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, September 20, 2010

Recipe Book Review: Russell James' Raw Nut Cheese Ebook

I've been on a cheeze kick ever since the release of Russell James' new Raw Nut Cheese Recipes ebook this summer. He says that of all his e-publications it almost instantly became the most popular. Why am I not surprised? I mean, healthy non-dairy alternatives to cheese would tantalize many a vegan, raw or nay!

I have played with nut cheese making a number of times in the last couple of years (make sure to check out this post if you haven't already!) but as in virtually anything he touches, the talented 'Raw Chef' takes it to the next level. “Goats” Cheese, Olive & Sundried Tomato, Lemon & Thyme Cheese, Feta, Ricotta... My gosh, where to begin?

The first recipe I tried was his Macadamia Pesto Cheese. Russell points out that macadamia nuts make a firmer and slightly whiter cheese than cashews which piqued my curiosity. For the most part, his basic technique is identical to mine. One minor difference is that he uses water instead of rejuvelac, which I think is great as it simplifies the process. On the other hand, it means a longer fermentation time, which is no big deal.

He also uses a higher ratio of water to nuts, but then more liquid is released from the cheese mixture by placing a weight on top of it during culturing. I didn't use something sufficiently heavy for my first batch and, as a result, the cheese was a little too wet and didn't hold its shape as well as it should have. While using more water does make it easier on your blender, I thought there might be a middle ground; I made a mental note to cut down slightly on the amount of water next time.

The Pesto turned out rather oily and I ended up with a puddle of oil on the plate. Hum. *scratching her head* Perhaps I over processed the pine nuts? In spite of that minor booboo, the combination of Pesto and nut cheese was not only beautiful but also delicious!
Onion & Garlic Cheese

This was really very good! I made the slight adjustments mentioned above regarding the amount of water and weight and the texture turned out much firmer than the Macadamia Pesto Cheese. While the Onion & Garlic Cheese recipe has a cashew base, I decided to use macadamia nuts instead. I also replaced shallot with extra green onion.

Caraway, Fennel & Olive Cheese

This was my favorite of the three. I wasn't too sure initially about the fennel and caraway which I very seldom use, but they gave such a lovely and subtle flavor to the cheese.

Needless to say that we completely blew the taste buds of our non-raw friends with these nut based cheeses! Such a wonderfully tasty and healthy alternative to the dairy stuff! Yay!

In addition to a large variety of mouthwatering cheeses, Russell James' Raw Nut Cheese Recipes ebook also features other recipes to perfectly complete your cheese plate such as a berry compote, fruit chutney, Almond Thins and Garlic Bread. When I saw a photo of the latter, I immediately thought of the amazing bread that we enjoyed at Au Lac. The closest to the 'real thing' that we'd ever tasted in the raw. I therefore was thrilled to try his version using almond pulp.

I first dehydrated the 'loaves' (I was so excited I even doubled the recipe!) before cutting them into individual slices. As you can see, the surface cracked in several places.

However that didn't really show once they were cut up and the slices looked pretty darn authentic. While the flavor was awesome, I found that the almond pulp made the bread so dry that I had trouble swallowing the bites. ;-( Ah well, guess the quest for 'perfect' raw bread isn't over just yet...

I have to say that Russell's Raw Nut Cheese Recipes ebook is very well done. With clear instructions and photos for every great recipe, it is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in mastering the art of raw cheese making. I warmly recommend it!

Say "Cheeze!"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Coco-Chia Snowballs

Phfew, I'm finally getting around to posting this recipe; I had such a super busy week!

If I was to pick a theme for the last few days I'd say: 'abundance'. During this harvest season we are reminded of how Nature is so very generous, and this year we are blessed to partake in its amazing bounty like never before!

Pick, Eat and Be Merry!
In spite of the whirlwind that is my life right now, I made a point to put time aside in order to do some gardening. I find it so nourishing and meditative! Not to mention that I came back with bagfuls of beets, carrots, kale, swiss chard, tomatoes, beans and various types of lettuce. I feel so grateful for this opportunity to play in a garden, albeit not my own.

We also spent part of one afternoon picking fruit! Yippee! A friend of ours has several fruit trees on her property. They could have been left to ripen a little longer but she felt that time was of the essence as she had started to get nightly visits from a bear. While I lost myself in the blackberry bushes (Ahhh, Heaven!!!), Don gave her a hand with the apples and pears.

The simplest technique for unripe fruit is to give the tree a shake and let the fruit fall on a large tarp from which they are then transferred into a bucket. Easy peasy!

She also has a tool similar to the one I used in California to pick avocados last spring. It brought back such fond memories of this magical experience.

I was glad I had taken our camera along as I discovered the most beautiful flowers growing in her garden.

