Category Archives: Desserts

Vegan Chocolate Coconut Almond Ice Cream

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Recently, we discovered that our son has become lactose intolerant. This is not really a surprise, as I’ve had this condition since my early twenties and it runs in my family. Lactose intolerance isn’t the same as an allergy – we just don’t produce enough lactase, the enzyme which breaks down lactose found in milk. An easy way around it if we still want to eat things with milk and cream in it is to take a lactase pill at the same time.

Another way is to just substitute non-dairy items into our diet. I love coconut milk and almond milk and often drink that instead. And we both drink lactose free milk.

My son also loves the flavor of coffee and he really wanted to make a coffee flavored ice cream. We decided on mocha, since I didn’t want to go overboard with the coffee flavor — even decaf. And we both wanted to add almonds and chocolate chips, because – why not!?

I based this recipe on a vegan one from thekitchn.com and altered it. To flavor it, I used Trader Joe’s Sipping cocoa, but I’m sure other cocoas would work. This is a seasonal item that we always buy and stock up on in the winter. It has a wonderful chocolate flavor and is not too sweet.

The result is a delicious, dairy-free dessert which is not too sweet, but very creamy and rich. The chopped almonds and chocolate chip add another layer of crunchy texture. Next time we make it, we want to add mini marshmallows and make it a Mocha Rocky Road number!

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Vegan Mocha Coconut Almond Ice Cream

2 14 oz. cans full fat coconut milk

1/4 cup agave syrup

3 tablespoons Trader Joe’s Sipping Cocoa or other cocoa mix

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon decaf instant coffee

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped roasted salted almonds

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Shake the cans of coconut milk very well. Measure out 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and set aside.
  2. Heat the rest of the coconut milk, agave, instant coffee, and cocoas in a medium saucepan on the stove. Whisk constantly until completely dissolved, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add cornstarch to remaining coconut milk and whisk until fully incorporated. Add to saucepan and cook stirring constantly for about 6-8 minutes until mixture is thickened. It should to thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add vanilla extract.
  4. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Cover with saran wrap, pressing to surface of chocolate so that a skin doesn’t form. Chill over night.
  5. Churn mixture in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions until you have a soft ice cream texture. Stir in chopped almonds and chocolate chips.
  6. Transfer to a freezing container and freeze for several hours to harden and serve.

Makes about one pint

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2 Ingredient Ice Cream Bread!

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This bread is a dream come true for our son. Yep, two ingredients: Ice Cream and Self-Rising flour. Mix them together and bake. How great is that? My son and husband made a vanilla loaf this afternoon, using Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla ice cream.

Verdict: Easy, tasty, and a great canvas for experimenting with different flavors!

Denis first saw the cake recipe here:

The “bread”, which has a great crumb but is not too sweet, reminds me of Japanese desserts. It would actually make a great base for this Strawberry Shortcake if you baked it in cake rounds and frosted it with whipped cream and layered with strawberries.

We are already devising plans for making it with Butter Pecan and Rocky Road ice creams.:)

ice cream bread2

2-Ingredient Ice Cream “Bread”

1 pint of ice cream (2 cups)

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (or 1 1/2 cups flour plus 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Soften ice cream so that it is very soft. You can speed the process up by heating it in a microwave oven for 30 seconds.
  3. Transfer ice cream to a bowl. Then add the flour gradually to it while stirring.
  4. Grease a loaf or cake pan with butter or non-stick spray (we also cut a piece of parchment and lined the bottom of the pan)
  5. Bake for 30-50 minutes, checking after about 25 minutes. Length of time depends on the kind of pan you use. For a loaf pan, it took about 40 minutes until it was golden on top and a skewer came out clean when poked in the center.
  6. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then cool on rack and serve!

 

 

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Filed under Children, Desserts, Grains, Snack

Click Here to Start Launch and Power Button Start Cookies

  
This past week, we celebrated the release of my husband, Denis’, debut novel, Click Here to Start.

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This awesome book cover was illustrated by Octavi Navarro.

