Monday, November 29, 2010

A Minty Moment


I finished my last post with a photo teaser of a new recipe, and asked for you to guess what these sugar covered squares might be. Some of you thought they were maple or vanilla flavored... and you're partly right. I recently shared a pudding with one of my favorite flavor combos - vanilla and mint. This recipe combines those ingredients too!

Introducing Mint Vanilla Bites. Soft and creamy, melt-in-your-mouth treats bursting with vibrant vanilla and cooling peppermint

Peppermint Vanilla Bites

1/3 cup organic cultured butter, softened
1/4 cup colostrum powder
6 tablespoons tocotrienols
3 tablespoons coconut nectar or honey
5 drops stevia
2-3 drops peppermint essential oil
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ashwaganda powder (optional)
Pinch of salt

Blend all ingredients with beaters or in a food processor, until smooth. 
Spread the mixture in a small, plastic wrap lined container. 
Chill in the fridge until firm, at least 30 minutes. 
Slice into squares, and dip in xylitol or lucuma powder. 
Alternatively, briefly chill the mixture and then roll into balls. 


I realize that a few of these ingredients might be slightly foreign to you. They're new to me too! Here's a little help. 

First, what's so great about real butter? It's actually a healing food. Find a great long list of benefits HERE

And just what the heck is cultured butter
Quite simply, its butter with bacterial culture added to it, just like yogurt, making it a probiotic food. Cultured butter can easily be made at home! It's slightly different than the store bought butter, as it's made with fresh raw cream that ferments on it's own as a result of the natural bacteria already in the cream. Find out more about cultured butter and how to make it HERE

Colostrum - Read about a number of it's benefits HERE. I was drinking a lot of fresh colostrum in California, but it's not available in Canada, so I now consume the powdered kind which I get HERE. It's a great addition to any shake, adding creaminess and body. 

Tocotrienols - Made from raw rice bran solubles, they are part of the Vitamin E family and are a potent source of antioxidants. Tocotrienols are also highly digestible, and rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and essential fatty acids, among other things. I get mine HERE

Ashwaganda - The root of a shrub which has been used in India for hundreds of years as an overall body tonic. It's been used to improve memory, boost the immune system, decrease stress, and reduce inflammation. I seem to go through phases of using it. A little goes a long way! 

Please embrace real butter :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Feast For A Friend


A few days ago I whipped up a fine feast for a friend and myself. I decided to feature acorn squash in the meal, since it's such a great hearty winter food. I stuffed it with all kinds goodies, slathered it with thick sauce, and garnished it with crunchy flavored seeds. The recipe is super easy to throw together as long as you have some time to bake the squash.

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Caramelized Onion, Red Pepper Kale, Tangy Chipotle Cilantro Cream, and Chili Sunflower Seeds

Squash
Chop in half, scoop out the seeds and bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes (depends on the size of your squash - you should be able to pierce it easily with a fork).

Caramelized Onions
Thinly slice 1-2 onions. Heat a few teaspoons of butter or coconut oil in a pot on medium heat. Add the onions and cook them for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Lower the heat to low-medium and continue to cook until them for about 30 minutes or until the onions are soft and brown. Spread these in the bottom of each squash half.

Red Pepper Kale
Stem and roughly chop 1 head of kale. Heat about 1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter in a frying pan. Add the kale, 1 large clove of garlic, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Saute on medium heat until the kale wilts. Add 1/2 large red bell pepper and cook for a few minutes longer. Turn off the heat and add a handful of halved cherry tomatoes.


Tangy Chipotle Cilantro Cream
This is tangy, thick and downright delicious! It could be thinned slightly for a wonderful salad dressing as well.

1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon water
5 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
3/4 teaspoon himalayan salt
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped sun dried tomato
(The ones I used were packed in olive oil but you could use dried ones that have been soaked for a little while)

Blend all but the cilantro and tomato, until completely smooth and creamy.
Add the last two ingredients and blend on low very briefly to keep texture.

Chili Seeds

I pulled out the ol' dehydrator the other day for the first time in 8 months. I made these seeds which I also made last winter as part of my "edible Christmas gift series". They make excellent soup and salad toppings.


