After Gina Klafeta’s niece was diagnosed with a nut allergy, the culinary school graduate was determined to create an ice cream that omits the eight major allergens: gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. Unwavering in her commitment, Klafeta spent the entire summer in her kitchen studying the composition of ice cream.
After experimenting with natural thickening agents like flax and avocado, Klafeta discovered that frozen banana best mimics the consistency of its dairy counterpart, and the allergy-friendly, non-dairy, vegan ice cream – “Nana Creme” – was born.
Nana Creme’s 13 flavors – ranging from cookie dough to strawberry to banana cinnamon crumb cake – are made in small batches of two to three gallons in their Chicago facility. Each pint is hand-packed, and all of the thickly cut mix-ins –chewy brownies, cookie dough and sugar cookies – are made from scratch.
“Many companies cut costs by using artificial flavoring or syrups in their fruit ice cream flavors,” Klafeta says. “We think real ingredients always taste better, and there is NO other option. We use real strawberries [in our strawberry ice cream] and cook them down into a homemade jam in order to get that concentrated strawberry flavor. This is why customers refer to Nana Creme’s strawberry as the best strawberry ice cream out there, dairy or not!”
Although Nana Creme was designed for those with restricted or alternative diets, it’s creamy consistency and natural, easy-to-pronounce ingredients attract health-conscious ice cream lovers. The base is composed of five simple, plant-based ingredients: water, lemon juice, safflower oil, cane sugar and banana. Although banana plays an important role in the product– it’s thickening properties eliminate the need to use xanthan or guar gums – it’s presence is barely detectable, “We use just enough banana to act as a natural thickener and emulsifier, but not enough to give an overwhelming taste of banana in the product,” Klafeta says.
Nana Creme will be available in retailers throughout the entire Midwest this summer. Until then, keep an eye out for a new line of ice cream cakes and sandwiches, which will be shipped nationwide in 2016. Browse Nana Creme’s current selection online and follow their story on the Modern Midwest Instagram.