I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Monday, December 31, 2007

Recipe of the Year: Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

As we're just about to turn the page on 2007, I thought today's post should feature the ‘Recipe of the Year’. I sure got to enjoy my share of scrumptious raw creations these past twelve months - in fact, I’ll be sharing my top favorites in my next entry - but if I was to pick one that stands particularly out, I’d choose my dear friend Josephine Lee’s Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.

Joz is the most enthusiastic person that I know about spreading the benefits of raw foods. With her generous and candid spirit, she passionately spreads her message to 'Go Raw, Go Healthy' in the Medford, Oregon area where she organizes potlucks and events with the Boutenko family. Her latest potluck in December was such a huge success that it drew over 80 attendees. Imagine the feast! (You can drool about the fantastic spread they had here.)

But back to her now famous Lemon Poppy Seed Cake. To me, it is not only beautiful and delectable, it also embodies how we all have a creative spark awaiting to be ignited. This cake was one of Joz’s first attempts at recipe creation, yet it spread like wildfire across the raw world. It was voted ‘Recipe of the Month’ on Raw Freedom Community last summer, was featured in The Raw Family’s October 2007 Newsletter, as well as in the latest publication of the Purely Delicious magazine.

Well done, Jozzie! You RAWk girl!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Slightly modified version by Anna of TheRawTable.com, as featured in the Purely Delicious magazine of Fall 2007

2 cups jicama, peeled and cubed
1 green apple, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cups dehydrated almond pulp from making milk or 2 cups almonds soaked, dehydrated and finely ground
1/4 cup golden flax seeds, finely ground
3/4 cup agave nectar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large lemon, juiced
2 generous tsp lemon zest
2 tbs psyllium husks
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup poppy seeds (and a bit more for garnish)

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until everything is finely chopped and moving freely. Press one half of the mixture in the bottom of a springform pan, smoothing edges and evening the sides as much as possible. Reserve the rest for later.

Lemon Coconut Frosting
2 cups cashews
1 1/2 whole lemons (seeds removed)
3 or 4 tbs coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup  agave nectar
3-4 tbs water
Pinch of sea salt

Place all ingredients in high speed blender and process until smooth. Frost bottom layer of cake and allow to freeze for 4-6 hours. Top with remaining cake mixture and gently press, again smoothing edges and evening the sides. Return to freezer for an additional 2 hours. Remove from spring form pan and frost either top or sides or both with remaining frosting.

Alternatively, you could use the following frosting...

Joz's 'Just like Costo Frosting'
Beat/whip with beaters:
1 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup agave nectar
Juice of 1/2 lemon (If you like it more lemony, add the juice of an entire lemon and/or zest)

Whip again.
Proceed as above for frosting and assembling the cake.

Berry Glaze
(This is sooo good and simple)

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup honey

Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate until needed - chill for at least 2 hours. Shake or stir well before using.

Photo Credit
The first photo is of the artful rendition that Don's niece, Jaime, and I made of this cake last summer.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Berry Glaze by Anna of TheRawTable.com

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Finger-Licking Goodies: Get Ready to Rawk Your New Year's Party!

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas.

For our part, it was a quiet and relaxed one; just the way we like it. I've really come to appreciate not having to deal with all the pressures I used to experience around this time of year.

I spent most of the day doing what I love most: playing with food. Don helped me make sauerkraut, then I worked on dinner while he and his daughter, Amber, who is visiting, did the Tibetan Rites and had a long talk. We also had a nice walk in the snowy landscape - you know, gotta enjoy our Winter Wonderland.

Our Christmas Feast...
I opted for a simple but color-full dinner menu, somewhat inspired by the traditional Christmas fare.

Rawssian Borscht with a dollop of cashew cream

A Cranberry Sauce I came up with

And our complete main course:
My Thankful Turkey served the cranberry sauce and squash rice

We have desserts coming out the ying yang in the freezer these days, so I let Amber take her pick. She chose my Banana Chocolate Cream Cake. Mmmmmmm

I forgot to make Raw Nog, but I'll be serving it this evening with a nice cookie platter.

New Year's Raw-solutions
New Year's Eve promises to be just as low key at our end, but in case you're planning on attending parties to celebrate the arrival of 2008, I thought I'd give you a hand in deciding what raw goodies to take along. In fact, I've been playing with the idea for the last several days, consulting Heathy in the process, as she just LOVES that sort of thing.

There's certainly no shortage of raw recipes that can be easily transformed into bite-size treats, but here's my favorite cool finger food ideas that are almost certain to rawk your party to the bone!

Veggie sticks with dip of choice
(Try the Raw Deviled Egg-less "Egg" Spread or the Ranch Dressing/Dip - they're both outstanding!)

* You might want to make round crackers by cutting them with a cookie cutter right before or after flipping them onto the mesh.

Cashew Cheese Au Poivre with crackers of choice

Crab Cakes with Tartar Sauce

And of course pizza is ever the perfect snack! (For pizza topping ideas, see this, this, and this.)

