Cool Down with This Watermelon Coconut Slushy Recipe From Kale and Caramel
Food blogger and cookbook author Lily Diamond shares the healing wisdom of plants and a sweet sorbet to keep you cool all summer long.
Photos: courtesy of Kale & Caramel
Though summer has only just officially begun, we’ve been feeling the heat wave throughout the state with record high temperatures that call for an icy reprieve. We turned to Maui-raised Lily Diamond, author of blog-turned-cookbook Kale & Caramel, for a fresh and fruity slushy as well as summer tips to cool down.
Diamond launched Kale & Caramel in 2012 as a lifestyle and wellness blog, drawing upon the teachings of her late mother who passed away from cancer in 2008. An aromatherapist and herbologist, her mother instilled in Diamond her love of plant science and the wisdom of their healing properties. Diamond’s following grew, and in 2017, Kale & Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table was born. The cookbook highlights vegan and vegetarian fare and DIY body and beauty recipes, with each chapter dedicated to an herb or plant.
With the growing trend of self-care and mindful eating finding its way into local homes, Kale & Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table offers insight into how we can eat delicious and healthful all summer long. At the moment, Diamond is home on Maui—she lives primarily in Los Angeles—enjoying the abundance of seasonal summer produce grown by friends and family, and shares a sweet, fruity recipe for an icy summer treat.
HONOLULU Magazine: Your cookbook and message encourage readers to cultivate a relationship with plants and the earth. How is that more or less relevant in the summertime?
Lily Diamond: It’s certainly relevant year-round, but especially in the summer when we’re spending more time outside, connecting to people and place through our senses. Playing in water, sun and forest, we’re exploring our relationship with the earth, and discovering how we can locate our own succulence, health, and balance in our unique environment. This is as much about how we eat as it is about the way we care for our skin and our bodies—one of the reasons I love using the same ingredients to nourish my inner and outer being. For example, a bowl of sugar and mango can make a delicious pie or a fabulous skin-sloughing body scrub. Win-win.
HM: How would you encourage readers to incorporate more herbs into meals?
LD: Think of herbs as nature’s flavor-boosting sprinkles, rather than fancy or confusing ingredients. Herbs are the fastest and most delicious way to elevate a simple salad, soup, pasta, sauce for the grill, dessert—just about anything you can eat deserves an herb (or many!). Kale & Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table introduces eight of my favorite herbs and four aromatic flowers, and explores their ideal flavor pairings. For example, tomatoes, corn, and basil; cilantro, mango, and ginger; and mint with melon and coconut—like in this slushy, which I’ve updated to include mint for the summer. The easiest way to approach herbs is to see them as fun and essential elements of a dish, as important as the primary ingredient. And don’t be afraid to experiment!
HM: What are some easy ways to utilize local, seasonal fruits in Hawaiʻi like your slushy recipe?
LD: I love starting my day with a yogurt bowl of plain yogurt piled high with papaya, banana, mango, liliko‘i, Hawaiian spirulina powder, tahini and cacao nibs.
I’m also a fan of drinking fruits and veggies—especially when there’s so much succulent fruit in abundance. I love making nourishing turmeric tonics with fresh ‘ōlena (turmeric) and ginger root, and tons of juicy citrus.
I’ve been freezing dreamy Yee’s mangoes here on Maui, as well as lychee from a friend’s backyard, and turning that into sorbet. Just add a touch of coconut cream to the frozen fruit so it’s blendable, some squeezes of lemon, lime or calamansi (fave), a hit of vanilla, a handful of ice cubes and a pinch of sea salt.
HM: What plant-based summer dishes are your go-to’s for health and wellness?
LD: When temps rise, I love making giant salads like the Greek chopped salad with tahini mint dressing from the mint chapter of Kale & Caramel. There’s also an amazing zucchini basil soup from the basil chapter, which is a great way to use up an abundance of summer squash. Vibrant dressings and sauces made from fistfuls of herbs (like the roasted lemon mint pesto from the mint chapter) are incredibly multipurpose (great on pizza, roasted veggies, meat and fish, pasta) are always a hit. Also my grilled pineapple cucumber salad with spicy peanuts!
HM: What do you hope people take away from your cookbook, blog and social media platforms when they browse Kale & Caramel?
LD: I hope people, and womxn in particular, feel a sense of empowerment and their birthright to well-being through a renewed connection to the earth. When we relate to our environment (land, community, home and our bodies) through the lens of Hawai‘i’s state motto—ua mau ke‘ea o ka ‘āina i ka pono—we understand we’re just one part of a profoundly interconnected whole. The wellness of each individual part determines the wellness of the entirety.
To me, this awareness of interconnection—and the ability to act on it to better oneself and one’s community—is true wellness, true well-being. We get there by cultivating awareness in all arenas of life, from the way we nourish our bodies, inside and out, to the way we talk to ourselves, to the way we take a stand for what we believe in. I hope my book, blog and social media platforms are sanctuaries for true well-being, from the inside out.
Watermelon Slushy Base
3 cups chopped fresh watermelon
1 teaspoon honey, agave or sweetener of choice
Coconut Slushy Base
1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons honey, agave or sweetener of choice
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice from about 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6-8 ice cubes, more as needed
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, plus extra for serving
Place watermelon and honey in a high-speed blender. Blend on high until smooth and juicy. Pour into ice cube molds and freeze until solid, at least six hours or overnight.
Rinse the blender and dry completely. Add all ingredients for the coconut slushy base into the blender. Mix on high until fully incorporated. Pour into ice cube molds and freeze until solid, at least six hours or overnight.
Once all the cubes have frozen, remove them from the molds and put them into zip-top bags separated by flavor.
Blend the coconut cubes in a high-speed blender with about six ice cubes and 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves. If you have one, use a blender tamper to compress the cubes as they blend. The end result will be a thick slushy with the texture of creamy snow or an icy soft serve. Transfer to a bowl and place briefly in the freezer while you blend the watermelon cubes.
Rinse the blender and dry completely. Blend the watermelon cubes, using a blender tamper to compress the cubes as they blend. The end result will be a slushy with the texture of snow.
Remove the coconut slushy base from the freezer and layer both watermelon and coconut slushy bases in glasses. Top with a few fresh mint leaves.