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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Round Two: A Variation of Last Week’s Raw Vegan Cherry Berry Chocolate Cream Pie

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This week I want to recreate the cherry-berry pie I made last week, but thought it would benefit from a fruity pudding layer in addition to the chocolate one.  I dried and reconstituted the fruit in a similar fashion (and used an extra cup of cherries so the pie was more full), but instead of just the chocolate avocado mousse, I made a raspberry mousse, then added cocoa powder and chocolate protein powder to about 1/3 of it.  This made a berry-chocolate pudding- if you wanted distinctly different flavors in the layers, you could make both this berry recipe and last week’s chocolate one. The raspberry mousse itself tastes “like a Sweet Tart” according to Ace- the camu camu powder lends a tangy, flavorful note.

This time, I skipped the coconut nectar in the fruit layer; the idea of it had been for glossiness, and you just don’t see enough of the fruit for that to matter. I also changed the crust slightly- the other one was very thin, and I wasn’t terribly keen on the figs.  For flavor and color I added cocoa powder to the crust, as well as a small amount of reserved dried cherries and strawberries.  I like the look and taste of this one better than the last.

For decor, I used fresh blueberries and cacao nibs, and also swirled some of the chocolate mousse into the raspberry layer on top.

Raw Vegan Cherry Berry Chocolate Cream Pie, the Sequel:

Crust:
1 cup raw pecans
2/3 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup almond meal
4 dates
6 each partially dried (not reconstituted) cherries and strawberry chunks
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1 tbls coconut sugar
pinch Himalayan salt

Soak dates in warm water for ten minutes. Pulse pecans and walnuts in food processor, then add remaining ingredients and process until a sticky crumb is formed. Press into a pie tin and set aside.
Any other raw pie crust recipe could be subbed for this one, or any other nuts/fruit you prefer.

Cherry Berry Filling:
2 cups strawberries, cut into 3/4 inch chunks
5 cups cherries, pitted

Place cherries and strawberries onto a dehydrator tray (fruit should fill one tray) and dry at 108 degrees for about eight hours. Refrigerate until ready to use. To prep for pie, reconstitute by covering them in warm water for about ten minutes. Drain and squeeze gently, then mix in coconut nectar.

Raspberry Mousse:

2 large or 3 small avocados
1 small banana
1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup buckwheat honey, coconut nectar or agave OR 2/3 cup water and 2 droppers liquid stevia
3 tbls beet juice for color
3 tbls lucuma powder
1 tsp camu camu powder

Blend until creamy. Remove 2/3 of mix and set aside.

Cacao Mousse:
1/3 raspberry mousse recipe
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
2 scoops chocolate protein powder

Blend until creamy, and thin with water if needed.

Assembly:

Place a thin layer of raspberry mousse on top of the crust, followed by a thin layer of chocolate mousse. Throughly strain the cherries and strawberries, and add them. Top with all but about 3 tbls of chocolate mousse (or all of it if you don’t want to use it for decorating), then with remaining raspberry mousse. Decorate as desired.

Pie Time! Raw Vegan Fresh Cherry Berry Chocolate Cream Pie

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My cherry obsession continues, only now they are FINALLY briefly in season, so currently I’m getting my fill of actual live cherries, not frozen or dried ones.  Though not a “pie person” per say, I greatly enjoy raw apple pie, where you partially dehydrate sliced apples then reconstitute them so they acquire a slightly smooshy baked quality.  I decided to carry that technique over to fresh cherries and strawberries, and layer it with a raw food staple: cacao avocado mousse.  If you have some time of your hands, this is the perfect summer recipe to try!  I made the chocolate mousse/pudding a couple days ago (and we’ve been enjoying plenty of it on its own), dried the fruit yesterday, and made the crust/assembled the whole thing today.  Having done it in parts, the actual crust-making and full pie assembly took less than a half hour.

