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Non-Dairy Substitutes for Ice Cream

By +Carolyn Richardson on Jun 19, 2012 09:00 AM in Tips & Updates

Two-year olds eating at a birthday party are a delight. After running around popping bubbles and enjoying their bubbleologist encase them in toddler-size bubbles, their excited screams were silenced in exchange for cake and ice cream. The birthday boy wasn't able to partake in the regular fare. Not to worry, his Mom is now a pro at making he can enjoy a frozen treat. When everyone finished singing happy birthday, he ran to his Mom and yelled "rice cream, please!" Out of the freezer pops what looks and taste mostly like ice cream, without dairy of course, which could ruin the festivities with a bad rash or an impromptu trip to urgent care. A food allergy isn't always the reason to opt for a non-dairy alternative to ice cream, but rice cream isn't the only choice if you must forego cow's milk.

Americans consume about 24 pounds of frozen dairy products a year according to U.S. Census data. That number has been on the decline since 2000 when it reached 30 pounds per person. Ice cream is by no means going out of style, rather, the plethora of frozen treats continues to broaden. As traditional ice cream brands offer new products, non-dairy options are expanding as well. The standard dairy alternatives of rice milk, almond milk, and soy milk are becoming more familiar, and their ice cream alternatives aren't far behind. Here's how the calorie counts compare. 


Soy milk-based ice cream has about the same amount of calories as ice cream, but there is some variation across brands. as well as fat. Imagine Foods' Soy Dream actually packs an almost identical profile to ice cream 9 grams of fat and 170 calories to regular ice creams 145 calories and 8 grams of fat in a 1/2 cup serving. The Soy Delicious ice cream brand has 130 calories, but much less fat at just 1.5 grams per  1/2 cup serving. Most soy milk-based brands will fall somewhere between these two, so be aware that just because it's dairy free doesn't mean it's a lot less calories.  


Rice milk-based options tend to have little to no protein, and again their calorie counts are similar to regular ice cream, minus the saturated fat. Good Karma's Organic Rice Divine has 150 calories per 1/2 cup serving and 7 grams of fat, while Imagine Foods' Rice Dream has one less gram of fat and 10 more calories. Taste-wise the rice milk base may be smoother than the soy option, but again, brands differ. 


The almond milk option for ice cream has an added bonus of 2 grams of fiber, but is much the same as other non-dairy options. The Almond Dream has 140 calories, 7 grams of fat and 1 gram of protein in a 1/2 cup. The So Delicious Almond option has more fiber at 5 grams, and 10 less calories than Almond Dream.

Coconut Milk

Luna and Larry's Coconut Bliss is an option that trumps ice cream in calories and fat. At 210 calories and 14 grams of fat in a 1/2 cup serving, making it the king of frozen desserts calorie wise. It does have fiber like the almond versions, but it's fat content is a bit much. While it is true that the saturated fat in coconut milk is medium-chain triglycerides which have been shown to have less effect on your cholesterol level, it is still a very high fat content you should consider in your daily allowance. The So Delicious Coconut Milk brand has a much lower calorie count at 150 calories and just 8 grams of fat, but again, this is still similar to a regular serving of ice cream. 

While it would seem that going non-dairy may have a calorie advantage, generally speaking that's not the case. The plus is principally in the lower saturated-fat content.

NOTE: The nutritional information from the Vanilla flavor of each brand was used.

Your thoughts...

What dairy-free frozen treats do you enjoy? Compare the difference in taste and texture. 


I bought this yonana machine, which makes what is simular in texture to ice cream with frozen banana's and love it.  I mix in some black cherrries and coco and sometimes peanut butter.

Also, I do make popsicles with grape juice or I will blend some strawberries and banana's and poor them into a mold.

I bought Yonanas too! I wondered when I opened this article if it would be on the list. I've been having trouble finding the best flavors, but so far strawberry-banana is the best. The texture really is like ice cream - but the flavor is always (of course) rather banana-y.

how does frozen yogurt compair??

Diane just talked me into getting a yonana machine.

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Why bother- just have ice cream and stop kidding yourself. 


An alternative to the Yonana machine is just freezing your banana chunks and blending them in a blender/food processor with what you want. Same thing, less money spent on a machine.

I can tell you 1 thing; using frozen bananas makes an AMAZING PB Banana milk shake.


Sounds good

....I just wanted to make a comment about the So Delicious coconut frozen dessert.  The author didn't mention that it only contains 1gm Sugar per serving!

I feel, (at least for me) that controlling sugar is a huge  p art of successful dieting,

as it keeps me from going back for seconds...:-)....also, the texture of this product is very creamy, it tastes like ice cream!!  I love the butter pecan.

i agree kathleen, sugar is often the kicker, and also coconut milk is said to be "unfattening". there are disparate reports on thebenefits of coconut, but eating healthy fat, for some at least, means eating less as well. i make my own ice cream, i use coconut cream, frozen mango and berries. i have an omega/ oscar 900 juicer that can make frozen dessert. the mango can be eaten without even the coconut milk/cream. i did the frozen bananas with blueberries in orange juice. the yonanas would do a similar job, except i have the omega in my oscar lol (they can crush ice and make nut butter/ milk/ pasta), yonanas is said to do a much better job than blenders in how it extrudes, but maybe youtube?

