Raw Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Bookmark and Share

I created some yummy raw cinnamon raisin “bread” in the dehydrator this week, and wanted to share it with you.  It’s amazing with a little Justin’s maple almond butter on it, or just by itself.

In food processor, combine:

  • 2/3 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

process until they’re crumbly.

Soak 1/3 cup raisins in about 1/2 cup water until they’re soft.

In blender, combine:

  • the raisins with their soak water
  • 2 medium apples
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • pinch nutmeg

Add the blended mixture to the food processor with the nut/seed mixture and pulse to combine.

Optional:  chop a handful of dried mulberries.  Soak until softened, drain, and add to the dough.  I did this because I had the mulberries on hand, but you could leave them out no problem.

Spread the mixture on a Teflex dehydrator sheet.  It should cover one sheet, about 1/4 inch thick.

Dry at 140 for an hour or two.  Flip it over onto another dehydrator tray (with just the mesh – no Teflex sheet) and peel off the Teflex sheet.  Score the bread into rectangles and put it back in the dehydrator at 110 for about 5 or 6 hours.

I took them out when they were still a bit soft.  You could leave them in longer to get a texture more like crackers.  Store in the freezer for a great instant snack.

Coffee Smoothie

Bookmark and Share

This is seriously good stuff.  It’s easy to make and tastes amazing.  If you don’t have a high-speed blender, don’t freeze the banana first.  Just use it fresh and add some extra ice.

  • 1 chopped, frozen banana
  • 2 tsp coffee extract
  • 4 drops chocolate extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • 1 cup almond milk + 1/4 cup of coconut milk (beverage version, not the canned coconut milk)
  • 2 ice cubes

Blend it all up and enjoy!

 

Fajita Salad

Bookmark and Share

I came across this raw fajita recipe a few days ago, and knew I had to try it.  I used regular mushrooms instead of portobellos, since that’s what I had on hand.  And I reduced the chili powder to 1.5 Tbsp because I’ve found that the chili flavor intensifies in the dehydrator and I wanted to err on the side of not-too-spicy.  Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly for the “cheese” sauce and the marinated/dehydrated veggies.

Although we eat a lot of vegan foods, we’re not actually vegan, so I decided to use organic whole milk Bulgarian yogurt to make my own sour cream.  I put the yogurt in a sieve for an hour or so, letting as much liquid as possible drain out of it.  Then I mixed the thicker yogurt with a little lemon juice – viola!  Sour cream!

Instead of making these into individual romaine fajita wraps, I just tore up a bunch of romaine and then added the veggies, “cheese” sauce and sour cream on top, to make a fajita salad:

It was delicious!  We all agree that it should be a regular meal around here.  There are a ton of veggies on the plate, but the marinating and dehydrating shrinks them down quite a bit – that means you’re getting more veggies in every bite, which is always a good thing, right?!

This is a very easy recipe, and it doesn’t actually require that much prep work.  You do have to start early – the veggies need to marinate for several hours and then I dehydrated them for 2.5 hours before dinner (although you don’t have to dehydrate them – give this recipe a try even if you don’t have a dehydrator).  Other than that, the “cheese” sauce takes about two minutes to make, and the way I made the sour cream is very simple too.  As long as you think of this early enough in the day to give the veggies time to marinate and dehydrate, you can pull it together at dinner time in less than 30 minutes.

My First Granola

Bookmark and Share

 

Yesterday I made raw granola using soaked and dehydrated seeds and nuts.  It was my first experiment with the whole process of soaking and dehydrating nuts.  Now I think I’m going to be soaking and dehydrating all of our nuts.  I can’t believe what a difference it makes in their taste and texture (and from what I’ve read, it also makes it easier to digest them).  And it was so easy to do!

