Conscious Food Choices

For the love of delicious healthy food…

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…

...!

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

Brazil Nut Milk (Almond Milk, etc)

I recently spent 3 weeks working on a special diet with my dad, who is diabetic, and so have been exploring lots of new healthy breakfast recipes. The basis for so many great breakfasts is fresh nut milk, which is SO EASY to make – it literally takes only 5 minutes in the morning if you have soaked the nuts the night before.  It’s actually a great way to start the morning – don’t even bother to rinse the Vitamix afterwards – just use it to make a breakfast smoothie!

Easy Nut Milk

  • 1 c nuts (brazil nuts or almonds), soaked 7 hours to overnight in 3 – 4 cups water
  • 4 c water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 t agave
  • 1 t. vanilla

Blend soaked nuts with water in Vitamix on high until completely smooth – about 30 seconds. Pour through a nut bag into a large bowl, squeeze nut bag well to extract liquid. (Discard dry nut fiber, unless you can think of something creative to do with it. I tried…. Dehydrated, there is some potential to make homemade biodegradable packing peanuts, but other than that I could not find a use for it).

Add salt and flavorings to taste. Store refrigerated in a glass quart container for up to one week.

Note: you will need a good nut-milk bag for this. These can easily be ordered online, and probably also found at your neighborhood health food store or Whole Foods type market. In a pinch, I have also used a tea strainer, a fine mesh cloth vegetable bag, and even a (new) nylon stocking as my nut-milk strainer. Trust me… all of this is exactly what gives nut milk a bad name – a $12 nutbag at Amazon is a very worthwhile investment.

November 21, 2010 Posted by | Beverages, Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Vegan Recipes | Leave a comment

Ariana Salad (Vegan Caesar Salad)

Named after a vegan friend of mine who doesn’t like cashews, which I normally use as a base for vegan Caesar salad dressing, this dressing was made with Brazil nuts.  Brazil nuts are incredibly high in selenium, a trace mineral and powerful antioxidant which has been shown to strengthen the immune system, help prevent cancer, be great for your heart, and also be a mood enhancer…! 1 – 2 nuts a day will do the trick.  Since this recipe was originally adapted from a  vegetarian Caesar dressing recipe using a base of feta cheese, obviously you can switch out the Brazil nuts with raw tofu, cashews, feta cheese, or any combination you have on hand. Don’t tell Ariana but I did hers with half cashews and half Brazil nuts, and she loved it! 😉

Vegan Cesar Salad

  • 3/4 c cashews, Brazil nuts, tofu (or feta if not Vegan)
  • 1 -2 cloves garlic
  • juice of one lemon (1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 c olive oil (light is best)
  • 1 T umeboshi vinegar
  • 1 T capers
  • Salt, black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in blender or vita-mix and blend. Adjust for salt (use less if doing the feta version).Toss over washed and dried romaine lettuce. Top with freshly toasted garlic croutons and serve immediately. Makes 2 cups.

November 13, 2010 Posted by | Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Salads, Vegan Recipes | Leave a comment

Truly “Raw” Almonds – where to get ’em.

As many raw foodies are aware, most “raw” almonds are not actually raw because the FDA in its Infinite Wisdom requires all almonds sold to be either chemically treated or steam pasteurized. What to do? Get them imported from Spain and Italy, or… buy them directly from the grower!

I have been buying imported raw almonds from Living Nutz, which for some reason are not subject to the same pasteurization standards as US grown almonds. High quality, but pricey.  I recently discovered that you can also order from the California almond growers directly.

If you live close to California, I would try ordering almonds from Organic Pastures which also looks like a fantastic raw milk source, but unfortunately, they don’t ship all the way to NYC.

Here is a California almond farm that does, and with free shipping!  (In my free-shipping consumer frenzy I just ordered 10 pounds before I realized they were not listed as organic), but still, I like their rebellious nature…

This is what they posted online:

The pasteurization rule allows farmers to sell unpasteurized almonds at road side stands and certified farmers’ markets, so we just set up an “online roadside stand” I just don’t understand why my neighbors are allowed to buy my fresh almonds, but folks back east, or in the midwest, or anywhere else for that matter, aren’t allowed to. So, via our online roadside stand, truly raw almonds are available, just waiting to be enjoyed. Check us out! www.homegrownalmonds.com

Go Briden Wilson Farm!

May 30, 2010 Posted by | Raw Food Recipes, Raw Food Sources | , , | Leave a comment

Dragon Crackers

Dragon cracker image

This raw cracker recipe is an adaptation from the recipe in Roxanne Klein and Charlie Trotter’s gorgeous book Raw. In my not-so-humble opinion, Roxanne and Sarma have been the leading edge in making raw food stylish and sexy.

