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Sarah Lawrence

Sarah's Salted Coconut Caramel Sauce

Leaves are fallen and the smell of November is in the air.  Pumpkins are on doorsteps, in pies and crockpots, and flavoring lattes.  And the allure of the creamy, toffee colored, buttery, salted caramel has been teasing me… There are salted caramel chocolates and salted caramel lattes and salted caramel toppings and none of them are for me! Ah, such is the way of the “Free Birds” – the dairy free, the gluten free – the you-know-who-you-are-free-like-me’s!  So, this one is for you (and for me!)!  I give you Sarah's Salted Coconut Caramel Sauce ~ Now, I remember the buttery flavor of caramel from my former life and I can tell you that this culinary creation suits my memories while satisfying my need to be free.  Try it out and let me know what you think… I’ve spooned it over sliced banana, had a dollop on a piece of vegan chocolate, drizzled it over chocolate coconut milk ice cream and licked the spoon every time!   Salted Coconut Caramel (dairy free, gluten free, nut free, vegan) 1 cup thick coconut cream (the top layer in canned coconut milk or ½ cup Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Concentrate mixed with ½ cup water) 1 cup coconut milk 1 cup medool dates, pitted 1 Tbsp vanilla powder 1 Tbsp Earth Balance, buttery spread (optional) Coarse Sea Salt or Salt Flakes for sprinkling
  • Soak the pitted dates in the coconut milk until they are soft.  Soaking times will vary depending on the freshness of your dates.  This step is really important if your blender isn’t a Vitamix or Blendtec or able to really pulverize the dates.  We want the caramel sauce to be creamy, so soft dates help ensure that regardless of your blender!
  • Once softened, place dates, coconut cream, coconut milk and vanilla powder in your Vitamix or high speed blender.  Start on low speed, then work up to the highest and leave it there until the mixture looks creamy and all of the dates are incorporated.  No flecks!
  • Turn off the blender and use a spoon to fetch a taste.  If you’re wanting something with a more buttery flavor, try adding the Earth Balance and go back to blending until everything is really smooth.
  • This sauce is pourable right from the blender.  You can thin it with more coconut milk if you prefer a thinner consistency.  To thicken it up for dipping or spreading, transfer the sauce to a nice bowl and cool it in the fridge for an hour.
  • For the salted caramel experience, put a dollop of the caramel sauce on your favorite fruit, pie, pudding, hot chocolate or latte and then sprinkle with your finishing salt.
Perfectly free to be you and me… buttery, toffee tasting, creamy, salted you and me!  Enjoy!

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Sarah Lawrence

Blueberry Pie, Oh My!

With a few pounds of beautiful blueberries left from our first haul of the season, it was high time to make a great blueberry dessert.  What I love about blueberries is that they are such nutrition powerhouses yet they taste fabulous too.  My kids gobbled their servings while I got the satisfaction of knowing that they got a hefty dose of healthy, whole food based fiber, omega 3’s, protein, good fats, vitamin K, Vitamin C, manganese, Anthocyanins and a host of other impressive phytonutients.     And even though my little people know that the things we eat we eat with health in mind, things like this blueberry pie still feel and taste like a treat.  This recipe yields 4-6 servings, is quick to prepare and easy to assemble.  Kid rating was 4 enthusiastic thumbs up.  Drop me a comment and let me know what YOU think!  Image Raw Blueberry Pie Crust: ½ cup cashews or almonds 4 medool dates, pitted ½ cup coconut flakes In Vitamix or food processor, pulse these ingredients until they form a coarse meal. Transfer to a small bowl if making individual servings, or press mixture into bottom of an 8x8 inch pan. Filling: ¼ cup chia seeds 4 cups blueberries (divided, 2 cup + 2 cups) Stevia – 10 drops of liquid stevia or ¼ tsp stevia powder Using Vitamix or other blender, blend chia, 2 cups of berries and stevia until smooth. Add 2 cups of blueberries.  Stir to combine. If you’re making individual portions, start with 1 Tbsp of the crust mixture.  Pat that down on the bottom of your plate or bowl.  Top it with a few spoons of the blueberry mixture and then sprinkle a bit of the crust mix on top. If you’re making a pan, spread the berry mixture over the crust that you pressed into the 8x8 pan earlier. Either way, let everything set up for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator before serving. Note: the blueberry mixture will turn an earthy blue when exposed to the air, so try to work quickly if the darker blue doesn’t appeal to you!

