Coconut Milk Ice Cream & a Fab New Kitchen Gadget

I have always wanted to try my hand at ice cream making, but sadly my freezer drawers are way to narrow to fit an ice cream bowl, and I’m just not organised enough to hand whisk at half hourly intervals. I haven’t got a Vitamix or Blendtec either, which means I can’t use the freeze and blend technique.

However, when my blogging friend Aimee Ryan (who writes the wonderful Wallflower Girl blog) recently launched her recipe book for coconut milk ice creams, I just couldn’t wait any longer. Those scrumptious recipes were calling to me and I needed to find a way to make them asap!

Aimee Ryan Coconut Milk Ice Cream

After trawling the Internet, I found an alternative option available to me – an ice cream maker with in-built compressor. These machines don’t require any pre-freezing of bowls. You simply pour the mixture in and 40 or so minutes later the ice cream is ready. These gadgets are pricier than traditional ice cream makers (which you can pick up for less than £20), but for people with freezer storage issues like me, these machines are perfect.

I especially liked the sound of the Andrew James New Improved 2 Litre Professional Fully Automatic Ice Cream Maker. The reviewers had given it 4.5/5 stars on Amazon and, while a pretty sizable piece of equipment (43cm wide x 28cm deep), I love its sleek style and cool blue LED display. My kitchen colours are red, black and stainless steel, so this gadget goes perfectly. Last Friday I took the plunge and ordered the machine…. and it arrived the following morning.

Andrew James Ice Cream Maker

I’d carefully read through all the reviews, so I knew what I was in for. The main negative was that it was a bit fiddly to slot the bowl, paddle and lid into place. These reviews must be referring to the older model though because the set up on the new improved machine couldn’t be easier. I didn’t even bother consulting the manual as it was obvious how to do it.

The next step was to choose an ice cream flavour. Aimee’s ice cream recipes are divided into five chapters:

Healthy Spins on Famous Flavours – Vanilla, Chocolate, Cashew Cookie Dough Chip, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Brownie, Salted Caramel, Mint Chocolate Chip, Mocha

Fruity Flavours – Coconut, Mango & Passionfruit, Roasted Pineapple, Papaya & Lime, Roasted Plum & Cardamom, Pomegranate, Sweet Melon, Date, Strawberry, Caramelized Banana, Peaches & Cream, Orange, Apricot

Nut & Seed Flavours – Pecan Praline, Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl, Pistachio, Chestnut Caramel, Chocolate Hazelnut, Maple Glazed Walnut, Salted Almonds, Toasted Sesame Seed

Spicy Flavours -Fresh Ginger, Mayan Chocolate, Wasabi, Chinese Five-Spice, Sweet Curry

Aimee Ryan Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Dessert Inspired Flavours – Rhubarb Almond Crumble, Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin, Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie, Red Velvet Beetroot Cake, Coffe & Walnut Cake, Christmas Pudding

Boozy Flavours – Pina Colada, Rum & Raisin, Apple Cider, Irish Cream, Roasted Cherry & Whiskey, Mojito, White Wine

Floral Flavours -Blueberry & Lavender, Chamomile & Vanilla, Elderflower & Lemon, Orange Blossom, Rose Raspberry Ripple

Herbal & Tea Flavours – Chai Tea, Lemon Green Tea, Fresh Basil & Mint, Malted Maca Chocolate, Earl Grey

Aimee Ryan Coconut Milk Ice Cream

With all these lush flavours to choose from, we ended up practically filling the entire book with stick it notes! We’ve decided we’re going to work our way through all the recipes (adapting the boozy flavours to make them child friendly) and, to kick off our ice cream making adventure, Lil’ L chose the Chocolate and Salted Caramel flavours :)

Following reviewers’ recommendations, I chilled the ice cream maker for 10 minutes before pouring in the chilled ice cream mixture. I didn’t bother using the pouring hole. I just poured the mixture straight into the bucket, slotted it into the machine, screwed on the lid and pressed the button. You can choose different churning times and for our initial trials, I chose 40 minutes. This was pretty much spot on. The ice cream was soft serve consistency and the paddle started to have difficulty rotating.

