Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Scream You Scream...

...We all scream for raw ice cream! (or at least I do!)

Because I started this post the other day, when I finished and posted it today, it got placed after my arizona post here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nature in Arizona

In my last post I promised to share some recipes, but then I realized that I want to share some more pictures from Arizona - besides, one of the ice creams just finished in the ice cream maker and is now busy chilling in the freezer, so won't be ready for it's photo shoot until this evening.

During our week at the Tree, my mom and I decided to take a drive out to the Patagonia bird sanctuary one sunny afternoon (we are total nature lovers). Best of all, we pretty much had the park to ourselves during our time there - so peaceful! The first thing we saw were two deer which reminded us of home (the deer eat from my bird feeder), except that these ones were half the size! We didn't see many birds that day, but we were loving the different trees - in fact, not one of the trees we saw down there are the same as what we have up here. When we came upon this stream I just had to dip my fingers in - was it ever warm! Crazy to think that at home right now there is 4 feet of ice covering the lake, with a foot of snow on top!

I'm completely in love with these little cactus plants that look like a cartoon picture to me, along with the big saguaro cactus. I learned that if the saguaro gets a puncture, it will grow an "arm" from that spot. Kind of like a starfish. How cool is that?! I couldn't believe the abundance of these plants, they are everywhere!

I felt like a kid again as I jumped up on these old fallen trees to dance around and then catch some rays of sunlight.

My mom and her friend came upon the neatest chain of caves one day on their walk, but didn't go inside. I wonder what's in there... probably snakes and spiders, but I'd like to go in anyway.

On our last day in Arizona, we visited the Desert Museum just outside of Tuscon. It was another beautifully sunny day and the weather was pleasant. We saw heaps of different birds, animals and plants native to the area that I'd never even heard of before.
I wasn't sure how I'd like the desert since I'm a water person, but I enjoyed it and want to visit again (I keep hoping my mom will get a winter apartment down there).

Yay desert!



I Scream You Scream...

...We all scream for raw ice cream! (or at least I do!)

While I was at Tree of Life, the cafe apprentices had an ice cream class. When I heard the news I reeeally wanted to attend but wasn't allowed (apprentices only - good thing I'll be going back in the fall - I'll be an ice cream pro by then :). Fortunately I got the next best thing! Kristene shared a few samples with me - peppermint chocolate chip, pecan ginger, and vanilla. They were delish! The next day Frank gifted me with a scoop of blueberry cardamom - yowsa - I was in heaven! I knew I had to make these delights, so Kristene kindly sent me the recipes which I then adapted slightly into my own versions according to what ingredients I had on hand.

Making ice cream is so easy - I'm not sure why anyone would want to buy it (cooked or raw)when you can make it ten times better yourself. Simply blend up fruit, nuts, water, nut milk, young coconut, sweetener, flavourings, or anything else you might think of (I love imagining up new flavours). Then chill your mixture in the fridge for anywhere from a few hours to overnight. Next, process the mixture through an ice cream maker (it usually takes about 15 minutes). Just before it's finished, add in your "mix-ins"- chunks of whatever you want. IE: fruit, nuts, chocolate, etc. Transfer to a bowl and freeze until firm (the ice cream will still be quite soft when it's finished in the maker).
Here are two of the recipes which I've adapted from Tree of Life.

Peppermint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream:

2 cups macadamia nuts
1 cup packed young coconut meat
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup agave
1/2 tsp peppermint stevia
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp mint extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup cacao nibs or raw chocolate chunks*

Blend all but nibs until completely smooth and creamy. Chill and then process through an ice cream maker, folding the chocolate chunks in at the end. Freeze.

If you do not have an ice cream maker: freeze in a bowl and stir every 30 minutes, OR freeze in an ice cube tray until solid and then process through a champion or high speed blender. Fold in the chocolate chunks before serving.

*I decided to make my own chocolate chunks with cacao powder, agave, cacao butter, coconut oil, and vanilla. It's a fun thing to do if you have the extra time, as they add a nice texture and flavour, otherwise the nibs work fine.


Blueberry Cardamom Ice Cream
If nothing else, try this one - you will be amazed!

