Raw ice cream of your dreams

Aside from the Raw Mini Pie Challenge testing extravaganza that occurred over the weekend (we’ll be announcing the winners tomorrow!), Lisa and I also put on one heck of a raw dessert demo at the 27th annual Vegetarian Food Festival at Harbourfront Centre.

This particular festival has had a special place in my heart since moving to Toronto in 1998. Known as the largest event of its kind in North America, it is a place where like-minded individuals gather to celebrate cruelty-free food, health and advocacy, discover delicious new products and ideas, and enjoy a variety of inspiring presentations and cooking demos.

And it is the first place where I felt I truly belonged. Growing up in a small town, I had never met other vegans or vegetarians who shared the same passion for animal rights and cruelty-free living. Shortly after my first festival experience, I bought a membership for the Toronto Vegetarian Association and eventually became a volunteer, helping to promote the lifestyle as an outreach leader, photographing the festival, handing out vegetarian restaurant directories, and proofreading the website.

This year’s event provided the opportunity to do something I always dreamed of—presenting a dessert demo in front of festival attendees with my partner in kitchen crime, Lisa.

Our demo was titled The Raw Ice Cream of your Dreams. Have you ever dreamed of an ice cream shop that served up sensational sweets free of dairy, eggs and sugar? Well, if you’ve ever imagined tasting a big scoop of cookie dough, mint Oreo or strawberry cheesecake ice cream delights without any harmful impact on your health or that of your fellow animals, then you would have loved this demo. We served up an enticing menu of frozen confections that are vegan, gluten-free and unbelievably decadent.

Lisa and I saw a number of familiar faces in the packed room (close to 200 attended!), but for someone who isn’t used to speaking in front of a crowd, it was certainly nerve-racking for me but also so much fun. Thank you to everyone who came out to support us!

For those who weren’t able to be there and taste the samples we shared, I’d like to give you our delicious recipe for strawberries shortcake blizzards. They’re quite easy to prepare—the base of the ice cream sundae involves whipping frozen bananas into soft serve. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to put your blender or food processor to work right now.

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Strawberry cheesecake blizzards

Yield: 4 servings


Strawberry swirl:

    • 1 cup strawberries, hulled
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • 2 large medjool dates, pitted
    • 2 tsp coconut oil


    • 1/4 cup raw almonds
    • 1/4 cup raw pecans
    • pinch of sea salt
    • 4 large medjool dates, pitted

Banana soft serve:

  • 2 bananas, peeled and frozen
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice


Strawberry swirl:

    1. In a food processor, combine the strawberries, zest and dates. Process until smooth.
    2. Add the coconut oil and process until well combined.
    3. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.


    1. In a food processor, pulse the almonds, pecan and sea salt into a fine meal.
    2. Add the dates and pulse until well combined.
Banana soft serve:
    1. In a blender or food processor, blend the bananas until a creamy, ice cream consistency is achieved. Add the lemon juice and pulse to incorporate.

To assemble:

  1. Divide the soft serve between four bowls. Add 1/4 cup of strawberry swirl and 2 tbsp of crust. Swirl the mixture gently with a spoon.