Making Ice Cream

We could have served it straight away as soft serve, but we decided to freeze it so it could be scooped into cones. Aimee recommends storing the ice cream in a wide, shallow dish so I used my Pyrex lidded glass dish (which I’d previously chilled as my house is so hot at the moment). After three hours we checked on the ice cream, and it was ready for scooping.

All the ice cream recipes in Aimee’s book are dairy free, egg free, gluten free and vegan. Though, at the time of writing, Aimee wasn’t vegan herself, she simply believes that coconut milk makes the best ice cream. The healthiness of her recipes is an added bonus. For the Salted Caramel ice cream, the flavour and colour comes from delicious coconut sugar.  After three hours in the freezer, the consistency of the caramel ice cream was perfect. It was silky smooth and soft enough to scoop right away. And it had the most amazing caramel flavour. I find most commercial ice creams sickly sweet, but Aimee’s got the sweetness levels spot on. It was utterly delicious

Salted Caramel Coconut Milk Ice Cream

The chocolate ice cream uses maple syrup as the sweetener (as do most of Aimee’s recipes) and, in addition to cocoa powder, it has dark choc chips melted into it to add even more chocolatey goodness. As a budget-friendly alternative to pure maple syrup, I use Clark’s Original Maple Syrup, which is a blend of maple and carob syrups (around £4.86 for 500ml in Asda or Sainsbury’s (97.2p/ 100ml)). I also watch out for half price offers on Clarks pure maple syrups.

Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream 500 copy

After freezing for a few hours, the chocolate ice cream was a lot firmer than the caramel one so, as Aimee recommends, we left it on the worktop for ten minutes and I heated my metal scoop in hot water. It then scooped perfectly. The flavour was incredible! It’s by far the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever tasted, and Lil’ L said that it was easily as good as the quality ice cream he’s eaten in Italy. And I couldn’t believe it when ‘M’ enthusiastically tucked in and said how good it was. He isn’t usually an ‘ice cream person’ and tends to decline if you offer it to him. However, these coconut milk ice creams have won him over.

It’s great that Lil’ L’s on his school holidays as he makes a very handy ice cream model ;) It was pretty hard for him to resist the temptation to lick it…

Salted Caramel Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Five seconds later he caved in ;)

Salted Caramel Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I am so pleased that I finally took the plunge and got an ice cream maker. I know it’s going to get used a lot. It will probably take me the rest of the year to work my way through Aimee’s recipe book. I’m especially looking forward to trying the Christmas Pudding flavour! I’m also looking forward to making fruity sorbets, hopefully using fresh berries from my garden.

Many thanks to Betta Living for providing the ice cream maker for these tasty new recipes Both the Andrew James Ice Cream Maker and Aimee Ryan’s Coconut Milk Ice Cream recipe book are available to purchase from Amazon UK. For our US & Canadian friends, Aimee’s book is also available from

Do you have an ice cream maker? If so, what’s your favourite recipe? If you’ve posted any vegan recipes online, please do share below.

Lovely readers, I just want to let you know that I’m about to take a little break from blogging & social media. I’ll be back towards the end of August. Have a wonderful summer and I look forward to catching up with you all on my return xx



Filed under Desserts, Reviews, Treats & Sweets

Mezze Lunch Platter – Sun-Dried Tomato Houmous, Baba Ganoush, Confetti Salad, Marinaded Olives, Flatbreads

There’s something really fun about tucking into a platter of mini dishes, and Middle Eastern mezze contains some of my family’s all-time favourites, such as houmous and baba ganoush.

