Low Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream ~ 3 Ingredients ~ No Machine

I just ate a bowl of vanilla ice cream. This hasn’t happened in over three years because my body gets mad at me now when I eat much sugar. But let me say it again: I just ate a bowl of ice cream. Happy, happy, happy, happy!!

Low Sugar Ice Cream

I’ve been wanting to figure out how to make low sugar ice cream (for three years), but I had two hang-ups:

  1. I was feeling pretty lazy about pulling out my ice cream freezer.
  2. I wasn’t confident that cutting the sugar in ice cream would taste good and I didn’t want to waste ingredients.

So I started doing some looking online. There are plenty of recipes for “no churn” ice cream so I could avoid the trouble of getting out my ice cream machine, but they all call for sweetened condensed milk. Nope. That wouldn’t make it low sugar.

Other recipes took way too many steps, at which point I figured I might as well suck it up and get out my ice cream freezer.

Finally, I decided to try the “no-churn” method I’d read about – but with healthier ingredients I feel good about instead of condensed milk – and just see what would happen. I decided if it didn’t turn out – at the very least I could re-purpose the cream mixture into a smoothie.

When you see this recipe you will wonder (like I am wondering) why it took me so much research and time to figure this out.

Three ingredients. Three. They are so obvious. (Cream, maple syrup, vanilla. See? Why did I make this so hard?)

The trick is to whip the ingredients together just long enough that they thicken, but don’t turn into whipped cream. This isn’t hard as long as you’re watching carefully. I put the ingredients into my Blendtec, whipped for 15-20 seconds, poured the mixture into a dish, froze it, and boom. I had Low Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream.

Low Sugar Vanilla Ice CreamYum

5.0 from 3 reviews
Low Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream ~ 3 Ingredients ~ No Machine
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons real maple syrup (more or less to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Blend ingredients together with a hand mixer or in a high power blender until they have thickened - but have not yet turned into stiff whipped cream. (The mixture should still be runny.)
  2. Pour mixture into a small casserole dish.
  3. Cover and freeze for about three hours.
  4. Scoop and serve right away.

Low Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream

A key player in this recipe is Homemade Vanilla Extract. I decided “why just add one teaspoon when I could add two?” This, of course, makes the ice cream much, much better tasting. (Ironic, isn’t it, since I was just saying that you can use half the amount called for in recipes since this vanilla is so potent? Use less vanilla in this if you like, but I am loving the strong vanilla punch of two teaspoons in this vanilla ice cream!)

I learned that if you freeze this for less than 3 hours, the ice cream will be too liquidy. But if you freeze it for more than 3 hours it becomes a bit hard. The solution for “too hard” ice cream? Simply pull it out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes before serving. It’ll soften just enough for you to scoop it out.

low sugar icecream5low sugar icecream4

Want your ice cream to be not-so-low in sugar?

My kids agree. Simply add a little more maple syrup until you have reached your desired sweetness level. You might also try adding a few drops of liquid stevia.

Because we have the whole summer ahead of us, I will now spend time creating variations of this Low Sugar Homemade Ice Cream. I’m thinking peach, strawberry, chocolate, mint, chocolate mint, and whatever other ideas you have for me.

Go make yourself some ice cream!!

Answering Your Vanilla Bean Questions

Since I shared about the 20% Vanilla Bean discount going on right now (today’s the last day, by the way!), I’ve received several questions I wanted to address while the discount code is still valid.


1. Have the prices of vanilla beans gone up??

Unfortunately, yes. The owner of Olive Nation let me know several months ago that the price of beans was really skyrocketing. He still has the lowest prices for the best quality in my experience and research, but prices are definitely higher than they used to be – for everyone.

2. Does it actually save money to make homemade vanilla extract?

I had done the math several years ago when vanilla bean prices were lower and found that it did save money to make this extract at home. One of my readers was kind enough to do the math yesterday with current vanilla bean prices. Her findings are that it doesn’t actually save money to make it yourself right now.

