Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, NYC

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream Shop @ 48 E 7th St, NYC

When ice cream pops into your head, aside from Summer, you’re probably thinking cream.  While Van Leeuwen’s Artisan Ice Cream offers dairy-jul ice creams, they also have amazing, out-of-this-world vegan ice cream.  Even better, they have flavors that are typically made of dairy-like salted caramel 🙂  Interested yet?

Board of current flavors

Van Leeuwen really caters to all the different types of foodies – from classic ice cream flavor people to more adventurous ones like Turmeric Palm Sugar Cookie, non-vegan or vegan, and glutenful or gluten-free – this is the place to go to satisfy everyone’s ice cream wants (or more appropriately, needs).  Plus, with an awesome list of toppings like Cacao Nibs and Vegan Whipped Cream, it’s a fun place to mix and match modern flavors and toppings to create the perfect ice cream.  Not feeling ice cream?  They have a small glass display of delicious desserts like Carrot Apple Muffin (gf + vegan) and Sugar Cookies.  Oh, and they have milkshakes too, and you can always take home a pint of ice cream!

Vegan Matcha Green Tea and Salted Caramel

After negotiating with myself to narrow it down to 2 flavors, I came to the decision to order the Vegan Matcha Green Tea and Salted Caramel.  I was blown away, the green tea was fresh and the salted caramel tasted like real caramel (think Häagen Dazs’s Dulce de Leche).  My brother ordered the Vegan Mint Chip, and my dad ordered the Chocolate Caramel Cookie Crunch (with dairy), that was apparently really good as well.

I was happy to learn that not only did Van Leeuwen have delicious ice cream, but that they make their ice cream with simple ingredients.  For example, their normal ice cream has a base of fresh milk and cream, cane sugar, and egg yolks; their vegan ice cream has a base of housemade cashew milk, organic coconut milk, organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic cane sugar, pure cocoa butter, and organic carob bean.

Check out their shops (and trucks) all around NYC and Brooklyn!

P.S.  It’s definitely a splurge, but worth every penny 🙂

San Francisco’s Hometown Creamery Review

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Vegan chocolate sorbet in a ‘smidge’ size

I was blown away on my recent trip to San Francisco where I discovered the most delightful place that literally makes absolutely everything from scratch!

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My family and I were on a hunt to find some post-lunch treat, and thankfully, the Asian-like structure of Hometown Creamery caught our eyes.  There, my brother and I instantly looked into the glass freezer where nine small tubs of ice creams were showcased: roasted black sesame, chocolate sorbet, peanut butter chocolate fudge, fresh mint chip, French roast, fresh ginger, coconut, cookies n’ cream, and pluot sorbet.

My brother headed for the classic flavor of fresh mint chip, a personal favorite, while I went for the vegan chocolate sorbet (which I must replicate by the way!) in a ‘smidge’ size (an adorable term the creamery uses for their smallest cup).  Hometown Creamery offers six sizes (flight being a dreamy assembly of 5 different scoops) in either a cup or homemade waffle cone.  If you choose to go an alternate route, Hometown Creamery offers more options, such as sundaes, milkshakes, coke floats and ice cream sandwiches with homemade (of course) cookies.

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Vegan Chocolate Tart

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Many can agree that nothing is quite as good as chocolate, and this tart is no exception!  This Easter, I was a little stuck on what recipe I should make.  I came across a vegan chocolate tart on Bon Appétit, and decided I must make it!  Within an hour, you’ll have an instant crowd pleaser!  To make it gluten free friendly, I just swapped their whole wheat flour for a normal gluten free flour blend, and oat flour to make the flour consistency heavier.  Also, I used maple syrup (grade A, dark amber) instead of light agave syrup, but you can use either one.

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The crust is crispy and hearty with oats, and a little chocolate flavor.  The filling is super rich and creamy which is why I cut the tart in small pieces.  Warning: You will go back for more!  When you bit in, you get the crumble from the crust, and smoothness from the filling which is quite a pleasure to eat!

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The coconut oil helps the chocolate melt into your mouth, and the little amount of espresso enhances the chocolate flavor.  This recipe heavily depends on the quality of cocoa powder you use.  For such a chocolatey dessert, I recommend Valrhona’s cocoa powder – it is such a treat to use and eat!  For the actual chocolate, if you really want it to be dark, use about 4 out of the 7 oz in 100% chocolate.  Don’t worry – the filling will still be sweet!  I also sprinkled flaked sea salt on top, which is delicious.

Enjoy this recipe!

