Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Feta and Mint

Photography by Victoria Wall Harris

Here’s another recipe that was deep in my archives that I still absolutely love, but needed a photo makeover!  This is the time of year when I am furiously trying to maximize my consumption of all things summer.  The seasonal window for some of my favorite foods is just too short, especially tomatoes.  In my classes July through September, I always feature at least two recipes with the beloved tomato and I beg everyone to enjoy them while they last because fresh tomatoes won’t be appearing in my kitchen until the following summer.Continue reading

Spinach salad with grilled apricots and honey-mustard dressing recipe

spinach salad with grilled apricots and honey-mustard dressing | pamela salzman

What are you up to this weekend? Lots of plans? No plans? Is it finally good weather where you are? In classic Southern California beach tradition, our unseasonably warm winter has transitioned into a slightly chilly spring. Translation: it was 70 degrees two months ago and it’s 70 degrees today! Not quite bathing suit weather, but also not complaining at all, because I am not quite bathing suit-ready either if you know what I mean!  The unofficial start of summer is a double-edged sword, now isn’t it? Exciting because I can start dreaming of laying on the beach with magazines and watermelon while listening to the waves crashing at my feet.  But summer also means shorts and bikinis and I need to start kicking it into high gear.  Salads to the rescue!

honey-mustard dressing

When I put this spinach salad on my meal plan for this week, it dawned on me I had never posted it on the blog.  I taught the recipe several years ago in my classes and I realized I never got around to photographing it.  But it was really popular with my students and with my family too, so I thought better late than never and I think it’s perfect for Memorial Day weekend.  This is a very simple salad which you can make much more fancy or more substantial if you want. The basic bones of it is fresh baby spinach, stone fruit, nuts and a classic honey-mustard dressing.  You can add cooked chicken or goat cheese, radishes, shaved carrots, avocado, and/or sprouts if you want. The honey-mustard dressing is the first dressing Mr. Picky ever liked, so the recipe holds a place near and dear to my heart. Truth be told, he likes it more as a dip for raw veggies than as a salad dressing, but I’m cool with that.

grilling apricots

I think this salad would be great next to a burger, especially a turkey burger, or chicken with barbecue sauce. So if you’re entertaining this weekend or you need to bring a dish to a potluck, I think this salad would be perfect.  I also love the idea of balancing out a burger with something much more healthful like spinach salad with a clean dressing.  Even though kale salads have been in the spotlight the last few years, I think spinach is just as nutritious. Check out this comparison of nutrients from Prevention Magazine. Spinach is incredibly rich in iron, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin K, as well as the obvious Vitamin C and fiber. Most people find raw spinach a bit more palatable than raw kale. Kale however, has the advantage at a potluck since it holds up much better already dressed than spinach.  I have two fantastic kale salad recipes on my site if you’re interested:  one with a citrus dressing and one with a creamy lemon dressing.  Both favorites of mine.

sweet and spicy pecans

However you are spending your weekend, there is always room on your plate for something healthy!  Enjoy!

spinach salad with grilled apricots and honey-mustard dressing | pamela salzman

spinach salad with grilled apricots and honey-mustard dressing | pamela salzman

Spinach Salad with Grilled Apricots and Honey-Mustard Dressing
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • Dressing:
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons raw mild-flavored honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz baby spinach leaves
  • Suggested add-ins:
  • 3 fresh peaches or apricots, ripe, but firm
  • Olive oil or melted coconut oil for brushing peaches/apricots
  • ¼ cup nuts such as sliced almonds or toasted pecans of walnuts (I used Trader Joe's Sweet & Spicy pecans in these photos)
Instructions
  1. To make dressing – place mustard, honey and vinegar in a mini-food processor or blender and process until combined. With the motor running, pour oil in a steady stream until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. (You can also do this in a bowl with a whisk, just take care to fully incorporate the honey.)
  2. Preheat a grill to medium. Cut peaches in half and remove pit. Cut into quarters if they're large. Brush with oil and grill until just charred, about 3-5 minutes. You can grill the other side if you like.  I like to grill apricot halves and cut in half again after they're off the grill.
  3. Place spinach in a serving bowl or platter and toss with just enough dressing to coat lightly. Top with grilled fruit and nuts. Drizzle with any remaining dressing, if desired.

