Monday, September 1, 2014

Simply The Best Review and Raw Vanilla Raspberry Rose Cake Bites Recipe

My friend, Anna Victoria Rodgers of the blog Miss Eco Glam asked me to do a review on her E-book Simply the Best and I was happy to do so!   This is not just a recipe book, but a resource for healthy raw living. She covers everything from the basics to why one should consider being raw and even raw remedies and beauty recipes.  That is not even including the beautiful food you will find in this book.  Many simple recipes that anyone, even a newbie can make as well as recipes that an experienced raw foodist can appreciate.  

Also, she asked 22 raw chefs (myself included) to contribute recipes to her book to make it a melting pot of raw delicious goodness. These are people who have amazing recipes and know what they are doing when it comes to raw food.

 This is a raw food book that you need to add to your collection, trust me.  Also, I must mention that Anna is trying to get this book published in print form, but she needs help in funding.  If you would like, help her out on Go Fund Me HERE. This book is beautiful in E-book form, but I think it would be even more stunning in print!  Because I am one of those people who buys books just for the lovely pictures to sit and relax with on the couch in the evening and I would love to see this printed!

 I am also going to share with you one of the three recipes I contributed to her book, my Raw Vanilla Rose Cake Bites.  These are like little raw petit fours.  Sweet vanilla cake layers sandwiched together with raspberry jam and covered in dark chocolate.  Simply heavenly!

Raw Vanilla Raspberry Rose Cake Bites
Makes about 20


8 soft medjool dates, pitted (if not soft, soak them for 30 minutes in filtered water and drain well)

2 cups finely shredded dried coconut
1 cup raw almond flour
1/4 cup raw agave nectar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp rosewater

Raspberry filling:
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1 medjool date, soaked and drained well
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup raw coconut oil
1/4 cup raw agave nectar
a pinch sea salt

For the cake, combine the dates, coconut, and almond flour in the food processor and process until well blended and the consistency of flour.  Add the agave nectar, sea salt, and extracts and process until smooth and starting to hold together when squeezed (if it doesn't add a little more agave nectar).  Turn out onto a foil lined sheet pan, and press into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle (rolling with a rolling pin to smooth). Place in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes. 
Meanwhile, combine all the filling ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth.  Once the cake is firm, cut in half down the middle so you have 2 squares. spread a thin layer of the jam over 1 half, and top with the second.  Place back in the freezer for a couple hours until frozen.  Once firm, cut into 1 1/2 inch squares and place back in the freezer while you make the chocolate.
To make the chocolate, whisk together all ingredients until smooth.  Remove the brownies from the freezer, set the chocolate bowl next to them and place the chopped almonds in a bowl next to that.  Dip each brownie into the chocolate (letting the excess drain off, I set it on a fork while dipping to allow for that) and them placing it back onto the foil and sprinkling it with some of the chopped almonds.  Once the brownies have all been dipped, place them in the freezer to harden (just about 3-5 minutes).  Enjoy!  Extras can be stored in the fridge.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Raw Mint Cacao Chip Ice Cream Cake

 Peppermint bon bon (also known as peppermint chip in other parts of the country/world) ice cream was always a favorite of mine as a kid.  I remember my Dad always kept some in the freezer  so I could always count on enjoying a bowl of it for dessert on a hot summer day.  I loved the mellow green color as well, and besides it being sweet and minty I think that was another reason why I ate it.

I still crave cooling mint ice cream as an adult, and I love making mine raw now with avocado and natural mint to make it green.  I use raw cacao nibs in place of the chocolate chips because to me the ice cream itself is sweet enough and I like the crunchy little intense unsweetened chocolate like bits.  I was craving some peppermint bon bon ice cream last week and I made some, but I decided to go a little further with it this time and make an ice cream cake.  Because who doesn't love ice cream cake on a hot summer day for dessert?  

I gave it a brownie crust, then a layer of chocolate mint ice cream, topped off with more brownies, then the mint chip ice cream, then a layer of fudge gooey enough to cascade down the sides of the cake.  If I had met this cake as a child, I think I would have eaten half in one sitting.  It was glorious, and chocolate mint at its finest as far as I am concerned.

