Tag Archives: raw

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.

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!

Testing in the Raw

It’s not as intense as it sounds, I swear – actually, it’s pretty warm and fuzzy.

I’m lucky enough to be testing recipes for my favorite cookbook author (and friend), Dreena Burton! (You’ve seen me rave about her soups here…) Well, it turns out, she makes pretty darn good raw desserts too.

I’ve tested two of these delectable delicacies thus far. Chocolate Avocado Mousse, because you’re worth it. Oh wait, is that slogan taken?

I’ve had variations on chocolate avocado pudding before, but I’ve never made it myself; my Vitamix inspires me to reach new heights, what can I say?

I’m not at liberty to disclose the ingredients of this dreamy whipped mousse, but let’s just say it’s simple and healthy! Plus, the mousse is thick enough that it could even work as a frosting, methinks.

If veggies in pudding frighten you – they shouldn’t, but I’m not judging! – fear not. Dreena’s upcoming book will still satisfy your raw taste buds. Only Dreena Burton could create raw, non-dairy cream cheese frosting. Genius.

Raw Banana Nut Squares with Coconut “Cream Cheese” Frosting. These “buttery” bars – on a base reminiscent of graham crackers – are loaded with healthy fats and homestyle taste. With flavors much more complex and familiar than your run-of-the-mill raw dessert, these babies were a hit at the party my mom brought them to. Even skeptical omnis couldn’t resist.

More Dreena testers to come!

Nic and Nora Do Santa Monica

And by Nic, I mean Nicole from Another One Bites the Crust, everyone’s favorite New Haven vegan blogger! I picked up Nicole bright and early Thursday morning outside the West Hollywood Buffalo Exchange, and we headed straight to Santa Monica for a lovely lunch at Real Food Daily. This was our first time meeting each other in person, but we’ve been blogging/Twitter/Facebook/Gmail/Flickr (yes, basically every social media platform possible) friends for so long, that it was more like picking up an old friend–nothing could be more natural!

Sitting at a lovely inner-balcony table overlooking RFD’s juice bar, Nicole and I enjoyed some damn good salads.

The East coaster got her SoCal on and ordered the Mexicali Salad, while I, being the peanut butter fiend that I am, ordered the Yin Yang Salad: Cabbages, romaine, carrots, cucumbers, edamame, cilantro, sesame seeds, peanuts, and peanut dressing (I also added blackened tempeh!)

From there, we headed to the Santa Monica Beach and Pier. Besides her general awesomeness, the best part of having Nicole here was that I wasn’t the only one walking around with my DSLR glued to my face (in and out of restaurants)!

Taken of each other crossing the bridge to the beach.

If there’s one place that’s exemplary for taking random portraits of interesting strangers, it’s the pier. Kids, cyclists, beach bums, fishermen, artists, straight up creepy men…

 

Forgot to mention the ever-present dogs on music stands in that list…

This guy was such a ham! I usually try to sneak my people-watching portraits, but he couldn’t get enough!

After a grueling afternoon of window shopping, portraiture, foodie chatter, and walking with the sand between our toes (ha!), these two vegan bloggers needed some coffee. And not just any coffee–good coffee. Intelligentsia coffee. Silverlake is kind of on the way back to Claremont? Maybe?

Oh, what a soy cappuccino it was. The microfoam! The latte art! The humanity! Just kidding. Funnily enough, it was cheaper than Nicole’s $4.00 cup of specialty joe.

Silverlake also happens to be a hot spot for vegan restaurants. After debating between nearby Flore and Cru, we went with Cru. I guess we were more in the food for fancy schmancy than comfort food.

(Nicole’s photo)

We ordered the Bruschetta Rustica (Sunflower bread with traditional chopped tomato and basil spread and cashew cheese) to share, but it turns out Nicole really can’t do cashew cheese, so I may or may not have gotten a whole raw appetizer to myself! Sorry, Nicole, but I loved it! Not quite as good as Better Life’s raw bruschetta though…

For entrées, we both ordered the Body Ecology Bowl:

Sautéed kabocha squash and spinach over quinoa with homemade sauerkraut and salad. The kabocha was phenomenal (but what kabocha isn’t?), but it didn’t really seem to go well with the strange mélange of pickled vegetables. Next time, I’d order one of Cru’s classy raw entrées. Also, I think their desserts might use honey, so beware, vegans!

So much for day ones. Days two and three to come!

Better Life Cuisine

Better life, better food, better portion sizes, better prices, better…enzyme activity? Why hadn’t I been here yet?!

That’s pretty much exactly what I was thinking as I left Better Life Cuisine in Santa Monica a few nights ago after finishing a lovely raw meal that pretty much satisfied all of the above criteria. Of course, part of the answer to that question is that it’s a relatively new restaurant, and another part is that it’s an hour away (or more with traffic!). But theoretically, it’s a good question.