I’ve had an Excalibur dehydrator for a few years now, and I use it to make raw crackers and “sun dried” tomatoes from our garden.  I’ve also used it to dry fruit for recipes.  It’s a great machine, and I decided that I should be using it more often.  So on Friday, I started soaking some buckwheat for my granola.  I put a about two cups of buckwheat in a bowl and added several cups of water.  I let them soak overnight, and drained off the water in the morning.  If you’ve never soaked buckwheat before, don’t be alarmed by the slimy consistency of the soaking water!  I rinsed the buckwheat and added fresh water to let it keep soaking for several more hours.  In a separate bowl, I mixed almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds (probably 2 – 3 cups total, going heavier on the seeds than the nuts) and covered them with water.  I left both bowls to soak for about six hours (so the buckwheat got about 18 hours of soaking time, while the nuts and seeds got about six).

When I rinsed the buckwheat the second time, the water was still slimy, but much less than it had been the first time.  I thoroughly rinsed the buckwheat and the nuts and seeds, and let them drain in a colander for a few minutes.  Then I spread them on my dehydrator trays in thin layers.  I didn’t use the Teflex sheets that come with the dehydrator, because everything was big enough to sit on top of the screens and I figured it would dry faster that way.  But I forgot about the fact that the buckwheat would shrink as it dried, and some of it ended up falling through the screens.  So I recommend using the Teflex sheets to dry buckwheat.

Anyway, I dried everything for about 5 hours on 115 degrees.  It all had a wonderful, light and crunchy texture and I quickly became a fan of soaking and dehydrating nuts.  My next step was to mix the buckwheat together with the nuts and seeds in a big bowl, and then I added in dried mulberries, chia seeds, and cacao nibs.  (Shredded coconut would have been a great mix-in at that point, but I didn’t think of it until this morning.)

In a small bowl, I mixed together about 3 Tbsp sunflower seed butter, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, and 2 Tbsp coconut oil.  Then I added the wet mixture to the bowl of dried ingredients, and mixed it well for a few minutes to make sure there weren’t any clumps of wet ingredients left.

I tasted my concoction to make sure it was on the right track, and almost grabbed a spoon to eat a bowl full right then and there…

Next, I spread the granola back on the dehydrator trays (with Teflex sheets this time) and put it back in to dry for about two more hours.

It’s amazing stuff.  It’s easy to make and comes together very quickly – except for the time you spend waiting for the dehydrator to work its magic, but that’s always the case with dehydrator recipes.  Don’t worry about following the recipe exactly.  Use whatever nuts and seeds you like and have on hand.  Try to keep the dried fruit to a minimum, since it adds a lot of sugar to a granola recipe.  Here’s a rough estimate of the recipe I used:

For the granola:

  • 2 cups buckwheat, soaked at least 18 hours (change the soak water at least once)
  • 1/2 cup almonds, soaked 6 hours
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, soaked 6 hours
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds, soaked 6 hours
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 6 hours
  • 1/2 cup dried mulberries
  • 1/3 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried coconut (I’m adding this now that I’ve thought of it – it will be easy to mix in to the finished granola)

Mix everything together.

Then combine these ingredients in a small bowl:

  • 3 Tbsp sunflower seed butter (amazing stuff!)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup

Mix the wet ingredients with the dry and stir until well combined.  Spread it out in thin layers on your Teflex-lined dehydrator trays in thin layers.  Dry at 115 degrees for a couple hours or until it’s as crunchy as you like it.  Store in an airtight container, and enjoy!

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can probably use your oven with the door cracked a bit and the temperature at a low setting – maybe 250 degrees.  Check on it frequently and stir it around to make sure it’s just drying out and not burning.

 

 

 

Soap Nuts!

Bookmark and Share

Let’s talk about laundry.  If you’re like us, you’re not big on the idea of all the synthetic chemicals in most laundry detergents that you find at the grocery store.  In 2009, we switched to using soap nuts for our laundry and we’ve never looked back.  We’ve purchased a total of two bags of soap nuts (1 kg each, somewhere in the $30 – $35 range for each bag) in 2.5 years, and the second bag isn’t empty yet.  We wash all of our laundry – including cloth diapers – with soap nuts, and have been thrilled with the results.

