Raw lemon goji berry bites

Raw lemon goji berry bites

Today marks 90 days until a jet plane carries us across the Atlantic and drops us in Europe until the middle of November. Which means I only have three months to prepare myself for the period of time where life isn’t going to be as comfy and effortless as it is right here in Denver, Colorado. In my cozy loft, in the heart of downtown, with enormous windows and a killer nighttime view and the best burritos in town within walking distance. 1/2 block walking distance. I’ve been weaning myself off of the gym and green smoothies, and have been trying my best to whittle down the pile of crap I want to take to a sensible amount I need to take. I’m anxious, can you tell? I just need these next three months to fly by without a hitch, because it’s hard to concentrate when you have something this big looming on the horizon.

So, for the next 90 days I’m going to be constantly reminding myself that in the very near future I’m not going to be able to eat my typical vegetable heavy diet or wash my hair with my favorite shampoo, just because I like the way it calms my natural waves. I won’t be seeing familiar faces, spending early mornings lifting heavy things, or keeping up with the demands of taking a bunch of vitamins I don’t really know if I need, but I swear make me feel better. I’m trying to prepare myself for the fact that I’m going to be showering in flip flops, sharing rooms with strangers, and eating a bunch of food I probably wouldn’t touch if we were still in Denver (pizza marinara, I can’t wait to get my hands on you). But despite any impending difficulties or metaphorical bumps in the road or having frizzy hair every single day of the trip, I think I’m going to experience four of the most spontaneous and adventurous months of my life. Europe, I can’t wait to see you.

Meyer lemons
Goji berries
Raw lemon goji berry ingredients
Raw lemon goji berry bites
Raw lemon goji berry bites

Notes: If you’d prefer to use cashews in place of almonds, knock yourself out. I haven’t tried any other type of nut so I can’t recommend anything else. The goji berries can be replaced with any dried berry; cranberries, acai berries, etc. Cherries would probably work well, too. Whole Foods sells goji berries in their bulk section, and a half a cup ran me about $3.
RAW LEMON GOJI BERRY BITES

2 cups raw almonds
Pinch of Himalayan salt
10 medjool dates, pitted and soaked for 15 minutes
Juice and zest of two meyer lemons
1/2 cup goji berries, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, optional

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the almonds and salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and lemon juice/zest; pulse until combined. Transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl and mix in the goji berries and coconut with a wooden spoon. Using a 1 teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll into round balls, if desired. Freeze for 30 minutes then transfer to an air tight container. Will keep in freezer for several months but I doubt they’ll last that long.

Yield: about 85 bites

Raw almond coconut cacao nib bites

Raw almond coconut cacao nib bites

Wake up in the middle of the night. Where are my goggles? Find them under Thom’s elbow; lift it up, snatch them back, put them over my big head. Roll over to check the time. It’s 4:47. It’s always 4:47. Sit up. Go to rub my eyes and realize there are goggles in the way. Oh, and you’re not supposed to rub your eyes. Grab my shirt from the end of the bed. I got naked in my sleep again. I bet Thom liked that. Put on pants. A warm sweater. Tiptoe across the cold tile floor, into the bathroom. Sit on the toilet and empty the truckload of urine my bladder collected last night. Take off my goggles. Look at the container of soap sitting at the sink.

AROMATHERAPEUTIC Hand & Body Care Hard-working, naturally derived ingredients and essential oils provide a fresh and clean approach. Oh, how gentle LAVENDER has been valued for it’s wonderful scent that is soothing & believed to RELIEVE FATIGUE. All from an herb.

Wait a minute. You can read the soap label? From here? YOU CAN READ THE SOAP LABEL? Jump up off the toilet. Forget to wash my hands. Run out into the main living area and stand across the room from the bookshelf. I can read every title. Every subtitle. I can identify the books that were loved too much; their bindings are broken, their corners are worn. I can see the growth rings and knots in the woody frame. I can see everything. Clear as day.

