Banana Cashew Ice Cream {Vegan and Paleo}

Pizzelles are a big thing around our house.  My husband has some fairly strong Sicilian roots, and he takes his Italian desserts seriously.  One of his favorites?  Star Anise Pizzelles.  We don’t eat them often because 1) we rarely eat wheat and 2) we eat them ALL in one day because we have no “off” switch with these tasty discs.

EmptyShells
It’s a cookie and a cone!

I made gluten-free pizelles earlier this week, (my husband and son ate them all in less than an hour), and formed miniature waffle cones.  Then I asked you to help me fill them.  You came up with some amazing suggestions.  Here’s a sample of some of the suggestions:

  • Sweet Ricotta Cream
  • Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
  • Nutella Mousse/Nutella Marshmallow Creme/Nutella Anything
  • Tuna Poke with Avocado
  • Pulled Pork
  • Marmite
  • Whipped Cauliflour and “Fried” Chicken
  • Ben and Jerry’s new Jimmy Fallon Ice Cream (I love Jimmy.)

But the suggestion that hit home for me was Cashew Ice Cream.  Here’s why: I wanted to make a homemade version and have been experimenting with fast paleo recipes that don’t require a chemistry lesson from Mr. White or a trillion special ingredients.

BreakingBadCleanMeme
Mr. White tells it like it is.

Because ice cream should be easy and simple and thoroughly satisfying. And if we can make it healthy-ish, even better.

My favorite Sicilian gave me two thumbs up, which is hard to do.  He loves ice cream.  He loves pizzelles. Healthy ice cream in a quinoa pizzelle?  He’s in foodie love.

BananaIceCreamCone

So, here it is.  (Oh, and I named it after the reader who inspired me! Thanks, Terri.)

Stephen’s Cashew Banana Ice Cream – Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana, diced and then frozen solid
  • 1 Tbsp (heaping) cashew butter
  • 1/2 tsp grade B maple syrup (optional)
  • dash of vanilla extract (seriously, a few drops will do)
  • a pinch of cardamom or 3 drops cardamom bitters

Directions:

This takes some serious power so I suggest using a NutriBullet (what I use) or a BlendTec or Vitamix type of blender.  The banana is very solid and it could damage your less-powerful blenders.
  1. Take frozen banana pieces and blend until smooth.  You will probably have to pulse it first several times, and then scrape down the sides of the blender before you blend.
  2. Once banana is thoroughly blended, add the rest of the ingredients and blend until incorporated.  Be careful not to over blend, or your ice cream will be more like a warm milkshake.
  3. Pop in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up a bit, or eat right away. Top with chocolate chips, nuts, or blueberries.

If you want to try your hand at making mini-waffle cones, this quinoa flour recipe is perfect if you omit the baking soda.

Really, the possibilities are endless when you are using banana as the base.  I’m going to get creative this summer and see how many variations I can make.  Because ice cream.

Always Bananapants and Never Banana Hammocks,
Carrie

 

 

Love for My 20-Something, Do-Gooder Self

Back in the early 2000’s, I was a young woman on a Mission.  I went to school to become a paramedic.  I traveled the world doing charity work.  I was very active in my community, and wanted to change the world.  I was thirsty for adventure, but starving to do something truly great with my life.

I was a the very definition of a Do-Gooder.

Doing good in Mexico.
Doing good in Mexico.

By 23, I was well on my way.  School? Check. Decent job? Check. Guy I was totally in love with? Check. Saving the world on my horizon? CHECK.

By 24, I got a little sidetracked.  I suffered a massive broken heart.  My decent job turned into a nightmare. I didn’t finish all of my paramedic certifications.  I was floundering, but trying to hold on to my Mission.

So, I did what any confused 20-something does when they are paralyzed about their next move and riddled with heartache and anxiety and still believes saving the world is up to them: I moved to Germany.

I also drank beer.  Like it was water.

{Pro Tip: Beer is not water.}

I had a clear mission for moving to Germany, but to be honest, it was fueled by desperation.  I needed to get out of my own skin, but couldn’t.  Living in another country was the next best thing.  Dressing it up as humanitarian?  Well, that was even better.

I briefly lived in a crusty hostel, in exchange for bar tending off the books one night a week.  Then my (only) friend found a job for me as a nanny to a very wealthy family.  I loved the kids.  The mom was bananapants.  It didn’t last, and it most definitely didn’t end well.

Germany
Drinking wine and doing good things in Germany.

I ended up on some very new friends’ doorstep.  I was essentially homeless with no place to live.  They were truly welcoming and generous and took pity on me. I know I was a haphazard mess, looking for myself and never really knowing where to start or how to handle myself.  They knew it and were gracious.

I wasn’t as gracious to them, I’m sorry to say.