You can make mini ones about the size of your palm...

Or go for a large one cut into teeny pieces.
Below is a gorgeous pizza that Fairygirl/Heathy served at a raw dinner party. She topped it with a sundried tomato sauce, red/green peppers, red onion, parsley, and seed cheese.

And On the Sweet Side...
Desserts can be especially fun to convert into finger food by spreading the batter about 1/2 " thick into a cookie sheet, a rectangular pan or muffin pans. Just make sure to line these with plastic film so your goodies pop out easily.

Banana Chocolate Cream Cake
(Shown here sans banana)

Oh, and let's not forget cookies and nut balls! How about Ani's Donut Holes, Cinnamon Balls or Snowdrop's Chocolate Orange Confection (shown below.)

Not sure what cookies to make? Have a look here for a bunch of yummy recipe ideas. In the meantime, here's a couple of lovely platters to get your creative juices going...

Coonlie's Caramel-Maca Balls, Chocolate-Berry "Candy" Canes, Ginger Swirls and Chocolate Chip Cookies

And Being's assorted Gingerbread Cookies

And lastly, a few other great sweet treats that could be easily made into miniature versions...

Chocolate Mousse Tarts
Snowdrop's Blonde Fruitcake
White Chocolate-Strawberry Cheesecake

Hope you find some finger foods that hit the mark with you and have fun being creative in the kitchen. I know I had such a blast making some of these, I wished we were more into the party thing. Ah well... Guess we'll just have to throw our own.

Wishing you a Healthy and powerful New Year!

Photo Credits
Happy Holi-berries! by outnbout
Veggies & Dip, Cucumber Bites, Cheese Topped Celery, Pizza, Brownie and round cheesecakes by Fairygirl/Heathy
Tuna Salad by Ocean
Cachew Cheese by Chad Sarno
Zucchini Roll-Ups by Nomi Shannon and Sheryl Duruz
Chocolate Orange Confection by Snowdrop

Monday, December 24, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Cheezy Spinach Balls

Phfew! This has been an intense last few days. I feel like I've been playing with food all week: crab cakes, pizzas, quiches, nori snacks, zucchini roll-ups, cheesecake, brownies, chocolate mousse torte, fruitcake... But what else is new, right? Thankfully, I've been having fun in the process and got some helpers to give me a hand.

I've been brainstorming about raw finger foods, you know, the kind of things you could take along to a party and impress all your SAD friends. I'll be sharing some recipe ideas with you in a couple of days, definitely long enough ahead of time to prepare them for the upcoming New Year's parties. In the meantime, here's a raw rendition of the popular cheese spinach balls that I came up with.

Cheezy Spinach Balls
2 cups spinach
5 pieces of onion bread crumbled up
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup macademias
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 large garlic clove
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon ACV
2 teaspoons ground flax seeds
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch nutmeg

Blend all ingredients until smooth in the food processor.

Drop by the teaspoon on a teflex sheet and dehydrate.

Carmella's Notes: Unfortunately, the batter was a tad too sticky to shape into balls. They are yummy nonetheless!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Santa Goes Raw: Celebrating the Holidays With a Raw Twist

Well, 'tis the season once again!

Regardless of what all the Christmas carols suggest, the Holidays are more often than not very stressful for our body, mind, and not to mention our wallet. Office parties, not-so-healthy foods and alcohol in astronomical amounts, late nights, running around for last minute presents, visiting relatives, hosting dinner parties... Phfew! And this is supposed to be a happy and jolly time of year? Exhausting sounds more like it!

Oh, and have you ever wondered how an overweight man in a costume can possibly make it down the chimney? (Shhhhh... Don't tell the kids!)

Whether you're planning on celebrating the Holidays with family and friends, or quietly on your own, here are some recipe ideas that will hopefully help make this season a little gentler on yourself. I'm sure Old man Santa will also be thankful for it!

Nog On The Rawk
I have to admit that eggnog is one of those things that I really can't remember when I had it last. Actually, I even thought it was served at Easter rather than Christmas. lol Hum... Not the biggest eggnog fan in the world, as you can see. But for those of you who have fond memories of this special drink, here are a couple of options you might want to try.

Raw Nog
Posted on Raw Glow

1 batch raw almond milk (See recipe below)
5 large soft pitted dates
2 very ripe bananas
1 vanilla bean
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts (optional)

Make the almond milk first using a sprout bag. For instructions on how to make almond milk click here. In a blender add all the other ingredients including the vanilla bean seeds. To learn how to scrape a vanilla bean click here. Adjust sweetness to taste by adding more or less dates. The macadamia nuts are optional but they will give the drink a thicker consistency. Enjoy!

