It has been a very exciting journey to the publication of my cookbook! I will be updating my cookbook page with more information very soon. The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread is completely gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and free of many other allergens. It’s filled with yeast-based and quick breads, muffins, and more. I’ll update with more info soon.
The second book in the series is focused on cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and bars. If you’re interested in being a tester, please contact me and we’ll make it happen!
In the meantime, summer weather is still here and I’m keen to deliver some recipes I wrote in the St. Catharines Standard earlier this summer.
July’s here… and you know what that means: cooling off with favourite frozen desserts to celebrate National Ice Cream Month.
Although the words “ice cream” aren’t exactly synonymous with “vegan,” let me assure you — some of the best ones are without animal ingredients, and are homemade, too.
If you take a moment to read the labels of conventional brands, you might realize, well, it isn’t food at all. Instead, it’s a mix of chemicals and “natural and artificial flavours” that taste all right, without really satisfying your craving.
Take the classic ice cream sandwich for example. A rich chocolatey crust, enveloping a creamy vanilla centre. Delicious, right? Too bad the filling is actually a mixture of various sugars, five stabilizers, “modified milk” and “artificial flavour.” And the cake? A mishmash of sugars, some hydrogenated oil and refined flour. Fudge pops, too, house the same frankenfood ingredients — high fructose corn syrup, plenty of stabilizers, sugar (and its aliases) and hydrogenated oils. And sherbet shines bright as a sugar bomb: regardless of its low-fat demeanor, it contains 20 grams of sugar in just 1/2 cup.
Now, before you stash your ice cream scoop in the back of the drawer, let me assure you, there are plenty of better brands available in the grocer’s freezer. But (there’s always a but!) we live among a bounty of local fruit, so why not take advantage of our local farm-fresh goodness and whip up a batch of your own? You’ll get that unbeatable homemade taste, and know exactly what’s in it.
In other words, let’s replace these cholesterol, sugar, and fat-laden ingredients with better options.
The Dairy: there are a multitude of nondairy milks that are creamy and rich, perfect for making ice “cream.” I prefer coconut and almond milks, both naturally sweet with a thicker texture. Canned coconut milk delivers a creamier and richer consistency; coconut milk in the carton, as well as almond milk, are still delightfully creamy, though not quite as rich. I don’t recommend soymilk or rice milk; soy has a slight aftertaste, while rice milk is generally too thin.
The Sugar: The natural sweetness of fruit at its peak can’t be beat, and agave nectar and dates are used to add a little extra oomph. Agave nectar is a low-glycemic sweetener that is 100% fructose (the same found naturally in fruits), and tastes sweeter than cane sugar, so you can use less. All-natural dates are super sweet, as well as high in fibre, low in fat, cholesterol and sodium, and contain more potassium than a banana.
The Flavour: Local cherries, blueberries and strawberries are antioxidant and fibre-filled powerhouses, adding to our daily fruit needs with many nutrients to boot. As well, cherries and blueberries contain anthocyanins, which may reduce inflammation, blueberries are the No. 1 contender for antioxidant- rich foods, and strawberries have 136% of your daily needs of vitamin C in just one cup (340 ml)!
The Texture: Homemade ice creams generally use eggs as a stabilizer, and commercial brands use various additives, mostly gums and gelatin — usually at least five in total. My ice “cream” recipe uses a cornstarch slurry for smoothness and scoopability.
The moral of this ice cream education? No matter how you scoop it, ice cream is the perfect summer treat. We love it, in spite of its inevitable headaches and sticky fingers, because of its pure, unadulterated bliss.
Vegan Chocolate Cherry Fudge Pops
Starting with a pudding base, these rich fudge pops shine with a chocolate-cherry combination that everyone is sure to love. You can buy molds for under $2 at the grocery store.
2 cups nondairy milk (coconut is great for this one!)
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
About 1/2 cup pitted, chopped cherries
Whisk the nondairy milk, agave nectar and vanilla extract together in a medium saucepan. Add the cornstarch and cocoa powder; whisk until smooth.
Bring to a boil on medium heat, then reduce to a simmer, whisking often, for two minutes, until thickened. Stir in the cherries. Let cool 10 minutes, then pour into the ice pop mold. Chill completely, at least overnight. To serve, run hot water on the side of the mold to loosen.
Makes about 3 3/4 cups (930 ml), enough for eight pops in my mold.
Wild Blueberry Soft-Serve Vegan Sherbet
Wild blueberries have a deeper flavour and sweetness than the regular version, and are perfect in this sorbet, free of refined sugar. Adjust the amount of dates to sweeten to your taste, depending on the ripeness of the blueberries.
1/2 to 3/4 cup pitted honey dates, packed
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups wild blueberries (if you’ve frozen yours, that is fine)
2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
Place the dates in the bowl of a food processor. Let soak 15 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
Refrigerate until chilled, at least one hour. Transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Serve immediately. (If you freeze the remainder, let it sit at room temperature for about 15 to 30 minutes before serving).
Makes four to six servings.
Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches with Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream
Wedged between two crusty-cake-like slabs, a creamy, strawberry ice cream is the perfect complement to a chocolatey crust.
For the Chocolate Cake:
3 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (flaxmeal)
7 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar, such as Sucanat
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons sorghum flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Strawberry Ice Cream (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 10×15-inch baking sheet. Line with parchment paper, letting it overhang on the two smaller sides, then grease the parchment.
Mix the water and flaxmeal. Let stand until thickened, about five minutes. Add the oil, sugar and vanilla and whisk until smooth and cohesive.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, sorghum flour, arrowroot starch, xanthan gum, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture. Stir until smooth.
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cake is dry. Cool completely in the pan.
Using the overhang, carefully transfer the cake to a cutting board. Cut in half width-wise with a serrated knife. Transfer half, topside down, to a piece of plastic wrap.
Spread the ice “cream” evenly. Top with remaining cake. Place it back into the baking sheet and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the freezer until firm, at least three hours.
To serve, remove from the freezer, unwrap, and cut into eight rectangles with a serrated knife. Serve immediately or wrap individually.
For the Strawberry Ice Cream:
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled (about 20 medium strawberries)
2/3 cup agave nectar, divided
1 can full-fat coconut milk
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, divided
Pinch sea salt
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the strawberries and 1/3 cup of the agave in a food processor. Process until slight chunky. Put the remaining agave, coconut milk, 1/2 cup almond milk and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium until it starts to steam.
Meanwhile, whisk the remaining almond milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth. Whisk it into the saucepan and cook on medium, whisking frequently, until thickened, about five minutes. Reduce to very low and continue to cook for five minutes. Remove from heat and scrape mixture into a bowl.
Stir in the strawberry mixture. Let come to room temperature then cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight. Transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Place in the freezer for an additional 1/2 hour before using for the recipe above.
Makes eight sandwiches.