Oatly Dairy-Free Ice Cream (and a New Blog)

After retiring this blog, I haven’t felt a burning desire to write another post until I discovered Oatly Dairy-Free Ice Cream on a recent stocking-up-for-the-apocalypse shopping trip. We are in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic, and it’s obvious that people are buying up all the comfort foods: frozen pizzas, pasta, and — believe it or not — dairy-free milks and ice creams. In the nearly bare freezer case at Gelson’s, I saw this cute pink carton of Oatly strawberry ice cream and thought, “If not now, when?”

Turns out this oat-milk-based ice cream is as close to perfect as you can get. It’s smooth, rich, and creamy. It tastes like real strawberries. And there’s no weird aftertaste like so many dairy-free desserts have. (Trader Joe’s coconut-milk-based strawberry ice cream is very good, but it does have a coconutty flavor.)

So, if you’re sheltering in place, feeling anxious, and needing a hit of almost guilt-free comfort food, hunt down some Oatly ice cream the next time you’re braving the supermarket or ordering a delivery.

Meanwhile, I’ve started writing a new blog called Apocalypso Now as a way of sharing my thoughts and feelings about everyday life during this global pandemic. Please check it out and follow me if you’re interested.

Be safe and take good care of yourselves. I hope to hear from you.


Another Blog Bites the Dust

Just before the holidays, I decided to take a break from writing this blog. During the break, I had a chance to do some careful reflection about both my eating habits and the blog itself. What I realized is that, after nearly four years of weekly posts, the time has come to put Dairy-Free To Be You and Me to rest. Here’s why.

First, let me be honest: It’s been hard to find material. Although new dairy-free alternatives are showing up all the time, many of them are similar, and I’ve started to feel like a broken record. The last thing I want to do is “jump the shark,” like Fonzie did on those water skis. Better to admit I’ve run out of ideas.

Second, at the risk of being a cliché, I have embarked on a New Year’s resolution to eat more healthfully. For me, this means cutting back on carbohydrates and sugar. What I’ve noticed is that most dairy-free alternatives are paired with foods I shouldn’t be eating anyway — like pizza, grilled cheese, bagels, ice cream and other desserts. In my attempt to find material for the blog, I have actually brought more of these foods into my life.

Some of the sugary gifts we received this Christmas.

Giving up the blog will free up more of my time for healthy pursuits. I remember hearing an interview with Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in which he said that if people stopped watching cooking shows and spent that time actually cooking instead, they’d be eating a lot better. What will I do with the time I used to spend researching and writing this blog? Perhaps cooking that extra vegetable dish or prepping stuff for salads. Because the only thing keeping me from eating more salads is all that damn chopping.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite dairy-free items, the ones I have come back to again and again. Consider it a “greatest hits” list.

Daiya “Cutting Board Collection” Dairy-Free Cheese Shreds
Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Magnum Non-Dairy Chocolate-Dipped Ice Cream Bars
Peet’s Almond Milk Latte
Nutella Latte at Republic of Pie
Lebanese Rose Milk Tea at Labobatory
Dole Whip

Thank you to all my faithful readers. I’ve enjoyed sharing this space with you, and I wish you the best of luck in your dairy-free adventures.

Halloween 2019
Me as Freddie Mercury, singing “Another Blog Bites the Dust.”

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Frozen Yogurt


You know it’s fall because the Pumpkin Spice Latte is back in full force. But it’s not just the PSL… everything seems to be pumpkin-flavored right now. Even frozen yogurt.

The Yogurt Shoppe in Brentwood had four vegan flavors the day I went there. Not a bad selection. I sampled three of them, and though they were all good, the best was the pumpkin pie. Imagine pumpkin pie filling in ice cream form. I only wish they had crumbled pie crust to sprinkle on top.


They do have a huge selection of toppings, including fresh fruit, candy, cookies, syrups and more. Everything is self-serve, even the frozen yogurt itself. You simply create your sugary monstrosity and then bring it to the cashier, who charges you by weight. If you can guess the price of your monstrosity — to the exact penny — you get it for free. If you’re not good at math, bring someone who is.



Overall, I’d say The Yogurt Shoppe beats The Bigg Chill, that super-popular froyo joint on Westwood Boulevard. It’s got a lot more non-dairy options, for one thing. And a bigger selection of toppings. I also like that they charge by weight, because if you want a small portion you’re not stuck with a giant cup that costs $5.

The vegan pumpkin pie froyo is a seasonal flavor only available for a limited time, so if you’re a pumpkin fanatic, put down the PSL and get over to The Yogurt Shoppe, pronto.