Vanilla Almond Milk
1 cup soaked almonds (Soak in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight and rinse before using)
3 cups water
1 vanilla bean, seeds scooped out
out 3-5 soft pitted dates (or soak hard dates in water for 1/2 hour) or other sweetener to taste such as honey or stevia

To make almond milk blend the soaked almonds with the water until smooth. Then strain the mixture through a sprout bag, cheesecloth, or strainer into a big bowl. Save the almond pulp in a container and put in the refrigerator for later use. Put the almond milk back into the blender carafe and blend in the vanilla seeds and dates or other sweetener until smooth. This milk will last in the refrigerator for about 3-5 days. Shake well before using.

Holiday Nut Nog
By Cherie Soria
Posted by Rawbie on Raw Freedom Community

Serves: 6

4 cups almond  milk, strained
2/3 cup macadamia nuts,
8 soaked honey dates, pitted
2 bananas, frozen
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or 1/2 vanilla bean
2 teaspoons maple syrup, optional
2 teaspoons flax oil, optional
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1. If using vanilla bean, slit the bean lengthwise, scrape out the soft center and discard the outer shell.

1. Place all ingredients, except bananas, together in a blender and blend until perfectly creamy.

3. Add bananas and blend until smooth.

*Serve chilled, sprinkled with nutmeg.

I Say Tatoes, You Say Taters
There's been several attempts to recreate mashed potatoes in the raw, nearly all of which use cauliflower. I can see why this would be a tempting option, as the result is very similar in look and texture. Unfortunately, this distant relative of the cabbage family also tends to lend the dish a distinctive 'bite' which isn't very authentic at all. If you do decide to go for it anyways, I recommend you consume the cauliflower potatoes shortly after they're made, as the flavor will get stronger the longer they sit.

By Matt Amsden

2 ½ cups cauliflower
¼ cup macadamias
¼ cup oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic

Food process, season with fresh ground pepper to taste.

Carmella's Note: Although I'm not a big fan of raw cauliflower, these tatoes were okay. Still, we could definitely taste the bite, and doubt that they would keep well for another day.

I also made Gabriel Cousen's Mashed Taters recipe, which I thought looked very promising, as it called for pine nuts and macs. No such luck, though. As it turned out, the cauliflower taste was even more discernible than in the previous recipe. (Go figure!?!) The combination of garlic and Italian herbs with the already strong cauli was, well, not very pleasing to our palates. In fact, we ended up giving them to our dog. (Sorry Gabriel!)

Hum, guess my quest for a good raw 'tatoes' recipe is far from over...

My Good Gravy!
I'd never heard this expression until Fairygirl used it a few weeks back. Sure gave me a good chuckle or two! In any case, finding a yummy raw version of gravy wasn't difficult at all. I have to say that the Raw Gravy from Heidi and Justin's Thanksgiving ebook (shown on the left) is fantastic and is on top of our list. You might also want to try one of the following recipes.

By Matt Amsden

⅓ cup coconut water
⅓ cup water
1 ½ cups chopped portabellos (I used button and crimini mushrooms)
¼ cup tahini
4 cloves garlic (You might want to use less!)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ stalk celery sliced
¼ carrot sliced
¼ cup onion sliced
¼ cup red pepper sliced
½ - 1 tsp salt

Blend all ingredients

Carmella's Notes:
This gravy was lovely. I'd recommend cutting down on the garlic, though, as I put half of what he called for and that was still too much for our taste buds. I ended up adding more veggies to disguise the taste. Oh, and I used criminis and button mushies as I had no portobellos.

Aimee Perrin of Living and Healing Raw has several free Holiday recipes on her site. I haven't had a chance to make this next one yet, but it does sound promising.

Ravy Gravy
By Aimee Perrin

1 cup soaked cashews
½ cup water
3 tablespoons flax oil
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
2-3 tablespoons Nama Shoyu
1 tablespoon sage
2 tablespoons almond butter

Blend all ingredients in blender until creamy. Taste and adjust ingredients. Add Celtic salt and/or pepper if desired. Warm in dehydrator. Serve over Mashed Taters and Spare a Turkey and Dressing.

Where's The Turkey?
Now we're entering Don's department - he loooooooves stuffing! To his delight, I came up with the following Thankful Turkey. The recipe evolved out of Matt Amsden's awesome nut meatloaf and is the best stuffing/turkey type recipe we've eaten so far.

I served it with Matt's Un-tatoes and Gravy

Carmella's Thankful Turkey Loaf or Burgers

Makes 1 loaf or 10 burger patties

3/4 cup almonds
3/4 cup walnuts
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 1/4 cups mushrooms
1 1/2 cup celery
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 cup sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
1/8 cup tamari
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup water
3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
2 tsp dried sage
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp tarragon

Grind nuts in food processor until smooth. Transfer to bowl.

Pulse chop mushrooms, celery, parsley, onion and garlic in food processor.

Mix chopped veggies along with the nuts and the rest of the ingredients.

Form into a loaf about 1" thick or into patties and place on teflex sheet.

Dehydrate at 120 degrees for a couple of hours, then flip onto mesh and continue dehydrating at 110 for approx. another 9 hours.