Grain-free White Bean Coffee Cake Recipe

grain-free white bean coffee cake | pamela salzman

Trust me that this cake is so good!  It does NOT look like it has white beans in it, nor does it taste like white beans (which may I remind you taste like nothing.)  And lest you think I am a genius coming up with blending white beans to make a high-protein, downright delicious cake, I will come clean and tell you this is nothing that hasn’t already been done about 16,7000,000 times, according to google.  Even my idol, Martha Stewart, has made cupcakes with white beans!  If it’s good enough for Martha, it’s definitely good enough for moi.

some of the ingredients

I thought this would be such a different, delicious and healthful cake for your Mother’s Day brunch, and what a conversation-starter!  It’s always fun to quiz your family and friends — “Can you guess what the secret ingredient is?”  I would never suggest making this for Father’s Day because most dads I know would rather have doughnuts than a cake with nutritional benefits.  Moms are different.  We’re always looking to have our treats without the guilt!

making the topping

This cake was a huge hit in my classes last year.  I first told everyone to open their minds because this would not resemble a classic coffeecake. Most people that come to my classes are pretty open-minded anyway.  In fact a few ladies said, “Ah, of course.  Black beans in brownies, white beans in coffeecake.”   I agree, it makes perfect sense.  But I would never make any dessert or any recipe for that matter just because it’s kind of healthful.  Of all things, dessert should be enjoyed, and you will love this cake!  It’s very moist, just sweet enough and light.  I ate quite a bit of this cake last  year and I never felt uncomfortable or sick after eating it.  That’s an indication of a pretty clean dessert.

making the cake batter

I normally encourage you to make your beans from scratch, but for this recipe it is very important that your beans be nice and creamy soft.  So if you want to be on the safe side, just used canned.  I love Eden which doesn’t use BPA in its can liners.  The one ingredient which might throw you for a loop is the coconut flour, although I do have a great muffin recipe on my site that uses almond flour and coconut flour.  At my Whole Foods, you can buy coconut flour from the bulk bins, which is nice if you just need a little bit.  Most recipes which use coconut flour only call for small amounts of it because it is so absorbent.  Don’t go thinking you can substitute regular grain flours for coconut flour!  They are completely different!

grain-free white bean coffee cake

If you decide you don’t want to make this coffee cake with the faux streusel topping, just make the cake with your favorite frosting or serve it with fresh fruit and whipped cream or whipped coconut cream.  Either way, moms deserve a treat on Mother’s Day, so indulge or do something generous for all the special moms in your life!  Happy Mother’s Day!

grain-free white bean coffeecake | pamela salzman

 

grain-free white bean coffee cake

4.9 from 7 reviews
Grain-free White Bean Coffee Cake
Author: 
Serves: makes one 12X9 or 13x9-inch cake
 
Ingredients
  • Crumble Topping:
  • 3 cups walnuts
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter
  • ¼ cup coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked white beans (make sure they’re soft and not crunchy), such as cannellini or Great Northern, drained and rinsed if canned (cold or at room temperature)
  • 6 eggs
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla liquid stevia or plain stevia and add an extra ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil, plus extra for greasing pan
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 12 x 9 or 13 x 9 baking dish with coconut oil or butter.
  2. To make the topping, place the walnuts, coconut oil or butter, sugar and cinnamon in the food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until combined and the texture resembles a crumb topping. Remove from food processor and set aside.
  3. In the same food processor (no need to clean it) place the beans, eggs, stevia, vanilla coconut oil and honey and puree until smooth.
  4. Then add the coconut flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder to the white bean mixture and process until smooth. Pour into the greased pan.
  5. Spread the topping over the top of the batter and use a fork to swirl into the batter, then pat down to set.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator where it will stay good for up to a week.

