Conscious Food Choices

For the love of delicious healthy food…

Purple Avocados and Honey, Hawaii-style

photo credit: Kevin Smith

Nostalgia Alert: When I was a kid, I lived with my mom in Northern California during the school year and spent the holidays and summers with my dad. It was a good deal, especially since my dad worked as an art professor for the University of Hawaii, so many of my holidays and summers were spent on the islands of Oahu and Kauai. On Kauai, there is an amazing valley on the Northwest side, in the Na Pali Coast called Kalalau, which at the time you could only get to via an 11 mile hike or by inflatable Zodiac boat. (I think now even those are not allowed). Also it was a state park, so visitors are only given licenses to stay for a few days at a time. Luckily for us, we were good friends with both the rangers and “Captain Zodiac”, the owner of the island’s one boat company, so we were able to boat in and live at the ranger’s camp for weeks at a time. Kalalau Valley is mythically beautiful, and you can easily get lost for hours or days at a time climbing up into the sheer Na Pali cliffs. My childhood memories include sand so soft and fluffy you sink to your knees in it, a wonderful crazy lady named Bobo who lived deep in the valley, wore no clothes, and had the most impressively scarred body I have ever seen, as well as long afternoon hikes through the sun-dappled valley, searching for elusive wild orange groves and wild avocado trees.

Wild Hawaiian avocados are small, stringy, and bright purple, and the locals eat them as a fruit, with honey. I can’t tell you how delightful an avocado can be when you go beyond the guacamole typecasting and consider it as the fruit that it really is! Also in Hawaii you can get tubs of naturally crystallized honey which has a thick beeswax foam on the top. It tastes much less sweet than liquid honey and can be spread like butter on bread.  The closest I can find in the states is something called Really Raw honey and it is delicious. Here is my favorite breakfast…

Avocado on Toast, with Creamed Honey – for 2

  • 4 small slices high quality whole grain bread (walnut is awesome)
  • 2 – 4 teaspoons high quality raw honey, local if you can get it
  • 1 perfectly ripe avocado
  • pinch of Himalayan, Celtic grey or other high mineral natural salt

Toast the bread slices and spread each with 1 – 2 teaspoons of honey. I like it light.

Cut avocados in half, remove seed, score the flesh and scoop out 1/4 avocado per toast slice. Spread evenly and give a wee sprinkle of salt.

Enjoy!

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October 8, 2012 Posted by | Breakfast, Food Consciousness, Fresh, Vegan Recipes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ginger-Goji Super Granola and Friends…

I am not crazy about the flavor of goji berries, but am a strong believer in their superpowers, so this is a way to spice them up by dry blending them with a bit of crystallized ginger. (Yes, the sugary one…but a little goes a long way).

Ginger-Goji Super Granola (Raw-ish)

  • 1/2 recipe of Vanilla Almond Granola Base 
  • 3 c flaked or shredded dried coconut (combo is nice)
  • 2 c walnuts and/or pecans (soaked and dried)
  • 1 c organic goji berries,  dry blended until roughly powdered
  • 2 T finely chopped crystallized ginger pieces
  • 1 T freshly grated ginger
  • 1 c dried mulberries, (or ¼ c dates, raisins or other dried fruit) coarsely chopped or lightly dry blended
  • 2 T liquid coconut oil
  • 1/4 t coarsely ground sea salt
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 t cinnamon (optional)
  • Vanilla maple glaze made with: 1 T vanilla plus 1/4 c maple syrup

Dry blend crystallized ginger, fresh ginger and goji berries in Vitamix until most of the goji berries have powdered and are reclumping into gingery bits. The odd whole berry is fine here too.

Combine coconut, chopped nuts, gingered goji berries and other fruit in very large bowl. Add liquid coconut oil and toss to coat.

Add 2 T. maple syrup, salt and cinnamon or other spices and flavorings, toss lightly to coat.

Finally, add Vanilla Hemp Granola Base over nut mixture. Toss lightly, drizzling with remaining maple-vanilla mixture so everything is lightly coated. Make sure not to overmix at this point – there should be distinctive lumps of the oat-y base, alongside the coconut-nut mixture, all lightly glazed with the maple vanilla mix… (Mmmmm)

Spread onto 3 or 4 Perflexx sheets. Dehydrate 8 -12 hours or overnight, turning once to crisp up the undersides.