Jump with joy. Literally. Do that weird kick/punch thing you do when you get excited. Maybe knock over a chair. You should probably pick it back up. Cry. Hard. For your new vision and ability to see every detail of this beautiful place. Every detail that not even glasses could help you see. Every detail of which you were robbed for the first 24 years of your life. Wash your hands. Give thanks to the man who corrected your 20/200 vision with that fancy laser machine. Think about kissing his face all over next time you see him. Run into the bedroom and kiss Thom’s face all over. Make waffles. Stuff your face with raw almond coconut cacao nib bites and ruin your appetite for waffles. Eat a waffle anyway because not eating a waffle just wouldn’t be right. Eat a waffle anyway because today we’re celebrating eyeballs that finally serve their purpose. All thanks to a man and his fancy laser machine.

Ground almonds + coconut
Raw almond coconut cacao nib bites
Raw almond coconut cacao nib bites

Notes: I’ve got to admit – it’s taken me almost a year (gasp!) to share this recipe with you guys. Kicking myself. Are you kicking me, too? The add-ins at the end are going to seem like a lot, but trust me on this – add 1/4 cup of each the chopped almonds and cacao nibs. I rolled a few of them in cacao powder to amp up the chocolate flavor, but it didn’t make too much of a difference. You can find the baked version here. And if you want real deal almond joy bites, go here. Or! If you’re not into the awesomeness that is almond + coconut + chocolate, might I interest you in raw brownie bites?
RAW ALMOND COCONUT CACAO NIB BITES

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup raw almonds, divided
Pinch of Himalayan salt
8 medjool dates, pitted
3 tbsp raw almond milk (or water)
1/4 cup cacao nibs

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the coconut, 1/2 cup of the almonds, and sea salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and pulse for 30-45 seconds. Add the nut milk; pulse until combined. Transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl. Coarsely chop the almonds then stir into the mixture, along with the cacao nibs. Using a 1 teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 30 minutes then transfer to an air tight container. Will keep in freezer for several months but I doubt they’ll last that long.

Yield: about 55 bites

Raw cacao nib cookies

Raw cacao nib cookies

There’s a certain level of responsibility that people expect from you as an adult. Even more responsibility when you’re an adult in a relationship with another adult. And even more (can you imagine?) when you’ve been in a relationship with aforementioned adult for five years. FIVE YEARS. You know what I’m talking about. Questions of marriage, and when we’re going to settle down and buy a house and make tiny monsters with skinny bodies and blah blah blah I CAN’T HEAR YOU. These questions make me extremely uncomfortable. They make my heart palpate and cause my hands to sweat excessively. These questions are the bane of my existence when all I want to do is fall asleep at night, but my brain keeps trying to figure out our place in this world.
I picture two lives for Thom and I. Him as a professor, me as a stay at home wife. We wear our wedding bands on our right hands because we’re both lefties. It confuses people. We have a loft in the city, similar to what we have now, and we share one of those fancy cars that emits fewer pollutants than the ones our neighbors drive. I stay up late helping him grade research papers, and wake up early to prepare a hearty breakfast for the family. Our family. We have a family that consists of more than just the two of us. I do the laundry and go to the grocery store, and iron his shirts while he’s away teaching a bunch kids who couldn’t care less about the freaking Napoleonic Wars. I bitch about folding laundry for a living. He bitches about the students and their cell phones going off in class. We lay in bed at night and dream about running away and never coming back.

Cacao nibs
Untitled
Raw cacao nib cookies in the making
Raw cacao nib cookies

And then there is the running away and never coming back. Eating our way through Italy and climbing to the base of Everest. We go fishing off the Northern coast of Iceland despite my inherent fear of the ocean, and I convince him to swim at the top of Victoria Falls, despite his fear of heights. We don’t have a mortgage, or a car payment, or anything else that restricts you to the bounds of a place. We are perpetual wanderers who find comfort in exploring every nook and cranny of this world. Antarctica is no exception. We have backpacks, heavy ones, and only the most important things fit into them – no fancy hair straightening device or bow ties or pumpkin scented candles on this adventure. This world-wandering path is full of uncertainties, but that’s just the way we like it – there is no routine, no order, or anything even remotely linear. We take life one step at a time and we are happy. So incredibly happy.
This is the point where I tell you that the former scares the shit out of me. Absolutely, positively keeps me up at night just thinking about it. The latter? It is so us. And right now, it’s the clearest it has ever been. I want to spend the rest of my life exploring this massively fascinating and wildly beautiful world. I want to meet people who bend and shape and question everything in which I’ve ever believed, and I want to do it with Thom. More than having a house or children, I want a backpack weighing heavy on my shoulders and hair that hasn’t been washed for days. And you know what? I think he wants the same thing, too.