Dairy-free Cashew Cheesecake Recipe

dairy-free cashew cheesecake! | pamela salzman

I taught this luscious dessert in my classes two years ago, but I had seen cashew “cheesecakes” all over the place for many years. But of course I didn’t get it.  I didn’t understand how blended cashews could be turned into something that resembled cheesecake, a cheesecake that I would actually want to eat.  So I put off trying all these recipes that I saw on Pinterest and Foodily.  I caught glimpses of vegan cheesecakes made with chocolate, key limes, pumpkin, lemon and lavender, blueberries and so on.  I just wasn’t convinced.

making the crust

crust mixture ready to be pressed

My mother-in-law and I have an arrangement for Passover — I make all the desserts for both seders and she does everything else.  I clearly got the easier, more fun job.  However baking for Passover, a holiday which revolves around NOT eating anything with grains or flour made from grains, isn’t as straightforward as baking for any other holiday.  But I still have lots of fun coming up with delicious treats that don’t involve a box of Manischewitz cake mix.  Every year I make the very traditional coconut macaroons, as well as a lemon ice torte that I have been making since I graduated from college.  And no holiday would be complete without something chocolate, so I bake a few mini-flourless chocolate cakes.  So delicious.

soak cashews

drain the soaked cashews

But I can never leave well enough alone, so one year I decided to give this cashew cheesecake thing a go. OMG.  Get out of here. I was blown away!  And then super bummed I had let so many opportunities to go by when I could have been enjoying this deliciousness.  The texture is so much like cheesecake.  Very rich and creamy, and slightly sweet.  I really couldn’t get over it.  Of course the crust is raw and vegan, consistent with the rest of the cake.  But I think you could go with a graham cracker crust and fool everyone into thinking this is cheesecake.

scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean

spread the first mixture onto the crust

then the strawberry mixture

What amazed me about this cake is how digestible it is and how clean the ingredients are.  We use soaked raw cashews (read my post about why soaking nuts and seeds is beneficial to your health,) coconut oil (such a good, healthful fat), honey or maple syrup (not going to save your life, but less acid-forming than refined sugar), lemon juice and vanilla.  Amazing.  Although, I did a little rough math and this isn’t the kind of dessert you can eat very often because it’s really high in (good) fat and calories.  Just saying, in case you were tempted to eat half a cake.  Not a good idea.  In fact, I put on a few pounds in the months I was testing this recipe.  True story.  But this is a fantastic idea for Passover or Easter and no one will ever in a million years guess what’s in it.  Another fun Passover dessert coming soon!

vegan cashew cheesecake | pamela salzman raw vegan cashew cheesecake | pamela salzman raw vegan cashew cheesecake | pamela salzman cashew cheesecake | pamela salzman cashew cheesecake | pamela salzman

cashew cheesecake | pamela salzman

 

Dairy-free Cashew Cheesecake
Author: 
Serves: 10-12 (because it's rich, you want to cut small slices)
 
Ingredients
  • Crust:
  • 1 cup raw almonds (or pecans or walnuts)
  • 1 cup soft Medjool dates, pitted (about 10)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Filling:
  • 3 cups (1 pound) raw cashews, soaked for at least 5 hours or overnight, and drained
  • ⅔ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ⅔ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted (if you have a Vitamix, no need to melt)
  • ⅔ cup raw honey (not vegan) or Grade A maple syrup (vegan, but not raw)
  • Seeds from 2 whole vanilla beans (or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries (my preference) or raspberries (thaw completely if frozen)
Instructions
  1. Place almonds, dates, coconut and salt in a food processor and process until the mixture holds together (it should be sticky). Transfer the mixture onto the bottom of a 9” spring-form pan and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout.
  2. In a Vita-Mix or food processor, place all filling ingredients (except strawberries) and process on high until very smooth. This may take a minute or two.
  3. Pour about 3 cups of the mixture onto the crust and smooth with a spatula. Add the strawberries to the Vita-Mix/food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the strawberry mixture onto the first layer of filling. Place in the freezer until solid. Cover with foil to protect from freezer burn.
  4. To serve, remove from the freezer at least 60 minutes prior to eating. After it has defrosted, store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Run a thin knife between the cake and the pan and then release the springform ring. Serve on its own, or with fresh fruit. Store leftovers in the refrigerator if you plan to eat within a few days. Otherwise, store leftovers in the freezer.
Notes
Unfortunately, there is no substitute for the cashews which become very creamy when blended, nor the coconut oil, which solidifies when refrigerated and gives the cake its firmness, otherwise it would be a gloopy mess.