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Sarah Lawrence

No Bake Brownie Bites

[caption id="attachment_593" align="alignleft" width="300"]No bake brownie Bites No bake brownie Bites[/caption] It is a hot one in New England today.  Scorchers like today just don’t make me want to bake, but I’ve been itching to try a black bean brownie recipe that my friend Kerri created.  With the humidity though, not even a battalion of flying monkeys was going to make me turn on the oven!  So, a little blitzing with a batch of black beans and a few yummy raw staples and a nifty, no bake, nut free brownie bite was born.  My favorite bite was one I rolled with a few dried blueberries.  If you like an earthy flavor, go for the buckwheat.  Otherwise, try the GF oat flour for a mild canvas and a great bite of heart healthy oat fiber.  *nut free, gluten free, dairy free No Bake Brownie Bites 1 cup oat flour (choose gluten free if you need it) or 1 cup raw sprouted buckwheat flour * or a combination of both flours -- buckwheat is earthy, oat is neutral 12 medool dates, pitted, about 1 cup 1-2 droppers of liquid stevia or a few more dates to taste ¼-½ cup cacao powder 1 ½ cups black beans, unseasoned (drained and rinsed if from a can) ¼ cup water ¼ cup coconut oil Add ins of your choice – see end of recipe In your food processor, pulse the pitted dates a few times until they start to break down and get like a paste.  Add the black beans and process until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until you get a ball of dough.  You may need to add a bit more water or coconut oil depending on the moisture content of your beans and dates.  The consistency we’re going for is something like a stiff cookie dough or play dough. I like to line my small stone baking pan (8x6 or 8x8) with parchment paper, tip out the dough and press it firmly into the corners and then flat on the pan.  Fold the parchment over the mixture and refrigerate it so it firms up a bit more. Cut into ½ inch pieces.  Now you can get creative… you can roll the pieces into balls like truffles and swirl them around in cocoa or cacao powder, cinnamon, coconut, chopped nuts, matcha powder, powdered berries.  You can mix in dried fruit; dried blueberries and chopped dried cherries are my favorite.  You can leave the bites as squares and drizzle with chocolate sauce or spread with a thin layer of ganache.  Bottom line is that these are slightly sweet, fiber rich, heart healthy bites. *To make sprouted buckwheat flour start with raw buckwheat groats.  Soak them for about 2 hours, then rinse and drain.  Let the soaked groats sit in a sprouting bag or a glass container (lightly covered with a clean cloth) overnight.  Rinse the groats after 24 hours.  If they are sprouting, great… if not, let them sit another night.  Once the groats have nice sprout tails you can either set them on a baking sheet and let them dry before grinding them to flour or you can pop them in a dehydrator.  If you have a dehydrator, you’ll know what to do with it.  Otherwise, rinse the sprouts gently and drain them, then lay them on a baking sheet and let them dry out overnight.  You may need to stir them or flip them to help them dry evenly.  I used about 1 ½ cups of sprouted buckwheat groats to get my 1 cup of flour.  A clean coffee/spice grinder makes quick work of this job, but a food processor will work too. BONUS: My Daily Green --Red Cabbage, grapefruit and ginger Salad
  • thinly sliced red cabbage with grapefruit, pickled ginger and a splash of rice wine vinegar
  • a few handfuls of seasonal greens

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Sarah Lawrence

No Bake Strawberry Crumb Bars (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)