After globe trotting for the better part of two years, (including a stint in Mexico where I worked in the trash heaps with people who called living in the city dump Home), I settled down in Texas.  I took my first (and last job) working for a church.  That was a mistake and I was done six months in.  I wanted out.

By 26, I was back on track, and my Dream Job came to my rescue.

Except I wasn’t ready for my Dream Job. And it wasn’t really a dream.

Doing good in Guatemala.
Somewhere in Guatemala, living the dream. But not really.

I was SAVING THE WORLD, you guys.  And I sucked at it. And not just a little suck, but super duper Hoover Power Shop Vac suck. The areas of my job where I excelled were not big enough to overcome my massive amounts of suckage.  Plus, I was stretched too thin, paid too little, had some moral conflicts, hated the politics, and was burnt out before I even really found my pace.  Because as it turns out, saving the world is exhausting.  So is traveling the world.  I wasn’t brave enough to advocate for what I needed, and lacked the wisdom to know how to bow out gracefully.

I was terrified.  I was failing my Mission.  And I made dozens of people angry with me in the process.

I shut down.

I met my Dream Guy while I was at my Dream Job. I was ready for him, though, or so I thought. My Dream Guy kept me even when the Dream Job and I broke up.  To be honest, it was a relief to leave the job, even while it devastated me on every possible level. But my Dream Guy and I had a lot of growing up and overcoming to do, and our relationship was most definitely not a fairytale.

Everything I stood for, all of my goals and morals and ideals and unshakable beliefs were rocked to the core.  I felt like I was living in rubble, and ultimately the destruction was all my doing.

Fast forward almost 10 years.  I live in an amazing city.  I am still married to my Dream Guy, even though there’s no way I would ever call him that now.  He’s a legit human like the rest of us, and the things I cherish most about him have nothing to do with the perfect fantasy of who I wanted him to be.

I am doing work that I absolutely love.  It lights me up inside; cooking, sharing, writing, advocating for family and health and laughing along the way.

And my son, E.  Who changed me in ways I will never be able to adequately articulate, and made me completely his as only a child can do. He reminds me that I am The Luckiest.  Ever.

Family Beach
My Real Life now, and it’s (mostly) okay. For now.

I think about 20-something Carrie often.  I talk to her, remind her that things turned out (mostly) okay. I still get stuck in those failure places in my past. I’m going to write down those things I say to 20-Something Carrie, so if you ever start beating yourself up, you can read them to your 20-something self.  Or maybe you are a 20-something and you need a visitor from the future to tell you what’s up.  In any case, here it is.

Enjoy your 20’s.  Make mistakes.  Move across the world, drink the beer, kiss the cutie, buy a cake and dance on it with your bare feet, then watch the sunrise with your friends after staying up all night.  BE 20-SOMETHING.

Your heart is true.  Listen to it when it sends up a tiny red flag and chase it with abandon when it gives you a green light.  It will get broken.  It will mend.

The world never needed saving.  The world needs your love, your gifts, and your unique contributions, though. You will light up everyone around you when you feel lit up by what you do.

Stop worrying about pleasing everyone.  You aren’t in control of anyone but yourself.  Stop trying so hard to make everything okay, and work on making YOU okay.

Speaking of angry…You’re going to piss off a million people in your lifetime.  You will eventually piss them off for the right reasons, like sticking to your personal boundaries or leaving abusive or demoralizing relationships.  Pissing people off because you don’t know how to advocate for what you need so then you fall down a shame spiral and implode your life and other people’s lives?  Yeah, that’s way worse than speaking your mind.  Learn to be Brave and grow a steel backbone.

You will learn to leave well.  This one takes practice, but you will figure out how to walk across a bridge without burning it.  How to say thank you and honor people who have given you gems of life experience and wisdom.  Even if they’re terrible people and those gems were buried in a pile of poop, you’ve learned something from them.  Say a genuine thank you and then a gracious goodbye.

You are totally okay.  You’ve probably ruined your life by now.  That’s totally okay and maybe even necessary.  You’ll put it back together, and the world is full of people who love you and will help you find the broken pieces. Maybe they’ll even hand you a glue gun and beer while you piece your life back together.  Nothing lasts forever, even destruction.

Now I’m going to change a horrendously dirty diaper, work on my writing for the week, and remember the exceptionally wonderful things about my 20’s.

Love,
Carrie

 

 

Grain-Free Pizza Crust

pizza sliceOne of my least favorite things about doing TED is the complete and utter lack of pizza.  While we don’t eat pizza very often at our house, we favor quality ingredients and artistry when we do.  Before I started doing TED and we knew that my son had FPIES, we made our own sourdough pizza dough from scratch.  Since we can’t keep wheat in the house anymore, (too big of an exposure risk for my highly curious and allergic toddler), and I’m not a huge fan of the nut or cauliflower-based versions, I like to try NEW THINGS.  Like tapioca  and arrow root flours.

