Fudgsicles

Summer is approaching, and with it comes the season of ice cream! I have to admit that ice cream is one of my favourite treats, and I do make an exception to my mainly vegan diet by indulging in the full dairy experience once in a while.

That being said, there are many kinds of vegan ice cream out there. I have tried a few non-dairy ones. Just recently I tried “Screamin’ Brothers” brand, which was quite tasty. Making your own is less expensive, and I believe I have found a gem of a recipe.

I haven’t talked about Plant Powered Families yet on this blog, but rather have been exploring dozens of recipes from it over the last five months. I’ve mentioned Dreena Burton before, who is a Canadian vegan blogger/writer who offers some of the best plant-based recipes I have ever come across. Plant Powered Families is a cookbook directed towards families to help them thrive on plant power. And, holy moly are there lots of great recipes. I have tried several dips, muffins, main dishes, and desserts, and many recipes have become regular rotations in my diet. At least once a month I make Dreena’s banana bread muffins to pack in my lunches. Other favourites include her chickpea salad sandwich filling, and her sweet potato chocolate cake. She also has a lot of good advice for how to eat plant based on a busy schedule, and tips on how to raise your kids on a plant-based diet.

This recipe for Fudsicles is simple, easy to make, and extraordinarily delicious. I’ve had it as a snack coming home from work on a hot day, or as a refreshing dessert.

Here is what I did:

Ingredients
1/2 cup cashew butter
1/4 cup raw sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup nondairy milk (I used coconut, but almond would be good too)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups frozen banana chunks (I used 3 bananas)

I made my own cashew butter by blending 1/2 cup raw cashews until they were smooth. I added all the rest of the ingredients to my high-speed blender and blended the mixture until very smooth. I made sure there were no chunks of banana hidden in the mixture. Then, I poured it into a popsicle mold, put the sticks in, and popped it all in the freezer.

When I wanted to eat a popsicle I ran the mould under the tap until I could wiggle out a popsicle. Putting the whole mixture into a freezer-safe container would also work well, as the ice cream is soft enough. You’d just need to let the ice cream sit out for about five minutes to scoop it nicely.

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Everything I remember about a fudgesicle, but way healthier!

Road Trip into the Utah Desert

Hello internet! Here is a post that I wrote on Monday, June 1st, that I could not post because I was in Maple Canyon with no cellphone or internet connection. Right now I am hanging out at Alchemy Cafe, in Salt Lake City, taking a rest day after climbing for the past three days. Here is what I wrote two days ago:

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Hello everyone! I am writing from my campsite in Maple Canyon, a climbing destination in Utah. Today is day five of the USA road trip that Tom and I have been planning for months. So far it has been a blast, and I wanted to recount a little bit of our adventures on this blog, as not only is this blog about sharing food, but also about sharing adventures. And, so far, this has been quite an adventure!

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Day 1, Tom and I left Canmore, Alberta and drove south to a campsite just outside of Anaconda, Montana. We slept in our car that night for simplicity sake, and packed up early the next day to head out to Ogden, Utah. The drive was incredible, as the scenery changed from close-up jagged cliffs in Montana, to straight road, fields of potatoes and cows in Idaho with mountains in the very far distance. It felt like the view was just getting better and better as we drove into Utah, with rolling red cliffs in the distance, and huge snowy peaks in the far distance. We camped just outside of Ogden on day 2 and drove through Salt Lake City on day 3. We stopped at some sport shops, a brewery called Epic Brewery, and a vegan diner called Vertical Diner. At the diner Tom had a bean and seitan burrito and I had a Philly cheese steak sandwich made with tempeh and nutritional yeast cheese sauce. The menu was delightful, and I highly recommend it to anyone. And, Epic was pretty great too. Salt Lake City has a law that beer must be no more than 4% at restaurants, grocery stores, and on tap at bars, but at breweries it can be more, only in single bottle sales. We bought five bottles, one of which was a sage beer. Tom opened it after I had eaten a cookie (s’more Oreo, mmmmm), so I didn’t care for that beer much. Had I drank it with tofurkey or something savoury, I may have enjoyed it more hehe.

Day 3 also involved driving to Grand Junction, Colorado, where we saw Shakey Graves, a musician that Tom and I have gotten into over the past year. He performed for free at an outdoor street festival in Grand Junction. Tom and I enjoyed vegetarian paninis at Café Sol, and dairy-free gelato from a local vender before the performance. We got lost on the way to the campsite that night, which was in the middle of the desert. I think both of us were a little apprehensive, as we saw cars in the distance, who were driving in the opposite direction. Finally, we found the site, which was supposed to be free, but was asking for $10. We paid it, only to find that the site was full. A nice couple, who were also sleeping in their vehicle, let us share their sit, which easily accommodated two parties. I had the best sleep that night, after having woken up from being cold the previous two nights. Anaconda and Ogden must have gone down to between 5-10*C at night, and the dessert felt warmer. While the days go up to between 25-30*C, nights get chilly.