Spicy honey-lemon green beans recipe

spicy honey lemon green beans | pamela salzman

If you follow me on either Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you’ve probably figured out that I am back on Long Island at my parents’ house.  We picked up Daughter #1 on Saturday from her summer program in upstate NY.  I was so beyond excited to see her after 6 weeks, I was afraid I was going to suffocate her when I saw her.  It was great for the five of us to be together again and I couldn’t resist another visit to Stony Brook.  Love that place in the summer.

blanched green beans

We’ve had an amazing few days here — peaceful, not in a rush to do anything, no stress, beautiful.  My father’s garden is bursting.  I lost count of how many basil plants he has this year, perhaps around 40.  I have made pesto every day so far!  But the big fun has come from the new outdoor pizza oven my father had built.  It was a major project when I was here in June, with each of my parents saying to me without the other hearing, “I don’t know what we were thinking.”  But once the dust settled, literally, we have enjoyed the most fantastic pizzas — you know the thin kind with a little char on the crust?  So darn good.  Not fitting in my skinny jeans today, but so. darn. good.

prepping shallots

Sorry this isn’t a post about making your own pizza in a wood-burning oven, but I personally don’t have one nor will I in my current house since my “yard” is a patio!  Figuring most of my readers don’t own one either.  Instead I wanted to share my favorite new green bean recipe.  No yawning!  These are great!  But I know where you’re coming from.  Green beans come into season in the summer and I try really hard to get excited about them, but they have to compete with tomatoes and corn.  Kind of hard to do.  I honestly don’t have too many exciting green bean recipes that I think to myself, “I am soooo craving those such-and-such green beans.”  Until now.

soaking shallots

I taught these honey-lemon green beans last month and I couldn’t wait to eat them after each class and any leftovers for dinner the same night!  The dressing has a bit of mustard too, and a little kick from the cayenne which is always something I love paired with sweet (honey.)  They are seriously addictive.  One of the only cooked vegetables Mr. Picky likes is green beans, but he doesn’t care for vinaigrettes yet.  Except he did love these!  He’s starting to develop a taste for spicy food.  Very exciting!

spicy honey lemon green beans

mix it together

The recipe for the green beans and the dressing is completely straightforward and quick to make.  If you are in a time crunch, just make that and forget about the shallots.  Blanching and quick-pickling the shallots is definitely another step that won’t make or break the recipe, although they are scrumptious.  You can certainly take care of that while the beans are cooking and while you’re setting the table or grilling some fish.  But sometimes when I try and multitask too much, that’s when I forget things -like shallots pickling in apple cider vinegar that I remember when I start washing dishes.

spicy honey-lemon green beans | pamela salzman

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spicy Honey-Lemon Green Beans
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • For the Green Beans and Shallots:
  • 3 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ pounds string beans, trimmed
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar, preferably raw
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • For The Vinaigrette:
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small glove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon mild honey, preferably raw
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Spread a clean kitchen towel on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Add kosher salt.
  3. Place the sliced shallots in a bowl and cover with 2 cups of the boiling water. Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Drop the beans in to the remaining boiling water and cook, uncovered, for 4 to 6 minutes, until crisp tender. Drain the beans and spread them on the cloth-lined pan.
  5. Drain the shallots and toss them with the vinegar, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  6. To make the vinaigrette, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, honey, salt and cayenne in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in the oil until creamy.
  7. Drain the shallots once again and squeeze dry. Add the shallots and the string beans to the vinaigrette and toss well. Sprinkle with another pinch of sea salt or to taste.
  8. If you have time, let it marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature before serving just to allow the flavors to permeate the beans. If you don't have time, they'll still be great.
Notes
These really aren't that spicy, perhaps a 3 on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the hottest.  But you can certainly adjust the level of heat to your liking by increasing or decreasing the cayenne.

 

Individual warm peach pie pots recipe

individual warm peach pie pot | pamela salzman

I guess this is favorites week.  In my last post, I went on and on about my obsession with summer tomatoes and today I am sharing my new favorite dessert which uses my favorite fruit bar none, peaches.  Smiley face.  Peaches make me happy and this season has not disappointed so far.  We have had the best peaches this summer and although I may not have eaten one every single day like I have tomatoes, it has been close.

peaches!