Raw Mint Cacao Chip Ice Cream Cake
Makes one 4x8 inch cake

2 cups finely shredded dried coconut
2 cups ground flax seed
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/3 cups soft medjool dates, pitted (if not soft, soak in filtered water 30 minutes and drain well before using)

Ice Cream:
1 1/2 cups raw coconut water or filtered water
3 cups diced avocados
3 cups ripe bananas, mashed
3/4  cup raw coconut nectar or another raw liquid sweetener if you prefer
1 tsp peppermint extract (optional, if using fresh mint)
seeds of one vanilla bean
1/4 tsp Himalayan salt
1/2 cup fresh peppermint (use 1/2 tsp more extract if not using)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp raw coconut butter, warmed to liquid

1/4 cup raw cacao powder

1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup plus Tbsp raw coconut nectar
2 Tbsp raw coconut oil, warmed to liquid
a pinch sea salt

1/4 cup raw cacao nibs plus more for topping

For the brownie crust, in a food processor, combine all ingredients but the dates, and process until fine crumbs.  Add the dates and process until starting to hold together when squeezed (if it is not, add a few more dates).  Remove from the food processor and press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a 6 inch spring form pan lined with plastic wrap (for easy removal) and press out flat.  The other 3rd, press into a square and cut into small 1/2 inch chunks (this will be for the center of the cake).  

For the ice cream, add coconut water to a food processor, along with avocadoes, bananas, nectar, peppermint extract, vanilla, salt and fresh mint. Process until smooth, then with the processor running, add the coconut butter slowly and process until well incorporated, about a minute. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to directions. 
meanwhile for the fudge, whisk together all ingredients until smooth (if too thick, add a little water, if too thin, add a little more cacao powder).  
Once the ice cream is done churning, remove from ice cream maker, and remove 1/2 of the ice cream.  Whisk in 1/3 cup  raw cacao powder (to the 1/2 of the ice cream), then pour over the crust. Sprinkle with the reserved brownie chunks.  Drizzle a little of the fudge over that.  Stir the raw cacao nibs  into the plain mint layer, then pour over the chocolate layer. Place in the freezer for about 6 hours or overnight until firm.  
When ready to serve, spoon fudge around the top of the cake so that it drips down.  Garnish the top with the the remaining cacao nibs and serve!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Gazpacho Salad Stuffed Tomatoes

I have been in heaven since last week when my Grandpa gave me some of the first tomatoes harvested from his garden this year.  They are seriously amazing. I wait for them all year and snub the tomatoes at the store unless they are local because these are the best tomatoes I have ever eaten.  Must be the extra love and care my Grandpa gives them.  I have eaten most of them with just a sprinkling of sea salt, but I love them in things like gazpacho and salads too!  

Which is exactly how this creation came to be.  I was in the mood for the flavors of gazpacho, but I wanted something that I could chew and savor instead of something liquid.  So I made a lovely gazpacho salad!  Including also cucumbers from my Grandpas garden, bell pepper, and the usual seasonings I put in my gazpacho soup. It was delicious!  If you have fresh local veggies, definitely give this a go!

Gazpacho Salad Stuffed Tomatoes
Makes 2

2 medium large tomatoes

1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
1 scallion, sliced
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
a pinch red pepper flakes
sea salt to taste

Cut the tops off of the two tomatoes and set aside. Scoop out the insides (being careful to keep the outside of the tomato in tact.  Set the tomatoes aside, and dice up the insides that you had removed and add them to a bowl along with the rest of the veggies.  Add garlic, basil, cider vinegar, olive oil, red pepper, and sea salt to the bowl and toss to combine.  Spoon into the reserved tomatoes and serve with the tops alongside if desired.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Raw Labor Day Recipes Lineup!

Just in case you were still searching for recipes to serve at your Labor Day gathering, I thought I would do a post on the things I would choose to serve if I were hosting a picnic! These recipes are colorful, seasonal, and some of my favorites!  Hope you all enjoy the photos (recipes linked below each one) even if you are not having a picnic, and have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Raw Nectarines and Cream Crumble Tart

I love crumble topped desserts.  In fact, a few years back, every weekend I would make a seasonal fruit crumble.  Nothing beats jammy fruit topped off with sweet, crunchy, crumble topping!  Same goes for crumble topped tarts.  I love them as well!  Sadly though, it has been too long since I have made one.  Last year was the last time.

So...I began to crave something with crumble last week.  Funny, because I was asking my boyfriend Eric what he thought I should make and he said something with a crumbly topping.  So...great minds think a like, and the crumble topped dessert was happening. I can guarantee that this won't be the last either, I want to experiment with a crumble topped cake soon too. 