I’m going to preface this with the following disclaimer: THIS IS NOT CHEAP.  In fact, baking with alternative flours is fairly expensive unless you are able to buy your ingredients in bulk. Which I do.  Even then, I reserve this for the occasional pizza night, and it’s not something that makes it into our regular meal rotation.

One benefit of tapioca and arrow root is both are classified as resistant starch. Both are natural prebiotics, which feed the healthy gut bacteria and are an important part of every diet.  (Cooked, cold potatoes are also a wonderful source of resistant starch and are much easier on the wallet.) What Paleo diet fans are now discovering is the gut NEEDS carbs to feed that healthy gut bacteria, otherwise they starve.  We need healthy gut bacteria to combat the icky gut bacteria, like yeast, and maintain a symbiotic flora fauna balance.

This is my favorite way to get prebiotic goodness.  I mean, PIZZA.  C’mon.  I also like to add some great veggies and a little nitrate-free salami to the mix.  Here I used organic crushed tomatoes in a jar for my “sauce”, fresh chopped basil, S&P, full-fat mozzarella, nitrate-free salami from Trader Joe’s. I also topped it with fresh baby arugala after the pizza was done cooking, and before slicing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup arrow root flour (you can also sub tapioca, but I prefer the texture of arrowroot)
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  • 1 teaspoon REAL sea salt
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil, or melted ghee
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 large egg, whisked (I prefer duck eggs when available for baking)

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk until incorporated.
  2. Add warm water, ACV and oil, then stir.
  3. Whisk egg in a separate bowl, then add to flour mixture and stir until fully incorporated.
  4. Check the “tackiness” of your dough.  You want it to be a little bit sticky, but not so sticky that you can’t form a ball. Add a tbsp of coconut flour at a time until you have a slightly tacky dough, but not too much because you don’t want it to be too dry. It should be fairly soft and pliable.
  5. Form a ball out of your dough.

    dough ball
    (Dough will look like this)
  6. Using two largish sheets of parchment paper, put the dough ball in the center of the first (bottom) sheet, and then place the second (top) sheet over the dough ball.
  7. Using your rolling pin, gently roll dough out between the two pieces of parchment paper until it measures about 12″ in diameter.

    dough flat
    (I’m terrible at making circles.)
  8. Remove top sheet of parchment paper and poke several holes in the unbaked crust using a fork.
  9. Bake on parchment paper with a stone or baking sheet at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven, add toppings and bake another 3-5 minutes, or until everything is warm.
  11. Serve with joy!  Because pizza.

Tips:

Use as little stirring as possible, otherwise your dough will be dense.

Follow the directions.  This sh*t is expensive to mess up.  (Ask me how I know.)

Get adventurous with your toppings.

Drink a glass of wine. Or two.  And be sure to share, but not with the kids.

That’s Amoré!
Carrie

 

 

 

Scaling Walls

 Us, circa 2006
Us, circa 2006

When L and I were engaged, we threw parties to celebrate our last days as single people before becoming husband and wife.  His night consisted of beers with a few friends at his favorite taphouse.  Mine consisted of dinner and drinks at my apartment with my favorite 15 ladies.

Around 10:30pm, my party was in full swing. Something clinked on the glass door of my apartment balcony.  Then it clinked again. My roommate opened the sliding door to investigate. There was L.  Tipsy, happy, handsome, and radiating true love.  (His cousin was also there, serving as his designated driver, rolling his eyes.)

“What are you doing here?”, I asked, thrilled and radiating love right back.

“I love you, baby.  I wanted to say goodnight!”, he shouted up to me, all smiles.

“I love you, too!”, I shouted back.

My friends were giggling and swooning. You could cut the estrogen with a knife. And then.  Then.  HE CLIMBED UP THE WALL. He scaled two stories of  brick like Spiderman, hopped over the balcony fence and laid a perfect, passionate, beer-tinged kiss on my Bailey’s-flavored lips.  My friends aww’d and giggled, and I felt electrified with true love and devotion to my amazing future husband.

I had previously prided myself on not buying into the fairytale version of love and romance, FYI. We even embarked on several months of premarital counseling to untangle that toxic tale. But there it was. Possibility. This was TOTALLY a fairy tale moment.  My Prince Charming was making a valiant gesture of his devotion and true love mere hours before our pledge to be together other forever.

Fast forward a few months into newly-wedded bliss. And by bliss, I mean frequent fighting. L and I found ourselves locked into near-constant strife.  Most of the time, our arguments centered around petty things.  Dishes piled up by the sink.  My hair clogging the drain. Who’s turn was it to vacuum, anyway? What we were going to binge watch on Netflix. What was for dinner, and who’s responsibility was it to cook?  But those smaller annoyances opened the door to bigger issues. Sex.  Money.  Careers. Babies. Bodies. Validation.  This was most definitely not a fairy tale.

