The soft serve ice cream at Honey B Market in Santa Cruz
The soft serve ice cream at Honey B Market in Santa Cruz has just four ingredients: cashews, maple syrup, sea salt and vanilla.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Food & Drink

Eaters Digest: Honey B Market’s cashew-milk soft serve

Lily Belli brings you her recommendations for what to eat in Santa Cruz County, along with a weekly guide to the most important food and drink events in the area. She’ll also point you to Lookout’s list of area food guides and the best in food news.

Hello again! Last week, I returned after taking a break in March to have a baby. Now, Cecilia is a bouncing, thriving 3-month-old, and I am brimming with new story ideas to bring to you, our Lookout readers. Thank you to contributing writers Jessica M. Pasko, Laura Sutherland and Ashley Spencer, who have shared stories while I’ve been on parental leave, keeping you up to date on the world of Santa Cruz food.

We’ve rethought this Friday Eaters Digest column, retooled and geared to your Santa Cruz County weekends. Each week, Eaters Digest does three things for you. First, I’ll highlight a single dish or drink worth seeking out. Second, I’ll share the most important food and drink events in the area — and our growing list of area food guides on everything from farmers markets to the Corralitos wine trail. Third, I’ll catch you up on Lookout’s and other food stories that you might have missed.

And you now get Eaters Digest delivered as a free newsletter via email, as well as on our website. So you’ll now get two newsletters from me each week: Eaters Digest on Fridays and Lily Belli on Food on Tuesdays. Thanks for reading!

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Eat This: Cashew-milk soft serve at Honey B Market

It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, enjoying a soft serve ice cream in the summer is a timeless experience. But you won’t find one of the best soft serves in Santa Cruz County in an ice cream parlor. And, in fact, it isn’t even made with dairy — or sugar.

The cashew milk soft serve ($5; additions $2 each) at Honey B Market in downtown Santa Cruz proves that you don’t need actual cream to make ultra-creamy ice cream. At Honey B, owner Katie Belanger makes her soft serve with just four ingredients: organic cashews, maple syrup, sea salt and vanilla. The cashews give it a nutty, rich flavor absent from other nondairy ice creams, while maple syrup and vanilla gently sweeten. Perhaps most important, the texture is luscious and thick enough to achieve that crucial soft serve swirl.

There’s only one flavor on the menu, but guests can personalize their serving with fresh fruit from the farmers market, or brownie bits and crumbled cookies made in-house, both gluten-free, vegan and made without refined sugar. The result is a decadent, crave-worthy summer treat that also manages to feel good for you.

Honey B Market owner Katie Belanger holds a dish of vegan soft serve made with cashew milk.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Belanger grew up going to Dairy Queen and wanted to make a soft serve that reminded her of that experience: “At Honey B, a lot of the foods I make are just things I like to eat but healthified and made with good ingredients.” She says the secret sauce is Mr. Dewie’s Cashew Base, an organic cashew product made in San Leandro, which she also uses in her nondairy cream cheese, the frosting on her cinnamon roll “snails” and other desserts, and as the cashew milk base for coffee drinks and chai.

The recent set of warm days left me craving a chilled bowl topped with all the fixins, and I’m not alone. Since Belanger added the soft serve to Honey B’s menu in May, it has sold out almost every day. While she’d like to make more flavors in the future, she says her main plan isn’t to become an ice creamery: “It’s just a fun little side addition.”

At her cozy, light-filled Cedar Street café covered in hand-painted flowers, which opened last December, Belanger offers a plant-based menu of lunch bowls, salads, sandwiches and pastries. She proudly bakes all of her sourdough breads in-house and ferments tempeh, kimchi and other ingredients — a practice she describes as “spiritual.” “We’re big on sourcing good ingredients and using the power of the alchemy in our air and spirit in our cooking in order to find more nutrients in our food.”

1005 Cedar St., Santa Cruz | 630-456-3603 |

Best of the Weekend

Home restaurant in Soquel is hosting a Summer Winemakers Garden Party on Sunday in the restaurant’s beautiful backyard garden. Purchase a VIP ticket to gain access to the event from noon to 3 p.m. and taste wines from 10 local winemakers while you enjoy homemade charcuterie, fresh oysters and pizzas from the wood-fired oven. Entry is free from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., during which time guests can purchase wine by the glass and order from Home’s wood-fired menu. VIP tickets are $100.

If you’ve visited one of Santa Cruz County’s farmers markets over the years – or are just a fan of great sheep’s milk cheese and yogurt — you might already be familiar with Garden Variety Cheese, headed by farmer, cheesemaker and chef Rebecca King. On Saturday at 5 p.m., King is hosting a farm dinner at her Monkeyflower Ranch in Royal Oaks, where she also raises pork, lamb and eggs. The dinner will feature products made on the farm and local organic produce, with wine from El Vaquero Winery in Corralitos and beer from Fruition Brewing in Watsonville. The evening also includes a tour of the farm, dairy and cheesemaking facility. Tickets are $100.

Saturday, July 8

Sunday, July 9

Tuesday, July 11

Can’t Miss City Guides

News from the Week

Lily Belli on Food: Summer restaurant openings and the latest food news (Lookout)
The minimum wage just went up in several Bay Area cities. Are you getting paid the right amount? (KQED)
For many kids, a boost to summer school meals is a ‘game changer’ (Civil Eats)
Our favorite affordable restaurants in San Francisco (San Francisco Chronicle)

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