NOTE: Depending on the size pan you use, you might have extra filling left.  If you do, Bon Appétit recommends you use it for truffles, or I recommend melting some of it (if it isn’t already melted), and mixing it in with almond butter!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Vegan Chocolate Tart
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Vegan, gluten free
 
Ingredients
Crust
  • 1¼ cup oats
  • ½ cup gluten free flour blend
  • ¼ cup oat flour
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted, slightly cooled
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
Filling
  • ½ tsp espresso powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 7 oz dairy free dark chocolate, melted, slightly cooled
  • ⅔ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt, plus more
Instructions
Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease (with coconut oil) a rectangular pan, 9 inch diameter pan, or a 13¾ x 4½ inch tart pan with removable bottom.
  2. Pulse oats, flours, coconut oil, maple syrup, cocoa, salt, and cinnamon in a blender until the mixture looks like wet sand.
  3. Firmly press into bottom and up the sides of pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool.
Filling
  1. Dissolve espresso powder in ¾ cup of hot water in a blender. Add cocoa and let sit 5 minutes.
  2. Add melted chocolate, maple syrup, vanilla, coconut oil, and1/4 tsp salt. Pulse for 30 seconds,
  3. Scrape filling into cooled tart shell and smooth top. Add sprinkled salt on top.
  4. Chill in refrigerator for at least one hour. Bring out 15-20 minutes before serving.
Notes
Tart can be made 2 days ahead. Keep it chilled.

 

Mars, Inc. to Remove all Artificial Colors from Food

As food consumers are evolving and becoming more aware of their health, Mars, Inc. (a food manufacturer ) decided to remove all artificial colors from their human food.  More than 50 products will be altered such as Skittles, M&Ms, and Snickers.

M&Ms and many more candies are about to face a major change

Although there are no pieces of evidence that artificial colors cause negative changes for humans, “consumers today are calling on food manufacturers to use more natural ingredients in their products,” says Mars, Inc..  The company is working hard to ensure that the colors of the beloved candies will be just as vibrant, and will be seeing changes over the course of five years.  The CEO of Mars, Grant F. Reid says, “Eliminating all artificial colors from our human food portfolio is a massive undertaking, and one that will take time and hard work to accomplish.”

Eliminating artificial colors from their foods was a hug step – let’s take a look at the ingredient list of one of Mars, Inc.’s products, M&Ms:

MILK CHOCOLATE (SUGAR, CHOCOLATE, SKIM MILK, COCOA BUTTER, LACTOSE, MILKFAT, SOY LECITHIN, SALT, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR), SUGAR, CORNSTARCH, LESS THAN 1% – CORN SYRUP, DEXTRIN, COLORING (INCLUDES BLUE 1 LAKE, YELLOW 6, RED 40, YELLOW 5, BLUE 1, RED 40 LAKE, BLUE 2 LAKE, YELLOW 6 LAKE, BLUE 2), GUM ACACIA.
In just M&Ms, there are 9 artificial colors!  Although getting rid of 9 artificial colors is a major improvement, there are still artificial flavors left.  To begin, what even are artificial flavors, and what are they made of?
Artificial flavors are chemicals that come from inedible sources and are processed to taste like a certain flavor.  The flavor can be made from anything like petroleum (a mixture present in gasoline) to paper pulp.
In addition to the artificial flavors, there are also highly processed ingredients such as soy lecithin, and dextrin, and corn syrup.
To make soy lecithin, soybean oil is extracted from the raw soybeans using chemicals. Then,  water is mixed with the soy oil until the lecithin (mixture of phospholipids and oils) separates from the oil.  After, the lecithin is dried and is sometimes bleached using hydrogen peroxide.
Dextrin is a starch and is prepared by first heating and drying starch.  Then, it is treated with hydrochloric acid to produce a powder used for binding.

As many know, corn syrup  is a very bad ingredient that goes through an immense amount of processing – too much to write!  (If you are curious to learn about the manufacturing of corn syrup, visit this link: http://www.madehow.com/Volume-4/Corn-Syrup.html)

Mars, Inc, has definitely proven that food corporations can change, but hopefully, sooner than later, they will go one healthier step forward, and eliminate their artificial flavors as well.

Works Consulted

“Corn Syrup.” How Corn Syrup Is Made. N.p., 2016. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

Kresser, Chris. “Harmful or Harmless: Soy Lecithin.” Chris Kresser. N.p., 25 Oct. 2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

“Mars, Incorporated to Remove All Artificial Colors from Its Human Food Portfolio.” PR Newswire. Mars, Incorporated, 05 Feb. 2016. Web. 14 Feb. 2016.

“M&Ms Nutrition.” M&Ms. M&Ms, 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

“New Processing Technology for Dextrin Manufacturing.” Technifax (n.d.): n. pag. Little Ford. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

 

Kesté Pizza NYC

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Finding gluten free pizza is a challenge, but finding delicious gluten free pizza is even more of one.  Luckily, I’ve found a place that will satisfy everyone’s needs!

