Along with today’s very yummy recipe, I have a very important topic to discuss. Today is World Autism Awareness Day. According to the Autism Speaks website, “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its estimate of autism prevalence in the United States to 1 in 88 children (1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls). By comparison, this is more children than are affected by diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or Down syndrome – combined.” Combined. Autism has no proven cause, and no known cure.
My life has been touched by autism at various points. My younger sister used to babysit a child with autism, and that was the first time I was exposed to it. At a later point in my life, I was married to a man whose son is autistic. My stepson (and I would say “former” because his father and I are no longer married, but you don’t divorce kids) is one of the 1 in 54 boys in the United States with autism. I won’t get into detail about his symptoms or behavior, because I believe that everyone’s experience with autism is unique, and because I’m in no position to suggest treatment options to anyone. I will say that with early intervention and with a number of other treatments, my stepson has thrived. He’s an amazing boy, with an amazing big sister who is so incredibly patient with him (most days!). Most recently, I became friends with a woman who has two autistic sons at varying places on the spectrum. The older of the two had never had a birthday party because he, until recently, just couldn’t handle that kind of stimulation.
Autism Speaks hosts an event yearly called Light it up Blue to shed a light on autism. If you happen to have a second, visit the site and see how the rest of the world lights it up blue to raise autism awareness. There are some gorgeous photos of world landmarks (the Empire State Building, NY Stock Exchange, and Sydney Opera House being my favorites) lit up blue for the event, in its third year. If you happen to have a few bucks (and I mean this with no pressure), there’s a “donate now” button there. Another option is to light it up blue yourself by purchasing a specially marked blue light bulb at Home Depot and making your porch, or a window in your home, blue today. Not only is autism more prevalent than most child diseases, it is horribly under-funded. The more funds donated, the closer we are to understanding the cause and to finding a cure.
Now, for those of you who are just here for the food, I did make some blueberry coconut milk ice cream for the occasion. As some doctors recommend a gluten and dairy free diet for those with autism, this recipe would be appropriate. I used anise extract instead of the suggested vanilla extract, and I’m not sure I would do so again, so I’ve left the recipe the way I found it, with the vanilla extract. Having had it both ways, I prefer the vanilla extract in this. This recipe does require an ice cream maker, and because of that, you’ll want to make sure the bowl of your ice cream maker is chilled ahead of time, if your model requires that.
Blueberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream
- 2 1/2 C. fresh or frozen blueberries
- 3/4 C. sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3 C. coconut milk (full-fat version), well stirred
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, combine blueberries, sugar, and salt.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, mashing the blueberries with the back of a fork or potato masher.
Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes.
Combine coconut milk, the cooled blueberry mixture, and vanilla extract in a blender. Blend for 1-2 minutes, until completely liquefied and mixed.
Cover and chill the mixture until cold, 2 hours.
Pour the mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in the freezer for several hours, or until ice cream hardens.
The ice cream can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 week.
Makes 1 quart.
Source: Cookin’ Canuck