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Day 4, we drove to Maple Canyon and climbed a few routes in the late afternoon. This place is incredible, like no other climbing place I have ever been. The cobblestone rock appears bubble-like, and gives a plethora of holds, which can be daunting, as they are not always as juggy as they appear. As I sit here in my campsite, sipping on coffee, bundled in my puffy winter jacket, I am surrounded by humungous cliffs that peak in bulges and towers, like the top of a castle tower. We are so close to the cliffs that we can return to our campsite for lunch, which is unique, compared to the typical 20-30 minute approach trail.

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I am feeling fortunate, happy, and excited to continue on this adventure. Here is a recipe of overnight oats that fuels us before a full day, inspired by a recipe from ohsheglows.com. It serves two, though I often have trouble finishing my serving. Tom usually helps me out, or I save it for a snack.

Ingredients

1 yellow banana, mashed
2 tbsp protein powder
¾ cup rolled oats
¼ tsp salt
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1-1 ½ cups non-dairy milk

Optional: almond butter, maple syrup, hemp hearts, chia seeds

The night before I want to eat this breakfast, I mix together the first six ingredients in a mason jar with a lid. The amount of milk depends on how liquid you like your oats the next day, but it should appear liquidy because the oats soak up the milk. Since the temperature here goes down so low, I just leave the oats out by our tent overnight, but at home I would put them in the fridge. The next day, I serve the oats with the optional toppings listed above. This morning I omitted the maple syrup, as I have found the oats sweet enough without.

I am eating these oats as I type this! It is definitely worth trying, as cold oats are waaaay better than they sound.

Tropical Granola Bars

Here is a recipe for the granola bars I made for my packed lunches this week. Every couple weeks I experiment with new flavours of granola bars, and this week I had pineapple on hand.

This is a snack to bring a little bit of tropical sunshine during these cold winter days.  

Ingredients
2 tbsp chia seeds
juice from one small orange (about 1/4 cup)
1-2 bananas, over-ripe (I used 2 medium-sized bananas)
zest from one small orange
1/2 heaping cup pineapple, cut into small pieces
1/2 heaping cup shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 cups oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup protein powder (I used hemp powder)
1/4 cup wheat germ or all purpose flour

I preheated the oven to 350*F. In a small bowl I let the chia seeds soak in the orange juice for about 5 minutes. While I was waiting I mashed the bananas, then added the orange zest, pineapple, vanilla, maple syrup, and melted coconut oil. In a large bowl I combined the dry ingredients, then added them to the wet ingredients. The mixture should be moist but not wet, and firm but not dry. Add more oats or water as needed. I pressed the mixture into an 8×8 pan that was lined with parchment paper, and baked them for 35 minutes. I usually bake granola bars for 25 minutes, but these had more moisture, so they needed more time. The edges of the cooked batter were golden and when I touched the top, it was hard but slightly spongy.

I cut the granola bars into 10 pieces using a sharp knife after the pan cooled down completely. I stored them in the fridge so they would last longer. On the counter they would probably last 5-6 days.  In the fridge they can last over a week, maybe two weeks. They can be frozen too.

I bet adding almonds and swapping almond extract for vanilla would be quite scrumptious.

My dad spread cream cheese on top and ate them for dessert.

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Cookies and Ice Cream

Of course ice cream can be vegan (while being super simple and cheap)! A lot of the vegan ice creams I have seen in stores have been quite expensive, usually using tofu or coconut as the “cream”. I have found a very simple recipe from following Vegucated on Facebook, and lately they have been posting a lot of recipes for vegan ice cream, including this site. I plan on trying some of these recipes out, as I have heard coconut ice cream is fantastic. But, for now, here is a recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.

Ingredients
2 bananas
1 tbsp peanut butter (I use soy nut butter because of my allergy)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

A few hours before I wanted to eat the ice cream, I pealed the bananas and put them in the freezer. Once the bananas were frozen, I placed all the ingredients in a food processor and blended until really smooth. I scooped the ice cream into a container and froze it for about an hour, until the ice cream was scoopable. TaDa!

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A few weeks ago I made vegan cookies that went really well with this ice cream, but were also great on their own. Here is a recipe for Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies, from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton.

Ingredients
1 cup cake and pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup crushed pecans
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup oil (I used grape seed oil)
1/4 cup dried cherries

I combined all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then stirred in the chocolate chips and pecans. In a separate bowl I mixed together the maple syrup, extracts, oil, and cherries, then added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Then, I scooped the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet, making about 12 cookies, and flattened each cookie slightly. The cookies were baked for 11 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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So here is a cookies and ice cream combo that is delicious, nutritious, and simple. While the cookies are definitely less “healthy” than the ice cream, they sure add a yummy crunch to this cream-less ice cream.