Sweet Rose Creamery

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Summer’s coming to a close, which means that I’m eating all the dairy-free ice cream I want and telling myself it’s okay because it’s the last huzzah. In actuality, summer in Southern California lasts until October or so, but we have to find some excuse for our vices, right?

There’s no dearth of artisanal ice cream shops in the Los Angeles area, and most of them offer some dairy-free options. This is how spoiled I am: If an ice cream shop has three or fewer dairy-free flavors, I don’t consider it special. And if it only has sorbets and no “creamy” flavors, I’m like, “What good are you?”

So when I stopped in at Sweet Rose Creamery in Studio City, I was pleased to find that they had five dairy-free/vegan flavors, and two of them were of the “creamy” variety.

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I sampled all five flavors from cute little metal spoons (they get bonus points for not using disposables), and they were all good, with the exception of the vanilla coconut which I didn’t like because it contained flakes of coconut. Coconut flakes have a waxy texture that I do not enjoy.

The fruit sorbets were all fresh and smooth. But the dark chocolate was the clear winner. Despite its creamy texture, it contains no milk or cream of any kind. It’s just chocolate and water — essentially a sorbet. But you’ll swear it has cream in it!

This dark chocolate ice cream was a lot like the chocolate sorbet from Il Gelato at Eataly, but the atmosphere at Sweet Rose Creamery is much more relaxing and interesting. It’s a tiny storefront on a pedestrian-friendly stretch of Tujunga Avenue, not far from the Italian restaurant where overdue pregnant women go to eat a salad that’s supposed to make you go into labor, and just a few blocks from that other Italian restaurant where Robert Blake (allegedly) killed his wife. How’s that for neighborhood character?

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In case you’re curious, here are the not dairy-free flavors offered at Sweet Rose Creamery on the day I visited. Pretty standard fare, other than the grape buttermilk sherbet (sounds weird but intriguing) and the blueberry muffin. The flavors change each month, so if you’re in the mood for something specific, you might want to call or check online first.

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And by the way, the cones are dee-licious. I usually get my ice cream in a cup because I hate it when melting ice cream drips down my hand, but this time I threw caution to the wind and got a mini cone and I’m so glad I did. There’s something about eating ice cream from a cone that brings you right back to childhood.

And having sticky hands gave me an excuse to visit the restroom out back. There’s an adorable little courtyard with ivy covered walls and picnic tables where you can eat your ice cream and watch movies on Wednesday nights. More bonus points for creating community activities!

I will definitely be stopping by the next time I’m in the neighborhood — or at one of their other locations — and hoping that they bring back the vegan horchata I read about on Yelp. Sí, por favor.

SWEET ROSE CREAMERY, 4377 Tujunga Ave., Los Angeles, CA 91604

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

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I make a fresh smoothie every morning as part of my breakfast, and I just have to share one of my favorites with you: the orange creamsicle. It tastes a lot like that classic ice cream treat, but it’s much healthier — no dairy and no sugar, other than the natural sugar from the fruit. It’s the perfect guilt-free dessert on a hot day.

I love it because it’s ridiculously easy to make, especially if you keep sliced bananas in your freezer (a great way to salvage overripe bananas) and if you’re lucky enough to have an orange tree in your yard like us!

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ORANGE CREAMSICLE SMOOTHIE RECIPE

1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 orange, peeled and separated into sections
1 frozen sliced banana
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk

Put all the ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth.

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Dairy-Free Banana Split

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During the summer, I always get nostalgic for banana splits. They’re the ultimate in old-fashioned ice cream parlor fare: three scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate, strawberries, and pineapple, nestled in between two halves of a banana. Usually, it’s finished off with whipped cream, nuts, and a maraschino cherry. Who needs that much sugar? Nobody!

But I thought it would be fun to go crazy and make one of these monsters. Since I’m lactose-intolerant, I used Simple Truth Vanilla Bean Almond Dessert, a dairy-free ice cream made from almond milk. Simple Truth is the “healthy” line of the Kroger store brand.

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If you follow my blog, you know I’ve tried quite a few dairy-free ice creams, and very few of them taste as good as the real thing. Coconut-based ice creams tend to taste overwhelmingly like coconuts. The almond-based ones tend to taste like almonds. With a flavor like vanilla, it’s hard to mask the taste of the base.

Simple Truth’s vanilla is just okay. It doesn’t have as much of a vanilla-heavy flavor as I would like. You can definitely taste the almond milk in it, although it’s not as cloying as some almond milk products.

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But it did a decent job in the banana split. I topped it with fresh, chopped strawberries and pineapple instead of the usual processed syrups. Even so, the sweetness of the fruit, combined with the Hershey’s chocolate syrup and the ice cream, were enough to make me want to hurl after a few bites.

How did I ever manage to eat that much sugar when I was kid? Perhaps some memories don’t need to be relived.