Tag Archives: cashews

Cheesy Kale Chips

I contemplated calling them “Cheezy” Kale Chips, but I’m so sick of putting names of vegan things into quotations! Anyone else? It’s still REAL food! Yes, cheese generally refers to a substance made from cow’s milk, but it can also be made out of nut milk, or – in this case – blended cashews. So there! “Cheeze” and “mylk” are two words you’ll never hear come out of this vegan’s mouth. Let’s reclaim the language! :)

I had a nice, big bag of raw cashews generously sent to me by Oh! Nuts and I thought a batch (or two) of my favorite raw snack would be the perfect way to make my way through them. I was right, as usual.

There are various renditions of this recipe floating around the internet, but here’s my super cheesy (a.k.a. super noochy) take on it!

Cheesy Kale Chips
(Makes: It doesn’t matter because you’ll eat them all in one day anyways)

1 bunch curly kale
1 cup cashews (soaked for a couple hours)
1 red bell pepper, deseeded
Juice of half a lemon (2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)

Remove the toughest parts of the kale stems (save them for a green smoothie, green juice, or add them to a stir-fry!), and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces.

Whenever I’m working with leafy greens – especially for this recipe, where I want the pieces of kale to be as dry as possible so that the coating will stick as well as possible – I find it easier to cut or rip up the leaves first, and wash them afterward by submerging them in a bowl of water. Then I swish them around with my hands a little so any debris can float to the top, drain them, and dry them in a salad spinner!

Place kale pieces in a large bowl (you want enough room so that you can mix the coating in later without having to deal with leaves falling out of the bowl!)

To make the cheesy coating: combine soaked cashews, bell pepper, lemon juice, nutritional yeast (nooch), and sea salt in a blender or food processor (a high-speed blender like the Vitamix is best), and run for a minute or two until smooth.

Add the cheesy coating to your bowl of kale and massage it in with your hands. Don’t worry too much about uneven distribution, as the big globs taste delicious in the final product!

For raw kale chips (my method of choice, as they will retain the nutrients and enzymes of all the healthful ingredients!): place on dehydrator screens and dehydrate at 115 degrees until crispy. The time will vary, but make sure ALL the moisture is gone and they are genuinely crunchy.

Alternatively (if you don’t have a dehydrator), spread kale pieces on parchment paper on baking trays, and bake at 200 degrees until crispy, about 45 minutes (but again, all that matters is that they MUST be crunchy).

Once you’ve tried the basic recipe, feel free to spice things up – literally! Sprinkle some cayenne into the coating mixture for a nice kick, or add some garlic or onion powder, cumin, or dill!

Advertisements

Bok Choy and Chickpeas with Cashews

Okay, we all know I have an insatiable vegan cookbook addiction. Well, you probably don’t know, but if you looked back through my posts, you’d find that everything I make is from a different cookbook. I just outgrew my second full shelf.

Accordingly, there are some cookbooks that I write off in my head–as in, “Oh, I have so many, and that one doesn’t seem especially…special.” For some godforsaken reason, Clean Food was one of those books. I think its dull title threw me off. I mean, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar? How exciting! Viva Vegan? ¡Olé! Peanut Butter Planet? Um, TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER! But Clean Food? Oh, okay…yum?

Consider this post my apology to Terry Walters because this book rocks. I was lucky enough to have wise friends who knew what’s what better than I did–thank you, Newmans! I’ve already made the Maple Nut Granola, Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Pineapple Tempeh Kebabs, and have yet to be disappointed. But as good as all of those recipes were, none of them compared to my Sunday breakfast of Bok Choy and Chickpeas with Cashews.

Obviously not your typical breakfast, but as Terry says, greens are energizing in the morning! I love this dish, not only because it’s to live for, but because it epitomizes what Clean Food is all about. I can almost count the ingredients in this recipe on one hand, and half of them are already in its title! Bok choy, chickpeas, cashews, ginger, liquid aminos, mirin, and olive oil. That’s what I call clean. Clean, simple, quick, wholesome, and full of wonderful textures and flavors.

I love me some pancakes and french toast, but sometimes you just need some fresh, whole-food fare first thing in the morning; and for those times, Clean Food is your best friend. As usual, the moral of the story is, “don’t just a book by its cover…or title!”

And here’s a riddle: what’s more vibrant than a leafy green-packed breakfast? My best friend, Joanna! She’s 22 today, and a little over two years ago, she inspired me to go vegan with her. I love you, Jo!

Finally, I was honored to be interviewed by the lovely Janna of Just Flourishing as part of her “vegan week.” Check out what I have to say about veganism and vegan health here!

Wine and Cheese

How did this vegan spend her Friday night? I think the title says it all.

