Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas 2009

As usual, I'm behind in blogging, but better late than never, right? I hope you had a fabulous Christmas... I sure did, and it's still going! The past few weeks have been full of time with friends who are home for the holidays, great food, outdoor activities, new pressies to play with... most importantly though, I've had a special visitor from far away. Adam is enjoying his first trip to Canada from the heat of Florida. He is having a hoot playing in the snow (which we have a lot of!) and is eager to build fires in the wood stove, shovel the deck, go snowmobiling, hike across the frozen lake, go sledding, and throw snow balls at me!

On Christmas Eve we enjoyed a simple yet delicious dinner of soup, salad, crackers and cheddar nut cheeze.

Tomato Basil Soup
A quick throw together - no measurements, just a "taste as you go" kinda soup. Can't go wrong here with these great ingredients. The fresh basil is key... and I use avocado to thicken and cream the soup, but you could use olive oil, thick nut milk, or cashews/hemp seeds.

Tomato
Red bell pepper
Garlic
Fresh basil
Avocado
Lemon juice
Himalayan salt
Hot water

Just Like Ritz Zucchini Crackers
2 1/2 cups walnuts
2 1/2 cups cubed zucchini, peeled
1/2 cup ground golden flax
1/4 cup hemp seed
2 tsp sea salt

Grind zucchini down to small bits - do NOT process into a puree, keep texture. Add to walnuts. Stir in theIn a food processor, grind walnuts into small bits. Transfer to bowl.
remaining ingredients, adding a bit of water, if needed for spreading.
Evenly spread on a teflex, score and dehydrate until crisp, flipping after a few hours.

Cheddar Cheeze Dip
1/2 large red bell pepper
¼ cup water
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1 T tahini
2 T nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 clove garlic
2 T lemon juice
Blend all ingredients until smooth
and creamy.

Naturally, dinner was followed by dessert. Adam made a great Ginger Apple Parfait consisting of a Ginger Lemon Mousse, Cacao Nut Crumbs, and Sliced Apples with Raisins.

The mousse was a blend: cashews, fresh ginger, lemon juice/zest, irish moss, agave, dates, and water. The cacao crumbs were simply walnuts, almonds, dates, and cacao powder zapped in the food processor.

A little something choccie is always in order for me, so we enjoyed these Chocolate Nut Cups: Chewy Lucuma Maple Nut Filling in Dark Chocolate... one of those things I'll have to try and re-create in order to share a recipe because but they were so good!


Christmas morning began with the opening of pressies and then a breakfast of frosty Coconut Nog.
I used ice, but you could turn this into a warm nog by blending the ingredients with hot water and garnish it with a cinnamon stick.

This drink is a blend of:
1 young coconut (water and pulp)
1 frozen banana
pure maple syrup
cinnamon
fresh nutmeg
fresh ginger
vanilla bean
ice

For dessert on Christmas day, I whipped up Snowdrop's infamous raw fruitcake that I've made for the past 2 years. While the recipe appears to contain a lot of steps, I've found a way to simplify it.

Christmas Fruitcake

Wet Mixture:
3/4 cup packed dates
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 orange, juiced
1 tbs lemon zest
1 tbs orange zest
2 tsp almond extract
1 " ginger, minced
2 Tbs agave

Combine ingredients in a bowl and set aside for 1-2 hours to allow the flavours to mingle.
Once soaked, blend all ingredients in a food processor.

Dry Mixture:
1 cup almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup cashews

Grind ingredients in a food processor. Set aside.

Fruit:
3/4 cup dried fruit
1/4-1/2 cup fresh fruit juice

Allow the fruit to sit in the juice 1 hour or a bit longer.


Candied Nuts: Optional. I've made the cake before using the nuts without candying them.
2/3 cup nuts (walnuts/pecans)
2 tbs maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Toss ingredients together. Dehydrate for a few hours. Set aside a few nuts for garnish and roughly chop the rest.

Assembly:
Once everything is soaked, combine the wet and dry mixtures in the food processor. Fold in the soaked, dried fruits and nuts.
Press the cake into any mold of your choice. I used a 7" spring form pan with a cup in the middle to create a hole. Chill.

As for the frosting, I did the Cafe Gratitude's coconut meringue, but a similar topping would be Carmi's Whipped Cream.

For dinner (I just realized I wrote about dessert first - you can see where my priorities lie!), we enjoyed Veggie Stuffed Squash with Mushroom Gravy, and Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette. For the veggies, we used a combo of red pepper, eggplant, carrot, celery, fresh basil, garlic, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil - marinated and dehydrated to soften and warm. The mixture was piled into baked kabocha squash and drizzled with a gravy of: soaked, dried porchini mushrooms, dried chantrelle mushrooms, button mushrooms, walnuts, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, tamari, and the mushy soak water.

