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Book Review: Raw Essence (with recipes)

Rawessencebook

RawEssence: 165 Delicious Recipes for Raw Living was released last week, and lucky me, I had a copy show up about two weeks ago. I couldn’t decide what to try, first world problem I know, the majority of the recipes all sounded good – and the lush photography made it even harder. If you love eating raw, you must get a copy of this book!

But….knowing me, I ended up in the dessert section. I kept wandering back to the Sugar Pie on page 194-195. Which brings me to something:

If you are over a certain age (gah, am I in that crowd now?), there was a time when Brazil Nuts were hounded on for being “unhealthy”. This was mostly due to just how high in fat the nuts are (and they are really seeds if you will). And yes, they are fattening, no doubt about that, but what the 80’s low-fat craze left out was that was that the fat was a good fat. Brazil nuts are something to not over indulge in, but to enjoy in your diet in small amounts. And oh do they produce an amazing nut butter! But do be careful, while Brazil nuts are a source of many wonderful things, indulge in a few every day, but don’t go over board. So…having said that, enjoy this pie but remember, s small slice goes far. It is rich and filling. The pie lasts a long time, up to 10 days in the refrigerator for 4 months if frozen. And that is the beauty of raw desserts – you actually ‘fill up’ and don’t mindlessly keep eating.

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This was a three-part recipe, but none of the steps were hard nor time-consuming. Having fresh date paste in the refrigerator is a great time saver, it is a wonderful fat and sugar substitute for a lot of recipes (use it for oil in muffins!). The paste is  in both the crust and the filling, so make it ahead….or be like me, washing my food processor 3 times in a row 😉

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Date Paste (From page 25)

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups pitted dates (used Medjool)
  • 1½ cups filtered water

Directions:

Soaking: In a container (used a small mixing bowl), cover dates with water and let soak for 2 hours. Press down thoroughly so all dates are moistened. Cover with a weight, if necessary.

Once dates are thoroughly softened, place them along with their soaking water in the food processor and mix until a paste obtained that is as uniform, sticky and smooth as possible.

Store for up to 3 months in the refrigerator.

Notes:

It only took a minute or so in my food processor to make a smooth paste. I used Medjool dates, from Costco’s produce department, which are very soft to start with. Harder dates may need a longer soak time.

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Coco-Pecan Crust (from page 195)

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups pecans
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3 Tbsp date paste
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves (I left this out)
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

Directions:

In a food processor, reduce pecans to powder.

Add remaining ingredients and blend into a crust of even consistency that can be formed into a ball.

Keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Makes one 9″ crust.

Note:

For easy pie removal, line a glass or metal pie pan with plastic wrap, then pack in the crust mixture with hands. Pat down firmly with the back of a metal measuring cup. Chill until ready to fill.

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Sugar Pie (from page 195)

Ingredients:

  • 1 coco-pecan crust
  • 3 cups Brazil nuts
  • ¾ cup date paste
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil

Directions:

(While I followed the directions in the book, even with our powerful Vitamix Blender, if I were to make the filling again, I would just mix it all up in the processor and skip using the blender. The filling is thick and really works the blender hard.)

In a food processor, reduce Brazil nuts to a butter that is as liquid and creamy as possible

Pour mixture into blender. Add date paste, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Reduce to a smooth paste of even consistency.

While blender is running, incorporate melted coconut. Continue blending until mixture is creamy and of even consistency.

Pour mixture into crust. Refrigerate pie for 3 hours to allow it to set.

Makes 1 9″ pie, 8 to 12 servings.

Keep covered and refrigerated for up to 10 days, or stored in freezer for up to 4 months (wrap slices individually).

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: We received a copy of the book for potential review.

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Raw Dessert: Avocado Cheesecake

Last week I was lured by a bag of large avocados at Costco, each one came out to $1, which is what the small Hass ones sell for on sale in town. I let two ripen on the counter and thought up ideas to use them in. Having seen a Pin for a raw avo cheesecake, I had to try it. I love raw desserts, especially the “cheesecake” ones. If anything, real cheesecake doesn’t interest me too much these days. It is simply too heavy and thick tasting. I liked her take on not having the filling nut-based, most vegan raw cheesecakes fillings are (don’t get me wrong, they are fabulous tasting, I just wanted something new).

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In many raw cheesecake recipes 4″ mini springform pans are called for. I use mini 4″ cake pans that I line. Source online and in craft stores that have specialty baking items.

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I adapted the recipe a bit and served it plain, and then tried it with homemade strawberry jam on top. The green speckled with ground vanilla beans is striking.

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The taste? Delicious. Well, delicious for those who enjoy raw plant-based desserts 😉 There is the faintest hint of the avocado underneath, when eaten naked. I enjoyed it, and while Kirk did too I could see him trying to figure out what it was made of. Hah!