For Crackers:

  • 1 1/2 c golden flax
  • 2 c white sesame
  • 1/4 c black sesame
  • 2 c water
  • 1/4 c agave (dark is best) or maple syrup
  • 2 T nama shoyu (raw soy sauce)
  • 2 dried chipotle chili peppers, stem and seeds removed
  • 1/2 t red chili flakes
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 c sesame oil (toasted is nice)

For topping:

  • 2 Tbs agave/maple syrup mixed with 1/4 c water
  • salt, or smoked salt
  • paprika, or smoked paprika for sprinkling (optional)

Mix all cracker ingredients together and soak overnight.

Blend 3 cups of the soaked mixture (make sure you get the chipotles in there) in a blender or food processor for a couple of minutes. Add 1/4 cu sesame oil and up to a cup of water as necessary to keep things moving. The idea is to break up some of the flax and sesame to make it more digestible and give a nice cracker base, but not to make it a homogenized pulp. Flecks are good.

Combine with the unblended mixture and adjust for taste. Should be slightly sweet and spicy- not too salty.

Split between 4 Teflex sheets and spread evenly. Add more water to batter if needed – it will just evaporate. Dilute agave in water and lightly spray or brush on tops of crackers. Sprinkle  lightly with salt and smoked paprika.

Dehydrate overnight or until dry enough to flip. Flip over and break into big jagged shapes and dehydrate for 1 -2 more days on screens until they are crunchy. Taste and adjust the salt/sweet hit along the way by spraying agave/sprinkling with salt.

These crackers take a long time to dry and if you use agave rather than maple syrup, they make always stay just a little bit chewy. Really nice though – everyone loves these crackers.

Flavor Trick: with crackers and snacks I always try to hit a nice sweet salt balance on the surface, so the flavor explodes on your tongue. That makes the brain happy and paves the way for all the other nuances to come out as you chew.

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Snacks/Crackers, Vegan Recipes | , | Leave a comment

Herbed Walnut Hemp Quackers

I call these raw crackers “Quackers” in tribute to Sarma Melngailis’ retail store One Lucky Duck. This recipe comes from a combination of two of her recipes in Raw Food Real World.

  • 5 c raw walnuts (soaked 5 hours or overnight)Soaking Nuts image
  • 5 c diced zucchini
  • 1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 1 hour or more.
  • 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
  • big handful of fresh herbs
  • 1/4- 1/2 c water (or tomato soak water, if not too salty)
  • 1 c ground golden flax
  • 1/2 c hemp seeds
  • 2 t salt

In food processor or high-speed blender, grind walnuts to a rough powder one cup at a time. Transfer to a bowl. Blend zucchini, tomato, shallot, herbs and water and grind to a thick paste. Little flecks are good. Mix in bowl with walnuts, add remaining ingredients and adjust to taste. Add a little tomato soak water or more water to make a spreadable batter.

Spread mixture onto 4 Teflex sheets and sprinkle tops lightly with salt. Dehydrate at 115 6 – 8 hours or overnight. Flip over, cut into any cracker shape you like,  and continue drying on screens until completely crunchy and dry. Store these crackers in the refrigerator.

Flavor Trick: with crackers and snacks, I like to keep the batter lightly salted and add a little salt (and sometimes sweet) on the top so you get an immediate flavor hit when you bite in. Most whole foods release their flavor as you begin to chew, but our Western palates have been conditioned by Doritos and such to expect a flavor explosion at the first bite. So do it!

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Snacks/Crackers, Vegan Recipes | , | Leave a comment

Warm Winter Carrot Soup (raw)

Raw soups in winter never sound great to me, so I wanted to do something really rich and satisfying. If you have leftover parsnip pasta from the Creamy Parsnip Fettucine recipe, just use this in place of the wine-soaked parsnips below. Yum!

Serves 4

  • Macerate 2 c shredded parsnips with 1/4 c white wine and 1/2 t salt.  Let stand overnight.
  • 1 c raw cashews or macadamia nuts, soaked 2-4 hours and drained
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cups carrot juice
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Blend parsnips, soaked nuts, ginger and one cup of the carrot juice in a high-speed blender until its a super-smooth creamy base. Slow machine and add in remaining carrot juice until you get a rich creamy soup consistency. Whiz in coconut oil and adjust for salt and seasonings.

Warm this soup very carefully on a pot on the stove just before serving. Make sure it does not get too hot (hover over it and keep sticking your finger in the pot). Soup should not go over 115°F which is just slightly over lukewarm.

Serve in pre-warmed bowls with a few cilantro leaves as garnish.

Play with the flavors!

  • Make a Curried Carrot Soup by adding a pinch of ground cumin, coriander and turmeric!
  • Add meat and juice of one fresh young coconut, and lime for a more tropical taste

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Soups, Vegan Recipes | , , | Leave a comment

Super Green Smoothies

It was a revelation to me that you could throw a bunch of greens in the blender and have it turn into a refreshing drink that is completely delicious and satisfying. (Really! You have to experience it to believe it.) Sarma Melngailis has dedicated a whole section to her love of greens in Living Raw Food with some fantastic green blender drink recipes which is really inspiring. The best thing is you can do all of this in a Vitamix which is much easier to clean than a juicer.