THE YOGURT SHOPPE, 11726 Barrington Ct., Los Angeles, CA 90049

Cocobella Creamery


Cocobella Creamery is one of the few ice cream parlors in Los Angeles that serve vegan ice cream exclusively. Having thoroughly disliked another one—Kippy’s in Venice—I was skeptical about Cocobella, until I found out they use oat milk as the base in half their flavors. Since I’m currently on an oat milk kick, I decided to give it a try.

I sampled four oat milk flavors: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Forbidden Horchata, Hong Kong Milk Tea, and Moose Tracks. The first three were so-so—not bad, but not great. They all lacked a strong flavor. I was especially disappointed that the Hong Kong Milk Tea was so “subtle,” as the woman behind the counter put it. I would kill for a dairy-free ice cream that tastes like boba tea. Alas, this one did not deliver.

But I did like Moose Tracks, a vanilla base with chunks of chocolate and sunflower butter cups (which taste like peanut butter cups). It wasn’t as rich and smooth as real ice cream, but it wasn’t grainy like Kippy’s. And it didn’t have a weird aftertaste as so many non-dairy ice creams do. (I didn’t bother with their coconut milk flavors for his very reason; the taste of coconut tends to dominate.)

A kid’s scoop of Moose Tracks.

The biggest draw of Cocobella is the sheer variety of flavors. If you eat a lot of vegan ice cream, you will appreciate this. And I like that they’re diving into oat milk territory. But here are the problems with Cocobella:

(1) It’s expensive—$4.25 for a kid’s scoop, the smallest and cheapest thing on the menu.

(2) The parking can be a hassle. Before 5 p.m., the lot is free. But when I came on a Saturday night, the lot was valet-only and cost $12. (Blame the bar and Cuban supper club next door). Apparently, Cocobella customers get ten minutes free, but I didn’t know this so I took my chances and parked illegally on the street.

Am I going to run back to Cocobella anytime soon? No. I’d rather go to Ralphs and get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, which kicks Cocobella’s ass. But if I’m in the neighborhood on a hot day, I might stop by to check out their flavors… as long as I can find free parking.

COCOBELLA CREAMERY, 1253 Vine St., Suite 12, Los Angeles, CA 90038


Magnum Non-Dairy Chocolate-Dipped Ice Cream Bars


I’ve been searching for a non-dairy substitute for Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars for as long as I’ve been dairy-free. Here’s what I wrote about them years ago, in my review of the disappointing Coconut Bliss Ice Cream Bars:

“I really wanted to like these because they look just like Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Milk Chocolate Almond Bars, one of my favorite treats from my dairy-eating days. The Häagen-Dazs bars contain the richest, creamiest vanilla ice cream coated in thick, high-quality chocolate studded with crunchy roasted almonds. They’re ridiculously good.”

That’s the gold standard I’ve been holding that, until now, nothing has met.

But now there are Magnum Non-Dairy Almond frozen dessert bars.


If you can get past the name — which always makes me think of condoms — this thing is awesome. The ice cream is smooth and not too sweet, “made from an expert blend of coconut oil and pea protein.” (It tastes better than it sounds.) It’s described on their website as “velvety and fragrant Madagascan vanilla.” A little over-the-top, but what else would you expect from a company called Magnum?

The vegan milk chocolate shell is a high-quality Belgian chocolate, embedded with chopped, roasted almonds. Both the chocolate and the nuts are excellent. The only problem is that the chocolate shell tends to crack and fall apart when you bite into it — but that’s the case with any chocolate-dipped frozen treat. Keep a plate handy.

This is truly the best imitation of Häagen-Dazs, the holy grail of ice cream bars, that I’ve ever tasted. Just don’t confuse them with these.


Cado Non-Dairy Ice Cream


It seemed too weird not to try: ice cream made from avocados. I’ve had non-dairy ice creams made from almonds, cashews, coconuts… even peas and rice. Why not avocados?

When it comes to dairy-free ice cream, the flavor that’s hardest to do well is vanilla. It’s so basic you can’t fake it. So I went for the vanilla bean Cado, as a sort of litmus test.


It looked good. It had the right color and I could see the vanilla bean specks. Upon the first spoonful, I was impressed. I could taste the vanilla, and though a bit thin in texture and not very creamy, it was fairly smooth.

In retrospect, my initial positive reaction was probably due to the fact that I was picturing avocados in my mind, and this ice cream had no detectable resemblance to avocados. So, points for the food science.

But after a few more bites, I grew sick of Cado. The taste of vanilla wears off quickly, leaving you with the overwhelming taste of sugar. Halfway through this sundae, I had to stop. It felt like eating cotton candy.


