Thanksgiving: Vegan Alternatives to Turkey

Thanksgiving: Vegan Alternatives to Turkey

On my first meatless Thanksgiving a dozen years ago, my family graciously bought my a “Tofurkey” so I wouldn’t be left out.  It was the most unappetizing act of lovingkindness ever.  Tofurkey back then was utterly disgusting.  And while Tofurkey products have since improved enough that I will now eat them again, I still don’t think of them as the perfect vegan/vegetarian turkey replacement.  So here are some better ideas!


Grilled Seitan Skewers Kabobs with Green Goddess Marinade

Seitan is made from wheat gluten, so it is not suitable for the celiacs or gluten-free fanatic amongst us, but for those of us (like me) who love wheat, it’s perfect.  It’s chewy and versatile and is sometimes called “wheat meat” because it so perfectly replicates the texture of meat.  Plus, because it’s made from gluten, it is protein, which makes it a good meat substitute.

Seitan is in my view the perfect meatless meat.  It has the right texture and it kind of takes on whatever flavor you want it to.  If you’re making it yourself, mix herbs and spices in with the vital wheat gluten as you mix it to give it additional flavor.  Plus, if you make it yourself, you can probably make it turkey-shaped.  You could always stuff it with actual stuffing and pour some yummy vegan gravy over it if you want a traditional healthy alternative to turkey at your Thanksgiving table!

Of course there’s no reason why you have to restrict yourself.  Give thanks in whatever your culture is!  Cook seitan into a curry or stick some hot sauce on it and call it faux chicken wings.  Or, my favorite, stick it on kebabs and bake it in the oven covered in green goddess dressing!


You thought I was going to say tofu, didn’t you?  Well, I will, but it doesn’t rank as high on my list as tempeh.  Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and you can generally still see the soybean shapes in the block of tempeh.  Unlike tofu or seitan, tempeh has a very distinct, nutty flavor.  Although it can’t be easily shaped into “turkey” form, I think the distinctive nutty flavor makes it a great vegan turkey alternative.  The nutty taste complements other traditional Thanksgiving foods like cranberry, green bean casserole, and apples.

Tempeh is also a good option if you have vegan and gluten free guests at your table.  It’s also considered low FODMAP and is acceptable on a high alkaline diet.  For a main dish, consider glazing the tempeh with a cranberry sauce, or a maple syrup.  Crumbled tempeh can also be deep fried as a crunchy high-protein topping on your green bean casserole if you have nut-free guests!

TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)

Textured vegetable protein, or TVP for short, is made from soy flour and comes in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and textures.  It can be sold as flakes or in chunks.  It is relatively versatile, which makes it a good Thanksgiving meat substitute.  It’s more highly processed than seitan or tempeh, but it is still vegan, high protein, and healthy.

One of the most popular forms is in the shape of “mince.”  It looks like and has the texture of minced meat (I would guess beef, but it’s been a long time since I had actual minced meat!).  As a Thanksgiving substitute and main course, I recommend making it into a meatloaf, and substituting the normal ketchup on top for a more festive cranberry relish!


Okay, it had to be mentioned.  Tofu does tend to be the classic vegan or vegetarian meat alternative.  However, the texture is often a challenge for people who aren’t accustomed to it.  It’s not my favorite turkey substitute, but it can still have a place at your Thanksgiving table!

If you have guests or children who you think might object to the bland taste of tofu or its unusual texture, try preparing it differently.  Drain the water from hard tofu by wrapping it in tea towels and placing a heavy plate over and under it and letting it sit for a half an hour or more.  Then marinate in flavorful sauces and bake to give it a good flavor, or deep fry it to change its texture.  Like tempeh, you can crumble hard tofu and deep fry it for a crunchy topping on savory dishes (if you want to do this, consider freezing the tofu first).  You can also crumble it to act a bit like TVP, although it might not be as convincing a substitute.