2 cups macadamia nuts
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup agave
1/3 cup melted coconut butter
1 tbs + 1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt

Follow instructions above. Optional - add blueberries at the same time you'd add the chocolate chunks in the mint cream. I personally don't care to because after freezing they are rock hard and cold, but it looks really pretty, and if you let the ice cream sit a bit, I'm sure they would soften (I'm never that patient).

As I made the above recipes, I couldn't help but think about chocolate ice cream...full of "chunks of something" - crunchy, like nuts...but more exciting than that. I came up with sweet almond crunch: Pieces of soaked, dehydrated almonds mixed with a sweet almond butter mixture.

Chocolate Almond Crunch Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts
1/2 cup brazil nuts
2 cups almond milk
1/2 cup agave
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup cacao powder

Blend all but the cacao powder, until smooth. Add powder and continue blending until creamy.
Follow the instructions above for processing.


Sweet Almond Crunch

1/4 cup almond butter
1 tbs coconut oil
1 tbs agave
1/2 tsp pure almond extract (optional)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds (soaked and dehydrated) - or any nut of your preference.

Mix together all but the last ingredient. Then mix in the almonds and spread on a piece of parchment paper (easy for removal), or plate, and place in the freezer for at least 1 hour, or until you are ready to fold them into your ice cream. Peel off the paper (or whatever you are using) and break apart the almond pieces. PS - these would be really great dehydrated with this coating and then used as a dessert topping or snack.
You can turn this into a double chocolate ice cream by adding chocolate chunks in place, or in addition to the almond crunch. How bout chocolate banana nut ice cream - I took some of my banana nut brittle, chopped it into small chunks and mixed it in.


Now, how bout an ice cream cone? Here's where those banana leathers come in handy! Cut a square (the bigger the piece, the bigger the cone will be) and then fold in into a cone shape, folding one or two flaps at the top. Umm really, how easy is that? I think this would be really great for kids (I can't wait to make all these fun things when I have children). The leather actually becomes brittle and crunchy due to the coldness of the ice cream - just like a "real" cone!
Well, I hope I've encouraged you to jump over to your kitchen to give these recipes a try or experiment to come up with your own.
Till next time!



Friday, February 22, 2008

Tree of Life Adventures

I've just returned from yet another wonderful adventure.... My mom and I decided to take a vacation this winter (something we never do together), and since she loves the desert and I love any place that has raw food and is warm, we figured Tree of Life Rejuvination Center would be the perfect place! I've had Gabriel Cousen's books for years and have often fantasized going to his center - my dream came true faster than I thought it would!


I don't feel I can put the whole experience into words - there was something really magical about it. For starters, we came from a temperature of -40C (also -40F if you can imagine) to the warmth of sandals and tee shirts. Ah, heaven already! Upon arrival we rented a car and took a scenic drive up to Patagonia, seeing heaps of cacti along the way. I'd never seen a real cactus before so it was cool - just like in the movies!


Being a foodie all the way around, I am so greatful to have been in a place where I got to eat the BEST food ever and take a break from my job making it. Three times a day we ate from a huge buffet spread of fresh, organically grown greens, veggies, sprouts, dressings, crackers, entrees, soups, etc. Exotic porridges were served for breakfast, often containing chia, goji berries, coconut oil, maca, etc. I enjoyed a big glass of seed milk every morning, along with some greens. I thought I would miss my regular green smoothies but soon realized that it was a nice change and am going to incorporate these drinks into my diet regularly. In fact, this morning I made almond/pumpkin seed milk with the addition of spirulina, vitamineral greens, vanilla creme stevia and a few soaked raisins - Tree of Life style. Mmmm.


My favourite meal, dessert, is served on the weekend at noon, so I took delight in trying the goodies. One day there were Adam's chocolate cookies, topped with a blueberry cream, and on Sunday was Max's creamy berry pie - both to live for!

It's amazing how much can happen in one week. I made some really great friends - people who I will make a point of staying in touch with and seeing again. A few of them are even hoping to visit this summer, and in a trip to NYC in upcoming months, I'll be visiting a wonderful woman named Antoinette who became an instant friend to my mom and I. After becoming enthralled with Courtney Pool's blog during the time she did her big juice feast, I got to meet her in person. She's a beautiful spirit with the most gorgeous eyes I have ever seen - like blue gemstones! I also met Frank, of Raw Endurance who works as a chef at the Tree. He kindly let me come along to Tuscon one morning for bikram yoga with himself and some others. It's been a while since I've practiced regularly (even though I do other yoga most days of the week), so I was a bit rusty, but it felt great!