Cado says it’s the first avocado-based, non-dairy ice cream. So perhaps the science will improve and produce better results in the future. For now, I’ll eat my avocados in guacamole and on toast — and stick with almonds and coconuts for ice cream.

Smoothie House Shave Ice in Taiwan


Although most of my food reviews are about Southern California, I have to tell you about something I ate while traveling in Taiwan: shave ice. I didn’t expect to find any desserts I liked, since many Taiwanese sweets I’ve tried in the U.S. contain red bean or taro, or are heavy on the peanuts and sesame seeds — unappealing to my American tastes.

I’ve never cared for shave ice, because the ones I had were like snowballs drizzled with syrup. But Taiwanese shave ice is totally different. For one thing, the ice is fluffier. It’s like the difference between skiing in New Hampshire and skiing in Colorado — ice versus powder. In fact, Taiwanese shave ice is often called “snow” or “snowflake” ice.

The second big difference is that Taiwanese ice is flavorful. It’s flavored even before it’s shaved — usually with fruit, but I also had a chocolate one that tasted just like ice cream.

And the third difference is that Taiwanese shave ice is piled with fresh fruit, not just syrup. Mango was the most popular choice, since it’s in season right now. But my favorite was the lychee snowflake ice with strawberry and raspberry at Smoothie House.

Right now, $250 NT is equal to about $8 US.

I’m usually a minimalist when it comes to food, easily overwhelmed when there’s a lot going on in a dish. But this shave ice was complicated and it all worked. The lychee base was already delicious on its own. The fresh strawberries and blueberries were a classic combo. Then there was raspberry-flavored jelly (which is like Jell-O) and a bowl of raspberry purée on the side.

Why on the side? So that as you eat down the layers of your shave ice, you can drizzle on additional purée. This is important because the shave ice in Taiwan is typically enormous, a good five or six inches in height.

Finally, just for decoration and delight, it was sprinkled with rose petals and gold leaf flakes, then topped with a pink macaron.


If you’re ever in Taipei, a shave ice at Smoothie House is a must. It was surprisingly hard to find dairy-free options in Taiwan; most boba shops use real milk, and coffee shops don’t usually offer almond, coconut, or soy milk. I found no dairy-free ice cream. But this shave ice is dairy-free and delicious. It’s meant to be shared, like a Vermonster at Ben & Jerry’s. It’s not just a dessert — it’s an event.

There are several Smoothie House locations in Taiwan. The one I went to was in the Da’an District of Taipei, a hip, upscale neighborhood that reminded me of Soho in New York. Despite the weather — 90 degrees and muggy, even at night — we enjoyed our shave ice at an outdoor table, people-watching and planning our next adventure.


When you get to the nearest metro station, you will see huge ads for Smoothie House plastered everywhere, including ones that claim “recommended by CNN.” Believe the hype.

SMOOTHIE HOUSE, No. 15 Yongkang St., Da’an District, Taipei City 10650, Taiwan



Bacio di Latte Gelato


This blog is about dairy-free eating, but every so often I come across a dairy-full food that’s so good it’s worth cheating on my diet for — like the peanut butter pie at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab in Las Vegas. This time it’s the vanilla & rose gelato at Bacio di Latte in the Century City mall.

I first wandered in looking for dairy-free sorbets. They do have quite a few, and they’re good. But when I saw the vanilla & rose gelato, I had to try it. The rosewater ice cream I once ate at Mashti Malone’s — a Persian ice cream shop in Hollywood — left a sweet memory.


Bacio di Latte is a clean, bright, inviting, and well-run ice cream parlor. My only pet peeve is their ordering system. You’re supposed to pay for your order before trying samples. Personally, I want to try flavors before deciding whether I want a cone or cup, how many scoops, etc. I did it my way and pissed off the staff.


Here’s a tip: Order a waffle cone rather than a cup. It costs the same, but you get more ice cream in the cone — a “cone scoop” is bigger than a “cup scoop.” Plus, the waffle cones are made fresh in-house and they’re delicious.


As you can see, the single scoop in a waffle cone is enormous. I ate every last bite, taking two Lactaid pills to be safe. The gelato was smooth, creamy, and delightfully rosy. What surprised me most was how it didn’t make me feel over-sugared the way many desserts do. It wasn’t until the last few bites of cone that I thought, “I need to stop eating this.” (By then it was too late!) I think this speaks to the freshness and quality of the ingredients.

True to form, I went back a few days later to chase the dragon. This time I got a cup: half vanilla & rose gelato, and half strawberry sorbet. The sorbet was fantastic — bursting with fresh strawberries, and creamy in texture even though dairy-free. It paired beautifully with the vanilla & rose.

