Swap This for Ice Cream

We found better-for-you alternatives to traditional ice cream. And most are so simple that you can try a taste tonight!

Looking for something cold, creamy, and supremely satisfying? Unless you have a dairy intolerance, you can indulge in ice cream in the right portions. But you might be (happily) surprised to discover that a variety of more nutritious treats can fulfill an ice cream craving. 

Banana “ice cream.”

Whenever you have overripe bananas, peel them, wrap them in plastic, and toss them in the freezer. To make them into “ice cream,” break 2 bananas into chunks and puree them in a food processor with ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt and coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk, or half-and-half. For more flavor, add ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Return the mixture to the freezer until it’s frozen (2 to 3 hours) and ready to enjoy. Makes about 1¼ cups.

Chilled cherimoya.

They don’t call it “ice cream fruit” for nothing! Just refrigerate the fruit until cold (2 to 3 hours), cut it in half lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh for a cold, creamy treat (discard the seeds). Or make cherimoya “ice cream.” Scoop the flesh into a food processor, discarding seeds and skin. Buzz until smooth; then scrape the puree into a shallow dish, cover it with plastic, and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours. Break the frozen fruit into chunks and reprocess with a little water until it gets creamy. One cherimoya yields about ½ to ¾ cup of cherimoya ice cream. Tip: If your local grocery doesn’t have cherimoya, try an Asian market or an online fruit distributor.  

Smoothies and smoothie pops.

Stop in at your local Panera Bread® bakery-cafe to savor a Low-Fat Strawberry or Mango Smoothie. Or make a smoothie at home with one of the recipes right here on MyPanera.com. For an extra-special treat, try freezing your favorite smoothie in popsicle molds. It’s like homemade frozen yogurt.

Coconut milk ice cream.

Mix 1 can (15 oz) of coconut milk, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract in a blender. Pour the mixture into a shallow dish and freeze until solid, 6 hours or overnight. Break the frozen milk into chunks and reblend until it’s creamy. Blend in your favorite peeled and seeded fruits too. For an extra-creamy dessert, use avocado! Makes about 2 cups (3 cups if you add 1 cup of fruit).

Sorbet.

You can easily make sorbet at home. Try our recipe for Mango-Coconut Sorbet—just six ingredients and 10 minutes of prep time required.

Chocolate mousse.

Need a chocolate fix? Bring ¾ cup of water to a boil in a saucepan. Then stir in 10 ounces of finely chopped bittersweet chocolate, remove the pan from the heat, and stir the chocolate until it melts. Scrape the melted chocolate into a mixing bowl set in a larger bowl filled with ice. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until the mousse is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Chill, indulge, repeat. Makes about 1½ cups.