3. So why make homemade vanilla?

Here’s where I land. First, I take advantage of a 20% off sale when Olive Nation offers it because that takes a nice chunk off the price. (They also always offer free shipping on their vanilla beans, no matter the size of your order.)

Next, I know that the vanilla I make is pure and rich – not watered down like most Vanilla Extracts on the market. Therefore, I know that I can easily use half the amount of vanilla called for in a recipe without compromising taste even a little bit. That right there makes the homemade vanilla go twice as far, which saves money overall.

Last, if the price of vanilla beans is going up everywhere, that means the price of commercial vanilla extract is also going to rise. I think in the long run, homemade vanilla is still going to save us money. And since the flavor is so incredibly amazing, I can no longer go back and use anything but homemade. I love it way too much!

I shared all the details here about how to make Homemade Vanilla Extract. This makes great Christmas gifts and tastes incredible. (You’ll also be surprised how easy it is!)

Last day for the discount

If you would like to try making homemade vanilla, be sure to take advantage of the discount Olive Nation is offering, which expires the end of the day today, June 15. Use the code SAVE20 on any order over $25 – and remember you’ll get free shipping as long as you don’t have anything but vanilla beans in your cart.

Have you made homemade vanilla before? Do you love it?

This posts contains my affiliate links.

How to Make Mango Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea

Y’all. (Because I think it’s a given that sweet tea and y’all must be said simultaneously.) This mango tea is happiness in a glass and yet one more reason to love summertime.

Mango Sweet Tea

Last week when we took a trip to Arkansas, a friend of ours took us to McAlister’s Deli with the claim that their sweet tea was the best, insisting that we must try it. Now, I trust my friend, but I was also skeptical because it’s tea. What was the big deal? How amazing could it really be?

And then I drank some.


We all drank and drank, and sure, maybe it’s just because we were all in vacation mode, enjoying the treat of eating out and enjoying friendship and “the famous tea” – but we all loved the tea and took full advantage of every offer of, “Can I get you a refill?”

(Why yes. We did have to stop several times for potty breaks as we headed further up the road. Thanks for asking. At least it wasn’t just for me every time. That’s a first.)

I agree with my friend and declared it to be the best tea I’ve ever had even though I didn’t even get the sweet tea. I ordered an Unsweet Mango Tea, and I could not get over how much I loved it. I’m certain my family didn’t get tired of me saying, “Wow, this tea is good” after every sip during our next 100 miles of travel as we headed down the road toward our next destination.

It goes without saying that I decided that I would need to try and create a recipe to make this at home. Not surprisingly, I used actual mangos instead of whatever it is that comes out of a squirt pump. I do not want to know.

How to make Mango Tea

As if it’s hard to cut mangos and put them in water with tea bags. C’mon now.

Mango Sweet (or Unsweet) TeaYum

5.0 from 3 reviews
How to Make Mango Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea
Serves: 2 quarts
  • 2 quarts of water, divided
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1-3 teaspoons honey or sugar
  • 4-8 tea bags of your favorite black or green tea, depending on how strong you like your tea
  • Liquid stevia or sugar to taste
  1. In a medium-sized pot, heat 1 quart of water and the mango to boiling. Add 1-3 teaspoons honey or sugar to draw out sweetness in fruit.
  2. Simmer for about five minutes.
  3. Mush the mango in the water and add the tea bags.
  4. Allow tea to steep for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Strain tea into a ½ gallon jar or pitcher.
  6. Add a quart of water.
  7. Stir in stevia or sugar if you want your tea sweetened.
  8. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  9. Serve over ice.

If you glance over the instructions quickly, you might think it says to “serve over rice.” But it doesn’t. Ice and rice are different and ice is the obvious better choice for this tea.

Ice Mango Sweet (or Unsweet) Tea

Now of course, I will be experimenting with other varieties such as Peach Tea and Raspberry Tea. Watch for updates as I get these figured out!