My Raw World These Days
On a different note, I gave a really fun food prep class on the weekend, demoing a number of raw vegan versions of popular recipes that usually call for dairy or animal products: Ranch Dressing, Corn Chowder, Cultured Nut Cheeze and Tuna Salad. They were all received with surprise and enthusiasm, especially the dessert: Cheesecake! I could feel that these few recipes were opening up a world of new possibilities for the participants and it felt so darn good! ;-)

I'm also making great progress with the new recipe book which is super exciting! It will be available in soft cover hopefully sometime this fall. It's a lot more work than the ebook format I've done in the past but will definitely be worth the extra effort. The aspect I like the least about the book writing process is that I have to hold on to my new creations instead of readily sharing them with you here. Guess there's no way around it... *sigh*

Thankfully there are so many other talented recipe creators out there to cover for me in the meantime! This week's recipe is from a lady who is greatly contributing to the health movement in Calgary. I must admit that I haven't made 'nut balls' in what seems like ages. While they used to be a regular dessert early on our raw journey, I've been seduced by the fancier gourmet cakes, pies and other scrumptious yummies that one can whip up in the raw.

These Coco-Chia Snowballs are just bursting with wonderfully nutritious ingredients! Actually I just realized that The Raw Life Health Store happens to have a lot of them on sale this month, including chia seeds for under $5 a pound!!! Woo hoo!

I like how simple these Snowballs are to prepare and they are such a delicious way to get all that goodness! The main modification I made was to grind some of the chia seeds called for as it had a little too much of a crunch factor for my taste. Just make sure to refrigerate the balls for at least 24 hours so that they can firm up nicely and to allow the ground chia seeds to fully absorb the surrounding moisture.

Coco-Chia Snowballs
Adapted from a recipe by Karin Haemmerle

1/2 cup organic dark chia seeds, whole
1/2 cup organic dark chia seeds, ground
1/2 cup raw sesame tahini
1/2 cup raw almond butter
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup + 2 tbs cacao powder
1/4 tsp Himalayan salt
1/2 cup raw honey or agave
2 tbs organic virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup + 2 tbs shredded coconut
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract

Combine all ingredients.

Form into 1 inch balls.

Roll in finely shredded coconut, place on cookie sheet and refrigerate for at least 24 hours to allow the ground chia seeds to get absorbed.

Or press into a pan and sprinkle extra coconut on top. Refrigerate and cut into serving pieces just before eating.

Variation: Replace 1/2 cup chia seeds, ground with a mixture of 1/4 cup hemp seeds, 2 tbs ground chia seeds and 2 tbs shredded coconut.

Carmella's Note: Don used a small plastic scoop instead of rolling the balls in his hands. So much quicker and a lot less messy!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Rosemary Crackers

Hi guys!

I'm sorry to say that Summer has seemingly left us during this last week. It dropped something like 30 degrees overnight. Yikes! Let's just hope that we'll be getting at least a few more warm days before Fall really sets in.

With the arrival of the cooler weather, I've been spending a lot more time indoors, experimenting in the kitchen. Besides doing recipe development and testing for a new book (Yay!), I went on a major kale chip kick, filling the dehydrator twice with different variations of these yummies. Why haven't I gotten into these earlier; they're so utterly addictive!

I also managed to sneak in a couple of trays of Rosemary Crackers. I'm always on the look out for a good cracker to add to our list of staples, so when Velvet shared the recipe on Raw Freedom Community and mentioned that she couldn't stop eating them, it got my attention. These are probably the simplest flax crackers I've ever made and are soooo delicious! I'm having a hard time not popping one or two in my mouth every time I walk by the jar!

Rosemary Crackers
Posted by Velvet on Raw Freedom Community here

Rosemary crackers are very easy to make, and are the perfect snack or addition to salads. Rich in omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, iron and seasoned with mineral rich salt, these crackers will ensure you get top nutrition while loving every bite.

Ingredients: (fills 1 dehydrator tray)
- 1 cup sprouted flax seed powder*
- 1/2 cup whole flax seeds
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 Tbs dried rosemary
-  Salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp + more to sprinkle)

- Combine the flax powder, flax seeds, nutritional yeast, salt and rosemary in a large bowl.

- Mix about 1 cup of water by hand until well combined.

- Spread on a ParaFlexx dehydrator sheet to cover the entire sheet. Gently, score the batter into squares, or any shape you like.

- Dehydrate overnight, and flip onto a mesh screen. Dehydrate further until crispy.

* Or use regular ground flax seeds, which will give you the same result but are less nutritious.

Carmella's Note: I didn't have sprouted flax seeds powder so I used regular ground golden flax.