Coconut Meyer Lemon and Poppy-Seed Sorbet

Some years ago, I had a patient who was a famous writer. This person is a household name, and the sessions we had together were, to this day, some of my favorites.

Now, of course, I can’t tell you who this person is, when our sessions happened, where our conversations happened, or why I was providing treatment (Ahhhh, HIPAA), but I can tell you that among professional topics, we talked a lot about writing. So, in accordance with the law, I will now name this person “Steven” to make it easier to follow along with the rest of my little vignette.

Steven had written several pieces, some of which have since been adopted into movies and plays. He was not a writer by training, and he explained that he fell into the profession in a way that someone falls in love: unexpectedly and wildly. He never looked for fame, and he never sought it out. In fact, he stated that when someone recognized him, it was almost always enough to make him want to flee.

The last day I saw Steven, he asked me if I was a writer myself. I answered  “kind of”, explained that I had a blog, but that South of Vanilla was centered around food and recipe creation. Steven chuckled to himself then said “sometimes bloggers are the best writers: they’re unique and centered. They have no one to answer to but themselves. That is how the most authentic stories are created.” As I was trying to piece together what to say next, he interrupted my thoughts: “cooking and writing is a natural pairing.” I inquired as to why, and he said “ah, well to write, truly and from the heart, you need to stay inside, in the quiet, and often times alone. You cannot write in the midst of chaos, but all writers will eventually become hungry. So what are you to do? Do you abandon your writing and go to the nearest restaurant? No, you stay in, you cook, and while those spices are simmering, you keep writing. In your head, in the quiet. Those are how thoughts are translated into words. The best writers are almost always the best cooks.”  He then went on to explain that most writers are good cooks, and it is just a matter of time where those writing cooks turn into vegetable gardeners. Eerie.


Steven was perhaps my favorite patient I have ever had. We shared so many interests, not only in writing and cooking, but in our love for citrus.

Yes, you heard me right: citrus.

Ha! I bet you didn’t think I was going to say that. I didn’t even think I was going to say that. I vowed to myself that I was going to back off on the orange and lime and lemon recipes for awhile. I know I have been thoroughly enjoying them, but not everyone wants to eat blood oranges and grapefruit all day every day. So I was going to bring you guys some more original, less citrus-y recipes.

But then, as I was cooking late one evening, all the memories of Steven bubbled up. I had gone so long without thinking of him. Then, his love for citrus washed over me, and I realized that I had a handful of Meyer lemons in the fridge that were going to spoil soon if I didn’t use them.

So, in honor of Steven, I give you this recipe: Coconut Meyer Lemon and Poppy-Seed Sorbet.  It is light and refreshing, perfect for summer. This sorbet is a great alternative to ice cream, has that sweet candy-like tang thanks to the Meyers, and makes a beautiful presentation for any summertime dinner party. Enjoy!

coconut meyer lemon and poppy-seed sorbet

  • 24 oz. coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup finely shredded coconut
  • 3 tbsp. Poppy seeds
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest (for garnish, optional)
  • ½ sliced Meyer lemon (for garnish, optional)
  1.  In your blender combine the coconut milk, lemon juice, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Blend on medium for about 2-3 minutes until it is well blended.
  2. Following the manufacturer directions for your ice cream maker, pour the coconut milk mixture into your ice cream maker. While churning, add the shredded coconut and the poppy seeds slowly. (If you do not have an ice cream maker, follow one of these tutorials here, just make sure to save the shredded coconut and poppy seeds until the very end.)
  3. Once your sorbet is done churning (again, following the manufacturer instructions) pour ice cream into an air-tight container and place into your freezer to further harden. Alternatively, you can pour your sorbet into a bread loaf pan, then cover tightly with foil before setting into your freezer.
  4. Once your sorbet is fully set, remove from freezer and garnish with fresh lemon zest and lemon slices.