Vanilla Bean Birthday Ice Cream

My birthday is tomorrow.

Today, I got a birthday card on my personal FB page from someone I barely know. It made me a little sad.

I know I’m going to probably get some birthday wishes via Facebook tomorrow, and while I do appreciate the gesture, I do think back to the good ol‘ days. You know, when people actually sent birthday cards.

My grandpa had 47 grand kids. His tradition was to send each grandchild a birthday card and a $2 check. This amount did not change whether you were turning 3 or 35. It was always $2. Even though we lived in the same town, I received his birthday card and check in the mail. I wish I had kept one of those checks, written out in squirrley cursive that only someone born in 1910 could write.

Sigh. I’m turning 2-9. That said, I feel pretty good about life right now.

I mean, I haven’t wasted anytime in child bearing area, so I don’t feel like “my clock is ticking” or whatever it is some people say about growing older and feeling the burden of dwindling fertility. I have four children whom bring light into my life each day. Yes, my twenties have been spent with toil, sacrifice, and oh, a lot of stretch marks and massive amounts of pounds gained and then thankfully lost. But I feel like I’ve lived, and lived well. Isn’t life work, tears, pain, moments of peace, hard stuff, giggles under the covers?

Turning 29 is not remarkable in any way for me. I am filling my life with people and relationships that give me purpose and a sense of satisfaction that can only come from the give and take. So I’m not anxious like I was in my early twenties. I am more comfortable in my skin, and I think motherhood has given that to me.

What to do to celebrate?

I’m not sure. It will probably be just like any other day, except I know this for sure: there will be ice cream.

I made some today, in preparation for the big day tomorrow (not decided yet if it’s going to be cookies or cake, but either way I have to have ice cream!).

I’ve always viewed ice cream as something special. It makes everything better. When I let go of eating dairy, I missed the ice cream from the cow, but realized I could make my own that was superior. It doesn’t make me ill and I can feel good about eating it.

I like all sorts of flavors of ice cream, but just a plain vanilla or vanilla bean (even better!) will do the trick (I also really like PB ice cream).

This ice cream is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy, and nut-free!

Although there are many bases to make ice cream–almond, soy, cashew, rice, coconut–coconut milk is my favorite. It’s naturally rich (mostly fat, so of course it’s going to taste good) and creamy. If you use a good brand of coconut milk it shouldn’t have a strong coconut flavor. Experiment with brands, some are better than others. I like the Thai Kitchen brand.
Here is how to make some smooth, milky vanilla bean ice cream.
Vegan Vanilla Bean Icecream
Serves 12

The ingredients:

  • 1 c. cooked brown rice

  • 1, 15 oz. can organic coconut milk (don’t use the lite stuff)
  • 5 pitted dates
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 full, if you really like a strong vanilla bean taste)
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla
  • 1/4 c. agave
  • 2 TBS. Truvia (not the same as powdered green stevia)
  • a lot of ice (about 20-25, half moon cubes)

Place brown rice, milk, and dates in blender. I used my Blendtec (as always!). If you don’t have a powerful blender, I recommend soaking your dates several hours, or soaking them in very hot water for 20 minutes or so. This will make blending them easy.

Blend dates, rice, and milk until dates are no longer visible (no chunks). I ran my Blendtec on two cycles on the whole juice setting.

Cut your vanilla bean down the middle and scrape filling with a spoon. If you’ve never used a vanilla bean for flavoring, it’s important to note that you don’t actually use the whole bean. You want what’s inside the bean, not the outer skin, which is tough.

Add remaining ingredients, including the vanilla bean (fill your blender to nearly the top with ice cubes). If using the Blendtec, blend on ice cream one or two cycles. If using a manual blender, pulse a few times, then blend on high until there are no ice chunks. Consistency should be very smooth and creamy. Pour mixture into a casserole dish and put in freezer for at least 45 minutes to firm up.

Once you’re ready to eat your ice cream, take it out and let it defrost in room temperature for 15-30 minutes. If you want it the consistency of frozen yogurt, cut the ice cream in large squares, put in blender with the least amount of plant milk necessary, and blend. If using a Blendtec, I recommend pulsing and then using ice cream cycle or the manual setting.

I hope you serve it with some cookies (may I recommend my GF lime coconut macadamia nut or my Dark chocolate PB oatmeal cookies?) or some moist cake.

Nutrition Info: Makes 12 servings (about 1/2 c. per serving depending on amount of ice used): 115 calories, 2 g protein, 7 g fat, 1 g fiber, insignificant amount sodium.

Want more dessert ideas?
Visit the Diet, Dessert, & Dog’s blog for this week’s Wellness Weekend dessert roundup, where this and many other delicious, healthy desserts will be posted.


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  2. Roseanna
    on April 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm said:

    Can't wait to try this ice cream – this looks so tasty and easy to make – plus with the added brown rice it will be good for my husband who doesn't get enough whole grains in their usual form!.Glad you had a great Birthday ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  3. Whole Foods Vegan Momma
    on April 4, 2012 at 11:14 am said:

    Becca: So cool! I had no idea my blog was so international :). Thanks for the birthday wishes, I had a wonderful day with my family.

  4. Becca
    on April 4, 2012 at 11:09 am said:

    I am a both Dutch and German girl (well, woman by now – 31 and mother of a little girl (1 year)) – born and raised in Europe. Guess who told me about your blog? A very good friend I met at college. She`s Hungerian and currently living in Israel. Pretty international, huh ;)? Anyway, I hope you had a great birthday!

  5. Whole Foods Vegan Momma
    on April 3, 2012 at 9:48 pm said:

    Andrea: My long lost cousin! I'm so happy to hear from you. You have a beautiful family. I too have so many dear memories of Grandpa B. He was a great man, wasn't he? Hope you're doing well, and stop by anytime to say hello.

  6. About Us
    on April 3, 2012 at 8:12 pm said:

    Happy birthday a day late, Janae! I just though of you for some reason and thought I'd look your blog up! I have such sweet memories of grandpa and the $2 checks are up there on the list. What a great man! Lots of love, Andrea (Bagley) Stevenson

  7. Dreena
    on April 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm said:

    Wishing you a beautiful AND delicious birthday Janae! And, you are just a young babe @ 29!!! Wow, to have all your children before 30… I just STARTED at 29! No doubt you have learned and grown a lot in your twenties! Hope you have a wonderful day, and do something very special for just YOU. xo

  8. Gabby @ the veggie nook
    on April 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm said:

    Happy birthday, and what a great brithday treat ๐Ÿ™‚ I love that you incorporated a whole grain into ice cream! Also, no ice cream maker = amazing!

  9. Whole Foods Vegan Momma
    on April 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm said:

    TEN: Yes, vegan ice cream, like gluten-free bread carries a hefty price. Much cheaper to make your own. And if you have a good blender, even better.Becca: What brings you to Europe? lucky woman.Lfwfv: Thanks! It's already been pretty great, it's sunny outside and I got to sleep in a bit longer. Simple pleasures…

  10. Anonymous
    on April 3, 2012 at 4:40 pm said:

    Happy Birthday! I hope you have a great day!lfwfv

  11. Becca
    on April 3, 2012 at 11:43 am said:

    Happy happy birthday all the way from Europe :)!

  12. TEN
    on April 3, 2012 at 7:34 am said:

    What a great recipe! Much cheaper than Rice Dream. It's great hearing someone talk about their birthday in such a positive way. Too many people are scared of adding years on, but if you're living in a way that truly makes you happy, there should be no reason to fear! I hope you have a great 29th with your beautiful family ๐Ÿ™‚