Conscious Food Choices

For the love of delicious healthy food…

Suryalila Vegetarian Paella

Hola from the Suryalila Retreat Centre Kitchen! We are now officially up and running and we have just brought in Eduardo, an excellent new chef who will be running the kitchen while I am away.  (I am planning to head back to the States next week to apply for my Spanish visa). It is sad to leave now –  just when the retreat center kitchen is happily humming along, and the garden in starting to really take off, and we have all started to find our groove here running a brand new yoga retreat centre… but I also am looking forward to being home and enjoying Spring in NYC with Hannes.

In Suryalila, we have been gearing up for our first 3-week long yoga teachers training intensive with almost 30 people, which will start on Sunday.  Everything has gone incredibly well here since we opened our doors last month – we have had 3 smaller yoga retreats and a steady stream of regular guests, which has given me exactly 3 Sundays to perfect my Vegetarian Paella technique!

I am so much better at doing things than explaining them… so I am sorry but this recipe is going to sound really complicated. It really is not difficult, but there are a lot of elements to it, so I guess it goes into the “Labors of Love” recipes category… which I just made. (This was previously called the “Dedicate Your Saturday” category, so now the gnocchi recipes have company on the weekends.) Also, as with every recipe, obviously you should feel free to adapt to what is in season, what you have on hand, etc. In Southern Spain right now, the fava beans are just coming out, oyster mushrooms and artichokes are plentiful, and wild asparagus is growing in the fields and beside the roads everywhere…

Vale…vámanos!

Suryalila Vegetarian Paella for 10

roasted red pepper strips for paellaPrepare all ingredients and set aside…

  • 3 cups Bomba rice (similar to arborio rice, and traditionally used for Paella)
  • 6 cups good vegetable stock, warmed with
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron
  • 1 cup fresh fava beans, peeled, lightly poached in salted water or broth until their skins split.
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, trimmed into 5 -6 inch lengths, and lightly coated in olive oil and salt
  • 2 fire-roasted red peppers,  one cut into long decorative strips, and 1 diced finely
  • 8 -10 wedges of marinated artichoke hearts

Shredding oyster mushrooms for paellaMarinate the Tofu (optional)…

  • 1 pound of tofu, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 T smoked paprika (or sweet)

Fry tofu in olive oil until slightly brown on some sides, add all seasonings and toast on low heat for a minute or two. Let marinade for up to a day at room temperature if possible.

sauteeing oyster mushrooms...Sauté the Oyster Mushrooms…

  • 1 pound oyster mushrooms, torn into pieces
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t crushed garlic
  • 1/2 t salt and pepper

Sauté oyster mushrooms slowly in a non-stick pan  with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic until browned and flavorful on all sides. If not using tofu, add paprika and oregano to mushrooms instead of tofu.

Make a Kick-Ass Sofrito…

  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 cup green peppers, diced
  • 1 T garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups cubed or crushed tomatoes, bottled or fresh
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper

Making sofrito for paella

In one medium-sized paella pan or large skillet, saute onions with olive oil and salt until soft. Add garlic, green peppers, finely diced roasted red pepper and saute for 5 or more minutes until soft and onions start to brown. Add chopped parsley and tomatoes to middle of pan and cook n medium flame for another 5 minutes or until the tomatoes start to caramelize slightly.

Add dry bomba rice and stir into sofrito until rice is thoroughly hot and just starting to stick to bottom of pan, (about 2 minutes).

Add hot saffron broth slowly to paella pan, allowing the broth to completely cover the rice.  Add mushrooms and tofu and push them gently into rice and broth, without stirring. Shake pan to even out rice level and make sure the liquid just covers everything, adding more if necessary.

Cover paella pan with foil and allow to cook over a medium flame for about 10 minutes. Remove foil and arrange red pepper strips, artichoke hearts, and asparagus spears decoratively on top of rice. Sprinkle fava beans over top, cover again with foil and simmer slowly for another 10 minutes*, or until water is completely absorbed and rice is cooked al dente. Don’t be afraid to add a bit more broth if your paella is starting to get crispy on the bottom but is still not cooked on the top or sides.

