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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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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

Quick quinoa dinner + Peachberry Sorbet

After T-Ball tonight I needed to pull together dinner quickly.  I tossed 1 cup of quinoa into a pan with 2 cups of water and some broth powder.  Set that guy, covered, over a medium flame and let it boil for 10 minutes, then shut the heat off and let the steam finish it off to fluffy perfection.  While the quinoa was working I smashed 4 cloves of garlic, cut up about a pound of broccoli florets, trimmed up a pound of snap peas and thinly slice 2 carrots. [caption id="attachment_384" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Quinoa with Saucy Veg"]Quinoa with Saucy Veg[/caption] The veg hit a hot saute pan with 1/2 cup of veg broth.  Covered that guy too and let them steam.  In the downtime I mixed 1/4 cup of Bragg's aminos, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/3 cup mirin, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, 1 tsp chili paste and 2 Tbsp tapioca flour.  After the veggies steamed for 10 minutes I threw in the sauce mixture and stirred until things thickened up. Within 15 minutes of starting I had fluffy quinoa topped with saucy steamed veg on plates and on the table.  Quick, easy and nutritious. Desserts in our home are often fruit based, as I'm sure you've caught on by now.  I do enjoy baking, but dessert creations are usually made up on the spot if the kids are still craving somthing for their bellies or their sweet tooth!  Whole fruits are so easy to freeze in sliced portions that there is really no reason why I can't whip up a refreshing, whole food dessert in about 3 minutes flat. Tonight I made a quick sorbet using some of our favorite flavors. Peachberry Sorbet (Serves 4-6 )
[caption id="attachment_383" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Peachberry Sorbet"]Peachberry Sorbet[/caption] 1 lb frozen sliced peaches 1 cup frozen raspberries 1 banana, fresh 1/2 cup soaked goji berries + their liquid (about 1/4 cup berries, 1/4 cup liquid)* - optional 2 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
*We need to start by soaking the goji berries if we're going to use them.  I usually have a batch of goji berries soaking in the fridge.  Goji's come dried like raisins.  I buy raw, sun dried gojis and rehydrate them in double the amount of water to the amount of berries.  I just throw them into a container and cover them with water and set them in the fridge overnight.  They plump up beautifully and can be eaten alone, with your favorite yogurt, tossed into your smoothies or my favorite... in a cup of green tea.  Goji berries are sweet, red gems that have a unique flavor.  They remind me of cranberry and raisins at the same time.  Interesting and unusual, but intensely good for you because of their high levels of antioxidants. Once we've got nice plump goji's we can proceed.  If your goji's aren't ready or you don't have any, you're still good to go without them.  No worries! Put everything in the Vitamix or food processor.  Process on medium speed while using the tamper to continually push down the bits of fruit into the blade.  Keep going until everything is blended.  If you're not using the goji berries and their liquid, you will need to add 1/4 - 1/2 cup of another liquid.  Good choices are water, orange juice or pear nectar.  You may have to stop and stir the mix because we're working with a good amount of fruit here and very little liquid.  When everything is blended and smooth serve it up quickly or spoon it into a freezer safe container and store it for an hour or so before serving.  If you are going to freeze this longer than and hour you will need to let it soften on the counter for 20 minutes before you try to scoop it and serve it.

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creativecalligraphy

Luscious Lemon Bars (feel free to eat the whole pan because you can!)

Today is a day that you are going to be glad you're reading my blog.  Yes-sir-ee!  Good day in the kitchen!  The Meyer Lemons in my fridge have been begging me to use them, so I went for the lemon bar.  Having tried a sweet lemon bar recipe a while back from Isa C. (who is a phenom in the vegan kitch world), I had a plan.  I am also pretty particular with my sweets.  I don't like anything too sweet... so there's that!  I like my lemon bars lemony rather than super sweet and I need a base that's gluten free... it's a bit of a departure from a normal lemon bar recipe!  I need something worthy of a cuppa tea.   Right, the result of my crust experiment is nothing short of buttery, amazingly flaky shortbread that you totally should write home to mom about.  Actually, I suggest you make a batch and bring some to mom and have an afternoon of tea and biscuits!  If she's not close, mail them!  If she's no longer with us, grab your bestie and share!  So much potential for this shortbread biscuit crust.  I can't wait to experiment with it and share more ideas with you! The lemon layer is akin to jelled lemon curd.  Getting the right level of jell is the tricky part.  You don't want something that's wiggly like unset jello, but you don't want something with no give at all.  Enter agar agar and arrowroot!  These guys are like a dream team when it comes to vegan jelling.  If you haven't worked with agar agar before, know that it's a great thing.  It has jelling properties that rival gelatin but it's seaweed based rather than animal based.  Eden Foods brand of agar agar is what I use.  [caption id="attachment_271" align="alignright" width="300" caption="GFV Lemon Bars"]GFV Lemon Bars[/caption]    GFV Lemon Bars Crust 1 cup amaranth flour 1 cup almond meal ½ cup powdered sugar ½ cup arrowroot powder 1 cup vegan margarine, like Earth Balance
 