I could make a meal out of a big peach.  Ok, not really.  But everything else I eat afterwards just pales in comparison.  I really love yellow peaches, which I find have a more intense, although more acidic flavor.  The white ones are delicious, of course, and slightly more sweet but just not quite as flavorful.  But trust me, I’ll eat either any day.  I always buy organic peaches since conventionally grown ones are on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of the most highly contaminated produce.  I think it’s because the pesticides are able to permeate peaches’ thin skin thereby making it difficult to remove toxins by washing.  Pesticides make me nervous.

chopped and measured peaches

I have so many regular peach recipes, some that I’ve taught in my classes like peach pie, grilled vanilla peaches and this fabulous individual warm peach pie in a jar number I am writing about today.  This month I will teach an arugula salad with farro and peaches that is my new favorite.  Did you see that crazy delicious breakfast I posted on Facebook a month ago? Why aren’t we friends on Facebook?  You’re missing out.  I post something interesting there every single day!  I digress.  I used some leftovers from this recipe and put it on top of Bob’s Red Mill warm, creamy buckwheat porridge.  People, I was like “shut the front door.”  Best.  Breakfast.  Ever.
get those pecans nice and buttery and salty

I have a dozen other peach recipes that I’m not posting here so let’s not even torture you with those.  Let’s talk about these individual peach pie in a jar thingies that are the quickest, tastiest healthful dessert you can’t believe you haven’t ever made until now.  I was inspired by a recipe I saw over at Roost, which is one of the prettiest blogs that mine will never look like.  Sigh.  Caitlin used apples, which I tried and thought turned out delish, but this peach version is crazy delish.

pulse a few times in the food processor until crumbly but not like meal

Too many of you have expressed intimidation about making a pie from scratch and I get it.  Although for me, sometimes I just don’t have the time to prepare and bake a pie, especially if I’m entertaining and I am making a bunch of other things.  Or maybe I have a craving for peach pie and I don’t want to tempt myself with an entire pie in the kitchen.  I am weak, after all.

saute the peaches just until warm

This is your answer.  You make these amazing buttered, salted pecans which you then crumble up and put on the bottom of a cute glass jar, preferably with a wide opening at the top.  Then you sauté some chopped peaches with a little honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and the tiniest amount of almond extract possible because like I’ve said before, almond extract makes peach and apricot desserts more peachy and apricot-y.  But it has to be the teeniest amount otherwise, whoa.  And then just when the peaches are warm, you spoon them on top of the pecans. I am totally serious.  But see how not-at-all-bad-for-you this is??  See why I can eat this in the morning and at night?  See why I was giving out small portions at my classes so there would be more for me?  Weak, I tell you.

see how pretty the jars look?

warm individual peach pie pots | pamela salzman

Individual Warm Peach Pie Pots
Author: 
Serves: 6-7, depending on the size of your glasses or jars. I've used half-pint and pint jars. You don't have to use jars or glasses, but it looks so pretty that way.
 
Ingredients
  • Butter Pecan Crust:
  • 3 cups raw pecans
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter or unrefined coconut oil
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt (this is not a misprint)
  • Peach Pie Filling:
  • 8 cups chopped peaches (peeled or unpeeled), about 12 small-medium peaches
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, ghee or unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons honey (just eyeball it since it’s such a pain to measure)
  • ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup almond flour (if necessary to thicken juices)
Instructions
  1. Have ready 6 clean ½ pint or pint jars.
  2. To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a small sheet pan with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a small (1-2 quart) saucepan, turn off the heat and add the pecans. Toss to coat.
  3. Pour the buttered pecans onto the sheet pan and sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Watch closely so they don’t burn! Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  4. Place the cooled pecans into a food processor and pulse a couple times to form a coarse crumbly mixture. Place a couple tablespoons of “crust” into the bottom of each jar and set aside.
  5. To make the filling, in a large bowl, toss the peaches with the honey, extract, and spices. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the peach mixture to the skillet and toss gently to heat through, 2-4 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and if the mixture is very liquidy, add the almond flour to the peaches and stir to combine.
  7. Place several spoonfuls of the peach pie mixture on top of the pecan crust and top with crème fraiche, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or whipped coconut cream. Also delicious for breakfast on warm porridge or with yogurt. Serve immediately!
Notes
If you are nut-free, you can still make the peaches alone or serve them over crumbled cookies, like graham crackers or gingersnaps.