[caption id="attachment_557" align="alignright" width="300" caption="No Bake Strawberry Crumb Bars"]No Bake Strawberry Crumb Bars[/caption] Inspired by a picture I saw on Pinterest of some tasty looking Strawberry Crumb Bars, I thought it would be fun to make a gluten free, high raw version for my family.  Basic date-nut bar mixture combined with homemade gluten free granola, topped with strawberries mascerated with chia seeds to help them form a firm raw layer, then topped with crumbs from the bar base.  Quick prep, a little time to chill and we were in dessert bliss.     Want a totally raw version? Omit the granola and increase the nuts to 1 cup. The bars will be thinner, but no less tasty!  No Bake Strawberry Crumb Bars 1 ½ cups pitted medool dates(about ¾ lb) ½ cup raw cashew nuts (see note) 1 cup gluten free granola or ¾ cup gluten free quick cooking oats (Bob’s Red Mill) 1 Tbsp coconut oil ½ of a banana (about ½ cup) 1 cup organic strawberries, greens removed 1 Tbsp chia seeds *Note: pecans, walnuts and macademias should also work, but they have much stronger nut flavor.  I chose cashews for their mild, creamy flavor. Place dates, nuts, granola and coconut oil in your trusty food processor and whiz until everything is uniform in size.  You’ll get something that looks like crumbs. Remove 1 cup of this crumb mixture and set it aside. Add the banana to the mixture remaining in the food processor and pulse a few times until you get a ball of dough.  This is your crumb bar base. Line your pan of choice with a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper.  Put the base mixture into this pan, press it to the edges and flatten it with your fingers to get an even surface.  Doesn’t need to be perfect and you totally get to lick your fingers when you’re done! Put your food processor bowl back onto the base with the blade (you don’t even need to clean it! SCORE!) The strawberries and chia get a turn in the bowl now until you have an almost smooth, but somewhat chunky strawberry mash.  Remove the blade from the bowl and use a spoon or spatula to scrape the sides and all around the bowl to ensure that those gorgeous little chia seeds are incorporated.   Spoon the strawberry chia mixture over the crumb base that you’ve already got in the pan.  Spread it out so it covers that first layer. Now, take the reserved crumb mixture and sprinkle it over the strawberry chia layer.  All that’s left to do is put the whole pan in the fridge and give it a chance to firm up so you can slice it.  I usually give mine an hour or more to chill.  You can leave it overnight and even up to a few days if you’re making a batch in advance of a party or for snacks, etc. To serve, I take the edges of the plastic wrap or parchment and loosen the whole bar.  I wiggle it out of the pan in an air lift fashion and put the slab onto my cutting board where I decide on what size to make my servings.  We like smallish squares or dainty rectanglular pieces, but you can cut into whatever size your heart desires.  You could even go right at the thing with a fork...  It’s all good!  Not quite firm enough to pick up with your fingers.... freeze them if you want something that is finger friendly.  Going the frozen route also limits your serving window to about 30 minutes from the time you plate them.  Otherwise, it's forks all around! No matter which way you make them, Enjoy!

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Sarah Lawrence

Quick Veggie Pad Thai (gluten free vegan goodness)