What a fabulous day - I hope yours was great too, and I wish you a Happy New Year! I'm celebrating like I've never done before... more on that soon!

Cheers!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More Christmas Pressies

In addition to the granola, I was at it making other edible Christmas pressies!
Naturally, choccie was a MUST on the list. Let's see, I made...

Truffles in a multitude of flavours, incorporating cacao, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, maca, maple, vanilla, orange, lucuma, and mesquite...
Fruit and Nut Choccie Squares with almonds, raisins, goji berries, and cashews.
A few special friends recieved these Chocolate Caramel Nut Crunch Squares.

I did four kinds of Sweet Glazed Nuts.
Last time I soaked the nuts first, this time I didn't - I find the coating stays on better, creating a better end result. Toss the nuts with a sweetener and spice of your choice. Spread em on a teflex sheet and dehydrate until dry (some will stay sticky depending on what you use).
Clockwise from the top:
Lucuma Cream Cashews/Macadamias - lucuma and pure maple syrup.
Maple Walnuts - Pure maple syrup, maple sugar (powdered)
Sticky Sweet Almonds - dates, agave, himalayan salt
Cinnamon Walnuts - agave, cinnamon, mesquite
Coconut Mix - shredded coconut, agave, & maple powder with almonds, macadamias, cashews
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. Hopefully you are enjoying the holiday with your loved ones!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Snack time!

With all this cold weather, I've been inside staying warm by the fire and playing in the kitchie! Time to make edible Christmas pressies this week so I've had my dehydrator out. I made four different kinds of seasoned nuts and seeds. They're very easy to make as long as you've got a dehydrator. The first step is conjuring up flavour ideas, second is soaking your nuts and seeds of choice before throwing it all together. Curried seeds are another one of my faves that I've made in the past...the possibilities are endless.

Garlic & Dill Seeds - Sunflower seeds with dill, garlic, Himalayan salt, and apple cider vinegar - I especially love these!
Chili Chipotle Seeds - Sunflower seeds, chili powder, garlic, lemon juice, chipotle powder, tamari
Teriyaki Nuts - Almonds with pure maple syrup, tamari, garlic, ginger, and dates

Wasabi Seeds - Sunflower seeds, wasabi powder, kelp powder, tamari, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, ginger, garlic

Maple Cinnamon Nuts - On the sweet side: walnuts, pure maple syrup, palm sugar, cinnamon, mesquite, salt

Due to a great sale on kale (hehe, that rhymes!), I stocked up and decided to make a treat for the family - cheesey kale chips. You might remember that I had fun making a big batch of these chips in Florida recently, and have made them one more time since then. I just can't get enough! The cheese was a creamy mixture of cashews, water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, himalayan salt, and garlic. Dehydrated to crispiness!


In addition to seasoned nuts, I made three different granolas for gifts. Cafe Gratitude's Apple Cinnamon, Raw Food Real World's Maple Cranberry, and a Coconut Crunch (no recipe). I've made each of these a few times already. I like CG's recipe because it's cost effective, while still tasty, but I have to say I prefer the maple cranberry. I chose to sub raisins and dried cherries for the cranberries.

Maple Cranberry Granola

1 - 3 apples cored and chopped
1 1/2 cups date paste (dates soaked and then processed until smooth)
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp orange zest or ginger powder
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 2 hours or more
2 cups almonds, soaked 4 hours or more
3 cups pecans, soaked 2 hours or more
1 cup pumpkin seeds soaked 2 hours or more
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins or dried apples

1. In a food processor, place the fresh apples, date paste, maple syrup, lemon juice, orange zest, vanilla, cinnamon, salk and 1/4 of the sunflower seeds and grind until completely smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of
sunflower seeds, the almonds, pecans, and pumpkin seeds to the food processor (you don't need to bother rinsing the bowl in between). Coarsely chop the nuts and seeds in a few quick pulses. Add them to the bowl with the apple mixture, add the cranberries and combine well.

3. Spread the granola on a Teflex lined dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 115 degrees for 6 - 8 hours. Flip the granola over onto the screens and peel away the teflex. Continue dehydrating for another 8 to 12 hours, or until the granola is crunchy. Break into pieces and once completely cooled, store in an airtight container. To maintain freshness longer, store the granola in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks.

The apple cinnamon granola is a combo of apples, almonds, sprouted buckwheat, dates, cinnamon, and sunflower seeds.
Are you making any edible Christmas gifts?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Back to the Cold

I'm now home from my wonderful travels... from the warmth of Florida to the ice cold temperatures of Canada. As I write this, it's -19C (-2F) which is on the warmer side of what it has been this past week. In fact, lately it's been too cold to snow. Can you imagine?! I bundle up in a heavy coat, puffy vest, hat, scarf, mitts, wool socks, and boots, to go outside - the works!


