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Raw Food Fundamentals: Day 11

raw vegan chocolate truffles

Day 11 of learning raw food fundamentals has been completed!

I started the day with some lessons about how to make raw vegan versions of cheese. This was very insightful. I have seen other recipes in the raw food community about fermented nut cheeses, and this course has allowed me to do some fun experiments with that, as well as learn some great techniques. I can now re-create comfort foods and as an added bonus, get some extra probiotics in my diet. I will never complain about that. 😉

Here is some “swiss cheese” spread out on the dehydrator sheet ready to go in. We’ll see what it looks like tomorrow.

raw vegan swiss cheese

After this, I started the process of soaking and sprouting some buckwheat for use in a later recipe. After the soaking is done, it still has to be dehydrated back to a crispy state. I am excited to see what it will be used for. 

Next came the assignment I was most eager to work on. CHOCOLATE! That’s right, we learned how to make chocolate truffles, and we got to select our own toppings. The texture and flavor of these is amazing. They aren’t overly sweet either, like the truffles you might purchase in a chocolate shop. I think they had just the right amount of sweetness. 

The recipe for the batter to make the truffles is in Matthew Kenney’s book, Raw Chocolate

In the photo with the truffles on the big round plate, the center truffle has pecans on it, and the flavors on the rest, starting clockwise from 12 o’clock position, are:

  1. cacao nib/chili powder/applewood smoked sea salt
  2. bee pollen
  3. pistachio
  4. maple candied pineapple
  5. lime zest, dried coconut, coconut sugar
  6. cinnamon, ginger, orange and lemon zests
  7. cinnamon
  8. cacao nib / Pirate’s Bite spice blend from Spice & Tea Exchange in Winter Park, FL

I sampled a few to make sure they were safe to eat. I have some other taste testers coming to visit tomorrow. 😉

raw vegan chocolate truffle toppingsraw vegan chocolate trufflesraw vegan chocolate trufflesraw vegan chocolate trufflesraw vegan chocolate truffles

 After my fun afternoon of truffle rolling (which may or may not have been accompanied by a lemon honey margarita), we made pancake batter. They’re all ready to go into the dehydrator! I was really excited to see this. I haven’t had pancakes in a long time. I can’t wait to see what they taste like!

raw vegan pancake batter

I’m all set for big day #12! I can’t wait to have more fun with the fermented cheeses and see how these pancakes turn out!

Bloody Mary Gazpacho (Raw Vegan)

raw vegan bloody mary gazpacho

To finish off the 10th day of my raw food classes, we were tasked with a challenge to come up with an original recipe based on a set of given criteria (I won’t spoil the fun for anyone who wants to take the class – no cheating!). Ultimately, my strange thought process led me to create a Bloody Mary Gazpacho. 

I was really pleased with myself when I tasted the final result. The soup base does indeed taste like a fresh Bloody Mary base, and all without the need for any animal products (goodbye Worcestershire sauce!) or heat treated juices that are devoid of nutrition. This particular dish is loaded with vitamin C and vitality! 

Part of the assignment was to get fancy with the presentation, so I had a lot of fun with the plating, but if that’s not your thing, feel free to just dump your vegetables right on top. 

