Conscious Food Choices

For the love of delicious healthy food…

Home Cured Olives – Sonoma County Style…

Home Cured Olives

Well… let’s just say it’s been a long time, but I have been keeping busy.

October is when the olive harvest begins in Suryalila and it is one of my favorite times of year to be there. And so when this October rolled around and I was far away from Spain, I thought I’d better see what California has to offer…

As some of you know, I have been making a slow transition this year from New York City back to Northern California, which is where I grew up. I really never intended to move back, but my father is losing his eyesight to macular degeneration, so I have been bouncing back and forth all year between my dad and his lovely 3 acre property in Northern Sonoma County, and my boyfriend Hannes in our home in Harlem, NY.  To say this is a culture shock would not do it justice, but actually, I am getting used to it and am now enjoying the radical change of pace, in both directions.Hand Picking Olives Wendy and Horse

Needless to say, Sonoma County is an exceptionally beautiful place to live, and I am beginning to develop a real appreciation for the year-round farmer’s markets and the endless opportunities to grow, forage, brew, and preserve the bounties of the county.  My father’s property is flanked by wineries on both sides; the road we live on was once called Oat Valley Road, and the next town West of us is called Hopland, so clearly, brewing and fermenting are in the air here. When you drive through Hopland, you see hops growing along side the road, and driving along Highway 101 in the Fall, the air is thick with the smell of must from fermenting grapes… it’s intoxicating!
olives on the vine 750 pounds of olives!

And… what is lining all these the vineyards? Olive trees!

So about a month ago, I got myself invited to an olive picking party at a neighbor’s magnificent horse ranch, and our small crew of 14 spent most of a day picking 750 pounds of manzanilla olives for cold pressed olive oil. It was seriously fun, hard work. And guess how much olive oil that amount of olives will yield? …. only 13 gallons! I will never grumble about the price of good olive oil again.

Later that week I went back and hand-picked another 7 gallons of the green and medium ripe olives from the remaining trees. I looked for the greener olives for eating. I couldn’t wait to cure them!

The olive curing process that I know is a water-cured process which I learned in Suryalila a few years ago from our neighbor there, Jose. What the Andalusians do is to crack or score each olive by hand, then soak for 7 to 10 days in water to remove the bitterness, and finally brine them in salt water infused with garlic, peppers and the herbs which grow wild in the area. I thought I would do the same, using locally grown and harvested Sonoma County ingredients, which included wild fennel foraged from the side of the road, California bay laurel leaves, marjoram and wild cilantro from my dad’s yard, and bright peppers and fresh garlic from the Cloverdale Farmer’s Market. Bounty of the County indeed!

Home Cured Olives  – 7.5 Gallon Yield

  • 7 gallons fresh green and medium ripe  olives
  • 3 gallons water
  • 2# celtic grey sea salt
  • 1/4 c whole peppercorns, lightly cracked
  • 3 cups unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 2# fresh red and green peppers, sliced
  • 3 T whole coriander seeds
  • 10 -15 fresh marjoram sprigs
  • 10 – 20 fresh bay leaves
  • 16 stalks fresh fennel, in 4-5″ pieces
  • 36 oz white wine vinegar
  • 750 ml olive oil (to pour over tops of olives)

 

Sort the Olives:

Sorting Olives by Ripeness

Sort olives, seperating the very greenest ones to be cracked, the medium to be scored with a knive, and the very ripest ones to be kept whole and salt cured.

