Sunday, July 3, 2016

Cherry Chocolate Chip Kefir Ice Cream with Macadamia

Summer just isn't summer without ice cream! For a long time, I only would allow myself a single dip of ice cream once a year as a treat. (How sad and un-American is that?) I felt deprived and certainly left out of the whole social experience of eating ice cream with family and friends. I wanted more freedom to enjoy the short, warm season in Maine like everyone else...and that means having plenty of ice cream. The only difference now is that I make it myself. For my birthday last year, I received an ice cream maker and have been having a grand time creating healthy, sugar free ice cream in every season. My imagination has been the only limit to the variety of flavors I've enjoyed! The one ingredient I add to all my recipes is plain milk kefir because it's a delicious way to consume more probiotics. My ice cream is similar to frozen yogurt, but it contains many more beneficial microorganisms to boost digestive health, which is very important for a person with diabetes. This recipe highlights fresh cherries that are in season and at the lowest price right now. Combined with chocolate chips, cacao nibs and chopped macadamia nuts, it is bursting with real summertime flavor! If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can make this mixture into ice pops instead, but I highly recommend you consider getting one for all the ice cream you'll want to make in the future after you taste this!  To browse my other low carb, delicious and healthy ice cream recipes, click here.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Kefir Ice Cream with Macadamia
Makes eight (1/2 cup) servings

Ice cream base:

1 cup plain milk kefir (to learn how to make your own, click here) or use plain yogurt
2 cups full-fat coconut milk (I used A-Roy D brand)
1 tablespoon Lakanto Monkfruit sweetener (or other erythirtol sweetener)
3/4 teaspoon stevia powder, or to taste (I use Sweet Leaf brand)
1 heaping tablespoon raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
5-8 drops of Cherry flavored liquid stevia (or regular)
1 tablespoon macadamia nut butter (or cashew butter)
12 fresh red sweet cherries, pitted (divided)


2 tablespoons 70% or higher dark chocolate, chopped (I used 5 squares of Green and Black's 85% Organic Chocolate bar)
1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1. In a blender, blend together the kefir, coconut milk, sweeteners, cacao powder, macadamia nut butter and 8 of the pitted cherries. Blend until well combined and smooth. Taste and adjust sweetening, if desired. Lastly, add the remaining 4 cherries and pulse blender only until cherries are roughly chopped (you want some chopped cherry pieces visible in the mixture). Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, prepare stir-in ingredients and put them in a small bowl; set aside. (I like using cacao nibs with the chopped dark chocolate because it adds a nice crunchy texture to the finished ice cream but, if you don't have them, you can leave them out and add another 1 tablespoon of chopped chocolate instead.)

3. According to the manufacturer's instructions for your ice cream maker, churn the ice cream base until beginning to solidify.  Add the stir-ins and continue churning until a soft serve consistency is reached. At this point, you can serve immediately or, if you wish to scoop the ice cream, pour into a container and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes, but do not allow it to freeze completely (see note below). 

NOTE: This ice cream is best served right away because, if it is completely frozen, it will be too hard to scoop. Fill ice pop molds with any leftover ice cream and freeze to be eaten as popsicles later.

Nutritional Information per 1/2 cup: 202 calories, 6.8 g carbohydrate (1.3 g dietary fiber, 3.7 g sugars, 1.5 g sugar alcohol), 19 g total fat (10.9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat) 0 mg cholesterol, 13 mg sodium, 21.7 mg calcium, 51 mg potassium, 1.8 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 5.5 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2016

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