Recipe for Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream with Xylitol

Background

I switched to a low-carb (<50g per day) and high-fat diet at the beginning of this year in an effort to improve my running and long-term health. Some of the adjustments have been easy (e.g. eating hamburgers without the bun) but others have been challenging. Pizza, french fries, and baked breakfast delights continue to tempt me. Although I don’t crave sweets quite as much as I used to, I still enjoy dessert on some nights. When such a mood strikes I’ve been having one or two squares of dark chocolate since that fits into the diet at only 10-15g of carbs.

I’ve also been thinking about ice cream and wondering if I could do a sugar-free (or super-low-sugar) version that would fit with the diet. I can’t stand artificial sweetener as I’m highly sensitive to the taste. Then I read The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance which identified Xylitol as a potential alternate for sugar. I liked that it is a 1:1 replacement, made from natural ingredients, low glycemic index, cookable, and no aftertaste. I searched online for a good chocolate ice cream recipe made with Xylitol, but didn’t turn up any simple candidates. I decided to create my own based on my ice cream making experience and trusting that Xylitol can be used in cooking. The first batch turned out great so I’m sharing it online!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 0.5 cu Xylitol (I used Xlear Xylosweet; this is for mild sweetness – use 0.75 or 1 cup if you want sweet)
  • 0.5 cu cocoa powder (preferably dutch-processed for richness; I used King Arthur Flour Double Dutch Dark Cocoa)
  • 1 cu half-and-half
  • 1.5 cu heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp rum (or other hard alcohol – it helps keep the ice cream soft in the freezer)

Steps

  1. Beat eggs thoroughly in heat-proof mixing bowl
  2. Add Xylitol and cocoa powder to eggs and stir well to combine
  3. Heat half-and-half to 160 deg F in a saucepan
  4. Drizzle warmed half-and-half into egg mixture while mixing. This brings the egg mixture slowly up to temperature so it doesn’t curdle.
  5. Put egg mixture back into saucepan and heat slowly to 160F while stirring. Don’t heat too fast or boil or you might end up with scrambled eggs in your ice cream (only straining can save you then).
  6. Once egg mixture is at 160F then turn off heat and add remaining ingredients (heavy cream, vanilla, rum). Stir to combine.
  7. Refrigerate for a few hours or until it reaches fridge temp.
  8. Freeze according to ice cream maker instructions.
Chocolate Ice Cream w/ Xylitol

Chocolate Ice Cream made with Xylitol

Results

To me the ice cream is essentially indistinguishable from its sugar-based counterpart. The texture is creamy and the sweetness is just right for my low-carb-adjusted palate. I’d say that 0.5 cu of Xylitol is on the low end of sweetness – you could definitely use 2/3 or 3/4 cup of Xylitol if you wanted it to taste even more like standard ice cream.

This base method would definitely adapt well with other flavors, so I’m looking forward to some more ice cream creations in the near future!

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DIY Sports Drink Recipe

For the past few years I’ve relied on Accelerade Fruit Punch to nourish me through intense running workouts. However, as this year I’ve shifted more to cycling, I’ve been doing less intense workouts and don’t need as high of concentration of sugar. I started using Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix, which has half the calories and more sodium (important since I sweat a lot). However it doesn’t have any protein, which is important for endurance events. After getting inspired by Allen Lim’s story (Skratch Labs’ founder) of creating the recipes in his kitchen, my inner DIY demon took root and I decided I had to give it a go creating my own sports drink.

First Taste of my Sports Drink, in an Elegant Glass

First Taste of my Sports Drink, in an Elegant GlassFirst Taste, in an Elegant Glass

Research and Recipe Creation

I started by looking at the ingredient lists and nutritional information for Accelerade and Skratch Labs to understand what goes into those. I also did research online for other individuals who had began this same quest. One important aspect to me was to try and use natural ingredients – I didn’t want to give in and use artificially flavored Kool Aid because I was pretty sure I would find it disgusting after a couple swigs.

