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Sesame-Kale Wafers

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The taste (or, rather, the memories) of a batch of similar chips stayed with me for so long that I had to create my own. Boy, was that a good idea! As the last batch of chips/crackers this year, I couldn't possibly imagine a greater new favorite. I had to label them wafers because they came out so thin and delicate and they have a "melt-in-your-mouth" feeling to them. Tart and spicy, green and nourishing, these crackers are light and yet, incredibly satisfying and addictive. Yes, they're hard to quit....hmm, ok that's a downside, but that's about it.

Sesame Seed Nutrition
As the main ingredients, these little seeds deserve some attention. Being so rich in bone-strengthening minerals, especially magnesium, phosphorous and calcium, is not all they have to offer. They're high in good quality protein and antioxidants as well. So tasty and so nutritious....you can't go wrong with them. Enjoy!

Incredible Kale Chips
(Ingredients for two sheets of chips)
1 cup sesame seeds
juice of 5 limes
1-2 cayenne peppers (or substitute powder)
1 large kale leaf
1/2 onion
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
your choice of sweetener to taste
water as needed

0. Soak the sesame seeds beforehand if you have the time. 4 hours will do.
1. Chop up the pepper(s), onion, and kale into somewhat smaller chunks and process all ingredients in a high-speed blender until creamy. Most likely, you will need to help the blender get started by adding a little bit of water and keep tamping the contents down.
2. Taste test and add salt or sweetener if needed.
3. Pour the mixture onto two teflex sheets and spread it out as thin as you can.
4. Score it for square shape or use a glass or a cookie-cutter to make round shapes or whatever else you might prefer.
5. Dehydrate your batch at 140˚F (~60˚C) for an hour then lower the temperature to 115˚F (~46˚C) and dehydrate for several hours longer, till you have crispy thin wafers.

You're in for a treat!

It's almost the end of this year. Is there anything you'd like to leave behind? Is there anything new you'd like to start with the beginning of the new year?

Biscotti In The Raw

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Having turned vegan at such a young age, there are many recipes I never made, cooked or baked the traditional way. While a vegan lifestyle is well-catered to by restaurants and health-food stores I have never seen and/or tried even vegan biscotti, not to mention raw and living vegan biscotti. For some reason though it popped into my head about two weeks ago when I started brainstorming and trying to figure out what to make during the holidays. And then...everything started late (yes, so late that I just started this morning, two days before Christmas, crazy!) because of long hours at work and our busy little life getting in the way of life. While I haven't seen the sun in our beautiful valley for days and the rain won't stop coming down I was courageous enough to attempt to take some photos of these fresh out of the "oven" and here are the results. A double batch of incredibly flavorful (much more so than I expected) biscotti and pictures that will not hurt the reader's eyes, I hope ('sigh'). It could be worse, right!??
I've made two flavors, the classic, Italian version, of course for one. And I planned on making something else for the other but changed my mind in favor of the Carob-Hazelnut variety. Go ahead and substitute cacao for the carob if you prefer a chocolatey version, I probably would too, normally, but I'm avoiding caffeine this week. Ok, too much unnecessary information...here are the recipes, preceded by a health-note:

Almonds, one of the well-known cancer-fighting miracles of nature, are the main ingredients I'm using. Remember to save your pulp every time you make nut mylk, that's where your cheap, eco-friendly, almond flour will come from. And what better way to use almond flour!?
Anise seeds, like most spices/tiny seeds, are very rich in minerals and most B-vitamins, and they're known to be a digestive aid.
And if you go with carob, as I've mentioned before, this caffein-free bean is very rich in calcium, practically fat-free, has no oxalic acid to interfere with absorption of nutrients, and is naturally sweet so you'll probably use less sweetener in your recipes when using carob.

Classic Biscotti The Raw Way
(Makes 8 slices)
6 cups almond flour
6 tbsp golden flax seeds
2 cups raisins (soak them in orange juice or water beforehand)
sweetener (honey/maple syrup/agave syrup) to taste
optional: ~1 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp anise seeds
zest of 1/2 to 1 orange
little salt
soaking liquid

Raw Carob-Hazelnut Biscotti
(Makes 8 slices)
6 cups almond flour
6 tbsp golden flax seeds
2 cups raisins (soak them in orange juice or water beforehand)
1/2 cup carob powder
sweetener (honey/maple syrup/agave syrup) to taste
optional: ~1 tsp coconut oil
few dashes of cinnamon
little salt
soaking liquid

1/2 cup hazelnuts 

1. Soak the raisins beforehand for a little while, half an hour will do. I used orange juice but you can use water just as well. Whatever you're using, save the soaking liquid to add to your batter if needed.
2. Grind the flax seeds and put all ingredients (except for the chopped hazelnut, if you're making that version) in the food processor and run it to get an evenly crumbly mixture. Pinch test it, if it sticks together between your fingers you don't need to add more liquids, otherwise add some but just a spoonful at a time because it's very easy to overdo it with these kind of batters.
3. Pour your mixture into a bowl and by kneading it a couple of times form it into a loaf. If this is not happening because your batter is too crumbly, again, add a little liquid.
4. Place your "loaf" onto a teflex sheet and shape it into a flattened, firm, log. Slice it carefully, on the diagonal, making about half inch or a little thicker (~1.5 cm) slices. 
5. Stand them up on a sheet and dehydrate them for an hour at 140˚F (~60˚C) and then lay them flat on a screen and dehydrate them for a few more hours at 115˚F (~46˚C). 