But to my view, much better than trying to use tofu as a Thanksgiving main dish is to use it in desserts.  Silken tofu can be used to create vegan versions of holiday puddings, cheesecake, and – of course – pumpkin pie!

Forget the Substitutes

sweet potatoes with marshmallows

Why bother with substitutes anyway?  Just make an awesome vegetarian main dish.  Want all-American fare?  Make homemade veggie burgers with whole wheat bread rolls.  Or go for a more exotic main dish such as a vegetarian moussaka.

Or scrap the idea of a main dish entirely.  Many traditional Thanksgiving meals have more than one main dish anyway – like turkey, ham, and brisket.  Avoid the trouble by simply making an abundance of side dishes.  This gives you all the freedom you need to make whatever you want!  And lots of traditional Thanksgiving dishes, such as stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, can easily be made in vegan versions.

Happy Holidays!

Daviah with an apple pie

Just because you’re not having turkey at your table doesn’t mean you can’t have a traditional Thanksgiving… and you’re giving the turkeys something to be thankful about, too.

Happy Holidays!

Supporting Kids’ Food Choices

Supporting Kids’ Food Choices

Our children don’t always want to eat the same way we do.  Of course, many kids today are interested in filling up with junk food, but a lot of kids also go through a vegetarian phase. Parenting forums are filled with moms lamenting that their children are refusing to eat meat, and panicking over how to sneak meat into their diets or otherwise ensure they get enough protein.  As parents, the best thing we can do for our kids is to find ways to be supportive of their food choices.

When kids decide to follow a different path from their parents – whether it is dietary, religious, or political – it is hard as parents not to feel that we have in some way failed them.  It feels like a judgment to have your child refuse the food you always fed them.  Almost as if they are saying you are not a good enough parent and you raised them the wrong way.  Our task as parents is to raise ourselves above this natural inclination and to ask ourselves what is best for our child.

Research has long shown the health benefits of a balanced vegetarian or vegan diet.  A new study also shows major cardiovascular benefits for kids on a vegan diet, which is important because heart disease begins in childhood.  Many people are trying hard to get their kids to eat a more heart healthy diet.  Yet, if it is our children who make the decision to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, we resist it.  Oh, the ironies of life!

Unfortunately, I know too many kids who become vegetarian and end up eating more junk food and processed, pre-packaged foods.  Today, vegetarian processed foods are widely available, which makes it easy for kids to access them.  Additionally, there is a natural human inclination that when we give one thing up, we should get more of another thing we like to replace it.  Kids who give up their steaks and fried chicken legs might feel justified in downing some extra potato chips.  But when this happens on a regular basis, it adds up to some pretty unhealthy eating.

As parents, we need to be supportive of kids’ dietary changes, even if we disapprove.  The problem is that if we are not, then our kids will not be able to make the healthiest choices within their range of options.  Vegetarian and vegan kids whose parents are unwilling to cook separate food for them end up replacing meat with canned or instant foods, or junk foods, which are high in sodium and sugar.

On a personal level, I have known in my lifetime far too many kids who gained weight and became much less healthy on a vegetarian diet.  When I spoke to them about it, I found they were carbohydrate loading.  Pasta and bread were their main foods.  Junk foods and other high-calorie convenience foods were also way up there in their list of things to eat.  Remember, potato chips and deep fried french fries are vegan and pizza and lasagna are vegetarian.  While these foods can be delicious treats, they should be “once in a while” foods, not everyday foods.  When I saw vegetarian kids gaining weight, I found they were eating these foods frequently, and were eating far too many calories (especially from fats and carbohydrates) overall.

As parents, it is our job to combat this behavior: Not by denying our kids the freedom to make some dietary decisions.  Not by forcing our kids to eat foods they don’t want to.  But by helping them make healthy food choices within reasonable parameters.