Earlier that day, Steph and I headed to the store with our Barnivore list of vegan wines, hoping to strike it big. We returned victorious with a bottle of organic (and vegan of course!) Bonterra Muscat–a super sweet dessert wine. The perfect accompaniment to the three wheels of Dr-Cow raw nut cheeses we’d ordered a few days before.

We opted for the Aged Cashew, the Aged Cashew & Crystal Algae, and the Aged Cashew & Brazil Nut cheeses. They cost us a pretty penny (especially with the cold shipping), and we were pretty surprised at how small they were. Yes, they’re extremely rich, and three wheels of cheese was maybe a little decadent for only three of us (Steph, Dawn, and I), but still–for how much money it cost us to obtain these, they were laughably tiny. Probably an inch and a half in diameter?

Anyways, complaining aside, these raw cheeses were something. They have a super complex, earthy, dare I say, moldy, flavor, and went superbly with our sweet wine, TJ’s multigrain crackers, and apple slices.

The cashew and–surprise!–the algae cheeses were definitely our favorites. The brazil nut cheese just tasted too much like…brazil nuts. What did we expect? The algae was a bit tangier than the plain cashew, but both were a nice balance of sharp and mellow. Plus, check out the color of that algae cheese! Hubba hubba.

It was a very enjoyable and sophisticated–for college students at least!–night of booze and eats, although next time we all agreed that we’d hit up Mooifood’s raw vegan nut cheeses in lieu of Dr-Cow’s. Dr-Cow’s was fun to try, but Mooifood is local (LA) and their cheese comes in more flavors (herbs herbs herbs!) and colors. Hopefully theirs will also be cheaper and–crosses fingers–come in a serving size larger than a pillbox. :)

Raw for Dessert

I was recently contacted by the Book Publishing Company in Summertown, Tennessee with the opportunity to review one of their many vegan cookbooks! Being a fan of some of the BPC’s classics–such as The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and Becoming Vegan–I was more than happy to take advantage of the offer, and gleefully requested a copy of Raw for Dessert by Jennifer Cornbleet.

I love raw desserts. Not only are they easy to make and incredibly healthful, but they generally seem to feature more unique, creative, and exciting combinations of flavors and textures than their cooked counterparts. I’m not gonna lie–I love me a good chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, but sometimes a raw chocolate brownie, rich and dense, can do the job just as credibly.

Before I get to the recipes I made, I just want to say that this book is laid out really nicely, and it truly runs the gamut of the dessert world in its 7 chapters: Basics (mix-and-matchable creams, sauces, frosting, and crusts that many of the subsequent chapters require), Fruit Desserts (ranging from simple strawberries soaked in orange juice to the more complex Banana-Caramel Crumble, which I made), Sorbets, Ice Creams, and Sundaes (whether you want Concord Grape Sorbet or a Knockout Brownie Sundae, this chapter’s got it!), Cakes, Cookies, and Bars (Cheesecake, brownies, etc.), Pies and Tarts (which includes a pumpkin-less Pumpkin Pie that I’m dying to try), Creamy Desserts (you probably thought you’d never have crème brulée again after going vegan, but what about a raw Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée?!), and Candy (Truffles and stuffed dates galore!).

I tried to cover the book’s variety in choosing my review recipes, so there’s a little of everything!

First up, Dark Chocolate Truffles.

Talk about crack in spherical form. Made from coconut oil, dates, maple syrup, and cocoa powder (okay, so these aren’t quite raw due to the last two ingredients, but they’re a heckuva lot more raw than what I’d be eating otherwise!), these little gems were melt-in-your-mouth sinful.

I made half of them with the traditional cocoa coating, and half using the coconut variation that the recipe provides.

Next time I make these, I might try the curry variation. My mom vetoed it this time around, but what does she know?!

Along with the truffles, I made some Pine Nut Caramels. Who knew that dates, pine nuts, and vanilla were so sexy together? These caramels lived up to their name–buttery, sweet, and, well, caramel-y!

Leaving the Candy chapter, I also explored Fruit Desserts by making the Banana-Caramel Crumble, and, boy, did I choose wisely.

Bananas are mashed with a Shortbread Crust, then topped with a date-cashew butter-maple syrup caramel sauce, and finally with more crust crumbles. I took Cornbleet’s suggestion and placed the crumbles in a slightly heated oven so that they would “warm up,” while still remaining raw.

The crumble was quite sweet, but given that it’s served in small ramekin-sized portions, it’s just right. My family and I agreed that no one would ever know that this dessert was raw without being told.

In my last post, I mentioned that I made a raw carrot cake to go with the standard carrot cake for my sister’s birthday. What I was actually referring to was the Spice Cake from this book, to which I added some grated carrots, and frosted with Vanilla Cashew Cream. Lucky for you, the Book Publishing Company has given me permission to share one recipe, and I knew it had to be this one.

