18 months ago, I started on a slow journey towards vegan eating. Pretty soon, I came to the horrifying realization that although being (almost) vegetarian was a walk in the park, a LOT of my favorite things are just not vegan.

Not willing to go down without a fight, I decided to challenge myself to find or create alternatives to things I love. Ice cream for instance!
I tried to find options in the supermarket but was disappointed by the high level of sugar and ingredients I didn’t quite understand or want to ingest.

And frankly, popsicle experimentation turned out to be so much fun, that it has become a regular weekend event in my household!

Talking of household, let me give due credit to the only other member in it; my husband. He has steadfastly been my official Taster since the beginning. For those of you who are sticklers for process, here’s our well-established routine: After I fill the molds with a new recipe, I use a spatula to scrape the last dregs off the blender into an espresso cup for the review process. At which point, Husband dutifully indicates his approval or disapproval by slurping it down or leaving the cup woefully untouched

No harsh words, no awkward silences, no lies and no fights.
(Well, almost never.)

As each of these popsicles are (usually) also yummy in liquid form, I made my Master Taster rate them on a sophisticated 5 star smoothie scale for all of you:

* If you try it at home, you do so at your own risk.
***** This recipe likely never saw the freezer again.

vegan healthy non-dairy dessert popsiclesAll quantities indicated make 2-3 popsicles (depending on mold size). All you need is a regular blender.

Freeze popsicles for at least 6 hours. To enjoy, immerse the mold for 5-10 seconds in a glass of hot water till the popsicle slides out.

#1 Nuts for Banana (blonde or brunette?)

You will need:

  • 1 ripe peeled banana (sliced into pieces in courtesy to the blender)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or soy)
  • 1/2 -1 tsp agave
  • 5 raw almonds
  • 5 half walnut kernels
  • 2 tsp raw cacao powder (only if you want the Brunette version; refer to the labelled picture)
  • Any old blender

vegan healthy non-dairy dessert popsiclesHere’s how:

  • Blend all ingredients (excluding nuts) till smooth.
  • In the final 10 sec pulse, throw in the almonds and walnut kernels.
  • Pour into popsicle molds, insert a popsicle stick and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Smoothie Score:
**** Brunette
*** Blonde

#2 You had me at Mango

You will need:

  • 1 ripe medium sized mango (pulp scooped out for use) (fragrant, sweet varietals work better e.g. Dusehra, Langra, Alphonso, Thai fragrant mango)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened plain or vanilla almond milk (I used plain)
  • 1/2 -1 tsp agave (if the mango is ripe, this is only needed to balance the slight tartness in mangoes)
  • 10-12 pistachios
  • Here’s how:
    • Blend all ingredients (excluding nuts) till smooth.
    • In the final 10 sec pulse, throw in the pistachios.
    • You know what to do after this.

    Smoothie Score:
    ****

vegan healthy non-dairy dessert popsicles

#3 Kulfi-ish

I’ve always loved Kesar Badam Milk / Kulfi [aka saffron almond milk / Indian ice-cream]; maybe because it reminds me of my childhood summer breaks and fun times with my sister and cousins. So I was extra motivated to make up a vegan version that got me within the same postal code as the original deal!

This recipe made me work hard! So hard in fact, that when I got to this version, I broke into my happy dance while my master-taster-man-of-the-house let out a pretty loud sigh of relief.

You will need:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened plain or vanilla almond milk (I used plain)
  • 20 almonds soaked overnight and peeled before use (to thicken store bought almond milk)
  • 2 tbsp ground pistachio (approximately 15 pistachios)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom seeds (don’t throw away the skins yet!)
  • 2 lightly crushed cardamom pods
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 2/3 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp agave or equivalent raw sugar

vegan healthy non-dairy dessert popsiclesHere’s how:

  • Blend almond milk and peeled almonds till the liquid is reasonably smooth. (I skip the extra almonds when I use home made almond milk, as that tends to be thicker than the store bought variety).
  • Pour the almond milk, crushed cardamom pods and cardamom skins in a pan. On a low flame, bring the milk to an almost boil. Keep stirring as you add in the turmeric powder, saffron and agave. Stir on low flame for 6-8 minutes.
  • Let cool. Remove the cardamom skins.
  • As to the pistachios, you can either put in a layer of crushed pistachio at the bottom of the mold and as a top-up after you add the liquid (for crusty edges) or simply mix it into the cooled liquid before pouring into the molds.

Smoothie Score:
***** True story. This one never made it to popsicle molds, coz our greed couldn’t let it last beyond the liquid state!
Serve slightly warm or cold from the fridge.

#4 My chi(a) feels Loupy

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup blended cantaloupe
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds (soaked overnight in coconut water or almond milk)
  • 1-2 tsp honey or agave

Here’s how:

  • Blend all ingredients. Pour. Freeze. Eat.
  • Yup, it’s that simple!

Smoothie Score:
*** The popsicle version
**** Without Coconut Milk
Master Taster indicated that smoothie is better without coconut milk while popsicle is better with. I concur.
We tried it four ways – using a 2×2 matrix.

vegan healthy non-dairy dessert popsicles

#5 Mint-a-loupe

You will need:

  • 3/4 cup blended cantaloupe
  • Handful of mint leaves (strictly no stems)
  • 1-2 tsp honey or agave
  • 2 tsp kalamansi lime juice (optional)

Here’s how:
Go ahead, you know what to do.

Smoothie Score:
*****

#6 Berry me?

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup raspberries (or a mix of your favorite berries. If using strawberries, chop into raspberry sized pieces)
  • 1/2 cup coconut water (fresh, if available and the sweeter, the better)
  • 1-2 tsp agave (totally depends on how sweet is your coconut water)

Here’s how:

  • Blend agave into the coconut water if needed. (Tip: use a blender).
  • Lightly pack berries into the molds.
  • Slowly pour in the coconut water.
  • Think of the rocks, pebbles, sand story as you pour and reaffirm your life priorities. Just kidding

Smoothie Score:
Doesn’t work really.
You can blend the berries in and try that version. We didn’t though. Sorry.

vegan healthy non-dairy dessert popsicles

#7 Dirty Berry

Because I’m always looking for opportunities to eat more protein!

You will need:

  • Everything that got you to a YES in Berry Me?
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened vegan protein powder

Here’s how:

  • Blend agave and protein powder with the coconut water.
  • Lightly pack berries into the molds.
  • Slowly pour in the coconut water blend.

Smoothie Score:
* Husband tasted the coconut water blend and nearly gagged.
Admittedly, he doesn’t appreciate the taste of protein powder.
Luckily, he still hasn’t resigned or filed for divorce.

Happy popsicle making!
If you try any of these, I would love to hear how these worked out for you. If you have recipes of your own that you love, please do share.

Nonita Verma

Nonita is a traveler, experimentative cook, Reiki and meditation teacher who has spent over 15 years as a finance and impact investing professional. She moved from Asia to New York in 2014 and when she is not working, spends a formidable amount of time exploring or cooking vegetarian / vegan food all over the globe.

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