Friday, 13 September 2013

Nutella Triple-Swirl Ice Cream

Wow, I haven't posted for a long time! I guess I've just been so busy with school starting again. Maybe it's a bit late in the year for ice cream... nah, it's never to late for ice cream! Just before school started I had an ice cream party with all my friends. It was a lot of fun, plus I love showing off my new recipes! This is my first one, and it's the simplest (yes, really!). The other ones I made were "Sultan's Treasure" (tahini with dried fruit and other things) and another one that I don't have a name for. It's maple-bacon-pecan-brownie-sour apple-coconut swirl. If anyone has any suggestions on what to call it, I'd love to hear them!

I don't have a recipe for the nutella or hazelnut butter, since a quick google search will give you more recipes than you could ever need. I suggest making the hazelnut butter first, removing some of it and using the rest for the nutella. You can easily switch honey for the sugar and coconut milk for dairy milk in any recipe you find. This is not a quick recipe; none of them are, but this is the easiest of the three. (hey, sometimes great things require effort!)

So this is delicious and you should go make it now (seriously, it's like eating a bowl of cold, creamy nutella. How could that not be delicoius?).

Nutella Triple Swirl Ice Cream


4 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
8 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups sucanat
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups homemade nutella
1 cup salted, roasted hazelnut butter (optional: slightly sweetened)
Chocolate Swirl:
3 squares unsweetened bakers chocolate
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp honey

1. Melt all the chocolate swirl ingredients in a small pot on the stove top. While making the rest of the ice cream, let this mixture cool so it's still pourable but not hot enough to melt the ice cream.
2. Whisk  the cocoa powder with 1 cup of the coconut milk in a medium pot over medium heat to combine. Add the rest of the coconut milk and mix. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat.
3. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks until the colour turns lighter. Slowly add the sugar while whisking.
4. Add the cocoa-coconut milk mixture into the eggs very gradually so they don't curdle. Add small amounts at a time.
5. Pour this mixture back into the pot and put over a low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until it thickens and reaches 170-175 degrees F.
6. Pour the ice cream into a bowl and let it cool at room temperature for 1/2 hour. Stir in the vanilla extract. Put the ice cream in the fridge until it's cool enough not to form condensation on a lid, then cover with a lid. Chill for at least 4 hours, until it reaches 40 degrees F or less.
7. Pour into and ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions.
8. Pour the ice cream into a container, alternating layers with the nutella, hazelnut butter, and chocolate. Try to pour the chocolate in thin strips. Swirl everything together with a knife.
9. Freeze until hard. When you serve it, make sure to take it out at least 30 minutes before serving (it takes a while to soften).

Saturday, 24 August 2013

A True Garden Salad

You know those salads normally called "garden" salads? The ones they sell at the grocery store made of limp iceberg lettuce, anemic tomatoes grown halfway around the world or in Florida by slaves (really! read the book Tomatoland), cucumbers, and maybe some chunks of dry carrots? Why are they allowed to call these "garden" salads? Nothing comes from a garden! It's blasphemy, I say! Okay, not really, but it annoys me. And carrots in salads should never be in chunks, they should always be shredded. Except for chopped salad. But never in normal green salads. Never.

Make a real garden salad. It tastes better and is healthier too. By "real" I mean actually from a garden, either yours or a friend's. Although it's always very satisfying to eat something you've grown.

A real garden salad doesn't need cucumbers, tomato, carrot, or even lettuce. To qualify as a garden salad, you just need garden vegetables! This is even better, because you can change your salads with the seasons instead of eating the same boring one throughout the year. In the spring, you could have a salad made of young and tender dark, leafy greens, radishes, herbs, steamed asparagus, and snow/snap/steamed green peas. Summer salads can have tons of different things, like lettuce, hearty greens (thinly sliced), tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, kohlrabi, zucchini, stone fruit, cherries, berries, melon, early carrots, etc! A really delicious salad is lettuce topped with grilled eggplant, peppers, onion, and chicken thighs. Personally, my favourite produce season is fall. You can make kale salads with shredded beets, carrots and apples, fall spinach salads with roasted squash and fried onions, coleslaw, kale salad with shredded cabbage and carrots; so many things! It's easy to tell I like vegetables :).

So yeah, just pick what ya got, chop, toss, dress, and eat! The dressing's a freebie, it doesn't need to be grown by you. (Although if you can grow and make your own olive oil and have a lemon tree, then I am very jealous!)

The stuff I'm currently getting from my garden includes: lettuce, kale, swiss chard, beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes (my first few, I planted them late), quinoa leaves, and herbs. Beans were out for my salad, as were the kale and swiss chard, since I like saving those for cooking or just-kale salads (as in, no lettuce), so that left me with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, radishes, quinoa leaves, and herbs for my garden salad. Herbs make salads taste great.

The cherry tomatoes are so tiny, aren't they cute? :D

 I used basil for my fresh herb, and I also decided to throw some dandelion leaves into my salad because it was on my lawn, it's super healthy, and it adds a nice bitterness. So not really from a garden, but seeing as my lawn's only a few feet away, I figure it's close enough :).

A delicious and beautiful salad perfect for lunch at the beach!

Watermelon radishes and edible flowers make salads beautiful. The violas pictured are definitely edible, although I'm not so sure about the arugula, mustard, and broccoli flowers also pictured. They didn't kill me though, so they must be safe. I didn't have enough violas since the ones I planted in the front are dying a horrible death, although the ones that have popped up in the grass in my backyard seem to be doing wonderful :P.