Raw Spice Cake with Vanilla Cashew Cream
Yield: one 6-inch cake (8 servings)

Cream Ingredients
1 cup cashews, soaked for 8 to 12 hours (1 1/4 cups after soaking), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup light agave syrup or maple syrup (I used maple)
1 vanilla bean, seeds only or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used extract)

Ahead of time: Soak the cashews for 8 to 12 hours. Drain and rinse. Soaked cashews can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Place the cashews, water, and agave syrup in a blender and process until very smooth. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender jar with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla bean seeds and process until well combined. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator, Vanilla Cashew Cream will keep for 5 days.

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup raw almonds (unsoaked)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup raw walnuts (unsoaked)
1 cup raw pecans (unsoaked)
8 pitted medjool dates
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup raisins
1-2 carrots, grated (my addition!)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or dark agave syrup (I used maple)

Place the almonds, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cloves, and nutmeg in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until finely ground. Add the walnuts and pecans and process until finely ground. Add the dates and orange zest and process until the mixture begins to stick together. Add the raisins, maple syrup, and carrots and process briefly to incorporate.

Line a 6-inch cake pan with a parchment-paper round. Pour the nut mixture into the pan and distribute it evenly. Press down with your hand to compact.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a serving plate upside down on top of the cake pan. Invert, then lift the pan off. Remove the parchment round.

Frost with Vanilla Cashew Cream.

Covered with plastic wrap, Spice Cake will keep for 5 days stored in the refrigerator or for 2 weeks stored in the freezer.

This cake is wonderfully dense, moist, and rich, so a little goes a long way. The orange zest was an especially nice touch–every bite was full of its vibrant flavor. Paired with the velvety sweetness of the cashew cream, this cake was dreamy.

If you didn’t get the message yet, this is a book that’s worth buying. Whether you’re an omnivore, vegan, or raw foodist, you’ll flip over these and countless other recipes. Plus, as far as I could see, none of the recipes called for a dehydrator, which, if I may generalize based on my own experience, can be frustrating for the average raw food amateur. As far as I’m concerned, Raw for Dessert blows Ani’s Raw Desserts (the only other raw dessert book I have) out of the water!

What are you waiting for? Go make some raw cake! If you’re still skeptical, check out Hannah’s, Celine’s, Bianca’s, and aTxVegn’s reviews!

A Celebration of Healthy Fats

I might as well call this post “A Celebration of Color,” because I just realized my recent eats have also been a veritable rainbow. You’ll see.

But back to fats. Healthy fats. Like avocado, cashews, almond butter, and–my favorite–coconut! I’ve been incorporating a larger than usual variety of these foods into my diet lately because my usual main source of fat (peanut butter–do I even need to tell you that?) has been absent due to the fact that I’ve been doing an elimination diet the past week to see if I have any food sensitivities.

Anyways, I gotta satisfy the place in my heart that PB generally fills somehow, right? So, how about avocado smashed rice cakes?!

I just “smashed” half a beautiful avocado on two brown rice cakes, sprinkled on some salt, and called it a day (maybe next time I’ll try some nooch too). This would be better warm on toast, but I didn’t have any gluten-free toast (for the elimination diet), and rice cakes are cute, so there.

I bought some perfectly ripe juicy peaches at the farmer’s market last Sunday. They were also ridiculously humongous considering they were organic.

For a light breakfast a few days ago, I just sliced one up and drizzled it with coconut oil, and cinnamon. That was enough to fill me up because I’m not joking when I say these peaches were oddly large. The coconut oil kind of solidified on the peach slices because they were cold. It was weird, but still delicious.

Finally, a brilliant discovery I made at my local health food store, Ecoterra: Tomberlie’s Raw Vegan Ice Cream! I bought a–I wanna say pint, but the container was so tiny, it was probably half a pint–of the blueberry flavor because how often do you have blueberry ice cream? Or maybe I just wanted to complete the color spectrum of this post.

Tomberlie’s uses young thai coconut and raw cashews to achieve its creamy texture, and raw agave nectar for sweetness. Most of the ingredients are organic, and there are literally no thickeners or filler ingredients. Besides the ingredients I already mentioned, there was only filtered water, blueberries, lemon juice, and vanilla bean!

I think it’s pretty amazing that the ice cream had such a wonderful, authentic texture given that there’s no emulsifiers or anything. As much as I love So Delicious and Purely Decadent, they have fairly lengthy ingredient lists. Snaps for Tomberlie’s! Plus, what a cool name! :)

Despite its excellence on its own, I had to try the ice cream in my own elimination diet-friendly form of a sundae! The obvious solution: add more frozen blueberries, a squeeze pack of Justin’s Classic Almond Butter, and some cinnamon and more cashews (the last two aren’t pictured here). It was decadent, and, as this post is all about, full of healthy fats!