The book chronicles twelve year old Ted, who is a whiz at Escape the Room Games, and his two friends, as they cleverly figure out what is behind the clues left by Ted’s great uncle – a WWII veteran of the Nisei Brigade from Hawaii. Ted is sure there is something valuable to be found in his late uncle’s apartment, and he has to use his gaming knowledge to do it. Along the way, the trio realizes there are other people searching for the same “treasure”, and they may not be so “friendly”. Ted and his friends have to use their wits and brains to solve the mystery – and ultimately, themselves, in this fact-paced, kid friendly novel.

The audio book, produced by Listening Library, was released at the same time, which was very exciting! It’s narrated by Greg Watanabe, an actor and comic. He does a wonderful job! I love how he’s able to do the different voices of all of the characters, whether they are male or female, young or old, from Hawaii or from the mainland… He gives each of them a distinct personality.

So far, the book has gotten such positive reviews from School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, kidlit bloggers, teachers, librarians, kids. It was named a School Library Guild Section and an Amazon Best Books of the Month Selection.

“As addictive as your favorite video game. I couldn’t put it down.”-Adam Gidwitz, New York Times bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm

“Humor, believable characters, and adventure…keeps readers in suspense to the end. A winner for mystery enthusiasts.”-Kirkus Reviews

“In this clever debut, Markell takes readers on a clue-filled adventure…[and] maintains an energetic, entertaining balance of character-driven narrative and tricky challenges.”-Publishers Weekly

“Markell’s highly entertaining debut novel…is a well-paced read with fully realized and likable characters,…[and] should have strong appeal to gamers, fans of video game-based stories, and reluctant readers.”-School Library Journal

And today from Jean Westmore of the Buffalo News:

“Markell offers plenty of scary suspense, thrilling action, references to literature and movies and lots of humor in his cleverly constructed puzzle. The book is dedicated to “the valiant men of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat team, who fought so bravely for the U.S. at a time when their Japanese-American relatives back at home were being treated so dishonorably.’ His wife’s uncle was among them.”

click-cookies_Melissa-Iwai
For the Click Here to Start book launch at BookCourt this past weekend, I made Power Button Start Cookies. Jamie, our son, was a great help with frosting and packaging. He’s so proud of his dad! 🙂

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For the cookies, I used my tried and true sugar cookie and royal icing recipe I’ve used for holiday cookies in the past. This time, I used powdered egg white merengue for the frosting, and I think it really made a difference. The exterior piped frosting was perfectly hard. I am just not so great at piping! I dyed the frosting a bright green to match the Start button on the cover of the book. We frosted them green, then later, I piped the Start symbol on top in white. It is an extra step to do the piping and then the fill with diluted frosting, but the results are much better. You get a crisp outline and a very smooth interior with no ridges.

The event was wonderful. Fun to see old friends and new ones. Denis spoke about how he came to write the story, which is inspired by my uncle, Nicholas, Nakabayashi, who fought with the 100th Battalion during WWII. Denis also had fun playing Escape the Room Games with Jamie as research. 🙂

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I was surprised that almost all of my 38 cookies were eaten at the event! Only two remained, which we enjoyed after the big event. 🙂 

  

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Filed under Art Related, Books, Cookies, Desserts, Uncategorized

Summer Fruit Tart

fruit-tart-Melsisa-Iwai-2016

Summer is here in Brooklyn, and in expensive, delicious fresh fruit is in abundance (unlike when I lived in California where this is the norm!) My cousin visited us recently, and I made a Summer Fruit Tart for the occasion. They were impressed, but it is a pretty simple dessert to make. The key for me is to do it in steps over a couple of days. I made the dough on Thursday, the pastry cream on Friday, and baked and assembled the tart on Saturday right before our guests arrived.

I’ve made mini fruit tarts in the past, which are fun to do with kids.
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For this one, I just made one large crust and filled it with one batch of the pastry cream. For the fruit, I arranged cut strawberries, sliced oranges (I cut off the membranes), kiwi, and blueberries and glazed with thinned apricot jam. Below is the recipe I used with some adjustments.

 

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Pastry Cream (Adapted from Jacques Torres’ Dessert Circus)

2 large eggs

2 large yolks

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (4.5 oz.)

