Monday, October 8, 2012

Dessert in the Raw

Okay, I can admit it, I have a sweet tooth (or two!).

It's one of my biggest fights between how I used to eat and now. So many desserts call for unhealthy ingredients, and don't get me started on premade overprocessed junk! I thought eating well was going to be a constant test of my resolve to remove these horribly unhealthy ingredients from my life, things like HFCS, bad oils, and GMO's. One of the coolest things about this journey has been finding that not only can I make amazing, wholesome renditions of my favorite treats, but as my body has filtered out all the MSG and HFCS, I crave it much less, and am beginning to prefer desserts with less sugar and fats.

One of the many bounties of this season are the very plentiful blackberries spread throughout the Rogue Valley. Tasty, juicy, and a good mix of sour and sweet, blackberries make the perfect filling for my favorite raw cobbler! Here it is, enjoy!!

(All measurements approximations, I cook to taste!)

1 cup soaked almonds
1 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup flaxseed
1 TBSP+ cinnamon
Honey to taste (if wanted)
coconut oil (melted)
2 cups blackberries
1/2 cup blueberries

Place nuts and flax seed in food processor and grind until resembling graham cracker crust texture. Add cinnamon and honey to taste, pulse through. Add coconut oil by the TBSP until mixture is moistened throughout and can be packed together.

Take 1 cup of blackberries and mash them to form the juice base. Mix into the remaining blackberries and blueberries. Place into the bottom of a glass baking dish. Top with nut mixture and gently pat down onto fruit, mashing them together a bit to soak in some of the juice. Dust with cinnamon. Place into the fridge for at least an hour to 'set'.

I have two favorite raw recipes for ice cream. One can be made without an ice cream maker and is fruit based. You just take frozen bananas and process them until smooth. When they've reached the right consistency, mix in 1/4 cup soaked cashews, ground, and blueberries, a tsp of lemon juice, and a dash of ginger. Blend until smooth. Add almond milk to thin if/as needed.

If you happen to have an ice cream maker, you can substitute almond cream and agave for heavy cream and sugar. Here's a basic recipe:

1 1/2 cups almond cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash salt

Combine all ingredients and whisk together. Freeze as instructed by ice cream maker.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Harvest Bounties; Or, What To Do With All This Darn Zucchini!

Isn't autumn lovely?

Of course, it's sad to see summer fading, with all of it's sunny day glories. Summer means lake trips, barbecues, and warm days laying out with a cool drink. I can't help it though. As the nights get cooler and the days get shorter, as the leaves on the tree began changing into their more festive attire, and we begin bringing in the bounties from our gardens, the scents, flavors, and colors of fall bring to mind warmth, light, and happiness. 

Of course, there's always the question, just what to do with all that bountiful bounty!!

Today I faced three of my biggest harvests this year, squash, zucchini, and blackberries. The zucchini and squash came from home, and the blackberries were wild-harvested well away from pollutants from the road. Now, I love squash, and find it to be extremely versatile, especially considering that it's one of the Bug's favorites. Soup, pies, sauteed, pureed, for breakfast, dinner, dessert, whatever you can imagine! This year, however, I had just as much zucchini! Even after trading/gifting half of it I was worried I had too much. I definitely try to live by waste not, want not.

Luckily, I found out that zucchini is just as versatile! I've discovered an amazing zucchini secret... If you skin, seed, and chop zucchini, then simmer it in lemon juice, it makes a passable apple cobbler imitation! Here's what I came up with.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook and stir 8 cups zucchini and 3/4 cup lemon juice until zucchini is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg and cook one minute more. Remove from heat and set aside. Use as the filling for your favorite cobbler recipe! Here's one I like: 

Combine 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Mash in 6 TBSP butter with your fingertips, or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in 1/4 cup water until just combined. D
rop spoonfuls of topping over filling. Sprinkle entire cobbler with a mixture of 1 TBSP brown sugar, 1TBSP white sugar, and 1 TBSP cinnamon. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.

Another amazing way to eat zucchini is to skin, de-seed, and grate it. Mix in egg and flour for binder, and onions, garlic, cheese, salt, and pepper to taste. I pat them into patties, top them with panko/bread crumbs, and then lightly fry them or bake them in a pan lightly treated with olive oil. 

Tomorrow I"ll tackle all the blackberries!! Raw blackberry cobbler? I think so!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Waste Not Want Not!

