Chocolate Avocado Vegan Ice Cream

Behold the most indulgent vegan chocolate ice cream ever, with a texture  like a Four Seasons Hotel mousse. It all started when a co-worker gave me a bag of avocados from his tree and — not knowing what the heck to do with so many avocados all at once — I made ice cream. One word of caution: please tell people there is avocado in the ice cream, since the chocolate acts as (an edible) camouflage!

Some notes on the other ingredients: I used half chocolate and half carob to reduce the bitterness and to use less sweetener. But this ice cream could be made with 100% cocoa or carob, just adjust the sweetener accordingly. My last batch was with two jumbo avocados from a different co-worker’s tree and with local honey, so my  ice cream was local and low-cost. I used Pacifica local raw honey that I picked up at Whole Foods — but you can find it at local farmers markets around Southern California.

I am submitting this recipe to The Wellness Weekend on Diets Desserts and Dogs — visit the site to find other gluten-free vegan treats to start 2012 off right.

Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream

2 large avocados (or three small ones)

1/4 cup raw honey, maple syrup or agave

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 cup carob powder

1/4 cup coco powder

Mix all ingredients in the food processor or with an immersion blender. Chill the mixture overnight or until very cold. Process in an ice cream maker according to the manufactures directions. I use this ice cream maker but anyone will do. Check your local Goodwill for ice cream machines, I have found 3 of them for $25 or less their over the years and have given them to friends. My theory is that many newlyweds receive ice cream machines as wedding gifts, they never use them, and then they end up at the thrift store.


Coconut – Friend or Foe

While talking to my mom about using coconut milk in vegan cream of broccoli soup I brought up the point that coconut fat is good for you. This is contrary to the widely believed notion (popularized during the 80’s) that coconut fat is an unhealthy saturated similar to butter.

Lots of vegetarian, new age, raw, and vegan food blogs recommend coconut oil (like here, and here and here) however, I wanted to see the hard evidence for myself. After a little internet sleuthing I found this journal article that links consumption of coconut oil with a reduction in total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids, LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and a increase in HDL (good cholesterol). Coconut milk is especially handy for those who find dairy to be a foe; it is a great replacement for cream,  half & half or milk in recipes. For example, the other night I used coconut milk in place of heavy cream in this recipe for roast chicken with dijon sauce and it came out delicious. My dad loathes the smell and taste of coconut so for him coconut remains a foe but, for everyone else dig in since coconut is your friend.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

(taught to me by my running buddy DS)

1 can of lite coconut milk

1 large  head of broccoli

1 bunch of cilantro (chopped)

1 green onion (chopped)

2 tsp salt-free blend seasoning (seasoning of choice – curry spice would be nice)

1 lime (juice)

salt to taste

Steam the broccoli in a pot with a few inches of water or in a streamer for 20 minutes or until the broccoli is well cooked. Strain away the water from the pot and  add the  coconut milk, cilantro, seasoning, lime juice, and salt blend with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Serve hot or cold.

Here is what all the ingrediants look like waiting to be blended.

Here is the blending process. The best part of this soup is that you only have to wash one pot.

Baked Apples

What do you do with the wrinkly apples one finds when cleaning out the fruit drawer? The answer is to make baked apples, just like the ones my mom would make for me when I was a little girl.  This Jewish classic, unlike kugel, latkes and matzo ball soup, is good for your diet. I feel especially good about this dish not only because I am not wasting food (oy vey, don’ throw away perfectly good fruit), but also because it is a yummy dessert that won’t expand my waistline.

Baked Apples

3 apples (or more)

A handful of raisins

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tbs palm sugar* (or brown sugar)

1 orange (juice only)

Core the apples and discard the pith and seeds. Place the apples in a baking dish; stuff the cavities of the apples with raisins and palm sugar. Pour the orange juice over the apples. Bake at 400 for 30-45 minutes.

*I used palm sugar for a caramelized taste and since it is a more natural sugar (i.e. less processed).  Palm sugar can be found at Thai markets or a “super” Asian market like Ranch 99. If you live in Los Angeles I highly recommend Bangkok Market.