Note that the cacao mousse recipe is for a full multi-serving yield… because really, if you are gonna dirty your blender, you might as well have a couple days worth of pudding to show for it! Also, you can make it without adding any fruit- I thought it’d be great for the chocolate layer to have notes of cherry.


Raw Vegan Fresh Cherry Berry Chocolate Cream Pie

Crust:
1 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup almond meal
5 dates
5 dried figs
pinch Himalayan salt

Soak dates and figs in warm water for ten minutes. Pulse pecans in food processor, then add remaining ingredients and process until a sticky crumb is formed. Press into a pie tin and set aside.
Any other raw pie crust recipe could be subbed for this one, or any other nuts/fruit you prefer.

Cherry Berry Filling:
2 cups strawberries, cut into 3/4 inch chunks
4 cups cherries, pitted
1/4 cup coconut nectar

Place cherries and strawberries onto a dehydrator tray (fruit should nearly fill one tray) and dry at 108 degrees for about eight hours. Refrigerate until ready to use. To prep for pie, reconstitute by covering them in warm water for about ten minutes. Drain and squeeze gently, then mix in coconut nectar.

Cacao Avocado Mousse:
3 extra large avocados or 4-5 medium ones
1 heaping cup cherries, pitted
3/4 cup coconut nectar, buckwheat honey, or agave OR 2/3 cup water and 2 droppers liquid stevia
1/3 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 scoops chocolate protein powder (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

Blend in VitaMix or other high-powered blender until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To Assemble:
Place a thin layer of cacao mousse along the bottom of the crust. Drain any excess liquid from fruit, and pour in. Add about two cups of cacao mousse on top, until fruit barely peeps through- more can be added if desired.

Decor:
I used a pint of raspberries, and about 1/4 cup of cacao nibs for a topping. You can decorate any way you choose; I placed the raspberries around the edge, and made a sort of flower out of them by taking several berries and flattening them, then laying each around one main berry. I then put a small mint leaf in the center of the whole raspberry.

 

You Could Write a Book on That

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I’m a firm believer that everything that happens in life has a purpose.  One of my favorite lines is, “If it was meant to happen any other way, it would have.” Inasmuch as I believe this, finding the reason for life’s occurrences can be quite the serious challenge.  When we first found out last month about the situation in our home and began to put all our sickness pieces together into a puzzle of assorted chemical exposures, I could not for the life of me understand why, after less than a year of wellness, I was stuck being sick again- and sick in as serious a way as Lyme disease, if not more so.  It was impossible for me to jump out of victim mentality as the shock began to settle, and, “Why me, why us?”  was the main thought in my mind.  I mean, really- I spend my life eating clean, organic foods, using natural cleaners, not drinking out of plastic bottles, etc.,  just so I can get slowly gassed and poisoned in my own home for months on end?

Once we began to try and sort all this out by going to various doctors, setting up treatments, and consulting with a lawyer, I steadfastly grew more depressed.  The unfairness of it all was so overwhelming.  Our cat- Ace’s baby and love- was gone, my brain is shot, I’ve been in pain all year, Ace has “seasonal allergies” no matter what the season… our list of symptoms is literally pages long, and it’s a lot to digest.  The notion that some of my brain damage may be permanent was horrifying news, and the ten hours of neuro-psych testing I did was far from the easy experience it would have been before all this.  I continued asking, “Why?” as I worried about ever getting better, instead of listening to everyone who told us how lucky we were to be alive.

It finally dawned on me that the only thing I hadn’t done after recovering from Lyme was document my story, which numerous people had both suggested and requested.  When I realized I could do that now, and write a broader story about surviving not just Lyme disease but also carbon monoxide and assorted chemical poisonings, it struck a strong chord in me.  This is my path.  I am passionate about healthy food and wellness and constructed a business based on the model of feeding people healthy snacks they would be able to eat without even realizing the nutrition benefits of.