I love that our laundry has no scent at all when it comes in from the clothesline.  I know that the “fresh” scent from most detergents and fabric softeners is a chemical soup of suspect ingredients, and I prefer that our clothes, sheets and diapers be perfume-free.

And just as importantly, I like the laundry to be clean!  Soap nut are amazing.  I make my laundry liquid by boiling about ten whole soap nut in six cups of water.  You have yo keep a close eye on it as it comes to a boil, because it will go from not boiling to bubbling all over the stovetop in about ten seconds.  Anyway, once it boils, I turn it to low and let it simmer for half an hour.  Later on, once it’s cool, I pour it through a strainer into old almond butter jars and put them in my laundry room.  I compost the soap nuts that I strain out.

The liquid soap I make usually lasts a few weeks – I use 1/4 cup per load and do five  or six loads per week, including diapers.  When I wash diapers, I add some hydrogen peroxide or powdered (scent and dye free) oxygen bleach.  Between that and the sunshine that the diapers get out on the line, they always end up stain-free.

If you haven’t tried soap nuts yet, there’s no time like the present!

Warm Quinoa, Tempeh And Black Bean Salad

Bookmark and Share

I had to share tonight’s dinner, because it was awesome!  My inspiration came from Angela’s red quinoa and black bean salad, but I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand and wanted to adapt it to work with what I had.  It turned out great, so I’m glad I kept track of what I put in!

I cooked a huge batch of black beans in our sun oven a few days ago, so I had lots in the fridge ready to go.  I also happened to have red quinoa in the pantry, although we normally use regular white (beige?) quinoa and I’ll probably do that from now on, given that it’s quite a bit less expensive and easier to find in grocery stores.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped red and green bell peppers
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 package of tempeh (8oz, unflavored – or you could use lemon pepper marinated tempeh)
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1/2 bunch (or more!) of cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garlic salt to taste

First, I rinsed one cup of quinoa and cooked it with 1.75 cups water.  While that was cooking, I mixed up the rest of the salad.  The whole thing came together in about 20 minutes.

I have lots of frozen chopped bell peppers in the freezer from our garden harvest, so I sauteed about a cup of frozen red and green bell peppers together with the red onion.  You could use fresh peppers if you have them.

Chop the tempeh into bite-size pieces and add it to the pepper and onion mixture.  Then add the 3 Tbsp lemon juice and the garlic, and let it all sautee for a while.  Enjoy the delicious smell!

Meanwhile, use a large mixing bowl to combine the tomatoes, cumin, olive oil, the 1/4 lemon juice, and the black beans.  Once the quinoa is cooked, add that to the bowl along with the onion/pepper/tempeh mixture.

Finally, add the chopped cilantro, garlic salt, salt and pepper.  You can also easily add more lemon juice, cilantro and/or olive oil at this point if you feel like it need it.

Enjoy!

A Salad That A Three Year Old Can’t Get Enough Of

Bookmark and Share

Today we had a huge winner in the food department.  I made this awesome salad with chocolate dressing (seriously!) and it was amazing.  Jay and our son are both used to eating a lot of salads, since that’s one of my favorite foods.  But today they practically inhaled their salads and our son asked me to make it every day as he gobbled down the last leaf of lettuce on his plate.  Usually we have to coax him to eat the greens in his salad, but not when they have a touch of chocolate dressing on them!

I tweaked the recipe for the dressing just a bit.  Instead of 1/4 cup agave, I used 2 Tbsp maple syrup.  Then I also used one packet of powdered stevia, and it was perfect.  We prefer our chocolate quite dark and not too sweet, and we all thought that the dressing was just perfect.  I didn’t have any almond butter on hand, so I used sunflower seed butter (a favorite around here) instead.  The dressing was good enough that I might have licked the pour spout on the blender.

I used green leaf lettuce (lots of it!) and then sliced bananas and apples on top.  Then I toasted about 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts in a dry pan on the stovetop until they were a bit crispy and smelled wonderful.  We tossed the walnuts, lettuce, apples and bananas, and then poured the chocolate dressing over all of it.  And it was definitely a crowd pleaser.

