Sweet potato nice cream, banana free & no machine recipe
Time: prep. 15 mins
cook. 12 mins (press. cook.)
freez. from 2 to 10 hrs
Yields: 4 portions of 2 scoops
You don’t have to be an advocate of the ‘Clean Eating’ philosophy* to make healthy Sweet potato nice cream.
For example I, despite not being lactose intolerant to other ingredients normally used in the production of industrial ice cream, could hardly enjoy a bowl for years: just can’t digest them.
It’s different with artisanal ice cream parlours; it’s a pity, however, that the prices are really exorbitant for the pockets of someone who like me has also chosen to degrowth economically.
So my relationship with ice cream had been reduced to very occasional encounters (like once every summer); until I invented the way to make it at home with natural, fair-trade and seasonal ingredients, without needing an ice cream maker.
* “Clean Eating” means avoid eating foods that are harmful to health, full of preservatives, colorings, thickeners and synthetic flavorings; in short, those that can be defined as dirty
What is a Nice Cream?
The original Nice Cream is an alternative to classic ice cream and is distinguished both by its ‘clean’ ingredients and its extremely simple preparation procedure.
The N-ice Cream pun comes from the following two factors:
– as it contains no ingredients of animal origin, the nice cream tastes better ethically;
– in addition to be milk and eggs-free, this nice homemade ice cream is also free of sugar, hydrogenated or saturated fats and additives; so in fact it is also nice for your health and your waistline.
The original Nice Cream refers to bananas, first frozen and then blended with plant-based milk to the creamy consistency of traditional ice cream.
Of course, no one forbids us from enriching it with additional ingredients as desired, such as fruit, chocolate, various syrups, herbs and spices, almonds and pistachios, or much more: it is entirely up to you whether it will still be a Nice Cream.
How the recipe of sweet potato nice cream was born?
I perfected this healthy ice cream recipe as a tribute to the batata doce: this is how the sweet potatoes is called in my second or third homeland, Portugal.
Native to tropical and subtropical climates, the sweet potato is one of the most nutritious foods in the world; for a long time considered the food of the poor, as it does not need rich soil to grow, in places therefore where no other major vegetable can be cultivated.
But ever since health-conscious people noticed its incredible properties (not for nothing called a superfood, able to fight hyperglycemia), its rise to the tables of the world’s well-to-do began.
As you well know, I love inclusivity and foods accessible to EVERYONE; but besides the deliciousness of the brightly colored tuber, there is another, far more important reason for substituting it for the banana: sustainability.
The majority of bananas in the market come from overseas: generating significant greenhouse gas emissions, the intercontinental transport of bananas loads the fruit with a significant carbon footprint.
In addition, most imported bananas are grown by agricultural workers reduced to semi-slavery, with miserable wages and unimaginable living conditions.
So to be really Nice to the workers and the planet, let’s choose local/continental bananas (you can find local bananas in many spots in Europe), or swap directly the main ingredient!
And so the recipe of sweet potato nice cream without banana was born.
Ingredients for sweet potato nice cream with strawberries
And for the curious, a spoiler on the taste: prepare yourself to enjoy an ice cream with very exotic aromas that have nothing to do with potatoes.
Some of my friends even associate it with the ice cream of the famous industrial brand, with exotic mango flavor: I cannot confirm this, as I believe I have never eaten it.
My version they tasted includes the following extra ingredients: lemon juice, a teaspoon of grape molasses and a pinch of salt, as explained below
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Innocent adds to taste – per portion
1 teaspoon of honey, or 1 chopped date, or 1 dried fig, or maple syrup, or other natural sweetener (to limit my sugar intake, when the sweet potato and strawberries are sweet enough, I personally do not add any sugar; my husband, however, does not give up his sweet tooth)
1 pinch of salt for a more overwhelming taste (it’s also delicious without it)
4-5 drops of lemon juice (I love lemon and put it everywhere, but it was my husband’s idea to add it here, and I approve it with all my heart)
cinnamon, nut meg
Extras for the real sweet tooth (optional) – per portion
1 tablespoon hot chocolate, melted in a bain-marie – preferably fair trade brands
1 tablespoon dried fruit such as chopped almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon of tahini (especially home-made tahini is divine as it is grainier)
other fresh fruit in season
more honey or pekmez (also called grape molasses), or stevia, or other
Steam the sweet potatoes after poking holes in them with a fork, either in a pressure cooker using a steamer basket for 10 minutes, or in a steamer for 20 minutes, or in the oven for 50 minutes (in case you need to use the oven for other purposes). The important thing is never to cook them in direct contact with water, so as to avoid liquid absorption: you would end up with more of a sweet potato ice than sweet potato nice cream.
When the fork manages to penetrate without resistance, turn off the heat.
While you are waiting for it to cool, wash the strawberries and dry them well, blotting the surface with a tea towel. Finally, cut them into small pieces.
When the sweet potatoes are at room temperature, peel them and cut them into small cubes. After placing them in an airtight container, transfer them to the freezer for about 2-4 hours.
Meanwhile, in another container, transfer the chopped strawberries to the freezer: same time as the sweet potatoes.
After this initial freezing, take out the containers and wait 5-10 minutes for the frozen cubes of strawberries and sweet potatoes to soften.
Then, using a powerful blender, or a food processor turn them into cream, by adding yogurt or milk (plant-based or not).
When it has become a smooth cream, move the mixture back into the freezer.
For better heat transfer, I recommend using a steel container, as glass has poor conductivity; I use a saucepan for example.
You now have two ways, one decidedly shorter and less boring than the other.
1 – Long Method and Perfect Ice Cream
Take the container of ice cream out every 30-45 minutes and stir it vigorously with a spoon or immersion blender for as long as the ice cream is hardening, i.e. 4-6 hours. This process is useful to prevent the formation of ice crystals; skipping this phase would leave us with a pleasant block of ice instead of a frozen yes, but still soft cream.
At the end of the 4-6 hours, wait about ten minutes before serving the ice cream to make the ice cream scoops; garnish it, if you wish, with the extras mentioned above.
2 – Short Method and Soft Ice Cream
If, on the other hand, you are satisfied with a very soft texture and forgo the cute scoops, go straight for the soft sweet potato nice cream.
Then you don’t have to wait for it to harden and consequently no need to break the ice every half hour. For this purpose, after mashing the strawberries and sweet potatoes with yogurt or milk, put them in the freezer for only 10-15 minutes. After that time make the portions in little bowls and serve, if you like, with the extras suggested above.
I wouldn’t blame you for this more practical choice, on the contrary; the most important thing is to eat healthy, tasty and ethical food, as opposed to completely useless and subjective aesthetic parameters.
Buona vita e buona rivoluzione