  1. Cracked Green: With a mallet, gently crack each green olive on one side, just so it splits open. Try not to smash it too much here – you are are just looking to crack it open.
  2. Medium Ripe: With a sharp paring knive, score each medium-ripe olive in 3 or 4 places, so that the brine will penetrate down to the pit. Again, try to do without squashing or bruising the olives too much.
  3. Dark Black:  The very dark, ripe olives I kept whole and covered in course salt and stored away in a cardboard box in a dark closet to “sun dry” them, ironically. This is a first time for me with this process so more later as I figure out what I am doing here…

Soak the Olives:

Using at least three 5 gallon buckets, cover the olives completely in cold filtered water and float a plate with a small weight on top to keep the top layer of olives submerged. Let soak in a cool dark place for a week to 10 days, draining and changing the water at least once a day. This helps to remove some of the bitterness of the olives, and the salt brining will complete the process. You will see that the cracked green olives, which have more surface area exposed, will de-bitter quickly, turning from bright green to a drab…well, “olive ” color. You should be able to almost eat one of these without grimmacing and 7 -10  days should do the trick.Homemade Olives on the Countertop

The less ripe end of the scored olives might take a few days longer – you will see them also change color. I pulled all of this batch after 7 days because of my own time restrictuions (I needed to get to NYC: Sometimes the slow food movement clashes with my jet-set lifestyle…) This will just mean a longer cure in the salt brine… it can take sometimse up to a couple of months for the bitterness to leave the olives this way.

If you soak the olives in water longer – 10 days to 2 weeks even –  you can reduce the brine curing time (and the entire curing time) to only a few weeks. These olives will tend to be less bitter, but sometimes a bit softer than olives cured using the longer brining method.

 

Make the Brine:

A day before your olives are ready to escape their water bath, heat one gallon of water, add salt, and stir to disolve. Add remaining two gallons of cold filtered water.  With your mallet, lighly crack the garlic cloves, and let sit out for at least 10 minutes to oxidize**, and then drop with peppers, herbs and spices into your bucket.  In Spain, Jose lightly muddled the peppers with the garlic and herbs with a large mortar and pestle before adding to the salt brine, but I decided not to do this on this round. Too messy!

Home Cured OlivesAdd 2/3 of the white vinegar and taste. I make half the olives at this dilution, and then add the remaining vinegar to the other half of the batch, making some of the olives a bit more vinegary. (Alternately, you can leave the vinegar out. Tradicionally the Andalucian olives are made only with salt).

Gently fill 15 half gallon mason jars with olives, nearly to the top. Pour brine evenly over olives, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch below the lip. Tap lightly on the counter to release bubbles, then top with olive oil to the rim.  Carefully screw the jar lids on, leaving as little air in as possible.

Store olives in cool dark place, or (ideally) refrigerate. They are ready when they have lost their bitterness, and this can take from 3 weeks to 3 months, depending on the variety and ripeness of your olives, the length of your soak time, etc. You can try the cracked green olives in 3 weeks, but the scored olive will likely take a month or two to finish. To taste, fish out an olive or two, and then top off the jar with a splash more olive oil, keeping the olive submerged under the oil and as air-free as possible.

Buen Provencho!

* Using Celtic Grey Salt: I know… it’s crazy to spend $4 a pound on salt right? Wrong. Suck it up and spend the money on high quality, high mineral salt whenever you can. Using good salt to naturally preserve and cure olives is a no-brainer and makes them even more special… I consider them medicinal!

** Releasing Allicin: When crushed, raw garlic produces a powerful antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral sulphuric (stinky) compound called allicin.  Within 5 minutes of being crushed and exposed to air, garlic explodes into a variety of sulfur-containing compounds which are supposed to be very good for the heart, lowering blood pressure and releasing more oxygen to the blood stream (always a good thing!).  Studies have also shown that raw garlic a powerful anticarcinogenic, internally halting the growth of cancerous tumours in the body.

***What’s in an Olive? 

Raw cured olives are chock full of healthy, monounsaturated fat and loaded with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Green olives are higher in oleic acid, which has been shown to decrease blood pressure, while black olives contain more iron and vitamin E. Both also contain serotonin, the hormone which triggers your body to feel satisfied… how good is that? Eat your olives!

December 7, 2014 Posted by | Fresh, Labors of Love, Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes, Wild & Foraged | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gazpacho Andaluz!

Hola from España! I am back at Suryalila and midway through cooking for about 45 people on another Yoga Teacher’s Training with Vidya. Everyone here is studying very hard right now and I am again in the Suryalila kitchen, where our team has happily hit cruising altitude and is flying smoothly through meal after beautiful meal.