I made some Canadian connections too, which is always nice, including Laura, who lives a few hours from me! So cool! I look forward to us getting together when she returns home. Kristin from BC feels like a sister to me (we must have been friends in a past life), and I will definitely visit her the next time I visit that end of the country.

On my day of arrival I met Chelsey, who is spending three weeks there (lucky her). We hit it off immediately and had lots of fun together that week. When my mom and I left, 8 days later, Chelsey came to Tuscon with us for a day of shopping and dining. We are a bit naughty really, and had a margarita that night knowing full well our bodies wouldn't be too happy. Thank goodness for all the reiki and love we put into those drinks! I won't be doing that again for a very long time.

I've also decided that I want to take the 10 week cafe apprentice program, after learning more about it. While I have a lot of kitchen skills already, this program covers heaps of other things and I know there is always more to learn.

We were completely shocked to see it snow one day (you can see the remains in the mountains). I kept hoping it would melt quickly - I wanted as much hot weather as possible! Fortunately it only stayed for about 24 hours. Here is my mom (middle) with two of our new friends.


We are so grateful to have learned heaps of valuable information, eat amazing raw vegan food, attend spiritual services at the temple, make new friends, watch food prep classes, enjoy saunas, yoga and dance classes, and bask in warm temperatures, among other things. We'd like to make this an annual trip in the midst of winter - I recommend this center to anyone!
Stay tuned for some TOL style ice cream recipes...

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Banana-Rama

I love how easy it is to use one cheap ingredient to make many amazing things. From time to time I make a big batch of banana leather to have on hand for various uses. It makes the best raw crepes (something that I learned a few years ago from Alissa Cohen), and is especially great for travelling. Cut the leather into squares, top it with some almond butter and berries - you've got a banana nut butter sandwich!


Here is a quick crepe-like dessert that will "wow" (perfect for entertaining) when you've got some leather on hand.

First, how to make the leather: Simply blend as many bananas as you want, until completely smooth. Pour onto a teflex sheet and evenly spread. Then dehydrate at 115F for about 6-8 hours or until you are easily able to peel the bananas away from the teflex. Flip onto the mesh screen and continue drying a little longer until both sides are dry but the entire sheet is still very pliable.

Ok, now cut the leather into squares (size is up to you - the length from corner to corner will determine how long the rolls are).
Roll up from one corner, diagonally to the other corner, to create a tube.
Now hold them for a minute or two to "set" the roll up (to hold their shape). These can now sit for as long as you want like this until you are ready to fill them.


Here comes the fun part. Deciding what fillings and toppings you'd like to use! In mine I've used the vanilla cream from my cookie post, paired with chopped strawberries and strawberry sauce. You could use a chocolate filling or puree berries into the vanilla cream, and then top with your choice of fruit.


Vanilla Cream
1 1/2 cups cashews
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup coconut butter
1/3 cup agave
2 tbs pure vanilla extract
1 tbs lecithin
1/4 tsp sea salt


Blend all ingredients until completely smooth and creamy. Chill for a few hours to firm.

With a piping bag, pipe your filling into the tube, and then let it sit a little while to soften. Top with your garnishes and voila! Ready to eat. Honestly its easier than it looks when I write it down. Keep the tubes on hand and whenever the urge hits, just fill and eat!
How about a banana caramel tarte? Mmm...First,
choose a nut crust of your choice and press it into
tart shells or muffin tins. Dehydrate until you are able to remove the crust, keeping the shape intact. Continue dehydrating until slightly crisp (or desired texture is reached).
For the filling, spread either some vanilla cream, or chocolate cream into the bottom of the tarte. Now top with a layer of sliced bananas and drizzle with a sauce of your choice. I've made a dark caramel sauce using dates/soak water/vanilla. I also sprinkled a light layer of shredded coconut in between the bananas and filling.