After the ridiculous story that broke yesterday about pizza being qualified as a vegetable by the USDA for US School Lunches, I just have to write!  When the pizza industry rules the world, it’s a SAD day!   According to an ABC news article the details boil down to cost and big business influence where dairy, wheat and mystery meat are the standard.  Well, this momma doesn’t play that way... and I'm not alone!  I think it’s time that we stand up and say, “There’s a new sheriff in town!” and actually mean it!  UGH!  Stand with me and make a change in your family.  Start where you are able.  If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I adore Dr. Fuhrman.  His “Nutritarian” approach to eating literally changed my health in the span of a few months and has given me back a balanced, nearly pain free body despite my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis.  I make  nutrient dense foods the main players in my meals (I almost wrote that I “try” to make them the main players, but, as my inner Yoda reminds me: “Do or Do Not.  There is no Try.” LOL!)   Now, if any of you follow Dr. Joel Fuhrman, you may have heard this acronym that he uses “GOMBBS” --- it’s an easy way to remember a list of potent antioxidant rich foods that Fuhrman cites not only as being superfoods, but also as being part of a cancer preventative way to eat.  So, GOMBBS foods are Greens, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries/Beans, and Seeds/Nuts.  There is a plethora of science backing the goodness of these guys.  You can read more about that here.  My vegetable rich, GOMBBS filled Pad Thai is an example of how I pack our family meals with all the goodness I can while still making something that tastes great, is high in fiber, gluten free and dairy free (to meet our requirements from allergy and intolerances). I used to make this dish with white rice noodles but have found brown rice noodles that offer more fiber than their counterpart while adding a pleasant nuttiness.  If you can find them, give them a try.  If not, use traditional white rice maifun.  Either way, know that you are making a meal that is colorful, flavorful and healthful!  This makes a generous 6-8 portions and it reheats beautifully for lunch or a meal another day. Enjoy! [caption id="attachment_500" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Quick Veggie Pad Thai"]Quick Veggie Pad Thai[/caption] Quick Vegan Pad Thai with Veg, Greens and Goji (serves 6, 15 minutes start to finish) 2 packages dry brown rice noodles (maifun) 1 package firm, cubed tofu (I use Nasoya organic), drained 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 lb cabbage or bok choy, shredded ½ lb carrot, sliced thinly on the diagonal or into matchsticks ½ lb celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal or into matchsticks ½ lb onion, sliced thinly ½ lb kale, shredded ½ lb mushrooms, sliced ½ lb zucchini, sliced thinly on the diagonal or into matchsticks (optional) ½ cup peanuts, unsalted 1/3 cup gluten free tamari 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar 1 Tbsp tamarind paste 1/4 cup goji berries dash of sriracha or fresh red thai chili 2 dates green onions, for topping 1-2 Tbsp oil for the pan Put rice noodles into a large bowl and pour hot water over them.  You want the noodles covered with hot water so they soften. In the now, heat a wok or large cast iron skillet and add a bit of oil.  Toss in your garlic and tofu.  We want them to get golden, but not brown.  Stir often with a metal spatula and remove everything to a big serving bowl after about 5 minutes or when yours are golden and fragrant. In the same hot skillet that you just took the garlic and tofu out of, throw in all the veggies except the mushroom and get them going.  These guys are going to work for about 4 minutes. While the veggies are sweating, mix the tamari, vinegar, tamarind, sriracha, goji and dates in your Vitamix or food processor until you have a smooth sauce.  Taste it and adjust the seasoning to suite your taste if necessary. Check the veggies and give them a few good stirs.  Add the mushrooms into the mix.  We are looking for the veggies to get soft, but not mushy and the mushrooms end up keeping a nice toothsome bite since we're arriving to the party fashionably late.  Give the veggies another 3-4 minutes then transfer them to the serving bowl right on top of the garlic and tofu. Add a tiny bit of oil to your pan.  While it’s heating, drain the noodles that were soaking.  Add the noodles to the hot pan and immediately stir them around.  Pour the sauce over the top and use tongs or a big spoon to combine everything.  You want to keep the noodles moving so they don’t stick.  Once they’re hot and the sauce is fragrant tip the veggies, tofu and garlic back into the pan.  Add the peanuts.  Use tongs to combine everything.  Transfer the lot to the serving bowl or straight onto dishes if you prefer.  Top with the sliced green onion and extra peanuts if you like.  YUM!

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Sarah Lawrence

Seasonal Salad Dressings

If you're anything like me you won't be able to pass up the incredible bounty of tree ripened fruits that are available at this time of year.  In New England, apples and peaches are plentiful.  Weekend apple picking means a week full of applicious eating.  I've been dicing my red beauties and adding them to salads, oatmeal, smoothies, muffins... and salad dressing.  Flavoring with whole foods is an adventure because moisture content/juiciness varies as well as sweetness/tartness.  So, I can guarantee that your dressing won't taste just like mine... but it will taste great and recipes like this one give you license to play with your food!  You need to taste and adjust and experiment.  The dressings I'm sharing today showcase the beauty of whole food dressings.  You'll get nutrients and healthy fats from the nuts and avocado, so additional oils aren't necessary -- the dressing will come together in a beautifully emulsified and creamy way. Dress salad greens and veggies or change it up and dress a cabbage slaw mixed with apples and serve over naked greens.  Top with a sprinkling of pecans or walnuts and a tsp of chia seeds per serving for that boost of calcium.  [caption id="attachment_484" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Harvest Salad with Apple Dijon Dressing"]Apple Dijon Dressing[/caption] Apple Dijon Dressing (yield 1+ cup, depending on size of your apple) 1 macintosh apple or other tart apple ¼ cup apple cider vinegar 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard ½ cup avocado 2 cloves garlic 1 Tbsp ginger, fresh 4 brazil nuts, optional 1 medool date, optional Combine all ingredients in Vitamix, other blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.   If your apple is quite tart and you need to balance the dressing, adjust the flavor by adding a date and blending again.  The brazil nuts add a hint of creaminess and a ton of selenium, but don’t really effect the flavor.  Use them if you have them for that nutrient boost.   Spicy Peach Dressing [caption id="attachment_485" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Apple Celery Cabbage and Carrot Slaw with Spicy Peach Dressing over romaine"][/caption] (yield 1+ cup, depending on size of your peach) 1 ripe peach, cut in half, pit removed ¼ cup apple cider vinegar ½ cup raw cashews 2 cloves garlic 2 Tbsp ginger, fresh 1 tsp Bragg’s Amino’s sriarcha, to taste, optional Combine all ingredients in Vitamix, other blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.  Add ¼ cup of water, if necessary, to loosen the consistency of the dressing.  Everything depends on the juiciness of the peach, so if the dressing is too thick just add that water and blend again.  Spice up the dressing with sriarcha… I reserve a portion of dressing to toss with greens for my boys and then liven up the remaining dressing by starting with 1 tsp of sriarcha.  If you’re not feeding kids or if you prefer things spicier, start with 1 tsp and taste, then adjust if you want more heat.

