or 2 packs. :)

    P.P.S. I talk too much!

  • diana

    I made the chocolate version of this yesterday, and it was too salty from the cottage cheese. Is there a brand that has less salt? What I had was Food Lion's store brand, because that is the only 1% I could find.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12992918908739085132 Lauren

    Diana – I think I used friendship brand cottage cheese. Hope that helps!

  • Anonymous

    Yum!! Followed the directions the first time I made it (used ricotta), but the second time I used 1/2 cup liquid egg whites instead of 1/4. It was even better than the first! I put the mixture in my Vitamix and it got silky smooth, then put in my ice cream machine This is really delicious!

    Next time, I'm going to follow the lemon recipe, but will use key lime juice instead. Looking forward to trying that.

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  • Vanessa

    I only have packets of aspartame available (not the healthiest, I know) right now – 4 Tbsp of that sounds like a lot, and I keep thinking it’s a more concentrated sweetener… what would you do if you had to use aspartame (Equal)? Thanks!

    • http://www.healthyindulgences.net/ Lauren B.

      Hi, Vanessa! I’ve never worked with aspartame. When substituting any sweetener for use in my recipes I recommend tasting the dough/mixture as you go along and adjusting the sweetness as necessary. With uncooked recipes this technique works particularly well since the sweetness won’t be altered by heat. If I were you, I’d try combining sweeteners to get the best taste if you’re able to get your hands on a second sweetener. That seems to yield the best results in sugar-free recipes. Hope that helps!

  • http://www.stacymakescents.com Stacy @Stacy Makes Cents

    The chocolate is really good! I think next time I’ll leave out the almond flavoring. I used cottage cheese and the texture was great. :-) I look forward to trying the lemon!

  • Kelly

    I really love your recipes!. Can you make a sugar free sugar cone recipe and a sugar free waffle cone recipe. Also naturally sugar free butterscotch chips recipe and sugar free/low sugar low carb candied yams with marshmallows recipe. You have so many great ideas!.

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