Garnished with a rose petal.

There are many more flavors to choose from; the chocolate selection alone is mind-boggling. My husband is also a fan of the affogato — a scoop of gelato topped with a shot of espresso. Everything we’ve had there was top-notch. But the vanilla & rose is the stand-out. Try it and let me know what you think.


BACIO DI LATTE, Westfield Century City, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90067

The Bigg Chill Frozen Yogurt


As soon as my husband and I moved to West Los Angeles, we noticed a frozen yogurt shop in our neighborhood that was always busy — day and night, all year round. Even in the dead of winter (albeit L.A. winter), there was a line out the door. Adding to the mystery was that this shop, aptly named The Bigg Chill, seemed stuck in the ’80s — from the very fact of its serving froyo to its dated neon-and-pastel decor.

We went in a few times to check it out, but were deterred by the long wait and the dearth of dairy-free options. The Bigg Chill has only one dairy-free flavor at the time. I once sampled the honey cashew, made from almond milk, and it was just strange.

Then I tasted Wow Cow.


Wow Cow is not dairy-free, but it is low-lactose. And since my issue is lactose intolerance, I have no problem digesting it. Wow Cow is also fat free, low calorie, and cholesterol free — hard to believe when you find out how good it tastes.

When I visited last week, the Wow Cow flavor was vanilla, my absolute favorite kind of soft serve. The Wow Cow had a strong vanilla taste and a super-smooth consistency. It wasn’t as rich and dense as ice cream, but neither is regular frozen yogurt. Wow Cow — or as my husband mistakenly called it, “Magic Moo” — is an excellent substitute for the lactose-laden fat bomb that is soft serve.


So, after years of wondering what all the fuss was about, I finally get why The Bigg Chill is such a neighborhood favorite. They’ve got healthier versions of the ice cream we all love, a dizzying array of toppings (including nine kinds of vegan cookie dough), and a friendly, cozy vibe. The place is packed with regulars — moms and kids, high schoolers, sorority girls. Even if you don’t talk to anyone, you feel like you’re at a party.

As for the Miami Vice-like decor, it’s delightfully retro without trying to be — they just haven’t bothered to change it in twenty years. It’s like an ’80s time warp in there. When I walked in, they were playing Phil Collins. I don’t think it’s an accident that their logo looks like a Pac-Man.

By day…

By night…

Why do I have both daytime and nighttime pictures? Because after having a Wow Cow on Wednesday night, I went back the very next afternoon to get it again. (You know, for research.) I’m only half joking when I say that The Bigg Chill must be putting crack in their froyo. Which would be in keeping with the ’80s thing.

Their flavors change every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Check their website before going — and if they’ve got vanilla Wow Cow, hightail it over there.

UPDATE (10/22/19): I’m sad to report that the Bigg Chill no longer has Wow Cow. I’ve been checking their website periodically, and finally I stopped by and inquired about it. The guy behind the counter said, “They don’t make it anymore.” R.I.P. Wow Cow… I only had you twice, but I’ll miss you.

THE BIGG CHILL, 10850 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

So Delicious Dairy-Free Ice Cream Sandwiches


The ice cream sandwiches that I used to get from the Good Humor truck still hold a nostalgic place in my heart. They were simple: vanilla ice cream between two rectangular chocolate cookies. Years ago, when I was on a month-long meditation retreat, we went on a day trip into town (the only time we left the monastery) and were given one dollar to spend on whatever we wanted. Other people bought a pint of fresh strawberries or dental floss. I bought a Blue Bunny ice cream sandwich.

A dairy-free ice cream sandwich like the classic has been surprisingly hard to find. (Tofutti Cuties are the closest thing, though they’re soy-based and I can’t eat soy.) But now So Delicious has come out with a coconut-milk ice cream sandwich that is very close to the classic Good Humor or Blue Bunny one. It’s smaller — about half the size — but that’s a good thing!


Usually, I like my cookies crisp. But the cookies in those classic ice cream sandwiches were soft and moist, almost like cake, and their forgiving texture made them easy to eat. Have you ever tried to eat an ice cream sandwich that has hard cookies? When you bite down, the ice cream shoots out the sides. It’s frustrating and makes a mess.

The soft cookies, on the other hand, allow you to take a neat little bite.


As for the dairy-free ice cream in the middle, it’s the right texture, but the flavor of coconut is too strong to fool you into thinking it’s real vanilla ice cream. If you like coconuts, this won’t be a problem. If you don’t, beware.

I’ve just discovered on the So Delicious website that they make an almond-milk ice cream sandwich. I suspect I’d like this one better. As soon as I can find it, I’ll try it and post my review.