Instant Lychee Ice Cream

Ice cream is one of my weaknesses. But today I made some here at home, from scratch, and in less than 5 minutes …with two ingredients. Yes, just two, real, whole-food ingredients. No added sugar whatsoever.Food Fervour

All you have to have prepared for instant ice cream is some frozen fruit. I’ve always got fruit in the freezer; blueberries and bananas are staples but over summer I added mango flesh & lychee pulp to my stores and it was the lychee pulp I used to make my ice cream today. It’s sweet but hasn’t an overpowering flavour so it makes for the perfect ice cream to pair with other foods if you wish.

Now, I have to admit, I’ve done this plenty of times before, but with full-fat natural yoghurt. The plethora of gut friendly bacteria in yoghurt does make it a much healthier option but today I just didn’t want that tang. I love frozen yoghurt but I love ice cream more!

In typical fashion, I just threw every thing together in my Magic Bullet without measuring so I’m really guessing with quantities here… but I reckon I used about 1/3 cup of frozen lychee pulp & about 2 (hefty) tablespoons of Maleny Dairies pure cream. Maleny Dairies’ cream is the thickest natural cream I have ever come across so I’m going to add a disclaimer here and say that if you use ordinary, mass-produced pouring cream this recipe won’t work. If you buy your cream from the supermarket, I’m guessing you’ll be better off with ‘double’ or ‘thickened’ cream for this recipe. Similarly, if you’re thinking of trying this with coconut cream (vegans) it will have to be a really thick variety like Ayam brand …not the cheaper supermarket ones.

Simply throw them into your blender together, blend and scrape a couple of times and Bob’s your uncle! I served mine up in a dish with halved strawberries (see pic). You could pop it back in the freezer for awhile if you prefer it more solid… most home made ice cream is put through a number of alternating blend-and-freezes before serving. I just couldn’t wait that long! 😉

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My Sugar Reset

Last week I had a rough week. It was rough enough to affect my appetite… I didn’t eat much at all. Not that that’s a problem. Fasting is valid, after all. But it also gave my body a chance to ‘re-set’ (that’s part of the fasting science too, btw).

What happened is that I somehow grew some Willpower. Now, I know what’s good for me when it comes to food and I eat extremely well most of the time… I’ll hardly ever part with my hard earned cash for junk food. But in my hospitality job, I’ve found it much harder to stop myself. I’ve analysed the potential reasons and have come up with two: I hate waste, so throwing out the amounts of food we have to ‘by law’ (food hygiene regulations… which really stem from the litigious fears) bothers me enough to stuff a piece of something in my mouth as I tip an untouched foodstuff into the bin (like, I’m eating this for all the Starving out there who can’t). And then there’s the much more intangible, abstract and highly subjective reason: reaction to dissatisfaction & fatigue. That is, “I’m over today and I wanna go home so I’m going to eat this food I don’t need” because ….just because. There’s really no excuse. (I developed a personal theory that ‘Time at Work’ and Willpower are inversely proportional: that is to say, my Willpower decreases the further into a shift I get.)

But really, it all boils down to Self Control. And I have that in large doses in some ways, and not – it would seem – in others.

Food Fervour

veggie-dense salad

But when I lost my appetite last week, something clicked. I’ve no doubt it was borne of my negative state and my innate tendency to be “hard on myself” but I ordered myself to do that which I always want to, and try to do: cut added sweeteners from my diet. (Not that I have many anyway: only raw honey, organic maple syrup & rapadura sugar live in my house) I decided if I wanted anything sweet (and I am the biggest Sweet Tooth ever) I was only going to allow myself fruit (I am a fruit bat after all). That’s it. So the meals I ate for the couple of days were simple veggie-packed dishes – literally salads – anyway. (This was a crucial element to my ‘success’.)

I wasn’t sure how I’d go back at work. But fortunately, I was stationed on an espresso machine, so there was no direct temptation. On my lunch break however, I didn’t go anywhere near the refrigerated cabinet in the dining room: I simply pulled my homemade fare from the communal fridge and ate my healthy stuff. This was the third day since my ‘meltdown’. The next day was significantly more challenging, since I was stationed in a food outlet. Chocolate, cookies, chips staring at me all day. But….. NUH! My Willpower had well & truly kicked in. I was not going to have (added) sugars. And I have stuck to this. I knew, I know, if I make one slip, it will open the floodgates… and there’ll be no turning back.

Sugar really is addictive, science has proven this numerous times now. The Sugar v Cocaine experiment with rats is the most well-known: the rodents were allowed to self administer both sugar or cocaine from dispensers in their pens ….and they all opted for the sugar. That’s how powerful it is. (Link to PLOS source here.)

I recall one particular experience that really rammed this home to me: a friend had given me a block of Cadbury chocolate as a gift, even though I had some of my homemade raw dark chocolate in the fridge. Deciding to have “just one” row of the Cadbury, I returned to my desk. But within 3 or 4 minutes, I was back at the fridge & into the block again. This happened 3 more times. On my fourth visit to the fridge, I opted for a piece of MY chocolate (I usually make it with a very small amount of organic maple syrup)… and the craving instantly ceased. There were no more trips to the fridge.