Serve with gravy or cranberry sauce.

But in case my Thankful Turkey doesn't strike your fancy, the next recipes might do the trick.

Here's what we enjoyed for Thanksgiving last year...

Noasted Turkey
By Alissa Cohen
Posted on From SAD to RAW

From the Sprout Café in Atlanta, this tastes just like traditional turkey stuffing to me. Although the Mock Turkey Loaf is prettier, this one is so good I thought I’d give you both…after all, Thanksgiving can be the toughest holiday to get through when you first go raw. I top this with marinara sauce to give it a bit more moisture.

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 Tablespoons fresh sage
2 Tablespoons rosemary
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme
2 cups walnuts, soaked 12 hours and drained
2 cups almonds, soaked 12 hours and drained
1 Tablespoon white miso
1 large onion, chopped very fine
6 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 cup parsley sprigs (as garnish)
1 cup cranberries (as garnish)

1. Place garlic in a food processor and process well.

2. Add sage, rosemary, and thyme, processing well.

3. Add walnuts, almonds, and miso, one at a time and process well.

4. Remove to a bowl and stir in onion and celery.

5. Place on a sheet of Teflex and form into an oval loaf shape. Dehydrate at 105 degrees for 6 hours.

6. Remove and turn loaf over, removing the Teflex sheet from the bottom. Dehydrate for 4 to 6 hours more.

7. Garnish with parsley and cranberries

Frederic Patenaude played Santa Claus last year by treating his readers with 2 free ebooks for the Holiday Season. Even though Fred himself promotes a simple Raw Vegan Diet based on the principles of natural hygiene, as outlined in his best-selling ebook "The Raw Secrets", he hired a talented Calgary-based raw chef, Diana Stoevelaar, to come up with two beautiful and delicious menus for the Holidays.

This Celebration Loaf was featured in his Christmas Day Menu. (To download the ebooks, just go here.) As much as we liked Alissa's Noasted Turkey, we thought this was even better.

Celebration Loaf
By Diana Stoevelaar

1 cups 1⁄2 raw almonds*
1 cups 1⁄2 raw hazelnuts or pecans*
1 cups 1⁄2 raw sunflower seeds**
2 cups 1⁄2 chopped portobello mushrooms
3 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup chopped carrots
1⁄ 2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 shallot, finely chopped
1⁄ 4 cup minced scallions
2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced or 2 tsp. dried (I used 4 tsp)
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced or 2 tsp. dried (I used 4 tsp)
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced or 1 tsp. dried
1 1⁄ 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 2 tsp. dried (I used 4 tsp)
1 tablespoon celtic sea salt
1⁄ 4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons psyllium powder

1 bunch curly kale, or endive or parsley, for garnish
2 oranges, sliced in wheels, for garnish
1⁄ 2 cup fresh cranberries or 1 cup cherry tomatoes, for garnish

* = preferably soaked for 12 hours and dehydrated at 105°F for 12 hours
** = preferably soaked for 6 hours and dehydrated at 105°F for 6 hours

In a food processor, grind the nuts and seeds thoroughly. Alternatively, use a Green Star® or Champion ® Juicer (not a centrifugal juicer) to homogenize the nuts and seeds. Transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl.

In a food processor, grind the mushrooms, celery, peppers and carrots in batches to fit your machine. Add to the nut and seed mixture. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly until well combined.

Using a teflex sheet on a mesh dehydrator* rectangular tray, shape the mixture into two loaves approximately 1” thick. Dehydrate at 105°F for 4 hours. Flip the tray over onto an empty mesh dehydrator tray, and gently peel the teflex sheet off the nut loaves. Continue dehydrating for another 4 hours.

Place the loaves on oval serving platters and garnish with curly kale, orange wheel slices and fresh cranberries.

Serve with warm Mushroom Gravy.

Carmella's Notes:
~ This recipe makes quite a lot (2 loaves or approx. 16 burgers). You can either halve it or freeze the rest.

~ I used soaked nuts (not dehydrated) and it worked fine.

~ I found that the batter needed a little more herbs, but that's all a matter of personal taste.

Celebration Loaf served with Mashed Taters and Raw Gravy

Cranberries Are Red
No Holiday table would be complete without the colorful cranberries...

Cranberry-Orange Relish
Posted by Vanessa on GLiving Community

2 cups cranberries- frozen or fresh
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2-3 oranges, peeled and sectioned (removing membranes if possible)
2 tablespoons lime juice
agave nectar to taste (1/4- 1/2 cup)

Process cranberries in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and mix by hand.

And yet another recipe from Fred's Christmas Day Menu ebook...

Cranberry Sauce
By Diana Stoevelaar

2 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup of raisins, soaked
2 sweet oranges, peeled and sectioned
2 sweet apples, cored and chopped
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. cloves

Puree all the above ingredients through a Champion Juicer, food grinder or food
processor. Add spices and mix thoroughly. Chill overnight to let flavors marry. Garnish
with grated organic orange peel and serve.