It didn’t take long to figure out that essentially all the ingredients to a basic sports drink are easily available online. Whey protein powder, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, etc. are all available through health food stores. Potassium is a key ingredient in “Lite Salt”. Taking a hint from Skratch, I picked up some freeze-dried strawberries at Trader Joe’s to flavor my mix.

Sports Drink Ingredient Round-Up

Sports Drink Ingredient Round-Up

My first batch tasted good but was a little milky-almost like strawberry Quik. I attribute that to the presence of the Whey Protein powder, so I backed off in the next batch. It drink also lacked the thirst-quenching punch of citric acid. So I broke down and bought some Lemonade Kool-Aid, which is naturally flavored but (alas) artificially colored. With these tweaks complete, I ended up with the following recipe.

The Recipe

Yield: 20 x 12oz servings

I did all measuring using a digital kitchen scale in grams.

  • NOW Vitamin C Crystals – 0.56g, about 1/8 tsp
  • Morton Lite Salt – 5g
  • NOW Calcium Magnesium Powder – 8g
  • Kosher Salt – 9g
  • Kool Aid Unsweetened Lemonade – 2 packets (13g)
  • Trader Joe’s Freeze Dried Strawberries – 1 bag (34g), pulverized in mini food processor and then strained to remove seeds
  • Jarrow Unflavored Whey Protein Powder – 80g
  • NOW Carbo Gain (Sugar – Maltodextrin) – 100g
  • Sugar (regular table sugar) – 260g

Add the ingredients in the order listed above, at each step making sure they are thoroughly mixed. This helps ensure the smaller-quantity ingredients are evenly distributed through the drink mix.

Finished Mix with Perfectly Sized Scoop

Finished Mix with Perfectly Sized Scoop

Once it is mixed well together then weigh the entire mix and divide by 20 to see how many grams to add per 12oz of water. My total was 520g/20 = 26g. I had an old Gatorade scoop that delivered this much mix, so I’m just using that.

The Results

Here’s a comparison between the different drinks in 12-oz dosage.

Accelerade Skratch Labs Chuck Drink
Calories 120 60 94
Carbohydrates (g) 21 15 18
Calcium (mg) 100 45 53
Magnesium (mg) 126 34 36
Sodium (mg) 220 233 239
Potassium (mg) 90 30 86
Vitamin C (mg) 75 17 28
Vitamin E (mg) 10 0 0
Protein (g) 5 0 3.2
% Carbohydrates 5.93% 4.24% 5.10%
Carb:Protein Ratio 4.2:1 N/A 5.8:1
Cost per serving $0.62 $1.00 $0.40

The main cost driver is the freeze-dried fruit – $0.15 per serving. The protein is $0.10/serving. So if you wanted to go cheaper you could cut those out (Gatorade is $0.15/serving for reference).

Taste is pleasantly lemony and not too sweet. The protein is understated (lower ratio than Accelerade) but still there. Thanks to the lemon, the drink doesn’t taste like Strawberry Quik. The best thing is that the recipe is fully customizable depending on your activity and tastes. There are a variety of freeze-dried fruits on the market: berry blend, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, tropical fruit, apple, and more.

The only thing that’s left is picking the right name. The leading contender is “Chuckleberry” but I’m open to more suggestions.

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Year in Review – 2011

It has been way too long since my last post (20 months). This was not because I had nothing interesting about which to write; just the opposite, in fact! However my crowded working, training, traveling, and eating schedules ended up squeezing out my writing. But, as is customary this time of year, I wanted to take some time at year end to reflect on the year and what’s on tap for 2012.

2011 by the Numbers

  • 0 – number of bears I saw while hiking Mt. Whitney
  • 1 – number of new states I visited, as defined by traveling outside the airport (Idaho)
  • 2 – batches of beer I brewed (Strong Scotch Ale and Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout)
  • 6 – number of energy gels I ate while running the Carlsbad Marathon (best flavor: GU Chocolate)
  • 7.6 – number pounds lost in 2011
  • 53 – total number of pounds I’ve lost since August 2002
  • 334 – number of restaurants I’ve been to in San Diego since moving here in 2002
  • 535 – number of miles I ran in 2011
  • 1,321 – number miles I logged on my road bike in 2011 (doesn’t include commuting)
  • 7,255 – number of calories I burned while riding the Mt. Laguna Bicycle Classic, if you believe my Garmin
  • Total: 9514.6