Raw cacao nib cookies

Notes: If you’re not concerned about preserving raw status, you can replace 1 cup of the cashews with 1 cup of rolled oats, for a lower fat alternative. I achieved the flat cookie shape by scooping, rolling, then pressing the balls with the back of a spatula. (It’s borderline obsessive compulsive and completely unnecessary.) I don’t recommend using any nuts other than cashews and almonds; but you can replace the cashews with more almonds, or vice versa. If you have a vanilla bean on hand, scrape the seeds into the mixture the same time you add the nut milk. You won’t be sorry.
RAW CACAO NIB COOKIES

10 medjool dates, pitted
1 1/2 cups raw cashew pieces
1/2 cup raw almonds
1-2 tbsp raw nut milk (or water)
3-4 tbsp cacao nibs

Place the dates in a small bowl and cover with water; let soak for 15-20 minutes and set aside. In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the cashews and almonds into a fine meal. Once the dates have finished soaking, discard the soaking water and add the dates to the food processor. Blend for 20-30 seconds, just until the dates have combined. Add the nut milk and blend for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture forms a smooth dough.  The longer you blend, the smoother the dough will be. Remove dough from the food processor and mix in cacao nibs.
Using a small cookie scoop, drop the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze until firm, then transfer to an air tight container for storage. Cookies will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator, or several months in the freezer – but they never last that long.

Yield: about 24 cookies

How to make raw cashew cream

Raw cashew cream
Dates and cashews

Cashew cream is one of my favorite condiments. It counts as a condiment, right? I slather it on muffins and spice breads, use it as a fruit dip, and sometimes – when no one’s watching – I eat it straight out of the jar. The tall guy? He hates the stuff. Like, hates it more than he hates gravy, coffee and ranch dressing, combined. I know what you’re thinking, how can anyone hate coffee? But he does. And he hates cashew cream even more. Because – wait for it – it tastes like cashews.

Dude is batshit crazy, but I love him nonetheless.

The thing I love about cashew cream (listen up, tall guy) is that it’s super versatile and tastes pretty delicious. If you want it sweeter, add more dates. Less sweet? Use fewer dates. For a savory version, omit the dates and add some nutritional yeast, spices, salt, or whatever your little belly desires. You can play with the consistency by varying the liquid measurement, which I’ve laid out below. If you plan on storing the cream for longer than one week, you’ll want to either a) freeze it, then thaw it in the refrigerator for a day or two, or b) add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice, which will preserve it for two weeks.
RAW CASHEW CREAM
1 1/2 cups raw cashew pieces
4-6 medjool dates, pitted
3/4 cup raw nut milk (or water)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Place the cashews in a bowl, cover with water and soak for at least 4 hours, or overnight (the longer you soak them, the better – especially if you don’t have a high speed blender). 30 minutes before preparing the cashew cream, add the dates to the cashew soaking bowl and soak for 30 minutes. Once soaked, drain the water and transfer the cashews and dates to the base of a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix. Add the nut milk and vanilla bean; blend on high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer to an air tight container and refrigerate for up to one week.

Yield: 1 3/4 cups

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LIQUID VARIATIONS:

1/4 cup liquid = very thick cream; use as frosting for raw layer cakes
1/2 cup liquid = semi-thick cream; use to fill raw tarts or pies
3/4 cup liquid = light cream; use to fill raw tarts or spread over baked goods
1 cup liquid = sauce-like cream; use as a fruit dip or drizzle over desserts
3 cups liquid = thick cashew milk; great as a raw ice cream base

Raw fig cheesecake

Raw fig cheesecake

I feel compelled to write this, not because I care (about fat) that much, but because I feel like people are being misled. Lied to, in a sense. And although it appears to be unintentional, I think you deserve the right to know.