raw vegan bloody mary gazpacho

Bloody Mary Gazpacho
Serves 2
A savory twist on the traditional gazpacho, this dish is infused with rich Bloody Mary flavors that combine smokey, sweet, and slightly spicy. Your friends will swear they're eating cooked food!
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Prep Time
40 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
40 min
Total Time
40 min
Chopped Vegetable Ingredients
  1. cucumber, small dice - 1/2 cup (appx 1/2 large cucumber)
  2. yellow bell pepper, small dice - 1/2 cup
  3. tomato, chopped roughly to small dice - 1/2 cup
  4. green olives, rough chopped - 1/4 cup (I used Castelvetrano olives - my new favorite!)
  5. shallot, minced - 2 TB
  6. fresh parsley, finely chopped - 1 TB
  7. carrots - 1/2 carrot - cut paper thin on mandolin
Bloody Mary Gazpacho Soup Base Ingredients
  1. red sweet pepper, chopped (appx 2-3 small peppers) - 1/4 cup
  2. pearl and/or plum tomatoes, chopped - 1 cup
  3. sun dried tomato, chopped - 1/4 cup + 2 TB
  4. celery juice - 1/2 cup (juice of 4-5 stalks)
  5. lime juice - 2 TB (juice of 1-2 limes)
  6. wasabi powder (all natural - make sure there are no additives!) - 1/2 tsp
Instructions
  1. Put sun dried tomatoes (for soup base) in warm water to soak for 10-15 min while you prepare the chopped vegetables and marinade.
  2. Juice the celery and the limes.
  3. Chop the vegetables and add all of them except the carrots to a medium sized mixing bowl.
  4. Add the marinade ingredients to the chopped vegetables and mix until well coated. Let it sit while you make the sauce.
  5. Add all of the sauce ingredients to the blender on high speed until smooth and well combined. If you want to thin it out a bit, you can add a little bit of filtered water, 1 TB at a time.
  6. Divide the chopped vegetables into two portions - one for each plate.
  7. For each plate: If you want to get fancy, line a ring mold with the sliced carrots. It helps to have them in a bowl of water so they stick together better. Then, fill the ring mold with half of the chopped vegetables and pack it down. Juices will leak out and this is ok. Pour appx half of the soup mix into the bowl BEFORE removing the ring mold. Let the juices mingle and swirl them with a spoon for an even consistency. Then, carefully, remove the ring mold, and garnish with some fresh herbs.
  8. If you want a more rustic dish that looks like a traditional gazpacho, then add the soup base to the bowl first, forget the ring mold, and add the vegetables right on top. Use the shaved carrots as a garnish around the edges of the soup.
Notes
  1. If you REALLY want to, you can thin out the soup base to make it a more drinkable texture and it does make an excellent vegan Bloody Mary base.
  2. If you add some flax seed to the water that the carrots are in, they will adhere together even better.
  3. You can find ume plum vinegar at any Asian grocery story or you can order it online. I like this one: Eden Foods Selected Ume Plum Vinegar -- 10 fl oz
  4. The ume vinegar really does provide a depth of flavor, even though there is a small amount. If you can't find it, you can try substituting with ACV and then adding an extra 1/2 tsp of dulse flakes to increase the "fishy" factor.
  5. You can probably use coconut aminos in place of the tamari if you prefer.
  6. The smoked spices REALLY make the flavor pop on this. Please don't omit them. I used an applewood smoked sea salt from a local spice company, but you can use any that you like which has a strong wood-smoked infusion of taste and fragrance.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Spicy Mango Lime Kale Chips

kale chips

Mmmmmmm….. Kale chips. This is a great healthy treat! Feel like you’re snacking and sneak more leafy greens into your diet!

Best of all, since these are made in a dehydrator with a temperature below 118 degrees (Fahrenheit), all of the vitamins and enzymes remain intact! They are much healthier than kale chips made in an oven. I don’t bake my vitamins out, especially not from my greens!

This recipe turned out great. I made it as part of a class project to come up with my own kale chip recipe. They were slightly sweet, moderately spicy, and had just a hint of tanginess. They did not last long. I had a hard time not eating them out of the bowl when I was trying to photograph them. 😉

kale chips kale chips

Spicy Mango Lime Kale Chips
Serves 4
These kale chips are sweet, spicy, and tangy! They will give you a delightful kick int the pants, and you won't be able to stop eating them. 🙂
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
10 hr
Total Time
10 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
10 hr
Total Time
10 hr 30 min
KALE
  1. 1 large bunch of kale, de-stemmed, washed, and ripped into chip sized pieces
KALE CHIP SAUCE INGREDIENTS
  1. 1 cup cashews, soaked (2-4 hours)
  2. 1 ripe mango
  3. 1/4 cup lime juice
  4. 1 TB red chili flake
  5. 1 tsp agave nectar
  6. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  7. 2 TB water (as needed to blend)
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until well combined. The sauce will be thick, so you might need a tamper to help it blend. If it is too thick to blend, add a little water - 1TB at a time until you can get everything mixed.
  2. Pat your kale leaves with a towel to ensure there is no excess moisture on them. This will help the sauce stick better.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the kale pieces with the sauce. Mix it up thoroughly with your hands (I wear rubber gloves) until everything is well-coated.
  4. Spread the kale out on some dehydrator sheets and dehydrate overnight.
Notes
  1. Nuts are best soaked to reduce enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid, and make them more digestible. However, if you are in a hurry and you can't wait the 2 hours for your cashews to soak, just use 1 cup raw cashews and about 3 TB of water.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Summer Salad with Fresh Fruit, Edible Flowers, and Herbal Lime Dressing

Summer Salad with Fruit and Herbal Dressing

I made this light summer salad for dinner this evening because summer has come to Florida! We are experiencing the afternoon torrential downpours, as well as the heat and humidity. My porch plants  start to protest if I skip even one day of watering. Some of them even prefer twice a day (I’m looking at you, tomatoes).