Here are some quick tips for busy parents whose kids want to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet:

  • Find healthy alternatives to bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice.  Quinoa is my favorite, but oats (especially steel-cut) are fantastic for breakfast (even pancakes!) and potatoes can be replaced with more nutritious root vegetables, like sweet potatoes or turnips.
  • Make sure all grains are whole grains.  Whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice are all much more nutritious than white, refined carbohydrates.
  • Make beans! Beans are a great source of protein, fiber, and lots of other vitamins and minerals.  Don’t buy the canned kind – buy dry beans.  They won’t have any added sodium and they are much cheaper.  Soak them overnight, then boil them.  Do a big batch and keep them in the fridge.  Beans are incredibly versatile and can fill in as a meat substitute for many kinds of meals.  There are lots of kinds of sauce you can put on them, you can add them to eggs or other cooked dishes, and you can also puree them to make a spread for bread or a dip for vegetables.  As a bonus, there are many different kinds of beans, each with a slightly different flavor and texture, so you can offer your child some variety.
  • Make smoothies.   It’s easy to toss some fruit in a blender for a quick meal or snack.  For a vegetarian meal on the go, add some milk (or rice milk) and some nut butter for added bulk and protein.  For a snack, make it lighter, by adding only fruit and some ice.
  • Provide healthy snacks.  Healthy crackers or muffins are easy to grab on the go.  Even sweets like cookies and cakes can be healthy treats if they’re made right.  Providing the kinds of snacks you want your kids to have available makes it less likely they’ll grab a bag of chips when they’re out.  Package snacks in small, disposable snack size bags (I use biodegradable ones, which are now very good quality) and you make it even easier for kids to grab and go.  (I prefer to use reusable containers, but for many kids on the go this will be a deterrent, as they will now have another item they need to remember to bring home, even after they’ve finished their snacks.)
  • Use juice pulp.  Making fruit or vegetable juice is a great, healthy addition to any diet, but don’t throw away that pulp.  Many vegan and vegetarian kids are eating pasta and bread until they are full, whereas heavier proteins can make you feel fuller.  Help kids feel fuller, faster, by giving them some extra fiber in their diets.  Add fruit juice pulp to muffins and oatmeal.  Use vegetable juice pulp to make pasta sauce, burgers, and crackers.
  • If you can’t beat them, join them.   Try making all-vegetarian meals a few times a week.  You might find you enjoy them, too.  By including kids in family meals, they are more likely to eat a healthy diet.

I hope these tips help ease the adjustment when you have a child who decides not to eat meat anymore!

If you have other tips, please share them below!

Healthy 100% Whole Wheat Hamantaschen Cookies (Parve!)

Healthy 100% Whole Wheat Hamantaschen Cookies (Parve!)

Boys excited for healthy, yummy hamantaschen

Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrating, as usual, the Jewish mantra: “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!”  In this case an ancient king of Persia was ruling over much of the Jewish population during the first exile.  His top advisor, Haman, was vainglorious and when Mordechai, the Jewish spiritual leader of the time, refused to bow to him, he was so incensed he convinced the king to permit a decree that all Jews be killed on a certain day.  To choose the day, Haman drew lots (purim in Hebrew).  Unbeknownst to both Haman and the king, Queen Esther was actually Jewish.  She interceded with the king and exposed Haman’s evil plot.  The king hung Haman and his ten sons and issued a decree allowing Jews to defend themselves against his previous decree.  Once again Jews survived in the face of overwhelming anti-Semitism!

Mixing together ingredients

Step 3


Today, Jews celebrate this holiday with a variety of customs, one of which is to make “hamantaschen,” triangular shaped cookies.  Some say these represent the three cornered hat Haman wore.  Other people say that they are “ha-mun taschen,” translated from Yiddish as “the poppyseed pockets” in reference to the most traditional filling.  Regardless of what the history of hamantaschen are, they are delicious.  And who doesn’t love a holiday where the tradition is to eat lots and lots of cookies?!