There’s this idea floating around the blogosphere that raw desserts are healthy. That you can eat them in large amounts and Hey! It’s alright, it’ll never go straight to your ass because good fats are healthy! I’m sorry friends, but this could not be further from the truth. Yes, good fats are better than bad fats, but that doesn’t make good fats healthy, in any sense. It just means good fats are better for you than bad fats.

Raw desserts are nutrient dense. Are they healthy in that respect? Sure. When you consider the amount of fat? Absolutely not. As far as your weight is concerned, fat is fat is fat. Obviously bad fats differ from good fats, but just because certain fats are deemed “good” doesn’t mean they can be eaten in excess. Just so we’re clear, raw desserts are not healthy, they’re just better for you than their baked counterparts (and even that is arguable). And they, like normal desserts, are meant to be consumed in moderation.

If you so desire, you can read all about good fats and bad fats here. This concludes my public service announcement for the day.

Raw fig cheesecake
Raw fig cheesecake
Raw fig cheesecake

Notes: This can be made in a larger spring form pan (or tart pan), if needed. You don’t have to add the beet juice; I only did because I wanted the cheesecake to be a pretty shade of pink. Blueberry juice would also be nice. If you don’t want to add any juice, add additional nut milk. Or water. If you can’t find dried figs for the crust, you can substitute 12-14 medjool dates. Same goes for the filling, but use 6-8 medjool dates. If you’re not using a high powered blender, it would probably be best to soak the calimyrna figs for upwards of 30 minutes. You may also need to add more liquid to the cashew mixture, to get it to blend properly.

RAW FIG CHEESECAKE

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup raw almonds
20 dried mission figs
8-10 dried calimyrna figs
6 tbsp raw nut milk (or water)
2 tbsp red beet juice
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup chopped raw nuts
4-6 fresh black figs

Place the cashews in a bowl and cover with water; let soak overnight, or for at least 4 hours (the longer you soak them, the better – especially if you don’t have a high powered blender). Line the bottom of a round 6″ spring form pan with parchment paper; set aside. In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the walnuts, pecans and almonds into a coarse meal. Add the dried mission figs and pulse until combined. Press mixture into the prepared pan then 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 dried calimyrna figs, nut milk, beet juice, lemon juice and vanilla bean; blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. If you have a Vitamix, you’ll want to use the tamper. If you don’t have a Vitamix, you’ll likely have to give the mixture a good stir every minute or so. Once blended, pour the cashew mixture over the crust and freeze overnight, or until solid.
When ready to serve, allow the tart to thaw for 15 minutes, then top with chopped nuts and fresh figs.

Yield: 12-16 servings

Raw caramel apple pie

Raw caramel apple pie
Raw caramel apple pie

I used to be a self proclaimed lover of all seasons, but over the years, my indecisive mind finally settled and I chose fall. Although the crunchy leaves and crisp, foggy mornings had a lot to do with my decision, I’d be lying if I said I don’t look most forward to introducing heavy knit socks, infinity scarves, and oversized dresses (read: maternity dresses) (no, I’m not pregnant) back into my wardrobe.

Thom, however, likes to remind me how much the combination of those things makes me look like a pauper from the 16th century plague epidemic – which I used to think was a downright awful thing to say about the lady who supplies you with superfluous amounts of baked goods, then I looked at myself in the mirror yesterday and totally saw it. But damnit, I’m embracing it. Fat days don’t exist when you wear dresses that are strikingly similar to a potato sack, and you don’t ever have to worry about unbuttoning your pants at the dinner table (What, you don’t do that?) – a huge plus for someone who doesn’t know how to say no to food on a plate.