But of course, the best bananas are the ones eaten freshly picked from the trees. This time last year I was surrounded by banana trees in Fiji, ahhh....wish I were back there now...




Monday, February 4, 2008

Grab a bowl...

...but forget about that sugary/hydrogenated crap from a box! Welcome to grawnola. The stuff thats good for you!




A client wanted a huge batch of granola, so it was the perfect time to take care of that when I made the cookies the other day. Cranberry Maple is by far the best grawnola recipe I've come across, from Raw Food Real World. I've made it a bunch of times, sometimes using goji berries in place of cranberries, and switching walnuts for the pecans.

It is full of ingredients like:

apple
maple syrup
dates
lemon
orange
vanilla
cinnamon
sea salt
sunflower seeds
pecans
almonds
pumpkin seeds
cranberries



Mmmm, the batter it itself is wonderful, and I've not yet tried but I know this recipe would be great shaped into breakfast cookies. Great for a person on the run. This took my biggest mixing bowl, and I still found it a challenge to mix...I ended up with a few bowls on the go!


After many hours in the dehydrator (flipping and breaking it up along the way), it was fini! And oh man, the aroma when that stuff is "baking"! Let me tell you, it permeates the whole house with a nutty/cinnamony/orangey smell.

I've always loved granola but was never a breakfast person, so this is a nice occasional dinner treat for me. Topped with almond milk and blueberries...Mmmm.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Rawdorable Goodies - Part 2 - Cookie Land

Alrighty, so as promised in the last post on donuts, here is the continuation of Rawdorable goodies. Welcome to the wonderful world of COOKIES! It was a hard decision, but I've chosen three of Shannon's recipes that appealed to me the most, to create.


My first project was to tackle the Rawgalongs: These are crunchy nut cookies topped with a mound of sweet almond butter filling and then dipped in chocolate. Sound great or what?!

In the dough, I omitted the sesame seeds and used extra almond meal in it's place. For the filling I used 1/2 cup almond butter and 1/2 cup tahini, as I can't get almond butter here, and so must use it sparingly until I get my new supply. At first, it tasted a lot like halvah (from using extra tahini), but as it sat and chilled, it really did start tasting more like peanut butter (as Shannon suggests). I chilled the dough overnight (which made it quite easy to roll), then pulled out my rolling pin and got to work. The cookies, which I made quite flat, ended up being in the dehydrator for a really long time. I was kind of surprised since I had them on the mesh screen the entire time - but alas, a good 28 hours later they were finished. I proceeded to mound the filling on top and then got going with my chocolate topping...a mixture of cacao powder, melted cacao butter, agave, vanilla, and sea salt. The cookies took a quick dunk into the smooth chocolate before heading into the fridge for a chill - voila!


Here's Shannon's recipe:

For the cookie

1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup sesame seeds, ground into a powder
2 Tbsp. agave nectar
2 soft pitted dates
1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash of sea salt

For the filling

3/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 Tbsp. lucuma
1 Tbsp. mesquite
1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash of sea salt

In a food processor, grind cashews, almond meal and ground sesame until it reaches a flour-like consistency. Add the agave, dates, vanilla and sea salt, and process to create a ball of dough.
Flatten the dough into a sheet, and cut out cookie-sized circles.
"Bake" the cookies in your dehydrator, flipping once, until crisp.
In the meantime, combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl. Top each cookie with the filling in a mound shape. Chill to set.

Then, either make my chocolate recipe or your favorite tried and true version. Use the melted chocolate to dip the tops (or if you are adventurous, the whole cookie), and allow the chocolate to harden in the freezer. The chocolate will remain stable chilled in the refrigerator or freezer (I keep mine in the freezer since it reminds me of how my mom would keep a stash in hers; my sisters and I used to sneak them all the time).

I ended up using the dough from the rawgalongs for the Mallowmars , but made them a wee bit thicker, and dehydrated them until dry. Then for the delicious cream topping, Shannon sent me the vanilla cream from Raw Food Real World, which I then changed a bit to this:


Vanilla Cream

1 1/2 cups cashews
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup coconut butter
1/3 cup agave
2 tbs pure vanilla extract
1 tbs lecithin
1/4 tsp sea salt


Blend all ingredients until completely smooth and creamy. Chill for a few hours to firm.