On one particular summer night, we were squawking at each other at full volume.  Wild gestures, name calling, and the lowest of blows thrown, “You sound just like your (insert family member)”.

Pro Tip: Negatively comparing your significant other to a family member is like throwing a lighted torch into a barrel of gasoline.

Now, we both have families who love us, parents who nurtured us, and siblings we care for deeply.  But we carry the positive and negative family interactions with us, allowing those deeply imprinted memories to make decisions for us in the heat of the moment.  Wild, easily triggered places hovering close to the surface, waiting for a spark, a breeze, or a drop of gasoline to ignite the fire.

We reminded each other of all the ways we sucked immensely. How we were just like a parent or sibling or distant relative. L stormed away from me, exclaiming he didn’t want to be near me.  I countered back that I didn’t even want to be in the same airspace, and he immediately went outside, slamming the door behind him.

I was furious.  HOW DARE HE WALK AWAY FROM ME.  Nevermind that I one-upped him in the leave-me-alone category.  He had the audacity to actually leave. That was it.  I stomped after him, ready to give him a serious piece of my mind and the hot side of my temper.  I opened the door to the balcony and slammed it behind me, dragging in a deep breath of oppressively humid summer air, ready to roar.

And then I saw L’s panicked face. A desperate”nooooooo!” escape from his lips as he lunged futilely for the already-shut door.

You see, the door automatically locked from the inside, and neither of us had keys.  Or phones.  L was shirtless, and I wasn’t wearing a bra. We were stuck on the balcony with no rescue in sight, feeling extraordinarily vulnerable.  This was NOT romantic.  And L was most definitely not Prince Charming any more than I was a Fairy Tale Princess.

We watched each other quietly, tensely, for a full minute, waiting for someone to throw the first verbal punch and lay blame for the locked door.  The evening air was suffocatingly hot, with the temperature rising as the clouds rolled in, trapping the heat.  We were both sweating buckets.

“What are we going to do?”, I asked meekly, staring hard at my bare feet.

Silence.

“This fighting.  It’s not worth it.  I love you.  You’re my friend.  I don’t want to tear you down.  I’m so sorry”, I whispered, tears mingling with the sweat on my cheeks.

“Me, too”, L whispered back as he wrapped his sticky arms around me.

Then we talked about our options to get back inside our home.

  1. Break one of the glass panes in the door with our bare hands and turn the knob. (Dangerous and expensive.)
  2. Scream for help until one of our neighbors called 911 to complain about the noise. (Possible, but seemed wasteful of fire department resources.)
  3. Wait until one of our other neighbors pulled into the parking lot, try to get their attention, and  ask them to call the property manager and wait for several hours rescue us. (The management was notorious for not answering calls after hours, so this seemed HIGHLY unlikely as a real possibility.)
  4. Send telepathic messages to my BFF, alerting her to our need for the spare key she carried. (Honestly, this was the best option except she would call first and we didn’t have our phones.)
  5. Scale three stories, without footholds or anything except hot concrete to break a fall. (Yep.  This was the winner.)

L surveyed the wall for a minute and then he scrambled down the brick face of our apartment building, carefully, skillfully, bravely. I winced and held my breath the whole time, only exhaling to give L an occasional direction where to put his hands and feet. He landed safely on the ground, ran upstairs to our front door, which we had miraculously left unlocked, and let me in.

We stayed up very late that night.  We made up.  We made dinner.  We made love.  And we made a decision to go back to counseling because it was clear neither of us could untangle the toxic tales we had been telling ourselves.  We could systematically scale those walls, explore and unearth the murky, beautiful, impossible spaces together, and figure out a way to get unstuck. But we needed help.

We STILL go to counseling, almost 8 years later. We have wanted to quit this marriage thing more times than I’m comfortable admitting (approximately 1,438), but we are committed to finding a way out of our unmanageable places, to meeting each other there and holding out our hands.  Sometimes, I scale the wall. Sometimes L does.  And most of the time, we shout down for help to someone who tells us how to navigate our way off the balcony.

We laugh about that night now.  How silly we were, how much like a cheesy sitcom it was, and how we really should have waited for a neighbor instead. The way out of conflict is often terrifying and funny. It’s part of the story we tell.  We shed lots of tears. Maybe a little blood.  We make too many mistakes. We laugh to cover our tension. We make messes.  We make jokes. We break our own hearts. But we choose each other.  We choose forgiveness and growth.  We choose everyday to let Love win.

And maybe therapy wins a little, too.

Kiss
Don’t let the passionate embrace fool you!  S*** got REAL pretty much immediately after this picture was taken.    {Photo Credit: Danielle Violet}