 Filling 1 1/3 cups water 3 Tbsp agar agar flakes 1/3 cup sugar + 4 packets stevia or 2/3 cup sugar 1/8 teaspoon turmeric (gives the brilliant yellow color while not adding any flavor) 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (I used meyer lemons ~ yum!) 3 Tbsp arrowroot powder 1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest (from two large ORGANIC lemons)* OR 1 tsp lemon extract if your lemons are not organic 1/2 cup almond milk 
 *I only zest my citrus if I can find organic because of the high level of pesticide use on non organic citrus fruits.  Do what makes you comfortable. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. [caption id="attachment_275" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="the flours"]the flours[/caption] 
 To prepare the crust: Pulse the flours, sugar, arrowroot and Earth Balance in your food processor. The dough is not crumbly, it is moist but not pourable.  You will need to scoop the dough out of the food processor and scrape the sides to get it all out!  Moisten your hands and press the dough into the corners of your prepared baking dish.  Then try to get an even layer that covers the bottom of the pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool. [caption id="attachment_272" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="shortbread crust dough"]shortbread crust dough[/caption] [caption id="attachment_273" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="dough in the pan"]dough in the pan[/caption] 
 [caption id="attachment_274" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="golden crust"]golden crust[/caption] To prepare the luscious lemon filling: Start by soaking your agar agar flakes in the water for 10 minutes. I sprinkle mine over the top of the water and walk away.  Get your lemons zested and juiced.  Measure out 2/3 cup of the fresh lemon juice and mix your arrowroot powder until it dissolves.
 When the agar has been soaking for 10 minutes go ahead and put the pot on the burner.  We are looking to boil this mixture so the softened agar dissolves.  This usually takes me 10, sometimes 15 minutes.   When the agar is dissolved, add the turmeric and your sugar/stevia or whatever combo you’ve chosen to use.  Stir this wildly yellow mixture until everything is dissolved and there are no lumps.   Now it’s time to lower the heat so we’re just barely bubbling... anything more than a light bubble and we’re going to end up with a mess!   Add the arrowroot/lemon juice mixture and whisk.  Raise the heat a hair and keep whisking.  You will feel the mixture start to thicken as it comes to a low boil. Again, AND I STRESS, we are not aiming for a bubbling cauldron here!  Do that and the arrowroot will lose its gelling power.  Exercise a little restraint with the heat… go slow and your labor will pay off!  Otherwise, you will have a super tasty lemon sauce that you can drizzle over berries and such, but you won’t have anything that will thicken worth a dime!  Okay.  Back to business:  Add your zest or lemon extract and the almond milk. Whisk these into the thickened mixture.  You may want to taste this now.  The safe way to do it is to get a clean spoon and dip it into the hot lemon liquid, then take it out, blow on it for a moment and then swipe your finger over the spoon… then lick your finger.  You should have cooled your sample enough that you won’t burn yourself.  If you need to adjust the sweetness, go ahead.  You know your tastes.  I like my lemon bars lemony with a bit of a kick.
 Remove your pan with the cooked lemon mixture from the burner.  It’s time to cool this a bit.  Give it about 10-15 minutes to come to room temperature.  Cooling happens quicker when we’re not near the residual heat of the stove.  I put mine on a metal trivet on the counter in the coolest part of my kitchen. Pour the cooled lemon mixture over the cooled crust, refrigerate.  We’re aiming for 2 hours of chill time minimum to ensure that the filling sets.  If you can leave it for a bit longer that will be better.  Also, if you used a smaller baking dish than 9 x 13 you will have to chill longer to accommodate the thicker lemon layer. [caption id="attachment_276" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="lemon layer"]lemon layer[/caption] If you want to make the tops of these bars look fancy you can sprinkle powdered sugar over top through a fine mesh strainer.  You just tip in about 3 Tbsp of powdered sugar and then tap the side of the sifter to get a snow like dusting.  Not necessary by any stretch, but it sure does look pretty! You’ve done well and are in the home stretch… it’s time to slice the bars into squares and serve them.  Size is your choice.  Sometimes I go the dainty one bite square root.  Today I am slicing tea worthy bars.  You should make them the size that makes you smile.   (Heck, if you just took a fork to the pan and scooped out a bite I won’t tell!) [caption id="attachment_277" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Luscious lemon goodness!"]Luscious lemon goodness![/caption]