* If your paella pan is much larger than your burner, place it on 2 lit burners for the last 10 minutes, and rotate every minute, so the sides of the pan also get cooked.

Stick a fork into the middle of the pan and try the rice to test if it’s done. The bottom should be sticking to the pan a little, and the top should be al dente, but not actually crunchy.

Take off heat, remove foil, and serve with lemon wedges. Buon Provencho!


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April 19, 2012 Posted by | Labors of Love, Main Courses, Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , , | 4 Comments

Baked Samosas with Fresh Cilantro Coconut Chutney

I have a real soft spot for India. It is a magical place. When I was 18 years old, I traveled around India for 4 months, completely falling in love with the country. It is incredibly intense, beautiful, rich, magical and maddening all at the same time, all of the time. I felt completely at home there! And also knew from the first day that this would be a place I would keep returning to for the rest of my life. So far I have been back 4 times and after this week, it might be time to start thinking about it again. I have heard it has changed a lot, but during the 80’s and early 90’s India was pretty much completely vegetarian, even in the in the very Northern, Punjabi region. It was amazing to travel in a a country that was so vegetable oriented, especially at a time where it was not so easy to be vegetarian anywhere else.

Despite my love affair with the country and the food, I find myself rarely cooking India food now because so much of it is so… well, cooked. In a country with very little refrigeration, fresh raw vegetables are not the primary focus, (and in fact can be deadly). The flip side is the wonderful complexity of the spices, which are not only delicious, but are often anti-microbial, immune system boosting, and anti-inflammatory. But, what about FRESH?

Last week I was looking for a recipe for Sarsan Ka Saag, (Punjabi Mustard Greens) and discovered a delightfully passionate Indian chef, Sanjay Thumma, who is fantastic becuase he is so exuberant about making delicious but also healthy and fresh Indian food. If you like Indian, make sure to check him out. He is endlessly entertaining, and I spent hours on Youtube this weekend watching the Vah Chef and then playing with “freshing up” his traditional Indian recipes even more.

This recipe is adapted from Sanjay Thumma’s Samosa video. Please watch it for the samosa wrapping technique.

Samosa Dough (makes 12)

  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t ajwain (I left out, but would have added in if I had it!)
  • 2 T oil
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 6 – 7 T water

Make the samosa dough: Mix flours, salt and spices in a bowl and add oil, mix well using hands to thoroughly incorporate the fat into the flours. Sprinkle with lemon juice, and 6 T water and toss lightly just to combine. Add more water if necessary for dough to hold together in a stiff ball but do not overwork. Flatten slightly and chill for 30 minutes or more, while you prepare filling.

Samosa Filling:

  • 4 cups cooked potatoes, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 T organic grapeseed oil
  • 1 t whole cumin seeds
  • 1/4 c chopped cashews
  • 1 t turmeric powder
  • 1 whole hot green chili, finely chopped (to taste)
  • 1 T whole coriander seeds, soaked in warm water at least 5 minutes
  • 1 T crushed fresh garlic
  • 1 T crushed fresh ginger
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1/2 t garam masala
  • 1/8 t asafoetita
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 t. lemon or lime juice

In heavy bottomed or cast iron frying pan, fry cumin seeds and cashews in hot oil for 30 seconds or so on medium heat. Add soaked coriander seeds, turmeric and hot green chili.  Saute one minute and add ginger and garlic paste and salt. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Add coriander powder, cumin powder, cayenne and green peas, saute 1 -2 minutes to coat. Add cubed cooked potatoes, garam masala, asafoetita and probably about 1 t.  more of salt. Combine well and heat through, adding a splash of water if necessary and adjusting for heat and spice (Go ahead and make it a bit spicier than you think you should – it mysteriously mellows out when wrapped in a samosa). Turn off heat and add cilantro and lemon juice. Adjust the spiciness and salt to taste and set aside to cool slightly.

Make the Samosas: Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly oil a heavy sheet-pan.

Cut the dough into 6 small balls and roll out each into a very thin oval (about 7′”x 5″ ideally). Use a well floured board to prevent sticking, and don’t be afraid of making the dough very thin or having ugly edges.  Cut each oval down the middle on the short side, to create two half-rounds. Moisten around each side with a bit of water and pinch the straight edge together, forming a cone. See the Vah Chef video, to watch how to wrap these exactly.

