My Passion for Cooking Came Back, and Banana-Mango Coconut Ice Cream

Dear Joey,

My, am I in a different place than the last time I checked in around here (7 months ago??), mainly due to the fact that for months I have been living with the frustrating feeling that my body is failing me. Something hasn’t been right, and that something is directly tied to the foods I cook and eat. As such, my enjoyment of and inspiration for cooking–whether creatively or otherwise– vanished. When I think about our cleaned out cupboards, the foods you all want to eat around here, and the foods that my body just won’t tolerate,  I see a challenge so big that even doing one small thing (like frying an egg) feels like too much and not enough. Too much work, monotony, money; not enough flavor, creativity, excitement.

As for you, being the not picky eater that you are, you have forgiven my predictably simple (and even somewhat lackluster) meals of late. And anyway, you would never describe them like that; perhaps you would even go so far as to say that they have been better than normal. I am, after all, cooking with a renewed sense of health, as well as lots of cilantro, red meat, and desserts that are actually healthy.

Because my digestion is so weird/sensitive/frustrating and because a very helpful doctor gently advised me to never eat gluten again (“It’s just not worth the risk…”), things have changed pretty drastically around here. Our stockpiled staples have dwindled, my list of “go-to” dinners are sitting unused in my recipe file, and our freezer is full of meat. For the most part, I’m uninspired in the kitchen and pretty much terrified that the foods causing my body so much pain probably they aren’t so good for our kids or you, either.

I blame you for this paralyzing fear: wasn’t it you who asked me to look into that “Paleo diet thing” to see if it was something that might help, not only with my own health but with yours as well? Me being the good wife that I am did as you asked, and you as the good husband that you are have been eating the results of what I have learned without complaint. Things have improved. I feel better. The girls are willingly eating more vegetables than they used to and they don’t ask for goldfish at snack time anymore. There is no good reason I should be so timid in the kitchen. And yet, it took months to get to the point where I have felt comfortable enough to experiment with and enjoy the process of cooking like I used to. I thought I had lost it. My passion, I mean.

Plus, to be really honest, I have been mourning the loss of a dream. Dreams of our girls growing up in a home where the kitchen is constantly filled with the smells and tastes that filled our childhood homes, and our parents’ childhood homes. Teaching our girls how to knead dough, how to work it until it is supple and elastic; showing them the mysterious magic of yeast; tearing into whatever we’ve just baked moments after it comes out of the oven (and burning ourselves in the process); tasting their first batch of cookies they have made all by themselves; listening from the other room as they bake cookies with friends for school bake sales or just another Friday night (and sneaking into their stash after they have gone to bed).

For me, losing wheat (among other things) has been emotional. It still is. And I know that sounds silly, because really in the scheme of things, in a world plagued by unspeakably awful things, could I get emotional about something so trivial? I don’t know, exactly, except to say that for me it has felt like I am losing a family heirloom, one I had planned to pass on to our children, and instead I am giving them the reality that the American food system is flawed and our bodies are paying a high price for it.


But they are not aware of all that, and they are thriving in the reality that we are creating for them. They have adapted better than I thought they would. They were not used to a lot of junk before anyway, but they certainly have strong opinions about food. I really thought they would miss sandwiches and crackers more than they actually do. Turns out, there are plenty of other choices that are easy and enjoyable. (Mia, eating cucumbers? Addie eating Brussels sprouts? Awesome.)


It took some time, but my passion came back.

And so, please forgive me if the house is a mess, if the grocery bills are high, and if the boxes of even the “healthiest” of cereals begin to disappear. I know you will forgive me as long as I keep the good stuff coming (right?).


Banana-Mango Coconut Milk Ice Cream

It Came Back, and Banana-Mango Coconut Milk Ice Cream

This ice cream is one of the easiest and most delicious desserts I have come up with. Three ingredients, thirty minutes (if that), and a simple refreshing ice cream that reassures me I might actually be happy living without dairy if I ever took that leap. (Not that I anticipate actually doing that anytime too soon–I never said I was completely Paleo, did I?) If you don’t have an ice cream maker, I understand your pain; I didn’t have one until just recently. Feel free to come over for a scoop while you wait for someone to surprise you with one. But let me know about 30 minutes in advance, deal?


2 ripe bananas
2 cups mango (peeled & chunked)
2 15 oz. cans full fat coconut milk
*variation – add a couple tablespoons of honey or another sweetener of your choice if you prefer a sweeter ice cream, but I find that bananas and mango are sweet enough to make this a light, refreshing dessert.


Start with the fruit. If using frozen mango, start by defrosting 2 1/2 cups. If using fresh mango, peel and chunk the fruit to equal 2 1/2 cups. Peel the bananas and puree them with the mango until smooth; add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Notes: I use the Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet & Ice Cream Maker (which I recommend, if you’re in the market for one). It froze this ice cream in about 25 minutes. When it was done, it was perfect soft serve consistency. Once frozen in the freezer, though, it froze solid. Take it out from the freezer about 45 minutes (or longer, depending on the temperature of your freezer) before you plan to eat it.

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