Mixing together hamantaschen wet ingredients

Step 3


Of course, having a holiday centered around sweets does present a problem for parents who want to inspire healthy kids.  Just preventing kids from having cookies and sweets would be difficult to say the least, as well as potentially backfiring when they are exposed to such foods away from you.  Also, for Jewish people who want to raise their children with a sense of tradition and love of the beauty of the religion, it would be counterproductive to prevent kids from partaking of one of the most delicious traditions.

Sifting together dry ingredients for healthy hamantaschen

Step 4


My solution is to come up with a cookie that is healthy and tasty, but without processed white flour or processed sugars. Even a Google search for “healthy hamantaschen recipe” turns up the usual unhealthy suspects:‘s recipe calls for sugar, white flour, canola oil, and butter, while‘s “low fat” hamantaschen recipe still calls for a half a cup of butter (as well as sugar and white flour).  So I decided to come up with my own healthy hamantaschen recipe – one that is not only parve but can also be converted to be vegan if you substitute egg replacer.

Mixing together hamantaschen dough

Step 5


Now your kids can enjoy cookies just like all their friends and still be eating something healthy and good for them!

Healthy whole wheat hamantaschen

100% Whole Wheat Hamantaschen

Please note that the recipe below is for a very large number of cookies – approximately four dozen.  You may want to cut amounts in half to make a more reasonable number… or just freeze the extra for a treat throughout the year!


4 eggs
1/2 cup organic coconut oil (melted)
1 cup agave nectar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4&1/2 cups whole white wheat flour (I used regular whole red wheat flour and I would definitely recommend using white wheat instead for these cookies!)
2&1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda (bicarb soda)
1/2 tsp salt
(a few teaspoons of water may be necessary)


  1. Gather all ingredients, including filling for your cookies.  This dough dries out especially quickly because it is whole wheat.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C/160 C fan forced and line cookie trays with baking/wax paper.
  3. Whisk together eggs, coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract.  If you choose to add wet seasonings like zest (see variations below) add those now too.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients well: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (And spices if you are using – see variations below.)
  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, stirring slowly with a wooden spoon, until you get a crumbly dough.
  6. Knead the dough until you get a smooth dough, adding teaspoons of water if the dough is too crumbly to come together smoothly, or tablespoons of flour if dough is too tacky to be easily worked.  Be careful to knead dough until it is just smooth, as overworking the pastry can make it tough.
  7. Separate the dough into 4-6 balls.
  8. Select one ball and roll it out flat on a floured surface using a lightly floured rolling pin until it is 1/4-1/8 inch thick.  Be prepared to work hard here – whole wheat flour is harder to roll out than white flour.
  9. Use a 3-inch cookie cutter or the rim of a 3-inch glass to cut out as many circles as possible.  (Do not use a smaller size or you will not have room for filling!) At this stage I skip to step 11 – I fill and bake as I go to avoid the dough drying out. If you choose to cut all circles first, cover unused circles with a damp cloth or dish/tea towel to avoid drying out while you roll out the rest.
  10. Gather the scraps, add to the next ball of dough and repeat process until all dough is used up.
  11. Place one teaspoon of filling (I recommend healthy plum butter filling) in the center of each circle.
  12. Fold one side over the edge of the cookie, slightly covering the filling and pinch on one end.  Fold the next side, overlapping on the pinched corner and pinching down to seal.  Each of the three sides should have one end over another side and the other end under another side.  This over-under-over-under-over-under strategy will keep your hamantaschen from coming open while baking.  If your dough is too dry, add a tiny drop of water or beaten egg to help it stick (I do this by dipping my finger in, shaking off drops, and then spreading a very thin layer on the offending area).
  13. Place finished hamantaschen on your prepared lined baking sheet/tray. My oven is small so I fit 12 on each tray, but a bigger tray can hold about 20.  They do not need to be widely spaced because they do not expand much.
  14. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and lightly golden.
  15. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack before transferring them to a Ziplock bag or plastic container for room-temperature storage.  Cookies can also be frozen.