This summer salad recipe is flexible; the ingredients can be changed up to suit your own tastes and produce availability. I really enjoyed it with the tangy fruits, as the dressing is subtly sweet and herbal, so the flavors compliment each other nicely. The addition of tender greens and sprouts also provides a nice balance of flavor to counter the sweetness in the fruit. Finally, the edible flowers are totally optional, but I grew them in my garden without any chemicals, and I love how they add a little extra “art” to the presentation. 

Summer salad with fruit and honey lime dressing

Regarding the health benefits of this dish…

I strive to include raw leafy greens in as many of my meals as possible. They are full of fiber, vitamins, absorbable calcium, iron, and they are my favorite source of protein. Per calorie, many leafy greens have more protein than meat, and you won’t be sacrificing any of the valuable phytonutrients in the process of consuming it. When you consume them raw, you keep all of the heat-sensitive vitamins and enzymes intact!

Sprouts are a nutritional powerhouse! Because the little plants are preparing to use a lot of energy to become great big plants, they are full of vitamins and enzymes (a type of protein), which help you to break down your food more efficiently and absorb more nutrients from it. The protein in seeds is higher quality and more absorbable when they are sprouted. Additionally, many nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors, which are not broken down until they are soaked and the germination process begins. During the sprouting process, essential fatty acid content is higher than in the seed alone as well.

Fresh fruit in a variety of colors ensures a variety of nutrients are present in your meal! Pineapple, kiwi, and strawberry are all excellent sources of vitamin C, some of them more so than citrus! Pineapple is highly anti-inflammatory, strawberries are a great source of zinc (from their seeds), and while kiwi’s best traits are being high in fiber and vitamin C, it might also help you get a better night’s sleep. I’ve got some organic apples in there too. Apples are a great source of potassium and the skins contain an antioxidant called quercetin (also found in onion peels, but we don’t want to eat those!). It can help to block histamine response if you are an allergic type of person, and it combats inflammation of your neurons, which means apples are good for your nervous system and might help to prevent dementia. Apples help to keep us sane. 😉 Their high fiber content also helps to reduce cholesterol.

Marigold petals are edible! Their bright orange color comes from carotenoids – the same antioxidant family that gives carrots a similar hue. Three particular carotenoids in marigold petals are lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene. The former two help to protect against damage to your eyes as you age. So, get out there and nibble on some flowers! I tossed a few cucumber blossoms in there for good measure. I had to trim back my vines a bit today due to my limited porch space. I knew they were edible and I don’t let perfectly good food go to waste in this this home! (http://www.livestrong.com/article/444206-health-benefits-of-marigold-flowers/)

The dressing for this salad is really amazing. I used a probiotic drink called jun that I brew myself (along with kombucha and a slew of other things I enjoy fermenting), fresh lime juice, local raw honey, flax oil, and fresh sage and peppermint from my garden! Every single ingredient serves to boost the nutritional value of the meal. The jun adds more biodiversity to the gut flora (and a very pleasant floral green tea flavor to the dressing). Combined with improving my gut flora, local raw honey has done miraculous things for my seasonal allergies. I like to add a small amount to my food/drinks a few times a week. As I have significantly reduced my oil consumption, flax seed oil is one that I still consume in small amounts, as it is the only plant based oil that has more omega 3 than omega 6, making it anti-inflammatory. One of the reasons that sage and mint pair so nicely together is because they are botanically related! I love to pair related plants. They always seem to compliment each other, flavor wise. Peppermint is great for digestion and sage can help to improve memory function. It’s also anti-inflammatory and was once thought to be crucial in fighting off the plague!

