Did you know that yesterday was national ice cream day? Ronald Reagan apparently gave this distinction to the the third Sunday in July, so I figured it was time to make ice cream…

cococinn1

I love ice cream as much as the next person, and I’ve gotten delicious results when making it with fresh raw (or at least organic and not ultra-pasteurized) cream and milk, organic sugar and free-range eggs. This is a fabulous treat that isn’t harmful to the body when eaten occasionally, but it’s not exactly health-promoting.

I’ve never attempted to make a dairy, egg, and sugar-free version of ice cream before yesterday because frankly, I doubted it would be worth eating. But then I saw the photos of the 100% raw ice creams made with blended soaked cashews and young coconut meat in Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis.

These looked so good that I decided to give my own coconut milk version a try. While I do sometimes buy the young Thai coconuts at my local natural foods store and deal with the struggle that is opening them, I generally find it is way easier to just open a can of organic coconut milk. Not exactly the same and not raw, but still quite healthy. So I used the recipe in Living Raw Food for inspiration, but my recipe isn’t raw.

A word about coconut milk
: despite the fact that it gets tons of good press in the alternative health community, many people continue to be wary of including coconut oil/coconut milk in their diet. Yes coconut milk is high in fat, but it’s a special type of fat known as medium chain triglycerides, and these are easily metabolized by the body. Studies show that coconut oil can actually promote weight loss, and it helps the body ward off all different sorts of infections, as well (it is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal; for more information about the health benefits, see organic coconut oil.)

If you want to, you can use coconut milk for all of the liquid in the recipe. I didn’t, because I was just a bit afraid of it being “too coconutty”. So I added in some vanilla hemp milk. Hemp milk is my favorite store-bought non-dairy milk. I don’t love it in hot drinks, but it works very well in smoothies, over cereal, etc. (Packaged hemp milk isn’t raw, but if you want a recipe for a raw version, there is one in Sarma’s book). I also think you could substitute another strained nut milk for the hemp milk (from almonds, for example).

For making ice cream, I use the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment. I like it, but the ice cream never really freezes; it comes out with more of a soft ice cream texture. So I usually spread the soft ice cream into a shallow baking dish and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes before scooping and serving, and this works quite well.

This coconut cinnamon ice cream recipe went over well with “my tasters”, both kids and adults. I chose cinnamon because I figured it would go nicely with the coconut but would not preclude adding toppings (see my cherry and almond extravaganza below). The nice thing about this recipe is how easy it is to change- I suggest that as you add the ingredients to your blender, you mix, taste, tailor it, mix again, taste again, etc. You might enjoy it with more vanilla, less cinnamon, a little less or more salt, a little less sweetener, a different sweetener (I think maple syrup would be good)… So add small amounts of the flavorings and taste as you go (remember that you can always add flavors, but once they are added, you can’t take them away).

Recipe for Vegan Coconut Cinnamon Ice Cream

Ingredients:

*1 can organic whole coconut milk
*1 cup vanilla hemp milk (I used Living Harvest brand)
*1/2 cup pure maple syrup (organic raw agave syrup)
*2 teaspoon cinnamon
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt or sea salt

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Pour into ice cream maker and chill according to the manufacturer's instructions.

cinncoco3jpg

I for one am no longer afraid of vegan ice cream (yay for coconut milk!) and I am definitely going to play around with different versions in the future.

If you are interested in the exclusively raw ice cream recipe, click here for info about how to enter my Living Raw Foods giveaway – you might win a copy of the book!

This fresh and flavorful Asian cabbage salad is a nice variation on coleslaw.

asian cabbage slaw

If you have a food processor, it is very easy to make up a big batch of this cabbage salad with cilantro and toasted almonds. It’s perfect as a summer side dish and it keeps very well, so it makes a nice healthy snack recipe. It’s also a great dish to serve at a barbeque or bring to a potluck.

Any kind of cabbage works in this salad; I used 1 whole head of green Savoy cabbage, but you could also use standard green or red cabbage, or Napa cabbage.

growing cilantro

Cilantro is one of my favorite herbs, and because I use it so much, I like growing cilantro in my garden. If you’d like to do the same, keep in mind that cilantro doesn’t like it when it’s very warm out (it bolts/goes to seed from the heat).

