Sunday, 28 July 2013

Walnut Apricot Chip Ice Cream

I think I've found the perfect dairy-free ice cream base! I got the recipe from this website, and added my own extras. This ice cream is so rich and creamy! If you leave it out for a few minutes, it can even be scooped after being in the freezer! It's not like other dairy-free ice creams, which can be icy and watery, this is the full-on ice cream experience!

I first realized that walnuts, dried apricots and chocolate go well together when I was making chocolate chip oatmeal raisin cookies and realized that I didn't have any raisins or chocolate, so I used dried apricots and carob chips. Oh my, were they ever delicious! The flavours just work so well together! Needless to say, I ate way too much of that batch of cookies. :P

It was a little later that I thought to combine the walnuts and apricots with cocoa nibs instead of carob chips. And since I had ice cream on the brain, this ice cream recipe was born.

 For vegan ice cream, just substitute any liquid sweetener for the honey. If you can get turkish apricots, they are definitely worth the extra cost; they taste so much better! The walnuts can be raw, soaked and dehydrated, or toasted. Soaking nuts makes them healthier, so I soaked and lightly toasted mine. If you don't have/like cocoa nibs, carob chips would make a great substitution, just make sure they're homemade, the store bought ones are full of yucky hydrogenated oils and other icky stuff. One last note: the combination of the cashews and cocoa nibs are slightly reminiscent of mocha flavours. It's wierd that I enjoy that, since I hate coffee! But if you like mocha, that's just another plus to an already delicious ice cream!

Walnut Apricot Chip Ice Cream

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 dried turkish apricots, chopped
1/2 cocoa nibs
2 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1/4-1/2 cup honey (remember, freezing will make the ice cream less sweet, so use a little more than you think you need)
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

1. Blend the cashews, coconut milk, honey, vanilla and salt in a blender. Soaking the cashews beforehand in the coconut milk, or blending them into a powder first helps to make this mixture even smoother.
2. Blend for a minute or two, until completely smooth.
3. Taste and add more honey if needed. It should be sweeter than you want the final product to be.
4. Chill the mixture in the fridge for a few hours, the longer the better.
Straight from the ice cream maker
5. Pour into an ice cream maker and make ice cream according to your ice cream maker's instructions.
6. In the last 5 minutes or so, add the walnuts, apricots, and cocoa nibs, making sure the apricots pieces don't stick together.
7. Pour into a container and move to the freezer to freeze until solid (although it makes great soft-serve too!).
8. Take out of the freezer a few minutes before serving so it softens up a bit.
9. Scoop and enjoy!

As you can see, I garnished my ice cream with a sprig of tarragon. The flavour of tarragon works really well with this ice cream! If you want, I would highly recommend adding some fresh tarragon to the blender with the rest of the ice cream ingredients. Or make an ice cream sandwich with these cookies (or a healthier version of that idea). That would taste AMAZING!

Next I think I'll make either a nutella ice cream or a tahini one.

This post was shared at healthy vegan Fridays.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Foraging Mallow

I'm not an experienced forager, and I've never actually taken any classes or learned from an experienced forager. Everything I know about foraging I've learned off the internet. That's why I don't take any risks, such as picking wild mushrooms. I don't know enough to be sure that I won't be poisoned. I stick with plants that are common, easy to identify, and most importantly, don't have any poisonous look-alikes.

Which is why mallow is a great wild edible for beginners. It's super easy to find and identify, and it's a weeds, so it grows pretty much everywhere. You've probably seen it before; it grows quite prolifically along the sides of sidewalks. I find that it likes edges and corners the best, but again I don't have a whole lot of experience. It's highly unlikely that you'll find a single mallow plant growing alone; the usually grow in large clusters close to the ground. This is nice, because you only really need to find a few large mallow patches to harvest a decent amount. As far as I know, only the leaves are edible. It does have one really similar look-alike, but it's edible too, so it doesn't really matter.

It even grows in empty pots.

Mallow can be eaten raw, but it's a bit fuzzy, so I wouldn't recommend it. It can be cooked like any other green, in soups, casseroles, etc., but it's best to mix it with other greens. For more recipe ideas, check out this site. I'm not a huge fan of the taste, so I've decided to dry my mallow and turn it into a powder. Apparently this powder can be used to thicken soups. I've never heard of greens thickening soups, but it's definitely a healthier option than other thickeners, so why not try it out? It'll probably also be nice in smoothies, and much easier and faster than always washing and stemming your greens before blending them.

I don't have a dehydrator, so I sun-dried my mallow. To do this, first wash the leaves and spin them as dry as possible. Remove any stems. Spread the leaves out on a cookie sheet, on parchment paper if you don't want to clean the sheet. I like to put a wire cooling rack on top of leaves to keep them from blowing away in the wind. Leave this out in a sunny spot for a few hours, until dry. Obviously, the hotter, sunnier and dryer the day is, the faster the leaves will dry.

Powder the leaves by pounding with a mortar and pestle, grinding them in a coffee grinder, or by blending them  in either a food processor or blender. I think the coffee grinder would be the most effective.

You're going to end up with a lot less powder than fresh leaves, so pick a lot!

This is all I got from the entire pan, about 1/2 cup.

Happy foraging!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Foraging for Cattails

Pretty much every website that I've looked at regarding cattail pollen collecting says that the best time to collect the pollen is in spring. Well, it's July now, and the cattails have just started producing pollen. :P Obviously the people writing these websites live in a much warmer part of the world than I do.

