I was fortunate to grow up in Valparaiso, Indiana, affectionately known as Valpo. Valpo is the hometown of Orville Redenbacher, and riddled with quintessential midwest small businesses.
Brown’s Ice Cream (Valpo Velvet) will forever be on the short list of places to stop when I visit home. Owned and operated by the Brown family since 1920, this fiery little company has churned out a product that is essentially Indiana charm on a cone. Today, Brown’s is operated by my dear friend Cathy Brown and her husband, which makes returning that much sweeter.
Brown’s was top of the list after every track and cross country meet and holds endless memories. In junior high and high school, my Mom would take me there on repeat after practice to fuel up before simply getting home to have an actual dinner. As I was constantly running, the effort to meet my caloric intake was next level. Ice cream often provided that extra push.
Could ice cream and the endless garnishes and sauces that accompany it hold the keys to unexpected fueling options for endurance athletes? I believe so. Ice cream is delicious and created with a laundry list of dietary benefits like vitamin D, protein, and calcium. Whether the ice cream is made with cow’s milk, nut milk or coconut milk, there is a benefit to be had.
There are endless options for steeping into the base of an ice cream for those who make their own. A few favorites that I tend to gravitate towards are turmeric, ginger, matcha, herbs, and cinnamon. These items are fat soluble and easily translate well into the overall flavor of the ice cream base.
Random jars reside in the back of our fridge at home. Be it hot fudge sauce, caramel or something fruity, these sauces will forever be a staple on our ice cream table. My husband loves ice cream and often finishes his caloric intake for the day with a large bowl of it.
What he doesn’t know is that the hot fudge sauce has beet powder in it, the caramel sauce has turmeric and some sort of seed or nut butter, and that the sour cherry sauce has been made with a fist full of ginger. I am not trying to pull a fast one on him, he would eat it regardless. The fortified sauces are an extra effort to slide a little extra good stuff in when I can, and they taste great.
Garnishes are a great way to put a final bow on top and add more flavor, texture, and coincidentally micros+macros. Seeds, nuts, dried fruit, granola, cookies, nut butters…the possibilities are endless. I especially love a great soft and sort of droopy marshmallow sauce. Marshmallow holds a handful of great benefits. For those not in the know, vegan marshmallow is often made with red algae and is filled with antioxidants and fatty acids. Pretty cool right? I think so too.
Let’s hear what Stephanie has to say about ice cream. She is a huge fan of ice cream and all the goodness that it brings.
I am an ice cream connoisseur as well. I grew up eating ice cream for dessert most evenings. We’d get a huge tub of vanilla from the Schwan’s Truck (yep, very Minnesotan), and top our bowls with banana, melted chocolate chips, and peanut butter. My mom later confessed she bought us Schwan’s ice cream because it had the most fat in it. I’m not mad about this!
In some ways, ice cream is an ideal sweet indulgence. As Kelly pointed out, ice cream is full of good nutrients, especially calcium and protein, which many athletes need more of. Second, the fat in ice cream is satiating, meaning you feel satisfied after a bowl of ice cream. Contrast that with fro yo or another high sugar treat, which usually leave you craving more. Ice cream is delicious, creamy, and satisfying.
I often recommend ice cream to my nutrition clients to have for dessert rather than a low-fat, high-sugar alternative. Plus, for an athlete, the whey protein is helpful with recovery before bed. Another reason to choose ice cream over alternative options.
I like to make my own ice cream with cream, egg yolks, and sugar, I modified my staple recipe from the New York Times “The Only Ice Cream Recipe You’ll Ever Need” Truly, it is. When I make my own ice cream (or when you make yours), note that there is not a ton of sugar in the custard. There is of course some sugar, needed for churning and taste, but it’s less than you’d think.
I am forever creating unique (maybe weird?) ice cream flavor combinations. One of my favorites is turmeric, black pepper, and crunchies. Or lavender and honey with sea salt. Or morel mushroom with smoky sea salt and maple drizzle. If you can dream it, you can churn it.
Another way I like to enjoy ice cream is as “cereal ice cream”. When I was breastfeeding, I was always starving and this was the best before bed treat ever. I’d use ice cream as a base, then pour cereal over the ice cream just like a bowl of cereal. Sometimes I’d add a touch of milk or just let the ice cream melt a little bit. It’s so good. It’s a decent snack with some protein, fat, and calcium in it. The possibilities here are endless too- maple cream ice cream with cinnamon crunch cereal, chocolate ice cream with peanut butter puffs, strawberry ice cream with berry granola, etc.., etc.
I think both Kelly and I are fans of ice cream for good reason. If you are going to have a sweet treat, make it one that tastes good, gives your body some good nutrients, and is satiating.
1 1/4 cups milk (any kind)
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 cup cocoa
2 Tbsp beet powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
2 Tbs corn starch
2 Tbs butter (salted or unsalted)
1 tsp vanilla or vanilla paste
Combine milk, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, beet powder, cornstarch, and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil while whisking until it’s thickened. Keep in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to two months.
Maple Caramel Sauce
1 cup maple syrup
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp turmeric
1 ½ Tbsp butter
¾ cup heavy cream or alternative milk (nut milk, coconut, oat, etc.)
In a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom, bring the maple syrup to a boil over medium heat. Allow to simmer until a candy thermometer reaches 230 F. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Stir until butter is melted then add the turmeric and mix until incorporated. Add the heavy cream and salt and stir to smooth. Keep in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to two months.