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creativecalligraphy

Rawking another Snow Day

It's been another snowy day in NH.  Snowy days call for a little challenge to make things interesting... don't you think?  Maybe it's a bit of cabin fever that calls me to these things or maybe it's just me.  Either way, I read about a friend making a raw nutella this morning and I got a craving and had to do something about it.  Now, I had the recipe blurb from my friend and I wished I could jump right in from there but alas, no hazelnuts in my pantry!  But Nutella is chocolate-HAZELNUT spread, you say... I know.  I worried for about a split second that my experiment might not have the depth of flavor that it could have with hazelnuts.  Silly to worry.  Really silly!  This was my day for Rawking it Out! ("Rawking" is pronounced "rocking" really... very cool raw lingo... you can start using it too as you add more raw to your repertoire!) So I set out with my blender and food processor and lots of nuts and cacao powder and coconut oil and things.  My first attempt started with raw cashews, coconut creme, agave and cacao powder in the vitamix and it really resembled a mealy version of a raw revolution bar.  It was almost gummy.  I threw it into the food processor and added a few spoons of peanut butter, a couple of dates, some cocoa powder and maybe 1/2 cup of almond milk.  I wish I could give you exact measurements because what I have in a jar on my counter is nothing short of pure chocolate cream spread nirvana.  I was, however, really in a creating zone rather than a writing zone so I boobed and didn't jot down a thing!  [caption id="attachment_230" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="#1 on right, #2 on left"]A duo of chocolate nut spreads[/caption] Hence, experiment #2 which was an attempt to recreate experiment #1.  I did things a little differently to make it easier to get a creamy texture with less effort.  I also kept this one more simpler by leaving out the cocoa powder and peanut butter.  It is lighter in color but no less flavorful.  Smooth as smooth can be and creamy enough to make you pick up your pen and paper and write home to mom about it! The long and short of my tale today is that it's hard to mess up chocolate and nuts.  There is room to play here and I think you should.  You may have a texture challenge like I did with my first batch, but that was nothing that a little liquid and a lot of blending couldn't fix.  If you end up overdoing it you will have a nutrient rich chocolate sauce that would be a great fondue like dip.      Raw Chocolate Cashew Spread 1 cup raw cashews 1 cup almond milk (homemade for raw or store bought for mostly raw) 4 dates 1 Tbsp agave, maple syrup or honey (choose your favorite veg or vegan option here) 1 tsp vanilla powder (alternative is 2 tsp of vanilla extract) ½ cup raw cacao powder (I like Navitas Naturals) 1 Tbsp coconut crème or coconut oil *possible add in's for a richer chocolate flavor:  prepared peanut butter, cocoa powder, chocolate extract Put everything into a bowl and give a quick stir to combine.  Set the bowl aside for at least an hour so the cashews can absorb some of the almond milk and soften.  The longer the nuts soak the easier they will be to blend. Dump the soaked nuts et al into your Vitamix, other high octane blender or food processor and blitz until everything is creamy.  Spoon out your creation while trying not to lick the blades clean.  An hour or so of restraint will be worth your while if you can stand it because your chocolatey spread will thicken with a hair of refrigeration taking it from the realm of thick dip solidly into the land of buttery spread.  Set your kitchen timer if you must:  45 minutes to an hour or even overnight.  Then reward yourself with a heaping spoonful of creamy bliss right on its own or even better, slapped onto something salty and crunchy like a pretzel, or trump that and smear it thickly on a great piece of bread (GF bread takes to this spread like a natural!) ******************* Now, you might have thought that rawking the Vitamix and food processor several times already would have been enough for me today.  It might have been.  But my boys asked for one of their favorite desserts tonight and it is SO easy and SO good that I cleaned the Vitamix in a flash and whipped it up.  Not even 2 minutes and we were enjoying this bad boy/good boy.... whatever!  This stuff is so good that my 8 year old always says that the world should know about it... well here you go world! Raw Banana Ice Cream(makes 4 servings) 4 frozen bananas 1/2 cup almond milk 4 medool dates (optional, but truly lovely) 1 tsp vanilla powder Put everything in the Vitamix and blend until smooth and creamy.  Scoop out, grab your spoon and marvel in the wonder of your creation.  You won't believe how creamy and amazing this is until you make it yourself.  The thing you need to do is go out right now and buy a bunch of bananas (or two or three), get them home, peel them and break them in half before you lay them out on a baking sheet that you're going to pop in your freezer overnight.  When the banana pieces are frozen you can use them right away or pop them off the tray and into a container to store in your freezer until you're ready to make ice cream.  That's the hardest part... waiting for the bananas to freeze.  Word. (Your mind is likely spinning with ideas about flavoring this mad creamy cool concoction.  Dream away... you can add cocoa or cacao, you can add nuts (about 1/2 cup for this size batch) and flavor extracts (start with 1 tsp), and you can play with other milks.  This is the stuff that dreams are made of!) [caption id="attachment_231" align="alignright" width="300" caption="creamy banana goodness"]raw banana ice cream[/caption]

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