Raw berry tart

Raw berry tart

I’ll tell you what, this heat wave has become a real pain in my ass. It’s been weeks since I’ve used the oven and I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s making me crazy. Crazier than working 12 hour days, even. I’m craving fresh baked cookies, warm berry crumbles and ooey, gooey cinnamon rolls for breakfast. And then I remember there are people who are literally losing everything they have because of this heat wave. And I stop feeling sorry for myself because things could be a lot worse than not being able to have ooey, gooey cinnamon rolls for breakfast.
In case you haven’t heard, Colorado is plagued with voracious wildfires at the moment. The prospect of losing everything is unimaginable, and Thom and I don’t even have that much. The extent of our things-worth-saving is nothing more than a box filled with five year old love notes. And maybe Cedric. But still, starting over from scratch? The thought alone makes my mind race while I’m trying to sleep at night; attempting to wrap my head around the fact that over 300 homes have been reduced to rubble by one of the many fires that is currently blazing throughout the state. 300 homes that were once filled with laughter and warm memories are gone. Just like that. 
I feel helpless. Guilty, even. There are so many things that I would like to do, but not many of them are within my capacity. However, I’m currently orchestrating something with the Red Cross – and if all goes well, we might be able to do something to help the wildfire victims, together. And yes, it involves baked goods. After going back and forth with the good people at the Red Cross, it’s been decided that there is no way around the restriction on donating goods that are made at home. But you can still donate here.

Raw berry tart

This is my go to tart recipe for all seasons; I’ve made it with apples, as mini pumpkin pies and I’ve been topping it with fresh fruit, as of late. I have plans to turn it into a banana cream pie. There might even be raw whipped cream topping involved. Maybe. And in case you need any convincing, this tart was devoured within a matter of minutes at a dinner party earlier in the month. Seriously, it’s really kind of delicious – and would look great on a picnic blanket at a Fourth of July celebration. Just sayin’.
RAW BERRY TART

1 1/2 cups cashews
1 1/2 cups almonds
14-16 medjool dates, pitted
3/4 cup raw nut milk
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 1/4 cups blueberries
1/4 cup shredded coconut, optional

Place the cashews in a small bowl; cover with water and let soak for 4-6 hours, or overnight.  While the cashews are soaking, you can prepare the crust by adding the almonds to the container of a food processor fitted with the S blade. Blend almonds into a fine meal then add 8-10 dates and blend until smooth; about 45-60 seconds. Press the dough into an 8″ tart pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic and freeze until ready to use.

Once the cashews have soaked, discard the soaking water and add the cashews to the container of a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix. Add the 6 remaining dates, nut milk, lemon juice and sea salt, and blend until smooth; about 30-45 seconds. Transfer the cashew cream to a small, air tight container and and refrigerate until ready to use.

Once you’re ready to assemble the tart, fill the tart crust with the cashew cream. Top with berries and sprinkle with coconut, if desired. Tart will keep in the freezer for weeks, but let thaw for 20 minutes prior to serving. If you do plan on freezing it, I recommend adding the fruit just before serving.

Yield: 12 servings

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Raw coconut cacao brownies

Raw coconut cacao brownies

I’m trying really hard not to bitch about the heat. But it’s been in the upper 90s and low 100s this week, and the next 10 days aren’t looking to be any cooler. I’ve decided that, a) I belong in a cooler climate, and b) I am no longer a self proclaimed lover of all seasons. In fact, I hate seasons. Give me knitted sweaters, chunky scarves and heavy coats that go down to my knobby knees.
You’re probably confused. I’m confused, too. How can I possibly love bone chilling weather? The scorching temperatures combined with the fact that we just returned from the most beautiful adventure in Iceland made me realize how much I enjoy the cold; how much I enjoy being cold. I can’t think of a better feeling than waking up in the middle of the night with arms covered in goosebumps, pulling the tightly tucked covers up over my head, wriggling closer to Thom’s warm body and falling back to sleep. To me, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. Exponentially better than what happens now. Which is waking up three times in the middle of the night to unload all of the urine my bladder’s collected. And don’t even get me started on the bloody noses. Or the fact that in order to not have flaky, dry skin, I have to drink four liters of water a day.

Raw coconut cacao brownies

But, despite the arid climate, Colorado is home. Colorado’s where Thom and I made a serious commitment to one another. To move away from all things familiar and start our lives together. Colorado is where I made a lot of self discoveries. It’s where I overcame a crippling disorder and learned to love myself again. It’s where I broke free of the norms in society and started to form my own opinions. I’ve been lucky to call this place home for the past several years. So unbelievably lucky. And despite the fact that we have plans to move overseas, it wouldn’t be so bad to plant our roots in sunny Colorado. In fact, part of me kind of hopes we do. And the other part of me? Well, it’s still in Iceland. Waiting for our return.