 

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Flavor Variations (are endless… these are just ideas)

Maple Pecan Granola

  • Use all pecans instead of walnuts
  • Use gingered gogi berries, or not…
  • Use only the finely shredded coconut, not flakes
  • Increase cinnamon to 2 T
  • Add 1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg

Blueberry Almond Granola

  • Use 2 cups chopped raw almonds (soaked, dried and truly raw)
  • Use only flaked coconut
  • Leave ginger out but dry blend the gogi berries to a fine powder to dissapear them
  • Use 1 c sundried blueberries as the dried fruit,  and do not chop or blend.
  • Replace cinnamon with 1/2 t fresh lemon juice and zest
  • Add 1/2 t almond extract to and 1 t lemon juice to vanilla maple glaze

Rainforest Crunch:

Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium, a necessary trace mineral not easily found in many foods. This is a good way to eat a little bit each day.

  • Use 1 c walnuts, plus 1/2 c brazil nuts, soaked overnight, thinly sliced and dried
  • Add 1/2 cup finely chopped raw cashews, (unsoaked is fine).
  • Use chopped dried figs, pineapple and/or mango for the fruit.

Pumpkin Spice:
Pumpkin seeds are another great nutritional powerhouse. Extremely high in minerals, especially magnesium, plus a wide range of B Vitamins, and Zinc, they also contain L-Tryptophan which among other things, makes you feel good. Along with walnuts, they are also listed as one of the better sources for omega 3 fatty acids.

  • Add 1/2 t nutmeg, 1/4 t dried ginger and a pinch of cloves, or 3/4 t pumpkin spice mix to gogi berries and dry blend.
  • Add 1 cup soaked and dried pumpkin seeds to the blender just at the end, to coat them in flavor
  • Add 2 t cinnamon and a dash more nutmeg or spice blend to the vanilla maple glaze at the end

June 18, 2011 Posted by | Breakfast, Food Consciousness, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vanilla Almond Granola Base…High in Omega 3’s and Superfoods

A while back I got obsessed with making granola – not (obviously) because its such a sexy subject matter, but because I have found its a tricky way to ease my Austrian boyfriend away from the ubiquitous morning toast habit….and its a really excellent mask for a whole load of super-healthy ingredients that are sometimes not so easy to fit into a regular diet. As always, I am looking for sneaky ways to get more Omega 3 oils into our diet…

This granola recipe is split into two parts – the base, which takes a bit of time to make, and the final flavoring step, which allows you to whip up many different flavor combos quickly. So plan ahead – it’s well worth the initial effort. This recipe will make a large amount of base which you can split up and store in your freezer, pulling out to make several fresh batches (and flavors) of fresh granola as supplies run low. Which they will.. quickly!

(Please play with this recipe – it would not be a stretch to say I have never made it the same way twice. The last time I made it I increased the buckwheat, the maca and the flavorings  and then doubled the flax to make it even more healthy, and it was still delicious!)

Vanilla Almond Granola Base (makes enough for 2 large batches of granola)

  • 3 c raw sprouted oat flour or rolled oats (see Notes on Oats, below)
  • 2 c raw sprouted buckwheat,
  • 2 c ground almonds (soaked and dried)
  • 1 c freshly ground golden flax seed
  • 1 cup hulled hemp seeds, coarsely ground
  • 2 T Peruvian maca powder (optional)
  • 1 1/2 t. Himalayan or high quality grey or sea salt
  • 3/4 c  coconut sugar (or 5 packets of stevia)
  • 3/4 c raw coconut oil
  • 1/4 c agave syrup/maple syrup
  • 2 T vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t. almond extract (optional)
  • 1/2 c water

Combine oats, buckwheat, ground nuts, flax, hemp, maca, coconut sugar/stevia and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix well, adding coconut oil and using  your hands to break up clumps. The mixture will be loose and crumbly, holding together lightly like a graham cracker pie crust.

Add flavorings to the water-agave/maple syrup mix and sprinkle lightly over this crumb mixture, tossing lightly with you hands so that pea sized balls begin to form. Use your fingertips to help the loose crumbs forming the little balls – these become the lovely oaty bites in the final recipe.

Spread out on 4 Perflex sheets and dehydrate 8 – 12 hours  at a low temp (108°). Turn the mixture over once to expose any damp spots so everything is uniformly dry as possible.

You can split into two batches at this point, freezing half to keep it fresh. Continue on to Ginger Goji Super Granola and Friends for the next step and all the flavor variations…

Note: because of the high Omega 3 oil content in the ground flax and hemp, this granola should be subjected to as little heat as possible, and stored in the refrigerator or freezer to keep fresh.

NOTES ON OATS

There seems to be a lot of confusion around oats out there. The first thing I want to mention is that “raw oats” are very rarely raw – even those really raw looking oat groats you find in the bulk food section of your local health food store. (And especially not the rolled oats from the Quaker Oats box, which have been steamed, then rolled).

