Saturday, September 13, 2014

Spiced Pear Ice Cream with Caramel Swirl

Having had a serious sweet tooth all my life, cutting back on processed sugar has been a fairly new decision. When my mom was diagnosed with epilepsy last February, we made a decision to change our diets. Countless hours of research had given us the notion that a diet free of gluten and refined sugar could help the body regain its natural balance and could help reduce seizures.  Armed with this new information, my mom, sister and I all decided that we would make the change.  Years ago, my mom and sister had gone from vegetarian to vegan to support me when I made the switch. Now it was my turn. Just as I had loved cheese and learned to let go with never looking back, so too have I let go of cane sugar and wheat.  My sister had always been sensitive to wheat and being gluten free was a decision she made a few years prior.  However, giving up sugar was completely new ground for us and I felt confident we could live with little to no processed sugars. 
Eating food as unprocessed as possible has been a goal of mine since I developed from a junk food vegan to a plant based, whole foods vegan. Refined sugars are toxic and they are added to everything! I don't want it in my body, affecting my blood pressure and my mood.   Instead, I chose to rely on coconut nectar, stevia, maple syrup, and date syrup.  There was a big problem though.  I love ice cream!  Who doesn't love creamy, sweet, delicious ice cream! Well, I do!  I don't have an ice cream maker and I'm not too keen to wait for hours while my ice cream churns. Also, as a vegan my ice cream bases are limited to coconut, almond, cashew, and rice.  Raw nuts are definitely part of my diet but they are so expensive and full of fat (albeit, good fat) that I try to be selective in my consumption of them. Then, I heard about banana "nice" cream.  Who would have thought that frozen bananas would taste like ice cream?!! Plus, all I needed was my food processor and I could have sweet, creamy ice cream in minutes.  It's a match made in vegan heaven for this sweet toothed nutrition junkie! 
The combinations are truly endless and nice cream will now begin to make an appearance in my blog.  Stay turned for new creations but for now, I'd like to share my Spiced Pear Ice Cream with Caramel Swirl!  With pears coming into season and the slight scent of Fall in the not too distant future, this spiced nice cream was the perfect creation.  My neighbor was kind enough to gift me some of the pears from his beautiful tree!
In the picture above, the nice cream is shown with chunks of fully raw chocolate on top but that is not part of this recipe.  I had some on hand and added it to the top but I promise to blog a nice cream recipe with chocolate in it very soon!  I hope you guys like pears! Let's get started!

Spiced Pear Nice Cream Ingredients:
  • 6 frozen bananas (tip: peel your bananas and chop them into 1/4 pieces before freezing)
  • 1-2 cups pears, skinned, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • a small squirt of lemon juice
  • 8 medjool dates, pitted, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter (you can also use peanut butter but it won't be raw, still yummy though)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. water
  • pinch of Himalayan salt if using unsalted butter
Caramel Method:
To a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade, add the dates, almond butter (or peanut butter), vanilla and salt. Process slowly and add the water as needed to create a smooth, liquid caramel consistency.  Once blend, place your caramel in a mason jar and set aside.  Don't rinse the food processor.
Nice Cream Method:
To the food processor add the frozen bananas, pears, and cinnamon.  Process until creamy.  At first the bananas will break into small pieces, keep scraping down the sides and processing. I promise it will turn creamy!  If you don't have a strong food processor, use with caution because it could damage weaker/small food processors.  If you want to use a blender, use a high speed blender. Or use whatever blender you have on hand and add about 1 Tbsp. liquid (water or almond milk would work) to make the blending process easier.  Once you have creamy banana pear nice cream, pour into a loaf pan, cover and place in the freezer.
To swirl:
Bring a sauce pan of water to a boil.  Once boiling, remove from heat and place the mason jar of caramel inside.  This is just to warm the caramel so that it is easy to swirl.  Whisk it a bit to help it warm and once it is pourable grab your nice cream from the freezer.  Pour the caramel on the nice cream in a line lengthways.  Then use a butter knife in a wave pattern to pull the caramel though the nice cream in a swirl.  It gets easier with practice.  If it doesn't look like a swirl, you'll still have an amazing tasting nice cream!!
We always finish ours right away but it should keep for a couple of days in an air tight container in the freezer.  Enjoy!

 Thank you for visiting!

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