Fill each cone with samosa filling and seal edges as shown. Place bottom side down on sheet-pan and bake for 20 – 30 minutes until bottoms are well browned and tops become lightly golden.

Serve hot with lots of Fresh Cilantro Coconut Chutney! Yumm!

November 14, 2011 Posted by | Fresh, Potatoes, Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Pesto-Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes with Roasted Portabellos

This is the recipe that made me like quinoa, maybe even love it: fluffy quinoa with asparagus drenched in basil pesto, good enough right there… but then served with fresh ripe tomatoes and warm roasted portobello mushrooms – it’s a knockout combination. I owe thanks to Chef Tracy Morrisette, whom I worked with at the Goddess Garden in Costa Rica earlier this year, who convinced me with this combination that quinoa could be fantastic. If you are (like I was) in the camp that quinoa is no better than glorified bird seed, this recipe will convert you. (Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain – it is gluten-free, very high in magnesium (cardiovascular health) and also has more calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc than most grains. It’s also naturally high in protein and fiber.)

This can be served nearly raw as a summer salad or lightly baked as a gorgeous entree…

Pesto-Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes with Roasted Portobello (serves 4)

  • 4 medium-sized vine ripe tomatoes, (or two large heirloom)
  • 1 t extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (for 8 minute recipe, see below*)
  • 6 T  creamy blue-green basil pesto (any version)
  • 1 cup fresh asparagus, in 1″ pieces
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 2 T water
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lemon (opt)
  • 1 T nutritional yeast
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 4 medium portobello mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T well aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t maple syrup, palm sugar or agave (if balsamic is not well aged)
  • Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 450°.

Prep the tomatoes: Cut the tops off of medium tomatoes, or cut the big heirlooms in half, horizontally.With your fingers, gently scoop out all seeds and inner membranes of each tomato, leaving a hollow cup. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and rub in gently with your hands. Let sit while you prepare the quinoa.

Prep portobello: toss mushrooms with oil and vinegar salt and pepper until well coated all around. Taste and adjust – should be delicious already. Spread out in single layer on heavy baking pan.

Make Pesto-Quinoa Pilaf: Quickly saute asparagus with a small amount of olive oil, water and salt for 1 -2 minutes until slightly tender, toss with squeeze of lemon and zest. Toss in quinoa, nutritional yeast and warm through gently. Add pesto – taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Stuff each tomato or tomato half generously with quinoa pilaf. (If tomatoes are small they can be split into 4 quarters to accommodate more filling, but not necessary.) Organize in baking dish or sheetpan and place both portobello and tomatoes in very hot oven to roast for 10 – 15 minutes or just until tomatoes are hot through and top of pilaf has a touch of brown. Portobellos should be ready in about the same time but keep and eye on them.

