Friday, August 18, 2017

"Non-Dairy" Avocado Ice Cream (or "How I Spent My Summer Vacation")


avocado ice cream with slivered almonds
Serving 1: With slivered honey almonds
It has been an interesting summer. I took a break from my dance class to rest my knees, get much needed recovery time, and get a chance to clean up around the house. It really felt I had a vacation, even though I was still working. I loved the extra free time that I had to take walks, window shop and even read! I miss that.

An interesting side effect was I also ended up spending extra time in the kitchen. It is one of my creative outlets, although it is mostly due to the necessity of nourishment. Regardless, it gave me a chance to play with ingredients and be inspired. 

One of these experiments was making my own frozen desserts. I guess it started when I made Avocado “Ice Cream”. I’ve always wanted to make Avocado Ice Cream like my Dad did every summer. Avocado was one of his favorites (and still is) so he would take one or two avocados, mash them and mix them up with condensed milk and put it in the freezer and enjoy it for a week. Dad would be back at the fridge once or twice a day getting avocado ice cream while I had my normal Magnolia Chocolate Marble (Yeah!) or Mocha. Back then, I did not like avocado and preferred chocolate (well, I still do), so Dad enjoyed it all by himself.

bananas and avocado in blender
Frozen fruit in the (Ninja) Blender
Now, I love avocado. During the season, I may have an avocado or three every week – on toast, tacos, tamales, omelets, you name it. I am a “Californian” anyway, so I think its a law to have avocado (along with Kale). There was a time when I bought mini avocados. My Hubby was wondering why I bought them – but it was the perfect size for one serving.

Back to ice cream… With my making dairy-free banana “ice cream” last year, I was inspired to make a healthier and perhaps dairy free version of my Dad’s summer favorite. I am trying to minimize my dairy and condensed milk has tons of sugar, so that was my motivation. I had a vision of combining avocado with frozen bananas and getting the perfect scoop.

Freezing the avocado was also in my vision because I usually end up with half of an avocado after lunch. That was the other rationale for freezing. I thought freezing it will preserve the lovely green color.

Here’s what I have so far…


Mad Gourmet’s Healthier Dairy-free Avocado “Ice Cream”
Inspired by my childhood summers with Dad
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 avocado (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 banana (about 1/2 cup)
  • (Up to) 1/4 cup of coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp of agave syrup (add more to taste)
  • Almond slivers or coconut shavings for toppings.


Directions

  1. Peel and cut banana and avocado into one inch slices.
  2. Freeze (I usually do this overnight).
  3. Put avocado chunks and banana in a blender.
  4. Add coconut milk as needed (consistency should be like ice cream not a smoothie)
  5. Top with almonds or coconut shavings and enjoy.


Verdict

avocado ice cream with coconut shavings
Serving 2: With Coconut Shavings
I love the combination of avocado and bananas. The bananas provide the creaminess that you usually get with ice cream. The addition of coconut milk adds to the creaminess and makes it closer to the ice cream that Dad loved. It also makes for a delicious but healthy tropical treat.

As blended, it is a yummy dessert, but tricky to make a perfect scoop. It usually has a yogurt-like (or shall I say guacamole?) texture that may be a bit runny for the scooper. I find that putting the mixture in the freezer until it firms up (about 20-30 minutes) does the trick. As I am writing this, I am thinking that a quenelle may be a good alternative presentation.

After that experiment, I became encouraged to make my other frozen treats. (Hmmm... I feel another blog post coming). Think granitas and sorbets... some with summer fruit. I never thought that these would be so easy to make.

So, here’s my summer tribute to Dad. By the way, he loved Durian too… but I don’t think I’ll acquire a taste for that.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Small batch No-bake Date and Tahini Balls

date-tahini energy ballsIt’s in the middle of summer and it's been very hot! I really do not have any desire to turn on the oven, but I have a lingering to make something quick, relatively healthy and even a quick energy boost.

I figured it may be time to make no-bake something. I’ve been seeing these in Pinterest and Instagram and was waiting for an opportunity to make them. I guess these hot summers are the best time to make them.

Most of the recipes that I found have a lot of protein through nuts and sugar through honey. I wanted a better balance of carbs and protein since I often need the quick energy from carbs (and sugar) but need the long lasting replenishment that protein provides.

Enter oatmeal. Oatmeal is usually my go-to breakfast. I love the fiber content and I usually have it in our pantry.


Now, what to mix it with.

Date spread and tahini
This looks like trouble... good trouble.

I happen to have Date Spread and Tahini handy. The date spread is from my “Try the World” subscription. I have not worked with date spread before and I think this would be a good recipe to try it on.

I usually have tahini during the summer because I love making tahini sauce and using it in my tuna salads since (I think) tahini lasts a bit longer than mayo in the summer heat. I have also been thinking about making cookies, but again, it’s been too hot. I guess this would be a good substitute.

I started with a small batch because I am not sure if Hubby or I will enjoy them. I have not envisioned myself getting satisfied with a couple of energy balls. In fact, I am afraid that I may end up eating all of it. Also, I want to save some of that date spread for other stuff. That said, since a number of folks seem to love these no-bake balls, I am willing to give them a try and see if I like them.

Here's what I have so far...


Mad Gourmet's No-Bake Date and Tahini Balls

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 Tbsp date spread
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp cocoa nibs


Directions
  1. Toast oats on a pan (Optional - to give it some additional texture)
  2. Combine tahini and date spread in a bowl until it is thoroughly mixed.
  3. Add oats and cocoa nibs. (I added them gradually to ensure an even mix)
  4. Roll into balls about an inch in diameter.
  5. Cover and put dough in the freezer or refrigerator until firm.


Verdict

I love this recipe. With the combination of dates and tahini, each bite can transport you to Turkey or somewhere in the Middle East.

This is the perfect snack after my martial arts class. Two balls are surprisingly filling for a snack. The blend of carbs and protein are a great post-workout recovery snack. The addition of the date sauce give it a natural sweetness and cocoa nibs the additional crunch. I am not sure if toasting the oats is needed, since it softens once its mixed in.

I love that its quick and relatively easy to make. I think it took me about 20 minutes to make the first batch, because I was thinking of what to do next. I can imagine that this will take me half that time once I get the recipe down.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. My next step – try it with Peanut Butter. Oh my!