I am going to write a book about how to be well, even when you’re not.  As soon as I decided this, I began to feel hopeful.  While my physical symptoms have yet to lessen at all even though I’m about a dozen sessions into hyperbaric oxygen treatment, this decision lifted a good bit of my depression cloud.  I was reminded of “Yo Pal” Hal Elrod, someone I greatly admire.  He is an RnR customer who overcame a vehicular accident that technically killed him for a few minutes.  Due to his “attitude of gratitude” and strong will, he recovered at an alarming speed.  His bones and brain literally healed faster than doctors said was possible because he decided that he was going to get well.  Now he is a motivational speaker (and excellent writer) who empowers others to live their lives to the fullest.

Writing a book makes perfect sense given that I have a degree in writing, but is daunting to me because so many parts of my brain feel broken nowadays.  I’ve decided to take this on as my summer project, as a reason to get out of the house daily even if I don’t have the memory and learning skills to go back to work anytime soon.  Once my neuro-psych report is completed, I’ll find out what treatments are going to be involved to help my mind recover.  I do have a feeling that some aspects of the brain damage are going to be deemed untreatable, but I will still be taught how to work with them.  As someone who has always been very proud of her intellect, this entire experience has been devastating, and the idea that I may never be as smart as I was before is very hard to stomach.  But one important part of life that I learned from Lyme is this: we are never, ever going to be who we used to be again.  Thinking, “I want my old life back,” is insane, because no matter whether you’re sick or not, life is change.  You’ll never be who you were before, no matter what.  I just want to be the best new version of myself I can be.  All I can ask of the world is help in becoming that.

To say, “Thank you,” to those who have stood by me- or, more like, propped me up completely- lately feels very trite, but it’s the best I’ve got right now.  So thank you, to my family, to my friends, to the hyperbaric technicians who don’t pressurize the chamber too fast because my ears are sensitive, to customers in stores who don’t get freaked out when I stare at blankly at them for long periods of time while trying to remember what I needed from that aisle, and of course to Ace (who also counts in the family section), for continuously insisting that no matter what, we are going to get well.  And thank you to the forces that be that I am still alive and here to embark on yet another healing journey.

Fog, Wall, Monday

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Mondays descend on me leaden heavy. The time returns to keep track of myself, or at least
try to.

The weekends are the reprieve, there is company constantly.
I know I am difficult, regardless of how I try to not be: difficult to communicate with:
Not understanding, not understood.
In the moments when I manage to be fully present, I wonder what it is like
to have chosen someone so different
From the one you chose.

I am trying so hard to heal.
I am trying to not fight my body, I am trying to not wage war with
this unending pain, this deafening confusion.
I am trying to believe, and to feel, that I will be fine.
I am trying to be grateful that I am alive, that at least most of our family survived this.
I keep thanking my elbows, the only joints that do not feel like they are being pulled away from me
by some unknown evil force.
I keep begging every other joint to take heed.
I keep begging my head to just stop aching.
I am trying to find the lesson, the message.
I am trying so hard to heal.

There is no question that I believe in positivity.
There is no question that I have healed before, and damn well at that.
I don’t know why this is so much harder;
I just know that most of the time now,
I do not know much of what I knew before.
I exist in a hazy tunnel with walls made of fog,
and every time I awake from a daydream
I cannot recall a single thought of it.

Mondays descend on me leaden heavy.
I am off to be encapsulated in oxygen.
I am off to try again.

This Month’s Paper Magazine: Featuring Me & Rawk-n-Roll Cuisine =)

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In this month’s issue of Paper Magazine, which is its food issue, my brand of kale chips and I are featured in the “Culinary Cool Kids” section.  Below are the tear sheets!  The article is also available to read online here.

Group shot

Full page with other local food fellows

Profile of me and RnR

Close up from the group shot, just because I love it

It is such an honor to be included in this magazine’s food issue!  To have my brand receive national press is an amazing feeling, and validates my years of work building the company.  I am confident that with the partnership I’ve obtained, the dream of being a national mainstream brand is an achievable one.  Many thanks to Paper Magazine for considering me a “Raw Renegade!”

