As part of my weekend ritual I’ve been scrolling around countless vegan and vegetarian blogs. I enjoy spending early Friday afternoons doing just that and have been especially in the mood as of late given my hankering for all things sweet (and not having anything available to nip this craving in the bud). As I rifled through several amazing blogs I couldn’t help but marvel at the eye-popping and creative vegan/vegetarian/allergy sensitive dishes people are coming up that cater to Intolerants (and all the un-Intolerants as well mind you) out there. From raw truffles to fried garden vegetable quinoa and raw blueberry tarts to raw red velvet raspberry chocolate crepes (seriously: how the hell did that woman come up with those?!) I’ve spent the last hour in bliss and have started to silently pine for a dehydrator, a juicer and a local health food store that doesn’t spend most of the year fighting with customs in order to stock it’s shelves and provide a wider array of organic and natural food choices.
Anyhow, while flipping through these blogs a recurrent thought came to the fore regarding some of the best “ice cream” I’ve ever had. That’s the best ice cream, of course, post-2006 (after giving up dairy). I came across this goodness in Portland last year while staying with some welcoming and amazing couch surfers just outside the city centre. Incredible chefs with an insatiable love for food, our hosts cooked up a storm our second night in town, but unfortunately I had spent the better part of the day in bed thanks to a faulty oyster I had eaten the night before prior to catching Sarah McLachlan in concert (what can I say, I got courageous in my excitement to see her). Anyhow, I hadn’t eaten anything since the oyster mishap and up until the late afternoon I was on the floor with cramping and waves of nausea.
So not cool.
By early evening the worst of the food poisoning had passed and while I was hesitant to put anything in my stomach, I knew I should eat something. My hosts, who had slaved over their impressive meal during the day saw to it that my partner and their best friend were well fed and then hunted around for something bland that I could kick start my digestive juices with. I munched on a couple of saltines, putting my gluten rule to the side, and sipped on a bit of ginger ale. It did the trick initially so I got a bit bolder and tried some polenta, but my stomach balked immediately. It wasn’t ready. For the polenta at least.
What I was prepared for, I soon found out, was this:
This is “ice cream.” This is unbelievably good ice cream. Made from hemp seed, Living Harvest has gotten madly creative in giving the power back to lactose Intolerants through producing items that couldn’t even be looked at before in fear of sparking bloating, cramps and intestinal hysteria. With nine different types of ice cream and ice cream bars, as well as a host of other items, Living Harvest successfully developed various hemp-based products (frozen and non-) that rely on the magic of the hemp seed, contain organic ingredients (e.g. in the vanilla bean ice cream: hempmilk, tapioca, sugar, sunflower and/or safflower oil, vanilla bean, guar gum, etc.) and taste so frighteningly close to the real thing, some Intolerants may get faux symptoms because they think they’re actually having something with milk in it.
The very cool thing about their products is that they keep it as real as possible, which means I didn’t fret much about the ingredient list, and they manage to maintain a calorie/nutrition index that looks like this:
meaning one can’t help but feel mildly smug at throwing back a serving…if not two.
The friend of our hosts , bless her heart, had scoured Whole Foods to find something dairy free, gluten free and without coconut for dessert (without knowing I wasn’t eating much of anything that day) and she found the Vanilla Bean ice cream. Though the polenta unfortunately didn’t work out, I was given a bowl of the ice cream by my partner shortly after dessert was served as he was so blown away by the fact that it was a non-dairy ice cream, it was made with hemp AND it was good. He insisted I put up with any possible cramps and give it a try since he had already given it the seal of approval (and being the finicky Un-Intolerant gourmand that he is…that says something) and wanted to see what I thought.
I put a spoonful in my mouth and I’m pretty sure I momentarily blacked out. Overcome by the subtle sweetness, richness in texture, impressive notes of vanilla and the nutty aftertaste, I recall letting out an audible ohhhuuuummmmmmm as I let the flavour overtake my tongue. I could feel the emotion rising in my throat thanks to the feeling of being overwhelmed and thrilled all at once at having my first ice cream in ages. I took another mouthful, and another until my spoon hit the bottom of the bowl with a soft metallic ring. I think might have even licked the bowl clean. For real.
No shame. No after affects. Only pleasure. Pure childish pleasure of having a a bowl of vanilla ice cream with raspberries on top. I tell you, there isn’t a month that goes by since that day where I don’t spend a few hours daydreaming (scheming really) about how to get a shipment of ice cream past customs if I were to order it online.
Oh yes, the brand name says it all. That ‘ice cream’ is worth pushing aside the temptation and was, quite honestly, worth crying a bit over. Every. Blasted. Salty. Tear.