A common theme running through many So Long, Sugar posts is the notion that even most low-to-no-sugar products made with healthier sweeteners (rather than the ‘diabetic-friendly’ items of my grandmother’s era) are simply too sweet! Remember when food manufacturers went low fat and replaced all the fat in products with sugar? Well now that same sugar’s being replaced by alternatives, but in amounts or combinations that overcompensate on sweetness.

A notable example of this is ice cream. Having tried every relatively low-sugar, low-carb brand on the US market, I’ve only found three based on natural ingredients and alternative sweeteners that have enough of a satisfying mouth feel and flavor to feel like I am having ice cream. Ironically, the best one isn’t dairy based, but coconut milk based: So Delicious’ high fiber version—in chocolate, vanilla, mint, and butter pecan (and in chocolate and vanilla bar forms) which contains only 1 gram of sugar per serving and 3 grams of sweet carbs from erythritol, stevia and monkfruit—does not overwhelm the palate with sweetness.

Yet So Delicious also makes a full-sugar version with almond milk, and I keep wondering: why hasn’t a manufacturer made an almond milk version with alternative sweeteners? Such a version would avoid both the lactose sugars in milk, and the distinct flavor/saturated fats of the coconut version (for those who lean away from either element). I am guessing a high-protein, low-carb version made with soymilk and alternative sweeteners might also work well as a if the right consistency could be achieved.

The two other most formidable low-sugar, high fiber ice creams are dairy-based Enlightened and Sweet Habit (the latter at a more affordable price point than most). Both generally match the amount of natural dairy sugar (5-6 grams or so) per serving with equal grams of erythritol (note: both contain cornstarch) and many of the flavors are overly sweet tasting. So again, what about replacing the dairy with almond milk? Interestingly, Enlightened has a new line that does this and the sugar alcohols are less than the milk versions (so maybe it will taste less sweet? I’ll get a hold of a pint and let you know….) though its higher-carb profile contains tapioca syrup and wheat flour.

Which leads to me ask: what if manufacturers did not worry so much about the ‘low fat’ marketing angle and made their dairy versions fuller fat but with just a dash of added alternative sugar? Cream itself is sweet, and rich enough that one would probably be more satisfied with one serving, rather than (as I have found) two of the dairy-based versions. If you’ve ever churned ice cream at home, you know what I mean. And because both sugar and fat add body to ice cream, by maintaining a naturally sweet, high fat profile, one reduces the need to rely on sugar to achieve consistency.

Ice cream is a great testing ground for products that could be formulated to accommodate palates changing in response to lower-sugar diets. As is the case with many alternative products on the market, manufacturers tend to overcompensate for the sugar they remove with something that tastes overly sweet. I’m so glad these products exist and I enjoy them, but I’m still hoping to find low-carb ice creams—or something approximating ice cream—that are only mildly sweet.