3 tablespoons flour (25 g)

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cornstarch (25 g)

2 cups + 1 tablespoon milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 tablespoons butter

1.  Whisk eggs, yolks, sugar, flour, and cornstarch in a medium bowl until combined.  Make sure there are no lumps.

2.  Heat milk in a 2 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil.

3.  Temper eggs.  Pour a little bit of the heated milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly.  Then pour this mixture into the saucepan of milk.  Continuously whisk as it thickens.  After it comes to a boil, cook 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter.

4.  Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with saran wrap gently pressed on top of custard to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Pate Sucre (Sweet Dough) (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup flour (6 oz.)

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar (1.5 oz)

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into pieces

1.  Whisk together egg yolk, cream, and vanilla in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Scatter butter over the flour.  Pulse 15 times.  With machine running, add egg mixture through feed tube.  Process until dough comes together, about 25 seconds.  Shape into disk and wrap with saran.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour

2.  Let stand at room temperature until malleable.  Roll out about 1/4-inch thick.  Cut to fit tart pan.  Press in and prick bottoms with the tines of a fork.  Chill until ready to bake.

3.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Fill tart with pie weights (or cover with a piece of aluminum foil sprayed with non-stick spray and fill with uncooked rice).  Bake about 15- 20 minutes.  Remove weights; bake 10-15 more minutes,  Watch closely – tarts should be golden — don’t let them brown too much.  Let cool on baking rack.  Using a sharp knife, remove shell to rack to cool completely.

Assemble Tart:

Glaze

1/3 cup jelly (I used apricot jam)

2 teaspoons water

1.  Heat jelly and water together.  Whisk.  Add more water if necessary to get a consistency of thin honey which you can easily brush on fruit with a pastry brush. If your preserves are lumpy, pass through a strainer.

2.  Cut fruit into slices.  Wash and dry berries.

3.  Fill tart shells with pastry cream.  Make a design on top using fruit.  Brush on jelly glaze with a pastry brush.

 

 

 

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Chocolate Hardware Tools and Book Signing in Brooklyn

Melissa Iwai 2016

Melissa Iwai 2016

Anne Rockwell, the author of Let’s Go to the Hardware Store, and I will be at BookCourt (163 Court St.) in Brooklyn tomorrow  (March 26) at 2 pm to read and sign books. I will also talk a bit about how I created the artwork for the story.

I also made a bunch of treats to bring to the event!

First up are dark chocolate and milk chocolate tools. I bought a cute tool mold here to make the candies. I melted chocolate pieces in a heat proof bowl in the microwave at 30 second intervals (about 1.5 to 2 minutes). Mixed well to get rid of any lumps and poured into the molds.

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Getting the chocolate in the nooks and crannies takes a bit of time. You can nudge the chocolate with a spoon. Then, I wiped the edges clean with a damp paper towel and tapped the mold hard on the counter several times to get rid of any air bubbles. I found the dark chocolate to be easier to work with. Then I stuck it in the refrigerator to chill. The milk chocolate took longer to harden. Also, I discovered that the longer you let the chocolate chill, the easier it is to remove.

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To do so, you just turn the mold over and gently press on the shapes. The chocolate should snap out in one piece.

Finished tools -- they are so shiny!

Finished tools — they are so shiny!

I wrapped the chocolates in foil, and then printed out my illustrations of tools from the book and affixed them to the wrapped chocolates.

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For the toolbox, I made gingerbread. I used the same recipe I used for my Haunted Gingerbread House and Magna Tiles, but made one and half batches. I was inspired by this blogger’s cute tool box, but I made my own template, and I used a breadstick instead of a straw for the handle.

The trick is to roll the dough out on the baking sheet on parchment.

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Then, using a template, score the dough gently with a knife. Bake for 15 minutes. While the dough is still warm, cut out the shapes. This ensures a sharp clean edge.

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Then I frosted the pieces using this recipe. I am not so great at frosting and made my flooding icing too thin. 😦 So my toolbox is not so pretty. But it holds my chocolates well. I made a divider out of card stock that is labelled “dark chocolate” and “milk chocolate” on each side so people can choose their favorites.