If mezze is on a restaurant menu, we’ll order it. If the platter isn’t 100% vegan, I find that the staff are always willing to substitute the non-vegan dishes. Back home, we love to eat mezze for lunch at weekends and during the school holidays. It’s also great for serving to friends when they come over for ‘drinks and nibbles’ (or ‘dribbles’ as we like to call them). Today, I’d like to share some of my favourite dishes to serve as part of a mezze lunch platter.

Middle Eastern Mezze Platter

UK supermarkets now offer a great selection of flavoured houmous, so feel free to use shop-bought houmous in your mezzes if you wish. I still enjoy making my own as I love playing around with different flavour combinations. One of my current favourites is sun-dried tomato with Dukkah spice topping. As you’ll notice in the recipe, I prefer to use water instead of oil in my home-made houmous. I find that it doesn’t compromise the flavour, yet it greatly reduces the calorie content (which is a bonus as it means I can eat twice as much ;) )

Dukkah – the Egyptian aromatic mix of nuts, seeds, herbs and spices – has become the new salt and pepper in my house, and I sprinkle it on pretty much everything. While you can make it yourself, it’s fairly cheap to buy ready mixed. No two places make Dukkah the same, so their flavours can vary a lot. A favourite of mine is made by Olives et Al. You’ll find them in health food stores and farm shops across the UK, as well as online.

Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus with Dukkah Spice Topping

Baba ganoush is an aubergine (eggplant) dish, used for dipping or spreading on flatbreads. It’s usually made from the flesh only, but I prefer to blend up the whole aubergine. I think the skin adds to the flavour and texture of the dish, as well as adding more nutrients and fibre (feel free to omit the skin though if you prefer!)

Tahini is an essential component of houmous and baba ganoush. It varies in flavour and consistency depending on the brand. Some tahinis I’ve tried have been too bitter for my taste. My current favourite brand is Achva (available from Tesco and Morrisons). This tahini is creamy, has a beautiful flavour and a pourable consistency (so great for dips and dressings).

Baba Ganoush

The salads on mezze platters tend to be dainty so I make a ‘confetti salad’ of finely chopped cucumber, tomato and red pepper. On top, I drizzle one of my all-time favourite home-made tangy creamy dressings. The dressing is oil-free, and the creaminess comes from ground hemp seeds. The hemp also adds a lovely boost of protein and omega 3 to the salad.

Confetti Salad with Creamy Tangy Hemp Vinaigrette

And the final dish is full of beautiful olives. My favourite olives are those marinaded in herb or spice-infused extra virgin olive oil. Once the olives have been eaten, the oil can be used for dipping bread, mixing into pasta or drizzling on pizzas.

Olives et al Olives

Olives et al kindly sent me some of their new Smoky Chipotle Chilli Olives to try. These feature whole Amphissa olives, marinaded in extra virgin olive oil infused with Chipotle chillis. They were so tasty, and perfect for me as the chilli flavour is very subtle. I find that supermarket marinaded olives can be a bit ‘hit and miss’, but I’ve loved every single jar of olives that I’ve tried from Olives et al. They have an amazing selection so, if you’re in the UK, do check it out.

Mezze Platter

 Do you like mezze? If so, what are your favourite dishes?



Filed under Healthy Snacking, Lunches & Light Dinners

Healthy Snacking – ‘Crispy Kale’ (Kale Chips) with Gomasio

One of my first ever blog posts, back in June 2011,  was about ‘crispy kale’ and, to this day, it remains one of my all-time favourite snacks

While a lot of health food bloggers are currently enjoying raw kale salads or kale smoothies, my taste buds aren’t quite there yet. I do, however, LOVE crispy kale and will happily munch my way through handfuls of the stuff.

Crispy kale is also one of the best ways I’ve found to encourage Lil’ L to eat kale. I often put a bowl out as a starter or as a side dish and, before I even get to sit down at the table, the whole lot’s been demolished!


Over the past three years, I’ve been refining the way I make my crispy kale. In the early days, I had the oven temperature too high, so the kale would quickly burn on the edges. I’ve slowly lowered the temperature from 180C, and found 150C to be spot on – the kale becomes totally crispy with no burned edges or soggy leaf in sight.

