Spunky Monkey Chocolate-Chia-Banana No-Churn Vegan Ice Cream
Vegan and Delicious—Everyone Is Sure to Love This!
Sometimes the word "vegan" evokes strong feelings like anxiety (as in "Please don't take away my meat") and/or hostility (as in "What a bunch of commie flakes all vegans are"). There are probably good reasons for both of these passionate emotions because we frequently come across strident, fear-mongering diatribes online blasting us from the ivory towers of the most raging animal-freedom activist or the highly evangelistic plant-based health advocate.
"Plant-based" is an alternate description for a lifestyle choice to eat from the array of fruit, greens, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Using the term "plant-based" instead of "vegan" may be less intimidating. It even sounds like, although the diet has a plant-based foundation, it possibly includes meat and eggs and dairy.
A Creamy, Flavourful Ice Cream
This recipe for vegan ice cream is crying out to be non-political. It is true that no animals died and there is not a fleck of cholesterol or triglycerides, but the true purpose of this article is just to get a very delicious recipe into your hands.
This plant-based ice cream is creamy and flavour-ful. I find that adding a little carob with the chocolate takes away from the more stridant and sometimes bitter notes of the cocoa and adds a little virtuous sweetness.
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1 2/3 cups non-dairy milk (I used almond)
- 2 tablespoons cocoa or cacao powder
- 1 tablespoon raw carob powder (optional)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ounce dark chocolate chips, melted
- 1 large, very ripe frozen banana, peeled and chunked
- 2 tablespoons peanut or other nut butter (optional)
- chocolate curls, shavings, cacao nibs (optional)
- Gather together and measure out ingredients. Peel and put the banana into a baggy in the freezer. Melt the chocolate chips over hot water.
- Whisk together all ingredients—except banana, peanut butter, and chocolate shreds-- in a quart mason jar (or jug) and refrigerate overnight (or four hours minimum).
- Next, pour refrigerated gel combination into a blender carafe. Scrape well. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into silicone muffin trays (6 large cups or 12 small cups) or into silicone ice cube trays. You can use regular muffin trays and/or ice cube trays as well, but will need to put them into warm water to remove the cubes whereas the silicone just pops out the frozen discs. Freeze until completely firm (four hours to overnight).
- Empty frozen discs or cubes into a blender. With a Vitamix or other high speed blender, you will likely be able to do the whole recipe in the blender at once. With a less rugged blender you will want to do the blending in smaller batches. Use the Vitamix plunger to "churn" the frozen mix until it is a similar consistency to a stiff "frosty" drink from Wendy's (sorry—I'm not sure what else to compare it to). Smooth into a pan with a lid.
- Put back into the freezer with lid secured on pan and freeze for another four or more hours.
- When ready to serve the ice cream, remove from the freezer and let sit for a few minutes up to a 1/2 hour. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings or cacao nibs and scoop with an ice cream scoop or large spoon that you have run hot water over (and dried). Serve in cones, in bowls, or over pie, etc.
- This recipe makes about 3 to 4 good-sized cones. Double the recipe to feed a family of 6.
Chia pudding is a big hit these days on the internet and in health-conscious homes everywhere. The combo of items that you mix up and put in your fridge is basically just a deluxe chia pudding (especially with the addition of the melted chocolate). You could opt out of the ice cream process at this point and eat this as a rich, delicious "pudd" after it has chilled and gelled. Conversely, you could experiment with other chia pudding recipes and make ice cream using the same ingredients!
While this recipe does not use 'traditional' sugars to sweeten—e.g. high-fructose corn syrup, "confectionary", cane or beet sugars—it does not stint on sweetness. Maple syrup adds that delightful, non-cloying sweet taste, and carob and banana also add in their sweet notes.
The use of a silicone muffin or ice cube for the pre-"churning" freeze is really a stroke of brilliance. The smaller mass of the discs is easier on the blender than hacking out huge hunks from a regular pan and expecting them to break down easily. In the future, I will use smaller cubes to make the job easier still!
Silicone Ice Cube Tray - Such a Handy Tool!
Comparison of Spunky Monkey with Similar Commercial Dairy Ice Creams
Type of Ice Cream
Spunky Monkey Vegan
Chunky Monkey (Ben & Jerry's)
Banana Chocolate Chip (Graeters)
Chia Seeds Are Your Friend
Most folks today know all about the nutritional benefits of the Omega-3-rich little chia seed, and maybe you have experienced the wonder that is "chia pudding." This vegan ice cream recipe uses chia seeds in much the same way traditional dairy ice cream relies on a heavy cream-egg custard mix to thicken and bind the other ingredients. But this recipe does it without the cholesterol and animal fats that are in egg and dairy.