Tomorrow we’re going to try these cookies, and our son is quite excited about them.  He chopped up two bananas all by himself this evening, and spread the slices on our dehydrator tray to dry overnight.  He was quite pleased with himself, and can’t wait until tomorrow when they’re dried and ready to make into cookies.

Happy New Year to everyone!  Here’s to an awesome, healthy, fabulous 2012!

Local Greens For Our Winter Smoothies

Bookmark and Share

We love green smoothies.  We’ve been drinking them every day for four years, and have rarely missed a day.  When we’re away from home and don’t have our trusty VitaMix on hand, we take a jar full of powdered greens and spirulina and mix it into water to create a mini green drink.  But nearly every day for the past four years we’ve had a green smoothie that’s jam-packed with leafy greens.

During the spring, summer and fall, we grow our own greens.  We have a cold frame on one of our garden beds and that allows us to extend the season at least a month on either end for growing greens.  We’re able to keep a bed of greens going until at least the beginning of November, and we’re able to get seedlings out in the coldframe in March or early April.  And throughout the summer we have all sorts of greens growing in our backyard.  We’ve done this for years – even back when we lived in the city with a tiny backyard that was only about 8 feet wide, we grew a two foot by four foot patch of Swiss chard every year.  With the big backyard that we have now, we’re able to grow all sorts of greens:  turnips, beets, parsley, chard, mustard, bok choy, a few kinds of lettuce and a few kinds of kale.

But what about the four or five months out of the year when we can’t grow anything because it’s just too cold, even with the coldframe?  In the past, I would just buy fresh greens from our local health food store where I buy the rest of our groceries.  But there are two problems with that.  First, they’re expensive.  I only buy organic produce, and a bundle of kale or chard was costing between $2.50 and $3 most of the time.  Since I need at least seven bunches a week, that was adding up.  And also there’s the whole “eat locally grown food” issue.  Nothing really grows around here in January.  All of the greens in our local store have been shipped from warmer climes several hundred miles south of here.  I have no way to know when they were picked or how fresh they really are.

So this past summer I decided to try freezing the excess greens from our garden during the summer.  We have a ton of greens growing all summer long, and it really wasn’t that much extra work to go out and fill my huge steel mixing bowl with greens every few days.  I mostly preserved turnip greens and chard, simply because we had so much of them.  You have to blanch them greens first before you freeze them, and I blanched a lot of greens last summer.

It’s a very easy process to blanch greens for freezing:  Wash the greens well and roughly chop them so they’re a bit easier to manage.  Then fill a large bowl with ice and water and have it on hand.  Fill a large pot about 1/2 full of water and bring it to a boil.  Once it’s boiling, dump a few handfuls of chopped greens into the water and put the cover on.  Set a timer for two minutes as soon as you get the greens in the boiling water.  Once the two minutes is up, use a slotted spoon to scoop the greens out and dump them straight into the ice water to stop the cooking process.  I use a colander in the ice water bowl so that my greens can be chilled and then easily removed from the ice bath without having to fish around the chunks of ice to get the greens out.  After about two minutes in the ice bath, the greens will be thoroughly chilled and I take them out and let them drain.  Once you blanch a few batches of greens it becomes second nature and you can have a second batch boiling while the first batch is cooling in the ice bath.

Once the excess water drains out of the blanched greens, they’re ready for the freezer.  I store mine in zippered plastic bags and use a straw to suck out the excess air before putting them in the freezer.  I ended up with roughly 70 bags of greens in the freezer by the end of the gardening season this year, and we should have enough to make green smoothies until sometime in February before I have to start buying greens again.

Our frozen greens are as local as it gets, and although I had to put a bit of time and effort into freezing them, they’re a whole lot less expensive than it would have been if I had to buy fresh (or frozen) greens from the store all winter long.

Our Christmas Morning Breakfast – Easy, Nutritious, And Delicious!

Bookmark and Share

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  Just wanted to share the recipe for our Christmas morning breakfast, which I made the night before so that we would have a nutritious breakfast waiting for us without having to bother with cooking on Christmas morning.  The whole thing came together with about five minutes of prep time, but it’s the magic of letting everything sit overnight in the fridge that makes it so tasty.

