Locally made vegan ice cream is good and good for you

Virginia Graziani

Redwood Times

Creamy and delicious vegan ice cream from Vixen Kitchen is the latest sensation at the Garberville Farmer’s market, drawing long lines of customers as the afternoons warm up.

Owner and ice cream maker Sundara Clark developed her recipe, using raw organic cashews as a base instead of dairy, when her daughter Gigi was diagnosed as lactose intolerant.

But cashew-based ice cream is actually beneficial to anyone’s health, Clark said. The fat that gives the ice cream its smooth, satisfying texture is oleic acid, the same Omega-3-rich stuff found in olive oil, known for lowering "bad" LDL cholesterol. Cashews also contain vital minerals like copper, magnesium, and iron.

At six years old, Gigi has now apparently outgrown her lactose intolerance but her mom’s vegan ice cream is so good, Gigi and her little sister, two-year-old Lola, prefer it to the conventional dairy product.

"It’s a family business," Clark explained. Her dad, Joe Clark, is her number-one assistant, helping to serve customers at the Vixen Kitchen booth at the Garberville Farmer’s Market.

Customers face a tough decision when they choose among the four flavors: Naked Vanilla, Naked Chocolate, Mocha Madness, and Strawberry Vortex.

The flavors are sweetened with maple syrup - "organic when we can get it," said Clark - organic cacao in the chocolate and mocha flavors, Peet’s coffee in the mocha, and local organic strawberries in the strawberry flavor.

Three kinds of organic cones are available to support that yummy scoop: plain, sugar, and gluten-free sugar. Clark also makes candied pecan sprinkles to add that final touch of yumminess. The sprinkles contain organic egg whites, the only animal-based ingredient in any Vixen Kitchen product.

The Redwood Times caught up with Vixen Kitchen at last Friday’s farmer’s market, only the second time the Clarks have set up their booth at the far side of the town square close to Lost Frenchman Pizza, but already the word is spreading and customers started arriving promptly at the market opening at 11 a.m.

Clark will be selling all her flavors in pints at this week’s market, and as soon as she clears all the paperwork hurdles with the state, her ice creams will be available in local stores.

"Ingredients so simple even a six-year-old can pronounce them," the pint container’s nutrition label boasts.

Asked if getting all the clearances she needs to sell her ice cream at farmer’s market was a hassle, Clark replied, "It depends what you mean by a hassle." Although there was a lot of paperwork to fill out and fees to pay, she said that everyone at the Humboldt County Department of Health was helpful and nice.

"I think I had less trouble because I’m making ice cream," Clark said. "Everyone loves ice cream and wants to help."

REDWOOD TIMES PHOTOS BY VIRGINIA GRAZIANI

1. Ice cream maker Sundara Clark explains how she blends raw organic cashews and other wholesome and tasty ingredients to produce Vixen Kitchen vegan ice cream to one of her customers at last Friday’s farmer’s market.

2. Naked Chocolate

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