This next dish may not be very traditional, but it is so pretty and flavorful that I thought it would fit right in. In fact, this was so good I could have eaten the whole thing by myself!

Walnut Cranberry Squash "Rice"
From Ani Phyo's Raw Food Kitchen
Posted by Danny on Raw Freedom Community

1 small butternut (aprox 1 lb) peeled, seeded and cubed 2"
1/2 small yellow onion (1/2 cup) chopped
1 T cumin seeds
1 T coriander powder
1/2c cilantro chopped
1 c dried cranberries
1 c walnuts crushed
2 t sea salt

Blend squash in FP until small and "rice" like, then put in a bowl, add all the rest and mix well, keeps for 2 days in the fridge.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I did half the recipe and did a few minor changes:
  • I had no cumin seeds so used powder instead
  • I don't react well to onions so subbed with the white part of green onions
~ Ani calls for 1 small butternut squash which is pretty vague. I had a big one so used only 1/3 of it or so (roughly 2 1/4 cups).

Cranberry Walnut Kale Slaw
By Ani Phyo
Posted on Living Harvest's site

5 servings

1 head of green or red kale, thinly sliced
1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 scallion, chopped

Place kale, cabbage, and scallions into a large salad bowl. Set aside.

½ cup brazil nuts, soaked 8-12 hours, rinse well
1-2 cloves garlic, to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup Living Harvest Hemp Oil
1/8 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup filtered water

Place all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. Pour over slaw and
toss well. Set aside.

1 cup pecans, soaked 8 hours, rinse well, and dry in dehydrator or air dry
1 cup dried cranberries

Place tossed kale slaw on five salad plates, top with pecans and cranberries,
and serve.

Holiday Sweet Treats
And, of course, the best part are the desserts and sweet yummies you get to enjoy guilt-free. Now that's a nice change!

I've always assumed that 'mince pies' was a sort of meat-based sweet dish. Yuck! I guess the 'mince' part (as in 'minced beef'?) was a tad misleading... at least for me. Funny how we come to make false assumptions, eh? However, thanks to Raw Chef Russell James, I realized I was totally mistaken.

I may have never tasted the real McCoy, but the following raw mince pies are heavenly just the same. In fact, they were sooooo good that Don and I ate them with our eyes closed.

Mince Pies with Whipped Cream
Posted by Russell James on his blog

1 c almonds
1 c walnuts
1 c pecans
1 c raw jumbo rolled oats
20 dried soft apricots

7 soft dates
juice of 1 orange
1 t orange zest
1 apple
½ t mixed spice
1 c raisins

1 c courgette, peeled and chopped
¼ c agave nectar
1 c cashews, soaked 2 hours
1 t psyllium husk powder
1 t vanilla extract

• Soak nuts overnight and fully dry them in a dehydrator. To make the pastry, first process the nuts and oats in a Vita-Mix dry jug or coffee mill so that you end up with a fine ‘flour’.

• Transfer the mixture to a food processor with an ‘s’ blade. Add apricots one at a time until the whole mixture becomes sticky. If you are using apricots that have been soaked, you may find that you already have a dough-like consistency. If the mixture isn’t forming a ball in the processor at this point then add some water (soak water if you soaked the apricots) a few tablespoons at a time until it does.

• Roll out the mixture on a flat surface so that it is about twice the thickness of a pound coin. If mixture sticks to rolling pin, mill some more oats to dust the rolling pin and rolling surface with.

• Using a pastry cutter that will cut a base to the required size for your baking tray, cut the bases from the rolled out dough. Place these in a muffin baking tray that has been lined with Cling Film. You will need to re-form and re-roll the dough to get the most from it. Use any left over dough to build extra pies!!! Place the baking tray in a dehydrator at 115 degrees F.

• To make the filling, remove stones and flowers from dates and place in food processor. Add the orange juice, zest and mixed spice. Process and add water as needed to produce a creamy consistency. Mixture will need to occasionally be scraped from the sides of the processor using a spatula.

• Chop apple into small pieces and add to mixture. Process for a further 15 seconds.

• Add raisins to mixture and stir in with a wooden spoon/spatula.

• Remove bases after the 3 hours and fill with raisin mixture.

• To warm the pies, return them to the dehydrator on mesh sheets for as long as you can keep your hands off ‘em!!! They should be ready after an hour.

• Whilst they are warming, process the courgette, agave and vanilla in a blender until smooth. Add the cashews and process again until mixture becomes smooth again. Add the psyllium and blend a final time. When fully blended leave the mixture to firm up for 5 minutes. Transfer this mixture to a piping bag and pipe onto the warmed pies. You are now ready to enjoy raw mince pies with whipped cream!!!

Mysticat shared several awesome cookie ideas for the Holidays on Raw Food Talk, including this couple of gems.