  • For slightly sweeter cookies, add an extra 1/3 cup agave nectar.  I like mine to be less sweet so I have a slightly reduced amount of sweetener.
  • For a different flavor to your cookies, substitute other flavors for the vanilla extract.  Almond extract is a good one and the thought of using a rum extract is extremely tempting to me.
  • For another way to get a different flavor into these cookies, add in zest or spices.  A couple of teaspoons of lemon or orange zest would be lovely.  Or mix in some spices, such as cinnamon or chai spice.
  • To make it easier for yourself, substitute self-raising whole wheat flour for the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in this recipe.
  • For a more elastic dough that is easier to roll out, consider mixing in a few tablespoons of vital wheat gluten during step 4 above.
Hamantaschen dough rolled out and cut into circles

Step 9


Hamantaschen with filling

Step 11


Step 13

Step 13

I hope you and your healthy, inspired kids enjoy this delicious recipe! Please let me know how they turn out… and have a happy holiday!

Boys eating healthy whole wheat hamantaschen

Healthy School Lunch Ideas: Baked Falafel Plate

Healthy School Lunch Ideas: Baked Falafel Plate

In my mind, falafel is one of the most perfect lunch foods for kids ever.  Not only can it be incredibly healthy, but it also covers all major nutritional groups, includes a variety of colors of vegetables, and gives kids a chance to mix-and-match to make their ideal sandwich.  Here’s what to include:

Baked Falafel

Falafel are balls of ground chickpeas, mixed with onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, and cumin.  Usually they are fried, but they are much healthier if baked.  Because they are mostly made of chickpeas, they are a fantastic source of vegetable protein.  The fact that they are ground up also makes them easier to digest.  They are great for school lunches because they are just as delicious cold as they are hot.  Falafel balls can be eaten on their own, but are usually stuffed inside a flatbread along with a variety of spreads and salads.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

Pita is a type of flatbread that naturally forms a pocket when you slice open one side of it.  You can fill it with all sorts of things, including falafel, spreads, and salads.  Because it is a pocket, the food doesn’t drip out of the bottom, which makes it great for mess-free eating by little kids.  And it is a good source of whole grains for kids.  (For those of you who are gluten free, check out this recipe for amazing gluten free pita breads!  Use rice milk and egg replacer to make them vegan.)


Tahina is actually sesame paste.  You can buy it in jars in the supermarket.  It is shelf-stable and keeps for ages.  It’s really high in calcium, as well as B vitamins and lots of trace minerals.  I use it in all sorts of things – sauces and salad dressings and even desserts!  For sandwiches, mix some of the paste up with fresh lemon juice, a tiny pinch of salt, garlic (garlic powder works fine), and some water.  Send a small container of tahina for spreading on a falafel sandwich.  Or send a bigger container as a great dip for fresh vegetable sticks during snack time.


Hummus is a chickpea spread, so it’s another good source of protein.  It’s great spread on a falafel sandwich or plain bread.  It’s also delicious for dipping fresh sliced vegetables in.  Send a small container with your child’s falafel lunch and they can add as much or as little as they like to their sandwich.


Matboucha is a middle eastern tomato spread.  It is made by sauteeing together fresh tomatoes with lots and lots of garlic and (optionally) hot peppers in olive oil.  Make a big batch when tomatoes are in season and freeze it in small containers to use throughout the year.  It is a much healthier substitute for conventional ketchup as a sandwich spread.

Israeli Salad

Israeli salad is another traditional item added to a falafel sandwich, but it is also amazing eaten on its own.  It is basically made up of tomatoes, cucumbers, and capsicum (bell pepper) (my favorite is to use yellow ones), diced into small cubes, with some finely diced red onion, and dressed with a bit of salt and pepper, lots of lemon juice, and some olive oil.   In my opinion, the longer it sits, the better it tastes!

