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Archive for December, 2009

Curried Carrot Salad

Just made a batch of this carrot salad from Epicurious (originally from the May Bon Appétit) for my lunches this week. Tastes decent, although I think the flavours need to meld before I can really tell. Here are the changes I made (mainly due to missing ingredients):

• Used a shallot instead of green onion
• Almost doubled the yogurt and lemon juice
• Full-fat yogurt from Pinehenge Farms, of course – who can eat that fat-free stuff?
• Added a splash of agave syrup (would have used maple or just sugar but I’m out of both) to counteract a slight bitter flavour
• Left out the mint

All ready for lunch tomorrow (and I really need to stop taking photos in my kitchen after dark):

Also:

(Yes, that’s a local squirrel.)

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I just picked up two awesome raw-food “cookbooks” by Ani Phyo: Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen and Ani’s Raw Food Desserts. My sweet tooth being what it is, of course the first recipe I tried was from the desserts book: Halva Chia Thumbprint Cookies. And now I can’t stop eating them…

I made them pretty much according to the recipe, but next time I think I’d use honey instead of agave (I agree with Ani that agave syrup is overrated) – you’d have to cut down on the quantity, though, and I even found this amount of agave too sweet – and I might leave out the dates, or chop them before adding.

What makes these local? Well, I used my handpicked, handmade blackcurrant jam instead of her suggested (and actually raw) raspberry sauce. I have a thing for jam-making, and I think that one day, when I die, they’ll come into my house and find cupboards full of years of jam. So there’s no need to add to the stash.

Also, she says this makes 9 but I got 12 decent-sized cookies, and you could make them even smaller.

Halva Chia Thumbprint Cookies
from Ani’s Raw Food Desserts

3/4 cup sprouted chia seed powder
1/2 cup tahini
3/4 cup almond meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/3 cup pitted semi-soft Medjool dates
jam or fresh fruit sauce for filling

Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add the agave syrup and mix well. Add the dates and mix with your hands or a spoon.

Roll the dough into 9 balls (about 2 tablespoons each) and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Use your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon to make an indentation into the centre of each cookie. Fill each with a generous 1/2 teaspoon sauce or jam.

To serve, chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or more to firm up.

Will keep for several days in the fridge or many weeks when stored separately from jam.

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Totally off-topic with the raw (and not local) stuff, but here we go. Like many people, I’m a bit of a sweets- and choco-holic, but I prefer not to eat a lot of fatty, sugary sweets if possible. (Read: I keep them out of my house as much as I can for a very good reason.) But that doesn’t mean I don’t want dessert, so I’ve taken to making raw chocolate puddings for a yummy treat. They’re still somewhat sugary, and high in (unprocessed plant-based) fat, but they’re also full of nutrition and don’t make me feel gross after I eat them.

The first is a chocomole, from the blog Choosing Raw. Basically, it’s a mixture of avocado, cocoa or raw cacao powder (I like Green & Black’s), dates (Medjool blend up the best), vanilla and a bit of water, processed until smooth. The avocado sounds weird, I know, but it really is good. You’ll note mine isn’t as smooth as Gena’s, but maybe I was in too much of a hurry – extra time in the food processor really does help.

The second, which I tried for the first time tonight, is a chocolate coconut pudding. The creamy base is young coconut meat and water (I used plain water because I’d already drunk all the water from my coconuts), blended up with cocoa powder, vanilla and a sweetener (I used a blend of agave syrup and local honey). This one I did in the blender and I ran it for quite a while, so it got fairly smooth. The taste was shockingly reminiscent of the classic pudding cups, and not as coconutty as you’d think, and it disappeared pretty fast.

Enjoy!

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I used to always use those powders to make soup, but I’ve made the switch to homemade stock. It’s delicious, easy to make and a good way to make use of leftover vegetables.

The recipe I always use is from the Rebar Cookbook (which everyone should own, by the way), but adapted for my own tastes. And you don’t have to be exact with quantities – use what you have.

I always put my leek tops and shiitake stems in the freezer so they’re ready for making stock. You can do this with a lot of vegetables and it means less waste and an easier job cooking.

Basic Vegetable Stock
Adapted from the Rebar Modern Food Cookbook

1 tbsp olive oil
1 (large) or 2 (small) yellow onions
2 leeks, greens only, or combination of leek greens and garlic scapes
1 garlic bulb
4 carrots
1 celeriac root
1 apple
1 to 2 cups shiitake mushroom stems (or whole mushrooms)
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp coarse salt
few sprigs thyme, parsley and/or sage
20 cups cold water

1. Peel and roughly chop the onions, leeks, carrots and celeriac. Separate the garlic bulb and smash the cloves with the flat of your knife. Quarter the apple. If using whole mushrooms, chop them roughly.

2. Heat oil in a large stock pot and add the onions, leeks, carrots, celeriac, salt and bay leaves. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add all of the remaining ingredients, starting with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Strain and cool if not using immediately. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

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Sometime in the summer, I found out about the “green monster” trend – these are smoothies with green leafy vegetables added, often spinach. So I started adding spinach and occasionally other greens to my smoothies for added nutrition, with mixed results and a great degree of dislike from my significant other. I’ve made it a habit to add greens most days now, and I find I don’t notice them as much as I did when I started. But I didn’t think much of it other than as a way to add more green veggies to my diet, and I was basically adding the greens to my standard smoothie recipes – banana, milk (nut these days), fruit, protein powder, etc.

I recently got a copy of a book entirely about green smoothies: Green Smoothie Revolution by raw-foods activist/author Victoria Boutenko. She’s pretty fervent about the value green smoothies can have for your health – the gist of her theory is that we are meant to eat a large amount of green leaves every day (she points out how many greens chimpanzees eat) and that by blending them, we are a) making them easier to digest, translating into needing less greens for similar nutrition, and b) making them easier to eat, as most of us have a hard time eating bucketloads of raw kale salad.

But what I really find interesting is that she recommends blending your greens with nothing more than fruit or water. No nuts, no oils, etc. She claims that this makes them easier to digest, and the book has tons of recipes, from kid-friendly to beginner to advanced. (No, really.)

On the one hand, I’m a born cynic. On the other hand, this makes a lot of sense. So I’m going to try adding some basic green smoothies to my diet and see how I feel. Tonight I did young coconut/papaya/banana/arugula – kind of a cheat because coconut meat adds creaminess, but delicious and very hydrating.

Are you into green smoothies? What are your favourites?

Edited to add: My favourite green smoothie I’ve ever had was at Crudessence in Montreal. But the Tropical Green at Rawlicious is a close second.

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