Developing Just Desserts

Hemp gelato satisfies your sweet tooth, diet and social conscience

October 18, 2011

Give up ice cream? That wasn’t a possibility for 45-year-old Asher Radkowsky, whose sweet tooth rebelled when he tried to quit cones for good. But the vegetarian was troubled by the treatment of commercial dairy cows, so he decided he had to concoct a frozen dessert that would be good for him — and the world. There was just one problem: The D.C. native was a psychologist with zero culinary training.

In the summer of 2007, Radkowsky bought an ice cream maker online and began experimenting. “I had a number of bad ideas at first,” he admits. But a friend of his had a good one: hemp milk. Although he’d heard health foodies discuss hemp before, Radkowsky was dubious about whether it had any actual benefits. “I just thought they were potheads trying to sound legitimate,” he says.

It turns out that hemp has just miniscule amounts of THC — not enough to get a buzz or fail a drug test. But hemp seeds are loaded with manganese, riboflavin, omega-3, protein and fiber. When these seeds are ground up in water, they produce a milk. To sweeten the mix, Radkowsky used low-glycemic agave syrup. He discovered the results were pretty dope.

For the next three years, Radkowsky spent all his spare time in his cramped U Street studio apartment kitchen tinkering with his recipes until he settled on four flavors: chocolate; chocolate raspberry; chocolate mint; and Gianduja, a chocolate-hazelnut combo. All are 190 calories per serving (except Gianduja, which has 220).

His “Zendulgence” pints ($7 each) finally hit freezers at the end of last year and are available at five area stores. But Radkowsky has high hopes for expanding the treat’s availability.

Where to Buy: Yes! Organic Market (2123 14th St. NW); Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op (201 Ethan Allen Ave., Takoma Park, Md.; and 8309 Grubb Road, Silver Spring); Roots Market (5805 Clarksville Square Drive, Clarksville, Md.; and 16800 Georgia Ave., Olney, Md.)

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