   One of the first things I got into with the new, healthier me was juicing. It was simple, nutritious, and best of all, yummy! Fresh juiced apple cider is as good as dessert! I fell in love with green goddess juices. I  save the pulp of the carrots and the apples and freeze them for use later in cakes, breads, and the like. Some of the veggies I mix in fresh to my little bug's mashes. Still, so much of it wasn't getting used! Watching all that fibrous, usable material go to waste just felt wrong.

   I decided to try my hand at make-shifting a cracker made from this high fiber pulp. I don't have the best juicer, so some of the nutrition and juice is left in the pulp I use. I just set up all my veggies for my morning juice yesterday and went to juicing. This time I used apples, carrots, kale, and tomatoes. I was thinking of the crackers when I made this juice selection for sure!!

I juiced all my fruits and veggies, not being too careful to get all the juice out, I thought leaving some in would improve the flavor of the crackers and help me form them before drying.

  (Man am I glad my kid already makes healthy decisions when it comes to food, out of habit. I really wish that for him, when he's older, that it's easier for him to eat well, not just out of concern for health but out of habit. He loves him some kale!)

   Once everything is juiced and put away, it was time to start on the pulp. I dumped it all into a bowl and mixed in a big handful of flax seed for that extra punch of nutrition:

I separated the pulp into three bowls. One I left plain. The second, I mixed in a bit of minced onion and garlic and a bit of cracked pepper. The third I mashed some fresh blackberries into, just in case the rest didn't turn out well. I cut out sheets of parchment paper to lay out on the trays of my 5 layer dehydrator, packed the pulps into the trays in their individual flavors, and set it to work. (NOTE: This can be done in the oven, on the lowest heat, if you don't own a dehydrator. I got mine for $5 at a garage sale. It's not the best but it gets the job done! )

After over 24 hours of dehydrating the chips were done. Next time I will make the indents where I want the crackers to break after the first couple of hours, but I just snapped them into casual squares this time. 

This made a large bag of crackers for me. The blackberry crackers were definitely the best! We liked them all however. The garlic ones were great with feta and apple slices! I keep all the little piece for the Bug. He eats them up!! 

So much cheaper than the kale chips from the store, no preservatives or weird ingredients, and fresh fresh fresh!! I can't wait to experiment more with different juices, pureeing the ingredients together before adding flax, and adding different herbs and spices.  

I can't believe eating raw, cheap, and healthy can be so yummy!!

Happy Dehydrating!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Beginning the Adventure: A Pledge

So. Proudly born and raised in the Bible-thumping, Rebublican-run, Monsanto-catering, bread basket of America, good ol' Lincoln, Nebraska. While I learned lots of important 'old-school' values such as respect for elders and washing behind my ears, it was a community that frowned on alternative parenting, distrusted vegetarians, shunned non-Christians, and discouraged free thought. 

It has taken me years to step away from the constant Republican/Christian brainwashing and begin to awaken to the realities of the world. Becoming a mother has made me seek out any and all information I can, to learn how to provide a more chemical-free, wholesome, nature-based, life for me and my young child. As I have discovered herbal medicine, self-sustainability, organic/raw foods and food-as-medicine, backyard farming, tiny houses, urban homesteading, and un-schooling, I have watched this new, amazing, beautiful world unfold right along with my perspective. 

I spent some time in college, went to a tiny town that was absolutely not the place for me. I eventually made the decision to move on to a new adventure, something I felt I was doing for me, and not for society or it's expectations. I began pursuing my music and landed in Kansas City, MO where I found a wonderful group of awake people, people who had really started to figure out what LIFE really was under the propaganda and brainwashing and corporate politics. And thus the journey began. I dropped my life of materialism, of drugs, of the pushing and shoving to get above those around you. I left all I owned behind, went sober, and began traveling, began the process to un-teach myself everything I'd learned about me, about my world, about relationships, about Spirit. 

I did eventually become pregnant and move inside but that entrepreneurial, forge-her-own-path, tree hugging, upcycling, homesteading, crafty gypsy lady still existed inside of me. Of course, the many exhaustions of mommyhood slowed my progress, but motivated me further to provide the childhood and life for my bug that I feel he deserves. 

So this is the beginning of my pledge. To make every day a day for learning, for progress, for sharing, for love, for smiles and warm bellies and gratitude for this wonder-ful, amazing place we live called earth<3