I spent many many days trying to get those healthy raw looking oat groats to sprout before I started researching oat production and apparently, oats are most often “stabilized” by heat or chemicals within 4 days of harvest in order to keep them from spoiling. So… then I ordered some “sprouting oats” online, which also, suspiciously, did not sprout, ever… and then, recently I found a big bag of organic, freshly harvested spouting oats in a community market in California, which, after lugging back with me on the plane to NYC, I did manage to sprout! Happily I took my freshly sprouted oats, dehydrated them, blended them into oat flour, make a bug batch of vanilla almond granola base (all four trays full) only to realize that they had turned completely toxic somewhere in the process. I mean really really awful (burn the back of your throat toxic). I was so traumatized by this I let the whole batch sit in my dehydrator for 4 days before I could even throw it out. It turns out that 1) rather than soaking overnight, as I did, you should only soak for 1 -2 hours before sprouting. And  2) it might have been a “bad batch” of raw oats. I googled and found other people out there with similar experiences.  The end result? I made my most recent batch of granola base with high quality old fashioned rolled oats and added in the sprouted buckwheat to “raw it up” a bit.

June 18, 2011 Posted by | Breakfast, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Brazil Nut Chia Pudding

This pudding has quickly become a staple in our house – it’s a lot like tapioca pudding and makes a great breakfast, afternoon snack, or dessert. Chia seeds are ridiculously nutritious  – they are the richest vegetable source of omega 3 essential oils found on the planet, contain almost twice the protein of any other grain, are packed with vitamins and minerals, and are high in antioxidants.  They are also full of fiber and will absorb 8 -12 times their volume in water, making them a great slow burning carbohydrate source, which is great for diabetics. All that, and no need to cook! Who knew?

Chia Pudding

  • 4 c. fresh Brazil nut (or almond) milk
  • 3 medjool dates (pits removed)
  • 3/4 c. black or white chia seeds*
  • 2 packets stevia powder (optional)
  • 3-4 T. agave syrup, to taste
  • seeds from 2 inches of vanilla bean, or 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • pinch Himalayan or sea salt

Make nut milk, blending one cup of soaked nuts, to 4 c water, and adding dates before you blend and squeeze through the nut-milk bag. (Alternately, you can use a pre-fab nut milk or coconut milk of your choice, skip the dates, and add a bit more sweetener to taste when you whisk in the seeds).

Add chia and remaining ingredients, whisk well to combine and taste, adjusting for sweetness. I use a little bit of stevia in order to get a subtle base-level sweetness, and then top it with a touch of agave. Let sit for 10 minutes and whisk again. Let rest for at least 20 minutes at room temperature to allow seeds to soften and gel up. Serve at room temp or keep in refrigerator up to a week (it will firm up even more overnight).

Top each serving with with a little sprinkle of coconut sugar, agave or maple syrup and a bit of freshly grated nutmeg. Or, try the chocolate version:

Chocolate Chia Pudding: Add 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder and 3-4 T of agave syrup to the pudding, after the seeds have gelled up. Whisk well and enjoy!

*Not all chia seeds absorb liquid the same, apparently and probably what liquid you use makes a difference too.  I use 3/4 cup chia to 6 cups fresh nut milk, but have friends in California who use up to 1 cup chia to 4 cups liquid. Play with it – you can always adjust by adding a couple tablespoons seeds to thicken or a splash more liquid to thin out.

For more information on chia seeds, you can start here:

Chia Seed – The Ancient Food of the Future

You can purchase chia seeds at the chia seeds page at NutsOnline. Or look for them in the bulk herb/spice section of your local health food store/community market.

Black & White Chia Seed Puddings

Squeezing the wild nut...

Adding Chia…

...!

November 22, 2010 Posted by | Breakfast, Desserts, Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes | 1 Comment

Silky Chocolate Ganache

This recipe is taken from Sarma Melngailis’ Chocolate Tart recipe which can be found in her cookbook Raw Food Real World. Not only is the original tart recipe fantastic, but it has been the inspirational spinnoff for many many deliciously decadent chocolate treats and this ganache is the foundation.

  • 2 c maple syrup (or mix of maple and agave syrup)
  • 2 c high quality organic cocoa powder (not alkalized)
  • 1 c virgin coconut oil
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend 1 -2 minutes until velvety smooth. Store in glass containers as a spread or topping,  or pour immediately into prepared crust if using as a tart or bar filling.

