Sundara Clark on why cashews are perfect for vegan gelato
Born in a teepee and raised in Santa Cruz, Sundara Clark grew up eating tofu and organics, so it’s little wonder that when she relocated to Garberville, Humboldt County, she continued her family tradition of eating clean. Now a mother of two, Clark makes homemade dairy-free gelato from cashews instead of coconut (“Too much of a good thing is too much,”) and her award-winning Vixen Kitchen flavors are certified organic, vegan and Paleo. Naked Vanilla, Naked Chocolate, Coffee Cream Dream, Chai & I, and Midnight Mint are now available at local stores.
GT: How did you come upon the idea of making gelato from cashews?
SUNDARA CLARK: My daughter was about a year and a half, and she was getting all these rashes and getting really sick. We got her tested for allergies and she came up as intolerant to dairy. I wanted to get her ice cream, so I started messing around in the kitchen. And now I get to make this amazing dessert which not only tastes great, but is good for you. As a stay-at-home mom, I got to find my passion.
How do cashews compare to traditional ice cream ingredients?
Cashews are high in copper, which eliminates free radicals. They’re a good source of phytochemicals and antioxidants which protect the heart from disease and cancer. Their fat is an oleic acid which is the same fat found in olive oil and avocados—it’s a healthy monosaturated fat which promotes good cardiovascular health by reducing triglyceride levels. They have a lot of magnesium, which lowers blood pressure and helps prevent heart attacks. They’re also good for bones because they help balance calcium in your body. They’re lower in fat than pecans, almonds, walnuts and peanuts, and have an ideal fat ratio.
So it’s healthy dessert?
I have one friend whose husband buys the really awful cereal—you know, the one with the cartoon characters on it—and she actually gave her kids my gelato for breakfast. She was like “it’s better than that damn cereal they were eating!” It’s something parents can feel good about giving to their kids.
You don’t use gums or emulsifiers—why not?
I could’ve used those things, and most people who make vegan products do because it takes the price down—you can take out a lot of the cashews or coconut and add these thickeners. I’m trying to hold true to my values.
Where did the name come from?
I like to think that all women are vixens in the kitchen—we’re all cooking for our families or ourselves, and it doesn’t hurt to feel good about yourself while you’re taking care of other people. I think it makes the food taste better.
THIS IS NUTS Sundara Clark holds up a scoop of her favorite vegan gelato which she makes from cashews. PHOTO: ERIN CROSSWHITE