Mysticat’s Ginger Stars
Posted by Mysticat on RFT

2 cups ground oat groats
1 cup cashew "flour" (cashews ground in a coffee grinder)
1/4 cup agave
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 tsp. ginger
6 dates + 1 cup raisins--soaked and pureed

--roll out dough on a non-stick surface (I used wax paper)

--use cookie cutters for shapes, then dehydrate until "hard"

Mysticat's Notes:
~ The ginger cookies are also yummy if you substitute ground pecans for the cashews ( I found that out today, when I ran out of cashews!)

~ I left the cookies and nuggets in the dehydrator at about 100 degrees, for about 20 hours. They probably didn't need to be in that long, but I like to leave them in overnight and while I am at work the next day. (Maybe even 12 hours would be enough). The refrigerated ones just need a few hours to firm up.

Carmella’s Note: I put the batter in the fridge for a couple of hours. It made it much easier to handle and cut up.

Mysticat’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Posted by Mysticat on RFT

1 3/4 cups cashew "flour"
3/4 cup ground oat groats (or use all cashew flour for a much sweeter dough)
1/4 cup agave
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup coconut oil
Chocolate Chips*

* Blend 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup carob, 1/2 cup cacao - put mixture in freezer, then chop into chunks.

--form into balls, roll in cashew "flour" and refrigerate

JustMe’s Notes:
mysticat.....GENIUS---PURE GENIUS with the chocolate chip cookies!!!!! They are out of this world!!!!! the cashew flour is what really made the cookies!

a few modifications that i did---i used all cashew flour, used all cocoa and added agave to the choco chip mixture until it was "bittersweet". I think i will use less oil next time and it was a little bit oily for my liking.....BUT HOLY SMOKES WERE THESE GOOD!!!! i couldn't stop snacking on the batter and then i had to put in the freezer to let the choco harden up a bit so i can form them into balls!

Rawkinlocs’ Notes:
I made the chocolate chip cookies and they are AWESOME! I didn't roll them in cashew flour and I ended up putting them in the dehydrator...they were warm, soft and chewy and the chocolate chips were so close to the SAD ones it was scary!

Aisah's Notes:
These are fantabulous!! I was intimidated by the looks of the recipe too but it was nothing after all!! Think I made that twice!!! It was awesome!! Sure to satisfy any CCC cravings - trust me!!!

Cranberry Coconut Biscotti
By Wind Walrath - The Raw Biscotti Company
Posted on Living Harvest's site

2 cups almonds (best if pre-soaked overnight in water)
1/2 cup golden flax seeds ground fine
1/4 cup golden flax seed left whole
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups dried apple soaked in water (save soak water)
2 cups frozen cranberries
1/2 cups Living Harvest Hemp Nuts (or any hulled hemp seeds)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey /agave
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

Process almonds in a food processor until meal-like. Process dried apple in food processor until broken up in little pieces. Process frozen cranberries in food processor by pulse blending to break up slightly into smaller pieces. In a large bowl add your almond meal, shredded coconut, golden flax meal and whole flax, Living Harvest Hemp Nuts and sea salt. Mix and then add dried apple and cranberries. In a separate bowl add coconut oil, honey and vanilla and add a 1/4 cup of apple soak water. Add wet mixture to dry and mix thoroughly. You may need to add more of the soak water to hold your mixture together. Then spread out on cookie sheets in one big square 1/2" thick. Then score with a spatula or pizza roller the rows of pieces making them about 3" long. Bake in a convection oven at the lowest temperature rate until dry and crispy or use a dehydrator to keep enzymes alive.

Lastly, Jennifer Cornbleet, author of Raw Food Made Easy For 1 or 2 People, shared several Holiday recipes a few years ago, including the following cake.

Apple Cake with Macadamia Cream Frosting
By Jenny Cornbleet
Recipe featured on CBS2 and posted here

Serves 8

Apple Cake Ingredients:
* 3 c dried apples
* 1c pitted dates, chopped
* 6 apples, shredded
* 1/2 c currants
* 1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
* ½ c raw almonds, ground to a powder in a coffee grinder
* 2 tsp cinnamon
* 1/4 tsp nutmeg

* 2 c macadamia nuts
* 4 T raw honey/ agave
* 2 tsp rosewater, optional (available at health food stores and Persian markets)
* ¾ c water

Process dried apples in food processor until ground. Add dates and pulse chop until mixed. Add shredded apples and pulse chop for a few seconds. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl, and add remaining ingredients. Firmly press into an 8 inch springform pan. Blend frosting ingredients in a blender, adding additional water if necessary. Frost the cake. Remove from springform pan, and garnish with edible flowers, and/or additional coconut.

Well, these should give you some food for thought as to what to prepare for the coming Holidays. There's also a bunch more inspiring recipe ideas in RFC's Holiday Recipes section: Christmas Kale, Zucchini Roll-ups, Herbed Pecan Stuffing with Gravy Gratitude, Orange Goji Berry White Chocolate, Holiday Orange-Spice Bars and Snowdrop's mouth watering Blonde Fruitcake featured in my Recipe of the Week.

