Blackberry Nice Cream

Our last Bountiful Basket included sixteen clamshells of delicious blackberries. We ate some of them fresh and froze the majority to use in smoothies. Since they are already frozen, I figured they would do well in a quick batch of nice cream.

If you remember my pistachio nice cream, you know that this non-dairy version of easily THE most popular frozen treat is just as satisfying and pretty darn healthy. It’s essentially a thicker version of a smoothie, into which you can add endless crunch factors like chocolate chips, nuts, or pretzels…just like “real” ice cream!

Blackberries not only make nice cream look rich and vibrant, they are extremely nutritious. One serving of blackberries provides approximately one third of your daily recommended fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C intake. They are the perfect balance of sweet and tart and really compliment salads, smoothies, and desserts.

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Another feature of today’s nice cream rendition is cacao nibs, which I’m using to top my treat. Raw cacao nibs are bits of cacao beans, which are used to make the chocolate that we are used to eating. The raw nibs have all of the health benefits of chocolate without the added sugar, salt, and fat. They are most notably jam-packed with flavonoids, cell-improving antioxidants also found in tea and berries. You’re getting a double dose of antioxidants with this dessert!

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Not ready to let go of holiday sweets? Indulge in a dessert that will help you to bounce back from the holidays madness and reach your fitness goals. 🙂 Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: NICE CREAM

Serves 3-4

  • 2 frozen bananas (or fresh bananas and ice)
  • ¾-1 cup specialty ingredients –> I’m using 1 heaping cup of partially-thawed blackberries.
  • ¼-½ tsp extract of choice (optional, and amount depends on flavor intensity) –> I’m using ¼ tsp almond.
  • Pitted medjool dates as needed for sweetness –> I’m using 2.
  • Juice or plant milk until desired consistency (start with just a splash) –> I’m not using any (the juice from the blackberries is enough to puree my ingredients).
  • ¼ cup extras for mixing in by hand (optional) – think nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc. –> I’m topping my nice cream with raw cacao nibs and raw chopped almonds.

Combine all ingredients (except the extras) in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Ready to enjoy immediately, or place in the freezer while you prepare any desired sauces or toppings.

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Wonderberries Turned Homemade Triple-Berry Jam

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When I updated you on the progress of our garden, I shared a photo of the wonderberries (AKA sunberries) that had mysteriously begun growing there.  By the time we returned from Michigan on Sunday, they were ready to harvest.  Not naturally very sweet, we knew we were going to use them to make jam.

DSC_2065As you know, I’ve been craving peanut butter and jelly this pregnancy.  Between my PB&J smoothie, PB&J atop rice cakes and graham crackers, and good old PB&J sandwiches, I’ve got my cravings covered!  The downside to many jellies and jams, however, is that they are loaded with sugar.  Today, I’m making a triple-berry jam—inspired by our wonderberry harvest—that is low in added sweetener.

First, a few definitions that will help us along the way:

PECTIN:  A natural gelling agent found in the cell walls of plants.  You can purchase pectin in powdered form to make vegan jelly, jam, or jello.  (Gelatin, which is not vegan, comes from animals, and is found in such items as gummy bears and marshmallows.)  This pectin brand is available at Whole Foods.

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JELLY:  A smooth pectin-based mixture that contains fruit juice (or, unfortunately, artificial flavors that mimic real fruit) and no chunks of actual fruit.

JAM:  A less smooth pectin-based mixture that contains mashed, pureed, or whole fruits.

Of course, I am making jam.  As mentioned in a previous post, I try to keep my consumption of juice to a minimum; whole fruits contain more fiber, which aids in preventing the conversion of sugar to fat.  For my sweetener, I’m using light agave syrup, which I first introduced to you with my coleslaw formula.  Compared to many (if not most) store-bought jams, mine contains very little added sugar and no artificial sweeteners of any kind.

I must warn you, despite containing few ingredients, making jam does contain quite of few steps, including several rounds of boiling.  Having a helper in the kitchen makes a big difference, and you can make jam in bulk to save time later on.  🙂  This jam keeps at room temperature for one year, but should be refrigerated and consumed in three weeks once a jar is opened.  Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE:  JAM

Makes 2 small jars or 1 large*

  • 2 cups raw or precooked fruit**  –>  I’m using ½ cup wonderberries, ½ cup raspberries, and 1 cup blackberries.
  • 2 tbsps sweetener  –>  I’m using agave syrup.
  • 1 tsp pectin
  • 1 tsp calcium water (prepare according to package directions)

*You can find mason jars at many retailers including dollar or 99 cent stores.

**A hard fruit like apples will be easier to mash or puree if it has been precooked, but a softer fruit like raspberries will mash easily in a raw state.

Fill a pot with water enough to completely cover your mason jars in standing position and bring to a boil.  Add both the jars and their lids.  After the jars have boiled for a few minutes, turn the heat on low and keep the jars in the hot water.

Next, peel and precook your fruit, if necessary.  Place your raw and/or cooked fruit in a bowl and mash, or, puree in a blender or food processor.

DSC_2072Combine your mashed fruit and calcium water in a pot and bring to a boil.  While you are awaiting the boil, combine your pectin and sweetener in a separate dish.

DSC_2073Add the mixture to the boiling fruit and stir an additional 1-2 minutes, until the pectin is dissolved.  Remove from the heat.

Using tongs, remove your hot jars from the other pot and bring the water to a boil again.  While you are waiting for yet another boil, pour the jam into the jars, approximately ¼ of an inch from the top.  Wipe the rims clean and seal.  Once the water is boiling, submerge the jars in an upright position and boil for 10 minutes.

Use tongs to remove the hot jars and place on the countertop to cool.  Refrigerate once opened.

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