If you are in the Brooklyn area, please stop by and say “Hi” and grab a chocolate tool! 🙂

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Chocolate Candies

1 bag chocolate pieces

  1. Pour 5 oz. of chocolate into a medium bowl.
  2. Heat at 30 second intervals in the microwave oven, checking the chocolate each time. You don’t want to overheat it. When it is smooth and silky when you stir it, stop heating. For dark chocolate it was about 90 seconds. For milk chocolate it was a little longer.
  3. Pour chocolate into candy molds. Be sure not to overfill. Nudge chocolate with a spoon or knife into nooks and crannies.
  4. Wipe around mold if you got chocolate in between shapes. Chocolate will come out easier if all the edges are clean. Tap mold hard several times on counter to remove air bubbles.
  5. Chill in refrigerator until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  6. To remove, turn mold over and gently press on the bottom. Chocolate should pop out easily.

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Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti for the Holidays

pistachio cookies Melissa Iwai 4

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Wow, Chanukah has already passed and Christmas is just days away!

I haven’t had a chance to bake much this season because of all my art projects, but managed to combine my two loves for this batch of Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti.

I’ve been making these biscotti pretty much every year, but this time I changed it up by adding orange zest and a 1 tablespoon of orange juice to the batter. I thought they’d be pretty with some white, so I drizzled melted white chocolate over the biscotti.

I mentioned combining my art and baking — this is what I created — an illustrated recipe for They Draw and Cook. 🙂

cranberry pistachio biscotti Melissa Iwai 2015

It is featured on their site this week as a Red and Green recipe.

I know it is hard to read the recipe so small! Here it is for your printing purposes (note: the white chocolate part and orange juice is not in the illustrated recipe because I didn’t have enough room!):

pistachio cookies Melissa Iwai 2

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice

1 cup salted shelled pistachio nuts

1 1/3 cups dried cranberries

1 large egg, or white, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water to  make egg wash

1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted (optional)

pistachio cookies Melissa Iwai 5

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line baking sheet with parchment.

2 Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda &powder &salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, vanilla, orange zest and beat with mixer  just until a dough forms.

3. Add cranberries and pistachios and mix at low speed.

4. Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and knead several times. Halve dough, then form each half into a 13 by 2 inch slightly flattened log on baking sheet, Brush logs with egg wash.

5. Bake in middle of oven until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet on a rack 10 minutes.

6. Transfer to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices with a serrated knife. Arrange slices, cut side down, in 1 layer on baking sheet Bake in middle of oven turning once until golden and crisp. 20 – 25 minutes total.

7. Cool completely and drizzle with melted white chocolate if you’d like.  Put the melted chocolate in a sandwich bag, seal, and snip a hole in one corner. Squeeze and drizzle chocolate over cooled biscotti. Chill in the refrigerator to set chocolate.

 

 

 

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Easy as Pie Ice Cream Cake

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Our son turned eleven while we were on our cruise to the Bahamas, so we decided to celebrate it at home later in the summer.  My son has never been a cake fan. From the time he was a toddler, he has been fobbing off remnants of cake for his mom and dad to finish at every birthday party. He and I decided an ice cream cake would be best for his birthday, because he loves ice cream — he always eats it with a fork even when it’s served in a bowl!

As usual these days, I was swamped with work and had a big book deadline on top of travel plans right before the celebration!  I found a solution, though, with this cake, which can be prepared days in advance.

The base is a brownie layer which you can make from a mix or from scratch. Here is my recipe for a decadent Truffle Brownie. Because I was pressed for time, I used Trader Joe’s Truffle Brownie mix. Then after I baked the brownie layer and let it cool completely, I spooned softened Cookies and Cream ice cream on top and smoothed.  I froze the cake until hardened, then melted chocolate chips and white chocolate chips in two separate bowls in the microwave.  The white chocolate chips did not melt properly, and I thought it was a fail, but I crumbled them on top, and it was actually quite tasty! I was able to wrap the whole thing pan and all in saran and foil and store in the freezer for a few days.