Cabbage Salad

Basically any cole slaw will work here, but those heavy on the mayonnaise or sour cream are definitely less healthy (and less well suited to a falafel sandwich) than those dressed with a touch of lemon juice and olive oil.  Use purple/red cabbage to get more sweet flavor and more antioxidants into your child’s diet.

Fresh or Dried Fruit

As a sweet end to your child’s meal, consider including a piece of fresh fruit.  Figs are particularly well-suited to this meal, as they are common in the middle eat.  Fresh figs are absolutely a delight and are also a good source of calcium.  Of course, dried figs are a good option, too, as are dried dates (fresh dates are amazing if you can get them, but in my experience very hard to find).  Medjool dates in particular are juicy and sweet. For my kids, dried dates are their version of candy!

Sending a falafel plate should cover all your nutrition bases: it has protein and grains, fiber and a touch of healthy fats (from the olive oil).  It includes fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors: green cucumbers, red tomatoes, yellow capsicum/bell peppers, red onions, purple cabbage, and brown dates (or dried figs).  Unlike most sandwich spreads, all the options listed here are really healthy, with no nasties in them (if you make them yourself – you can buy them in the store but they will generally include preservatives).

Not only is a falafel plate incredibly nutritious, but it is also a lot of fun for your child.  They can assemble it on their own, giving them a sense of control and power over their lunch.  It makes them a partner in lunch preparation and gives them creative license to accept or reject foods according to their preferences, all the while ensuring that no matter what the foods they are consuming are healthy ones.  This, to me, is one of the very best lunch meals to help Inspire Healthy Kids!

Gluten Free Strawberry Pancakes

Gluten Free Strawberry Pancakes

Strawberries in blender

As I mentioned yesterday, I have way too many strawberries.  I am always on the hunt for healthy recipes my kids will love.  Not only that, but I want recipes I can make a LOT of and then freeze.  One of our household favorites are Banana Oat Blender Pancakes from Mountain Mama Cooks.  So, I wondered, can I convert this recipe and make strawberry pancakes instead? If I do that, will they actually taste like strawberries?  Or will the strawberries, with their more mild taste than banana, be lost entirely?

Pancake mix in the blender, ready to go

To my mind, a batch of healthy pancakes that tastes good is quite possibly the perfect food. Because they are gluten and dairy free, even my picky hubby will eat these. Make them fruity enough at the start and you won’t even need jam or syrup.  They’re good to eat hot out of the pan, but they’re also perfect for snacking straight from the fridge.  They’re portable and hold up well even if you’re out for the day on a hot day.  Best of all, they freeze really well.  I just stick a stack of them in a bag and freeze them together (in our house, a stack of pancakes disappears in an instant), but if you want to be able to pull out one at a time, just layer a square of baking paper between each of them.

As the pancake mix blends, it creates a beautiful pink batter.

As the pancake mix blends, it creates a beautiful pink batter.

So off I went to experiment with Mountain Mama’s tried and true recipe.  With some changes, it worked!  With enough strawberries you can definitely taste them!  They also add a delightful (and somewhat romantic) pink tinge.  After my first batch, I did find I needed to add a bit more oats than the original recipe called for (alternatively, I could have reduced the amount of rice milk added).  That’s because strawberries are bit more “watery” than bananas.

Pancakes in the pan

Gluten Free Strawberry Pancakes


  • 2 1/4 cups gluten free* oats
  • 1 1/4 cups homemade rice milk (recipe for this coming soon)
  • 1 punnet organic strawberries, washed and green tops removed
  • 1 heaping tablespoon local honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 large organic egg
  • coconut oil for cooking

*I do not use gluten free oats because nobody in our house has such a serious allergy that a bit of cross-contamination would be any issue, and oats are naturally gluten free.