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Sarah Lawrence

Apple Walnut Muffins (gluten-dairy-egg free)

Apple season is upon us and the bushel of apples on my kitchen counter are calling to me to use them!  These apples are so beautiful that you can shine them up on your pant leg and sink your teeth right in for an oh-so-sweet-crisp-tangy-amazing bite and be at one with the apple bliss.  That's a given.  But, so are these... Cinnamon apples, apple chips, apple slices, apple granola, apple smoothies, apple sorbet, apple butter, apple pie, apple cake.... and, ah, apple muffins! I make mini muffins more than full size muffins not only because they're cuter, but because they are easier to pack in lunch boxes, easier to freeze and just the right size to have with a cup of tea.  Check out the alternative fruit and nut combinations and have fun making muffins with or for your loved ones!  Know that you're getting whole grains and healthy fats in these little gems. Apple Walnut Muffins [caption id="attachment_478" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Apple Walnut Mini Muffins"]Apple Walnut Mini Muffins[/caption] (yield 24 mini or 12 regular muffins) Flour blend: ½ cup sorghum flour ½ cup quinoa or millet flour ½ cup amaranth flour ½ cup arrowroot flour 1 tsp xanthan gum ½ tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp gluten free vanilla powder (or add 2 tsp gluten free vanilla liquid extract to the liquid mix) Liquid blend: ½ cup rice syrup or 3 medool dates, softened in ½ cup water and blended until smooth or ½ cup maple syrup 1 Tbsp chia seed ¼ cup hot water ¼ cup coconut oil 1 ripe banana, mashed 1 tsp apple cider vinegar Fruit/nut mix*: 1 ½ cups apple, small diced ¾ cup walnuts, chopped *other fruit/nut combos to try are pear/almond, banana/pecan, peach/cashew.  Substitute these fruits for the apple at the 1 ½ cup portion, however, for great results make sure to choose very firm, almost under-ripe fruits since these are all juicier or more liquid forming than apples.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Line the muffin pan of your choice with paper liners.
  • Combine the flour blend in a mixing bowl.
  • Combine the chia and hot water in a small bowl and set aside until the chia absorbs the water.
  • Combine the chia gel with the remaining ingredients for the liquid blend in another mixing bowl.  Make sure that the banana is very well washed and everything is quite a smooth liquid.   If you aren’t partial to the nubby bite that chia adds to baked goods, you can blend the liquid mixture in a Vitamix or other blender until the chia is smooth.
  • Pour the liquid blend into the flour and stir well to combine.  Fold in the diced apples and nuts.
  • Scoop tablespoon size portions into mini muffin cups or ¼ cup portions into regular muffin cups. 
  • Bake the mini’s for 12 minutes or until golden; bake regular muffins for 18-20 minutes.
  • Check the done-ness of one muffin by inserting a wooden tooth pick into the center and pulling it out.  If there is a goo on the stick, you need to bake for a few minutes longer.
  • Remove the muffins from the oven and transfer them from the tin to a cooling rack.  Gluten free baked goods have a tendency to be more moist than glutenous baked goods, so allowing these muffins to cool and get great air flow underneath the papers will help ensure bottoms that aren’t soggy.
  • Serve or freeze (freeze on a baking sheet and then transfer the frozen muffins to a zip lock or freezer safe container).