Raw coconut cacao brownies

If you don’t like coconut, check out my raw brownie bite recipe. But, if you like coconut, this recipe is right up your alley. I pressed the dough into my tart pan because I wanted them to be a little fancier, but you can press them into any pan you want. The dough fit perfectly into my 8″ tart pan. Filled it to the top! Whatever you do, do not skip the parchment paper step. I scratched my tart pan (WHY ARE THOSE THINGS SO EXPENSIVE?) and wanted to cry a little. 

RAW COCONUT CACAO BROWNIES

1 1/2 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup cacao powder
Pinch of Celtic sea salt
10-12 medjool dates
1/4 cup raw nut milk (or water)

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the almonds, cashews, coconut, cacao powder and salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and pulse until combined; about 30-45 seconds. Add the water and process just until the mixture forms a dough. Press the dough into any shape of pan you want, just make sure you line it with parchment paper for easy removal. Sprinkle top with shredded coconut and cacao nibs, if desired. Brownies will keep for several months if stored in an air tight container in the freezer.

Yield: 8-12 servings

Quinoa crunch salad

Quinoa crunch salad

I can’t believe I’m getting ready to say this, but.. 90˚ afternoons are making it hard for me to turn on the oven. I never understood why people shied away from using their ovens in the summer, and now I do – not everyone lives in a place with access to air conditioning. We, for example, live in a 110 year old warehouse. It was built before central air existed – and the windows in the main living area weren’t exactly designed to hold air conditioning units – so we had to order one of those ridiculously tacky (not to mention, overpriced) standing units to help keep the main living area cool during the warm summer months. Thom fought me on this to no end. Probably because he knows that once the tacky cooling device arrives, I’m not going to walk around the house naked all day. But once he gets fresh baked goods in his belly, he’ll forget about the nakedness. Unless he reads this post.

The upside to all of this heat is that it’s allowing me to focus on healthier, vegetable heavy dishes. Like this salad. Which is simple to make and chock full of stuff that’s good for you. I used one cup of quinoa to two cups of water and got four cups of cooked quinoa. Also, you can use any liquid sweetener you want; agave nectar, honey, date syrup, etc. Just make it, you won’t be sorry.
QUINOA CRUNCH SALAD

4 cups cooked quinoa
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup crushed almonds
1/4 cup dried currants
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup  chopped broccoli
1/4 cup diced mango
1/4 cup edamame
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1-2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp coconut nectar
Salt, to taste
Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Yes, it’s really that easy. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Will keep for 3-5 days.
Yield: 6-8 side servings

Chocolate chunk coconut ice cream

Chocolate chunk coconut ice cream

I surprised Thom with an ice cream maker months ago. It was one of those gifts that, surprisingly, wasn’t something I bought for him just because I wanted it. I had no desire to do anything with an ice cream maker. At all. Until I found it in the back of one of our closets – unused after five months of ownership – and decided that if Thom wasn’t going to use it, I was. So one night last week, I set out on a quest to make ice cream. But by the time the mixture was ready to use, it was late and I was groggy from 90 minutes of yoga in a 105˚F room. What was I thinking? I’ll tell you. I was thinking my quads have been sore for three weeks, now. And my calves hurt so bad that I have to crawl, literally, out of bed each morning. From my bed, to the living room. ON ALL FOURS. So I was thinking I wanted to do 90 minutes of uninterrupted stretching in a really, really, really warm room, to help ease the tension in my legs.
So, anyway. It was late, I was tired and watching Ryan Gosling play super dreamy getaway guy with perfect hair and a distracting, shiny gold jacket put me in a trance. I had prepared the ice cream base hours before and it was ready to be put into the ice cream maker. So in it went, on turned the machine and.. ice cream started pouring from the bottom. I said the F word a few times and screamed, NO! NO! NO! NO! NOOOO! Because I forgot to put the ice cream bowl into the ice cream maker. The worst part is, I had assembled the churn without even realizing it didn’t fit properly. But, to my defense, I was all out of sorts from the 90 minutes of torture I endured earlier in the day. I’m dehydrated and groggy, I told myself. And pause the freaking movie, Thom. HOW DARE YOU CHEAT ME OUT OF SEXY RYAN GOSLING TIME. Now help me clean up this mess, please.

Chocolate coconut ice cream

The first four ingredients are for the ice cream base – if you want to add chocolate chunks and coconut, be my guest. But if you’d prefer other add ins, you can do that, too. If you’re going to make fruit flavored ice cream, I recommend replacing one of the cans of coconut milk (13.5 ounces) with 16 ounces of coconut yogurt, as it lends the perfect amount of tanginess to the ice cream. If you don’t have xanthan gum, no need to fret – simply omit it. I only added it because it helps to reduce the formation of ice crystals, therefore creating a smoother texture.