3 cups sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Chipotle or cayenne, to taste

Soak the seeds in water for 4-6 hours.
Drain and rinse well.
Toss all ingredients together in a bowl.
Spread on teflex sheets and dehydrate for 8-10 hours at 115F, or until crunchy and dry.
Store in a sealed bag or container at room temperature, fridge, or freezer, for months.


I also served up some Broccoli Butternut Soup! While I don't have a recipe for this one since it was a "throw together", I used the following ingredients: butternut squash, broccoli, onion, garlic, herbs, water, and coconut milk.



I brought these cookies for dessert: Carob Goji Sandwich Cookies filled with Coconut Vanilla Cream. They were a hit!

I also brought these... which I will leave as a mystery until my next post... any guesses?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baked With Love - Scrummy Yummy Cookies


The other day I did some baking for the first time in years. I was inspired to play in the kitchie and come up with some healthy baked cookies that would fluff up, stay moist on the inside, and of course, taste great! As an added bonus, they filled the house with a delicious aroma. It was so funny to get my beaters out - they've been collecting dust!

These are not vegan, not gluten free, and not sugar-free, but they're a whole food cookie. They're packed with gluten free grain flours, chia seed, coconut sugar, stevia, tocotrienols, cultured butter, oats, eggs and spices. I provide vegan substitutions. For a gluten free cookie, simply sub millet or spelt flakes for the oats. 

As you probably know by now, I've been off cacao for 10 weeks, but now I'm allowed to have a little bit of cacao nibs (1 tablespoon daily). Denyse says I'll be able to incorporate a small amount of  chocolate after going for updated blood work in a few weeks (as long as the numbers are where she wants them to be). I no longer crave it though. This is such a great thing! Anyway, I used a minimal amount of cacao nibs in these cookies, but you could use chocolate or carob chips. You could use chopped nuts, or dried fruit in place of the chocolate.


I've used two different gluten free flours in this recipe: sorghum and millet, both of which are healthy, neutral tasting grains. I've used xanthan gum which is gluten free thickener, emulsifier, and stabilizer. A small amount goes a long way and can cause your mixture to turn gummy/slimy if too much is used. 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup softened cultured butter
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 cup coconut sugar
4-5 drops stevia
2 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup millet flour
3 1/2 tablespoons ground chia seed (ground in a coffee grinder)
2 tablespoons tocotrienols
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon himalayan salt
----------------------
3 cups oat, spelt, or millet flakes
1/2 cup cacao nibs or chocolate chips (I only used 1/4 cup to keep it on the low side but they could have done with more)

Preheat an oven to 350F.
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, oil, sugar, and stevia until creamy. 
Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again. 
In a separate mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. 
Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture, and then fold in the oats and cacao nibs. 
Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto baking pans that have been greased with coconut oil. 
Bake for 8-10 minutes (they should be golden brown on the edges/bottom and still be moist).


Vegan Version

- Swap the butter for mashed banana, coconut butter, or coconut oil

- Here's a recipe for flax seed "eggs" which was sent to me by a blog reader named Tonya. I used to make these years ago when I did a lot of vegan baking, but as I recall I just blended the mixture rather than boiling it. 1/3 cup of the prepared gel = 1 egg. 

Flax Gel "Eggs"

1 cup water
3 tablespoons flax seed

Boil the mixture for one minute. Strain and voila! Vegan eggs!

Now, how about a little fruit? I love fresh figs!

Here's a yummy nut free, super low glycemic Figgy Berry Pudding I made a while back.
No recipe, but here are the ingredients I used:
Wild blueberries, fresh figs, irish moss gel, young coconut pulp, stevia, vanilla, and lemon juice.


I swirled some goat yogurt on top. 


Stay tuned for another great cookie recipe...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vanilla, Mint, Pumpkin, and Coconut...???


I've decided that it's time for a few recipes. I've been sitting on these for a while now. In fact, I made the pudding in the summer, as you'll see by the green plants in the background of the picture - the ground is now covered in snow. The second recipe is a wintery ice cream. It's very different from the ice creams I'm used to making, and more in keeping in line with my latest dietary needs. In both cases I've used young coconut as a base. I love its versatility!

