This post was created in partnership with Pacific Foods. All opinions are my own.
Sitting on my front stoop with a popsicle dripping down my wrist, I see the larks and ravens in the blueberry bushes. They snap unripe berries into their sharp beaks. There are drips of pink popsicle on the blue-gray soapstone steps. There are clouds like torn cotton in the sky. A honeybee efficiently whirs around my head, scoping the scene for nectar. There is a gentle wind that shakes the darling leaves of my cucumber plant, wet leaves already bigger than my husbands warm palms.
I like to think of Summer as The Great Expansive Sigh. Fruit dangles. Flowers preen towards the light, hanging seductively over every sidewalk fence. Sun and rain and earth combine to create life in every corner.
I have always been a popsicle lover. Some of my favorite summertime childhood memories include walking barefoot through the small (and only) market in my beach hometown, buying real-fruit banana popsicles with change scrounged from the couch. I also regularly bought Flintstones sherbet push pops, strawberry popsicles and strawberry shortcake ice cream bars. I wouldn’t turn down a fudgesicle or a pikachu-shaped sherbet bar with bubblegum eyes, either.
I don’t recall a single Summer living in Sandbridge that didn’t include beach market popsicle forays.
When I cheated on popsicles with ice cream, my dad and I would buy cartons of cherry garcia to share (my mom and brothers preferred chocolate or vanilla).
It’s been a hell of a long time since I’ve had a good cherry ice cream (since I went dairy free back in 2010). So, seeing that it’s #popsicleweek I figured it’s high time I gave myself (and YOU) the gift of a delicious cherry ice cream treat.
But of course, in popsicle form! Because it just ain’t Summer without a freezer full of pops.
These vegan cherry almond ice cream pops are easy (as all good pop recipes should be). But the real reason you should make them? They’re made with super groovy ingredients, the texture is luscious and the flavor development is top notch. They’re sweet but not overly-so. The cherry flavor gets a boost from almond extract. And smooth cashew butter helps to reduce iciness and add depth.
I based the recipe on my matcha ice cream base. The result: an insanely creamy, dreamy ice cream bar that only gets better as it thaws. I mixed it up by using coconut cream, Pacific Foods Organic Unsweetened Almond Original Non-Dairy Beverage, cashew butter, almond extract and fresh sweet cherries.
I was originally planning on doing a chocolate drizzle on these guys, to go for that cherry garcia vibe. But after tasting the pops on their own, I don’t miss the chocolate at all. But if you’re feeling like going all-out with the dessert vibe, drizzle these beauties with some chocolate melted with a touch of coconut oil (and tahini, why not?!). It’s just like chocolate shell, but without all of the gross preservatives.
Because of this, I’ve tried all of the brands of plant milk. ALL OF THEM.
Well, all of the ones available to me in Virginia. And just about every brand I can get my hands on whilst traveling.
And guess what? They all have their up sides and down sides.
Generally, most store-bought plant milks fall into one of two camps: affordable or HOT DIGGITY DOG THAT’S EXPENSIVE. Now, I tend to buy those expensive milks (because I’m fancy like that). I mean, I buy them for drinking straight. Not for baking, blending or otherwise messing with. I mean, a $10 bottle of nut milk might be cool for you but AHEM my whole life is always on a budget hashtag self-employed hashtag mr. money mustache.
I can hear you all now: C’mon Renee, we all know that the best thing you can do is make your plant milk at home!
But let’s be real, we don’t all have time for that! In fact, I am one of the only people I know who feels like they have the time and interest to make their own plant milk. I’m betting that you, dear reader and friend, probably fall into the camp of DIY OR DIE! Or maybe you’re like me, and sometimes you DIY…. and sometimes you’re just like, “to hell with it, I don’t have the time or energy this week.”
So when Pacific Foods approached me to be their Non-Dairy Milks Ambassador for 2017, I did what I always do: I researched. I looked them up, I tried all of their products, I weighed the pros and cons. Actually, I’ve been drinking their almond milks for years so all I had to do was try some of the milks I was less familiar with (their oat milk and hazelnut milk are pretty boss, FYI).
And you know what I concluded? Pacific Foods non dairy beverages (e.g. milks) are some of the best and most affordable in their category. You can get their products in a huge range of stores. They offer the kind of mainstay, everyday plant-based products that make living a plant-powered lifestyle empowering (as opposed to draining).
As much as I love working with small and independent brands, it’s also a pleasure to get to work with bigger brands like Pacific Foods — a brand that wields their power in the marketplace to impact American food culture for the better. They’re making Organic accessible, which is how it should be!
I like to use Pacific Foods Organic Unsweetened Almond Original Non-Dairy Beverage in this recipe because I find it’s a great, neutral base that helps everything meld together seamlessly. It’s a classic, staple plant milk that I’ve been using for years.