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“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

 

* Or, Dream a Little Dream of Rich, Creamy, Delectable Frozen Desserts

[Dried Apricot Pistachio Ice Dream]

When I was contacted about a month ago to see if I’d be interested in examining a review copy of the upcoming The Ice Dream Cookbook by Chef Rachel Albert-Matesz, I have to admit I was a bit hesitant at first.  Despite my weak-kneed response to most sweets, I’ve never been terribly smitten with frozen desserts, though I do enjoy a scoop or two every summer (and used to LOVE those chocolate-dipped soft-serve cones we get here from the ice-cream truck that jingles along the streets in summertime). 

Then I found out that Rachel is a natural foods chef whose recipes are very much in line with my own and the NAG diet.  When I asked whether there were enough vegan recipes for me to try, she responded that virtually all the recipes in the book were already vegan or easily adaptable.  In addition, all were gluten free and naturally sweetened. Well, how could I resist?

The Ice Dream Cookbook is actually Albert-Matesz’s second book, on the heels of The Garden of Eating: A Produce-Dominated Diet and Cookbook (2004), which won both the USA Book News for “Best Cookbook 2004” and the Glyph Award for “Best Cookbook” 2005. She’s also written for the likes of Natural Home, Living Without, Yoga Journal, Oxygen Women’s Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, Veggie Life, Vegetarian Times, Vegetarian Journal, and  Macrobiotics Today, among others.  Both a cooking class instructor and a faculty member at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, Arizona, she also hosts a healthy food segment on the show “Your LIfe A to Z” in Phoenix.  Clearly, this woman has had quite a bit of experience developing recipes, so I had very high expectations for the ice dream creations in her book.  I’m happy to report that they didn’t disappoint.

The book is more than just a collection of recipes, however.  Starting with the introduction in which Albert-Matesz outlines her path toward healthy cooking and how she came to write a frozen dessert cookbook, The Ice Dream Cookbook offers a wealth of information for anyone who’s interested in making frozen desserts–or any desserts, really.  Chapter One (“Essential Ingredients and Shopping Tips”) outlines the dangers of sugar and (for some) gluten as well as other questionable foods, along with an exhaustive glossary of preferred ingredients and shopping tips.  In Chapter Two, she describes the equipment you’ll need to make your own ice dream, from the many varieties of ice cream maker (electric or manual), right down to the bowls and knives that are best. The following chapter covers techniques for measuring and mixing to ensure your success when you whip up the frozen desserts.  From there, it’s on to the multitude of flavors–and recipes!

Starting with basic varieties such as vanilla, chocolate or cinnamon ice dream, the book then moves on to more exotic fare such as Avocado, Macaroon Madness, Lemon Cookie Crumble, Green Tea, Chunky Chestnut, Carob Banana, or Mango Orange flavors, among others.  I couldn’t resist trying one from almost every section (and it was a difficult choice, indeed).  The book wraps up with three additional chapters, with recipes for accompaniments to your ice dream: Sauces, A La Mode (pies, tarts, etc.) and Additional Indulgences (cookies for ice dream sandwiches and other confections). 

Overall, I was immensely impressed with the book and really enjoyed whipping up the frozen treats.  Because I use a Donvier hand-cranked (non-electric) ice cream maker, my only frustration was having to re-freeze the ice cream container between batches!  With all these recipes for amazing desserts, who wants to wait 24 hours before trying out another flavor?

Read on to see what I tried* (and for a sample recipe!): 

Dried Apricot Pistachio Ice Dream

This was the first recipe I attempted, and I was amazed at how soft and scoop-able the dessert was, even days after being placed in the freezer.  In this case, I used the lowest proportion of sweetener suggested in the recipe (a range is given), and while we certainly enjoyed the result, I think I’d opt for more sweetener next time (the recipes all include some stevia–I assume to reduce the amount of agave or honey–so I might just play with using all-agave instead of the stevia next time).  The combination of tangy apricot and chewy pistachio is brilliant here.

Avocado Ice Dream

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I love avocado (and even devoted an entire Lucky Comestible series to it!), so I found this recipe irresistible.  The avocado lends a creaminess and silkiness to the dessert, and with the combination of chocolate chunks (one of the variations provided), it’s truly addictive.  This one didn’t last long!