What could be more appropriate for September Equinox in Southern Spain than Gazpacho Andaluz? Here is my favorite recipe – when I made it the first time I was here I was shy about how truly “Andalusian” it was, (especially with my obvious deviations, like fresh ginger!) but since then I have gotten the big thumbs-up from our local friend Manuel and many of our neighbors, so I now can proudly say it’s been officially sanctioned. The hard-boiled egg topping, “huevo duro”, was the only suggestion from Manuel – and it’s a great one – so I have added as an optional third condiment.

Gazpacho Andaluz  –  for 10

  • 4 cups fresh sweet tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups cucumbers, peeled (seeds ok), in pieces
  • 1 cup sweet red bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 small red onion, cut small
  • 1 T fresh ginger, cut small
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 t. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 t. freshly ground pepper, or to taste
  • 1 T high quality sea or Himalayan salt
  • 2 T honey or coconut sugar, or to taste
  • 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in 2 cups water

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl, then blend in batches in a Vitamix until completely silky smooth, adding tomato soak water if necessary to blend, or a little ice as necessary to keep cool. Adjust for salt and sweet, and chill well before serving.

Serve well chilled in a big bowl, along with small bowls of toppings…

  1. Homemade Garlic Croutons (or leave out, for gluten-free)
  2. Mixed Veggie Topping
  3. Huevo Duro  (or leave out, for vegan version)

Homemade Garlic Croutons

Please do not use prefab croutons here! Once you try these you will never go back.

  • 8 slices of whole grain bread, torn or cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup high quality olive oil
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground pepper
  • 1 T crushed garlic

Mix garlic, salt and pepper into olive oil in a large bowl, combining well. Add bread all at once and toss vigorously to coat all the bread as evenly as possible. Taste and adjust, adding more oil and salt if necessary. It should be delicious already. Toast slowly in a dry stainless or cast iron frying pan, stirring occasionally until browned and crunchy on all sides (my favorite method, since they stay a little soft in the middle) or toast in a 325° oven until crisp through.

Mixed Veggie Topping

  • 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced

Combine together and toss with a little olive oil and salt just before serving.

Huevo Duro (optional)

8 high quality eggs, hard-boiled for 10 minutes and diced.

A Note on Eggs…

Please make sure your eggs come from happy, pastured hens, or forget about using them. Seriously, this soup is fantastic without the huevo duro, and the only reason I am including it is this is how they do it here in Andalusia. Everyone who lives here seems to have chickens pecking around in their back yards, and happy, sun-drenched hens make for very good eggs.  So please just skip the eggs if you can’t vouch for the happy hens.

 

September 22, 2012 Posted by | Food Consciousness, Fresh, Gluten Free, Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Soups, Vegan Recipes | , , , | 8 Comments

Fresh Cilantro-Coconut Chutney

Fresh cilantro is a blood purifier and excellent chelator, known for removing heavy metals from your body such as mercury, lead and aluminum. Like many herbs, it is also high in minerals, particularly potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. It is also very high in antioxidants (cancer fighting) and and one of the highest natural sources for vitamin K (good for bones).  This recipe is super easy to make and so delicious that I sometimes eat it out of the bowl with a spoon after I run out of things to spread it on… try it with the Baked Samosas for sure.

  • 1 whole bunch fresh cilantro, cleaned and chopped (stems ok)
  • 1 cucumber, unpeeled, cut into large chunks
  • 1 whole lime, juiced (or whole, just peel lightly and add in chunks)
  • 1/2 cup grated unsweetened coconut
  • 4 fresh jalapeno peppers, cut into chunks
  • 1 t salt

Blend all ingredients in a Vitamix or high speed blender, adding in cilantro and coconut last. Adjust the spice and salt to taste.

Make it your own – there are infinite variations!