Avocado Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Crust –

Filling-

  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp Organic Creamed Coconut, finely grated
  • ½ tsp Ground Vanilla Beans or vanilla bean paste (optional, or use more vanilla extract)

Directions:

Line 2 mini cake pans with plastic wrap (these are my go-to ones: Wilton Mini Cake Pans 3/Pkg-4×1.25 Round), set aside.

Add the almonds and coconut to a food processor bowl, grind on high until finely chopped. Add in the dates and water, process until mixed in, then add coconut oil, process on high until mixed in. Divide the mixture between the two cake pans, pressing down firmly with a spoon till flat, set aside.

Wipe out food processor bowl, split avocado in half, discard pit, scoop out flesh and add to bowl, with maple syrup, water, vanilla extract and salt. Process high until smooth, scraping sides as needed.

Mix melted coconut oil with creamed coconut and vanilla beans, stir till mixed, then add into avocado mixture, process on high until mixed.

Divide between the two cake pans, smoothing top. Gently cover each pan with a small sheet of plastic wrap. Refrigerate until set, about 6 hours, or freeze for an hour to speed it up. To plate, pull out of pans by the plastic wrap, flip over onto a small piece of clean plastic wrap, quickly flip onto a dessert plate.

Store wrapped in the refrigerator, eat within a day.

Makes 2 mini cheesecakes, serving 2 to 4.

~Sarah

Raw Pecan Cookies

Any guess who loved these little cookies? A certain toddler does! (They crack me up…I had a big box the other night and left it on the floor, to see what would happen. Minutes later the box was across the house and the two little ones were happily playing with it!)

I really liked the flavor – and texture – of these snacks. Perfect for keeping the refrigerator when I need a quick pick up! Or when Walker wants a “treat”.

Raw Pecan Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Medjool dates, measured after pitting
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Coconut
  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt

Directions:

Add the pecans, coconut and sea salt to a food process, pulse until finely chopped, set aside in a bowl. Add the dates and vanilla to the processor, run on high until finely chopped. Add the nuts in, run on high until mixed, scraping the bowl as needed.

Using a 1 Tablespoon Disher, make balls, compact in your hands, then flatten gently between your palms.

Place on a parchment paper lined small baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, let chill in the refrigerator until needed, or store long-term in the freezer, wrapped tightly.

Carry on the trail in a snack bag, preferably protected in a hard sided container, such as a drinking mug.

Makes about 15.

~Sarah

Cashew Pudding

I was inspired by a recent recipe on Detoxinista for a raw cashew pudding. I adapted the recipe to our taste, bumping up the honey and coconut oil and swapping in coconut milk. Oddly enough, the eenager loved it. So much he ate 2 servings and asked if I would make it again. soon. So I did and tweaked the recipe the second time, using maple syrup and cinnamon for a different taste. And my thoughts? The second version, with maple syrup, is tastier!

I found that little dessert bowls worked perfect for serving in. It is rich, only a little is needed.

Cashew Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp raw organic extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Directions:

Add the cashews to a small mixing bowl, cover with 2 cups filtered water and cover. Leave on the counter to soak for 3 hours, rinse and drain.

Add the cashews and remaining ingredients to a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix, process on high until smooth, tamping as needed.

Divide between small dessert bowls and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

Serves 2 to 4.

Maple Cinnamon Cashew Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp raw organic extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Directions:

Add the cashews to a small mixing bowl, cover with 2 cups filtered water and cover. Leave on the counter to soak for 3 hours, rinse and drain.

Add the cashews and remaining ingredients to a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix, process on high until smooth, tamping as needed.

Divide between small dessert bowls and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

Serves 2 to 4.

~Sarah

Proudly made with our Vitamix Blender:

Raw Sweet Cacao Nibs & Recipes

Recently I received a package of goodies from Navitas and in it was a package of Sweet Cacao Nibs.

Having had regular cacao nibs I was on the fence wondering what was the difference? I honestly have tried to find a love for the regular ones but they are to me….bitter. Well the sweet ones? Completely different! Just enough sweetener added that the bitter aftertaste is gone. A pleasant and chewy chocolate liquor flavor, they go nearly anywhere you might consider using semi-sweet chocolate chips. Eventually I know I will come to love the regular ones but for now I have a happy medium to eat and work with!

Navitas sells on their website their entire line, they can also be found on Amazon, which is sold with Prime shipping on most products (and you know how much I love Prime!).

And for recipes? First I was inspired to try NomEatNom’s newest baked oatmeal recipe, doubling it for Kirk and I – delicious! She comes up with very tasty creations – that I love to adapt!

Baked Cacao Chip Cookie Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned eats
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbsp sweet cacao nibs
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 whole eggs, preferably organic and local
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°, lightly oil or spray two individual ramekins, place on a small baking sheet.

Mix the oats, sugar, cacao nibs and salt together in a mixing bowl. Whisk the applesauce, eggs and vanilla together, add to the dry and mix. Divide between the two ramekins and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve warm or chill for later serving, reheat for 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds.