Banana “ice cream” sundaes recipe

Banana "Ice Cream" | Pamela Salzman

Although I recently became dairy-free, I haven’t been able to eat ice cream for quite some time.  It’s a pretty hard-to-digest food even if you make it from scratch, and not one that has agreed with me in many years.  But when I got married, I used to eat ice cream every day and for several years afterwards.  At any given time, I think we had at least a dozen different pints in our freezer into which we would dip every night after we put the babies to sleep.  My mother-in-law thinks I can’t digest ice cream anymore because I OD’d on it all those years.  Perhaps.

freeze bananas peeled

homemade almond milk and pure vanilla extract

Last week I needed a little comfort food and I craved a quick, sweet pick-me-up while I watched the television in total disbelief of all that chaos.  I was really close to snagging the remains of Mr. Picky’s favorite Three Twins vanilla ice cream, but I know that I would have felt even worse afterwards, for many reasons.  Because we make so many acai bowls and smoothies around here, I  always have frozen bananas on hand.  One thing I’ve never posted is banana “ice cream.”  I’ve always figured by now most people have seen this on Foodily or Pinterest.  If you haven’t, it’s just frozen pieces of banana, blended in a Vitamix or a food processor with a touch of almond milk or regular milk and maybe a little sweetener to taste.  It comes out the consistency of soft serve ice cream and really hits the spot if you’re in the mood for a frozen treat.  But it’s really just bananas, so it’s a million times better for you than regular ice cream or (blech) popsicles made with food coloring.  I told my mother-in-law about banana ‘ice cream” and she offered to buy me a Yonana machine which basically does the exact same thing.  She’s so thoughtful, but you can really do this no problem in your food processor or high powered blender.

blend bananas and almond milk and vanilla

Banana "Ice Cream" plain and simple | Pamela Salzman

So why am I posting this “recipe” when I assume everyone has heard of banana “ice cream?”  Because apparently, not everyone has!  At least Gwyenth Paltrow doesn’t think so.  I am a huge Gwyneth fan and I just received her new book, It’s All Good, which looks fantastic.  Low and behold, there’s a recipe in there for banana “ice cream” with roasted almonds.  If Gwyneth can put it out there, so can I.

Banana "Ice Cream" with Cacao Nibs and Roasted Cashews | Pamela Salzman

I do want to emphasize that you can’t really follow a recipe here since there are a few variables which can affect the outcome of your ice cream.  First of all, you must start with ripe, well-speckled bananas.  Ripe bananas are much, much sweeter than pale yellow-skinned ones and will allow you to make this with a minimum amount of added sweetener.  That said, the amount of sweetener will vary according to the sweetness of your bananas.  I’ve made this many times without any sweetener at all, but sometimes a smidge of raw honey adds just the right amount.  So it’s best not to follow a recipe and just “sweeten to taste.”  Keep in mind however, that this recipe uses 4 bananas.  So don’t eat the whole thing unless eating 4 bananas is a normal thing for you.  I always add stuff to it like chopped nuts, raw cacao nibs or granola to make it a little more substantial and keep it healthy.  But you can have fun and put out a “sundae” bar with toppings like chocolate sauce, mini-chocolate chips, toasted coconut or honey-roasted peanuts.  This is a truly guilt-free treat!

Banana "Ice Cream" by Pamela Salzman

Banana "Ice Cream" Sundae
Author: 
Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, about 2 ½ cups (if you’re using a Vitamix or another high-powered blender, you can cut bananas into larger pieces)
  • ¼ - ½ cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice (you can use the smaller quantity if you’re using a Vitamix)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • sweeten to taste with a few teaspoons (more or less) of raw honey, Grade A maple syrup or a couple drops of stevia
  • Toppings: granola, raw cacao nibs, mini-chocolate chips, toasted coconut, chopped walnuts, chopped toasted and salted cashews, chopped honey-roasted peanuts, chocolate sauce
Instructions
  1. Arrange the banana pieces on a baking sheet or a plate and freeze until frozen. Click here for a step-by-step on how to freeze fruit. Place individual bowls for the ice cream in the freezer.
  2. When the bananas are frozen, store in a container for later use or place in the bowl of a food processor or Vitamix or other high-powered blender. Add almond milk, vanilla and sweetener to taste. Process until smooth and creamy. I find that the food processor needs a little more liquid and a few more seconds to achieve the desired consistency, which is like soft serve ice cream.
  3. Transfer the ice cream to the frozen bowls and serve immediately with toppings, if desired. You can also store the ice cream in the freezer for another time, but you’ll need to allow it to sit on the countertop to soften up for a few minutes before eating so that it’s scoopable.
Notes
Sweeten to taste with raw honey, Grade A maple syrup or stevia according to how ripe your bananas are.  You may not need to add any sweetener at all!