Summer Salad w/Fresh Fruit & Herbal Honey Lime Dressing
Serves 2
A light and filling summer salad that contains a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals and a rich layering of flavors. This recipe can easily be scaled up or down to feed as many people as you need it to.
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Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Salad Ingredients
  1. 5 oz butter lettuce (or tender greens of choice)
  2. 1/2 red delicious apple (always buy organic apples)
  3. 4 large strawberries (always buy organic berries)
  4. 2 kiwis
  5. 1" section of pineapple
  6. 1/4-1/2 cup sprouts of choice (I used sweet clover sprouts)
  7. Edible flowers (optional - I used marigold petals and cucumber blossoms - both from my garden)
Dressing Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup jun (for a similar flavor, substitute 1/4 cup chilled jasmine green tea + 1/2 tsp honey + 1/4 tsp ACV)
  2. 1 lime, skinned
  3. 2 TB flax seed oil
  4. 2 TB local raw honey
  5. 6 fresh sage leaves
  6. 12 fresh peppermint leaves
Instructions
  1. Add 2.5 oz of tender greens to each plate (should be easy to divide based on standard sizing of packaged greens)
  2. Chop fruit and arrange on top of the greens to your artistic liking
  3. Add appx 1/4 cup sprouts to each plate (or just a few pinches - however much you like)
  4. Sprinkle with edible flowers
  5. Add all dressing ingredients to blender and blend until thoroughly combined (each serving is roughly the size of an espresso cup - shown in photo)
  6. Top salad with dressing
  7. Eat with someone who will make pleasant dinner conversation and give thanks for the bounty on your plate. 🙂
Notes
  1. Jun is a fermented drink that is made using a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts). It provides a blend of probiotics that are good for your gut. It is grown in a similar fashion as kombucha, but is grown in a medium of green tea and raw honey. This being the case, the jun has a light floral taste (pending the type of honey you use - orange blossom is my preference). I realize that most people probably do not have a jun culture, so the closest thing I think you could substitute to get a similar flavor in the dressing is an equal amount of a light jasmine green tea with just a small amount of honey, and an even smaller amount of ACV to account for the every so slight acidic flavor of the probiotics.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Cucumber Mint Salad (Raw Vegan)

cucumber and mint salad with lime and olive oil

The weather is starting to heat up here (Orlando) already! One of my favorite warm weather treats is a chilled cucumber mint salad. I love cucumbers in general though. I have to say, they are one of my favorite foods and I think I could eat them every day. The warm weather just gives me an excuse to eat them more often. They pair wonderfully with mint, another cooling food.

The weather has been so warm lately that I harvested the first tomato from the plants on my porch this afternoon! I’ve lived in Florida my entire life and this seems normal to me, but a friend out in the Pacific Northwest informed me that they are just starting to think about planting this time of year. 

It was a small tomato – only about 1.5″ in diameter. I sliced it into 4 little pieces just so I could savor the first fruit from my porch garden. This is a big deal for me. For as much as I love food and putting together recipes, I have not really done well keeping plants alive in the past. Hopefully, the trend will continue, and I will have some tomato recipes to share soon. 🙂

fresh homegrown tomato

Back to cucumbers… I’ve got some cucumbers started in the “garden” too, which I lovingly refer to as my “porch jungle”, but they aren’t ready just yet. I guess I should get on with the cucumber and mind salad recipe. It’s so easy to prepare as a quick and light appetizer to accompany a summer meal. 

Cucumber and Mint Summer Salad
Serves 4
This is a light and cooling cucumber and mint salad tossed with a refreshing hint of lime. It's very quick to prepare.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 English cucumber - chop it how you like (thinly sliced, cubed, etc.)
  2. 1/4 sweet onion - chop it how you like (thinly sliced, cubed, etc.)
  3. 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  4. 1 lime - cut into quarters
  5. 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  6. sea salt to taste
  7. fresh ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop the cucumber, sweet onion, and mint leaves. Toss them together in a bowl.
  2. Divide into quarters on plates or in bowls. Fancy it up if you'd like!
  3. Sprinkle each plate with a pinch of salt and some fresh ground pepper.
  4. Squeeze a quarter wedge of lime onto each plate.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil. Use an herb infused olive oil (e.g. basil) for a little something extra.
Omnivore Modification
  1. This salad also pairs well with goat cheese if you have an omnivore in your family that isn't ready to give up dairy.
Dressing Alternative
  1. A simple oil and vinegar will also work well if you do not have limes.
The Cucumber Rose
  1. A cucumber rose (pictured) is a nice artistic touch if you want to make your presentation a little more special.
  2. Slice your cucumbers using a diagonal angle so that the pieces come out longer.
  3. The cucumbers should be paper thin - you can achieve this with a mandolin at 1/16" or 1.5mm.
  4. Roll one slice very tight in the center, and then wrap other pieces around it.
  5. Secure with a toothpick.
  6. If it is too tall, you can slice some off one end. This also helps it to lay flat on the plate.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/