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This was my first foray into the realm of ice cream making,  and all I can say is that I wish I’d invested in an ice cream maker and tried this sooner!   No preservatives, no stabilizers, no artificial colors or flavors, no gums or thickeners darkened this doorway.   A handful of wholesome ingredients, including some gorgeous seasonal figs,  was simply transformed into an amazing summertime treat that bests any commercially-made vegan ice cream I’ve tried.

Caramelized Fig and Tree Nut Ice Cream

[Makes 1 pint]

Ingredients:

2 cups full fat coconut milk [I use AROY-D because it is preservative and BPA-free.]

1/3 cup organic dark brown sugar, packed

1 T coconut or macadamia nut oil [I used macadamia nut because of its rich and buttery flavor.]

4 figs, diced

½- ¾ cup nuts [I used macadamia nuts and cashews]

1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Heat oil over medium heat and add in brown sugar.  Once the sugar has melted add the diced figs and a pinch of salt.  Cook for a few minutes until soft and bubbly.  Slowly add the coconut milk and vanilla extract.   Stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Transfer the mixture to a container and place in the refrigerator to chill.

While the ice cream mix is chilling preheat the oven to 400°F.  Place the nuts on a cookie sheet and roast for 10 minutes or until they begin to turn golden.  Set aside.  [Transfer the nuts from the cookie sheet to a cool container so that they do not continue to cook and burn on the hot cookie sheet.]

Once the ice cream mix has chilled, add to your ice cream maker and follow your manufacturer’s instructions.  Once the ice cream is semi-solid, add in the roasted nuts and continue to freeze until it sets up.

Serve immediately as soft serve or place in a container in the freezer to harden further.

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Lime Rice

This is a simple and delicious rice dish that’ll become a favorite.  It has wonderful flavors and a variety of textures that keeps it interesting until the last bite.  It also just happens to contain some ingredients that are powerful antioxidants/anti-inflammatories such as turmeric, chile peppers, and ginger.

 

Lime Rice

[Serves 4]

Ingredients:

1 cup brown basmati rice

⅓ cup raw cashews

¼ cup yellow split peas

2 spring onions, sliced

1 T fresh ginger, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 T unsweetened dried shredded coconut

½ tsp turmeric

Juice and zest of one lime

1 dried chile [I used a Chile de árbol]

2 tsp coconut oil

Directions:

Rinse rice and split peas under running water in a colander.  Drain well and transfer to a heated pot on the stove over medium high heat.  Add the chile pepper.  Stir frequently until the rice begins to dry and pop.  Add water to cover by a couple of inches.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Drain in a colander.  Reserve the chile pepper.

Return the pot to the stove and add the coconut oil.  Sauté the onions, ginger, garlic and finely diced reserved chile pepper for a couple of minutes.  Add the turmeric, dried coconut and lime zest.  Add the cooked rice and peas, cashews and lime juice.  Stir until the rice is well coated.

Creamy Balsamic Calzones

This dish was an awesome pairing of two of our favorite seasonal offerings:  asparagus and morel mushrooms.  I’ve found that roasting [rather than steaming] asparagus takes this already sublime stalk to its ultimate level of tastiness as those natural sugars caramelize and the tips slightly crisp.  I figured that if I then smothered that roasted asparagus in some earthy mushrooms, cooked in a tartly sweet and creamy balsamic sauce, and then further wrapped it all up into a calzone that had been spread with a lemony cashew “cheese”, it might just delight H.  Phew…what a mouthful; and it was!  I was right, but I had a pretty good hunch going in that this would be a winner.

This recipe yielded 4 calzones.

 

Creamy Balsamic Morels

Ingredients:

½ cup diced shallot

2 large cloves garlic, minced

2 oz mushrooms, diced [I used morels; you could use whichever mushroom you enjoy most.]

1 T olive oil

2 T balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup plain non-dairy yogurt [I used So Delicious Plain Coconut Yogurt]

Directions:

Add olive oil to a pan over medium heat.  Sauté the shallots and garlic until translucent.  Add the morels and sauté until softened.  Add the balsamic vinegar and cook until the mushrooms have absorbed the liquid.  Add the yogurt and mix well.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Lemony Cashew “Cheese”

Ingredients:

½ cup cashews, soaked for one hour

1 tsp lemon zest

1 T lemon juice

Directions:

Drain the cashews and place in a food processor.  Add the lemon zest and juice.  Pulse until a paste forms.

12 roasted asparagus spears [Toss in olive oil and roast at 450°F until they start to caramelize ~10-15 mins.]

One large pizza dough at room temperature [I buy this at my local grocery; your local pizzeria would probably sell you a ball of pizza dough]

***

Assembling the Calzone:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. [Also preheat your pizza stone or sheet pan.]

Divide the dough into 4 portions.  Stretch each into a small pizza-sized round.  Add ¼ of the cashew cheese to ½ of each round.  Lay 3 spears of asparagus [trimmed to fit] atop the cashew cheese.  Add ¼ of the creamy balsamic mushrooms.  Fold the top of the pizza round over the bottom and seal the edges by crimping and rolling over as you make your way around the semi-circle [as you would a pie crust].  Using a knife make a couple of vent holes on the top to allow steam to release as they cook.  You can also brush the surface with some olive oil.