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Kesté is a quaint pizzeria located on the charming Bleecker Street in nyc.  They offer so many delicious foods.  But first, the amazing gluten free, neapolitan, and wood fired pizza.  Unlike many places, Kesté does not have any milk powder in the pizza dough, so for people that have sensitivity, you don’t have to worry!  I ordered a gluten and dairy free marinara pizza, and immediately fell in love.  It had a crunchy and slightly smoked crust caused by the wood fire oven, and the rest had a chewy consistency just like neapolitan pizza.  It was topped with fresh (dairy free) tomato sauce.  Mmmm.

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The dough itself had hints of rice and potato making it super tasty.  After asking the staff what flours they use, they responded that they use Caputo’s Fiore Glut flour.  Also, if you don’t have the time to sit down and enjoy the pizza, just simply ask to purchase  some pizza dough, and you can bake it at home!  Kesté offers 15 types of gluten free pizza like Capricciosa, Pistachio e Salsiccia, and more. Check out their menu for more!

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If you’re worried about bringing your non gf friends to such a place, DO NOT WORRY!  Kesté was only voted best Margherita pizza in nyc by Time Out.  My Italian family enjoyed the pizza so much, that they claimed it was better than in Italy.  My brother even ate two whole pies!

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There’s really only one way for you to try the magnificence of Kesté, so visit it and eat up!

Top 6 Stands at the Gluten Free Expo

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On Sunday, I visited the GF & AF Expo at Secaucus, NJ, USA’s largest gluten free and allergen friendly event!  It was fantastic!  It was so great to see the gluten free community come together, ask questions, gain knowledge, but most importantly, find amazing food.

I was in awe of how many brands there were, and how delicious most of them were.  Some brands that I have over looked in the past, surprised me today.  Famous brands like Cheerios were there, and some newer ones like Luce’s.  The trend among most of these brands was definitely desserts, but I also saw many pizzas and snacks.

Overall, there was deliciousness.  Here were some of the highlights:

                                                                                                            Luce’s Gluten-Free Artisan Bread

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Definitely one of the best stands there!  All you do is buy the package, add water, and bake.  No eggs, no dairy, no nuts.  The ingredient list is very simple – no additives or preservatives. The bread taste was mind blowing!  Crunchy outside, and chewy inside – just like real artisan bread (just way better).  My favorite flavor was the Italian bread.  You can put anything from cashew butter to tomato sauce with it.

The Really Great Food Company

The name says it all.  Everything I tasted was more than really great.  They had multiple cake mixes displayed, but they have more on their website that I’m yet to try out!  Everyone who passed by said comments like “these are the only cake mixes I buy” and “oh my gosh is this actually gluten free?”.   With each mix, the company encourages you to make  your own variation such as adding maple syrup to the golden cake mix.  My mom loved the banana bread and pumpkin bread.  These cakes will make you love cake more than you could ever imagine.

Food for Life

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If you were a fan of whole grain, hearty sandwich bread, this is the bread you need to buy.  So good.  The Sprouted for life Almond Bread was full of healthy ingredients like sprouted chia, quinoa, and millet.  Also, the gluten free english muffin was amazing, and they paired it with sunflower butter by Once Again.

                                                                                                            Wholly gluten free

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If you don’t have the time to bake brownies for the bake sale, these are the brownies for you.  They were by far the best pre-made brownies there!  They’re peanut, soy, tree nut, sesame seed, casein, dairy, and wheat free.  A bonus is that Wholly gluten free makes their products in a gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, soy, nut, and casein free environment for those who are super sensitive!

   Oatmega

IMG_2537Although these bars contain whey, a product of dairy, my mother tried them and said they were amazing.  They were almost like a cookie but crammed with protein and fiber.  The flavors she recommends are the chocolate peanut crisp and the lemon chia.

 

Jennifer’s Way

One of the most favorite stands was  Jennifer’s Way.  Jennifer Esposito, the
creator of Jennifer’s Way delicious food founded a store in NYC dedicated to gluten free, refined sugar free, and dairy free desserts and breads!  Jennifer was a pioneer in the gluten free world and a great role model for many!  Her products are truly astonishing.  I have visited her store multiple times and always am amazed of how flavorful her food is.  My favorite products are her pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and sesame seed small dinner roll.

 

IMG_2552Mo Pweeze Bakery

Everything about this company was adorable!  I tasted their double vanilla cupcake  and immediately fell in love.  Their products are dairy free, egg free, nut free, gluten free, soy free, sesame free, vegan, and a wonderful part – customizable!  So if you have an event coming up, it is the place to order your next cake or cupcakes.  And I say, “Mo pweeze!”

Lots and lots of great foods!  And great alternatives when you need to step aside from the kitchen (for just a bit)!