Ripe nectarines were the best candidate for the tart this time, because they were the most amazing tasting fruit I could get my hands on right now, full of flavor.  So a crumble topped nectarine tart it would be!  I thought about making a simple one with just the fruit and the crust and topping, but to me, then it would need to be served with ice cream (since I always have to have ice cream with fruit pies and crumbles).  So, I decided to make one with cream in the filling along with the fruit.  I love the combination of fruit, creamy, and a crunchy crumble top.

I made the crust a little different than I normally do, using some raw palm coconut sugar in it along with the dates since Eric had requested a "cinnamon sugar" crumble and to me coconut palm sugar reminds me of brown sugar.  It had to be dehydrated for a short while, but so worth it to get the crunchy cinnamon sugar effect.  The filling was amazing as well, silky vanilla coconut cream with bits of flavorful nectarines.  It was a heavenly combination once it was all assembled.  I am happy I decided to jump back on the crumble topped dessert train and make this deliciousness!

Raw Nectarines and Cream Crumble Topped Tart
Makes one 9 inch tart

3 cups finely shredded dried coconut
1 cups buckwheat groats, sprouted and dehydrated (or additional coconut)
1 1/2 cups ground flax seed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup soft medjool dates, pitted (if not soft, soak them until they are and drain them)
1 cup palm coconut sugar
1/2 cup mashed banana

1 cup large flake coconut

3 cups fresh young coconut meat*
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp coconut water
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp raw coconut nectar, or your choice of raw liquid sweetener

1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract and seeds of  a vanilla bean

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp raw coconut butter (warmed to liquid)
1 cup nectarines, diced
1 Tbsp lemon juice

3 large nectarines, diced

For the crust, combine all ingredients in a food processor except banana and process until fine crumbs. Add the banana and pulse until combined and holding together. Grease hands with coconut oil ( the mixture will be sticky) and press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch removable bottom tart pan lined at the bottom with parchment, and place in the dehydrator.  Place the large flake coconut and the remaining mixture into the food processor and pulse until just combined.  Place the remaining mixture on a lined dehydrator tray and crumble into small pieces (this will be the topping it may be a little sticky but it will dry).  Place in the dehydrator and dehydrate both the crumble and the crust for 3 hours (then you can remove the topping and refrigerate once crunchy), then carefully remove the crust from the pan (it is fragile at this point so use a spatula to help slide off the removable bottom of the pan) and slide the parchment onto the dehydrator tray drying for about another hour or so until crunchy. 
To make the filling, combine the coconut meat, coconut water, coconut nectar, sea salt, and vanilla in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Add the coconut butter and blend until well incorporated (if you are using a processor, add it slowly with the motor running through the top.  Next, add the nectarines, and lemon juice and process until smooth.  Place in a bowl, then stir in  one of the nectarines.  Pour into the crust and smooth out the top.  Sprinkle with the remaining nectarine, and press down into the cream filling.  Sprinkle with the crumble topping. Place in the fridge, and let the pie sit in the fridge for 1 hour to allow flavor to develop and filling to set and then serve!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Raw Jungle Peanut Coconut Cacao Fudge

I could eat pounds of fudge when I was a kid er...when I was about 16 actually.  I loved the stuff. I remember being at a fudge shop up in Northern Minnesota once and buying about 3 lbs of the stuff.  All different flavors, Butterfinger, Chocolate Mint, and Turtle.  I ate at least a lb the first day I had it. There was no rationing it.  At that age I ate anything mindlessly as long as it tasted good.  Surprising I didn't feel sicker. I think if I did that now I would feel ill from all of the sugar...but it was sooo good at the time!  I now try to take the best care of my body possible so I would not be doing that. Luckilly, now as an adult, I can still enjoy fudge without it being filled with refined sugar since I make some pretty amazing raw fudge (if I do say so myself).  The latest of which was this Raw Jungle Peanut Coconut Cacao Fudge.  A heavenly concoction.

 Three layers of delicious goodness.  Peanut butter with some crunchy jungle peanuts thrown in, then cacao peanut, with cacao nibs, then vanilla coconut...with lots of crunchy goodies thrown on top as well! It was sooo good!  The best part?  No sugar!  I used banana in this and a very tiny amount of stevia and it was sweet enough without adding anything else.  If you are a fudge lover, trust me you need this in your life ASAP!