The name of the restaurant is on a forward-facing sign–but trust me, this is indeed a photo of Better Life!

Better Life is an all-vegan, all-organic, all-raw café, juice/smoothie bar, and restaurant (complete with a vast and well-stocked pastry case!). I know, it sounds too good to be true. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much trouble deciding what to order at a restaurant! I eventually settled on the Fiesta Platter. I love mezze platter type things (like The Voracious Vegan and her love for “snacky” meals!), and it meant I didn’t have to choose between trying different things.

The Fiesta Platter consists of Tuna, salmon, fried beans, guacamole, ricotta, bruschetta, pico de gallo, and flax crackers. As you can see, Better Life labels all their menu items as what they’re supposed to resemble, without really telling you what each one actually is. It makes ordering a little more interesting than it would otherwise be, but I think it’s cute.

The bruschetta (in front) was easily the best thing on the platter. After my first bite, I definitely wished I had just ordered the straight-up bruschetta plate! It’s Better Life’s “breadbar” topped with creamy pesto sauce, tomatoes, basil, and their parmesan. The breadbar was perfectly chewy, and the pesto sauce was out of this world!

Then, there were the five patés/salads (four of them nut-based): salmon, tuna, guacamole, fried beans, and ricotta, all of which were drenched in a delicious yet unnamed sauce. Gotta love the element of mystery. In fact, it was a mystery to me which lump was which until I asked my server! :)

The salmon and tuna were sweet and not too fish-like, but since I’ve never had fish and the smell grosses me out, something about them being named “salmon” and “tuna” salads put me off. I can’t even eat veggie sushi because the fishy taste of the nori makes me gag–it’s a problem, people! Considering that visceral hesitation, the fact that I still kind of enjoyed them says a lot!

I didn’t love any of the patés on their own, but piled together on the flax crackers with some “rawmesan” they made for a super satisfying meal! And that’s not to mention the perfect salad I had on the side…

Yes, that’s a kale salad! Possibly coated in cashews and nutritional yeast? Whatever it was, me likey. By the way, every entrée at Better Life comes with a side salad, and as you can see, they don’t skimp on the portions!

Speaking of salad’s, this is Better Life’s “Egg” Salad! I know–unbelievable. I got another meal to go (so I could have one less mediocre dining hall meal the next day!) and I chose this salad to go with it. I think it’s enough of a triumph to make vegan egg salad, let alone raw vegan egg salad! This wonderful dish consists of veggies (chives?) and shredded coconut meat in a dreamy, creamy yellow cashew-based sauce! It might not have tasted exactly like egg salad, but that’s only because it was better. Plus, it leaves you feeling glowing, not heavy. :)

The actual entrée I got to go was the Lasagna (we’ve all heard “rawsagna” one too many times, haven’t we?).

Marinara sauce, zucchini, mushroom, grilled onion, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese.

Three different raw vegan cheeses in one lasagna? Yes, please! The ricotta was awesome in this lasagna–much better than it was on its own in the platter. I asked for a side of that heavenly pesto sauce to go with it too…

It rounded out all the flavors so well, that I’m almost ready to call Better Life to tell them they should permanently incorporate it into the dish!

If you can’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Better Life Cuisine. Not only was the food a veritable party in the mouth (or is that just because I had the fiesta platter?), but there was so much of it! Raw restaurants are known for tiny portions, and Better Life spits in the face of that stereotype. And to get that giant, raw, organic entrée with a salad for only 10-12 bucks total? Now that‘s the way to bring raw into the mainstream!

Dorm Room Dinners: Raw Avocado Veggie Wrap

Hi, guys! Sorry I’ve been absent so long. I’ve just been eating boring dining hall food (thank God I’m graduating in…nine weeks!), and I didn’t want to bore you. But I think my lunch/dinner today were interesting enough that there shouldn’t be an upheaval of the blogging masses when I publish this post. :)

I’ve been eating a lot of raw food the past few days, which basically equates to green smoothies in my Magic Bullet blender and giant salads for lunch and dinner. Today, however, I felt like having something a little more interesting. To this end, I grabbed some veggies from the dining hall, and combined with a few ingredients from my own stores and a little creativity, I had me some delicious raw wraps!

Basically, I mashed half an avocado with some chopped up cherry tomatoes, a clove of minced garlic, some sea salt, and a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Then I just julienned some jicama, carrots, and cucumbers–and lightly steamed some broccoli in my microwave–and laid them all on some gorgeous collard leaves. I topped ’em with the “guacanoochy” and called it a burrito!

I ended up with two of these wraps, but only had time to eat one before my 1:15 class, so I had the other one for dinner (and I added some cubed TJ’s baked tofu to that one).

I’m not gonna lie; I’m pretty proud of myself for making this in my dorm room using all dining hall ingredients except collard greens, avocado, and nooch. Still…get me out of here, into my own kitchen, and off of this godforsaken meal plan!!!

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. :)