Mint and vanilla are one of my favorite flavor combinations. They don't necessarily appear to be a match, but there is just something about these ingredients that works well together. It's my favorite moonie pie flavor too - you'll see that the mint filling is actually filled with both vanilla and mint.


Speaking of moonie pies, a funny thing happened today. Philip is in England right now and while he was dining at Saf Restaurant, he saw a moonie pie on their dessert menu (he even snapped a pic of it written on the menu, for me, hehe). He never tried it or saw the actual dessert, but we found it interesting. I'll take it as a compliment.

This recipe is fairly low glycemic, with coconut and stevia as the sweeteners. I like to use both fresh mint and it's essential oil to balance the flavors and make them come to life. If you don't have the essential oil use a natural extract, but the oil is superior in quality and taste. Like the mint, I use two kinds of vanilla (the seeds of the fresh bean, and a natural extract) to achieve a more multi dimensional taste.


Vanilly Mint Pudding

Ingredients

1 cup packed young coconut pulp
1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup coconut water
1/4 cup irish moss gel*
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons coconut nectar
5 drops stevia
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2-4 drops peppermint essential oil (or mint extract, to taste)
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

Blend all but the coconut oil, until smooth.
Add the oil and blend to incorporate.
Chill the pudding for a few hours before eating.

*Irish Moss Gel

2 oz soaked irish moss
1 cup water

Rinse a handful of irish moss in cold water until any bits of debris have been removed. Keep rinsing until the water runs clear.
Allow the moss to soak in cold water for 6-12 hours.
Chop the moss and blend it with water until it warms up and turns into a gel.
Chill the gel in the fridge for 5-7 days, or use immediately.

For other irish moss recipes check out the following:


Pumpkin Ginger Sherbet


Like I said above, this is much different from the cashew based and very sweet ice creams that I'm accustomed to making. I decided to use fresh cooked creamy pumpkin in place of the nuts and coconut oil. As a result it's not quite as creamy, since it has a much lower fat content, but it's a good option if you want to try something different and are pulling away from nuts like I am. I think this could work as a good base to play around with, perhaps adding some coconut oil to raise the creamy, fatty factor. It works well as a pudding too, using a bit less liquid and allowing the mixture to chill and thicken slightly. 

I was fortunate enough to have some fresh pumpkins given to me from a friend's garden, so I baked them up for this recipe (and for my pumpkin mousse pie which I hope you'll try because it's soooo delish, especially with the coconut whipped cream). If you don't have the time to bake your own pumpkins, try the canned kind.

I enjoyed it topped with coconut flakes and goji berries! 


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups packed cooked pumpkin
1 cup packed young coconut pulp
2 1/2 cups coconut water
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon irish moss gel*
6 tablespoons coconut nectar
6 drops stevia
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger 
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Blend all ingredients until completely smooth and creamy.
Chill the mixture for a few hours.
Process through an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.

Wishing you a wonderful Sunday from my winter wonderland! 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Southern Vacation - California Again!


A few weeks ago I made a last minute decision to come back to California to visit Philip and other friends. What can I say? I'm a costal sunshine girl at heart.

I've brought my health back up to the point where I can handle some traveling, while being mindful of the fact that I still require a good amount of sleep/rest, and need to stick with my new diet/NO cacao. And yes, for the most part I have stuck with my diet, but I admit I haven't been perfect. I've indulged in more sweet stuff that I should be having (but zero cacao, in fact I've been cacao FREE for 9 weeks now - you can't even imagine how many times I've been tempted), and I've enjoyed some wine (I'm not supposed to be consuming any alcohol).

As a "born again" meat eater (if you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, read this post), I've discovered some cool things. While being on the road, I found it easy to get the foods I needed. It was a little bit of an adjustment from my days of traveling while being all raw vegan where I would grab fresh/dried fruit, veggies, nuts, and cacao. Did you know that at Whole Foods you can order fish or meat and have it grilled right there, free of charge?! I made use of this service a number of times, and then picked up a salad from the salad bar to go with my protein of choice. I've carried hard boiled eggs, celery, dulse, and coconut butter in the car/purse to snack on. It's been a fun experience eating things at restaurants that I haven't eaten in years - cooked vegetable dishes, meat, fish, and raw cheese.