On the positive, I've just discovered an abundance of chaga in my area. Actually, turns out it's growing in my back yard! I'd heard about all the health benefits of this medicinal mushroom a while ago, and was super curious to get my hands on some. As fortune would have it, I got to taste some of the chilled tea while in Vermont. I found it to have a maple/vanilla/caramel undertone - yum, I loved it! Chaga is a fungus that grows in cold climates, mostly on birch trees.

I took this pic after it dried out - it almost looks like it's glowing here. The outside is black and looks charred, while the inside (which can be broken apart with your fingers) is golden and "cork-like". This came off the tree with the simple strike of an axe.


The tea is high in antioxidants and is said to:
Boost the immune system, detoxify the liver, help heal cancers, stomach diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, tumors, treat HIV, and is anti-bacterial/anti-fungal... among many other things.

I enjoy the tea hot (especially with a shot of maple syrup to bring out the natural sweet flavours) or chilled, by itself, or with yummy additions, such as the following drinks. As crazy as it sounds in the depth of winter, I have been enjoying these frosty drinks, full of ice.

Chaga Maple Frosty


1 cup chilled chaga tea (or try with other medicinal tea)
1 cup ice
(small cubes, or a few extra large ones)
2 tbs pure maple syrup
2 tbs hemp seeds
1 tbs vanilla water
1 tsp lucuma

Blend all ingredients until creamy and the ice breaks down.

For a Blueberry Chaga Frosty, I added a large handful of frozen wild blueberries to the drink and cut back on the ice.

Today I made a delicious spicy chaga tea by infusing lots of fresh ginger, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg into it. My next project is to make chaga ice cream... will let you know how it turns out.

I'm on the frozen lake here, where I could scrape away just an inch of snow to see the ice - you can barely see the island in the background, it's a bit of a white out.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Durian Dessert

My time in the warm south has come to an end, but during my last week in Florida we indulged in another durian one sunny afternoon on the back deck, overlooking the
ocean. I just couldn't help myself though - my mind went into thoughts of a new creation. Using some discipline, we saved a pod for the project. Vanilla and durian are the best of friends, so I came up with this ice cream recipe. You definitely don't need a lot of durian to taste it - start with less if you'd like. We enjoyed it with choccie sauce and cacao nibs. Banana would go well on top!

Vanilla Durian Ice Cream

2 cups cashews
4 cups water
1 cup durian
3/4 cup agave
1/4 cup agave powder*
Seeds of 2 vanilla beans
(you could sub pure extract, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
(or dried, to taste)
Few pinches of salt

*A water soluble fiber extracted from agave

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy.
Chill the mixture for a few hours in the fridge.
Process it in an ice
cream maker. Allow it to firm up further in the freezer a few hours.

If you haven't yet tried this exotic fruit, head to chinatown (which will be guaranteed to carry it), or a large grocery store. I can sometimes get them in the very northern city in Canada, so I'm sure you can too. If you try it once and don't like it - persist! It's a bit of an acquired taste. I still remember my first try about 8 years ago in California. I've been hooked ever since and always say YES to the king of fruits!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sweetness

As mentioned in my recent photo montage, I've been at it in the kitchie lately... and have a few of those sweet treats to share today!

Vanilla Cream Oatmeal Bars


This was one of those "throw together" items. I had left over crust from making a different bar... and extra vanilla cream from another project (something super cool that I'll have to share at a later date) so I figured I'd marry the two for something yummalicious!

Oatmeal Cookie Crust

1 cup cashews, ground
1/2 cup ground oat groats
1/4 cup lucuma powder
1/4 cup agave
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 pinches sea salt

In a bowl, mix all ingredients together. Press the mixture into a pan of your choice.


Vanilla Cream

1 1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup + 2 tbs agave
1/3 - 1/2 cup vanilla water*
2/3 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons lecithin
2 tablespoons agave powder
Pinch sea salt

In a high speed blender, combine the cashews, agave, and vanilla water until smooth. Now add the coconut oil, lecithin, and agave powder and blend to incorporate. Transfer to a bowl and allow to chill in the fridge until firm.
Optional: Fold whole or chopped goji berries into the cream.
Spread the cream over the oatmeal crust. Top with cacao nibs.

*3 beans (chopped) blended with 1 cup water


Fruit N Nut Cream Bar: fold chopped nuts and other dried fruit into the cream - mulberries would be nice, as would chopped dates, pecans, and/or walnuts.
Chocolate Cream, add some cacao powder to the vanilla cream.

Yum yum, enjoy!