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creativecalligraphy

German Cucumber Salad + bonus Vegan Ice Cream!

Cucumber salad is one of the flavors of my youth.  My dad made it often in the summers with cucumbers picked straight from his garden.  He sliced the cucumber paper thin and tossed it with salt, tons of pepper and vinegar for this simple and amazing thing.  And just like I could in those days, this stuff is something that I can consume by the bowlful! Similar to pickle, German cucumber salad is really vinegary.  It differs in that it's really quick and not at all sweet.  The fresh vinegar tang and peppery bite make it versatile enough to pair perfectly with a heavy meal or stand on a sweet bed of greens as the superstar.  My dad made it with onion sometimes, sometimes none at all.  Leeks are milder and more palatable to kids, so they are my choice.  If you're not feeding children, go ahead and sub some crisp and juicy onion for a spicier bite.  My kids also tend to like creamy dressings and since we're dairy free, silken tofu is a great way to go creamy without much effort.  Leave it out if you're soy free.  As an alternative try soaking a few tablespoons of raw cashews in water until they're soft and then blend them with the vinegar for a soy free creamy dressing (if you can tolerate nuts, that is!) Feeding the Family: Tonight I made this salad and used it as a topper for my plate of salad greens.  I am still on my high raw kick so the greens, some veg and the cucumber salad did it for me.  I cooked some corn, but after a bite it was unfortunately obvious that spring corn is just not worth it!  This was our 2nd batch of grainy corn.  Yuck.  For the rest of the family the cucumber salad served as a side salad on their plates. I love that my husband and boys are comfortable eating a high raw, nutrient dense diet.  Their dinner plates had salad greens, tomato, carrot, cucumber salad, saucy navy beans and an ear of corn.  For our family of four, I used 1 heart of romaine, 4 cups of baby spinach, 4 carrots, 2 tomato, 1 English cucumber, 1/4 of a leek and 3 cups of cooked beans.  (I'm not going to count the corn because it was really worthless, unfortunately). How nice it was for me to talk with my kids about my memories of my father making this for me... I hope you'll give this a try and think of me when you do! [caption id="attachment_371" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="German Cucumber Salad"]German Cucumber Salad[/caption] German Cucumber Salad (Serves 2 as a main salad on top of green – 4 as an appetizer or side salad) 1 whole cucumber (I use the long English Cucumbers) 2 Tbsp silken tofu or vegan sour cream 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar ¼ cup thinly sliced leek, approximately 4 inch piece of leek several generous grinds of pepper good pinch of salt 1 tsp dried dill or 1 Tbsp fresh dill, minced Let’s start with the cucumber:  Peel it.  Thinly slice it using a mandolin or sharp knife.  Place the slices in a bowl and season them with salt, pepper and dill.  Leave this to rest while we get on with the dressing. Mash the silken tofu and vinegar together until the tofu is no longer lumpy and you have a smooth dressing.  If you are using vegan sour cream you can just mix it with the vinegar until everything is creamy.   Either way you’ve started, pour your finished dressing over the cucumber. Toss in the thinly sliced leeks and use a spoon to really mix the dressing with all of the slices.   Give it a taste to see if more seasoning is required (I usually add another grind or two of pepper…) Enjoy! For dessert I made a refreshing fruit "ice cream."  If you get in the habit of buying an extra bunch of bananas when you're at the market, ice cream like this can be your indulgent reality anytime.  Trust me, it's hard to believe that something so easy can taste SO good and be so good for you!  One serving will satisfy you while giving you a full serving of fruit in a totally whole food, non dairy, cholesterol free way! [caption id="attachment_373" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Strawberry Banana Vegan Ice Cream"]Strawberry Banana Vegan Ice Cream[/caption] Strawberry Banana Ice Cream (Serves 4 ) 2 cups frozen strawberries 4 frozen bananas 1/2 cup coconut milk 1 tsp agave or maple syrup (raw honey makes a good vegetarian whole food option) Put everything in the Vitamix or food processor and blitz for about 15 seconds or until everything is blended.  The Vitamix is preferable because you can use the tamper to push the bits down into the blades for a speedy blend.  The faster you blend, the better the ice cream.  Clearly, the longer you need to blend, the more the fruits melt and the more like soft serve or smoothie your concoction will be.

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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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