Treating Ourselves to Happiness


By Chef Deborah Lieder

June brings consistent warmth, a bright sun, and feelings of invigoration to enjoy each moment of our day. We appreciate the heat because of the length of time we spend in the cold. And somewhere inside of us is that feeling that we can do anything, be anything. The pursuit of happiness and joy fills our hearts as we commune with family and friends through backyard bbq’s, vacations and impromptu gatherings. Yet when all that is removed, we are challenged to find the same joy and happiness within ourselves. This often comes from the way that we love and nurture our body, mind, and soul.

The summer months bring a bounty of fresh produce and our cravings tend to fair on the lighter side, as we no longer need those hearty meals to keep warm. We may even indulge in the cooling summer treats like ice cream or milkshake, knowing it balances out with the abundance of veggies we consume. Part of the beauty of food is having fun treats that make life a little more sweet. It brings joy to our heart and belly!

Whether cow’s milk or plant-based milk is in your diet, both have a variety of nutrients that make our indulgence a little more justifiable. Cow’s milk has loads of vitamin D and calcium, contributing to the upkeep of our bones and teeth. It can be an anti-inflammatory, aid in heart health, promote growth and development, and boost immunity. And it makes delightful desserts.

Not everyone’s body agrees with cow’s milk, however, and that’s where it requires us to be mindful of what our body is telling us. Thankfully, milk alternatives are quite accessible today and quiet easy to make at home. Nut milks contribute to weight loss, add protein to our diet, improves our vision, and beautifies our skin. Coconut milk is a powerhouse, being an excellent hydrator, packed with electrolytes, healthy fats and is generally allergen friendly. Grain milks, such as rice milk, reduce cholesterol, help with our digestion, and improves our bone density.

So no matter where we fair on the spectrum, we can enjoy those bites of ice cream while receiving the nutritional benefits of our chosen milk. It is an expression to give ourselves a little love, not only by being aware of what works for us but also rewarding ourselves for the beautiful person we are, with a little delicacy.

Home Made Ice Cream w/ Milk Variations

Cow’s Milk – Vanilla Bean

1 c. Organic whole milk

1/2 t. Salt

3/4 c. Organic sugar

1 ea. Vanilla bean, split lengthwise

2 c. Organic heavy cream

5 ea. Organic egg yolks

1 t. vanilla extract


In a small saucepan, combine the milk, salt, and sugar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, adding both the pod and seeds to the pan. Slowly heat the milk until the sugar dissolves, cover and remove from heat, allowing the vanilla bean to infuse into the mixture.

In two separate bowls, place egg yolks in one and heavy cream in the other. Remove the vanilla bean from milk mixture and rewarm over low heat. Temper milk (pouring small amounts while whisking at the same time) into egg yolks. Pour back into pan and place on the stove, over low heat until custard thickens. Make sure to stir consistently so the custard does not scorch. (Heat resistant spatula is ideal). Once the custard is thick, strain into heavy cream, whisking to incorporate. Chill for 4-6 hours or overnight. Churn the mixture according to your ice cream makers instructions.

*Plant milks may be used in the same way, creating a soft texture and will thicken just like a milk-based custard.

Plant-Based Milk – Chocolate, vegan

1- 14 oz. can Coconut milk, full fat

1 c. Coconut Cream (or other milk of choice)

1/2 t. Xanthan Gum

2/3 c. Cocoa Powder

1 t. Vanilla extract

1/3 c. Sugar – maple syrup, honey, agave, or granular (but must be ground fine in spice mill)


Place all ingredients in a blender. Cover and chill for a few hours. Pour into ice cream maker and churn.

Or if you do not own one, place in freezer safe container and stir every couple hours. You may also allow the mixture to freeze, then break it up into chunks, and blend in a food processor. This will make the consistency smoother.

Once finished, the longer it is in the freezer, the more it will harden. If you’re planning to enjoy, pull out about a half an hour beforehand to soften.

Mix-in ingredient options: Get Creative!! Candied nuts, salted caramel, fruit, fruit puree, brownies, cookies, toasted coconut, chocolate chips, fresh herbs like mint or basil.

*note: it is ideal to have an ice cream maker, but not necessary, especially for the plant-based milks.


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