Black Forest Bliss Smoothie

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Maybe it’s the anticipation that the all-too-brief cherry season is about to hit, but I’ve been on a major kick with dried and frozen cherries lately.  I am loving the “black forest” flavor of cherries and chocolate, as evidenced by my last blog for cookie dough balls.  While I always try to incorporate as many detoxing and antioxidant rich foods into my diet, that’s especially important now, as I’ve recently embarked on a healing journey from chronic carbon monoxide poisoning.  I’m doing hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and it forces toxins out of your cells as it forces oxygen into them.  Unfortunately, even though I have my Chronic Lyme Disease in remission, it still inhibits my body’s ability to detox, so toxins being pushed into my system = me feeling even worse.  Therefore I am embracing antioxidant and detoxifying foods with extra vigor… but of course I still want them to taste good.  With this smoothie, I’ve combined red kale with organic frozen cherries, protein, and cacao powder into a shake that tastes more “dessert” than “detox.”

Note that while I’m big on drinking smoothies, I am less big on making them, and I like to use a lot of ingredients, so I generally make enough for 2-3 servings at least.  This recipe yields 36 oz, enough for two meals and one snack.

Black Forest Bliss Smoothie:
1 cup milk of your choice
1/2 head red kale
6 oz frozen cherries (a little over 1/2 a 10 oz package)
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1/3 of a medium banana (enough to add texture and flavor, not enough to make the smoothie a sugar factory)
3 scoops chocolate protein powder
3 tbls cacao powder
1 tbls coconut oil
1-2 droppers chocolate-raspberry stevia
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

In the VitaMix, prior to blending

Finished product!

The REAL PowerBall: Raw Vegan Sugar-Free Soy-Free Grain-Free Gluten-Free High-Protein Chocolate Cherry Cookie Dough Truffles

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I may feel like hell, I may have yet to find out if the brain damage from being chemically poisoned for the last six months plus is permanent or fully recoverable, and I may have an MRI in the morning so a neurologist can view said prospective brain damage that is scaring the hell out of my little claustrophobic self, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still be as much of a trooper as possible and play in the kitchen experimenting with new desserts!

The two raw cookie dough ball recipes (chocolate chip and oatmeal) I’ve made were good enough to warrant a new version, this time with the leftover dried tart cherries I had from the fruit and nut bars I made last week.  I wanted the cherry flavor again, but I also wanted chocolate.  Additionally, I wanted to stick to just nuts rather than nut flours and butters.  The end result is sort of a LaraBar gone wild… it’s a bit denser than the previous cookie dough balls, but still indulgent and light enough to feel like a cookie.  As I was rolling them I realized these could also be considered truffles, because they take well to toppings like hemp seeds and cacao powder.  I’ve kept with my usual sugar-free theme, but since these contain dried fruit they aren’t particularly candida friendly.  They do have a solid amount of fiber to counteract the sugars in the fruit by way of flax, though.  As always, feel free to simplify as needed or change out any ingredients you don’t care for.

Chocolate Cherry PowerBalls:

2/3 cup dried tart cherries
3 large dates
Soak fruit in warm water for 5-10 minutes, then process in mini-Cuisinart until fairly smooth.

2/3 cup nuts- I used 1/2 almonds and 1/2 walnuts
Process in same mini-processor (no need to wash in between, and you could do them together if desired) until crumbly.

Add:
1/4 cup chocolate protein powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 tbls raw cacao powder
3 tbls ground golden flax
2 tbls cacao nibs
1 full dropper chocolate-raspberry flavored stevia
1 tsp vanilla

Mix until combined thoroughly, then either gather into a ball or place on saran wrap and roll into a log. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes then roll into 3/4 inch balls. If you refrigerated these as a log, they can be sliced into small cookies to save the time of rolling by hand. Delicious, protein-packed, fiber filled, and a healthy chocolate cherry treat either way!

They may not look too different from your average raw treat, but the cherry chocolate combo is heavenly. =)

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