Sunday, July 30, 2023

We scream for keto ice cream.

So it's been about two-and-a-half years since I began following a low-carb diet, and it's still helping me to control my blood glucose levels without medication.

The thing is, though, sometimes you want a little something other than protein and veggies. And over the past few years, food manufacturers have rushed in -- as they are wont to do -- to provide junk food that's low in carbs. Low carb seems to be too nebulous a term for these corporations, so instead they've latched onto the term keto. Now you can find bread, ready-to-eat cereal, cookies, crackers, granola bars, and even ice cream, all trumpeting their keto cred. 

But how do they taste? 

Ah, there's the rub. 

Manufacturers use a few standard strategies for making foods keto. One is to rely on fat to boost the flavor, so you see a lot of stuff with peanut butter in it. Full-fat dairy is another go-to. But regular desserts rely on sugar for a lot of their taste, and Americans in particular have been trained to like their food really sweet. Enter sugar substitutes. Some of them taste okay, but some, like monkfruit, have an odd aftertaste. Also, for many folks, eating too much of them -- particularly the sugar alcohols -- can lead to a bout of diarrhea. And you may have recently heard about the World Health Organization's claim that aspertame, which has been used in diet sodas for years, might be carcinogenic. Nobody's banning the stuff yet; I suspect they remember the rush-to-judgment on saccharine in 1981. Instead, the message is to eat sugar substitutes in moderation.

Which brings us to keto ice cream. Some brands trumpet single-digit net carbs in a whole pint, which would seem to encourage people to eat the entire thing at once. But if you're going to maybe risk your health, which brands are worth it? In other words, how do they taste?

I've tried a few now, and I can tell you there aren't many that are worth spending the cash and carbs on. Some are well-reviewed, but I didn't like them because the texture was odd. Most say on the package that they'll be creamier if you let them sit out on the counter for about 15 minutes, but in a lot of cases, they still sort of splintered when I tried to scoop them. A number of them had a weird consistency, almost like ice milk (remember that stuff?), and some had an aftertaste.

Two passed muster. Here is one of them: 

Lynne Cantwell 2023
Nick's is a Swedish company that turns out some pretty decent low-carb foods. I have tried and liked their protein bars. (One of these days I'll do a post on keto bars. Stay tuned.) So when I saw their ice cream in the freezer section the other day, I knew I had to try it. And it's good! The "triple choklad" has a slightly odd taste, but I liked it well enough to buy it a second time. The "salta karamell" not only tastes like salted caramel, but it actually scoops instead of splintering. 

The other keto ice cream I liked is from Mammoth Creameries. This is technically frozen custard, not ice cream -- it's made with egg yolks as well as milk and a sweetener. I tried the lemon buttercream flavor, and I liked it a lot. It's not super-sweet, and the mouthfeel is amazing. Mammoth gets bonus points from me for avoiding the use of unpronounceable ingredients; they use xylitol as the sweetener, but everything else is regular food.

The biggest drawback to these desserts is the price: they are all several dollars more per pint than a premium ice cream like Ben and Jerry's. Mammoth was the most expensive, but Nick's wasn't much cheaper (I only bought two flavors because it was on sale). 

But maybe that's a plus, since we're supposed to be eating this stuff in moderation. Right?


By the way, I'm not getting a kickback from anybody for recommending these products. Which I suspect is not true for the reviewers of the ice cream brands I didn't like. ("Dig in"? Seriously? How do you do that when the splinters skitter across the counter?)


These moments of opinionated blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Stay safe!

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