By Adriana Harlan

Dairy is typically an essential ingredient for making ice cream because of its fat content, but it’s also a somewhat controversial ingredient in Paleo circles. Thankfully, the following ice cream recipes are dairy-free. How is that possible? Simply replace heavy cream with coconut milk, which is also very high in fat and helps make the ice cream creamy.

Note: You can use a combination of half coconut milk and half cream when making ice cream, or if you prefer, you can use cream only or coconut milk only.

Dairy is a hot-button Paleo issue for a couple of reasons. Some argue that dairy wasn’t part of our Paleolithic ancestors’ diet or evolutionary heritage and that it’s therefore part of the disease-causing problem. Others point to studies that show pasture-raised, grass-fed dairy as being a highly nutritious food with many health benefits, providing a rich source of both conjugated linoleic acid (a healthy fat known as CLA) and vitamin K2. CLA has been shown to have anti-cancer properties and lower the risk of heart attacks, while vitamin K2 promotes bone health and helps prevent atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

Above all, Paleo isn’t a restrictive diet. The main focus is to supply your body with essential nutrients and observe closely how your body responds to the foods you eat.

Here are a couple of additional pointers for making Paleo ice cream that supports your health without leaving you feeling deprived:

  • Use arrowroot powder, unflavored gelatin (from pastured animals), or guar gum. These ingredients prevent ice crystals from forming after you freeze the ice cream and preserve that lovely, creamy texture. They also provide a great way to make homemade ice cream without an ice cream machine, and omitting eggs when making the custard.

  • If your body is sensitive to eating eggs, you can omit them in any of the ice cream recipes.

Coffee Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus overnight

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 quart

3 tablespoons organic ground coffee (or instant coffee)

One 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1 egg

2 tablespoons raw honey

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup Paleo-friendly chocolate chips

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk the coffee, coconut milk, arrowroot powder, egg, honey, and salt.

  2. Heat the mixture slowly over medium heat until it starts to bubble and thickens, stirring frequently. Let it cool for 5 minutes and then mix in the vanilla and refrigerate overnight.

  3. Stir the chocolate chips into the chilled mixture. Place the mixture in an ice cream maker and process it according to the manufacturer’s instructions until it reaches a soft-serve consistency.

  4. Serve immediately or spoon the ice cream into an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

Per serving: Calories 159 (From Fat 109); Fat 12g (Saturated 9g); Cholesterol 23mg; Sodium 39mg; Carbohydrate 13g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 2g.

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1-1/2 quarts

1 cup raw cashews

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 tablespoons arrowroot powder

Two 13.5-ounce cans full-fat coconut milk

2 large eggs

4 tablespoons raw honey

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups fresh or thawed frozen blueberries

  1. In a food processor, pulse the cashews until they’re creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

  2. Add the lemon juice to the cashew butter and pulse to combine.

  3. In a medium saucepan, whisk the arrowroot powder and coconut milk until the arrowroot is dissolved. Add the cashew butter, eggs, and honey, and whisk to combine ingredients.

  4. Bring the mixture to boil slowly over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove it from the heat; let it cool for 5 minutes and then mix in the vanilla extract and refrigerate overnight.

  5. Place the mixture in an ice cream maker and process it according to the manufacturer’s instructions until it reaches a soft-serve consistency.

  6. Mash the blueberries slightly and swirl them into the ice cream.

  7. Serve immediately or spoon into an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

You can use 1/2 cup of store-bought cashew butter and skip Step 1 if you prefer.

Per serving: Calories 227 (From Fat 146); Fat 16g (Saturated 11g); Cholesterol 31mg; Sodium 30mg; Carbohydrate 17g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 4g.

Honey-Roasted Macadamia Nut Ice Cream

Preparation time: 25 minutes, plus overnight

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1 quart

Honey Roasted Macadamia Nuts (see recipe below)

1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1-1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk

Pinch of salt

3 tablespoons raw honey

1 egg

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Blend the raw macadamia nuts and the water in a blender for a couple of minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a saucepan to yield 1 cup of macadamia nut milk.

  2. Whisk the arrowroot powder into the nut milk until dissolved.

  3. Mix in the coconut milk, salt, honey, and egg and heat the mixture slowly over medium heat, stirring constantly until it starts to bubble and thickens.

  4. Remove the mixture from the heat; let it cool for 5 minutes and then mix in the vanilla and refrigerate overnight.

  5. Freeze it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions until it reaches a soft-serve consistency and then stir the Honey Roasted Macadamia Nuts into the ice cream.

  6. Serve immediately or spoon into an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

Honey Roasted Macadamia Nuts

1/2 tablespoon raw honey

1 teaspoon macadamia nut oil

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts, halved or chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, whisk the honey, macadamia nut oil, and salt.

  2. Add the macadamia nuts and mix well until all nuts are coated.

  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the coated nuts across the pan.

  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown, being careful not to burn.

You can use coconut oil in place of the macadamia nut oil for the roasted nuts.

Per serving: Calories 251 (From Fat 197); Fat 22g (Saturated 9g); Cholesterol 23mg; Sodium 56mg; Carbohydrate 14g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein 3g.