  • Mix a 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves in with cilantro
  • Replace cucumber with fresh green bell pepper
  • Add hot Indian chili peppers instead of jalapenos for more heat, or leave out chilies completely
  • Add a bit of ginger, garlic or both

November 14, 2011 Posted by | Fresh, Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Sauces, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , | Leave a comment

Creamy Blue-Green Pesto (Vegan, too)

Pesto, like chocolate, is one of those wonderfully strong-flavored things that you can slip all sorts of healthy stuff into without anyone guessing. My most favorite surreptitious ingredients in basil pesto are hemp seeds and blue green algae. Hemp seeds are full of complete and easily digestible protein, have the highest essential fatty acids of any plant food on the planet – a perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 Linoleic Acid and Omega-3 Linolenic Acid, which is good for for your heart and immune system – and best of all, they taste a bit like pine nuts. (They can completely replace the nuts in your pesto recipe without anyone noticing, but I usually do a mix of hemp and raw cashews because I really like the sweet creaminess the cashews add.) The blue-green algae is full of chlorophyll and phytonutrients, plus adds some trace minerals and vitamins, and can also go undetected, even by the pickiest of (12 year old) eaters. My boyfriend’s son Kai generally does not eat “foods of color” but curiously loves pesto, which is what motivated me to try to slip as much other healthy green stuff in as I could. The last time I made it we did it together, but I slipped in the blue-green algae at the end when he wasn’t looking. Can’t reveal everything to everyone all the time…

Creamy Blue-Green Pesto (Vegan)

  • 1 bunch fresh basil, washed and picked (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea or Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 t umeboshi vineger (optional)
  • 1/2 t fresh black pepper
  • 4 capsules Crystal Manna Blue Green Algae

Save out a handful or basil leaves, and then blend all remaining ingredients well in blender or Vitamix until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust for salt – this should be well salted and fairly intensely flavored, as a little goes a long way. Add remaining basil leaves and blend briefly, maintain a little texture. (You can add in a few more nuts here too, if you want a little crunch). Use at once or keep in glass jar with a puddle of olive oil on the top to keep it from going brown. Will keep 1 – 2 weeks in the fridge.

Play with your pesto!

Pesto can be made with really anything so please get creative with what is in the fridge.

  • Add a little parsley to the blender to up the green intensity
  • Add a bit of nutritional yeast to make it richer and slightly cheesy
  • Use any other type of nut here, pine nuts are traditional, but I have had great pesto made with pistachios, walnuts and even sesame seeds. Or make it with all hemp.

Also, I just want to say that the amounts of everything are extremely flexible – I have make a 10 minute pasta with a  “chunky pesto” sauce using about 10 basil leaves from a withering basil plant who’s day had come… in this case it went into a mortar and pestle with 1/2 clove of garlic and a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and got chopped toasted pine nuts mixed in later. Just proving that 10 fresh leaves are infinitely superior to any pre-fab pesto sauce you could ever buy from anywhere!

Pesto is not just for pasta- its great on steamed potatoes and vegetables, and is fantastic mixed with quinoa. If, like me, you never thought “fantastic” and “quinoa” should appear in the same sentence, check out Pesto-Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes with Roasted Portabellos

July 1, 2011 Posted by | Fresh, Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Sauces, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , | 1 Comment

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

Pura Vida Tortilla Soup (Raw)

“Pura Vida” literally means “Pure” and “Life”, and it is a term used loosely in Costa Rica as a greeting or farewell  – meaning things are cool, and that life is good, in balance…

This recipe was based on Ani Phyo’s Tortilla Soup Recipe in her book, Ani’s Raw Food Essentials, but I think Tracy Morrisette, the chef at the Goddess Garden, brilliantly improved it with the addition of a little nutritional yeast and chili powder. Not to mention some utterly addictive deep fried fresh tortilla strips covered in her nacho cheese-flavored spice mix! Tracy made this soup for us on the first retreat here in Costa Rica and it blew my mind: an utterly virtuous and creamy raw soup with a handful of wickedly delicious crunchiness on top. Pura Vida!

Serve this gently warmed up for a cold winter day, or at room temperature on a hot one.