Vegan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

The best vegan low-fat vanilla ice cream I have made so far is from a recipe in Ariana Bundy’s book Sweet Alternative. The recipe is creamier and lower in fat than most because it uses two magic ingredients; agar agar and dairy-free powdered milk.  These two may not be hanging around in your kitchen pantry, but don’t let that stop you. Agar agar is seaweed-derived vegan gelatin that prevents the ice cream from becoming icy or hard in spite of a lack of fat (in this case dairy cream). You can find agar agar in the powder or flake form at Asian food markets (if you live in LA, check out my recommended markets), at Whole Foods or similar specialty sellers, or online. Don’t buy the stick form of agar agar — I tried it and it doesn’t work as well. For the dairy-free powdered milk, I use Better Than Milk Vegan Beverage Mix, which I bought on Amazon, but Ariana uses Vance’s Darifree milk powder. If you buy it online in a two-pack, you will find the surplus handy for making iced lattes, sunbutter truffles, or dairy-free milk when you run out.

This recipe can be used as a foundation to make other flavors. To adapt this recipe, just replace a portion of the milk with any other liquid or fruit puree you choose to add. For an example of this substitution, see my post for Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream.

Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream

From Ariana Bundy’s book Sweet Alternative

1 Vanilla Pod

675 ml/3 cups rice milk or almond milk (I use rice)

115 g /1/2 cup unrefined sugar

2 tbs grapeseed oil or ghee (can use any kind of light oil)

45 g /1/4 cup Better Than Milk Vegan Beverage Mix (rice milk powder)

1/2 tbs agar agar*  flakes (or 1 tsp agar agar powder)

Mix the vanilla pod, milk, sugar, oil and water in pan and heat to a boil. Lower the heat and add the agar agar and cook for 2 min, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from the heat, add the rice milk powder and whisk again, making sure there are no lumps. Chill the mixture in the fridge. It may jell and look like pudding but simply whisk or mix with an immersion blender to liquefy. Process in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, freeze the mixture for a few hours until hard, the cut it up into chunks and whiz it in a food processor until smooth. Then refreeze for another hour.

Vegan Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Here is a recipe inspired by David Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream. I used the same  technique for creating the caramel as he demonstrates but, left out the butter (didn’t need it) and added a base of coconut milk . I opted for muscovado which is a less processed sugar.  It is so simple, easy and delicious. I gave some to a colleague and he called me the next day (after eating the whole container)  to ask me why I was still a transportation planner and not in the ice cream business.

When serving ice cream as indulgent as this, serve it in small dishes and present a set of them as if they were a flight of beer samplers. You don’t have to have a huge bowl to enjoy.

Salted Carmel Vegan Cream

1/3 cup regular sugar or muscovado sugar, brown sugar or regular sugar

1 can coconut milk (use full fat for creamiest results)

1 tbs vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon of red Himalayan salt (they carry it now at Trader Joe’s)

Heat the sugar in a pan and caramelize it like shown here. Once the sugar has melted  and is golden brown stir in the salt. Then turn down the heat to low and add the coconut milk 1/4 cup at a time. The caramelized sugar will go crazy in the pan so be careful. Add the vanilla and any other additions (vanilla bean, chai spices, etc..) you see fit. Cool the mixture in the fridge overnight or until cold and then process in a ice cream maker.

Two-Tone Green Beans

Like my two-tone Taryn Rose oxford shoes (see picture below), this dish of green and white beans is eye-catching and functional. I picked up the beans at the Friday Echo Park farmers market. I am partial to my neighborhood Larchmont farmers market that I frequent on most Sundays, but  I also like the Echo Park farmers market because it is on my way home from work. And it is small enough that I can dash in, pick up a few items and still be home before the Spoonman is. I got the beans from this great vegetable vendor (in the southeast corner next to the cheese guy) that carries unusual items like lemon basil, chamomile, squash blossoms and Japanese cucumbers. What made this dish sing is that I sautéed the green beans on high, so that they were grilled on the outside while retaining their crunch on the inside. And made a Thai-inspired salad dressing to boot.

These two-tone Taryn Rose beauties are very similar to the ones I scored off of e-bay last year. They look and feel  great with work slacks and I get the “great shoes” and the occasional the “those are dancing shoes” remarks from everyone in the elevator.

Two Tone Green Beans

2 pounds green beans

1 tbsp olive oil

3 green onions

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp agave or maple syrup or honey

2 tbsp cilantro chopped

1 tsp sesame seeds

Sauté the green onions in olive oil for a few minutes then add green beans and cook for 5-10 min until the beans are singed on the outside but still al dente. Don’t worry if the beans are still a bit firm as they will continue to cook while they cool. Mix the remaining ingredients together to make the dressing and pour over the beans. Top the dish with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

Quick Vegan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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