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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Raw Strawberry Shortcake "Nice Cream" (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)

Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits so I am always so happy when it's their time to shine this time of year. They are incredibly rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin C (1 cup provides 118% DV), which helps combat inflammation, free radicals and infections. Strawberries also contain B vitamins, which help metabolize proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and they also contain fiber, manganese, copper, and potassium. 

For me, fruit is like nature's candy. If I'm craving something sweet, sometimes I'll eat a bowl of fruit and my craving is completely satisfied without having to deal with the effects of refined sugar or unappealing after tastes. When you start to eat healthier and your taste buds adapt, you begin to thoroughly enjoy a food's true, unadulterated flavor. You begin to appreciate simpler flavors and become sensitive to all of the additives that are put in many restaurant foods and packaged/processed foods. Have any of you noticed that? I cannot stand to eat foods that are too sugary or salty. It takes away from the natural flavor of the food and I can't get with that! Why manipulate something already so perfect in nature that has been made with the sole intention to nourish us?

Strawberry sauce + banana "nice cream"+ a pecan & date crumble = pure & utter bliss. Strawberry shortcake was one of my go-to desserts back in my non-vegan days. I haven't felt confident enough to go at a vegan & gluten-free version full force... and I mean the real deal... the shortcake... the cream. One day I will, but for now, I have a refreshing spring treat for you that tastes absolutely sinful but is far from it. No animal products, no gluten, no soy, no refined sugar. This is a dessert you can feel great about indulging in! *By the way, I have learned that "nice cream" is another term for vegan ice cream, meaning that it is nicer to animals, humans and the environment as no dairy cows are harmed or used in the making. :-)

I'll be in Los Angeles next week visiting a friend of mine and I have to say, I am geeked to be in the land of vegan restaurants! I "Yelped" all of the vegan restaurants in LA and needless to say, there certainly won't be a shortage of restaurants and juice & smoothie bars to enjoy. I actually stopped bookmarking things because I was becoming overwhelmed with all of the choices, and just told myself to go with the flow once I get there. I am such a planner, so that was not easy for me. In my everyday life, not just with vacations, I like to know everything I am going to be doing and when and organize it all in a calendar, on a Word doc or on my phone. But this time, I am telling myself to just let go, be spontaneous and deal with (most) everything moment to moment. I think it will help with my stress levels! I plan thinking it will reduce stress but it usually makes me more uptight. A certain amount of planning is necessary, but when you're trying to get everything perfect, expectation levels are through the roof and loads of stress is put on a person to ensure everything goes as planned. But when you don't have a plan, you're free to make last minute changes that could lead to something even better than you had planned. After all, I can't plan my feelings for next Thursday. Who knows what type of mood I'll be in. I'll let that exact moment dictate what I want to do, eat, see. For those of you who have been to LA or live there, any suggestions for me for any can't miss activities/destinations/restaurants?


Left: pecan & date crumble. Right: banana "nice cream."




Raw Strawberry Shortcake "Nice Cream"
Adapted from A Dash of Compassion
YIELD: 3 servings

INGREDIENTS

• 1 cup strawberries + more for topping (optional), hulled
• 6 large medjool dates, pitted & divided
• 2 tsp unrefined coconut oil
• 1/2 vanilla bean, deseeded (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract for non-raw peeps)
• 1/2 cup raw pecans
• Pinch of fine sea salt
• 2 bananas, peeled, cut into chunks & frozen
• 1-2 Tbs unsweetened almond milk, as needed
• 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

1. In a food processor, add in the strawberries, 2 large dates, coconut oil, and vanilla bean seeds or vanilla extract, and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill.
2. Clean the food processor. Add in the pecans, 4 large dates and sea salt. Process into a fine crumb (as shown in picture above). 
3. In a high-powered blender (or food processor - just clean it again), blend/process the frozen bananas until creamy and ice-cream like. Add almond milk as needed to facilitate blending. Add in the lemon juice and blend to incorporate.
4. Divide the banana "nice cream" into 3 separate bowls or dessert glasses. Divide the chilled strawberry mixture into each bowl and swirl it in with a knife or straw. Top with pecan & date crumble and sliced strawberries, if desired.

"If you are eating unconsciously, chances are good that you are thinking and speaking that way as well." Unknown

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