Weight chart since I started keeping track

Accomplishments

Carlsbad Marathon complete, recovery drink in hand

  • Finishing the Mt. Laguna Bicycle Classic on April 16. 101 miles and 10,088 feet of climbing, ascending Mt. Laguna thrice by three different routes. My time wasn’t great – 10:05 elapsed. By mile 80 my right leg would cramp and seize up when I pushed hard on the pedals, and therefore I had to walk up the severe 20% slopes.  I was so drained by mile 90 that even though the rest was all downhill I had to sit at the rest stop for 10 minutes just to build up the mental strength to get back on my bike.

Riding up Kitchen Creek, the second of 3 ascents during the Mt. Laguna Bicycle Classic

  • Climbing Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the 48 contiguous states at 14,500 ft. This was done as a monster day-hike of 22 miles, climbing 6,200 ft in elevation. I started at 3:00am, was on the summit by 10:30am, and was back at the trailhead at 3:45pm.

Summit of Mt. Whitney with Lone Pine and Death Valley in the background

  • Visiting Machu Picchu in Peru by hiking the Inca Trail for 4 days and 25 miles

Amanda and I in front of Machu Picchu

  • Finishing the Borrego Springs Century bike ride in 5:32, a personal record. I was able to share the pace with 1-3 people for almost the whole ride, making the day much easier. I believe I finished 4th overall, and thoroughly enjoyed the pie and ice cream reward in spite of the chilly temperatures.

New Experiences & Great Memories

  • Wonderful December weekend spent exploring San Francisco, crowned by seeing The Weakerthans play all 4 of their albums on consecutive nights

The Weakerthans’ John K. Samson from front row

  • Following the Tour of California bike race. Pre-riding the Solvang time trial one day, then riding to the top of Mt. Baldy to see the mountain-top finish

Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner zooming by near the summit of Mt. Baldy

  • Snowmobiling in Lake Tahoe during Chris’ bachelor party.
  • Innovative exotic mixed drinks made from an array of infused piscos at the bars of Cusco, Peru. Everything from eucalyptus and coca leaves to aguaymanto (gooseberry) and cinnamon.
  • Trip to Las Vegas with some of the TakeLessons crew – playing craps, seeing Love, hanging out at the pool.
  • Cruising the Snake River in a jet boat, hitting 3 states in one day (Idaho, Washington, and Oregon), eating home-smoked cheese and fish.

Jet boat on the Snake River in ID/WA/OR

  • As training for Mt. Whitney, Amanda and I also climbed San Jacinto (10,800 ft) and San Gorgonio (11,560 ft). These were beautiful hikes that I’d love to do again, possibly as short backpacking trips.
  • Being in the aviary with giant Andean Condors in Peru.
  • Pumpkin-themed dinner with Chris & Dani. The menu: pumpkin butter whiskey, pumpkin quesadillas, braised beef short ribs over pumpkin puree, pumpkin beignets with Mexican chocolate dipping sauce
  • Trying alpaca and guinea pig in Peru.

Things I Learned

  • It must take a LOT of cocoa nibs to make a beer taste really chocolately. I added more than any of the recipes I found online, but my chocolate imperial stout still wasn’t as chocolately as the Pizza Port one.
  • The mental fortitude it takes to complete athletic endeavors lasting up to 13 hours
  • How to shoot clay pigeons
  • Bicycle construction and maintenance. I replaced the component gruppo on my road bike and built my Soma commuter bike from scratch (except for sawing the fork).