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creativecalligraphy

Peanut Butter Cookies and Bars

The beauty of summer is that my boys are with me all the time.  Yesterday afternoon, my 9 year old came inside wanting a break from the nerf war and yard play with his brother.  Luckily, my husband was heading into the woods to do some tree work and our 5 year old was more than happy to tag along.... so me and my firstborn had the kitchen to ourselves.  These not-too-sweet, not-too-peanutty treats are the result of our kitchen experiment.  We will definitely play with this dough some more to create variations, but it's a great dough right out of the gate.  Share worthy for sure! GFV Peanut Butter Cookies + Bars 1 ½  cups brown rice flour ½  cup arrowroot starch 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp xanthan gum 1 cup peanut butter 1 tsp ground cinnamon 2 Tbsp flax seed meal 8 medool dates, pitted 1 cup water Turn on your oven to 350 degrees and get it nice and warm while we work on the dough. Remove the pits from the dates and place the dates into your food processor.  Pulse until the dates form a sticky paste.  Add the brown rice flour, flax seed meal, arrowroot, baking soda and xanthan gum.  Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Spoon the peanut butter into the food processor and pulse to combine.  Begin streaming in the water while pulse until a uniform, creamy batter comes together.  This is a bit stiff, so be careful not to overload your machine! Scoop out 24 tablespoons, rolling each Tbsp into a ball.   We had fun pressing each ball flat with the bottom of our measuring cup.  The edges crinkled and the centers were smooth.  The cookies hold their shape and don't spread.  I can fit 12 cookies on each baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. With the remaining cup of dough, either roll out more cookies or try this: Add: ½ cup gluten free oats ¼ cup vegan chocolate chips or minced raisins or minced dried cranberries (or all 3, but then you'll have to add 1/4 cup more peanut butter and a dash more water) ¼ cup peanut butter 2 Tbsp chia seeds + 8 Tbsp water + 1 tsp vanilla Mix the add in’s with the dough until everything is combined.  Press into a small bar pan (6 x 10 inches) or shape into a rectangle on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, cool and slice.  

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creativecalligraphy

It's all in a day...