Are you a sweet tea drinker or an unsweet tea drinker? 

P.S. My favorite black tea is Newman’s Own Organics Royal Black Tea. My favorite stevia is Nunaturals.

This post contains some of my affiliate links.

Big Discounts on Vanilla Beans and Coconut Oil

Typically now I only post deals like this directly to those on my Homemaker’s Savings Club list – but when the prices are this good and are being offered for two of my very favorite and most loved items – I’ve gotta share them with all of you!

First – Vanilla Beans are 20% off for three days!

This is perfect timing because June is a great month to begin making a batch of Homemade Vanilla Extract. It takes 4-6 months for the extract to “brew” so if you start now, you’ll have delicious vanilla extract in time for Christmas gifts and baking!

I always buy my beans from Olive Nation because they are the best quality for the best price. Getting 20% off is huge, so take advantage. Use the code SAVE20 through June 15. As long as you don’t add anything else to your cart, you’ll also get automatic free shipping!


54-Ounces of Coconut Oil as low as $11.94!

Amazon is offering a 25% off coupon for Spectrum Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. Plus, you can pair it with your 15% subscribe and save discount. This takes the already low price of $19.89 all the way down to $11.94 – which is amazing! I’ve taken advantage of this deal several times because it’s too good not to. The quality of this oil is great!

spectrum coconut oil

In other fun news, I’m currently playing with two fun and refreshing summer recipes that are huge money savers and very delicious! Or at least they will be delicious with a little more tweaking. I’m still experimenting. :) One of them calls for two teaspoons of the Homemade Vanilla Extract I talked about above. That makes the recipe what it is!

Stay cool (assuming you’re experiencing the heat wave we are here in Nebraska)!

This post contains my affiliate links.

How My Grocery Cart Looked After a Week of Travel (And is Price-Matching Going Away?)

Our family just rolled into town (at 1:30 this morning!) after a long but quick trip to Arkansas for a family reunion. We get together once every two years – and this year we celebrated our Nana’s 90th birthday! Look at this beautiful lady:


There were aunts and uncles and cousins (and even a doggie), food, and games all weekend. We all had lots of catching up to do!



We made it home just in time to do several loads of laundry, then send the teenage boys off to their first church camp of the summer. This leads me to my grocery shopping dilemma:

  1. We were all starving for fresh fruits and veggies after a road trip.
  2. Most of the boys will be gone all week.

I do not even know how to grocery shop for three people.

I am so used to buying half the store for my family every week that when I only have to buy for a few, I feel lost. I settled on “only” 8 pounds of strawberries, 4 pints of blueberries, 4 containers of raspberries, and only 1 watermelon and 1 pineapple. I got a bunch of mixed greens, carrots, peppers, nectarines, and peaches. I’m quite sure I bought more than 3 of us can eat. But after a week of travel food, we’ve been feasting on berries and greens all day – so maybe we’ll finish it off without a problem.


We’re also joining with friends to take a meal to our local mission tonight, so some of this fruit is going there. :)

Have you heard anything about Wal-mart taking away Price-Matching in your area?

I’ve caught wind of a new policy rolling out for Walmart in which they will no longer offer a price-match guarantee. Boo-hoo. Some stores are already affected by this, though thankfully, my store still price-matches – at least for now.

I can’t find any official information on which stores are taking away their price-matching perk. What have you learned about this?

I’ve become quite spoiled by price-matching, so to think we might not get to anymore is quite a bummer! We’ll see how it plays out, and if I hear any more, I’ll keep you posted!

With that, I’m off to enjoy some more berries and glasses of water to counteract the french fries I ate on the road last night. :)

Low Sugar Banana Cake

I’ve come a long way since 2008.

Here’s what I used to think about adapting recipes to make them healthier: I thought that if I simply switched white flour for whole wheat, white sugar with sucanat or honey, and vegetable oil with coconut oil or butter – I was healthifying a recipe. So way back in 2008, I did just that. I took my regular recipe for Banana Cake and switched out all the bad for the good and shared the recipe with you here. I even called it “Healthy Treat for Today: Banana Cake.”