Have fun uncooking and a rawesome and healthy Holiday Season to you all!

Photo Credits

Raw Nog from RawGlow.com
Cranberries from Columbus Polarity Center
Chocolate Chip Cookies by Being
Blonde Fruitcake by Snowdrop

Recipe of the Week: Snowdrop's Blonde Fruitcake

I'm gonna cheat a little and share with you a recipe that I have yet to try, but is on my 'to-do list' for next week. I'm doing this as I have no doubt that it will be scrumptious, and wanted to make sure you'd get a chance to add it to your Holiday menu.

Snowdrop has once again put her Chef's hat on and has come up with a raw rendition of this festive treat. How about joining us this coming Thursday, as several of us on Raw Freedom Community will make this cake simultaneously as our next 'Project Raw Around the World'.

Snowdrop's Blonde Fruitcake
Posted by Snowdrop on Raw Freedom Community

Soak 1 hr:
¾ c dates (packed)
½ lemon juiced
½ orange juiced
2 t almond extract
pinch sea salt

Grind, sift, & set aside in bowl:
1 c almonds
1 c dry coconut shreds
½ c cashews

Fruit filling 1
Combine in any ratio to equal ¾ cup total your choice of the following dry fruits:
raisins, cherries apricots, pineapple, cranberry, currants, in similar size cuts

Soak ¼ c of fruit juice of your choice (or brandy, rum…) in the dehydrator for 1 hr

Fruit filling 2
1” fresh ginger root sliced & slivered
1 T lemon zest
1 T orange zest
2 T agave

Put in bowl in dehydrator for 1 hr

Candied Nuts
1/3 c walnut halves
1/3 c pecan halves
2 T maple syrup
½ t cinnamon
pinch sea salt

Toss in small bowl then put on teflex sheet in dehydrator for 1 hr

Lets put it together!

Cake: After the hour of soaking, take the ginger bowl & just drain the juices into the dates (set ginger citrus zest aside)…take the date mixture and blend into a smooth puree.

Pour into the ground nut mixture and stir lightly till combined. Set cake batter aside.

Fruit & Nuts: Drain the fruit and put onto cake ‘batter’, also add the ginger citrus zest. Set aside the nicest dozen pecan halves for the garnish and break up the rest of the nuts into the cake batter into small enough pieces. (Remember, if the nut pieces are too big… the knife will have trouble slicing the cake neatly… ask me how I know...)

Cake: Stir the additions lightly till combined then press into your 5-6” cake mold. (Use plastic wrap lining to make sure you can get it back out again.)

Plate your cake and decorate.

Snowdrop's Notes:
~ I used ground coconut & lemon zest powder with a little agave and enough water & 1 T coconut oil to make it workable... It's not a recipe that is perfected yet, but it worked well enough for tonite.

~ To make it a spiced cake, you have to add things like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger... to the nut flour before adding the wet ingredients so it gets mixed thoroughly.

Photo Credit
Fruitcake by Snowdrop

Monday, December 10, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Crimini Mushroom & Tarragon Risotto

I was gonna make the yummy-looking mushroom risotto recipe that Fairygirl posted last week, but decided to play around a little and came up with my own. It turned out really well; yet another keeper!
I'm particularly happy to have found a great way to eat acorn squash raw - something I've been meaning to try for months. It's a bit of hard work, due to the acorn's uneven shape, but was well worth the effort. If you don't feel up for it, butternut would probably work good too.

Mushroom & Tarragon Risotto

Serves 4

1/2 large acorn squash, peeled and roughly cubed

Marinated Criminis
2 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs tamari
2 tsps lemon juice

Creamy Tarragon Sauce
1/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup macadamias
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup water
1 large garlic clove
2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch cayenne
1 tbs dried tarragon

For Serving
2/3 cup red, orange or yellow bell pepper, cubed
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
2 green onions, chopped (optional)

For the risotto, grind squash in food processor until rice-like. Set aside in large bowl.

For the marinated criminis, toss the mushrooms in olive oil, tamari and lemon juice, and let marinate for at least 1 hr.

For the sauce, blend first 8 ingredients until smooth, then add tarragon, bell pepper and parsley by hand.

To assemble, mix the risotto with the marinated mushrooms, Creamy Tarragon Sauce, bell peppers, parsley and green onion (if using).

I had some left-over Tarragon Sauce so I served it the next day on top of zucchini linguine, along with the other veggies. It was also delicious.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Two Raw Divas, One Kitchen - The Adventures - Part II

OK, I'm back! Now where was I?

Let's Crank Up the D!
Day 3 of our Raw Diva Extravaganza was a much awaited 'D day'. We were ready to rawk, babe! We went pretty much non-stop from morning to late afternoon, filling the dehydrator right up with savory goodies. Man oh man... The smell coming out of there!

