Tag Archives: dates

Raw Pecan Pie

Hello, everyone! Yes, I’m alive, but make no promises as to the frequency of my posts henceforth. I’m never going to be a super regular blogger – I’m just too much of a space cadet. Wait, what was I talking about?…just kidding. But yeah, I’ll post from time to time when I have something worth showing you! Also, I’ve decided to transition my blog into more of a general healthy living blog. My main interest in blogging is to have a place to display my photography, whether it’s food, pets, friends, travel, you name it. So that’s that.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! This year marked the first time that I celebrated with only my immediate family, so mine was quiet, but honestly, that is exactly what I needed after a rough midterm #3 in O-Chem. Despite the fact that there were only four of us – well six, counting the two dogs (yes, I said TWO dogs…my sister just got a new puppy, who I’ll introduce you to soon!) – we somehow ended up making at least ten different dishes. In fact, so many dishes that we lost track of them and my sister ended up completely forgetting to serve her coconut milk creamed corn. #FirstWorldProblems.

Of course I whipped up a batch of my famous mashed cauliflower, but the sweetest (in both senses of the word!) thing I made was Kimberly Snyder’s Raw Pecan Love Pie. I don’t really eat sugar anymore, but I’ll make an exception for a date- and maple syrup-based raw dessert on special occasions and holidays. I’ve followed Kimberly’s blog for years, and always thought this pie looked cute. Well, it turns out it is as delicious as it is cute…

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The only change I made to the original recipe is that I used Brazil nuts instead of walnuts in the crust since Oh! Nuts had kindly just sent me a bag of their jumbo raw Brazil nuts to sample. I love the unique flavor of Brazil nuts. Plus, who doesn’t want to get like 500% of their daily value for selenium while eating pie?

Another fun fact: the dates I used were from my friend Cody’s family date farm in California! They are so much moister than the dates you can buy at the health food store.

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Back to my regular sugar-free routine of course, but I’m glad I had the chance to indulge a little with this lovely pie! Try it yourself this holiday season (link is above) if you’re into dessert, but not so into gluten, eggs, dairy, and sugar.

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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!

Raw Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Or should I say, Oatmeal Raw-sin Cookies?! From Ani’s Raw Desserts, these Oatmeal Raisin Cookies consist of only 4 ingredients: raw oats, dates, raisins, and cinnamon (okay, so I added a pinch or two of salt–shoot me!) processed into oblivion.

They were absolutely delicious! I shaped them into hearts as you can see because who wouldn’t rather eat something this cute:

Unfortunately however, these little gems will have to be the high note on which I end this raw food cleanse. My stomach has been acting up ever since Portland a few weeks ago–it always hurts, I look like I’m a couple months pregnant, and I’ve lost a lot of my appetite. I read online that raw fruits and veggies, high in insoluble fiber, and high-fat foods such as nuts and coconut oil (hello, everything I’m eating right now!) are bad for digestion, so I don’t think I’m doing my body any favors right now. I’m supposed to get a CT soon, and I have an appointment with a specialist next week. In addition to feeling awful, I’m also worried about losing my fitness training for the 1/2-marathon because I haven’t felt up to running since last Sunday. :(

So back to cooked food it is. And, yes I really enjoy raw food, but I can’t say I’m not ready to come back to the cooked side! When I got home from work I had a bowl of pineapple-butternut squash oats. Random, but it seemed like the kind of neutral meal I needed right now to make my stomach feel a bit better (and I read that foods high in soluble fiber, like squash, oats, and soy, are good for digestion). Ugh, well hopefully this all gets sorted out soon, or there won’t be much interesting food porn here…


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.

Carrot Bisque, Berry Muffins, and Norabars

My kitchen has been a happenin’ place of late! First up, the deliciously simple Carrot Bisque from Vegan with a Vengeance! I like the short ingredient list on this guy–I love intricate recipes, but sometimes I’m just not up for a 1/2 page-long spice list! Most of the flavor comes from (light) coconut milk, curry powder, and a touch of maple syrup.

Garnished with soy yogurt for some added refreshing creaminess!

At my mama’s request, I also made the Bakery-Style Berry Muffins from Vegan Brunch using blueberries and raspberries! I’ve made these before, but in my muffin top pan, which didn’t work as well as I’d hoped–they sort of came out like small, thick pancakes, and didn’t get crispy at all.

I think the way to go for killer, crispy muffin tops is just to overfill the tins (as Isa mentions in Vegan Brunch herself). She says to go for 10 for big tops, but I did 9. The batter was pretty thick, so each tin was probably filled a little over the top. They were much nicer than the flattish muffins I usually make, but next time I’m doing 8, so I can get–I don’t know if this is the best way to describe it–like, giant mushrooming tops. Haha.

How cute is that! I got such a shock when I was taking this shot and found myself in a staring contest through my Rebel’s viewfinder. He’s winking! I named him Berry Bob.

What a crumb.

I also made my own energy bars yesterday! I haven’t told you guys yet, but I signed up for the Disney Half-Marathon on September 6th with my good friend Chelsea from Pomona. I’ve always wanted to run one, and when she asked me to do it with her, I knew it’d be a great opportunity! I’ve never done anything like it before (I played soccer for 10 years, and 1 year in college, so at least I’m semi-athletic), and the most I’ve ever run at once was 5 1/2 miles in 8th grade at my summer camp’s race. But, I’ve found a training schedule, so I should be good!

Anyways, my point is, I wanted a good pre-run snack because I’ve discovered my body can’t handle very much food before I run. My stomach needs to be as empty as possible, but I obviously need fuel. So, semi-bored of the few Larabar flavors we always have, I made Norabars! They’re Cinnamon-Pecan with Cacao Nibs! I actually liked them better than the Larabars I’ve had (but don’t get me wrong, Larabars rock…they’re just expensive).

Cacao-Cinnamon-Pecan Norabars

1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1 cup toasted pecans*
2 tablespoons cacao nibs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process dates into a thick paste (it’s okay if there are chunks). Remove from food processor and place in a small bowl. Pulse toasted pecans until roughly powdered (again, you can leave them as chunky as you want), and add to the bowl of dates, along with the cinnamon and vanilla. Finally, pulse the cacao nibs until they’re slightly broken up, and add those to the bowl as well. Now, get your hands dirty and knead all the ingredients together in the bowl! To make the bars, divide “dough” into 4, place each lump on a piece of saran wrap. Wrap them up, then shape into bars by molding them through the plastic. Chill in fridge for a bit, and there you go! Homemade ____bars (insert your name there). If you’re making a bigger batch, you could also press the dough into a pan and cut it up into bars once chilled.

*Note: You can use raw pecans if you like, but I figured, since my cacao nibs are roasted anyways, I might as well toast the nuts for extra flavor. (It makes them taste more like cookies!)

Makes 4 bars.