Homemade graham crackers recipe

There are some things that I just don’t think are worth making from scratch (like puff pastry) and then there are some things I can’t believe can be made from scratch and taste good, like graham crackers.  Wait, not just “good,” but amazing!   Who doesn’t remember eating graham crackers as a child?  But you always got them out of a box, right?  Not anymore.  Be prepared to have your life changed!

Even though my mom didn’t allow many over-the-top sweets in the house, graham crackers sometimes made the cut.  Whereas Ho-Ho’s and Twinkies were definitely taboo, graham crackers seemed relatively benign and not overly sugary.  My mom bought Honeymaid, which we used to smear with peanut butter or cream cheese or just dunk in milk.  My kids would like to do the same, but I rarely buy packaged cookies.  First of all, I think that homemade always beats store-bought.  And it’s hard to find treats made with unrefined ingredients and without lots of scary chemicals.

Last June and July my summer intern Hannah and I went graham cracker crazy, making a new batch or two every week.  I finally settled on this recipe here which my friend Cheryl helped me with.  These graham crackers have just the right amount of sweetness, which makes them a perfect snack for your little guys and for s’mores.  I like using a combination of whole spelt or wheat flour and brown rice flour.  Rice flour is very light and has a grittiness that I think is ideal for graham crackers.  If you don’t have it, just use all spelt or wheat flour and they will still be delicious.  But I think the key with graham crackers is to ask yourself how perfect you want them to look. I so admire people who have the patience for making things look like they popped out of Martha Stewart Living because I don’t.  I will admit, I did my best with the batch I photographed for this post, but normally I leave my ruler in the drawer.  If you are giving these as a gift, using them for s’mores, or offering them to a large group of children, you may want the crackers to be as uniformly sized as possible so it might be worth the effort to measure out the dough and where you cut your lines.

This recipe is otherwise crazy simple,  but makes a great impression.  Last summer my go-to dessert for entertaining was a s’mores bar with these homemade graham crackers which Mr. Picky helped me bake on more than one occasion.  To me, having my kids helping me in the kitchen is the best part of making your favorite treats from scratch.   I also love that you can put into them what you want.  All organic ingredients?  No problem!  Half the sugar of their traditional counterparts?  Go for it!  Lots and lots of love?  Always!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Graham Crackers
Author: 
Serves: makes 24 3 x 3½ -inch crackers
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cups whole wheat, whole wheat pastry, white whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 1 ¼ cups brown rice flour (or just use all wheat/spelt flour)
  • ½ cup coconut palm sugar, sucanat or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup milk, non-dairy milk or water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor or mixer, pulse or stir the dry ingredients until combined.
  3. Add the butter pieces to the dry mixture and pulse or process until it looks like coarse meal.
  4. Add the honey, water, and vanilla and process until a ball of dough comes together. Pull the ball of dough out of the food processor and cut it in half. It is a very soft dough. But if it’s super sticky or if your kitchen is warm, refrigerate the dough 30 minutes.
  5. Roll out one ball of dough between two sheets of parchment paper to a 10 x 12” rectangle or about ⅛” thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment and slide the bottom sheet of parchment with the rolled out dough to a baking sheet. With a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough into rectangles. If desired, prick the dough with the tines of a fork to create the classic graham cracker “dots.” Repeat with second ball of dough.
  6. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the edges are starting to turn brown. Remove from oven and cut crackers again along the same lines with a pizza wheel or knife. Allow to cool on the pans for about 2 minutes. Separate crackers from each other and cool on racks. If some crackers seem a little thicker than others, put them back in the warm oven with the heat OFF for 10 more minutes and up to an hour. This will dry them out a bit and ensure that they will be crispy.
  7. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Notes
To make gluten-free graham crackers, use 2 ½ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend, such as King Arthur plus ½ teaspoon of xanthan gum in place of the wheat and rice flours.