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Living Lively,” by Haile Thomas, is part plant-based cookbook, part empowerment manifesto. The 19-year-old activist was motivated to develop gluten-, dairy-, and egg-free recipes after her father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, an effort that not only improved his health, but also instilled confidence, positivity, and energy into her family’s life.

Haile believes that by promoting a plant-based lifestyle, one can wield food not only as a source of healthy eating and wellness, but also as a vehicle for activism and community empowerment. Her cookbook is buoyed by this message, along with 80 vegan recipes designed to make you happy, too. Start your mornings with a fruity Jamaican cornmeal porridge, or recreate Haile’s sunflower spring roll bowl, a deconstructed ode to the crispy Southeast Asian specialty.

But for those who need some way to cool down during this hot summer, predominantly spent indoors, look to Haile’s nutty cherry-coconut soft serve. The vegan ice cream is smooth and fruity, thanks to a can of full-fat coconut milk, frozen bananas and cherries, and a heaping tablespoon of cashew and coconut butter. The trick here is to pour the coconut milk into an ice cube tray to freeze overnight. The next day, all of the ingredients are blitzed in a blender. What emerges is a bright, sweet, and light DIY soft serve that should be crowned with a showering of coconut flakes and fresh cherries.

From LIVING LIVELY by Haile Thomas Copyright © 2020 by Haile Thomas. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Treat yourself to this simple, creamy, cool delight in 5 minutes or less! Just remember to freeze the coconut milk overnight first.

Serves: 2-4

  • One 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1⁄4 cup unsweetened oat milk
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 medium/large banana, cut into 6 pieces and frozen
  • 1 cup frozen cherries (about 20)
  • 1 tablespoon cashew butter (or the nut/seed butter of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut butter (optional)
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom, or to taste (this is a strong spice, though, so increase with caution!)
  • Optional (but highly recommended) toppings: Coconut flakes, fresh cherries

  1. The night before you want to make the soft serve, pour the canned coconut milk into 12 wells of an ice cube tray. Freeze overnight.
  2. Remove the cubes from the freezer 5 to 10 minutes before you make the soft serve.
  3. In a high-powered blender or food processor, combine the coconut milk cubes, oat milk, maple syrup, banana, cherries, cashew butter, coconut butter (if using), and cardamom and blend until thick and smooth.
  4. Divide the soft serve among bowls. If you want to pop all the way off, serve with coconut flakes and fresh cherries!