Pura Vida Tortilla Soup (Raw) – Serves 6

  • 4 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 small red onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cups olive oil
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 ½ t garlic
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno (or to taste)
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t ancho chili powder
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 T nutritional yeast
  • 2 sundried tomato halves, soaked
  • 3 cups water (use soak water from tomatoes)

Fried Tortilla Strips

  • 6 corn tortillas, cut into half inch strips
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t onion powder
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1 T ancho chili powder

Blend the Soup: Combine all soup ingredients in a Vitamix and blend until completely smooth and creamy, taste and adjust for salt and spiciness.

Fry the Strips: Combine yeast and spices in small bowl and set aside. Deep fry tortilla strips in two or three batches until crisp and lightly brown.  Drain each batch well on newspaper covered with paper towels to catch the oil, and sprinkle generously with the seasoning mix, tossing to coat. Serve in bowls alongside soup.

Serve soup cool at room temperature, or warm slightly in a saucepan: stirring constantly and testing with a finger often to make sure it does not get too hot. Pour immediately into warmed bowls and pass the strips!

March 8, 2011 Posted by | Fresh, Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Soups, Vegan Recipes | , , , , | 7 Comments

Raw Pad Thai with Young Coconut “Noodles”

The Farmer's Market in Limon

Like the Raw Lasagna, my Raw Pad Thai recipe is also an adaptation from Russell James’ original recipe. (If you haven’t already – sign up for his email list to get the original emailed to you). This recipe is extremely flexible so use what you have on hand. I made this one with tahini because for some reason that is available here but also have made it with almonds, almond butter, and peanuts and it’s great. I used raw bok choy which I was lucky to find in the farmer’s market in Limon and love the combination of that with the arugula, but napa cabbage is great too, and of course if you can get mung bean sprouts (I can’t) then that would add a more Pad Thai touch to the recipe.

Young coconuts and tamarind are easily available in this part of Costa Rica, but you may have to do a bit of sleuthing to find them in your home town. Look for Tamarind Paste in your local Hispanic market (ask for Tamarindo) and both tamarind paste and young coconuts, or “white coconuts” can often be found in the produce section of Chinese or Southeast Asian markets, and in some high-end markets like Whole Foods.  You can also ask your local health food store to order you a case of young coconuts – they come 9 to a box – and then cut them all open and freeze the meat and juice to have on hand all the time. I love young coconuts! This is just one of the many ways you can use them.

Raw Pad Thai “Noodles” and Vegetables – Serves 4

Young Coconuts

  • 2 – 3 young coconuts
  • 1 ½ cups arugula, torn into 3′ pieces
  • 2 carrots, ribboned with a vegetable peeler
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 4 cups young bok choy, sliced thin on diagonal
  • 1 spring onions, sliced thin on diagonal
  • 8 basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 4 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped

Pad Thai Sauce

  • 1 oz tamarind paste (or 2 dried apricots, one date, plus 1 T lemon juice)
  • 3 T palm sugar, or coconut crystals, or sucanat
  • 1 T red miso
  • 1 t sesame oil (leave out if using nuts instead of tahini)
  • 4 sundried tomato halves, soaked
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 t dulse flakes or kelp powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoons garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lime
  • 1/2 jalepeno, seeded and minced
  • 6 T tahini

Make Sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients in a Vitamix or other high speed blender and blend until smooth.

Prepare Noodles: Cut open the top of the coconuts with a large sturdy cleaver over a large bowl, being careful to capture the juice. (Use juice for another purpose… like drinking!) With the back of a spoon, gently work out large pieces of the white flesh from the inner shell. (If you are new to this, Dr Ralph gives a thorough video intro to coconut whacking here). Slice the meat of the coconut in to long, fettuccine-like pieces.

Assemble Pad Thai: In a large bowl, toss together all vegetables, reserving a pinch of basil and cilantro for garnish. Pour 1/2 sauce over vegetables and massage gently with your hands to coat well and soften vegetables. Add coconut noodles and toss gently, adding some or all of the remaining sauce to taste. Allow to sit for 1/2 – 1 hour to allow flavors to combine and serve with a sprinkle of herbs and a slice of lime.