I served with a lightly dressed arugula salad (arugula and a squeeze of lemon in the unwashed mushroom marinade bowl… ).

~~~~~~~~Other Versions: ~~~~~~~~~~~

Stuffed Tomato Salad – just don’t roast:  serve room temp pilaf in the fresh tomato shells over arugula, with un-roasted marinated portobellos on the side.

Un-stuffed Salad: Forget the whole stuffing thing, and just serve a big  scoop of warm or room temp pilaf over a plate or bowl of gorgeous sliced summer tomatoes.

Pesto Quinoa with Garlic Scapes: replace asparagus with fresh garlic scapes in above recipe.

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*Tracy’s 8-minute Fluffy Quinoa:

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • pinch sea salt

Wash quinoa several times to get rid of soapy taste. Cover in fresh water and let soak 1 hour or over night to activate enzymes (skip this if you are in a rush). Rinse one more time drain. Boil quinoa gently in small pot for 8 minutes only in salted water. (Yes, it’s really only 8 minutes and a 1:1 ratio- even a bit less if you are making a very large pot of 8 cups or more). Fluff with fork, cover tightly and let rest for 5-10 minutes more to totally fluff up and expand.

July 4, 2011 Posted by | Low Carb Recipes, Main Courses, Recipes, Salads, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , , | 7 Comments

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

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

My friends all know that I hate cupcakes. Vehemently. I have hated them for a long time – at least since the cupcake craze started in NYC by Sex and the City – and I kept waiting for them to go away, (…um, you know, like: grow up) but in the meantime they seem to have invaded other cities, cookbooks, some of my favorite blogs…and now even my dreams. I had a dream last night in which I had to make a cake for 200 people in an hour…and in it, I was seriously considering cupcakes. Very stressful.

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes with Edible Gold Leaf

Happily, and despite my own prejudices, I have discovered that there are some real life occasions when one hour is all you’ve got – you want to make something fun for your boyfriend and his 12 year old son’s birthday, for instance – and I have to admit that nothing could be better and more appropriate for the occasion than…chocolate cupcakes! So, here they are – vegan, no refined sugar, dipped in super gooey ganache, topped with edible gold leaf… making them, well, a little bit sexy. Who knew?

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting

  • 1 cup unbleached white, or “white whole wheat” flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3/4 c agave syrup, or coconut crystals
  • 1/2 c almond milk
  • 1/3 cup oil (organic grapeseed)
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 t apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare 12 muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in mixing bowl. Add agave syrup, almond milk, oil vanilla and vinegar and whisk lightly for 30 seconds to one minute until well combined. Pour into paper cupcake liners and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until tops spring back lightly when touched.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  • 1/2 cup raw agave syrup
  • 1/2 c cocoa powder
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, liquid but cool

Mix together all ingredients except coconut oil in Vitamix.  Add coconut oil in slow steady stream and blend until thick and glossy. Dip cooled cupcake tops into warm ganache. Top with edible gold leaf, nuts, or topping of choice. Enjoy!

March 30, 2011 Posted by | Desserts, Food Consciousness, Recipes, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | 2 Comments

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

Mexican Chocolate Pudding Cake

This is a low-gluten, vegan version of the old fashioned “pudding cake” recipe, in which you mix the base batter up in a baking pan, sprinkle with sugar and cocoa, top with boiling water and bake. As it bakes, it separates into a bottom pudding layer and a top cake layer.  Ugly, but super simple and homey and fun! Serve warm in bowls with freshly whipped cream or cashew cream to evil it up!

Mexican Chocolate Pudding Cake – Serves 6

Chocolate Pudding Cake

  • 3/4 cup barley flour (can also be made with wheat flour)
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or any other liquid)
  • 3 tablespoons oil (preferably coconut)
  • 1/2 cup honey/agave (or sucanat, coconut or palm sugar)
  • ½ t almond extract
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Pudding Layer:

  • 1/2 cup sucanat, coconut sugar or palm sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • seeds from 1/4 a vanilla bean, or 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water (or coffee, for a mocha twist)
  • pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In an 8×8 inch square pan, stir together the flour, almond meal, 1/4 cup of cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add ½ c honey/agave or sugar, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and oil. Mix together completely, scraping sides of pan and spreading batter evenly on bottom.

Add the “Pudding Layer”: Sprinkle brown sugar (or sucanat, or coconut crystals) and remaining 1/4 c cocoa powder over the batter. Add the vanilla and salt to the hot water, then pour the water over the top. Do not mix! Just pop in the oven as it is.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the surface appears dry and brownie-like and the pudding bubbles along the sides of the pan. Serve warm, spooning cake and pudding layers into bowls.

A Note on Chocolate: I used the traditional combination of chocolate, almonds and cinnamon in this recipe becuase in Costa Rica the cocoa powder has an odd fruitiness which needs a more complex combination of flavors to mask it. However, if you are using a high quality cocoa powder, ( and I highly recommend the 22-24% from MySpiceSage.com) you can make a great “Straight-up Chocolate” version, or add hot coffee in the pudding layer for Mocha, or leave out the cocoa powder in the cake layer and do a “Black and White” version, with the almond cake and chocolate pudding. Mmmm….

March 7, 2011 Posted by | Desserts, Recipes, Vegan Recipes | Leave a comment