Food Fervour

salted caramel choccies

The biggest surprise – which is not really a surprise at all – in this ‘Sugar Reset’ I’ve experienced, is the sudden and obvious aversion I now have to sugary foods. In just 3 to 4 days, I have re-sensitised my tastebuds to Sweetness. I’ve had this experience before, but each time it happens it blows you away at how intense the changes are. The first moment I noticed it this time around was when I made some ….chocolate.

I have a favourite recipe for Salted Caramel chocolate that’s sweetened only with dates (it’s a Thermomix recipe by Jo Whitton, the link to her blog Quirky Cooking is here) so I figured I’d allow myself to make some of that if I was permitting myself to eat whole fruits. But for a little variety, I also made some totally sugar free dark chocolate (literally just cacao powder & cacao butter) and created some chocolates that combined both of the flavours …like Cadbury’s ‘Top Deck’. The ‘shock’ came when I ate one of the plain Salted Caramel choccies, followed by a combined one. I preferred the latter. I preferred less sugar.

Food Fervour

a roasted pumpkin salad I found quite sweet

I noticed it in more subtle ways as well: I made vanilla custard minus the maple syrup I usually add on top of the sugar-laden vanilla paste, and it tasted just fine. I actually felt a little ill when I made roasted pumpkin soup because the sugars caramelised in that naturally sweet veggie during the cooking process, then intensified in the thick, creamy soup. I’m even eating less whole fruit. Now that’s saying something!

The truth is, to truly give up sugar, we really need to discipline ourselves and restrict ….just for a very short period of time. Your body needs the chance to de-sensitise (and you will notice the difference). Think of your body as a spoilt child… when is the right time to finally say No?

 

Lychee, Lime & Mint Water

I’ve noticed that Fruit Water is starting to trend a little more now… and I mean fruit water beyond just lemon or lime or mint floating around in your glass: large jugs or urns with anything from cucumber to peach or mango flesh lolling around the bottom. This is meant to impart a tinge of flavour to make water consumption more tolerable to those who just don’t like drinking it.

I have no problem drinking water at all, but lately I’ve begun saving the water used when I’ve steamed veggies (knowing that some of the nutrients lost from the vegetables in the cooking process end up in the water) …and it’s not really enjoyable to drink straight. The I Quit Sugar gang suggest saving and using it in your smoothies. That’s a fantastic idea, but… I don’t consume smoothies often enough to use up all the water within a few days. So I needed to conceptualise some way to use larger quantities of the water in a single serve.

It wasn’t a complex idea, combining the ‘whole-fruit-in-water’ concept with the ‘nutrient-dense-steamed-water-for-smoothies’ notion, but I didn’t know if it would work. I mean, would it actually taste nice? There was obviously only one way to find out…

Food FervourMy first attempt involved fresh blueberries. And it shocked the pants off me. (Not literally.) It was delicious. Unfortunately I didn’t note the quantities, but I do recall using a decent handful of blueberries and perhaps 1-1½ cups of cold (veggie) water. And it really was this simple:

Water + whole fruit → blended = natural cordial.

Naturally this may only work with certain kinds of fruit …especially when you are already using steamed vegetable flavoured water… fruits that are naturally sweet and easily blended. For example, oranges may be too tart and fibrous – unless you can be bothered to remove the membrane and seeds from each segment…

Lychees are a naturally sweet and juicy fruit and I happened to have a bunch of them in the fridge. But because they’re also subtle in flavour, I thought I’d better add something else, to ensure I’d disguise the water’s taste. Since lime (like lemon) is well known to help intensify flavours (of other foods, besides themselves!) and I happened to have half a lime in the fridge, I opted for that and, in case that wasn’t enough, I added mint as well: another strong flavour and perfect compliment to both lychees and lime (…and very Asian…)Food Fervour

So for my single serve, this is what I used: 300mls water, the flesh of 6 lychees, a hand-squeeze of fresh lime, 10 or so mint leaves, 6-8 ice cubes.

Blend simply for as long as you wish, and serve immediately.

It’s a light, very refreshing bevvy, perfect for hot days like those we’ve been experiencing lately on the Gold Coast (…gotta love summer!) but just remember that unlike pure water, this beverage contains calories, so despite it being a far better option than juice, cordial or soft drink, it wouldn’t be such a great idea to chug down gallons of it on a daily basis either. Treat it as… a treat! Enjoy …and let me know what other fruit works if you feel adventurous!

 

Cacao Blueberry ‘Ice Cream’

food fervourIn case you haven’t gathered by now, I’m a bit of an ice cream fan. I used to be crazy for it and, while I can still ‘slide’ back into the habit of buying commercial stuff (whether it be a small tub from the supermarket, or a few scoops from a gelati shop) on the odd occasion, I’ve become pretty well disciplined to experiment at home when the desire arises.