February 27, 2011 Posted by | Fresh, Low Carb Recipes, Pasta, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Salads, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Raw Zucchini Lasagna

By popular request, here is the “Raw Zucchini Lasagna” recipe, which, while made with raw zucchini instead of pasta, was not a totally raw dish only because the spinach in Costa Rica is too bitter to serve raw. This recipe is based on Russell James’ raw lasagna recipe, the original which can be found on therawchef.com for free when you subscribe his raw food tips. I really respect Russell James – if you are new to raw food I HIGHLY recommend his Raw Chef Academy Homestudy Course – his videos are very professional and well presented, and the recipes are consistently reliable and good. I don’t think anyone out there is educating on raw food as professionally as he is.

Raw Zucchini Lasagna  – Serves 10

While this recipe has many different components, it is actually very easy to put together and extremely flexible. The nut layer can be made with soaked macadamia nuts or pine nuts instead of cashews, the spinach layer can be made all raw instead of cooked, or be replaced with any other vegetable layer, or eliminated completely. You can leave the mushroom part out of the mushroom nut layer, or do a raw version, or leave the nuts out, or eliminate that whole layer as well and just use the cashew ricotta, pasta and tomato sauce. Get creative with what you have on hand. The lasagna can be made several hours in advance and held, but serve it the same day you make it because it is best fresh.

Raw Zucchini Lasagna “Pasta”

  • 10 medium zucchini or goldbar squash, peeled
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1/2 t salt

Using a mandolin or Chinese slicer or very sharp knife, carefully slice each peeled zucchini lengthwise into even 1/8 -1/4 inch slices. Only use the fleshy outside of each squash discarding or reserving the seedy core for another recipe. Gently rub salt and oil into all the slices, reserving the nicest, most lasagna-like “noodles” for the top. Let sit while you prepare the remaining fillings, tossing gently with your hands occasionally and letting excess liquid drain off.

Texture Tip: texture is everything here. The reason you peel these and the thickness of the slices all add up to a smooth, lasagna-noodle “mouthfeel”, which I think is the whole trick. You may have to adjust the thickness as you go to get it perfect – I find that thinner slices are nicer, but go too thin and you will lose the body after the squash marinates in the salt a bit. Play with it – you can always bury the ugly ones in the middle!

Cashew “Ricotta” for Lasagna

  • 2T lemon juice
  • 2T nutritional yeast
  • 2 yellow peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2T fresh parsley
  • 1T fresh thyme
  • 2t salt
  • 3 cups cashews, soaked 2 – 4 hours and drained.
  • 1⁄2 c water if needed
  • ½ c (optional) fresh chopped herbs (rosemary, parsley, thyme, basil)

Blend all in vitamix until smooth and creamy, starting with peppers and adding nuts at the end, and water only if needed. Fresh herbs can be added at the end if using. Set aside, use the (unrinsed) vitamix to make tomato sauce:

Sundried Tomato Sauce

 

  • 11⁄2c sundried tomatoes, soaked for 1 hour or more
  • ¼ small onion
  • 2c tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 4 t agave/honey or 2 soaked dates
  • 11⁄2 T dried oregano
  • 1t salt or to taste
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 2T lemon juice

Process all in a food processor or vitamix until smooth, adjust for salt/sweet depending on how salty your sundried tomatoes are. Set aside while you make your mushroom filling:

Mushroom Nut Filling

  • 2 pounds fresh mushrooms
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1t salt
  • 1t black pepper,
  • 1T dried sage
  • 11⁄2c sunflower seeds soaked 1 hour or more and drained
  • 1c sun-dried tomatoes, soaked for 1 hour or more
  • 2T dark/brown miso
  • 2t dried oregano
  • 2t dried sage
  • 1T nama shoyu/soy sauce
  • 1⁄2t cayenne pepper
  • 1T olive oil
  • 1T honey/agave nectar
  • 1t sea salt

In food processor, chop mushrooms coarsely. Sauté with garlic in 2 T olive oil, salt, pepper and sage, for 5 – 10 minutes until liquid is absorbed and mushrooms are very flavorful. Alternatively, for a truly raw version, spread evenly on dehydrator sheet and dehydrate for 2 – 3 hours until lightly “cooked”.