I can’t wait to try more Tomberlie’s flavors! Especially Fudge Ripple, Chocolate Chip, Praline Pecan, and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut. It’s definitely hard on the wallet, but for being raw and mostly organic, I’ll take it. :)

Raw Week So Far

Hey guys! I’ve been wanting to update for about 2 days now, but I’ve been transitioning from Photoshop to Aperture and having some issues therein with uploading my photos. Anyways, as I said in my last post, I’m eating 100 % raw this week–well, just Monday to Friday because my mom and sister and I are going to a spa with wonderful (non-raw) vegan food in Tucson this weekend. My main reason being a general cleanse, I guess, but honestly I just think it’s fun and I have some raw cookbooks/recipes I’ve wanted to dabble in.

So far, it’s been great! And I’m sure under normal circumstances, I would be able to report feeling amazing eating only living foods, but it just so happens that I’ve sorta been having appetite/digestion issues the past few weeks, so I honestly feel pretty crummy. I went to my doctor about it today, so hopefully they clear up and I regain my desire and physical ability to pig out on amazing vegan food soon!

I started Monday morning with a Green Smoothie with spirulina! This was my first time trying spirulina, and I was a little squeamish of a potential fishy taste, but you really couldn’t tell it was there once blended with the other ingredients, which were mango, banana, spinach, and enough water to blend.

Spirulina, for those of you not in the know, is a supposed superfood–blue-green algae with unusually high amounts of protein (and a complete protein at that!), essential fatty acids, B vitamins (including B-12), various minerals, and healthy photosynthetic pigments. It really does turn smoothies a vibrant shade of deep green!

I think I just had a salad for lunch, but for dinner, I pulled out all the stops and made raw sushi: Carpe Diem Carrot Almond Paté Nori Rolls from Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, which has a lot of living recipes. Pre-rolling:

I filled ’em with zuchinni, carrot, and cucumber matchsticks, alfalfa sprouts, and cilanttro leaves. I also made an impromtu sauce to accompany them out of raw almonds, pineapple, shoyu, coconut extract, garlic, and some spices. It was pretty good if I don’t say so myself!

The paté was delicious–gingery carrot almond dill deliciousness!–and I thought the whole roll was good at first…but after a piece or two, I started to get some little gag reflexes, and I realized that I just can’t stomach the fishy taste of nori, which I’ve never had if you can believe it! I never even had fish as an omni (only shrimp), so that characteristic fishy taste is just really foreign and revolting to me. I can take it in small quanities, like in miso soup, but this didn’t fly! Thankfully, my dad promised to eat the other three servings it made in the near future, so I don’t have to feel wasteful.

We had some really good friends over for dinner that night, our old neighbors, Kerry and Jen, and their adorable kids, Jackson and Frannie. For the dinner party, I made Isa’s Raw Strawberry Cheesecake from the PPK blog. I halved the recipe because she said it made 16 servings (!), and as a result, mine was much thinner than hers…and less pretty, I know! :(

It’s basically a pecan-almond-date crust with cashew-strawberry-agave filling. I even messed up a bit, putting too many cashews (the ones meant for the frosting) into the filling, and it was still delicious! I was worried everyone would be too weirded out by a raw dessert, but thankfully I couldn’t have been more wrong–everyone loved it!

The crust is totally the best part. The sea salt in it makes all the difference, and contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of everything else.

Served in a pool of Strawberry Coulis:

For Tuesday’s breakfast, I had a yummy raw fruit bowl with mashed banana, mango, raspberries, figs, and dates, topped with leftover strawberry cheesecake filling and live granola that I made myself: Queen Esther’s Live Granola Funk from Vegan Fusion (seriously, what’s with these recipe names?!) It’s soaked buckwheat groats mixed with blended soaked dried fruit, spices, and sea salt. And the coolest part is that I don’t even own a dehydrator. Instead, I used the most natural dehydrator in the world: the sun! Living in Arizona has its perks! Most raw recipes call for dehydration between 104-115° F, which is pretty much all day, every day here!

My granola was a little too bland, but I think that’s because I used dried cherries instead of dates (thereby decreasing the sweetness a lot). Plus, in the bowl, you don’t even notice. You just get a nice crunch!

For dinner that night I made Aiyah’s Garden Living Corn Chowder from Vegan Fusion again! This was absolutely fab. Raw corn, avocado, onion, ginger, garlic, and cayenne blended into oblivion and topped with more fresh corn, red bell pepper, and flavorful cilantro. Dayummm. This soup makes me feel light and happy. Perfect for summer!

The only changes I made were subbing cucumber for celery and leaving out the jalapeño (and adding extra cayenne) because I didn’t have any of either. I don’t think it lost anything in translation! Tomorrow I plan on making raw chili and sweet potato chips! Yay! :)

I’ll try not to be better about posting from now on! I think all my photo importing/organizing/editing/uploading should be a lot quicker and easier with Aperture.