It’s actually quite surprising how easy it can be. If you have nuts (& a range of spices) in the pantry, a heap of ‘stuff’ in the freezer and a very powerful blender (mine’s a Thermomix) you can have ice cream in minutes; ice cream will be way better for you than any mass-produced product out there and that should easily satisfy a ‘craving’.

I’ve come across a wide variety of recipes for ‘alternative’ ice creams with the help of Google, so if you want to experiment further do a little research on the net. The most astonishing recipes I came across were for vegan ice creams made entirely from nuts… which really did work! Fat is the key to ice cream however, having said that, some fruits (particularly banana and mango) when frozen thicken beautifully in the blending process.

Drawing on these ideas, along with some others I’ve gained through the Thermomix community, I created this no-added-sugar “ice cream” with a handful of all-natural – mostly frozen – foodstuffs. I have an almost permanent store of frozen fruit and yoghurt cubes in my freezer, which means I’m well prepared to make ice cream at the drop of a hat. Now, if you don’t like yoghurt you can try freezing cubes of coconut milk (vegan option) or perhaps even ordinary cow’s milk (I’ve never tried this), but creams (dairy especially) tend to split when frozen so they’ll affect the texture of your finished product.

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ready-to-freeze yoghurt

Forewarning: don’t expect the smoothest ice cream texture (because of the extra, natural, ‘great-for-your-gut’ fibre in it) and it definitely isn’t as sweet as your commercial counterparts…

Armed with 20gm hazelnuts, 4 dates, 1 frozen banana (cut into chunks), ½ cup frozen blueberries, 100gm frozen yoghurt cubes (approx 8) 1 heaped tablespoon of cacao powder and 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (optional) I created a taste sensation that could have served 2 people… but I ate the whole lot!

Place the hazelnuts and dates (try more than 4 if you are a real sweet tooth) in a high powered blender and blast until the nuts become ‘meal’ (Thermies: 10 seconds, speed 9-10)

Scrape down the sides of the jug/bowl then add the rest of the ingredients: banana, blueberries, yoghurt/milk cubes, cacao & (optional) vanilla. Blend until smooth. This may take 2-3 rounds: repeat blending, stopping, scraping down and mixing a little by hand. (Thermies: I started around Speed 5 and worked my way up to Speed 9 over a 30 second period, stopped, scraped down & mixed then hit it again at Speed 9 for another 30 seconds)

It should be solid enough to dish out in balls that look like huge scoops of ice cream. I topped mine with cacao nibs (coz I love chocolate chip ice cream) and devoured it in a matter of minutes.

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Believe it or not, this is a ‘kale’ (& mango) ice cream, I made from a green smoothie base. 10/10 for imagination?

Let me know how you go, and please feel free to share your variations or own personal experiments 🙂

Vanilla Brazil Nut Cream

Mmmm, this stuff goood! I’ve only discovered nut creams recently (thanks to a fellow food blogger’s amazing creations) and they are ridiculously easy to make…why did it take me so long?!

This particular version is the one I used in the Cinnamon Buckwheat Pancakes I  suggested might make a great Mother’s Day breakfast treat. I’ve made a few varieties in the past, and the simplest way to enjoy them is with fresh fruit. I’ve used them as ‘dips’ at parties and smeared them on fruit for afternoon tea (see pic). food fervourWhat I haven’t yet tried is a savoury version (well, I AM a sweet tooth!)… apparently cashew nut cream is the best: I’ve seen it used to replace sour cream in mexican meals, for example.

Brazil nuts are another ‘cumbersome’ nut in that they don’t taste great and some people even object to their size (!) but again, they are extremely nutritious – right up there with the almonds and walnuts – so I usually opt for them for that reason.

My basic ratio for nut creams is 2:1, nuts to water. The amount of water simply varies the thickness of the cream. If you want ‘whipped’ cream – or a ‘spread’ –  use a little less water. Simple!Food Fervour

For this Vanilla Brazil Nut Cream I used:

1½ cups Brazil nuts (approx 220gms), ¾ cup water, 1 tspn natural vanilla essence, 6 drops stevia liquid

Pulverise the nuts in your blender (approx 20 seconds, Speed 7 for Thermies) to create meal, then add the remainder of ingredients and blend & scrape as many times as you feel you need to, to create the consistency you desire. I don’t mind my cream a little ‘grainy’ so I didn’t spend a heap of time on that.

Pop it in the fridge as soon as possible to prevent (slow down the process of) nut fat rancidity, unless you are ready to spread it on your pancakes!

NB: I have yet to make my own vanilla paste so I can ditch the processed sugar- & preservative- laden essence product AND I’ve read something recently about stevia NOT being as great a sugar substitute as we all thought (if I can find the article again I’ll post a link to it) so eventually (on my journey to ‘Re-sensitise my Taste Buds’) I’d like to drop all added sweeteners…