Nice Cream, You Scream, We all Scream for Dairy-Free Ice Cream!
It's been about a decade since I cut dairy from my diet completely. I wish I could say it was for the cows, who I have always felt such love and esteem for, but it was my own selfish digestion that caused that particular dietary change. I have always been lactose intolerant, but in my early-mid twenties, something shifted and milk no longer just gave me discomfort, it began making me violently ill. It was super fun times- not.
Since then, I've spent many moons learning to replace dairy in my diet, and ice cream was definitely on the short list of Things I Need Dairy-Free Versions Of. Over the years, I've met many people who share my dairy discomfort, as well as many vegans who have an ethical repulsion for dairy. Whatever the path, if you find yourself seeking dairy free ice cream options- you are in luck!
Head to the Store
Most grocery stores (even in areas that don't seem "vegan-friendly") have a few dairy-free options. Peta Kids has this great list of common brands that you can find in the grocery store. If you have more options, there are all kinds of ice creams available commercially that are smaller batch. My personal favorite is Nada Moo, which isn't as widely available (I can't get it in my small town), as it's the creamiest. I DID recently find the new Non-Dairy Ben and Jerry's options and they did not disappoint. The peanut butter cookies and cream is my favorite, ideally mixed with the coffee and caramel one. The options in the store these days not only have the non-dairy goodness, but they also come with rice, almond, coconut, or cashew base, so there really is something for everyone. You can also often find vegan sorbets, like Haagan Daz mango or raspberry sorbet.
Make Your Own
My husband and I are both allergic to dairy, so when we got an ice cream maker for our wedding, we were thrilled to try out making our own ice cream! It took a while to get the hang of it though, and we had many flops. Finally, my friend Tara gave me a foolproof recipe:
1 can coconut milk (full fat)
1 small can coconut cream (or just the cream from a second can of full fat coconut milk)
Then you add sweeteners/flavors/add ins of choice.
I like maple syrup, vanilla, and crushed up Newman's O's for a cookies and cream that is perfection.
Really, the possibilities are endless: You can use various extracts or fruit or nuts for whatever flavor you can imagine!
For a Cashew Coconut Blend, you can try the ice cream I used for my birthday ice cream cake. It was so creamy and delicious!
Nice Cream is a term used primarily for blended up frozen bananas and/or other frozen fruit. You can use a quality blender, food processor, a machine specifically designed for it like "YoNanas" or similar, or in my case you can use a Champion Juicer like our Rainbow Sherbet recipe.
There's a million ways to make this, just blending up frozen bananas and other fruit (bananas aren't essential, but make it creamy and sweet naturally). You may need to add a tiny bit of juice or non-dairy milk to blend it, but if you add too much you get a smoothie- so beware. My favorites are banana peach, banana mango, or banana blueberry. You can also blend in peanut butter, cocoa powder, or matcha powder for peanut butter, chocolate, or green tea ice cream.
Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce: This was a huge hit at an ice cream demo my daughter and I taught last night. It's simply 2 parts Brown Rice Syrup and one part creamy peanut butter. It is gooey, sweet, and caramely good. Stir both ingredients together and try not to just eat it all with a spoon. It's nice on top of our ice cream or swirled in.
DIY Magic Shell in either chocolate, green tea, or peanut butter flavor: Mix some warmed coconut oil (just warm enough to be liquid) with either cocoa powder, matcha powder, or powdered peanut butter and then add some maple syrup to taste. It should be like a nice thick syrup consistency, but then when you pour over your ice cream it will harden.
Sprinkles: Let's Do Organic makes great vegan sprinkles that are fun for baking and for topping sundaes
Healthy Toppings: Fun health food toppings like cacao nibs, hemp seeds, chia seeds, goji berries, and nuts give the look and whimsy of a classic sundae and give great nutrients as well!
If these aren't enough, check out this list compiled by Buzzfeed:
29 Amazing Vegan Ice Cream Recipes
The other day, I was at the grocery store reading labels on hummus when my daughter asked, "What are those funny looking cupcakes?" Cupcakes? By the hummus? I looked to where she was pointing, and it was deviled eggs. They ARE kind of cupcake looking, and they are a classic favorite of springtime- from Easter picnics to family brunches. So, what do I do? I make them vegan, of course!
I don't eat eggs anymore, though, and I DO eat another round and delicious food- potatoes! As if potatoes weren't already the greatest thing ever, deviling them makes them pretty, delicious, and gives you a healthy analogue for an animal product.
Classic Deviled Potatoes
12 (or more in case you have some mishaps, I always make extra) baby potatoes
1/3 cup Moong Dal (link below to buy online, also found in Indian markets)
2 generous Tbs vegan mayonnaise (my favorite is Vegenaise, or make your own)
pinch Kala Namak (link below to order online, also found in Indian markets)
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1-2 Tbsp sweet pickle relish and paprika
Begin by cooking your potatoes and lentils. For the potatoes, I use my mother-in-law's trick for making boiled eggs; I cover them by at least a 1/2 inch water, add some salt, and bring to a boil. Once they are boiling, put the lid on and turn off the stove.
You are going to leave them like that for about 15-20 minutes, until they are easy to handle, so now you can make your dal. I thought I would get creative and try to make mine in the rice cooker, and it took three tries... I don't recommend it. Instead, make them on the stovetop by adding dal and about 1 cup water and bring to low boil, turning heat down once they are going. Cook until the lentils are soft. You should have about 2/3 of a cup of cooked lentils.
You want them not too soupy, so if they there is still a lot of water, drain them carefully.