Making Crispy Kale - About to go in the oven

Roasting the kale at the lower temperature also makes it stay crispier for longer. In an airtight container, it will stay crispy for a couple of days. (I’ve only trialled storing it for test purposes mind you, as there’s never any leftovers in my house!)

Crispy Kale (Kale Chips)

My favourite way to serve crispy kale is with a touch of salt, sugar and sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. I tend to grind the sesame seeds first, as it helps them to stick to the kale leaves. As you probably know, ground toasted sesame and salt is a Japanese seasoning called ‘gomasio’. You can buy it ready made in health food stores, but it’s super simple and cheap to make yourself.

Gomasio (Toasted Sesame Seeds & Salt Seasoning)

I use gomasio as a seasoning for lots of our Asian dishes, including stir fries. Since I like to liberally sprinkle it on, I only add a small amount of salt. I find that toasted sesame has a great flavour anyhow. It just needs a touch of salt to make the flavour ‘pop’.

Thanks to the two main ingredients – kale and sesame – this is one super healthy snack! Just one cup of cooked kale provides 354% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A, 89% of the vitamin C, and 1328% of vitamin K! Kale also provides good amounts of calcium and iron, as well as protein, dietary fibre and omega 3 essential fatty acids. Sesame seeds are also packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, rich in minerals including calcium and iron, and a good source of protein, dietary fibre and B vitamins.

Crispy Kale (Kale Chips)

Here’s the recipe for what is, for me, the perfect crispy kale. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Crispy Kale (Kale Chips)

Do you make crispy kale / kale chips? If so, I’d love to hear what your favourite seasoning is. Have you tried Chinese, Mexican or Indian spices yet?


Filed under Healthy Snacking

Malaysian Coconut Noodle Soup (Vegan Style)

Happy Friday everyone! And to all our friends over in the USA, Happy Fourth of July! I hope you’re having a fantastic extended weekend

Today, I thought I’d share one of our all-time favourite noodle soups. It’s my family-friendly vegan take on Malaysian Laksa Lemak. This dish usually contains a fair amount of spice, but I’ve toned down the heat to make it suitable for youngsters (and lightweights like me!) It makes a great weekend lunch or light weekday meal.

Malaysian Coconut Noodle Soup

While you wouldn’t normally expect to see smoked tofu in this dish, I find the flavour works beautifully with the fragrant spiced gravy. I use Cauldron’s Organic Smoked Tofu (which you’ll find in the chiller cabinets in most of the UK’s major supermarkets). Its smoky flavour is very mild which suits Lil’ L (other brands have been ‘too smoky’ for him). If the smoky flavour isn’t your thing, feel free to substitute with sesame tofu or your own marinated tofu.

Caudron Smoked Tofu

If you want to keep the dish gluten-free, go for a brown rice noodle rather than wholewheat. One of my current favourite organic noodle brands is King Soba, which is currently available in the UK from independent health food shops and online. They cost £1.89 for 250g, which is a good price for organic noodles. If you can’t find them locally, you can buy them directly from King Soba, and they offer free delivery when you order six packs.

King Soba Noodles


Malaysian Coconut Noodle Soup

This recipe was featured in the latest issue of Fresh Vegan. Launched just a few months ago, this digital magazine has already gathered a huge following. It was recently nominated in the VegfestUK’s best publication awards, alongside well established magazines such as Vegetarian Living, so a huge well done to the FV team

What I love about Fresh Vegan (and what sets it apart from other food magazines) is the diversity of its features. It includes restaurant and product reviews, travel features, interviews and much, much more. If you’re interested in hearing the ethos behind the magazine, there’s a great interview with its creators over at

Fresh Vegan June 2014 Issue


Have you got any plans for the weekend? I’m really excited about the Tour de France, which starts tomorrow in Leeds (UK) no less! It’s my favourite sporting event of the year. And of course we still have the World Cup and Wimbledon. In between watching all this sport, I’m looking forward to heading out on my bike. A little bit of tennis (or ‘bat and ball’ in my case) might be in order too. Whatever you’re up to, enjoy! xx



Filed under Dinners, Lunches & Light Dinners

Canada Day and a Clarks UK Maple Syrup Giveaway!

