The Banana Bonanza at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival

September 13th, 2011 · Lisa · gluten-free, raw, Recipes, sugar-free, Sweet · Comments

The Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival is the kind of event I plan my life around.
In 2006, when I moved to Toronto from Calgary, I booked my flight to arrive the day before the festival. As a first-time visitor I was absolutely awed by the array of vegan food, the calibre of the speakers, and the number of smiling people in their vegan message shirts.

When I arrived I didn’t know any vegans in Toronto – after three days I was convinced I had found my mecca. After the event ended I realized that this is a special time in the city – not everyday is vegan Christmas in Toronto. In an attempt to prolong the feeling of camaraderie I bought a membership for the TVA. It changed everything.

I got involved.

Since my first visit to the festival I’ve volunteered, coordinated the cooking demos, introduced speakers, moderated panels and …whipped up raw desserts for an enthusiastic crowd.

That’s right, on Sunday, Nicole and I presented a demo called The Raw Ice Cream of Your Sweet Dreams

We were really excited to be a part of this year’s program, but we’re weren’t sure if anyone would show up on a gorgeous sunny day to watch us coax frozen bananas into soft serve.

Then they opened the doors.
By 4:00 the room was filled to capacity. As the person count increased so did my nerves.

But the crowd was full of smiles and probably wonderful endorphins after three days of treats from Sweets from the Earth, LPK, Bloomers, Kindfood and Apiecalypse Now.

Thank you to everyone who came, encouraged my food processor and raved about the soft serve samples.

Thank you to all the volunteers who make this event happen. Every single year it changes people’s lives.
There is incredible power in creating a sense of community and sharing delicious food. 

If you didn’t make it into this line up for samples, don’t worry these recipes can be whipped up in no time. Believe it or not we did them all within 45 minutes, while answering questions and dancing around. Yes, that is a challenge….
Strawberry Cheesecake Blizzard(makes 4 servings)

Strawberry Swirl:
1 cup strawberries, hulled
1 tsp lemon zest
2 large medjool dates, pitted
2 tsp coconut oil
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 to thicken.
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup raw pecans
pinch of sea salt
4 large medjool dates, pitted
1. In a food processor, pulse the almonds, pecans and sea salt into a fine meal.
2. Add the dates and pulse until well combined.
Banana Soft Serve:
2 banana, peeled and frozen
1 tsp lemon juice
1. In a blender or food processor, blend the bananas until a creamy, ice cream consistency is achieved. 2. Add the lemon juice and pulse to combine.
Assembly: 1. Divide the soft serve between four bowls. Add 1/4 cup of strawberry swirl and 2 TBSP of crust to each bowl. Swirl the mixture gently with a spoon.
Cookie Dough Blizzards (makes 4 servings)

Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 TBSP maple syrup
1/4 cup raw chocolate chips (or regular dairy-free chocolate chips)

1. In your blender, blend the cashews into flour. Pour into a medium bowl.

2. In your blender, blend the oats into a flour and add to the medium bowl.
3. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl. Stir to combine. Roll the batter into tiny balls. Set in your freezer until firm.
Banana Soft Serve:
2 frozen bananas, peeled and frozen
1. In your food processor, blend the bananas until a creamy, ice cream consistency is achieved.
2. For extra blizzard-like goodness, add 2 TBSP of the prepared cookie dough balls and pulse to
1. Divide the soft serve mixture between four small bowls or glasses. Garnish with extra cookie dough balls.
Mint Oreo Cookie Blizzards (makes 4 servings)

Mini Mint Oreo Cookies:
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cacao powder
3 TBSP maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a blender, blend the cashews into flour, pour into a bowl and set aside. Repeat with the rolled oats.
2. Add the salt and cacao powder to the bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the vanilla and maple syrup. Stir
until the mixture becomes a thick, moist dough.
3. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a small circle cookie cutter (about the size of a toonie) cut out as many cookies as you can. (You’re just scoring it in the dough at this point).
4. Dehydrate at 110 degrees for 1 hour. Flip the cookies over and remove from the parchment paper. Continue drying for another 2 hours. Remove the cookies from the sheet and store in the refrigerator. If you don’t have a dehydrator – 3 hours in the freezer work well to firm up the cookies.

Mint Filling:
1/2 large avocado, peeled and pitted
2 TBSP fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 TBSP agave nectar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp pure mint extract
1 TBSP coconut oil, melted

1. Blend all ingredients, except the coconut oil, until smooth. Add the coconut oil and blend until just combined.

1. Spoon a small amount of the mint filling onto a cookie and place another cookie on top. Repeat with remaining cookies. Place all cookies in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm up.

Banana Soft Serve:
2 bananas, peeled and frozen

1. In a blender or food processor, blend the bananas until a creamy, ice cream consistency is achieved.
2. Add 6 of the oreo cookies and blend for a few seconds to incorporate.

1. Spoon the soft serve mixture into four bowls and garnish with the remaining cookies.

I can’t leave this post without a few heart-felt thank yous. 

First to Nicole, for all the work she did to make this demo a success. I am so grateful to have such a wonderful friend who is willing to spend hours in the kitchen with me, wander around grocery stores and source that rare ingredient required to perfect the recipe. You’re amazing!

Second, Luke Albert, who coordinated this year’s festival for TVA. Toronto is lucky to have such a dedicated, talented individual, excited to tackle this massive event. You did an outstanding job. When I arrived at Harbourfront and saw your smile, it really made me feel like I was part of something. A huge shift from my first time at the festival. You make me feel like I belong.

Thank you to Front Door Organics for the donated ingredients! Everything was fresh and delicious.

Thank you to Blake for the photos!

Thank you to Bianca, Barbi and David (from TVA) who made this weekend wonderful.

Finally, thank you to all of my friends who came out to the demo. I hope you’ll come over for a breakfast blizzard buffet soon. xo


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