Anyway, I collected a bunch of cattail pollen a few days ago, and I'm going to use it to make cattail-acorn bread later on, after my 1 month raw food trail run. Speaking of which, I'm finding it very hard to enjoy my salads when my family is eating BBQ chicken legs right in front of me. I've decided that I love chicken and I really wish the farm I buy meat from didn't charge so much for them and have them available so infrequently.

But back to cattails. Cattails are a great thing to forage, since they have something to offer all year round, and they provide lots of different edible parts. You can eat the flower spike, the roots, rhizomes, the heart of the leaves, and the pollen. And apparently the mature brown part can be used as tinder for fire and the leaves can be used for weaving. Cattails also produce more starch per acre than any other crop. However, the only thing I was collecting was the pollen. I might try collecting the flower stalks next year, and maybe some rhizomes, but the roots apparently help to stabilize river banks and stop erosion, and they also filter toxins from the environment, so if I do decide to collect some roots, I'll be careful not to collect very many.

 So to collect cattail pollen, obviously you need to find some cattails, the more the better. I found this field beside one of the biking/walking trails in the middle of the city. Go figure. If you're not lucky enough to find a big field of them, you can still probably find some cattails growing in ditches. I collected pollen from the cattails growing in the ditches around my house in addition to what I found in this field.

You'll want to look for these; cattail flower stalks full of pollen. When you find one, carefully bend the stalk so the flower head is upside-down, then shake the pollen into a bag. 

 If you manage to find a bunch of stalks as heavy with
pollen as this one, you should be able to fill your bag in no time!
The pollen can replace some of the flour in baked goods. Happy foraging!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Magenta Dream Salad

A delicious kale salad, plus an orange segmenting tutorial!

This is one of my all-time favourite salads (although I love all salads with fruit, avocado and nuts). It's sweet, slightly creamy, fresh, crunchy, contains jicama, and is an absolutely gorgeous shade of pink!

This also contains kale, which we should all know by know is a powerhouse of vegetable nutrition, and also tastes great in salads after a good massage.

This is my first dinner in my month-long raw food experiment, and it was delicious! I did have to eat about half of it before I was full, but I didn't mind one bit! I know tahini isn't raw (unless you specifically buy raw tahini), but I'm going to allow myself a few small cheats, as long as they're only condiments and I don't have them too often, or too much of them at once.

First of all, if you don't know how to segment an orange, here's how:
first, slice off the top an bottom

then cut off the rind with a knife, cutting in a bit of a curve to
get all the pith

your orange should know look like this

cut the orange out from between the membrane

 I usually like to cut the orange segments in half so more bites have orange in them, but this is optional.

Magenta Dream Salad


2 bunches kale, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 medium-smallish beets, grated
1/2 small jicama, cut however you want (I can never figure out the best way to cut jicama for salad, so just do whatever you think is best. I cut it into flat squares)
use about this much ginger, or more
3 oranges, 1 zested
1 tsp grated ginger
1 avocado, thinly sliced, slices cut into quarters, the riper it is the creamier the salad will be
2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
pepper, to taste
1 tsp honey, optional
2 Tbsp tahini
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (toast them if you're not eating raw)


1. Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, tahnini, salt, pepper, honey (if using), ginger, and orange zest.
2. Put the kale in a bowl or on a large cutting board. Pour the dressing over it.
3. Cut the segments out of the oranges over the kale, so the juice falls on it. Once all the segments are cut, squeeze the remaining pulpy stuff so the juice falls on the kale, then discard.
4. Using your hands, squeeze the kale and mix it up with dressing; "massage" it.
5. Toss the kale with the fennel, beets, jicama, orange segments, and walnuts.
6. Eat it right away, or allow to marinate for stronger flavours and softer kale. Kale salads keep well without turning limp and soggy like lettuce salads.
7. Enjoy!

before tossing
after tossing

This post has been shared with Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Guacamole Zucchini Noodles

The main reason I bought a mandoline was to make zucchini noodles. And I have to say, they are amazing! They taste great, and they have that noodle-y feel, and they're healthy! What's not to love? Spiralizers and julienne peelers also work, but I wanted a multi-purpose tool. Too bad it's extremely dull and can't cut much. Oh well. I guess that's what I get for buying the cheapest mandoline available. Makes great zoodles, though.

I wanted to keep these raw for the health benefits. I also thought a creamy sauce would taste much better than a tomato-based one, and wouldn't be as watery. I've eaten spaghetti squash with tomato sauce, and trust me, it isn't good. So I just tossed the noodles with some leftover guacamole and served it with tomatoes and leftover pork for a delicious and super-quick dinner. The creaminess of the guacamole, the fresh, sweet, and acidic flavour of the tomatoes, and the rich, crispy, salty meatiness of the pork went wonderfully together to create this delicious dish!

If you want to make this dish raw and/or vegan, just leave out the pork, it'll still be good!

Zucchini Noodles with Guacamole

makes 1 serving


3 very small zucchini, cut into noodles
1/2 avocado
lime juice, to taste
salt, to taste
1 tomato, cut into thin wedges
cooked pork meat, preferably fatty and crispy, chopped and heated


1. Mash the avocado with a fork or puree in a food processor, for a creamier sauce.
2. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Mix it all together.
3. Toss the zucchini noodles with the guacamole.
4. Garnish with the tomato and top with the pork.
5. Enjoy!