Cocoa Ice Dream (with candied ginger)

Not wanting to neglect the “basic” flavors, I chose (of course) chocolate.  This recipe is made with cocoa (there’s another made with dark chocolate) and was just delicious.  By this time, I was feeling pretty confident, so just threw in my own addition of chopped candied ginger, for a truly winning combination. 

Graham Crackers

Given my limited experience with gluten-free flours, I thought it would be fun to try out one of the baking recipes in the book.  These crackers were easy to prepare and baked up beautifully.  Mine came out a little too crispy to eat on their own, so I’m wondering if I overbaked them (the recipe does caution against letting them crisp too much in the oven).  The flavor was lovely, though–just like “regular” graham crackers.  And they’d be perfect for an ice dream sandwich, in which they’d absorb some of the moisture from the filling without becoming mushy.

Banana Daiquiri Ice Dream

This last recipe was hands down our favorite here at the DDD household–even The Girls got a teeny lick off my fingers (“Thanks, Mum!  Say, is there any more of that stuff around?”). The combination of creamy coconut milk, smooth and velvety bananas and tart lime was incomparable.  And with banana and a dash of rum in the mix, the dessert never freezes to the point of solid, so it’s soft and easy to scoop no matter how long it’s stored.  Which was a good thing, because we scooped aplenty.

Rachel was kind enough to provide the recipe for this lovely treat, so you can help yourselves to a sample dessert from the book as well. 

What a fabulous way to cap off the summer!

  The Ice Dream Cookbook is available through Rachel’s blog.

Banana Daiquiri Ice Dream

© Copyright 2008 Rachel Albert-Matesz , The Ice Dream Cookbook (www.TheHealthyCookingCoach.com)

Hands On: 30 minutes / Churning: 20 to 25 minutes / Yield: 4 to 5 1/2 cups; 8 servings

Here’s a grown up version of banana ice cream that I almost left out of the book. Don and I weren’t impressed with it, but we didn’t want to toss it.  So I gave it to a few friends. They raved about it. In fact, two little boys wouldn’t let their parents have any of it. Banana lovers, judge for yourself. If you don’t like liqueur, try the variation with rum flavoring or try the Roasted Banana Ice Dream.

Note: If using bottled lime juice, taste it before you use it. If left to sit too long in the refrigerator, lime juice (as well as lemon juice) can develop a strong bitter flavor.

Garnish with coarsely chopped macadamia nuts and fresh or frozen (but thawed) sweet cherries or the Cherry Sauce.    

Ingredients:

1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)

1/2 to 1 teaspoon lime zest (finely grated lime peel; colored part only)

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin or agar agar powder (not the flakes)

3 tablespoons honey or agavé nectar; additional 2 tablespoons as needed

1/8 teaspoon finely ground, unrefined sea salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon clear stevia extract liquid (start with less; add more only if needed)

2 cups unsweetened, preservative-free coconut milk (regular not lite), mixed well before measuring

2 cups packed ripe bananas, sliced (2 large, or 3 to 4 medium)

2 tablespoons coconut rum or dark rum or 1 teaspoon natural rum flavoring

1/4 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts for garnish, optional 

1. Grate the zest from the limes using a microplane or the small holes of a cheese grater. Set aside.

2. Juice the limes and add to a small saucepan. Slowly sprinkle with gelatin or agar agar powder. Let stand for 2 minutes until it softens and dry spots disappear. Warm over medium-low heat, without stirring, until gelatin or agar agar dissolves. Scrape the mixture into a blender, Vita-Mix, or food processor. Cover and process until smooth.

3. Add the honey or agavé, sea salt, and stevia. Blend. Add the coconut milk, banana, lime zest, and rum, or rum flavoring. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape the sides with a spatula. For a sweeter taste add an additional 1/8 teaspoon stevia and/or 1 tablesppon honey. Blend, taste, and repeate if needed.

4. Pour into one or more wide mouth jars.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before churning. 

5. Scrape the chilled custard into the canister of your ice cream maker.  Churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

6. Serve immediately, or spoon into several 8- to 16- ounce freezer-safe containers. Cover and freeze for 3 or more hours for a firmer texture.

7. Soften solidly frozen dessert in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes before serving [note: I found this step wasn’t necessary with this particular recipe]. 

1 serving (regular): 234 calories, 2.5 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrate, 56 grams fat, milligrams sodium

1 serving (half lite): 299 calories, 2 grams protein, 24 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams fat, 47 milligrams sodium

Variations:

Lite Banana Daiquiri Ice Dream: Replace half of the coconut milk with lite (reduced fat) coconut milk. Alternatively, use 100% lite coconut milk, but plan to use the batch immediately or within 24 hours before it becomes hard and icy. 

