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Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

mintchip3Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I’m not Irish, but I really like green. In fact, my entire kitchen, dining room, and bathroom are decorated in various shades of green! I also really like anything vanilla-mint flavored. What could be better than mint chocolate chip ice cream?

I have to admit: the first time I discovered that I could blend a frozen banana and turn it into ice cream, I thought I was a genius. After doing a little Google research, I found out that I was NOT a genius, but rather a little behind the times in the world of non-dairy ice cream. OH, WELL! (I also thought I might get away with another ice cream post since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and pretty much anyone will get excited about something if it’s green, no matter what it is.)

This recipe is actually quite simple – but you’ve gotta stay with me to the end after you read the ingredient list! Trust me…this stuff is really good!

Here’s what you need:

1/8 c. raw cashews, soaked in water for 1 hour and then drained
1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 frozen bananas
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. pure peppermint extract
1/4 tsp. lime juice
3 coconut milk ice cubes (use full-fat canned coconut milk)
a small handful of spinach (I’M SERIOUS!)

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Yes, food fans, THIS is what’s going in your ice cream! Spinach, indeed. Now that I’ve lost half of my readership, hopefully the other half of you will believe me when I tell you that you’ll never taste it in your ice cream. (Moms – don’t show your kids! They don’t need to know that this ice cream is actually good for them!)

Put your raw cashews and almond milk in your Vitamix and blend for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides. I was kind of experimenting with the cashew cream this time around, so I used half the cashews I normally do. I also made the mistake of purchasing unsalted cashews (which have a mild flavor), rather than raw cashews (which have almost no flavor), but the recipe still turned out just fine!

  • Helpful hint: I’ve found that if I start the cashew cream on variable 1 and leave it there for a good 10 seconds before SLOWLY increasing to variable 10 and HIGH, I get better results. The cashews look more like jumping beans as they bounce around in the blades, but they get chopped down a little more before being catapulted to the lid on your container (or your ceiling, in case you forgot the lid).

Add the rest of your ingredients in the order listed. Put the lid back on your Vitamix, unscrew the cap, and drop your tamper in place. (I’m learning that the Vitamix becomes twice as awesome with the tamper!) Start on variable speed 1 and work quickly up to 10, then HIGH. Use your tamper to push all the ingredients into the blades. Don’t worry about those grinding noises! That’s just the sound of your frozen ingredients being pulverized by the blades. They had it coming, anyway.

  • Note: If you’re going to use peppermint oil rather than peppermint extract, be very careful! Peppermint oil is much more concentrated. Using too much can have mild negative effects like causing your ice cream to taste bitter. Stronger effects can go as far as making your eyes water! One or two drops is probably more than enough.

Once four mounds form on top of your mixture, stop the machine. Don’t be like me and try to wrestle with one little piece of spinach that happens to cling to the side of your container. I ran the Vitamix for a few seconds too long, and…well…soft serve is still good!!!

mintchip2

Hey, it looks like a shamrock! Even my Vitamix is getting festive. You can see that the four mounds on top of this mixture aren’t very pronounced. This is what happens when you insist on wrestling with a defiant piece of spinach, rather than just leaving it alone.

Scoop it into a festive dessert cup (in my case, it was a cute green mug that I found at Goodwill), and top with maltitol-sweetened dark chocolate chips or carob chips. (By the way, if you can find the chocolate chips at your grocery store, they’re probably a LOT cheaper!!!)

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You also have the option of dropping a few handfuls of chocolate chips into your mixture once it’s finished, and hand-stirring them in. I’m not a fan of frozen chocolate chips, so I just topped my ice cream with a few of them. You could also try blending them into the ice cream, but then you’ll lose that lovely green coloring!

Now remember: don’t tell your kids that they’re eating spinach ice cream! If they ask about the little green flecks…um…tell them it’s FOOD COLORING! Well, it is…that’s the only reason the spinach is in this recipe, anyway…aside from the vitamins and whatnot… Wow…ice cream without sugar, dairy, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, yellow dye #5, red dye #1, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, ethyl acetate… (Yes, they actually put this stuff in processed food!!! And people say I’m crazy to put spinach in my ice cream…really?)

  • If you don’t have a Vitamix: If you’re using a standard household blender, this recipe might work for you if you increase the recipe to 2 bananas, and eliminate the coconut milk ice cubes. You’ll be stopping and starting a lot, and scraping down the sides each time, but it just might work!

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, in a nutshell:
1/8 c. raw cashews, soaked in water for 1 hour and then drained
1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 frozen bananas
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. pure peppermint extract
1/4 tsp. lime juice
3 coconut milk ice cubes (use full-fat canned coconut milk)
a small handful of spinach (I’M SERIOUS!)

Place raw cashews and almond milk in the Vitamix. Blend for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides. Add the rest of the ingredients. Starting at variable speed 1, work quickly up to variable speed 10, and then HIGH, using the tamper to push the ingredients into the blades. Stop the machine once four mounds form on top of the mixture. Top with chocolate or carob chips and serve.

  • Note: I must share with you all that my inspiration for this recipe can be credited to the awesome Shamrock Shake, courtesy of the lovely Erika at alittleinsanity.com. Thanks for your inspiration!
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