In food processor, blend nuts and remaining ingredients until combined but slightly chunky still. Combine with mushrooms. Set aside in dehydrator or warm place while you make your spinach filling:

Spinach and Onion Filling

  • 2 large onions
  • 1 pounds fresh spinach leaves, washed and chopped
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T olive oil

Sauté onions in olive oil, salt and pepper until translucent, add spinach and sauté 5 – 10 more minutes until gently cooked. Cool slightly in colander, squeezing lightly  to drain excess liquid.  Alternatively, to make raw, toss raw spinach with other ingredients and massage gently to soften.

Assembling the Lasagna….

Spread one cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of a large casserole dish, preferably glass. Top with one even layer of zucchini pasta, overlapping each slice slightly. Top with one thick even layer of mushroom filling.

Add a second layer of zucchini (use the ugly ones here and make sure you have enough for one more layer of nice ones for the top. You can skip this layer if you don’t have enough for both.

Top second layer of zucchini with the cashew ricotta, dot with spinach. Top with final top layer of zucchini. Smooth remaining tomato sauce over the top.  Cut carefully into 10 -12 pieces with a serrated bread knife and keep warm in dehydrator or low oven until ready to serve.

February 18, 2011 Posted by | Fresh, Low Carb Recipes, Main Courses, Pasta, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Vegan Recipes | 2 Comments

Not Really Pumpkin Pecan Tart (Raw!)

As promised, here is the raw and still-pretty-rich but much better for you version of the evil Pecan Pumpkin Tart. The “pumpkin custard” which is actually not made with pumpkin at all, is a lightened up version of Matthew Kenney’s Pumpkin Tart with Thyme, found in his cookbook Everyday Raw. This tart requires a couple of days to get all the elements together, but once you have everything it is actually very easy to make and can be done a day in advance. Don’t tell anyone one it is not actually pumpkin, or that it’s raw, until after they have tried it. They will never guess!

Glazed Pecans

  • 2 cups pecan halves (24 nice halves, plus a bit more for snacking)
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/4 t vanilla extract
  • pinch salt, cinnamon, nutmeg

Oat Nut Crumb Crust

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup ground pecans
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 2 T coconut crystals
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 t salt

Not Really “Pumpkin” Custard

  • 1/2 c cashews, soaked 4 – 6 hours
  • 3/4 c carrot juice
  • 1/2 c maple syrup
  • 1/2 c Irish moss gel (see recipe below. Or substitute 1/4 coconut oil)
  • 1/4 c coconut oil
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ginger
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/8 t cloves

Prepare Irish Moss Gel: Rinse 1/2 c dry Irish moss several times, taking care to remove any sand or debris. Soak for 24 hours at room temperature. Rinse one more time (save water for skin care, smoothies, soups or to water plants), top moss with 1/2 to 1 cup fresh water and blend very well (about a minute) in vitamix until completely smooth. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Glaze Pecans: Soak pecans in water for 3 – 6 hours. Drain and toss with a pinch of salt. Dehydrate 8- 12 hours. Toss with maple syrup and spices and a tiny bit of salt. Dehydrate again for 12 hours or until completely dry and crunchy.

Make Oat Crumb Crust: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pat evenly into 8′ tart pan with removable bottom. Chill well or freeze.

Prepare the Pumpkin Custard: Blend all ingredients in Vitamix on high until slightly warm and completely smooth. Pour into chilled or frozen tart shell and freeze for 2 hours. Refrigerate for 1 hour more to set consistency.

Decorate with Pecans and Serve.

Note: this recipe can be made without the Irish Moss. Increase coconut oil from 1/4 to 1/2 cup.

December 16, 2010 Posted by | Desserts, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | Leave a comment