I’d like to welcome Ann Oliverio of An Unrefined Vegan, as my very first guest blogger here on Cowgirls & Collard Greens! Ann’s talents (as you will see below) clearly lie in her whole food recipes as well as in her amazing ability to take gorgeous photos of the plant-based foods she creates! Ann’s blog has become a quick favorite not only of mine, but throughout the vegan (and I’d imagine non-vegan) community. I’ve found her recipes to be fun, easy to make, and of course tastefully superb! What is “unrefined” vegan food? As quoted on her website, all of her recipes are “unbleached, unprocessed and cruelty-free”. Ann creates “unrefined plant-based, whole food recipes to nurture body, brain and conscience.” You most definitely can’t beat that combo! I am humbled and honored that Ann has accepted the invitation to share her love of food here on my blog. And although I had prepared an introduction about how Ann and I met, she has done such an incredible job of telling the story (and sharing this perfect seasonal recipe that I know you all will enjoy) that I am going to let her take it away from here. Welcome and thank you Ann!
We all know that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? But when all you did was eat vegan food – who would be too embarrassed to share? Last winter my partner, Kel and I had a few short hours to spend in Las Vegas and of course, eating good food was our top (and really only, priority). Our first stop straight off of Interstate 15 was Pura Vida Bakery & Bystro. Pura Vida is a tiny place with only a few tables so there’s no avoiding seeing what your neighbor is having for their meal, which is how I found out that Kayle Martin loves herself some good vegan food.
Actually, even in a big restaurant it would’ve been easy to spot Kayle. She has a wonderful energy and on that day, she was talking very animatedly to the waitress and then soon enough Chef Mayra came out of the kitchen wiping her hands on her apron – and then the three of them were pointing at the menu, looking into the glass cases filled with baked goods, and hands were gesturing – and not long after these intense negotiations, plate upon plate of plant-based goodness began coming out of the kitchen and onto Kayle’s table.
As Kel and I munched on our own huge plates of food, we sat in awe of the bounty piling up on the table next to ours. At one point I couldn’t stand it any longer and I asked Kayle if I could take photos of her food and she graciously let this complete stranger lean over her salad and snap pictures. It turns out that Kayle used to live in Oklahoma, where I currently live (I think she asked us how on earth two vegans ended up in cattle country…) which just seemed like an amazing coincidence. The topic turned to the relationship between food and health and Kayle shared how she had successfully defeated breast cancer not once, but twice – by completely changing her diet. This resonated deeply with me because I was fresh from having tried to convince my brother to switch to a plant-based diet as part of his treatment for brain cancer. I believed then and I believe today that whole foods are the key to vanquishing this killer; people like Kayle are helping to spread this vital message.
Incidentally, when Kel and I finished our brunch and got up to leave, Kayle was still fighting the good fight – but this time just with a really big salad and a pile of pancakes. Thank you, Kayle, for opening up this space and welcoming me to your blog. Let’s meet over food again someday, huh? I’ll let you order.
The recipe below was inspired by a recent post Kayle published on Facebook about pumpkin spice ice cream…It couldn’t be easier and it’s made without sugar and without oil. This is what cancer-fighting whole foods looks like. And it tastes even better.
Sweet Potato Apple Pie Ice Cream
3 bananas, cut into chunks and frozen
1 sweet apple (I used Honeycrisp), cored, cut into chunks and frozen
1 cup roasted sweet potato, cut into chunks and frozen
5 dates, chopped and soaked in water for about 15 minutes; drained
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
4 tbsp. rolled oats
4 tbsp. chopped pecans
3 tbsp. pure maple syrup
Make the streusel
In a small pan, lightly toast the rolled oats and the pecans. Remove from the heat and put into a small bowl. Stir in the maple syrup. Set aside until ready to use.
Make the ice cream
Combine all of the ice cream ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth and creamy. This requires some patience and much stirring with a spatula to move the frozen chunks around. It will eventually become soft and silky.
Divide ice cream into bowls and top generously with streusel. Consume immediately!