It's been a tasty day here.  Unfortunately, my 8 year old had a rough night of tummy trouble after having some dairy products at school yesterday and so was home taking it easy.  I needed to keep things fresh, mild and mostly raw for him since his stomach was tender.  Easy to do.  Nourishing and light for the rest of us.  Hope you enjoy the 2 smoothies, soup, spring rolls and sorbet that I made today. I made this smoothie for my 8 year old and his tender tummy: Creamy Banana Coconut Smoothie (serves 1) 1 banana ½ cup coconut milk ½ cup almond milk 1 Tbsp chia seeds 1 Tbsp lucuma powder, optional Blend everything in the Vitamix until smooth.  Serve. ************************************************** This one was for me and my 5 year old: Creamy Chocolate Cherry Goji Berry Smoothie Creamy Chocolate Cherry Goji Berry Smoothie (serves 2) 3 bananas 1 cup almond milk 1 Tbsp cocoa powder 2 Tbsp chia seeds 1 tsp vanilla powder 1 cup frozen cherries ½ soaked goji berries 3 cups raw baby spinach Blend everything in the Vitamix until smooth.  Serve. ************************************************** Lunch was a mild miso soup:Miso Happy Kale Soup Miso Happy Kale Soup (Serves 4) ~ 15 minutes ~ With miso in your fridge you can have a richly flavorful, light soup in minutes.  White miso is very mild and my kids love it.  Millet miso is a bit heartier.  Choose a miso paste that you love and you can’t go wrong… 1 onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 carrot, thinly sliced 1 cup torn kale 4 cups water 3 Tbsp miso paste Put all ingredients except the miso into a small pot and get things simmering.  Let the pot go for 10 minutes then shut off the heat and stir in the miso paste.  Make sure you stir until the paste works into the soup so no one gets a clump of salty miso.  Serve with a salad of mixed greens, thinly sliced cucumber and a splash of rice vinegar.  ************************************************** Dinner took a little time to prep tonight, but it worked out because my guys were needing a bit of cuddle time.  While the tofu marinated I had quality time with my family.  Doesn't get better than that.  One note about the tofu is that it is a bit salty because of the Braggs in the marinade, but it works with the sweet raw veggies and bite of chili and garlicky goodness in the dipping sauce.  My 8 year old chose not to use the dipping sauce because of the chilis.  I added a slice of avocado to his spring roll to cut the saltiness and give his recovering system some healthy fat. Spring Rolls with Curried Tofu (Serves 4 as a main dish with salad) ~ ready in about 1 hour and 30 minutes, including time to marinate tofu ~ Spring Rolls with Curried TofuThis is a light and tasty meal for a warm evening.  If you don’t have time to make your own curried tofu you can purchase a flavored baked tofu instead.  Using purchased tofu will save you more than an hour in the kitchen, so if you’re short on time, it’s a decent option.  Alternatively, prep the tofu a day or more in advance.  Doing this will allow you to pull out the cold tofu, put the veg into the wraps and be good to go in a matter of minutes. Curried Tofu: 1 block extra firm tofu, sliced into 3 slabs and then each slab into 3 pieces 3 cloves garlic, minced 5 Tbsp Braggs 1 Tbsp sesame oil 2 Tbsp curry powder Wraps: lettuces or greens of your choice thai basil cucumber carrot avocado (optional) rice paper wrappers Dipping Sauce: 2 garlic cloves, finely minced 1 thai chili 1/2 lime, squeezed 1 medool date, pitted 1 teaspoon rice vinegar 1/4 cup braggs or tamari 1/4 cup water Let’s start by prepping the marinade for the tofu since the tofu needs to sit a while to absorb some gorgeous flavors.  In a large ziplock bag, combine 3 cloves of minced garlic, the Braggs, sesame oil and curry powder.  I use Spice Island hot curry powder which contains chilies… so our curried tofu sucks in a big kick of spicy flavor.  Use your favorite and adjust the spice level to suit your taste.   Give the bag a little squish to combine the ingredients then place your tofu slices into the bag, seal it and set it in the fridge for about an hour or up to a day.  The longer the tofu sits, the more marinade it will absorb. While the tofu is marinating, prep the dipping sauce.  The longer this mixture sits, the better the flavor becomes, so it’s a natural next step.  I like to pound the garlic, chili and date in my mortar and pestle to get a paste.  You can mince these ingredients super fine and then work them into a paste on your cutting board using the back of a large spoon if you don’t have a mortar and pestle.  Combine all of the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl and let them marry while we wait for the tofu. When the tofu is done marinating take it out of the fridge.  Pull out your skillet and give it a spray or swirl of cooking oil, get that hot and place the tofu slices right on in.  This should take no more than 3 minutes per side to get a nice golden color on the tofu.  The curry powder helps things a lot as well because of the beautiful golden turmeric.  Flip the slices and let the other side crisp up.  Now remove the slices to clean paper towel so we can drain off any excess oil and let the slices cool at the same time. Once the tofu has cooled we can assemble to wraps.  This step is really quick if you have your ingredients ready.  I often let my kids assemble theirs because it’s easy and fun and kids are more likely to eat something that they’ve made themselves! I set out a 9x13 glass baking pan with about ½ inch of warm water in it.  Next to this I lay out a clean linen dish towel that I’ve wet and wrung out so it’s just damp.  Slide one rice paper wrapper into the warm water and let it soak for about 5 seconds before removing it carefully and laying it on the damp towel.  Layer some lettuce, cucumber slices and shredded carrot, then top with a slice of cooled curried tofu and a sprig of thai basil.  Bring the bottom edge up over the filling, fold in the sides like you would a burrito, then roll her up!  Move on to the next one and continue until you are out of tofu or until you’ve made as many spring rolls as you’d like.  The curried tofu makes an excellent sandwich filling and is also great diced up and tossed on salad greens.  So, if you are making only one or two spring rolls tonight, don’t worry about the leftover tofu!   Heck, invite me over and let’s have lunch! Serve with the bowl of dipping sauce, some fresh veg, and a light salad for a complete meal.  Serve them on their own for a light lunch or snack. ************************************************** Our cool and refreshing dessert. Creamy Pineapple Sorbet Creamy Pineapple Sorbet (Serves 4) 2 ripe bananas 4 cups frozen pineapple (1 lb bag from your freezer section) ¼ cup coconut milk shaved coconut for garnish, optional fresh raspberries, optional Put everything in the Vitamix, other high powered blender or your food processor and blend until smooth.  The advantage of using the vitamix is that you can use the tamper to push the fruit into the blades for a super quick blend.  I’m done with this guy in 30 seconds using the Vitamix.  If you’re using another appliance, you may need to stop and stir to get chunks of the fruit to blend.  If the mix gets too soft after blending just pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm it up before serving. Top with shaved coconut and raspberries and serve!