Serves 2.

In the package I found this:

I didn’t know they had a lip balm! Yum….lets just say you actually want to put it on! It smells and tastes great. All organic and nothing questionable. It is residing in my hip belt pocket on my daypoack now for hiking!

As for the next recipe? These little balls are sticky and sweet. They do best out of the refrigerator, not a good carrying treat, rather an ideal snack on a hot day where you are feet from the fridge!

Cacao Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey, local preferred
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sweet cacao nibs

Directions:

Add the cashews, oats and salt to a food processor bowl, grind until finely chopped. Add the honey and vanilla, process until mixed, scraping as needed. Turn out into a small bowl, work the cacao nibs in. Make Tablespoon balls, a 1 Tablespoon Disher works well, place on a plate and chill. Store covered, preferably on parchment paper due to being sticky.

Makes about 9 balls.

Notes:

Yes, you can make these vegan with raw agave nectar. I made a decision awhile back to use locally sourced raw honey – supporting our local bee population and our hardworking farmers and not buy agave in large jugs from sources I can’t meet in person. And honestly? I think raw honey has so much more flavor!

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: We received product samples for potential review.

Raw Peppermint Patties

Little chocolate cookies with the coolness of mint, can also be made into balls or bars. For bars, add to a plastic wrapped bread pan, press down tightly, chill and then cut.

Raw Peppermint Patties

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup raw cashews
  • 2 cups pitted Medjool dates, about 18 large
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ tsp pure peppermint extract
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt

Directions:

Add everything to a food processor bowl, process on high until coming together. Taste to see if you need more peppermint and or salt. Use a 1 Tablespoon Disher to make balls, roll in your hands to compact and flatten gently. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, chill for an hour to set up, then transfer to an airtight container, store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 24.

~Sarah

Raw Oreos

I was inspired by a post on Chocolate Covered Katie and made my version of them. Perfect hiking food I decided….my only issue was figuring out how to cut the cookies. I found I didn’t have a small enough cookie or biscuit cutter. Using a glass didn’t work, I needed to be able to push them gently if they stuck. Kirk came up with an easy solution, my Arrow Plastic Canning Funnel that was sitting in the drying rack. It was the perfect shape, I could reach right through and pop out the cookies. (Although I found mine at the local Walmart in the canning section for a couple of dollars, same brand – and it is US made). It was relatively non-stick also, where my metal tools gummed up a bit. The cookies take longer to make than most raw treats, the effort is worth it. Just make sure you have plenty of free time and don’t need an instant dessert.

And enjoy them, they are fantastic. I know I did. I ate…eek..3 of them today while hiking in the Central Cascades of Washington! I was so fueled I felt great!

Kirk gave me a day out and took the boys while I went hiking with a friend. A wonderful day! PS: The cookies taste even better slightly warmed in my backpack!

Raw Oreos

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 1/3 cups Medjool dates, pitted (measured after pitting, pressing in, used 17 dates)
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 + 1/16th tsp fine sea salt (which is a Dash + Pinch = Pinch Dash Smidgen Measuring Spoons)
  • ½ cup Raw Coconut Butter
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey or agave nectar

Directions:

Add the cashews through salt to a food processor bowl, process on high until finely chopped and it comes together in a ball. Remove and put on a sheet of parchment paper, top with another sheet of parchment paper, press flat with your hands, then roll to cookie thickness with a rolling-pin. Take off the top layer and cut out 2″ circles, saving the scraps. Re-roll out as many times as you need, till you use up the mixture and have about 26 cookies. Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer and let set up for about an hour.

Meanwhile place the coconut butter, sealed, in a bowl of hot water and let it soften to a liquid. Measure out and stir the honey or agave into it, beating until firmed up with a spoon. Divide between 13 of the cookies, placing a ball on each one, about 2 teaspoons worth. Press a cookie on top and gently squeeze to seal, pushing the filling between, or spread the filling with a frosting spatula. Store in the refrigerator wrapped. To avoid sticking, place parchment paper between the filled cookies if stacking.

Makes about 13 filled cookies.

~Sarah

A Pan of Raw Brownies

This recipe makes quite a bit, no small batch! But if like me, you have a hungry Teen and Toddler combo, the brownies will disappear fast. Btw, if you have Trader Joe’s nearby, they are carrying a chunky raw almond butter that is amazing tasting.

Raw Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted and packed tightly
  • 1¼ cups raw almond butter, chunky and unsalted
  • 1¼ cups cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup honey, preferably raw
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt

Directions:

Process the dates in a food processor until they are paste. Add the remaining ingredients and process on high until pulling together.

Line a 8×8″ pan with plastic wrap, add the mix in and pack down with a spatula. Fold over the plastic wrap and use it to press down more.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours before cutting to firm up. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 trays, I cut ours into 20 bars.

~Sarah

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