I really thought the changes I’d made had created a healthy treat.

In my defense, I suppose the changes I’d made did make the cake healthy-er. Getting rid of empty ingredients and bad fats and replacing them with ingredients our bodies can utilize does make a recipe healthier. But I stop short now of calling a treat healthy if it still has loads of sugar in it.

This goes to show that we always have room to grow and learn, right? Makes me wonder what I’ll write a year from now after I learn more!

In the meantime, I’ve re-healthified what I thought was a healthy cake. Even with this newest version of Banana Cake, I still maintain that it is a treat and that other foods provide more of a nutritional punch than this. Still – with the sugar cut way down and with the ingredients all being foods our bodies recognize and can utilize – do feel free to eat this for breakfast if you like. ;)

Banana Cake

Low Sugar Banana CakeYum

Low Sugar Banana Cake
Serves: 12
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ⅓ cup sucanat or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 over-ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk or buttermilk
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients.
  2. Mash bananas in a separate bowl.
  3. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients.
  4. Pour in mashed bananas and all other ingredients.
  5. Stir well (or beat with hand mixer).
  6. Pour into a greased 9×9 inch pan.
  7. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool completely before frosting with the Cream Cheese Frosting below.

I prefer to make Cream Cheese Frosting with Stevia now so that it has no sugar in it. My boys prefer it if I add just a little bit of maple syrup.

Stevia Sweetened Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Liquid stevia to taste (I use 2 droppers full)

Whip ingredients together until smooth. Spread over cooled cake. Store in the refrigerator.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces softened cream cheese
¼ cup softened butter
3-4 Tablespoons real maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

With a hand mixer (or in your blender), whip together all ingredients until smooth. Spread over cooled cake.

Low Sugar Banana Cake

Share something you’ve learned recently that has changed your mind about what makes a recipe “healthy.” 

The Difference Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

Have you noticed a difference in Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day? In my experience, Mother’s Day seems to have us all focused on bowing down to mothers and spoiling them -recognizing all their hard work and amazing influence in the lives of their families. Not that I mind this too much. Yay for all mothers, everywhere. We are awesome!

Then comes Father’s Day. It seems like we somehow switch gears, letting Father’s Day become an opportunity to lecture men on how they should be better leaders and good role models.

I’m all about empowering men to lead and grow. But if all the sermons on Mother’s Day were about how I should step it up and be a better mom, I sure wouldn’t feel very honored. Not that I need accolades. That’s not my point. My point is this:

My man works hard. Most men work hard. Most men are incredibly good to their families and they all deserve to be honored just as much as the women.

Do you agree?

The Difference Between Mother's Day and Father's Day

I’m guilty too. I’m guilty of expecting to be spoiled on Mother’s Day then barely throwing together a small token of celebration for Matt once Father’s Day rolls around. Sure, maybe this is because I cook for him almost every day of the year and do all I can to take care of him all day, every day. But this year I’m struck by how much I need to honor him for all he does for our family. Truly, what would I do without him? He is a rock star in our home, an incredibly hard worker, and I’m quite sure I don’t tell him this often enough.

While my love language is “acts of service”, my husband’s love language is “physical touch.” If I stood behind him all day, every day, giving him a scalp rub – he would not mind even a little bit (so what if there was no dinner on the table that night?). So while I’ll be making him his favorite peach cobbler and other favorite meals for Father’s Day, I’ll do my best to spoil him with physical touch so he knows without a doubt how much he means to me. If we can squeeze it in between camp sessions for the boys, we’ll probably play a family game of Settlers of Catan since I know he’ll love that too. (You can be sure though that just because it’s Father’s Day, we will not have mercy and let him win. Whatever though because he almost wins anyway.)