An important thing to note is to use a spring form pan — the kind used for cheesecakes. When you are ready to serve the cake, simply release the sides and remove the bottom.  If you don’t have a spring form pan, you could line a cake pan with saran and remove the cake and peel off the saran when ready to serve. But you won’t have as crisp an edge. Do not thaw this cake before serving!  It is best to serve immediately after removing from the freezer while the ice cream is hard.  Otherwise, cutting gets very messy!

The birthday boy blowing out the candles.

The birthday boy blowing out the candles.

The cake was a hit and there were no leftovers on plates for the parents, so we had to get our own slices!

Easy Ice Cream Cake

1 package of brownie mix

1/2 gallon container of ice cream

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

non-stick spray

whipped cream (optional) for garnish

  1.  Spray non-stick spray in spring form pan and set aside.  Or line a cake pan with saran.
  2. Preheat oven and prepare brownies according to package.
  3. Pour batter into pan and smooth top.  Bake brownie layer and cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, let ice cream thaw for about 25 minutes while brownie layer is cooling.
  5. Spoon ice cream on top of brownie layer and smooth with an offset spatula or spoon.  Freeze until hardened.
  6. Melt chocolates separately in two bowls at 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring occasionally. When completely melted, spoon chocolate in center of cake and smooth out.  Top with white chocolate crumbles.
  7. Wrap cake in saran and foil and freeze until hardened.
  8. When serving, do not thaw cake! Release spring form pan and remove bottom.  Or if using a cake pan, lift cake out of pan with saran and remove saran wrap.  Cut cake immediately while ice cream is still hard and serve. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Frozen Banana and Blueberry Bites

chocolate covered blueberries

These Chocolate Frozen Banana and Blueberry Bites are my new favorite treats recently.  I can’t get enough of them! They’re quite healthy too.  You can use raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder.  Especially when combined with the frozen blueberries, this packs a powerful antioxidant punch. 🙂

I always have frozen banana slices in my freezer for my smoothies.  This is how I prepare them:
frozen banans I slice a ripe banana (still firm though) and lay the pieces on a piece of parchment and freeze in a lidded container. I used to do this on a plate, but my husband claimed the banana flavor was permeating the ice cubes.  After they are frozen, I usually store them in a freezer bag, as it takes less space.  I buy frozen blueberries and just use those.  Very easy!

To make the chocolate treats, first melt some coconut oil and mix with the cocoa powder, coconut milk, and sweetener of choice. I use stevia.  Then heat for a bit on the stove or in the microwave oven. I nuke it, because it’s one less pan to clean and faster.

Then dip the frozen banana slices and/or frozen blueberries in the chocolate and place on a plate or in a parchment paper lined container.  Be sure not to put too many frozen pieces at one time in the chocolate, as the coconut oil will harden (coconut oil is used to make home made Magic Shell because of this effect). I usually do one at a time.

banans and blueberries on parchment

Put in the freezer to harden, then transfer to a zip lock bag.  When you want a quick frozen bite, grab a few and you’re good to go! 🙂

chocolate covered bananas

YUM!
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Chocolate Frozen Banana and Blueberry Bites

Frozen banana slices from about 1 large banana

Frozen blueberries – about 1/2 cup

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder

2-4 tablespoons coconut milk, almond milk, or cow’s milk

Stevia or other sweetener to taste

1.  Melt coconut oil in a bowl until it’s in liquid form.  Add cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons of coconut milk and sweetener of choice.  Heat in microwave oven for about 30 seconds.  Stir until powder has dissolved.  It it’s too thick, add more milk a bit at a time until the consistency is of chocolate syrup.  Heat again for about 10 seconds. Stir until smooth.

2.  Dip frozen banana slices and berries one at a time in the chocolate and place on a parchment lined container or plate.  Continue to dip slices and berries until chocolate syrup is used up.  Freeze until hardened.  Transfer to a zip lock bag for storage.

