Eat Well Mar. 12. 2013

Vegan Pistachio Ice Cream

Mar. 12. 2013
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped® and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

This Vegan Pistachio Ice Cream is a delicious, thick, creamy, and super simple dessert recipe to add into your recipe box. This week marks the week before St. Patricks Day, where green themed food comes out to play (and it’s completely normal), which gives me a week to play with my food even more than usual. This week I have a couple recipes as a tribute to St. Patricks Day, to start off is one of my favorites. .

Oh ice cream, how do I love thee. I thought I’d share my go-to recipe in the kitchen when I’m craving something sweet (which is all too often I must say). This ice cream base can be used in a variety of ways; Vanilla, Chocolate, Pistachio, Raspberry, Tropical Tango (my version of a rainbow sherbet), etc. In the future I’ll be posting variations for all of these, but today my focus is on the almighty pistachio nut!

I remember when I was younger, we would have spumoni ice cream in our house. At first, being a very curious child, I thought it was a “weird grown up” ice cream, possibly because it wasn’t laced with sprinkles, chocolate chips, or cookie dough balls. I did my best to avoid the green part in the ice cream tub and focused on the chocolate and cherry portions. As I grew older, I grew to appreciate the green part, which I now know was pistachio. Spumoni ice cream is an Italian ice cream that incorporates fruits and nuts. The pistachio  and cherry flavors are consistent in spumoni as the other flavor may vary from vanilla or chocolate.

Why pistachios rock? Pistachios are small nutrient power houses incased in a shell. They’re vitamin and mineral rich, contain antioxidants, and not to mention a convenient snack that’s fun to eat! Pistachios also have been shown to increase HDL (Happy cholesterol, you want this Higher) while lowering LDL (Lousy cholesterol, you want this Lower) and increasing your antioxidant levels and carotenoids such as lutein, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and gamma-tocopherol (vitamin E).

When shopping for pistachios, you’ll see several varieties such as raw, dry-roasted, roasted, salted, lightly salted, and unsalted. I suggest sticking with the unsalted, raw varieties as much as possible to control for an unwanted added oils when roasted and added sodium/flavorings.

Nutrient breakdown of PISTACHIOS |

  • Energy source (both calorically and nutrient dense)
  • Healthy fats | mostly mono-unsaturated fat, omega-9 (23.2g) oleic acid and omega-6 (13.5g), linoleic acid per 100g
  • Protein | 21g of protein/100g
  • Fiber | 10g of fiber/100g
  • Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, Folate (B9)
  • Vitamin E
  • Copper (especially a great source of)
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

I love this recipe because of it’s simplicity in all fashions: simple to make, simple ingredients, and simply healthy.


  • Preparing // When making my weekly grocery shopping trip, I always buy extra bananas and allow the bunch to ripen on the countertop. Let these bananas get super spotty (we like our spotted bananas). The natural sugars will develop to their fullest potential which will decrease the amount of sugar/sweetener you needed while making the ice cream.
  • Bananas // Peel the bananas prior to putting them into a freezer safe storage bag, I like to break mine in half for easy measurements in the future.
  • Thickness // The amount of almond milk you use may vary depending on how thick/thin you like your ice cream.
    • For example, there have been many times I’ve added in too much almond milk, but I’m not complaining I just had a thick “milkshake” instead.
  • When adding your additional flavors or toppings, do this last

The Recipe

Serves 1-2



  • 2 frozen bananas, peeled
  • 1/2 cup of homemade pistachio milk (see Guide to Nut Milks)
  • 1/4 cup pistachio nuts, shelled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of organic vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon of spirulina
  • Dash of cinnamon


  1. Add all ingredients (except the pistachios) into a high speed blender or food processor.
  2. Blend until thick and creamy, this should resemble frozen soft serve ice cream.
  3. Add additional pistachio milk if needed.
  4. Stir in chopped pistachio nuts or use as a garnish.
  5. If adding toppings, flavorings (i.e. chocolate chips, nuts, fruits, etc.), you will add them last.
  6. Spoon into a large bowl.
  7. Enjoy!

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