You can play with this with whatever greens you have on hand, and the base I usually start with is the grapefruit, lime and agave to sweeten.

Serves 2

  • 1 grapefruit, in chunks, with peel cut off
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 whole bunch fresh cilantro, washed well, but stems and all!
  • 1 bunch of any greens, washed well, any tough stems removed.
  • 4-5  ice cubes
  • 1 lime (or lemon) in small chunks, with peel cut off
  • 1/4 c agave, or to taste

The only trick to this is the order you put things into the blender – make sure you put the juicy stuff in first (graperfruit, cucumbers) so you get a liquid going before you start adding the greens. Then, bunch by bunch, just stuff all those greens in and blend up until its all completely smooth. Add a little water if you need to. Add ice cubes as you go to keep it nice and cool, and finish with the agave and lime. These are the key ingredients that make this all taste so good – don’t be afraid to make this fairly sweet. You will be surprised at how refreshing and addictive this is.

Play with this recipe!

  • The grapefruit can be substituted with oranges, tangerines, pineapple etc
  • The cilantro can be replaced or mixed with parsley
  • Experiment with using combination of lettuce or fresh sunflower sprouts with the greens
  • The cucumber is really refreshing but not necessary – in NY in the winter I usually don’t have these laying around so I just add more water/ice.
  • For a lower carb version, 2 pkts of stevia can be substituted, or try a combo…
  • Try fresh coconut water instead!

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Beverages, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Vegan Recipes | | Leave a comment

Rosemary “Cream” Sauce (Raw)

This recipe is a slight modification from the one in Sarma Melngalis’ new cookbook Living Raw Food. Get this book – its awesome.

Blend everything up in a high-speed blender until completely smooth and creamy. Use to make Parsnip Pasta with Marinated Mushrooms.

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Low Carb Recipes, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan Recipes | , , , | Leave a comment

Creamy Parsnip “Fettucine” with Marinated Mushrooms (Raw)

This is blow your mind delicious alternative-to-pasta dish. Its easy to make but you have to get into the “Zen of Parsnip Peeling”…or have a couple of kitchen helpers around – it’s fun to do with friends!

Parsnip Pasta (Serves 4)

I love parsnips! They seem to be a very under-rated vegetable since no one seems to know much about them. They are wonderfully sweet and have a mellow wintery satisfying flavor and if you peel them into Fettuccine-like noodles with a simple vegetable peeler, they develop a delicious silky mouthfeel that is completely satisfying with a rich creamy nut sauce.

Texture Trick: the trick to the vegetable pastas is in how you cut it. You much slice or peel with the grain of the parsnip (or zucchini, or goldbar squash). DO NOT use one of those cool spiral slicer gizmos to make a vegetable pasta. Cool as it may look,  those slicers will cut through your vegetables against the grain, resulting in a rough and mealy mouthfeel which is not good for a pasta dish.

  • 8 medium sized parsnips,  thoroughly peeled to take off all the tough skin.
  • 1 zuchinni or goldbar squash, very lightly peeled, just to take off the smooth outer skin
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 T olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper

Peel the parsnips into fettucine shaped “pasta” the same way you would peel a carrot, rotating the parsnip by small turns until you run into the core. Keep peeling away as long as the parsnip is sweet and tender. Depending on the parsnip this might be the whole thing, or you might have to stop at the core which is sometime woody. (yes – you will have to keep munching on the raw parsnip as you prep… watch out, it’s habit forming).

Peel the zucchini into fettucine the same way, stopping short of the seedy core. We are just going for texture here.

Add salt and gently massage into the tangled mass of shredded veggies until they begin to soften and get slippery. This helps to break down the viberous nature of the vegetables and to give it that nice, smooth “cooked” feel in your mouth.

Now add the wine and the olive oil and massage in for a minute or two. Taste for salt, add pepper.  It should be completely delicious even at this stage.

Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour for vegetables to soften and marinate in the wine. You can do this up to  24 hours ahead.

Marinated Mushrooms

  • 1/2 lb brown crimini, king oyster, or mix of other fresh wild mushrooms, cleaned.
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/2 t finely crushed garlic
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh parsely
  • course salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut mushrooms into thick slices or bit sized chunks and toss with remaining ingredients- massage marninade into mushrooms gently with your hands for one minute. Adjust for taste (it should already be delicious at this stage).

Warm in dehydrator for 1 – 3 hours until mushrooms are soft and sauteed tasting. (Dehydrating is optional – you can simply leave out at room temperature and it will taste great).

In a large serving platter, top pasta with  Raw Rosemary Cream Sauce, and finish with a heap of mushrooms in the center. Enjoy!

Note: any leftover parsnip pasta can be made in the base for the Warm Winter Carrot Soup.

January 16, 2010 Posted by | Low Carb Recipes, Main Courses, Pasta, Raw Food Recipes, Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , , , , | Leave a comment