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Filed under Desserts, Gluten Free

Chocolate Coconut Avocado Ice Cream

avocado ice cream

In the comments section of my last post, Trixie Pin of Almonds Are Mecurial mentioned an Avocado Ice Cream recipe found at Oatmeal with a Fork.   I’ve always heard of ice cream made out of avocado and I’ve been wanting to try it for some time.  I ended up basing my recipe on this Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip recipe at Detoxinista, which is actually very similar to the Oatmeal with a Fork one.  All three sites have fantastic healthy recipes and beautiful photography, so check them out!  (I’m definitely going to try the Mint and Chip one soon — love that it’s green naturally!)

I only had 1/2 an avocado to work with and I didn’t want to wait until my other two ripened before I made the Chocolate Coconut Avocado Ice Cream.  I was woman obsessed.  The other 1/2 of avocado I had used to make a half portion of my Creamy Avocado Dip, which I was also craving because I had some homemade pita chips on hand….!  You see, I have both a sweet AND savory tooth!

First off, this is how I ripen my avocados — I throw them in a brown paper bag with bananas or plantains and fold the bag closed.  In a few days, they are perfect.

An unripened avocado and a ripe one, with an unripened plantain cozying up to them.  The ripened bananas were cut up and frozen.

An unripened avocado and a ripe one, with an unripened plantain cozying up to them. The ripened bananas were cut up and frozen.

Avocados are amazing fruit. They are full of more than 25 essential nutrients, fiber, protein, good fat, and beneficial antioxidants!  Read more about the benefits here, if you are curious.   I am so glad I like to eat them now.  As a kid, I hated them.  I’m happy Jamie loves guacamole.  My mom eats avocados only one way:  Mashed with brown sugar and spread on her morning toast.  I guess it’s a Hawaiian thing….  This is a savory breakfast that sounds good, that I will try soon — an egg baked in half an avocado!

Recently, I heard on a podcast about a study done which showed that eating avocados tripled a woman’s chance of getting pregnant through IVF.  I’m not trying to get pregnant but found it intriguing.  There are several lists of fruits and vegetables that look like the human organs they are good for floating around the internet–not surprisingly avocados look like a woman’s womb!

For the Chocolate Coconut Avocado Ice Cream I made, I threw into my Vitamix:  1/2 avocado, 2 tablespoons lite coconut milk from a can (you can use the extra in curry, or freeze in an ice cube tray like this for future smoothies), 2 tablespoons of agave syrup, 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil, 2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder (my new love), and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla.  If you have a whole avocado or two, just double or quadruple the amounts.  After blending to a creamy smooth consistency, I poured it into my ice cream maker and let it roll.  It only took about 5 minutes due to the small quantity — basically the time it took to clean the dishes!  You could also pour your mixture into ramekins and chill and eat as pudding. It is SOOO good!

So creamy!  I garnished with some dried coconut and toasted almonds

So creamy! I garnished with some dried coconut and toasted almonds

This ice cream is so creamy and rich.  I only eat one scoop at a time (not three) because it is very filling!  Out of curiosity I plugged in the nutritional values for the ingredients and came up with this for 1 oz. of Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream:  78 calories, 6g fat, 1.7 g sat. fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 mg sodium, 8.6 g carbs, 2.1 g fiber, 5.6 g sugar, and .8 g protein.  Happily, my vegan and gluten free friends can enjoy it as well! 🙂

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In other news, I just want to give a shout out to people in the New Jersey area!  This Saturday (September 20), I will be at the 2014 Princeton Children’s Book Festival signing books with my husband, Denis (and author of Hush Little Monster), and Anne Rockwell (author of numerous books, including  Truck Stop). We are so fortunate to be included in such an amazing gathering of authors and illustrators.  Favorites, such as Brian Floca (2014 Caldecott Winner), Brian Lies, David Kirk, Sophie Blackall, Fiona Robinson, Peter Brown, Pseudonymous Bosch (one of Jamie’s favorites), Jon Scieska, Mary Rose Wood, and a whole boatload of others will be there.  Check out the list here.  If you do make it out, be sure to stop by our table and say “hello”!

Chocolate Coconut Avocado Ice Cream

1 ripe avocado, halved, pit removed

1/4 cup lite coconut milk from a can

1/4 cup agave syrup

 1 tablespoon coconut oil (in liquid form)

1/4 cup raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth and creamy.