Caramel apple fillingCaramel apple hand pies

Speaking of fall, have you guys seen the fall issue of Chickpea Magazine? If not, you can view it right here. And if you like those adorable, little hand pies pictured above (they’re caramel apple, too) (!!!!!), flip to page 26 to find the recipe. Meanwhile, I don’t like to make demands like this, but you should really make the raw caramel apple pie. It’s incredibly tasty. ‘Nuff said. 
RAW CARAMEL APPLE PIE

16-18 medjool dates, pitted and divided
1 1/2 cups walnuts
3 medium apples, different varieties
1 cup filtered water, plus more for soaking
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Line the bottom of a round 8″ tart pan with parchment paper; set aside. In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the walnuts into a fine meal. Add 8-10 dates and process for 20-30 seconds, just until the dates are blended and combined. Press the dough into the prepared pan, then cover with plastic and freeze until ready to use.
Add the remaining 8 dates to a small bowl and cover with water; soak for 10-15 minutes. While the dates are soaking, prepare the apples by peeling and coring them. Cut into 1/4″ thick slices then chop into small chunks. Transfer to a small bowl and cover with a damp towel (and lemon juice, if you’re worried about them browning). When the dates have finished soaking, discard the water. Add the dates, water, cinnamon and salt to a high speed blender and blend until smooth; about 15-20 seconds. Pour over apples and toss until the chunks are evenly coated.
Remove the pie crust from the freezer and pile with apple filling. Freeze for at least 45 minutes before serving. Pie will keep in an air tight container for up to 6 weeks, but I doubt it will last that long.

Yield: 8 large (or 16 small) servings

Raw cacao truffles

Raw cacao truffles

My love for truffles started in Paris, where they weren’t exactly dairy free (or easy on my stomach), but I enjoyed them so much that I was willing to endure the digestive repercussions in exchange for little pillows of heaven that melted chocolate all over my tongue. I don’t know if you’re aware, but truffles are wildly addictive. And practicing self control around them is damn near impossible. In fact, it’s frowned upon in most parts of the world. (That’s not even remotely true.) So, when the mister picked up a couple of bags from our favorite Chocolatier on Rue Mouffetard, I knew it was going to be Trouble. With a capital T.

One morning, before he could wake to shoot me serious looks of disapproval, I tiptoed across the cold tile floor and dug through Thom’s backpack until my hands landed on the crinkly bag of truffles. I untied the silky ribbon, carefully opened the noisy bag, and popped a truffle into my mouth. I devoured it right there, in the dark. In my underwear. It was so good that I decided to take the bag and go sit on the edge of the bathtub. (Why the bathtub? Well, we were renting a studio and it was the only place I could escape to eat the truffles without being caught.) I sat there, thinking about how I could get used to a life of fresh baguettes and truffles, and before I knew it, I had eaten through half the bag.

Raw cacao truffles
Raw cacao truffles

It was then that I decided it’d probably be best to stop mindlessly shoving truffles into my face, and so I returned the bag to Thom’s backpack. By a coup de pot, he didn’t even notice the half eaten bag of truffles until a few days later. But when he did, he went and bought another and let me shamelessly savor the remains of the bag I ate through that early morning. As any good man would.

Notes: These truffles pale in comparison to the Parisian variety, but they’re a nice substitute when you want a taste of that rich, chocolate flavor without all the fuss. The truffle batter is going to be very, very soft. Maybe sticky, even. But don’t worry, it’s supposed to be like that. You’ll freeze the truffles before you roll them into perfect, little balls, which makes them a lot easier to work with. I also left my almonds a little more coarse than I normally would, but I recommend grinding them into a fine meal if you want the truffles to be super smooth.

RAW CACAO TRUFFLES

2 cups raw almonds
1/4 cup cacao powder
, plus more for coating
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
12 medjool dates, soaked for 15 minutes
4-6 tbsp raw nut milk, or water

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the almonds, cacao powder and salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and pulse until combined. Add the water and pulse until a batter starts to form. Using a small cookie scoop, drop the batter onto the prepared baking sheet and freeze for 25-30 minutes. Remove from freezer and roll into round balls, then coat with cacao powder. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week, or the freezer for long-term. Serve at room temperature.
Yield: approximately 24 truffles