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!!