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Magical Mulberry Squares (raw, vegan, gluten-free, low-glycemic, soy-free, grain-free, paleo friendly)

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Lately I’ve been wanting to make a fruity raw dessert that was neither chocolate nor overly nutty, but I’ve been uninspired by winter fruits.  Persimmons in fall are pretty much my last love until stone fruits return in spring– my winters are spent begrudgingly munching on Fuji apples that provide no groundbreaking dessert ideas.  So, I took the dried fruit route today and hit my cupboards up for inspiration, and thankfully, my cupboards (and freezer) did me right.  Here is a chewy, sweet, tangy and decadent treat that is packed with superfoods and contains very little added sweeteners.

Magical Mulberry Squares

Base:
1 cup dried mulberries, ground in food processor or blender
1/2 cup whole dried mulberries
1/2 cup cashews, ground as above
1/4 cup dried raisins and/or cherries, ground as above
1/2 cup lucuma powder
3 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tbls coconut nectar or honey
1 tsp camu camu powder
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

Grind fruits and cashews, then mix together with all other ingredients. Mixture will be malleable and slightly sticky. Press into a 8″ baking pan and refrigerate.

Topping:
3 tbls almond butter
3 tbls coconut oil, melted
2 tbls coconut nectar or honey
1 tbls lecithin powder
1 tsp Longevity Power “Maca Bliss”*
1/4 tsp Himalayan salt

Mix all ingredients together and pour over base layer. Once firm, dust with lucuma powder and cut into squares of any desired size.
*Maca bliss is a unique maca product; it is extracted at low heat, has had the starch and fiber removed, and unlike regular maca, has no overly malty flavor. It is available online here.

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My SuperSauce of the Moment

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When it comes to dressings and sauces, I typically maintain a close and strong relationship with mustard.  Any savory food + mustard = better tasting food, I feel, and I usually construct my salad dressings and dipping sauces around it.  However, just because I have monomaniacal tendencies doesn’t mean I’m a total bore, and lately I’ve been very into tamarind.  In the past I’ve bought whole dried beans and soaked them, but I’m often unsatisfied with the flavor and texture of that, so I tend to get jars of tamarind paste instead (which has no other ingredients, just the fruit).

Tamarind, in all its goodness, doesn’t particularly get along with mustard, so my sauce experiments of late have had different bases.  Through the trial and error of fridge and cupboard random ingredient exploration, I have come up with a salad dressing/dipping sauce/stir fry sauce, aka SuperSauce, that is rich, creamy, sour, sweet, salty and spicy.  The only thing we’re missing here is bitter, and I pretty much hate bitter, so this to me is a perfect combo of flavors that I have been using in everything from salad to spring rolls. It also works for basting veggies or proteins with before baking, or as a sauce for noodles (kelp, brown rice, soba, or if you’re totally retro, flour) or other grains, and can be thinned with water if desired.

Tamarind SuperSauce: (makes enough for 6-8 servings)
1/2 cup almond butter
3 tbls coconut nectar or honey
3 tbls tamari or nama shoyu
1 1/2 tbls tamarind paste
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
5-8 drops liquid stevia

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Ratios can be changed depending on your preference, though too much more tamarind will make it unpalatably sour.  (As is, the tamarind flavor is quite prominent.)  For a more typical Asian-sauce flavor, you could substitute almond butter with peanut butter.

Tamarind SuperSauce dressing a winter salad of dino kale, shaved carrots, apples, and radishes.

 

Cantaloupe Pudding in Any Season (raw, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free)

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This weekend we went to visit my parents, and my mother gave us an enormous and wonderful array of fruit she’d dried to take home. We’ve got gallon size bags of raisins, bananas, cantaloupe, and pineapple, all of which are dried to just chewy, not firm/shelf-stable and will stay fresh indefinitely in the fridge.

I’m known to be a little bit kooky when it comes to finishing things; I’ll often ask Ace to slow down on eating something special so that we don’t run out too fast, and it’s been on more than one occasion that  perishables have gone bad because I didn’t want them to be gone and so, didn’t finish them.  It is in this frame of mind that I told Ace after we last were gifted dried cantaloupe to not go through it so quickly, only these days I am a wee bit forgetful… so I didn’t realize there was still a bag of dried cantaloupe left in until we brought home everything from our trip last night and I reorganized the fridge’s dried fruit area.  Having no idea what to do with it, since now we have a lot more and there is only so much dried cantaloupe that people can eat, I decided this afternoon to reconstitute it and make it into a pudding.  Thankfully, my experiment turned out quite nicely! You could follow this same process for any other mild-flavored dried fruit that you have an excess of.

Dried Cantaloupe Pudding:
3 cups sliced dried cantaloupe
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup soaking water
12 frozen raspberries
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbls lecithin powder
zest of 1/4 lemon
3/4 tsp lemon extract
a few drops of stevia, if needed

Soak dried melon in warm water for about half an hour until soft, then drain (reserve 1/4 cup soaking water). Add all ingredients into a high-powered blender, and blend until creamy and smooth. The raspberries were purely for color, as without them the pudding is rather beige; they help it obtain a more yellow tone. You could also add turmeric, which I didn’t because I have a new VitaMix pitcher and don’t want to discolor it.