Perfect for Spoiling Your Husband on Father’s Day

Matt and I got the MELT Massage for Couples video series about a year and a half ago. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving – and one that is a perfect way to speak Matt’s love language. We have loved learning more about giving great massages and you better believe I’ll be using these in my efforts to spoil Matt this Father’s Day.

A nice bonus right now is that the MELT folks are giving away their Foot Massage Videos for free with each MELT purchase! Plus they have some great free printables you can cut out and hide throughout the house to give little hints as to what is to come! :)

Weirded out by the idea of watching someone give a massage just so you can learn to give a massage? Don’t be. These videos are completely appropriate and modest. We continue to reference them and learn. I’m excited that the Foot Massage option comes free with purchase this time. Great bonus!

You can check it all out here and learn the specifics. I think it’s a great Father’s Day gift because it’s a win-win for both you and your man!

What has been your Mother’s Day/Father’s Day experience? Maybe I’m the only one who has noticed a difference in how we honor men and women. How are you planning to honor the men in your life this Father’s Day?

This post is sponsored by MELT Massage for Couples.

I Add Spinach to Salsa Chicken (and Nobody Cares)

I’ve talked in the past about how I add fresh spinach to several different foods for added nourishment. Read more details about this here, but below is a list of foods I’ve added spinach to successfully:

Most recently, I tore up a bunch of spinach leaves and added them to our Salsa Chicken for our Build a Burrito Bar. Here’s the thing about adding spinach to Salsa Chicken: No one can even tell.

spinach in salsa chicken

I mean, I tear and I tear and I tear. (I make it sound like it’s hard work. Tearing spinach is a two-second job, and mostly I just tear spinach leaves in half by the handful.) I probably put four ounces of fresh spinach into a big pot of Salsa Chicken. (Four ounces of spinach is a lot of spinach.)

Then I let the spinach cook in with the meat and salsa before I shredded it all together. The spinach adds nourishment, but doesn’t change the flavor or even the look of the chicken. I think the spinach just looks like part of the salsa once it’s all cooked down. See how pretty?

spinach in chicken2

I really don’t try to hide nutritious ingredients in my recipes, but neither do I always announce what all I’ve put into the food while I cooked it. I’ve done this “add spinach to Salsa Chicken” twice now, and when it was all said and done – my kids are none the wiser. To them, it just looks like I’ve made Salsa Chicken. Therefore, they proceeded to put more fresh spinach on their burrito as they build it. Nutrients on top of nutrients. How great is this?

As an aside, I’ve taken to snacking on fresh spinach while I’m cooking with it. It barely tastes like anything and it’s refreshing. Plus if I’m super hungry while I’m cooking it helps me feel like I can wait until meal time to eat with the family.

Do you ever add spinach to recipes? What have you found success with in adding spinach?

Tired of Sandwiches? 10+ Easy Summer Lunch Ideas

I shared these Summer Lunch Ideas on Facebook Live a few hours ago, and today I’m sharing the written version with recipe links!

I’ve mentioned before that our family rarely eats sandwiches. The cost for the bread, cheese, and meat can really add up since we’re such big eaters! We typically save sandwiches for travel, packing them to take with us when we hit the road. It’s funny. Sandwiches have kind of become a “treat” for us since we don’t have them very often. We like to load them up as if we’re at Subway. (I’ve learned to love sliced cucumbers on mine!)

For my own benefit and yours, I’ve put a list together of more than 10 great lunch ideas that work well during the summertime. None of these require an oven, and very few even require a stove-top. Most have options for you so you can work with whatever you have in your freezer or with leftovers you need to use up.

Family Friendly Real Food Summer Lunches

Here’s to having a list so that we don’t have to think so hard when the kids ask, “What’s for lunch?”

