you say soft serve, i say … creemee?

You say soft drink, I say soda. (Just please don’t call it pop.) You say soft serve, I say creemee. Tomayto—tomahto. Potayto—potahto.

Philly cheese steak, Cincinnati chili, Chicago-style pizza, New York-style hot dog, New Orleans beignets, New England clam chowder (NOT to be confused with Manhattan clam chowder), Maine lobster rolls…. Seems like most cities, states, and regions have some kind of dish they claim as their own.

What about the great little state of Vermont, where I grew up?

I have to say, “where I grew up” because I wasn’t born there, so I can’t claim to be Vermonter—even though I moved there when I was 2 years old and stayed there until I was done with college!

Bitter much? Why yes, yes I am. But what can you say about a state that puts “New Hampshire woman dies” on an obituary for someone who died at the age of 90+ having moved to Vermont when she was 2 months old?

Yes, I’m bitter … and I’d still move back there in a heartbeat.

what’s vermont known for?

Vermont is known for its maple syrup—and Canada and Michigan would dispute who makes the best.

There’s Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar—and, dear Midwest, here’s a newsflash for you: real cheddar is yellow, not orange.

Of course, there’s Ben + Jerry’s—and if the pandemic ever ends, you must go and take a factory tour, where in addition to getting a tour and a taste, you’ll learn astonishing facts about how many pints employees are allowed to take home and how the tasters get special employee benefits in terms of gym memberships.

However, it’s a well-known (locally, anyway) secret that what really makes it summer in Vermont is the opening of the local creemee stand.

That’s right—it’s not called soft-serve: it’s a creemee, and no, autocorrect, do not try to change that spelling. We may not be far from French-speaking Canada, but it’s definitely NOT crème.

nice cream

Alas, these days, dairy and sugar are on the “do not eat” list for many of us—honestly, I’m not sure how much real dairy is in a creemee, but I’m sure there’s a ton of sugar and a lot of artificial ingredients. (If you’re interested in giving up dairy, sugar, meat, gluten—or any other food you suspect might be problematic for you, check out the Simply: Health Coaching podcast, episodes 17–18 and 20–23.)

What to do? “Nice Cream” to the rescue!

If you’ve been following my blog or podcast for a while, you know how I feel about substituting highly-processed food products for whole foods, such as fake meat for the real thing.

And hear me out: “Nice Cream” is made at home from scratch using whole, close-to-the-source ingredients, contains no dairy or added, refined sugar—and it actually tastes the same (perhaps better?) than a creemee.

Added bonus: it’s a great way to use up overripe bananas. (In my house, that means the banana has one tiny brown spot….) When I was baking a lot, I would toss the whole, unpeeled bananas in the freezer because they just slip out of their skins when thawed. If you want to make this even easier, peel the bananas and cut into 1–2” chunks before freezing.

Yeah, okay, you probably can’t get the chocolate vanilla swirl effect, and still–totally worth it!

Here’s the basic recipe—as usual, with my recipes, please use it as a formula and experiment away!

chocolate creemees

Makes 2–3 servings


  • 2 frozen bananas, peeled and cut into chunks (do not thaw!)
  • 2 T cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1–2 T liquid (See t!ps + tr!cks, below.)


  1. Place all the ingredients except the liquid in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
  2. Pulse until bananas are coarsely chopped.
  3. Turn the processor on and process until smooth.
  4. Add the liquid in a thin stream until you have the consistency you like.
  5. Spoon into individual dishes and serve or freeze for later. (See t!ps + tr!cks, below.)

t!ps + tr!cks

  • If you are going to eat the creemees right away, you can get a creamier texture using milk—dairy or alternative; otherwise, you can use water.
  • If you plan to freeze the creemees for adults to eat later, the secret is to use vodka because it won’t let the mixture freeze solid.
  • If you’re freezing it for kids, use milk or water and make it into “fudgesicles” using a popsicle mold or small paper cups (waxed are best) with a popsicle stick frozen in the center.


  • Try adding your favorite mix-ins: chocolate chips, nuts, fresh or dried fruit….
  • You can make the recipe using other frozen fruit—and I’ve found that it’s still good to use bananas for at least ½ the base. My favorite is a mix of frozen bananas and cherries.
  • You can omit the cocoa powder if you’re okay with a somewhat uninspiring color.

make the connection

It’s a holiday weekend—want to treat yourself to some “forbidden” foods at a (socially distant) barbecue? Go ahead! Just remember to enjoy them in moderation, not guilt yourself afterward, and go back to making the better choices the next day.

Or try out this recipe and let me know what you think in the comments below! You may not even miss the ice cream.

[Photo by Alisha Mishra from Pexels]