Lisofby, that sounds absolutely deeeeeeelish!  For me, the coconut milk actually has a richer taste than the ice cream, so I can sometimes be satisfied with the suggested 4 oz serving.......sometimes in food as well as in life, less REALLY is more!!!  Is your Omega/oscar easy to clean?   K.

yes, that is true kathleen, i don't use much of the coconut cream, particularly with the frozen mango, but you don't need a whole lot of the dessert, i find, and it's so nice to have something easy (i just make it when i'm juicing so there's no real cleaning). but yes kathleen, i have used a number of juicers at home and professionally (i used to sell juice). the oscar/ omega is a cold pressed juicer, and as such, you only remove the front augur, and housing. i tend to soak my veg in veggie wash in a tub (with a strainer that has a handle), then after juicing, i tip the juicer parts in and that half rinses them already! there's the plunger, the case, the augur, and then the juice collectors. the juicing screen is best cleaned with one of those spongey scourers, easier than a toothbrush, and that is the only pesky bit. they are dishwasher safe, but the machine motor has a 20 year guarantee, and i think they will last longer if washed by hand, and it may take longer to get them in the dishwasher. worst thing about the juicer is the feed chute, meaning you can't stick a fat carrot in there, but they may have changed that with later models. other than that, it's brilliant, because you can make as much juice as you want in a half hour, without having to clean out a refuse catcher, like most of them have inside. it's chopping, not washing that is the issue in winter, when i'm cold that makes me lazy to use it!

Hi Lisofby,

Thanks so much for your answer.  I used to have a Green Power juicer and loved it.  Now I go to the health food store that has a juice bar......but I don't go as often as I would like, because of the cost.  The Green Power allowed me to make wheat grass juice as well.  Wheat grass really seemed to give me a tremendous sense of well being and also is terrific for the skin!  I don't think the powdered version of these greens work as well as the natural juice.  It's a funny coincidence that you used to sell juice.....I used to sell and have a home delivery service for organic produce!!  I loved it.....felt like I  was working in my true with 30 lbs to lose, I've got to make some changes.

that you


aww:) that's so cute, kathleen. you can do wheatgrass in the oscar as well.

and it's my pleasure. also, you asking is an organic way for other members to learn about the greater volume and quality you get from a juicer like mine.

i have bought juice from a "healthier" cafe, and a juice nbar, and it isn't the same as we used to make (and it is so expensive!), and i'm sure not as good as "living" juice with all the enzymes. they have not proved this yet, but there are some obvious differences in the quality, and how long it keeps.

Yes, I know they say that the minute the juice hits the air, the enzymes start to die off.  So, fresher the better...........also when I used to make my own juice, I felt it had a "sweeter" taste......not sugary sweet.......but somehow more complex than the frozen stuff you can buy in the freezer section.  I will say my local health food store juices it right in front of me....but they lack consistancy in flavor.  I agree with you Lisofby!!  Time to start budgeting for a really good juicer.  Will check out your Omega Oscar!  Thanks so much for all this great info!!  Hope it helps other readers as well!!  Juice On, Lisofby!!

yes apparently the cheaper juicers, the centrifugal, add lots of air and it separates really quickly. rah di rah! lol! are you in the u.s.? i remember a song about "only one more fro-zen orange juice and i''ll be on my way." well we don't have that here in aus. i think my juicer is called omega over there. er-8006.html  hopefully this page opens for others i did see one recently that is like mine, except you turn it by hand! and it was $50! but i bought mine via the shopping channel, and paid it off. for serious juicers, you will save the cost of the machine in your first year, by getting average %20 extra juice from your f&v costs. but i can tell you, you can make so many things, i have made hommus, burgers (chickpeas, kaffir lime, chili, carrot, celery, onion, garlic and tomato with a bit of millet and gluten free flour to bind it, flaxseed i think). you can do heaps! it's a machine that does much more than juice.

and you are welcome. mmn! i'mma have me some of dat non dairy ice cream tomorrow. i know the mango is good, the boysenberry should have all of those anthocyanins, we been hearing about (purple black foods with antioxidants i believe). 


llev312170061, i'm sure they soon will. and if you read the comments, that is just what kathleen and i have been saying. please mind that capital letters are "shouty".


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Original Post by: meggie_wallace

An alternative to the Yonana machine is just freezing your banana chunks and blending them in a blender/food processor with what you want. Same thing, less money spent on a machine.

I can tell you 1 thing; using frozen bananas makes an AMAZING PB Banana milk shake.


colangelo - some of us have lactose intolerance.  Any milk product for me has dire digestive consequences!   I like Luigi's Italian Ice cups, the  product is smooth and not icy, and is available in sugar free.   But I think I'll try the frozen bananas thing and experiment with summer fruits.

I just made strawberry sorbet for a bbq I am going to this afternoon. It is easy if you have a food processor and the bonus is it only has a 1/3 cup sugar in 2 lbs of strawberries. It is smooth and yummy.

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