My home-built Soma steel commuter bike, complete with fenders, rack, and leather handlebar tape

  • I spent a lot of time reading management and leadership books this year: 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership; Made to Stick; First, Break All the Rules; Start with Why; The Evidence-Based Manager; Drive
  • San Francisco is not nearly as scary and dirty as I thought, although I still do like San Diego burritos better
  • Dishes I feel I mastered cooking this year: fish tacos; philly cheesesteak sandwiches; short ribs; grilled steak with frites and Belgian beer cheese sauce

Oh, the Things that I Saw…

  • British Airways 777 planes landing at Lindbergh Field
  • Marmots at High Camp while climbing Mt. Whitney

Marmot near High Camp on Mt. Whitney trail (small rodent in middle)

  • Llamas chewing grass among ancient Peruvian ruins where wild strawberries grew
  • Wild bighorn sheep in Idaho

Bighorn sheep along the Snake River in Idaho

  • A man running while wearing short shorts and carrying a discman
  • Cycling along Harbor Drive (big street with 45 mph speed limit) a man started jaywalking across the street a hundred feet or so ahead of me. There were some cars coming but they were far enough back that he was fine. However, he was quickly followed by a mother duck and about 10 baby ducklings. They must have thought he was the father. I had to swerve my bike to weave between the babies, and I thought for sure they were doomed by the cars. However as soon as I passed I heard the desperate screeching of tires and the angry honking of horns. The oncoming cars stopped and let the ducklings across.

Favorites of the Year

  • Non-Fiction Book: Made to Stick, by Chip & Dan Heath. Engaging and enlightening explanation of how to best communicate ideas.
  • Fiction Book: The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass, by Stephen King. I’m still in the middle of reading this 7-volume series, but this was the best book so far. Ender’s Game was also great.
  • Restaurant: Blind Lady Ale House, followed closely by Sessions Public. BLAH consistently has amazing, fresh, innovative pizzas and a great set of beers. Sessions Public has the best fries in San Diego and tasty pub fare to boot.
  • Album: Natural Causes by Steve Tibbetts. Technically a 2010 release, but I didn’t buy it until 2011. Tibbetts is an amazing guitarist who combines samples and eastern melodies into subtle yet rich compositions.

Disappointments of the Year

  • Carlsbad Marathon. Although I was proud of finishing my first marathon, I was disappointed that I fell apart in the last 3 miles.  I had severe leg cramps that made me unable even to walk at certain points. I believe most of this was caused by lack of electrolytes. I ended up finishing in 4:08, which is slightly slower than median for my age group and about 20 minutes slower than I had trained for.
  • Silver Strand Half Marathon. I trained for 3 months with the goal of finishing close to 1:40, and I felt good going into race day since my 12 mi training runs had been at nearly race pace. However the weather was warm on the big day, so I got dehydrated and faded the last 4 miles. I finished in 1:50, 4 minutes slower than my PR.
  • The whole toilet, shower, and drinking water situation in Peru.
  • The Tour de Julian bike ride is held in early November each year and features beautiful scenery and challenging climbs. We drove up there the evening before to camp at altitude and acclimate, but our campsite was speckled with snow. The forecast for ride day was in the low 30’s and rain. After a frustrating night getting our fire started and shivering in the back of our car (virtual tent), we got the notice that the ride was going to be shortened due to the conditions. I was still going to give it a shot, but when I got up in the morning and was still shivering even with my warmest biking gear on then I knew it would have been miserable and we headed home.
  • My Russian Imperial Stout didn’t carbonate (but still tastes great)
  • The Inca Trail was really a lot more crowded and commercialized than I would have expected. It just doesn’t feel like a hard-core hike when you have people trying to sell you coke and snickers in the middle of it.

Goals for 2012

  • Become a Cat 4 cyclist. I have really enjoyed my time on the bike so far, and I wanted to commit to doing more cycling next year. I needed something to push me to train harder, so I joined the Moment Cycle Sport Road Race team. I have also applied for my racing license, so I can start competing in criteriums and road races starting in February. To get to Cat 4 I need to start in at least 10 races. I am also committed to the team training 3 times per week, about 100 miles.
  • Finish the Mt. Laguna Bicycle Classic faster than last year, hopefully without walking my bike
  • Visit a new state – Mississippi – to see my sister in law
  • Gain backpacking experience by going on a 5-6 day trip. A long-term goal is to do some more serious mountaineering (e.g. McKinley) so I want to get comfortable with multi-day adventures in the backcountry. This includes figuring out how to use my camp stove.
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