CHOCOLATE CHUNK COCONUT ICE CREAM

3 1/3 cups full fat coconut milk (2 cans)
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 pinch xanthan gum, optional
3 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut
In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and sugar. Bring to a boil and continue whisking for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.  Sift in the xanthan gum, whisking to combine. Transfer to a glass bowl and refrigerate until cooled. Once cooled, pour mixture into the bowl of your ice cream machine and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add toppings once the ice cream starts to thicken. It takes 30 minutes for my machine to make ice cream, and I added the toppings after 10. Eat ice cream immideately (it will be somewhat soft) or transfer to a container and freeze until ready to consume. Thaw for about 10 minutes before serving.
Yield: 6 servings

Walnut encrusted tempeh

Walnut encrusted tempeh

I never used to like tempeh. In fact, I found it to be odd with it’s shiny, bumpy exterior, and always opted for it’s unfermented counterpart, tofu, instead. It wasn’t until I started growing tired of the texture of tofu that I decided to give tempeh a try. And can I tell you something? I don’t even eat tofu anymore. Tempeh is so much more flavorful and easier to digest. Not to mention, the texture is superior to that of squishy, water packed tofu.

This has been my go-to tempeh recipe for a few years now. It’s sweet, salty and ridiculously easy to prepare. Which means I no longer have an excuse to stuff my face with plain ass tempeh. Although I do love plain ass tempeh, it’s so much more enjoyable when it’s marinated in something flavorful. And if you get bored with tamari, dijon mustard makes a great substitute. Same goes for barbecue sauce and worcestershire sauce. So many marinating options!

WALNUT ENCRUSTED TEMPEH

1 block original tempeh
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp minced garlic, optional
1/2 cup walnut meal

Cut each block of tempeh into four triangular segments (or square, whichever you prefer). From those segments, slice them, widthwise, into three even segments. If you can only slice them in half, that’s fine – but the thinner you can get the tempeh, the better. You should now have 12 triangular pieces of tempeh. Place them in a large plastic bag and set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the tamari, maple syrup and garlic, if using. Pour into bag, seal and toss to coat tempeh. Store in the refrigerator, overnight, until ready to use. The longer you let the tempeh marinate, the better.
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Spread the walnut meal onto a flat surface and coat one side of the tempeh. Line, walnut coated side up, on the prepared baking sheet and bake at 400˚F for 20 minutes, just until the walnut meal turns golden. Serve immideately.
Yield: 2-4 servings

Sweet cabbage salad

Cabbage salad

I intended on sharing the cherry rhubarb pie recipe this morning, then I realized it’s been ages since I’ve posted anything healthy. And since the photos I got don’t do the adorable, little pies justice, it was the perfect excuse to share something healthy here today.

Since we moved into our new place, Thom and I have hosted several small gatherings. Which (surprise!) always focus on good, hearty grub. The recipes are (usually) inspired by what I’m craving at the moment, and are always very vegetable heavy. This time around we made walnut encrusted tempeh, sweet cabbage salad, quinoa pesto salad, Indian potato salad (geeze, that’s a lot of salads) and a raw fruit tart. Oh, and according to some, the greatest oatmeal cookies in existence. But that’s debatable. And no, you will not find the recipe on my site because I haven’t posted it yet.

Cabbage salad

The name of this salad can be a bit deceiving – it’s not that sweet. And it’s a bit tangy. However, guests devoured it and that’s all that matters. Did I mention it takes mere minutes to prepare? Or that it’s perfectly crunchy and pairs well as a side to any summer dinner? Think cole slaw, only fancier. And not covered in mayonnaise.
If you don’t have sesame oil, you can use almond oil, olive oil, etc. – but the toasted sesame oil adds a really great flavor to this salad. In fact, I don’t think I’ll ever make it with any other oil, ever again. Use 1 tablespoon of a liquid sweetener of your choice – agave nectar, coconut nectar, honey, etc. If you don’t have time to let the salad marinate for 30 minutes, you can serve it immideately – but allowing it to soak in the plastic bag causes the cabbage to soften ever so slightly.

CABBAGE SALAD

4 cups chopped green cabbage
1/4 cup fresh peas
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp liquid sweetener
1 heavy pinch fine sea salt
1/4 cup slivered almonds, chopped
Add the cabbage, peas and green onions to a large, resealable plastic bag; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the oil, vinegar, liquid sweetener and salt. Pour into bag of cabbage, seal, toss and then let sit for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes. When ready to serve, mix in almonds. Keeps in refrigerator for up to two days. Thereafter, it starts to lose it’s crunch.
Yield: 6 servings