I let my cream firm up overnight, then piped a swirl over each cookie, and used the chocolate recipe from above to drizzle over the mallowmars... Mmm, my mouth waters just thinking about them, as they are chilling right now but will soon be ready for the final tasting!


(Mmmm...I think they look delicious...mine kinda look like Zebra cookies, lol)

With no time to waste, I got into the samoraws. I think these are adorable!
For the cookie
1 cup almond meal
¼ cup coconut flakes, ground into a powder
2 Tbsp. grade B maple syrup
2 soft pitted dates
½ tsp. vanilla
dash of sea salt

For the topping
1 ½ cup soft pitted dates, soaked briefly
soaking liquid from dates
1 Tbsp. grade B maple syrup
2 Tbsp. raw almond butter
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of sea salt
1 cup coconut flakes, divided

Check Shannon's cookie post, here, for directions, other recipes and great pics! I left some plain and drizzled chocolate over the others.


With the base of these cookies, I couldn't help but come up with a little creation of my own. Using a cookie on the bottom (no hole), and a cookie with a hole on the top, I made some sandwich cookies. My filling was the vanilla cream, gently mixed with thawed wild blueberries and some of their juice. Reminds me of the sugar cookies with a hole in the top, filled with the jam that I got when my mom took me to the bakey as a child.
Ah, What talent that girl has - I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next, and you can bet I'll be in my kitchen afterwards, trying it myself!
After all that work, I think I deserve a cookie (more like a sampling of each!) I hope you'll take the time to try them too! Oh, and if anyone wants to drop by for a treat, please do because I have more treats than I know what to do with right now! :D

Friday, February 1, 2008

Rawdorable Goodies - Part 1

For ages now, I have been wanting to make some goodies from my friend, Shannonmarie's blog, Rawdorable. When she posts her marvelous creations, I keep a mental note of which ones I want to try out as I practically drool over my keyboard. See, she has a sweet tooth, just like me, so a lot of her ingenious creations are on the sweet side. What really pulled me in were her "mallowmars" - A cookie base topped with thick vanilla cream, drizzled with chocolate! OMG! To be honest, I've never even heard of a mallowmar, much less tried one, but whatever - it looks great and I want to try one!

Today unexpectedly became the day for this project! I found myself with some time on my hands this afternoon so I rolled up my sleeves, put on my apron, and got to work. I had a bit of a time actually finding all the recipes I wanted (because she has so many posts that I tend to get lost), but eventually found what I was looking for - the recipes for donut holes. Now, I've never cared for donuts (I occasionally ate them when I was a child), but when I saw the pics of Shannon's donuts....well lets just say I knew I had to make them! Oh, the possibilities! This is just the beginning of Donut Land...Shannon has heaps of variations - practically a new one every few days it seems.
I decided to start with Ani Phyo's Banana Nut Donut Holes. If you like bananas, then these are for you! Fortunately I had some bananas that I dehydrated a few weeks ago, and wasn't sure when I'd ever get around to eating or using them. Puuurfect! I made these into both holes and donuts.

Banana Nut Donut Holes

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw pecans
5 dehydrated bananas, chopped
2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1/4 cup shredded coconut

In a food processor, chop almonds and pecans into small bits.
Slowly add bananas, dates and vanilla bean, and process until dough is mixed well. Using an ice cream scooper, form dough into donut-hole-size rounds. Roll in shredded coconut.

I used my hands to roll them into balls (not an icecream scoop), and opted for a lucuma coating, rather than rolling them in coconut. I also left some of my donuts plain (but plain is not "plain" because these are bursting with flavour!) You can really taste the banana in these. I love it!

Now, because Im a chocolate lover, I added cacao and carob powder to half of the dough for chocolate balls, and rolled some of them in a cacao/cinnamon mixture. Soft, sweet, and chocolatey.



Mmmm...I've got balls comin out the ying yang! Ok, onto my next project. Rawgalongs , Samoraws, and Mallowmars - but you'll have to stay tuned for my next post because these cookies are currently in my dehydrator to "bake" and then get covered in their respective toppings. In the meantime, get out the ol' food processor along with your nuts/dates, and give these yummies a try. Add your favourite flavours to create something new!