Vegan Caramel Nut Ice Cream

Makes about 3 cups

Paleo, vegan; no gluten, dairy, soy or cane sugar

Keep frozen fruit on hand and this can be made in 5 minutes. Cool, creamy, crunchy and naturally sweet. Thanks to the combination of fruit, nuts and legume (peanut) it is also a good source of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. Unlike most frozen banana mixtures, this one stays creamy when frozen and stored, rather than becoming rock-like.

Most commercial ice cream is an industrial concoction. Check the ingredient list and see highly processed fats, sugars and milk fractions, plus a long line of additives. Recent studies of just one type: emulsifiers, shows how they adversely affect the gut microbiome. They can encourage weight gain, problems with moods and immunity. Whole, minimally processed foods instead feed and improve health-promoting microorganisms.

4 large, ripe bananas (must be ripe for sweetness)
150 ml coconut cream*
¼ cup crunchy peanut butter (or other nut butter to suit Paleo)
¼ cup maple syrup or coconut nectar*
2 Tbsp hazelnut liqueur, rum or more maple syrup or coconut nectar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract*
½ cup walnuts

Peel bananas, slice into chunks and place in a plastic bag or freezer container. Freeze 1 hour – or for weeks – until solid.

Place frozen banana in blender or food processor. Whiz until smooth and creamy (this will be noisy). Add the peanut butter, syrup or nectar, liqueur or other option, and vanilla. Whizz until smooth.
Add walnuts and pulse briefly until lightly chopped and mixed in. Use immediately or store in a freezer-proof container with a lid. Freeze. Serves 6-8.

Shopping and Preparation Tips*

• Coconut cream: tinned product from the South Pacific; found in most supermarkets; Ayam brand has no additives. Should have the consistency of pouring cream; contain no dairy, flour, added sugar. ‘Lite’ types are not necessary: they just have added water and more processing.

• Coconut nectar: Coconut nectar syrup is the sweet sap from the flowers of coconut palm trees. Malted, caramel flavour and colour. Virtually no processing. Ceres brand available in most supermarkets.

• Vanilla and other Extracts: use top quality vanilla without artificial additives; it and other real flavours such as almond are often termed extract (as opposed to faux essence, often labelled ‘vanillin’). Good brands available locally and overseas are: Heilala Vanilla and Equagold. These are in most supermarkets and health stores.

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