  1. Place all ingredients, except coconut oil in the base of a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Heat a griddle or large saute pan over medium heat and melt one teaspoon of coconut oil.
  3. When hot, pour the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake (I pour straight from the blender – no extra cleanup from scooping!).
  4. Brown on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side).
  5. Serve hot with fresh diced or sliced strawberries on top.


  • Try other flavors or types of milk for additional layers of flavor.  I bet chocolate almond milk would be amazing.  You can also use cow’s milk if you don’t mind dairy.
  • Chop up strawberries and mix them into the batter just before pouring if you want chunks of strawberry in your pancakes, as opposed to just the flavor throughout.
  • If the batter becomes too thick to pour (and it does thicken the longer it sits), just add a tablespoon or two of milk (rice, almond, etc) and mix in to thin.
  • To make them vegan, omit the egg and substitute maple syrup for the honey.  They’ll still turn out fine. 🙂
Strawberry pancakes topped with fresh strawberries and powdered coconut oil (no, it is NOT powdered sugar!).

Strawberry pancakes topped with fresh strawberries and powdered coconut oil (no, it is NOT powdered sugar!).

My 14-month-old is happy I handed him a pancake.

My 14-month-old is happy I handed him a pancake.

That strawberry pancake didn't last long!  He shoved the whole thing in his mouth at once.  It took a few tries to get it all in there.

That strawberry pancake didn’t last long! He shoved the whole thing in his mouth at once. It took a few tries to get it all in there.

Healthy No-Cook Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Healthy No-Cook Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Now that you know all about the health benefits of strawberries, no doubt you’ll want to eat some.  And save some for later.  I already explained how to freeze strawberries to use in smoothies later, but how about making some frozen yogurt, too?

It’s rare to find a treat so universally loved as ice cream.  On a hot day, there’s nothing better than a cool treat.  For those of us in the burning hot southern hemisphere, our mouths are watering just thinking about it.  But did you know ice cream consumption is actually highest in the winter?  Totally counterintuitive, right?  But I guess with so many early nights spent at home, a delicious bowl of ice cream in front of the boob tube is just what’s in order.

The problem with most store-bought ice cream is that it’s full of garbage.  It’s full of sugar and fat, and if it’s fat-free it tastes terrible.  Hardly worth the calories consuming it!  Not only that, but it’s so bad for your health.  How on earth can we inspire healthy kids if their favorite treat is so unhealthy?!  Could it be possible to make an alternative that tastes exactly like ice cream but is actually good for you?!

I didn’t know of one, so I set out to try.  My first decision was to make the ice cream using homemade yogurt.  It was a bit of a tough call for me because I try to give my kids very little dairy, due to its link with juvenile-onset diabetes (more on that in another post to come).  But soy has its own problems and I didn’t want the distinctive flavor of coconut yogurt, although I’m sure it would work beautifully for vegans.

I make my own yogurt with locally farmed organic free range cow’s milk, so I know exactly what’s in it.  No sugar, no additives, no nasties.  (Some day I will post a tutorial on how to make your own yogurt, too, but if you don’t make your own, find a biodynamic organic plain yogurt to use.) No matter what kind of yogurt you’re using, it will always be lower in fat than cream, and I’ve found that if I’m making the yogurt myself, I don’t even notice a difference between “fat free” and “full cream/2%” yogurt.  Not only that, but yogurt contains healthy probiotics that can help your child’s digestion.  Freezing is just fine and won’t harm the probiotics at all.  Technically that makes this no longer an ice cream, but rather a frozen yogurt.  But don’t worry your pretty little head, it doesn’t actually taste like a frozen yogurt.

Strawberries in food processor

My next issue was how to make it without cooking it.  A lot of strawberry ice cream recipes I found require you to cook down the strawberries to get the right consistency.  But cooking destroys a lot of the beneficial enzymes in strawberries and I want to maximize their health benefits for my kids.  So, how was I going to achieve the right consistency?  I wanted to get a good amount of juice and puree, but I didn’t want to end up without any chunks at all.  And the high speed spinning of blender blades can create friction that can kill off enzymes also.  So I decided to use my food processor to slowly pulse the strawberries until I got the consistency I wanted.