One way to deal with this is to grow it in a location that stays cooler/gets some shade; I put my seeds in near my tomato plants, so by the time it is summer and it’s hot and sunny, the tomatoes shade the cilantro and it does just fine.

Recipe for Cabbage Salad With Cilantro and Toasted Almonds

Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 head of organic cabbage, outer leaves and core removed, and shredded in a food processor or by hand
3 carrots, peeled and shredded with the cabbage, or by hand
*1 cups organic cilantro, shredded in a food processor with the cabbage, or finely chopped
*1 cup almonds, toasted in a 325 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes, and then chopped
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
*2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
*1-2 tablespoons lime juice
*1 teaspoons honey or pure maple syrup- optional
*1 tablespoon tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
*Himalayan or sea salt to taste

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

WHB3-1This is my Weekend Herb Blogging entry. Weekend Herb Blogging is managed by Haalo from Cook Almost Anything, and Lynne from Cafe Lynnylu is this week’s host!

Here is a super easy pickles recipe featuring organic seasonal ingredients.

smallerdillpickles713

The cucumbers and the dill in this pickled cukes and garlic scapes recipe came from my garden, and I picked up the garlic scapes at my local farmer’s market (next year I’ll grow my own).

cukes713

If you aren’t already acquainted with garlic scapes, they are the funky curly green tops that grow out of garlic bulbs. I add them to stir-fries and use them to make pesto, and I also enjoy them in lacto-fermented pickles.

garlicscapes713

If you didn’t catch my recent post about making sauerkraut, you might not know what lacto-fermentation is (or that I am kind of obsessed with the process).

If you aren’t familiar with it, lacto-fermentation is the act of creating a lactic-acid rich environment that enables the natural preservation of certain foods. Lacto-fermentation also makes these foods more nutritious (it increases their vitamin content) and more digestible (it fosters the growth of natural probiotics). Lacto-fermenting is also referred to as “culturing” foods.

I first learned how to make lacto-fermented vegetables from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

Three of my other favorite references on this subject are Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection, Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, and Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation.

Vegetables are easily lacto-fermented/cultured by mixing them with a salt water solution and allowing them to sit in an air-tight container (a glass mason jar works well) at room temperature for several days before moving them to the refrigerator.

cukesandscapes713

This is how foods like traditional pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi came to be, and while I sometimes do purchase store-bought versions of these foods, I very much enjoy keeping the lacto-fermentation tradition alive in my kitchen.

Recipe for Pickled Cukes and Garlic Scapes

I like simple dill pickles without additional spices, but you could add a few teaspoons of picking spices, if you like. You could also add 1 tablespoon of mustard seeds (the original recipe from Nourishing Traditions actually calls for this).

Ingredients:

*4-5 kirby or other type of pickling cucumbers
*5 garlic scapes
*3 tablespoons snipped fresh dill
*1 tablespoon Himalayan or sea salt
*1 cup filtered water
*very clean 1 qt. wide-mouth mason jar with screw-top lid (run through the dishwasher before using to ensure it is sterilized)

Directions:

1. Wash the cucumbers. Snip off the very ends and slice them lengthwise. Cut off the tops and bottoms of the garlic scapes and then cut them into pieces several inches long.

2. Place cucumbers and garlic scapes into a 1 qt. wide-mouth mason jar. Mix salt and water in a small bowl and pour into the jar. Add additional water so that the vegetables are completely covered and the liquid is about 1 inch below the top of the jar. Screw the top on the jar tightly and allow to sit at room temperature for three days.

3. After this time, go ahead and open the jar. The liquid should be pretty fizzy, which means the lacto-fermentation was successful. If there is any type of "off smell", discard and start again (I'm mentioning this as a caution, but also want to mention that I have been lacto-fermenting for years, and I have never had anything go wrong).

4. Go ahead and taste a pickle. The cucumbers should have a nice garlicky tang from the scapes, and they should be pleasantly "dilly". You can eat the pickled garlic scapes too, of course, but they are strong.

5. Once opened, move your jar to the refrigerator for storage. Lacto-fermentation will continue in the colder temperature, but at a much slower rate, and the garlic scapes should mellow a bit over time.