It’s Canada Day!  Here’s wishing all our Canadian friends a very happy holiday 

Happy Canada Day

Never one to miss a party, I’m joining in the celebrations with a day coloured red and white, and filled with lots of yummy maple syrup!

If you’ve seen my recipes, you’ll know how much I love the golden nectar! I first experienced maple syrup during a vacation to Banff in the 90s. I was blown away by its incredible flavour. Each morning, I’d pile my plate high with pancakes and then drown them in maple syrup. It’s a good thing I spent all day on the slopes as I probably ate my body weight in pancakes and syrup that week! :P

Strawberry Dairy Free Cheese Cake

Strawberry Dairy-Free “Cheese” Cake

I still love to drizzle maple syrup all over my pancakes, but these days I use it for so much more. It’s my favourite sweetener for granolas, cakes, brownies, vegan cheesecakes, jellies, smoothies, and glazed nuts. I also use it for savoury dishes including stir fries, as well as for marinades and salad dressings.

Lush Berry Jelly (Vegan)

Lush Berry Jelly (“Jello”)

It’s one incredibly versatile sweetener!

And here are just a few of the maple-sweetened recipes from fellow bloggers that I’m really looking forward to trying out…

Vegan Richa Coconut Crusted French Toast

Baked Coconut Crusted French Toasts by Vegan Richa
Photo Credit: Vegan Richa

My VeganP Quinoa Lentil & Beet Salad

Quinoa, Lentil, Beet Salad with Miso Maple Mustard Dressing by My Vegan P
Photo Credit:  Kendal Mills

Roasted Balsamic Strawberries by Gluten-Free Vegan Love

Roasted Balsamic Strawberries by Gluten-Free Vegan Love
Photo Credit: Gluten-Free Vegan Love

A House in the Hills Vegan Rhubarb Cheescake

Vegan Rhubarb Cheesecake by A House in the Hills
Photo Credit: A House in the Hills

Don’t they all look scrumptious?

If you’re inspired to try a new maple syrup recipe, you may be interested in a fantastic new giveaway that I’m launching today! I’ve been in contact with Clarks UK and they have very kindly offered to give away two sets of their syrups (worth over £25.00) to my readers. Each set will include:

1 x 500ml Clarks Original Maple Syrup Blend
1 x 500ml Clarks Pure No.1 Medium Grade Maple Syrup
1 x 180ml Clarks Pure No.2 Amber Grade Maple Syrup
1 x 180ml Clarks Vanilla Original Blend

Clarks Giveaway Collage

To be in with a chance of winning, simply leave me a comment answering the question featured in the Rafflecopter below. Do make sure you tick the box in the Rafflecopter to register that you have done so! There are a number of additional ways you can enter in order to increase your chances of winning. You will find these listed in the Rafflecopter. All entries will be verified prior to the winner being selected.

This giveaway is *UK only* and open to residents aged 18 and over.

The closing date is Friday 12th July 2014 at midnight GMT. The winner will be selected at random and notified by email. The winner will have 7 days to respond. If they fail to do so, another winner will be selected at random.

New to Rafflecopter? It’s pretty easy! Simply click on ‘Use Your Email’ and enter a name and your email address (rest assured it won’t be published anywhere). You can also log in using your Facebook account, if you wish. A quick demo of how to use Rafflecopter can be accessed here.

* If you experience any technical problems when trying to enter the Rafflecopter, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll submit your entry for you *

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck everyone! xx

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Breakfast & Elevenses, Treats & Sweets