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and scoop out the centers. They are delicate and you may break some. I find that a small melon baller gives me the best chances, and I didn't break any this time, but I usually do, and that's why I always make more potatoes than I plan to stuff. I can always find uses for pre-boiled potatoes in my house if I have extras. Put the scooped out centers into a bowl or the food processor. I wanted a creamy texture, so I used the food processor. Sometimes I like them lumpy, because I'm weird, so I smash them with a spoon. This is your kitchen and your rules- so do it your way.
After they are all scooped, do not skip this step: lightly salt your shells! Sometimes I tell myself that the filling is so flavorful that this is a useless step, and I always regret it. Just do it.
Now add your cooked dal, vegan mayo, kala namak, mustard, and salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Kind of looks like hummus, huh? The kala namak is sort of optional. It gives your filling a sulfer-y/eggy taste, so if you don't really like the taste of eggs, leave it out. It's kind of hard to find if you don't have an Indian grocery store nearby, but so are the moong daal. I live in Southern Louisiana, so I order both items online and it's easy. I'll post links below so you can buy them online
Now you have a yummy creamy filling that awaits your personal flair. Today, I wanted classic. I wanted it to taste like my great grandma's kitchen, so I added sweet relish. Some days, I add lots of paprika and dill and lemon zest. Sometimes I add cumin, lime juice, and jalapeños diced up. I've even added wasabi and chopped up ginger so it tastes like sushi. Go crazy. Whatever you want. If you add something chunky, like the relish I added, it's going to be hard to pipe out pretty ones like these... Which is why the bag I was using to pipe these got a clog in my pastry tip and exploded. The ones in the back are just using the bag with no tip and they are still pretty... That's fine. Just don't you a small pastry tip if you have chunks. And, in the interest of transparency, I didn't use a pastry bag, I put a pastry tip in a gallon ziplock. It all works out in the end.
They sure are cute when you use the pastry bag, though.
Let me know what flavors you try with yours in the comments!
You can even put them in a little cupcake liner to make your own "funny looking cupcakes."
Okay, you want to eat less meat. Maybe you want to give it up completely, but now what?
My first advice for new vegans/plant-based eaters is to consider holding off on analogue foods (these are the products made to look and taste like meat). Nothing is going to taste "just like" meat, so you'll find yourself disappointed and feel discouraged in many cases. I find that eating more naturally vegan foods is a better transition.
What do I mean by naturally vegan foods? Glad you asked.
Hummus. Hummus really is a favorite of vegans and non-vegans alike. You can use this as the traditional dip with pita, chips, veggies, or even fruit (I love apples or dates dipped in roasted garlic hummus). Occasionally, someone adds milk ingredients to hummus, but in my experience it's rare. Want to make your own? Here are some recipes to try out for a variety of hummus creations:
Classic Hummus. This has all the components of the classic hummus most of us are used to: chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, cumin, and lemon juice.
Roasted Garlic White Bean Hummus. My mom hates the taste of chickpeas, so she thought she didn't like hummus! Then I made her white bean hummus and she's a total convert. So if you don't like your first hummus, try again!
Cucumber Hummus. With the oil and tahini, hummus can be a bit heavy, so try this lighter version for a healthy snack.
Roasted Beetroot Hummus. For outstanding color and flavor, try a beet hummus. It turns out MAGENTA. Completely show stopping gorgeous. Bring this to a party and everyone will be drawn to it and no one will even notice that it's vegan.
Okay, moving on... Even though I could share hummus recipes all day. "
Falafel. Another Mediterranean favorite, falafel is made of chickpeas and spices and fried, but you can also make it baked and even mix it up a bit if you aren't staunchly a traditionalist. Falafel is generally served with tzaziki sauce, which is dairy-based, but lemon tahini dressing or hummus (that cucumber hummus above would be perfect) work just as well.
Casbah Falafel Mix. This is available in most stores and super easy to make. I just love the flavor. My kids call these falafel "nuggets" and dip them in ketchup. I like to make small falafel using my cookie scoop and then top salad with them. You can also make them the size of a burger patty and use falafel as a veggie burger, with hummus, lettuce, tomato, and fresh onion it's a perfect burger alternative.
Stir Fry. Stir fries are not only a great way to get a variety of vegetables, they are so easy to make vegan. Most Chinese restaurants have a Buddha's Delight or Vegetable Delight dish (just ask if the use fish sauce or chicken stock in the sauce) and you can make those at home, but many places also have several tofu options as well as seasonal vegetable stir fries too. Want to make your own?
Garlic Snow Peas. Snow peas are a favorite snack in our house, particularly of my picky eater son, so we always have them on hand.
Soy-Free Teriyaki Coconut Aminos. I love this sauce on any stir fried veggies and rice. I simply put whatever veggies I have chopped into bite size pieces in a hot pan and brown in a flavorless vegetable oil, then stir in some rice and coat with flavor before dousing it all in this amazing sauce. It's so flavorful, that other than sriracha, you don't need anything else.
Indian Food. Many Indians are vegetarian, so a lot of Indian Food is easily vegan with a few questions. The first is to see if they use Ghee, a clarified cow's milk butter. If not- you're in business. Also, some Indian vegetarian dishes will contain cream or paneer, which is a cow's milk cheese. Just ask and you'll be good to go. Some Indians foods that are USUALLY vegan without any modifications:
Aloo Gobi- this is a potato and cauliflower dish with yellow curry and a very traditional and flavorful dish. It's nice and filling, so you don't need to worry about a veggie dish that won't fill you up.
Baingan Bharta- this is a stewed eggplant dish with tons of flavor. One of my favorites.
Chana Masala- chana means chickpea/garbanzo bean, and masala is a rich and spicy red sauce. The chickpeas make this filling and satisfying.
I have two Indian cookbooks that I love, and there are many more. Take your tastebuds on a fun adventure!
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