Place upon a pre-heated pizza stone or sheet pan.  Bake until golden.

Stir-Fried Yuba with Okra

It’s nearly summertime and the farmer’s markets are beginning to burst at the seams with produce! Use whatever vegetables you have on hand in this. Aside from the gorgeous okra I picked up, I added some crisp bell pepper, carrots and green cabbage to give this stir-fry some color and wonderful texture.

Okra and Yuba Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

2 cups dried yuba bowtie knots, rehydrated in warm water

2 cups okra, sliced lengthwise

2 carrots, sliced into coins

1 green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/4 head cabbage, cut into a large dice

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1/4 cup sake

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup ponzu sauce, without bonito [could substitute soy sauce or tamari]

1 tsp roasted sesame oil

1 tsp garlic chili paste

cornstarch, divided  [Mix 1 T in 1/2 cup cold water to thicken the sauce.  You shall also need some to dredge the yuba in.]

ground ginger

coconut oil

Directions:

Spoon a little bit of coconut oil into a pan and heat to medium-high.  Drain yuba in a colander and pat dry.  Toss with a small handful of cornstarch seasoned with a bit of ground ginger. Allow excess cornstarch to fall off and add to the hot pan,  Cook until the edges have crisped.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add another drizzle of oil to the pan, if needed, and stir fry all vegetables except the cabbage.  When the vegetables begin to cook yet are still crisp add in the cabbage.  Stir fry for a few minutes longer then add vegetables to the bowl with the yuba.  Add all the sauce ingredients except the cornstarch to the pan and bring to a simmer.  Add cornstarch a bit at a time until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Return yuba and vegetables to the pan and mix well to coat with sauce.  Serve over steaming brown rice.

The New Black

…is an ancient black.  Forbidden rice not only has all the nutritional goodness you find in brown rice such as a high fiber content and B vitamins, it’s also packed full of anthocyanins.  Bite per bite the rice contains more of these antioxidant flavonoid pigments than blueberries.  It’s satisfyingly chewy in texture like my beloved short-grained brown rice and tastes wonderful.  We have rice or grain bowls for meals on a regular basis and usually steam some kale and another vegetable [carrots in this example] and then add a wonderfully flavorful sauce to the mix.  Bowls also make fantastically easy and filling lunchbox meals.  Here is a quick and tasty gingered carrot sauce that’ll flavor up any bowl or steamed vegetable.

 

 

Gingered Carrot Sauce

Ingredients:

16 oz carrot juice

2 T sake

1 T light miso

½ tsp sesame oil

1 tsp chili garlic sauce

2 tsp freshly minced ginger

1 T cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup cold water

Directions:

Reduce the carrot juice by half over medium heat.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.  Add the cornstarch slurry a tablespoon at a time, allowing the sauce to come to a simmer in between additions until you achieve the consistency you desire [1 T of the slurry was perfect for me].

Kale Chips

Kale chips have been the rage recently and with good reason.  Compared to the potato chip, kale chips knock the spud flat when it comes to nutritional value.  Dress them up with some healthy olive oil and sprinkle with protein-rich nutritional yeast and you have a brilliant snack!  I like to marinate mine overnight prior to baking so that they are exceptionally crispy and satisfy that potato chip craving completely because the olive oil has time to permeate the kale.

Kale Chips

Ingredients:

1 bunch green kale

2 T olive oil

1 T apple cider vinegar

nutritional yeast

garlic powder

Directions:

Cut kale into potato chip-sized pieces and put into a gallon-sized ziplock bag.  Add the olive oil and apple cider vinegar.  Close the bag while deflating it of excess air.  Massage the kale with the olive oil and vinegar until it is well dressed.  Place in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the kale onto cookie sheets, making sure to leave space around the pieces so that you do not steam, but rather roast them.  Sprinkle with a desired amount of nutritional yeast and garlic powder.

Bake for ~20 minutes or until crispy.  Enjoy fresh out of the oven while they are still warm and crunchy!

Cauliflower melds really well with briny Mediterranean foods like olives and capers.  Making this chunky-style pasta topper is a great way to integrate another cruciferous vegetable into your diet.    I like to serve it over olive oil-dressed spaghetti squash.

Oh and…save those tender outer green leaves that cradle the caulifower!  They’re full of great phytonutrients because they, unlike the cauliflower, were exposed to the sun while the plant grew.  Use them in your salad or garnish the plate with them for a little nibble on the side.  [Ever wonder why cauliflower is white?  No need to produce pigment-rich anti-oxidants if you’re already protected from the elements!]

 

Spicy Cauliflower with Olives

Ingredients:

1 small head cauliflower [@ 3.5 cups florets]

1 large onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1-28oz can chopped tomatoes

½ cup capers, rinsed

~24 black olives [Whichever kind you prefer, I used Botija olives because I had them on hand.]

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 T dried oregano

2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp dried red pepper flakes

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 dried Turkish bay leaves

2 cups water or vegetable stock

sea salt

freshly-cracked black pepper

olive oil, for sautéing the vegetables

Directions:

Sauté the onions, bell pepper, garlic, oregano, thyme, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes over medium heat in a drizzle of olive oil until the vegetables have softened.

Add the cauliflower florets, tomatoes, capers, olives, bay leaves and water.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is tender and the water volume has reduced by at least half.  Season with salt and pepper.