10 + Summer Lunch Ideas

1. Meal-type Salads

This is the best way to get my family to eat lots of greens. Our favorite salads are:

2. Baked Potatoes in the Crock Pot

These are amazing because I can bake many potatoes at once and we can top them with whatever I have on hand at the time. Some ideas are:

  • Taco fixin’s
  • Nacho Cheese/Meat Sauce
  • Ham, Cheese, and Sour Cream
  • Leftover grilled chicken, cheese, and sour cream
  • Leftover grilled steak, sliced and sauteed with peppers and onions

3. Chicken Salad or Tuna Salad

We eat this on a bed of lettuce, with crackers, on a tortilla, or sure – on bread like a sandwich. ;) We like making fruit smoothies with this meal because the combination is so refreshing!

4. Sloppy Joes

I usually make several pounds of Sloppy Joe meat at one time, then freeze it in meal size portions. We usually skip the buns and eat this with tortilla chips – sometimes with salsa and cheese sprinkled on top.

5. BLT Wraps

These are completely amazing. Bacon and cream cheese with lettuce and tomato in a tortilla? Every bite is excellent.

6. Chicken Tacos

This is such an easy meal because you just dump chicken and salsa into a crock pot. Everyone can build their tortilla however they like and I feel like I haven’t even cooked (because I pretty much haven’t!).

7. Grilled Hot Dogs or Brats

It’s a little bit hard to find great quality dogs and brats without having to fork out the big bucks, but occasionally we’ll grab a good nitrite free, beef variety to grill. We all love these, and since we eat them with a bunch of raw veggies and fruit I don’t feel too bad about them not being the most nutritious food option. :)

8. Pasta Salad Bar

This meal is great because again, everyone can fix their bowl however they like it!

9. Hearty Dips

We typically think of serving Homemade Guacamole or Black Bean Salsa as a side dish – but since both of these are pretty filling and nourishing, they make a good “main dish” at lunch sometimes. Smoothies or fresh fruit, along with raw veggies (also good for dipping) makes it a complete meal with little effort.

10. Pizza on the Grill

If I already have homemade pizza crust in the freezer, or if I’ve purchased them from Bountiful Baskets – it is super easy for everyone to build their own pizza with their favorite toppings, then we heat it for a couple minutes on the grill. Admittedly, we prefer our pizza baked in an oven. But on a hot day we make the sacrifice. :) We’ve also made Pizza Boats on the grill, which is even easier.

Your turn to share! What are your favorite (non-sandwich) summer lunches?

Build a Burrito Bar (It’s like Chipotle, only better. And cheaper.)

I have been to Chipotle exactly one time.

It’s borderline ridiculous that it took me until last April to try it out. After all, I’d heard great reviews about this restaurant. We just don’t eat out much unless we’re traveling.

After our (one and only) great experience there, we will definitely put this on our list of restaurants to find when we’re on the road. But in the meantime, we’ve started “making Chipotle” at home for easy Sunday lunches after church.  It’s not much different, I suppose, than a regular Burrito Bar in which I’ve set out fixin’s and everyone fills a tortilla. But copying the Chipotle idea means I add a few burrito fillings that I hadn’t added before.

This has been great for our family, but even better when we have guests over. Everyone can make their burrito however they like. I personally skip the tortilla and make a big Burrito Bowl. So yum.

Burrito Bar

Build a Burrito Bar (Like Chipotle)Yum

Here are the food items we like on our burrito bar:

  • Salsa Chicken
  • Seasoned Hamburger Meat
  • Brown Rice (seasoned with chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and a splash of lime juice)
  • Black Beans and or Pinto Beans
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Sauted onions and peppers
  • Mixed Greens or Spinach
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Corn
  • Sour Cream
  • Tortillas

I think one of the best aspects of setting up this Burrito Bar is that I can get my entire family in on prepping it. I try to have the meat and rice made the day before so we can quickly warm them up when we get home from church. We all work together to cut and shred and dice – and within just a few minutes we can sit down to lunch!

Build Your Own Chipotle Burrito Bar

Here are other “Build a _______ Bar” ideas I’ve shared:

Let me know if I’ve forgotten anything that you would have added to the “Burrito Bar” list! Also, help me think of other “Build a ______ Bar” ideas!