Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cravings Rehab: Ice Cream Edition

"Guess what 'You have a sweet tooth' means?  It doesn't mean you like candy; it means you want some!"

That esoteric quote is taken from an episode of Kid History, a homemade video series crafted by several Utah-based brothers who, after recounting various stories from their childhood to their young sons and daughters, have their children retell the yarns while adding in their vivid imagination and often-times irrelevant babbling.  The adults then act out the distorted scenes to the sound of their kids' helium-pitched voices.

The result is hysterical - and, just as innocent wisdom from a five-year-old is wont to be, unwittingly wise beyond its years.  Think about this: we often think of someone with a "sweet tooth" as having a chronic disease of sorts - an irreversible condition, able to be temporarily quelled with frequent shocks to the pancreas but never curable.  The sufferer of this condition believes he or she must simply eat enough nutritionally devoid, sucrose-laden treats to maintain some sense of normality while attempting to balance this with dreadful hours of cardio or steamed kale benders to pay for his or her "sins."

Health communicators, educators and practitioners typically prefer to speak in terms of infections or illnesses instead of diseases or conditions because this way of framing health issues moves the focus away from the "badness" or "other-ness" of the person who is afflicted and toward the actual illness itself - most importantly, how it can be best managed, treated and/or cured.  Seeing health issues through this lens re-humanizes and de-stigmatizes the patient so that his or her best interest, rather than social forces that turn the patient into an "other," guide interactions and drive solutions.

In reality, having a sweet tooth is much less about having a chronic disease in which you like candy and more about a temporary infection - a time and situation in which you just really, really want some.  I propose that it's high time to destigmatize the sweet-toothed "others" in our lives and instead focus on a treatment plan that can curb the effects of the illness and help these persons lead sustainable, vibrant, healthful lives - no hours upon hours logged on the treadmill needed (unless you're just really into that).

Are you ready for my brilliant idea?

The answer is, d'uhhhh - healthful ice cream!  Instead of being laden with heavy dairies and added sugars, all of these "nice cream" recipes use only plants for the creamy, sweet base of the dessert.  The best part?  There's a recipe for just about every occasion of your sweet-toothed life.

When you need some simplicity in your life:
The basic banana nice-cream
Serves 1

1 banana, as ripe as possible

Simply slice the banana into coins, then place the banana slices into a bag or airtight container and freeze for around 3-4 hours; you want the bananas almost completely frozen, but not rock-hard.  If you'd like to freeze overnight, simply thaw for 30 minutes before making your nice cream.

Place into a food processor or blender and blend, blend, blend until creamy!

Forget about dirtying another dish and eat it right out of the container - and go ahead, lick the blade.  I dare you.

The low-down: 105 calories per serving, 24 net carbs, 3 g fiber, 1 g protein

When you feel like shakin' your hips:
The Elvis nice cream
 Serves 1
Adapted from Chocolate-Covered Katie's recipe here

1 banana, as ripe as possible.
1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional: a few shakes of sea salt for a mouth-watering salty-sweet combo
Make your basic banana nice cream, then add to the blender or processor the peanut butter.  Blend until well-mixed.  Add in your chocolate chips and optional salt, you hound dog.

The lowdown: 269 calories per serving, 36 carbs, 4 g fiber, 5 g protein

When your insufferable aunt is coming to town:
The better-than-Midol salted peanut butter brownie banana nice cream
Serves 1

1 banana, as ripe as possible
1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp Dutched cocoa powder
1 tbsp peanut butter chips
Sea salt, to taste

Repeat the steps from the Elvis nice cream above, but adding in the tbsp of cocoa powder.  Substitute chocolate chips for peanut butter chips.  Be guiltlessly liberal in your salt intake - just this once.

The low-down: 300 calories per serving, 38 net carbs, 5 g fiber, 9 g protein

When Girl Scout cookie season is over:
Popeye's favorite Thin Mint nice cream
Serves 1
Adapted from Chocolate-Covered Katie's recipe here

1 banana, as ripe as possible, 
1 handful (~ one loose cup) fresh baby spinach
Couple drops mint extract
1 tbsp semi-sweet dark chocolate chips
Optional: green food coloring

By now, you're probably a whiz at making the basic banana nice cream.  Add in your spinach, mint extract and optional food coloring to the mix and blend until smooth and very green.  Add in your chips and feel your biceps bulging by the minute.

The low-down: 182 calories per serving, 33 net carbs, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein, and 55% of your daily Vitamin A requirement!

When you need some good old-fashioned holiday cheer:
Pumpkin pie nice cream
Serves 1

1 banana, as ripe as possible
1/4 cup puréed pumpkin (or sweet potato!)
1 tsp sugar or cup-for-cup sweetener, like Splenda granular
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Optional: 1 tbsp bittersweet chocolate chips, sprinkle of graham cracker dust

Start out with your basic banana nice cream.  Add to the processor the pumpkin, sugar and spice.  For an extra bit of autumnal indulgence, sprinkle some chocolate chips and crushed graham cracker.  Pray for the weather to get crisper, knowing full well that in three months you'll be sorry you ever could ever want such a thing.

The low-down (including chocolate chips and 1 tbsp graham cracker dust): 220 calories, 39 net carbs, 5 g fiber, 2 g protein, and 192% of your daily vitamin A requirement!

When you need a 10-minute tropical getaway and your UB40 disc is nowhere to be found:
Succulent mango nice cream
Serves 1
Adapted from Elaine Gordon's recipe here

1 cup frozen mango chunks (buying pre-cut mangoes makes this super-quick and convenient.  To make this dish only 19 net carbs and add 4 g protein, buy mango pulp instead)
1 tbsp Splenda or sweetener of choice - like light agave syrup
1 tbsp orange juice

By now, you know the drill.  Place the frozen chunks in your best processor along with the sweetener and OJ and blend to your little heart's desire.  

The low-down: 120 calories per serving, 28 net carbs, 3 g fiber, 1 g protein, and 84% of your daily recommended Vitamin C!

When it's just one of those Tequila Tuesdays (or Wednesdays... or Thursdays... or...)
Boozy avocado lime nice cream
Serves 4
Adapted from EatingWell's recipe here

3 ripe avocados
1 cup water
1 1/3 cup sugar or cup-for-cup sweetener, like Splenda granular
1/4 fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup tequila

Scoop the avocado meat into your food processor, and combine with water, sweetener, lime juice and tequila.  If you have a smaller, European car-sized processor, you can divide the ingredients into three or four approximate batches and mix with a spoon at the end to homogenize the flavors.  Refrigerate the mixture for at least one hour or overnight.  

When it's time to serve, let it thaw for a good hour before digging in - some semblance of class is required whenever consuming tequila, of course, so serve it up to your friends in shot glasses with salted rims.  Olé!

The low-down (2 or 3 shots' worth): 294 calories per serving, 12 net carbs per serving, 10 g fiber (!!!), 3 g protein, 32% of your daily recommended Vitamin C and 40% of your daily Vitamin K requirement.

So, what are you waiting for?  Get scooping!

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