Lately I’ve been wanting to make a fruity raw dessert that was neither chocolate nor overly nutty, but I’ve been uninspired by winter fruits. Persimmons in fall are pretty much my last love until stone fruits return in spring– my winters are spent begrudgingly munching on Fuji apples that provide no groundbreaking dessert ideas. So, I took the dried fruit route today and hit my cupboards up for inspiration, and thankfully, my cupboards (and freezer) did me right. Here is a chewy, sweet, tangy and decadent treat that is packed with superfoods and contains very little added sweeteners.
Magical Mulberry Squares
1 cup dried mulberries, ground in food processor or blender
1/2 cup whole dried mulberries
1/2 cup cashews, ground as above
1/4 cup dried raisins and/or cherries, ground as above
1/2 cup lucuma powder
3 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tbls coconut nectar or honey
1 tsp camu camu powder
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
Grind fruits and cashews, then mix together with all other ingredients. Mixture will be malleable and slightly sticky. Press into a 8″ baking pan and refrigerate.
3 tbls almond butter
3 tbls coconut oil, melted
2 tbls coconut nectar or honey
1 tbls lecithin powder
1 tsp Longevity Power “Maca Bliss”*
1/4 tsp Himalayan salt
Mix all ingredients together and pour over base layer. Once firm, dust with lucuma powder and cut into squares of any desired size.
*Maca bliss is a unique maca product; it is extracted at low heat, has had the starch and fiber removed, and unlike regular maca, has no overly malty flavor. It is available online here.
Since I mostly post sweet recipes, I wanted to share a very simple and versatile side dish I made this week: raw marinated mushrooms. I’m a big fan of dishes that improve, rather than get yucky, as the week goes on, and these ‘shrooms do exactly that. They continue to intensify in flavor, and get a bit softer but never get past a standard “cooked” texture. They’re quick and easy to make; the bulk of the work lies in chopping them, which if you wanted you could actually avoid. Keeping them whole would yield less flavor throughout, but a firmer texture. I happen to like the texture of cooked mushrooms, and really enjoyed how indistinguishable these were from their cooked counterparts. This was definitely a just-throw-stuff-in-a-bowl-to-taste recipe more so than a specific-amounts one, and I honestly doubt you could make them in a way that tastes bad! They are so yummy, there isn’t even any need to add salt.
Easy Raw Marinated Mushrooms:
2 lbs button and/or cremini mushrooms, chopped into 1/4s or 1/8s depending on size
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 sprigs fresh thyme, picked
2 tbls dried dill
3 parts balsamic vinegar to each 1 part cold-pressed olive oil (use cider vinegar for a 100% raw dish)
lots of fresh cracked black pepper
Chop mushrooms and place in a big bowl. Add garlic and herbs, then pour vinegar about 1/4 cup at a time until you reach a point of saturation. Once the mushrooms won’t absorb any more vinegar, pour on a fraction as much olive oil. Doing it this way helps ensure the mushrooms absorbed vinegar, not oil, so all you need of oil is what you’ll be tasting, rather than them absorbing a bunch of extra oil.
These can be eaten as is, as a topping for a protein or grain, or added to a salad to act as both dressing and condiment. I made a snack of them on bell peppers with an oatmeal-based cheddar spread, which was a delicious mostly-raw lunch.
Health Note: I’m on week four of Dr. Terry Wahls’ “Minding Your Mitochondria” diet, and though it is far different than my standard way of eating, I’m noticing numerous physical benefits of it. Part of the diet is to eat three cups daily of sulphur rich veggies. Most vegetables that fall into that category are cruciferous, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. While those are very good for you, they’re hard on your thyroid (and mine is already ruined), and you should eat them cooked. This dish is a perfect way to get in your daily allotment of sulphur rich veggies while upping your raw foods intake. Mushrooms are also full of C and B Vitamins, making them an excellent immune booster.
I tend to be of the opinion that if something isn’t good, avocado can make it better, and if it is good, avocado can take it to unforeseen heights. When I first heard about avocado pesto, it made perfect sense to me; pesto is damn tasty, and the creaminess, richness, and depth of flavor from avocado could only improve it. Last night I decided to test that theory…. and improve pesto, avo sure did.
For some reason I often don’t look up recipes when I make new dishes, so that my version is truly my own. I basically made my standard pesto, switching out some of the lemon juice for lime, and added the fruit right along with the other ingredients.
This is the full batch; total yield is about 2 cups.
(All ingredients save for oil can be put in blender together. I say blender rather than processor because I prefer a smoother pesto, and by blending it on low, this is a creamy sauce with a few nice little bits and pieces.)
4 cups fresh basil leaves
5 whole garlic cloves
1/3 cup raw nuts (I used cashews because I had them on hand, but have used pine nuts, walnuts, etc.)
2 medium avocados (I used one small and one large Bacon. You could use one large if Haas, as they are richer.)
juice of two large lemons
juice of one large lime
2 tsp nutritional yeast (you could use raw cheese and it won’t be vegan, or regular parmesan and it won’t be raw or vegan.)
1 tsp Himalayan salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
I drizzle a small amount of oil in at the start to help it begin blending, let it get pretty broken up, then slowly add the remainder of the oil. You can use more or less to taste. I like sharp flavors, so this amount of garlic and citrus may be considered too heavy to some.