Raw Jungle Peanut Coconut Cacao Fudge
Makes 12 pieces

3/4 cup melted coconut butter (not oil)
1 cup raw jungle peanut butter*
3/4 cup mashed banana
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
a few drops stevia** (optional)
a pinch sea salt

1/3 cup raw jungle peanuts plus additional for topping

2 Tbsp raw cacao powder
1 Tbsp filtered water
1/3 cup raw cacao nibs plus additional for topping

3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp raw coconut butter, warmed to liquid
1/3 cup mashed banana
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
a pinch sea salt
2 Tbsp filtered water
a few drops stevia** (optional)

1/3 cup large flake coconut

In a food processor, combine the coconut butter, peanut butter, bananas, water, vanilla, stevia and sea salt and process until smooth.  Divide the mixture in two, and spread (or shape) one half out into a 1/2 inch square on a piece of foil on a board or sheet pan (to make moving it easier) and sprinkle with the 1/3 cup jungle peanuts. Place in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm it up slightly.  Meanwhile, add the other half back to the food processor and add the cacao powder and 1 Tbsp filtered water. Spread this layer over the other layer shaping it so it is square (you may need to use your hands or something like a bench scraper on the sides) and sprinkle with raw cacao nibs.  Place back in the freezer while you make the next layer.
For the coconut banana layer, combine the coconut butter, banana, vanilla, sea salt, water, and stevia, and process until smooth.  Spread over the cacao layer and sprinkle with coconut, jungle peanuts and cacao nibs and press in lightly to adhere.  Place in the freezer for about an hour or more until firm.  Cut into 12 squares and enjoy!  Store in the fridge. 

*To make raw jungle peanut butter, add 3 cups jungle peanuts to a high speed blender, and blend until smooth, using the tamper to press the nuts into the blades.  Add a little sea salt if desired and blend about 15 seconds more until it is incorporated.  Store in a jar in the fridge.  You can make nut butter with a food processor as well but keep in mind it may not be as smooth, and it will take a lot longer.  Also, you will need to scrape the sides of the processor down often.  
**I found that the fudge was pretty sweet with just the bananas, so I added just a couple drops stevia but if you wish you can add more or a little bit of another raw sweetener if desired.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Easy, Affordable Raw Book Review and Raw Chili Recipe

I was super excited when Lisa Viger of Raw on $10 a day or Less told me she was sending me a copy of her book Easy, Affordable, Raw to review.  I have always been a fan of Lisa's recipes.  They make me drool whenever I see them in my news feed, with her beautiful photography.  The best part about them is you do not have to spend an arm and a leg to make them, plus they are easy to make as well as delicious.  This book is no different, it is the same top quality you get from her blog plus more!  She not only shares her recipes, but also addresses questions about a raw food diet, the nutritional benefits of the foods, and shares how to save money.  She covers the basics for anyone who may be new to a raw food diet, but her recipes can be enjoyed by someone who has been eating this way for a while as well.  Also, she has a few guest recipe contributions, including a recipe for Raw Mocha Almond Brownie Bites from yours truely!

 Of course I had to start making some of these delicious recipes right away, and the first one I chose was her Raw Chili recipe.  I have never made raw chili, and it sounded delicious!  I haven't had chili in forever...since I went raw 2 years ago, so I was excited.

I modified the recipe slightly, since it called for sprouted lentils and I did not have any on hand (and I try to always just use what I have instead of buying a special ingredient) by using soaked walnuts instead, and it worked out well.  It was delicious and hearty and I will never miss chili again now that I have this recipe.  

Also, it was a fairly quick recipe.  The food processor does most of the work, so don't let the amount of veggies in this intimidate you.  Trust me, you need this in your life once chili season hits (or even now, since you could eat it cold like my lazy self did (not taking the time to warm it up because it tasted wonderful to me as it was). Easy, Affordable Raw is one book you need to add to your collection, and you will thank yourself for doing so!

Raw Chili
from Easy Affordable Raw by Lisa Viger
Makes 6 cups

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (soaked for 30 minutes and drained)
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 Tbsp raw agave nectar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sprouted lentils
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped jalapeno pepper
1 cup chopped tomatoes

Place the tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, thyme, agave nectar, salt, pepper, and water into a food processor and process on high speed until smooth.  Into the sauce, add the lentils, onion, carrot, mushrooms, celery, bell pepper, and jalapeno and pulse several times to make sure everything is chopped and well mixed.  Finally, add the tomatoes and pulse once or twice.
To warm the chili, place in a wide shallow bowl in the dehydrator and set at 118F (48C) for about 1 hour.  Alternatively, you can heat this chili very gently in a warm pan on the stove, being careful not to let it get too hot.
Leftover chili can be stored in a lidded container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.