I still eat a bit of plain organic yogurt every morning as a probiotic, and have been enjoying frosty berry shakes for breakfast. I blend: Organic Pastures fresh raw colostrum with frozen blueberries, strawberries, and/or cherries, and stevia. I looove the colostrum - it's highly nutritious and makes my smoothies super creamy!
Speaking of which, I've been asked where to find raw dairy in Canada. So much for free will. Unfortunately it's not legal to sell raw milk here. Instead, a person must get a "cow/goat share" which entitles them to consume the raw product. If you cannot pick it up, most places will ship it to you. It is, however, easy to find raw cheese here, and the organic goat yogurt I use is questionable (since it does NOT say "pasteurized" as most other dairy products do). I've emailed the company and am waiting to hear back. Here's a great list of resources for raw milk and other dairy products in Canada


Upon arrival in LA, Philip and I stopped for a visit at my good friend, Debbie Young's house for a wonderful feast with her family. Deb is amazing! She picked up some grass fed bison, farm fresh eggs, and raw amish cheese from her co-op for me. She also made me some bone broth and jerky for me to enjoy during my stay. CLICK HERE to get her amazing bone broth recipe!


Philip and I picked up 2 durians and a case of young coconuts from the Asian market too. The next morning we tore into the durian outside in the sunshine.


Ripping into it with our bare hands - that's the way to do it!


One of the durians was a bit more watery that we wanted, so I used it as an opportunity to make a simple pudding. I blended durian with young coconut pulp, ice cubes, and fresh vanilla bean for a thick, slightly frosty pudding.


We topped it with a few blueberries, a few crushed nuts, and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce from Kind Kreme.


November 2 was Philip's birthday so a large group of us celebrated at Au Lac restaurant - funny enough, this is where I had my birthday in September. As always, Chef Ito pleases any palate. The company was fabulous too! I feasted on the humanese soup, a seaweed salad, and some California rolls. Couldn't leave without one of Ito's famous donut holes - so soft with a sweet gooey center, rolled in some mysterious white powder. Strangely this was the only raw restaurant I ate during my trip.


Puki and Debbie

A few days later we were on the road, heading to LA for a few days to visit our friends, Anthony and Alexandra, the creators of Blackbird Naturals. We brought along the second durian to feast on. It was Alexandra's first time trying, and she loved it!


The weather was stellar, and we got some quality time on the beach. We had so much fun biking from Venice to Santa Monica beach one sunny afternoon before ducking into Rawvolution for milkshakes (which were really bad, in my opinion - mine was blueberry and tasted like slightly sweetened almond milk blended with ice and a few berries. Philip had the chocolate one and didn't like it either).


Onwards and upwards! A few days later we were back on the road heading to the Santa Barbara area, first to meet up with Philip's uncle for lunch by the beach on a pier where we watched wild seals swimming around.


Hehe, isn't the seal cute?! I was so excited to get this great shot of him/her. 

We were sure to hit up the shops and restaurants too! We found a really neat new cafe called Epic Bowl that serves frozen fruit blends, topped with fresh fruit, hemp granola, and a drizzle of honey.


Our next stop was at our friend Gina's house for a fermenting class. This is something I've been wanting to get more into, as fermented foods are incredibly healing. We learned how to culture coconut, veggies, salsa, even cacao! I'll be experimenting a lot once I get home.

We enjoyed a fun night out in LA with our friend Disa. 



Back at Dhrumil and Lori's house, a Thai Spring Roll feast was prepared by Lori one afternoon. A DIY assembly line was full of rice paper wraps, noodles, carrot, sprouts, avocado, cilantro, basil, and mint, in addition to dipping sauces. 


Ready to roll and eat!

Today Philip and I went on a 10 km hike at Santa Rosa Plateau. We loved being out in nature, under the sunshine. I'm soaking up as much sun as possible, since I'm heading home in a few days. All great adventures must come to an end. 


I love this image Philip shot of the sun shining through the trees. 

I think this photo sums up perfect how I'm feeling right now :)

I'm so grateful for a magical vacation. In a few days I will return home filled with great memories and inspiration...