Chessie was sitting in the fruit bowl while the melon soaked, and found it quite intriguing.

Blog-Worthy Beans (gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan)

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These beans were totally worth blogging about.

I’ve been out of the blog-habit lately; I hadn’t made any new and interesting food, my CO recovery hasn’t made any new leaps or bounds, and I’ve been outside enjoying the summer as much as I can.  My only news, really, is that I started swimming again after a many year hiatus, and within about three weeks, am just about up to a mile!  Monday I swam 1400 meters, and tomorrow I’m going for the full 1600.

I’ve also been still sticking to the Wahls’ Diet, which is why I haven’t made anything too terribly thrilling– I never thought I could get tired of vegetables, but my goodness, I am pretty damn veggied out!  That said, tonight I made some haricot verts that are AWESOME TASTING.  They are gluten-free, sugar-free, and vegan, but not soy-free because I used Bragg’s liquid aminos.  You could switch out coconut aminos, which I have but didn’t use because I didn’t want to impart any sweet flavor.  The soy isn’t Wahls’ compliant, but with a daily consumption of nine cups of produce, you kinda have to let a condiment slide by here and there.   There are definitely more condiments in this dish than I’ve been using on my veggies lately, but these also taste better than any veggies I’ve made in weeks, so there is something to be said for that.

Fan-freaking-tastic Easy Stir Fried Green (or Purple) Beans
1 lb haricot verts or regular size beans; I had purple ones on hand from the market
4 cloves garlic
1/2-1 chopped jalapeno
1-2 tbls Braggs
2-3 tbls So Delicious plain coconut kefir
1 1/2 tbls chile powder; I used Frontier Herbs, which I think is the absolute tastiest
1/2-1 tbls oil (grapeseed, olive, etc.) Feel free to omit if you’re low-fat, and saute in water instead.

Take stems off beans. If using full-sized green beans, feel free to cut into manageable pieces. Heat a pan on medium high heat, and add oil, garlic and jalapeno. Saute for a minute or so, then add green/purple beans and chile powder. Stir frequently for about five minutes, then deglaze pan with Braggs. Cook another five minutes or less, until beans are tender-crisp. Remove from heat and stir in coconut kefir. Note that purple beans, which are a little sweeter and gorgeous when raw, will turn plain old greenish brown when cooked.

There’s no need for salt or pepper, seeing as Braggs is salty and jalapenos are spicy. The coconut kefir adds a richness to balance out the strong flavors of those, while also adding a unique tang.

Ridiculously Delicious Sweet Potatoes (Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan)

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Dessert has a different meaning in my world currently than it used to… though I ate a lot of raw and vegan desserts anyway, on the Wahls’ Diet (which I’ve been doing to heal from CO poisoning) there aren’t too many dessert-friendly ingredients allowed.  I’m still square with avocado pudding, thank heavens, and have eaten that pretty damn regularly, as evidenced by previous blogs.  However, before I also baked somewhat regularly, and even when I made gluten-free stuff there was usually some sort of grain SOMETHING involved.  When I decided to do the diet I did so fully (I went free of everything suggested), meaning that for now, with the exception of one small serving of a cheat food every 1-2 weeks, I am pretty much all Wahls-compliant food all the time.

And that means that in order to switch things up with the avocados, I’ve been rethinking sweet potatoes.  Though not normally allowed on a Paleo-based diet, Wahls allows both beets and sweet potatoes in the “brightly colored” category because of their high nutrient content.  Rather than a side dish, I’ve been treating them as dessert, and they work very well as one.  Inspired first by Erewhon’s deli-counter sweet potato puree with coconut milk and vanilla, then by a blog about using sweet potatoes as a basis for a peanut butter pie, I’ve come up with a pretty freaking tasty version of sweet potatoes.  There’s no butter, no sugar, no soy, and no need for any of it.  It’s rich, it’s decadent, and it will satisfy your dessert tooth, I promise.  Amounts given are basic guidelines so that you can make as small or large a batch as desired.

 

Ridiculously Delicious Everything-Free Sweet Potatoes:

Garnet sweet potatoes, aka yams, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices then rough chopped into 3/4 inch squares and triangles. I do enough to fill a 9×13 baking dish, which is about half a dozen medium ones.
Put chopped sweet potatoes into a dish, and preheat oven to 375.

Add:
enough unsweetened coconut milk to go 1 inch up the pan– not so much that it will boil over.

Sprinkle liberally with:
Himalayan salt
cinnamon
ginger
a touch of cloves
vanilla

Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, and adding more milk as needed– don’t let them dry out. They should take about an hour to bake.

Stir every few minutes as they cool, adding 1/2 cup coconut milk at a time until they stop absorbing it. I use at least 2 additional cups over what I used when they cooked.

Once cooled, throw the whole lot into a blender.