Strawberry Daiquiri Ice Dream: Replace bananas with fresh or frozen (but thawed), unsweetened strawberries and their juices. Adjust the sweetness with 1 or 2 more more tablespoons honey or agavé nectar as needed.

 

 

* For those who might be wondering, yes, I tried all these sweets before I started my current ACD!

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DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

I can hardly believe that my Grain Drain detox week is already at an end (that, and the fact I’ve posted a measly TWO food-related blog entries about it!). 

The dearth of recipes this past week was due, in part, to an incredibly hectic schedule–there was a multitude of student assignments to mark (strange how the mountain of marking on my desk seemed to keep growing of its own accord, like a bizarre form of paper parthenogenesis or something); an unexpected, last-minute baking order to fill (birthday cakes are fun, but they do take time); and my regular monthly book club a couple of nights ago (lovely, as always–such a pleasure to chat with the gals–but turns out we were all a bit disappointed with Trillin’s tribute to his wife, tender as it was.)  

Another reason for the paltry recipe output has been my own shift in appetite during the past week.  Even though I consumed three squares and several snacks a day, I was drawn to old, familiar dishes for the most part, and felt no impetus to experiment in the kitchen.  Whether this change in attitude is connected to the cleanse or not, I have no idea.  I did, however, cook up one or two worthwhile grain-free dishes, so I will definitely share those in drops and dollops over the next while.

Some of you have asked how I felt during the cleanse.  Overall, it was a success.  There were some expected–and some highly unexpected–results.

As with any cleanse, I went through a bit of a detox reaction for the first couple of days, though nothing as dramatic as my first healing crisis a decade ago.  I felt fatigued, a bit lethargic, and experienced a few mild cravings for the first day.  Then, somehow, the toggle switch governing consumption was flicked and I was able to spend the rest of the week happily ingesting only those healthy foods I’d selected for the cleanse:  fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans/legumes (or pulses, depending on your geographical location). 

In general, my diet consisted of the following types of foods: for breakfast, I might have fresh fruit and nut butter (or nuts and seeds), alternating with freshly squeezed vegetable juice or a smoothie (and the occasional Earth Bowl).  Lunches consisted of salad with more nuts/seeds if I felt hungry; snacks were fruits and vegetables or some kind of raw bar or nibble; and dinner was typically a cooked dish with vegetables and/or nuts or legumes.  I kept the meals relatively simple–perhaps my body was telling me I needed simplicity in at least one area of my life this week!

By day three, I was feeling lighter and more energetic.  Congested sinuses–a constant companion for as long as I can remember–cleared considerably, and I was able to breathe clearly for the first time in months.  (That outcome alone has got me wondering whether I’m harboring undiagnosed allergies to grains.)

Now, for the unexpected.  I must admit I was entirely amazed at how easy the process felt (and if you’ve read my blog before, you know that avoiding chocolate and sweets is generally anything but easy for me).  After the first few cravings, I was able to virtually forget about chocolate and simply eat good, hearty, nourishing foods.  At the same time, my portion size seemed to shrink all on its own volition, almost without help from me.  I feel certain I’ve lost some weight, if only a milligram (will report on the Progress Tracker at the end of the course). 

I did experience a couple of odd detox reactions, however.  According to Paul Pritchard (as well as many other holistic practitioners) in Healing with Whole Foods, the liver is the seat of anger in the body.  In other words, mess with the liver and you might just stir up some pretty unattractive emotions.  Well, I’m here to report that yes, the theory happens to be true!  As my liver was flushed of toxins, my emotional fuse shrank along with the portion sizes and I’m afraid I snapped at the poor HH on more than one occasion (The Girls, of course, were left unscathed).  Now I understand why people run off to spas to detox–at least they won’t take out their burbling anger on their families that way!

It appears that another odd effect of eating healthfully–and I’m loathe to admit this–is that my sense of humor has temporarily gone MIA.  (I know, I know; that sounds too much like the stereotypcal “grunchy granola,” dour and pasty-faced, terribly gaunt and proselytizing vegetarian that carnivores envision when they hear the word, “vegan.” Well, lucky for me, I’ll never be accused of that transgression–no one in their right mind would ever call me “gaunt”!).  I’m not quite sure where it’s hiding, but the rapier wit seems to have departed with the chocolate this past week (oh, please, please do NOT tell me there’s a correlation between the two, that one relies on the other to exist.  A choice between humor, or chocolate?  That would be a choice as agonizing as Sophie’s.)