2.  Pour into an ice cream make and churn according to manufacturer’s directions.  Alternatively, pour into a metal bowl and put in freezer and stir every 15 minutes until thick and creamy.

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Cacao “Tofutti”

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Awhile ago, I had a somewhat high blood sugar score on a test.  It wasn’t a fasting test or anything, so I don’t know how accurate it was, but in the past year, it was higher than my last one, and that one was higher than the one before that. Diabetes runs in my family, and as I get older, I find that I’m more sensitive to sugar (and caffeine and alcohol!)  I also was borderline for gestational diabetes when I was pregnant.  For all these reasons, I decided to do an experiment over the last couple of months and greatly reduce my sugar intake.  I haven’t cut it out completely, and I occasionally have dried fruit (but not much) and bananas, and all the other high glycemic index fruits (apples, watermelon, etc.)  But I have cut it out A LOTI’ve since realized that I used to eat a lot of sugar — I have such a sweet tooth.  But if I have a taste of something now that’s high in sugar (the other day I sampled a bite of a gluten free blueberry muffin sample at Trader Joe’s and had to throw the rest away), it tastes TOO sweet.  I do sweeten my coffee with stevia and I chew sugar free gum, so I haven’t shunned all sweet things though.  I’m just trying to do things in moderation.  I find I need less sweetener in my coffee now than I did before though.  I will probably have another blood test in a week or two, so it will be interesting to see if my levels have been affected by the change in my diet over the last three months or so.

A new moniker that keeps popping up in health news these days is “Super Food” — have you noticed?  I haven’t been paying that much attention, because I tend to eat a lot of them anyway:  green leafy vegetables like kale, blueberries, oats, broccoli, walnuts, salmon, spinach, chia seeds, avocados, coconut oil, eggs, etc. I haven’t gone out of my way to sample some of the more exotic super foods, like acai berry, camu camu, maca, lacuma, spirulina, or even wheat grass.  But I keep hearing about raw cacao powder — cacao is the portion in chocolate that has all the antioxidants and is rich in minerals.  I’ve even read that it helps to lower insulin resistance.  It appeals to me because I love chocolate, and since I have stopped eating a lot of sugar, I find I even love eating unsweetened chocolate (to my son’s horror).  I decided to buy a bag at our local health food store and try it out for myself.  It definitely tastes “more chocolatey” than regular unsweetened cocoa.

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I’ve been eating sugar free Chocolate pudding occasionally, but I’ve been finding it also is too sweet even when I add unsweetened cocoa powder to it.  And I’m not that big of fan of it containing aspartame.  So I decided to try my hand at a tofu based pudding.  And then I decided: Hey let’s take it a step further and try throwing it in the ice cream maker. 🙂

The result was really great! It is very easy to make as well.  You just process a package of Silken soft tofu, cocoa powder, agave syrup (or other sweetener), and some vanilla in a food processor and then churn in an ice cream maker for about 10-15 minutes (it is much faster than making regular ice cream, perhaps because of the low fat content).  Let it harden in the freezer.  The longer the tofu melds with the other flavors, the better it tastes.  There you have it — dairy free, chocolate tofu ice cream that is high in anti-oxidants and low in calories! 🙂  Note, my batch is not as sweet as the kind you buy in the store, but I prefer it that way.  If you want a sweeter version add more sweetener or make with 2/3 cup chocolate chips melted with 1 tablespoon water — I have made it this way too in the past before my sugar concerns, and it is very delicious!

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Chocolate “Tofutti”

1 block of Silken soft tofu

1/4 cup agave syrup or other sweetener

1/4 cup raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1.  Process all ingredients in a food processor until silky smooth, stopping to scrape down edges midway through.

2.  Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions for about 10-15 minutes.

I had forgotten that I awhile back I did this submission for Tofu 3 Ways, for the awesome site, They Draw and Cook.  The Tofu Mousse recipe in the illustration is similar — but not sugar free.  Still, this would be good also when churned frozen in an ice cream maker!

Tofu_melissaiwai72b

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Filed under Desserts, Vegan