Just dress with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and serve with some grilled meat for the perfect summer lunch! It's just so wonderful to be able to eat and enjoy something you've grown yourself. It's good for the soul :).

Tomorrow I'm heading off to math camp, so I won't be posting for a few days, but as soon as I get back I'll start making ice cream!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Tarragon Pesto

Summer's almost over! :'( It seems as though every year, summer just passes me by without being able to fully enjoy it. I've been to the farmer's market twice, and I've also only been to the beach twice. Twice! This entire summer! I also haven't gotten around to collecting any dock or cattail roots. I will, however, have an ice cream party at the beginning of September (when my whole30 is over). I've been enjoying summer fruit, but only from the grocery store. Today it was 31 degrees, and I was working so I couldn't enjoy the heat. It was so hot, my swiss chard was wilting in the garden. At least tomorrow's also supposed to be warm, and I'm not working, so maybe I'll be able to go to the beach!

Yes, this beautiful cherry tomato did come from my garden :)

The inspiration for this recipe comes from my massive tarragon plant. Pesto is the best way to use up large amounts of herbs, plus it just tastes delicious. This goes best with fish, but would probably also work with chicken, eggs, asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini pasta, etc. Or eat it with all those things together. Mmmm, that sounds good!

I can't seem to find the paper that I wrote the recipe for this on (my guess is my brother threw it away. Nothing is safe from the garbage with him around :P), so I'm going by memory. Just taste as you go, that's what I always do anyway. Feel free to add some parsley or substitute parsley for some of the tarragon. It'll make a less tarragon-y pesto.

Tarragon Pesto

1 1/2 cups fresh tarragon
1/2 cup spinach (or more, for a milder taste)
juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsley chopped
1 Tbsp mustard
1 tsp fennel seeds
12 olives, or equivalent amount of capers
1/2 cup almonds
3/4 cup olive oil, or as needed
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Put all the ingredients, except for 1/2 cup of the olive oil in a food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped.
2. Slowly pour in the remaining olive oil until the desired consistency is reached.
3. That's it!

Garden update: my peas are all drying up, probably just because their life span is over. I'll wait till they're dry to harvest the seeds. My beans are growing, but not too crazy. Soon I'll be able to harvest more chard, kale, and broccoli (can't wait for the broccoli!). The seed pods on my arugula and mustard are getting plump, and the lettuce and spinach that I recently planted are sprouting. A few tomatoes and cucumbers are growing, and I have tiny peppers! My parsley may actually grow something yet, and the stevia's doing great. The basil's growing, the quinoa's growing, and so are the carrots and beets, though they'll be a fall harvest. My radishes might almost be ready, although I don't have much faith in them. Lastly, I'm really anxious to see if my calendula and nasturtiums will bloom (a very late planting, I know)! So that's my garden. Ice cream recipes will be posted in the next two weeks.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Tahini Grapefruit Salad

Okay, so you've probably seen some variation of this idea before, with the grapefruit, avocado and almonds, but that's because it's such a great combination, with the crunchy/nutty almonds, bitter/sour/juicy grapefruit, and smooth/creamy avocado. It has so many complementary flavours, and it's so nice and refreshing! You could even eat it for dessert, if you add oranges and maybe honey-roast the almonds and don't mind eating salad for dessert. But who says lettuce can't be sweet? In Asia they eat beans for dessert.

Anyway, this recipe is different. Well, slightly different. But the addition of herbs, coriander, fennel, and especially tahini really makes this salad extra special.

Any tender lettuce is good, and romaine is great in this salad. I used lettuce from my garden, a mixture of cos and green leafy lettuce. Mint is the recommended fresh herb, but I have a monster tarragon plant in the front, so that's what I used. Cilantro also works if you're one of those fortunate people who enjoy the taste. I happen to be one of those people who got the genetic short end of the stick and can't stand it. These herbs work best, but I think that almost any tender fresh herbs would work. Also, make sure to save the fennel fronds!

And some of this
I used some of this

Tahini Grapefruit Salad


about 1/2 head lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 grapefruit
handful of chopped almonds
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, fronds chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or tarragon
juice of half a lime
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
water, as necessary, to thin
optional: sliced cucumber, sliced sugar snap peas


1. Whisk together the lime juice, tahini, olive oil, coriander, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly add water until you achieve your desired consistency. If should be fairly thick, but still pour-able.
2. Segment the grapefruit over your dressing bowl, so the juice falls into the dressing. Whisk the juice into the dressing.
3. Combine the lettuce, grapefruit segment, avocado slices, fennel, cucumber, sugar snap peas, and mint in a large bowl.
4. Pour the dressing over the salad; you may have a bit extra. Save for use as a sauce in other recipes. Toss to coat.
5. Sprinkle with almonds and fennel fronds.
6. Enjoy!

Variation: Leave out mint, fennel, and coriander. Use romaine as your lettuce and use lemon juice instead of lime. Add 1 tsp of za'atar to the dressing.

Serve with grilled chicken or fish for a meal, or enjoy as a lovely spring/summer side dish.

I will make ice cream, just as soon as I get some eggs, and post the recipe (sorry, this one won't be vegan, but it will be dairy-free!).

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!