This is the consistency to which I blended my strawberries but feel free to blend yours a bit more. I have a thing for finding a big chunk of frozen strawberry in my ice cream.

This is the consistency to which I blended my strawberries but feel free to blend yours a bit more. I have a thing for finding a big chunk of frozen strawberry in my ice cream.

Another issue was my decision not to use raw eggs.  A lot of ice cream recipes call for raw eggs.  Personally, I don’t have a problem with that.  I’ve eaten raw eggs before and I’m sure I’ll eat them again.  But when it comes to a recipe for my kids (and for dinner guests) I’m less willing to take the risk, however small it may be.  So raw eggs were out.

This is the processed strawberries after I mixed in the yogurt.  I wasn't worried about mixing it perfectly to make it smooth because the ice cream maker mixes it pretty thoroughly.

This is the processed strawberries after I mixed in the yogurt. I wasn’t worried about mixing it perfectly to make it smooth because the ice cream maker mixes it pretty thoroughly.

My final issue was how to sweeten it.  I wanted this to taste like real ice cream, so I do actually want it to be sweet.  But I don’t want to use processed sugar.  This was also part of my issue on how to process the strawberries because sugar is a great way to macerate strawberries, causing them to give off their juices and making them soft enough to mash with a potato masher to the consistency you want, even without cooking them.  But with processed sugar off the list, I had to find an alternative.  Often I use date syrup, maple syrup, or honey as more natural, less processed alternative sweeteners.  But all three of those have pretty distinct flavors, so I wasn’t willing to use them and compromise flavor.  I finally settled on agave nectar.

Strawberry frozen yogurt in ice cream maker

Plan in place, I set out to make my very first no-cook strawberry frozen yogurt.

No-Cook Strawberry Frozen Yogurt


2 punnets (500 g or approx 1 lb.) fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
1/8 tsp. pink Himalayan salt
3/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/3 c. raw organic agave nectar
2 c. plain yogurt


  1. Wash strawberries well, then hull and halve them into the bowl of your food processor.
  2. Add salt, lemon juice, and agave nectar.
  3. Pulse gently until desired consistency reached.  (I like a lot of chunks of strawberry, but some people may prefer a more consistent puree.)
  4. Remove blending blade from food processor bowl and mix in yogurt.
  5. Pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker and follow machine instructions. (Before I owned an ice cream maker, I always hated this instruction.  Then I realized they’re really cheap! Mine is definitely not the best one out there but it does the job… most of the time.)
  6. Remove from ice cream maker and place in freezer until ready to use.  Be sure to remove 20-30 minutes before you plan on eating it to allow it to soften.


  • Decrease the amount of strawberries or increase the amount of yogurt if you want more of a “yogurt” flavor.  My aim here was to just get the “creaminess” of the yogurt while having it still taste more like strawberry ice cream than strawberry frozen yogurt.
  • Use a vegan alternative to dairy yogurt, such as soy or coconut yogurt.
  • Add a bit of fresh mint before pulsing the food processor. (I actually had planned to try this but forgot before I blended the strawberries. Maybe if I eat more strawberries my memory will improve!)
  • Reduce the amount of agave syrup to make this less sweet and even healthier.  Heck, you could probably leave it out altogether.  I would (if I wasn’t trying to make a “real” healthy ice cream).
The final product, ready for the freezer: a HEALTHY, no cook, strawberry frozen yogurt!

The final product, ready for the freezer: a HEALTHY, no cook, strawberry frozen yogurt!

My kids and guests loved it!  All agreed it was far better than the strawberry ice cream you can buy in the store, and the best part? It doesn’t even taste “healthy!”