In any case, to acknowledge my “graduation” from the cleanse, I prepared one very special raw dessert: Raw Milky Way Bars.  I first spied these on Terilyn’s The Daily Raw Café about a month ago and immediately knew I’d have to try them. They seemed the perfect finale to a great week of healthy eating–a little decadent, but still rife with wholesome raw nuts, dates, and natural sweeteners. 

And they were, indeed, thoroughly enjoyable, though I’d add a little caveat if you plan to try them.  While the flavors were astonishingly good (and very close to what I recall as the original mix of flavors in the candy bar), the chocolate coating firms up only when fully frozen–and begins to thaw immediately upon removal from the freezer (or, perhaps, this was simply a function of our humid, 31C–about 88F–temperature here today).  No problem there, as long as you eat the bars straight from the freezer. 

However, if you (as I do) prefer the nougat and caramel at room temperature, you’re out of luck; you’ll end up with a cube of yummy nougat dripping with slick, sticky chocolately coating.  In fact, I found the nougat filling, a mix of powdered nuts and agave nectar, to be so enticing on its own that I plan to use it as a filling in regular chocolates, made with a bittersweet chocolate coating.  But that’s for another day.

In the meantime, I thought I’d close with a play on the “graduation” theme and join in the fun prom meme introduced by Alicia at Grumpy Chair Dieter.  She suggests that we all pull out our prom photos and post them. 

 Well, unfortunately, I couldn’t find my prom photo (aww, gee, and I so wanted to share it!). Instead, I managed to suss out this ancient photo (taken before the advent of digital cameras–gasp!) from my “Sweet 16” party (hmm, now I wish I had found the prom photo. . . ). 

Yes, that is I, braces and all.  Dig that dress! Dig that hair!  Perhaps most shocking of all–I considered myself “obese” at the time.  These days, I’d be thrilled if my thighs were as small as my waist was then.  Thanks, Grumpy Chair, for prompting me to browse through those old photos and get some perspective!

Have a good weekend, all. And now, I’m off to go eat some grains!

Raw Milky Way Bars (from The Daily Raw Café)

 Reminiscent of the chocolate candy bar of the same name, these are actually pretty good for you.  I made 1/3 recipe (I was afraid I’d eat them all otherwise), and it worked out just fine. 

Nougat Filling:

1 cup (250 ml.) raw almonds, unsoaked (dry)

1 cup (250 ml.) raw cashews, unsoaked (dry)

3 Tbsp. (45 ml.) agave nectar

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) water, or more if needed

Caramel Topping:

1 cup (250 ml.) dry unsweetened dates

1/4 cup (60 ml.) pure maple syrup

juice of half a lemon

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) coconut oil

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 cup (250 ml.) water (I used much less–it would have been watery otherwise)

“Milk” Chocolate Coating

1 cup (250 ml.) pure cocoa powder

1 cup (250 ml.) pure maple syrup

1/2 cup (125 ml.) coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup (60 ml.) water

Soak the dates in the water and lemon juice for an hour.  Drain and reserve soaking liquid. Meanwhile, make the nougat.

Nougat: In a coffee grinder, grind the cashews in small batches into a fine powder. Remove. Process the almonds the same way.

Place the nut powders in a large bowl. Add the agave and water, and mix with your (clean) hands until the mixture is thick and paste-like.  (Fun to lick it off your fingers, too!)

Place a piece of plastic wrap on a cutting board.  Form the nougat into a long rectangular bar on top of the plastic wrap.  Place the board in the freezer for an hour.

Caramel: To make the caramel, process the soaked dates, coconut oil and sea salt in a blender. Use the soaking liquid, one tablespoon at a time, to soften the mixture as you blend.  Blend until you achieve a thick creamy mixture.

Spread the caramel in a long strip on top of the nougat (use a knife or offset spatula to spread it evenly across the top of the rectangle). Return to the freezer while you prepare the chocolate.

Chocolate: In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, maple syrup, and coconut oil together until smooth and creamy.  

Pour the chocolate over the candy pieces and freeze an additional hour or until the chocolate sets.  Use any extra chocolate to drizzle patterns over the tops of the bars.  Yields 15-20 small bars.