If you have kids, they'll keep asking you "When are they gonna be done?" so make sure to keep them busy with something else. When they are done, have some fresh, while still warm, with a cup of mylk and/or a fruit spread if desired. Once they're cooled off, consider wrapping some for a Christmas present for someone. There's nothing like a home-made present you put your love into! You might want to save a couple so your kids can put them out there on Christmas Eve for Santa too. You never know...one day he might be inspired to go raw and refuse all the cookies at other households ; )

Happy "Baking"!

Herbed Olive-Walnut Bread

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Not a typical raw food recipe but it still makes it to the scene. Bread is one of the hardest foods to cut out while transitioning to a raw, living lifestyle. This bread is nothing like the fluffy wheat bread you remember vaguely from back in the cooked and baked days. It's kind of a substitute for the already dipped-into-herbed-olive-oil-and-toasted bread. All in one loaf. Seeds, small amount of nuts, olives and herbs create a perfect harmony and it takes but a little "kneading" and shaping and slicing. That's it.

Herbed Olive-Walnut Bread
(Makes 1 small loaf: about 6 slices)
1 cup golden flax seeds
3/4 cup walnuts
6-8 sun-dried olives
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
oregano, rosemary
1.5 to 2 tbsp olive oil
5-6 tbsp water

1. Grind the flax seeds, chop the olives and the walnuts into small pieces, mince or press the garlic and chop up your herbs very finely.
2. Somehow my intuition was suggesting I should use the greatest method I learned from watching my grandmother making different kinds of pastry dough. Some of those buttery, crumbly mixes require this kind of mixing by hand and it works perfectly for this recipe: In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients but the water. Scoop up a handful at a time and rub your hands together coating all of the mixture evenly with the oil and herbs.
3. Add water little by little until your dough is starting to hold together when you try to shape it into a loaf. Start folding and kneading the dough by pressing down on it and folding it again...similar to when you're kneading bread dough. This is not an easy task because it will be losing crumbs and constantly wanting to fall apart but just be patient and if you accidentally added too much water you know you can always add some more flax seeds to the mix to save yourself.

4. Once you have your desired shape, place the loaf on a teflex sheet gently and, using your sharpest knife, carefully slice it on the diagonal about an inch or two centimeters thick each. I ended up with six slices and a small corner this way : )
5. Lay out the slices on the sheet and dehydrate for a few hours at 115˚F (~46˚C). You can turn them and even transfer them onto a screen after a little while.

Flax seeds and walnuts are both amazing brain-boosting food, full of Omega-3 fatty acids and very high in fiber of course. Given the high percentage of golden flax seeds, this bread is exceptionally rich in most minerals and very high vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B6. Soothing to the body, nourishing the brain, mineralizing the blood and bones....probably more than you'd expect from bread, isn't it?

Your herbed slices will be perfect with salads and light soups. This holiday break I will have to spend the time to make variations of it. It sure is nice to have around especially when expecting guests! Happy "baking"!

Carob Buckwheat gRAWnola

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cooler weather calls for warming foods. Does that mean you have to give up on your raw lifestyle? Absolutely not. There are plenty of foods out there with great warming energy. Buckwheat is one of  them. So why not use some buckwheat in recipes this season? Aside from its warming energy buckwheat has many health benefits. It's very high in minerals in general, especially such as manganese, magnesium, copper and phosphorous and some of those minerals are hard to get enough of. At least it seems that a large percentage of the population is deficient in magnesium, for example.
These seeds (buckwheat is actually a seed, not a grain) happen to have a very high fiber content, and are a complete protein too, not to mention their high niacin (vitamin B3) content, which is a natural antidepressant. Another food that's good for your bones, your skin, might help reverse gray hair, benefits your digestive tract and might even elevate your mood besides being an exceptional source of healthy protein (can you believe you'll get more protein from a 100g of raw buckwheat than cooked beef, for example?!!) A pretty good choice for breakfast or a snack and combined with the rest of the ingredients below you can make delicious winter granola with it. If you're feeding more than 1-2 people you might want to make a double batch so you don't need to do it twice a week : )

Raw Carob Buckwheat gRAWnola
2 cups buckwheat
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 tbsp golden flax seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 cup (or more) raisins
1/2 cup (or more, to taste) carob powder
handful of coconut shavings / 3 tbsp shredded coconut
3-4 tbsp melted coconut oil / other oil of your preference
Add your favorite sweetener, nuts, different dried fruits, additional spices, etc.

1. Soak the buckwheat for 8 hours or overnight rinsing it a couple of times thoroughly. If you have time  you can sprout them too before using them in this recipe.
2. Grind the sunflower, flax, and sesame seeds briefly, just enough that they're coarsely "chopped".
3. Chop the raisins and other dried fruits you're using into smaller pieces.
4. Mix all the ingredients really well so that the salt and all the flavors are evenly distributed.
5. Taste test your batch and add more sweetener, etc. if necessary
6. Spread on two trays and dehydrate them for a couple of hours at 140˚F then lower the temperature to 115˚F and dehydrate for several hours longer.

Your house will smell unbelievably heavenly, I promise!
Serve while still warm with your favorite nut mylk or dry, as is. I never liked my food soaked so I always eat muesli, granola, and cereals dry and crunchy.
Pack some into your lunch box, or take on travel. This is a great warming and high energy food.
Happy gRAWnola making!

P.S: Have you noticed the ladybug?? : )