Add:
1-2 droppers each toffee and hazelnut stevia
1/3 cup (or more) almond butter
more salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and/or ginger to taste

Blend until mostly smooth, with some chunks remaining if you prefer (I do). Eat as is, or layer with additional almond butter, avo pudding, or anything else. The coconut milk is rich enough that you won’t even notice the lack of butter, but if you are used to super decadent sweet potatoes you could add some coconut oil, or more almond butter. The stevia alone makes them more than sweet enough, since they are very sweet to begin with.

Red Velvet, Minus the Bug Juice

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I must admit that I’ve never eaten a slice of  commercial red velvet cake.  I was brought up to be wary of unnaturally colored things, so I have had a bite once or twice of others cakes, just to see what all the hoopla was about, but it was nowhere good enough to eat a big heaping serving of artificial dye.  I did make a red velvet cake for a friend’s birthday a few years ago, and tried to do so first with natural dye.  The result was a muddy mess, and I resorted to the “real” stuff, since red velvet, not mud velvet, was the type of cake she’d chosen when asked.  I was aghast at the fact that one cake takes AN ENTIRE CONTAINER of red dye, which most people know is made from carmine, a type of bug.  Sure, Americans eat all kinds of kooky things, like bread with “dough conditioners,” which are made of human hair, but I tend to avoid all that because I’m a complete snot when it comes to food.

Anyway, last night I decided to make pudding, and I wanted to make something a little different than the standard chocolate-avo ones I’ve been making for ages.  I wanted it to be avocado based, but a bit lighter than just all avocado, and a little chocolaty, but not overly so.  I decided to cook up some beets, which technically makes this a not-all-the-way-raw pudding, and did my usual “let’s throw stuff in the blender and see what happens!!” routine.  The result was a delectable concoction that I’ve decided to call red velvet pudding, because of its color and mild cacao flavor.  It doesn’t seem terribly different in ingredients than the other avo-based puddings I’ve posted the recipes for, but the quantity of beets makes for a substantial difference in both color and flavor.

Raw(ish) Vegan Red Velvet Pudding:
2 medium avocados
1/2 cup honey or coconut nectar or agave OR 1/2 cup water plus 1 dropper flavored stevia
1 cup baked beets with 1 cup beet water, 1/2 cup reserved
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup dried cherries, reconstituted
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup lucuma powder
2 tbls cacao powder
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 dropper chocolate-raspberry stevia

Add all ingredients EXCEPT 1/2 cup of beet water to blender. Blend until creamy, adding reserved beet water as necessary for texture. Fruit can be changed up with any other red fruit. Chill in refrigerator until cold.

To serve: this is hearty and thick enough for usage as a frosting, but light enough to parfait with fruit and granola. I just put it in a little cup and added a dollop of almond butter and a smattering of cacao nibs.

Killer Shrooms, Man

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Since I mostly post sweet recipes, I wanted to share a very simple and versatile side dish I made this week: raw marinated mushrooms.  I’m a big fan of dishes that improve, rather than get yucky, as the week goes on, and these ‘shrooms do exactly that.  They continue to intensify in flavor, and get a bit softer but never get past a standard “cooked” texture. They’re quick and easy to make; the bulk of the work lies in chopping them, which if you wanted you could actually avoid.  Keeping them whole would yield less flavor throughout, but a firmer texture.  I happen to like the texture of cooked mushrooms, and really enjoyed how indistinguishable these were from their cooked counterparts.  This was definitely a just-throw-stuff-in-a-bowl-to-taste recipe more so than a specific-amounts one, and I honestly doubt you could make them in a way that tastes bad! They are so yummy, there isn’t even any need to add salt.

Easy Raw Marinated Mushrooms:
2 lbs button and/or cremini mushrooms, chopped into 1/4s or 1/8s depending on size
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 sprigs fresh thyme, picked
2 tbls dried dill
3 parts balsamic vinegar to each 1 part cold-pressed olive oil (use cider vinegar for a 100% raw dish)
lots of fresh cracked black pepper

Chop mushrooms and place in a big bowl. Add garlic and herbs, then pour vinegar about 1/4 cup at a time until you reach a point of saturation. Once the mushrooms won’t absorb any more vinegar, pour on a fraction as much olive oil. Doing it this way helps ensure the mushrooms absorbed vinegar, not oil, so all you need of oil is what you’ll be tasting, rather than them absorbing a bunch of extra oil.

These can be eaten as is, as a topping for a protein or grain, or added to a salad to act as both dressing and condiment. I made a snack of them on bell peppers with an oatmeal-based cheddar spread, which was a delicious mostly-raw lunch.

Health Note: I’m on week four of Dr. Terry Wahls’ “Minding Your Mitochondria” diet, and though it is far different than my standard way of eating, I’m noticing numerous physical benefits of it.  Part of the diet is to eat three cups daily of sulphur rich veggies.  Most vegetables that fall into that category are cruciferous, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.  While those are very good for you, they’re hard on your thyroid (and mine is already ruined), and you should eat them cooked.  This dish is a perfect way to get in your daily allotment of sulphur rich veggies while upping your raw foods intake.  Mushrooms are also full of C and B Vitamins, making them an excellent immune booster.

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