For dinner, I served the sauce atop roasted veggies and quinoa, but it is thick enough to use as a dip, and is an interesting offshoot of both guacamole and pesto.
Nuts are one of my caloric staples, and I’m a snacker/grazer by nature, so trail mix and I are an obvious match. In the last few months I’ve begun playing around with adding different flavors to mixes, and the one I made recently is my favorite so far. It’s low in sugar because there is very little fruit, and even though it has a sweetness from the fruit powders, they contain almost no sugars themselves. This mixture is a flavor overload of sweet, salty, sour and spicy!
There is no real “recipe,” just guidelines. As always, all ingredients should be organic if possible.
1 cup each, all raw:
You could also use cashews, jungle peanuts, and/or any other nuts. They can be used as is, but I sprout and dry them for the health benefits. To do that, soak them in a bowl of filtered or spring water for several hours. Rinse and drain, and either put in a sprouting system or leave in the bowl with a towel or plate over it. Rinse and drain every eight hours until you see tails sprouting; this usually takes 24 hours or less. Place on dehydrator trays, and dry at 105 degrees for about 24 hours. You can skip all that and make this right away, or you can have time consuming but very healthy sprouted nuts- your choice.
To the dried nut mix, add 1 cup goji berries, and combine.
2 tsp Himalayan salt
1 tsp cayenne (reduce if you don’t like things HOT)
2 tbls camu camu powder
2 tbls lucuma powder
1/2 tsp stevia
You can mix these together beforehand, but I just add them directly to the nut and goji mix and stir thoroughly. Taste can be adjusted according to how sweet, salty, etc. you prefer it. The camu adds a distinct sour bite, since it is chock full of vitamin c, and the lucuma lends a lightly sweet, maple-y quality. Both of these products are available in the bulk section of a good health food store, or in 8 oz packages in the raw section of one. Conversely, you can easily find them online. My favorite brands are Essential Living Foods for lucuma, and Navitas Naturals for camu camu. I get my nuts either from the farmers market or ELF, my pumpkin seeds from the bulk bins, and my gojis from Dragon Herbs via iHerb. Dragon Herbs’ gojis are much softer than the standard ones you find.
I love how the superfood powder mix makes these simple nuts and seeds absolutely burst with flavor. If you’ve been getting bored with trail mix, this is the perfect way to reintroduce yourself and liven it back up.
I tend to go through phases with breakfast, eating the same thing daily for a month or more before moving on. Generally I eat a raw breakfast, a raw lunch, raw snacks, and a cooked dinner, and try to include as much nutrition in breakfast as possible. My last phase before this one was over the summer, when I made an intensely superfood-filled smoothie that took up the whole VitaMix, then processed it through my ice cream maker to turn it into a delectable ice cream that made enough servings for a week or so. Ice cream for breakfast every morning is FUN, and makes me feel sort of conspiratorial and guilty-pleasure-ish too. The fact that my ice cream was full of things like kale and lucuma powder made it actually healthy to have such a thing for breakfast.
It’s winter now, and though in L.A. that means 65 degrees and sunny, it still isn’t exactly ice cream weather anymore. I’m not usually one for hot breakfasts- honestly, I think my uncaring attitude about food temperatures are part of what makes it so easy for me to have been mostly raw for years now- and this one satisfies all my childlike cravings. It’s been many years since I’ve eaten any sort of commercial cereal, and raw granola (the clumpy kind, like RnR used to make) is something I have eaten mooooore than enough of by now, since it was always around my commercial kitchen (here’s lookin’ at you, Kanga Krunch). So I deconstructed it, and I absolutely adore the results. I vary the milks I eat it with: I’ll go through a spell of keeping homemade nut or hemp milk in the fridge, then drink Organic Pastures raw dairy milk for awhile. It’s important for me to get some amount of raw dairy because I’ve found that I don’t get enough long-chain fatty acids, and that has led to numerous health issues. I have also found that my health, which is pretty shaky, worsens with any attempt at veganism, and have had to reconcile that I need to eat some amount of raw/organic/grass-fed animal products in life. (I’m fully envious of those who thrive on entirely raw and/or vegan diets, and eat 80-90% raw vegan myself, with a strong focus on fresh vegetables.)
The below crunchy, tasty, decadent cereal is made of the following, all of which are organic: sprouted/dried buckwheat (which I make myself, but you can buy if it’s too much of a pain), cacao nibs (they’re scrumptious, and give you a total boost of energy), hemp seeds (I omit these if using hemp milk), lots of cinnamon (buckwheat is technically a seed, but it’s a carby one so the cinnamon offsets blood sugar effects), himalayan salt, stevia powder, and a dash of protein powder (I’ll detail what I use for protein in a future post). Sometimes I add chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and/or sesame seeds too. I haven’t done that in this bowl because lately I have also been eating two homemade flax crackers alongside this cereal, to thoroughly cover my omega bases. You could also add dried fruit- I don’t because if I eat sugar in the morning, I crave it all day. There’s no real recipe, but be careful to not go too overboard with the seeds or it’ll be so filling, you won’t be able to finish a bowl of it. I recently got a private chef client hooked on it, and I imagine that if you try this, you’ll be in little kid cereal heaven too… only a much, much healthier and life-giving version of it!
It may look a little health foody, but it tastes like happiness. =)