February 3, 2010 Posted by | Breakfast, Desserts, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , | Leave a comment

Maple Tart Tatin – Breakfast of Champions

Sugarless Tart Tatin imageThis is one of my favorite tarts, and my favorite breakfast! It’s such a beautiful simple way to use fresh seasonal apples (and/or pears) from the CSA or the farmer’s market, and its so easy to make! Sometimes I whip one up while I am making dinner and my boyfriend Hannes and I eat half for dessert and half the next morning. Unlike the traditional French recipe which uses caramelized white sugar, I found that caramelized maple syrup or agave syrup works really really well and makes you feel a lot better afterwards. Also, because the two of us have no trouble devouring an entire tart in one day, I found that with this tart you can get away with using a very small amount of pastry (only 5 T of butter for the whole thing – and tons of fruit!). This allows room to add a rich topping for a decadent dessert, or to keep it clean and simple.

Maple Tart Tatin:

Preheat oven to 375°.

  • 1/2 recipe Pure Butter Pastry (freeze the other half – makes it so easy to whip up the next one!)
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup, or a mixture of maple and agave syrup
  • 1 T butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 -6 apples, mixed varieties if possible, always organic or locally grown

Apples and Caramel for Sugarless Tart Tatin imageCaramelized Maple/Agave Syrup:

Boil the maple/agave syrup in a 9″ ovenproof skillet/saute pan over a medium high flame for about 5 -8 minutes, swirling and gently shaking liquid regularly to avoid burning. Be very careful here – this stuff is screamingly hot, and sticks – good to keep a glass of cold water nearby just in case.

Take off heat and add butter and pinch of salt, tilt and swirl pan carefully to incorporate. It will really look like caramel here. Let pan cool while you roll pastry:

Prepare the Crust:

Roll the chilled pastry out thinly, to about the same size as the pan. Chill while you prepare apples:

Prepare the Apples:

Only half-way peel the apples so you have stripes of skin showing still. This will allow the fruit to full absorb the syrup, but to keep some of the color, shine, and nutrients of the skin. Quarter each apple vertically, and slice out the core. This can be done very simply in one cut once the apples are quartered.

Apples in pan for sugarless Tart TatinArrange apples round side down, on top of caramel in pan. Pack in as many as you can in a roughly geometric pattern. Top with round of pastry, gently tucking extra pastry edges in around the apples.

Bake at 375° for 20 minutes, reduce temp to 350° and bake for another hour. Remove from oven and let sit 20 -30 minutes to absorb juices.

Place a large serving plate over skillet and quickly invert tart onto plate – give a shake to release apples from pan. (I do this over the sink, wearing a baking mit or towel to protect my hand from any hot juices.) This sounds more intimidating than it is  – say 1, 2, 3 and then do a bold, quick flip – the faster you do it the less chance of juices escaping.

Options!

  • Make this with pears instead of apples, or a mixture
  • Add a bit of chopped crystallized ginger
  • Add a sprinkling of fresh or frozen whole cranberries before you put the crust on
  • Make this using all dark agave syrup instead of maple, and add 1/2 t of vanilla to the caramel after the butter.

*Caramelizing maple or agave syrup is a little trickier than using white sugar because if you are using dark maple or agave, you will not be able to tell by color. After 4 -5 minutes the mixture should start to thicken, boil more slowly, and start to smell more caramelized. If it starts to smoke or smell burned or bitter take it off the flame immediately, and add the butter. This recipe is very forgiving – so don’t be afraid to go a little dark or light with it – you will find your own personal preference.  You are just looking to concentrate the sugars from a liquid syrup to something of a hard-crack stage which means it will be crunchy when cool, but still a thick honey-like syrup when boiling. If in doubt, dip a dry wooden spoon tip in the syrup, then dip for a 5 seconds into your a glass of cold water. It should turn into a maple tipped wooden lollipop…. Mmmmmm….

February 2, 2010 Posted by | "Evil Butter" Recipes, Breakfast, Desserts, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Kashi Porridge

I grew up in the 70’s with a hippy mom who went through great lengths to get me to eat healthy food (thanks Mom!) and I have a tortured childhood memory of staring at the pile of cooked buckwheat on my plate and wondering how I was ever going to survive… so I was really surprised at how delicious and deeply satisfying this breakfast cereal is, made entirely of buckwheat and raw sunflower seeds! You have to try it!

Serves 4

  • 1 c raw buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 c raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 t salt
  • 4 1/2 c water (or soy, or hempmilk, or apple cider!)

Blend buckwheat and sunflower seeds in a hi speed blender to a fine meal, with a little texture to it still.

Dry roast in a heavy bottomed pot, (large enough for porridge) for 4 -5 minutes, stirring contstantly, just to get a nice toasty flavor.

Add salt and water, whisking constantly (be careful when you first add the water the the hot pan – it will steam up).

Let cook 4 -5 minutes, or until buckwheat is soft and cooked through.

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Breakfast, Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , | Leave a comment