First, we worked on creating a buckwheat and veggie dough that we would use both as pizza crust and for our next project: mini-pockets. We were really excited about experimenting with these - something I'd been meaning to do for months, ever since trying Alissa's calzone. The possibilities of fillings are endless, but we decided to make 3 different kinds of pockets: Italian, Greek and Asian (recipes now available in The Best of Raw Freedom Community ebook).

Here they are, freshly out of the D

While Heathy worked on that night's dessert, I prepared Snowdrop's Sesame Nuggets (featured in my Recipe of the Week post here.)

We also came up with a burger recipe of our own that we formed into both patties and balls - the latter were meant for yet another new creation.

Diva Burgers on their way in...

Lastly, Heathy had brought some dried porcinis with her so we got to try the Crab Cakes featured in the latest Purely Delicious that everyone had been raving about on Raw Freedom Community. Somehow, we misread the instructions and dehydrated the cakes at too low a temp, so they weren't fully ready in time for dinner. Ah well... They were superb nonetheless.

We served the crab cakes along with a tartar sauce, and a mixed green salad. Delish!

To my surprise, I found out that Heathy has never been 'the soup type'. At least, she certainly landed among the right folks to give her a taste of how delicious raw soups can be. It looks like it worked; my and Don's passion for raw soups rubbed off on her a little. In fact, we started that evening's meal with a lovely creamy Mushroom Soup that Heathy and I created. We were both super stoked at the result.

Dessert was Fairygirl's wonderful Strawberry Lime Mousse Cake, which we were testing for her book. In fact, she told me that, of all the desserts she's come up with, this one is her favorite, which is saying a lot! The pie that she submitted at the Simply Raw Pie Contest in Ottawa last fall was based on this recipe. Lovely, as you can see.

One more day zoomed right by!

Snowed In?
I forgot to mention that we woke up to our first snow of the season that morning. Yay, the return to lovely Winter Wonderland! Once everything got safely tucked away in the dehydrator, we couldn't resist taking a short break to go for a walk amidst the freshly fallen snow. Beautiful!

As you may recall, we live up a mountain. In fact, the road is so steep that you need a 4X4 to drive up the hill in winter. We couldn't help wondering how the snow would affect the upcoming potluck on Sunday, and Heathy's return the next week.

In the meantime, that also meant that it might affect our trip to Nelson the following day, as John's car wouldn't make it back up the hill under snowy conditions. However, we had a 'Plan B' up our sleeves, and were prepared to walk and get the bus in, as we had to pick up a few more grocery items for the rest of our uncooking marathon.

Three Raw Divas...
Once again, the weather cooperated; it rained throughout the night, and by the time we got up on Friday, the snow was virtually gone. Perfect! Heathy guided us through a few yoga postures, then we headed towards town for the afternoon. As soon as John dropped us off, we went straight to Rawfreshing Cuisine. Heathy had been wanting to eat at Chantale's raw deli ever since I wrote about it last summer.

I knew Chantale was planning a trip to Quebec sometime in November and wasn't sure whether she'd be around. Thankfully, as it turned out, she wasn't going until the following week, so we got a chance to chat with her to our hearts' content.

Heathy with yet another Canadian Raw Diva

Everything Chantale makes looks so yummy, but in the end, we settled for the following...

Pizza Wrap

A soft veggie wrap filled with pine nut ''ricotta'', pizza sauce, pesto, veggies, lettuce and sprouts.

Mediterranean burgers

Sunflower and pumpkin seed burgers on sesame-onion ''toasts'' with veggies and Rawfreshing sauce - a sort of blend between ketchup, mayo and mustard.

Here we are, getting ready to enjoy a mega raw treat!

But that was only for starters... Next came desserts!

Chocolate Mousse Torte

On a macadamia-coconut crust with bananas and strawberries.

Strawberry Shortcake

Chantale thought she was out of her personal favorite, Cashew Cheesecake, but then remembered she had a few pieces left over from a catering order. Lucky us!!!

Cashew Cheesecake

On a pecan-raisin crust with a raspberry coulis.

We could see why Chantale likes this cheesecake so much: it's so creamy it literally melts in your mouth. She sure had us puzzled over its delicate taste; you should have seen us trying to figure out what was the secret ingredient! lol

We had a fabulous time, spending close to 2 hours in Chantale's raw haven. As we were munching away on her delicacies, Heathy and I toyed with a tempting idea: wouldn't it be awesome if we were to be raw food critics, touring raw restaurants all over North America? Ahhhhhhhh! Bliss, I tell ya! Not sure if our bodies could take it though. lol

Wondering how we managed to eat all that food? Me too! We were sooooo full when we walked out of there! In fact, we ended up having just a light dinner: Don's wonderful Green Celery Soup (which I just can't get enough of), and a modified version of Kate Wood's Sauerkraut Salad. Huh, and a teeny dessert later on. Does that count?

Coming up next... Our 'Sweets' Day and Raw Potluck