banana strawberry basil soft serve

If you’re as old as I am, you might have the memory of hanging out on a front porch on a sweltering summer day waiting for the ice cream truck to round the corner. The desultory arguments about how to spell “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” would melt in a milisecond as we all hit the pavement at top speed to beg for change from our moms to buy a creamy treat.

It hasn’t been sweltering very much here in Portland so far this summer, but that hasn’t kept me from wanting to make good use of my frozen banana stash. Much as I love my classics Banana “Caramel” Ice Cream Sundae and Melting Drumstick Dessert, I was on the lookout for something a little bit different.

That’s when I had the good fortune to find my good friend Cathy Fisher’s  facebook post strawberry banana basil ice cream. If you follow her wonderful blog Straight Up Food like I do, you know she works wonders with simple whole food, making delicious plant-based creations all without oil, salt or sugar. Cathy has taught me a lot about how to simplify my meals and still make them delicious. She’s one of my favorite people and vegan food bloggers, and I always enjoy seeing the dinner plates she posts on facebook nearly every night.  I was intrigued by the flavor combination of this unusual vegan ice cream, and decided to give it a try. You can see her enticing photo and get her recipe here.

I was impressed that Cathy’s ice cream looked so creamy yet was not made in an ice cream maker. But, like my other good plant-based blogger friend Lee, over at Veggie Quest, I didn’t want to wait the two hours required to freeze the blended mixture.  Lee had me laughing out loud and screaming for ice cream in her post Five Minute Vegan Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream, in which she promises a “scrumptious soft serve that tastes like cherry sorbet and chocolate ice cream had a baby.” Once you stop laughing at her great way with words, head on over to her blog and see the mouth watering photos and get the nearly instant recipe.

Inspired by the five minute technique, I decided I would try to adapt Cathy’s banana strawberry basil recipe to fit in that nearly instant mode. It isn’t quite as creamy as the original recipe must be, but the flavor combination would have truly knocked my  socks off if I had been wearing any. I tweaked the ingredients a little based on what I had, so I only used a splash of non-dairy milk. I also added a splash of lime juice to make the flavors pop, and a single deglet date. I think it’s my new favorite soft serve dessert, and that’s saying a lot from a woman who usually requires her banana soft serve be covered in fudgy homemade carob sauce. This banana strawberry basil wonder needs no such topping to taste truly amazing. All the complexity of flavor is wrapped right into the soft serve.

Banana Strawberry Basil Vegan Soft Serve

banana strawberry basil soft serve

the equivalent of one frozen banana, broken into pieces

heaping 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries

1 deglet date, chopped

a few fresh basil leaves

a splash of lime juice

a splash of non-dairy milk (I used homemade hazelnut milk)

Put all the ingredients in the food processor and wait a few minutes. Turn it on and whir it up until it’s the consistency of soft serve. Spoon it into a dish and enjoy!

Thank you, Cathy, for inspiring me to try a new flavor combination I would never have thought of without your recipe. (Cathy’s patience results in pieces of basil you can actually see without a microscope, so you might want to try her method over mine. Patience pays off.) And thanks Lee, for goading me on in my impatience about not wanting to wait more than five minutes to try this new combo out. When I get around to having some frozen cherries, your chocolate cherry vegan treat is going to have a carob flavored cousin!

And because three’s the magic number, I’m also sending you to The Full Helping’s 10 minute Raw, Vegan Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream. Gena’s recipes are a constant source of inspiration for me; this one is true blue evidence of that. Now that I am lucky enough to have 5 quarts of u-pick blueberries in my freezer, you can bet I am going to whip up a version of this one, too.

Memory sketch of blueberries about to get "tickled" into the bucket on Sauvie Island

Memory sketch of blueberries about to get “tickled” into the bucket on Sauvie Island

If you don’t follow these three wonderful ladies and their blogs, you are missing out. Hop on over and subscribe. It truly does take a vegan village to help keep us all healthy and inspired, and resplendent with frozen summer treats!

Maria (moonwatcher)

ps: And look what I just made with a large peach, 1/4 cup of homemade hazelnut milk, about two teaspoons of good vanilla and a splash of freshly ground nutmeg and powdered ginger:

peach and cream slushie

Peach and Cream Slushie

I whirred it all up in the food processor and then let it freeze to slushie consistency–about 3 hours in my freezer. It takes a bit longer than 5 or 10 minutes, but it sure hit the spot.


chopped salad with red cabbage, orange and cilantro up close

Back when I was a smart-ass teenager, I triumphantly told my mother one day that parents most often spoke in 3 word imperative sentences: clean your room, watch your mouth, don’t be late, ask your father, set the table, do your homework, and so on. She was a good sport, and she thought that was pretty funny. But the truth is, she often had other colorful ways of using language to get our attention. One of her favorites was, “Well, if it was a snake, it would bite you!” This exclamation was applied to her or to us when the obvious was sitting right under one of our noses and we missed it.

I could call this easy salad an “if it was a snake” recipe because while I wondered what I was going to write about next for the last week or so (sometime while eating lunch), it suddenly occurred to me as I was staring down at yet another bowl of it I was about to tuck into that I’d invented and eaten this salad nearly every day for the past few weeks.

I’ve always been a big fan of red cabbage.  In fact it’s one of the first vegetables my son Mike would eat when he was a small boy. Perhaps this was due to the fact that we used to get veggie burritos at a place called Mother’s Market in Costa Mesa, California, as a treat after a busy day of teaching for me. At  Mother’s the fed a lot of hungry surfers. so they stuffed their rather healthy burritos, wrapped in whole wheat tortillas, with homemade refried beans, cheese, shredded red cabbage, and carrots.  So for all of Mike’s growing up years and beyond, thanks to Mother’s, there has usually been some of red cabbage in my vegetable crisper to add to our own homemade burritos. It keeps a long time, and my co-op here in Portland will cut a large one in half for me. (In fact they have a sign in the produce department that proudly proclaims “we cut cabbages in half.”) It goes into stir fries, salads, burritos, tacos–you name it, usually alongside other veggies. But in this salad it’s the foundation and the star. The orange pieces, peel and all, give it a sweet-tart dimension and the cilantro rounds everything out, both with color taste, texture and good green nutrients. The dressing is a snap and can be made in the bottom of the bowl you are going to eat the salad in. As usual, I don’t measure, so these are approximations for coating the ingredients. Adjust to your liking.


As per my usual slapdash approach to  food posts, I did no photo prep for this recipe. Instead I took a shot of the salad after taking the first bite and suddenly realizing it was worth sharing on the blog. The little specks all over the sides of the bowl occurred because it’s also the bowl I mixed it in. I had to laugh that the surface of my desk, which is an old art tabletop I’ve had for decades passed on from the friend of an old friend, looks like the distressed wood surfaces so fashionable on food blogs where the bloggers really do have the class to spend time setting up their photos in a thoughtful manner. It’s not a picnic table, but it sure has seen a lot of art made, blog posts typed and plant-based bowls consumed on it. It’s one of my favorite surfaces in the whole wide world.

When it comes to recognizing a good salad, turns out it’s best to just go ahead and let that old snake bite. Red cabbage has a particularly impressive nutritional profile, which you can read about on World’s Healthiest Foods. While it wasn’t on the list of things my mother uttered in 3 word imperatives,  it’s still worth exclaiming about this 3 ingredient wonder: red cabbage rocks!

Maria (moonwatcher)


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