We had leftover quinoa in the fridge, so I used that.  But cooking quinoa to add to this recipe is a snap:  rinse the quinoa and then put one cup of quinoa and two cups of water in a pan and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low and let it cook until all the water is absorbed (15 – 20 minutes).  You can use plain water if you want to be able to use the quinoa for a variety of recipes, or spice it up however you like:  cook the quinoa in broth for savory dishes or maybe in some almond milk with cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup… that sounds like a delicious breakfast all by itself!

Anyway, my Christmas morning breakfast was a mixture of cooked quinoa, raw rolled oats, and chia seeds.  I used about a cup of quinoa, about a cup of dry oats, and about half a cup of chia seeds.  Then I added a cup of almond milk, half a cup of coconut eggnog (an awesome seasonal creation from the So Delicious coconut milk people – yum!), and enough water to cover everything in the bowl.  I stirred it all together and let it sit for a few minutes.  Once the chia seeds and oats started to soak up some of the liquid, I added some more almond milk – maybe another cup?  I stirred it again and put it in the fridge with a cover over it.  In the morning we ate our awesome oats with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a handful of chopped pecans on top.  And all we had to do was scoop it out of the bowl and sprinkle on the toppings.

Chia puddings and overnight chia/oatmeal combinations are an excellent way to have a nutritious breakfast that takes no time at all on busy mornings.  And really, they take almost no time at all the night before – just throw everything in a bowl, stir, and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  The magic happens while you sleep!

 

Our Favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Pudding

Bookmark and Share

This time of year, there are pie pumpkins in every grocery store.  We grew six of them in our garden this past summer, but they’re long since eaten and we’ve been buying one a week now for several weeks.  I think I’m going to buy several next week so that I can cook them and get them in the freezer.  Can’t wait too much longer -fresh pumpkins will disappear soon from the produce section.

I’ve experimented a lot lately with ways to use pie pumpkins, and this pudding recipe is a winner.  We eat it plain, on buckwheat-quinoa pancakes, and with a little extra almond milk blended in to make it a smoothie.  It comes together in just a few minutes in a high speed blender.  I use a VitaMix (definitely the most-used appliance in our kitchen), but you could probably make it work with any decent blender.  If you’re not using a high-speed blender, you’ll want to chop the pumpkin up into pretty small chunks before you freeze it (and maybe let it thaw a bit on the counter before blending it).  Or else you could just chill the pumpkin in the fridge instead of freezing it, in order to make the blending less of a chore.

You’ll need a pie pumpkin for this recipe.  Pierce it once or twice with a fork and stick it in the oven at about 375 degrees.  Let it cook until you can easily slide a fork into the flesh.  Cooking time will vary depending on your oven and the size of the pumpkin.  Most of the pumpkins I cook take between 30 and 40 minutes.  Once the pumpkin cools, peel it (the peel will be easy to remove once it’s cooked) and chop it into pieces.  Save the seeds to roast or eat however you like, and put the chopped pumpkin pieces in the freezer.

Pumpkin Chocolate Pudding (serves three in our family)

  • 2 cups frozen pie pumpkin
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa
  • 4 packs of powered stevia (or the liquid equivalent if you prefer that)
  • 4 small dates
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
  • 3/4 cup ice
  • 1 cup almond milk or coconut milk (the beverage variety) or any nut/seed milk of your choice
  • water as needed

Blend all the ingredients.  Add water as needed, but just a little at a time, since you don’t want it to get too runny.  Or maybe you do, then you can just drink it…

I use the tamping wand to keep pushing the ingredients down onto the blades in my VitaMix, and it works perfectly to create a thick pudding texture.  If we want a smoothie instead, I add water or almond milk to get it to the right consistency, and then for the last few seconds I’ll add a handful of nuts and/or chocolate chips to give it a bit of texture.

This is currently our favorite pumpkin recipe.  I hope you like it too!

four of the pie pumpkins we grew this year.