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creativecalligraphy

Citrus Salad with Beet, Blackberries and Avocado (Raw Gluten Free Vegan)

Dinner tonight was inspired by a recipe that Annmarie Gianni prepared on the Renegade Health Show earlier this month.  I modified it to suit the ingredients I had on hand (some luscious blackberries and a ton of mixed greens) and also to meet my Father in Law’s dietary restriction; he can’t have grapefruit.  So unlike the Renegade recipe which features grapefruit, I went with citrus that my Father in Law can have… the amazing orange!  I tried the dressing per the Renegade recipe and while it has a super fresh zing that I loved... but I know that my kids prefer a creamy dressing.  So, I played around a bit and incorporated some avocado and a date to cut the tang of the lime juice vinagrette from the original.  I am SO pleased with the results and all 5 of us sharing dinner tonight enjoyed this salad.  I had a dinner portion and the guys had side salads with their meal. Let me know if you try this one.  The raw beets might surprise you with their sweetness.  So, so good.  Also, I can easily see the dressing as a dip for raw veggies of almost any variety.  It's a little tart and a little sweet, but the creamy factor is what makes it special. [caption id="attachment_320" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Citrus Salad with Blackberries, Beet and Avocado"]Citrus Salad with Blackberries, Beet and Avocado[/caption]   Citrus Salad with Beet, Blackberries and Avocado (makes 2 dinner salad portions or 4-6 side salads) Salad 1 ½ ripe avocados (you need 2 total for this recipe; the other half is used in the dressing) 3 organic oranges (you need 5 total for this recipe) 1 organic grapefruit (optional) 4 raw beets 1 pint organic blackberries 4 cups spinach 4 cups romaine 2 cups arugula
 6 fresh mint leaves 
 Dressing 2 organic oranges, peeled 1 medool date, pit removed 2 organic limes, juiced dash of sea salt a few grinds of pepper ½ avocado, pit removed 2 Tbsp olive oil or coconut oil (optional) 
 To prepare the salad: Wash all of the greens and spin them dry in your salad spinner or lay them on a clean kitchen cloth for a few minutes to dry. Fold the mint leaves in half lengthwise and use your knife to make thin strips (julienne).  Alternatively, you can minced the leaves or tear them into very small pieces.  Just be sure not to leave big pieces of leaf because it can be a strong flavor! Zest your citrus fruits with a zester and reserve the peelings.  Next, remove the citrus peels and cut the fruit into bite size pieces.  How you do it is up to you.  I usually quarter the fruit and then slice each quarter into 4 pieces.  If you’re peeling the fruit by hand you can just add the segments… whatever works! Give the raw beets a quick wash under cool water to remove any sand or dirt.  Slice off the greens and then peel the beets.  This is a messy task that will stain your fingers (and anything else) reddish purple for a while.  Consider this your red badge of courage.  You’re trying a new salad and it is making you commit!  Once the beets are peeled you have a few options.  You can grate them using a hand grater (uber messy!) You can cut them into small pieces with your chef’s knife (also uber messy). Or you can employ your food processor and either grate, slice or chop finely depending on the nifty blade attachments that you have.  I chopped the beets into a fairly tiny shred using my food processor and we all loved them.  Do what works for you. Let’s deal with the avocados.  Slice each one in half lengthwise and twist to get the pit to release from one side.  To get the pit out you can either scoop it out gently with a spoon or, if you’re confident with your knife, you can tap the knife blade into the pit (it will stick in there) and twist the handle until the pit pops out.  You really need to be confident to do the knife tap, so please don’t try it if you’re nervous.  I don’t want you to get hurt!  I’m going to go with the notion that you’re able to get the pit out and all.  Time to score the avocado flesh in lines lengthwise and then again width wise so you end up with a grid pattern on each piece of avocado.  Take a soup spoon now and work it in between the skin and the flesh as you scoop out as much avocado as possible.  As you do this, the cute little pieces will pop right out!  Fun. [caption id="attachment_321" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Avocado Citrus Dressing"]Avocado Citrus Dressing[/caption] To prepare the dressing: Put everything into you blender and whiz until smooth.  It took me about 30 seconds of blending in the Vitamix to achieve a smooth and creamy texture. To assemble: Toss the mixed greens into a large bowl or lay them out on a platter.  Sprinkle with the minced or julienned mint.  Spoon some dressing over the greens.  Use the amount that makes you comfortable.  For my dinner portion, I used 1 Tbsp of dressing.  Next, top with shredded beets, orange pieces, grapefruit pieces and berries.  Serve!

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