Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Raw Pumpkin Turtle Cake


 
There is a restaurant called Cafe Latte in St. Paul MN, that serves an amazing cake, called Turtle Cake.  Ït is a decadent chocolate cake with lots of gooey fudge, caramel and pecans in between the cake layers. Anyone who lives in the twin cities practically has heard of it, and I admit I used to go there and order it to go many times when I was in college.  A couple years ago, I decided to recreate a vegan version of it and it was even better than the original. 

 
Last year, in the fall, since that other vegan turtle cake was so good, I decided to make a pumpkin turtle cake.  It turned out amazing as well, and since I tend to be more of a spice cake kind of a girl than a chocolate cake girl, the combination together was perfect!  Since I have since become a raw vegan, my challenge to myself last weekend was to make a raw vegan version of that pumpkin turtle cake. 
 
 
 
For the cake layers I used a mixture of buckwheat, walnuts and coconut, because I find that it makes the cake a little lighter than simply nuts alone.  Of course plenty of pumpkin and spice as well, with dates to sweeten.  I knew it would be delicious because I had to enjoy the extra batter left over after I had spread it out onto the dehydrator sheets. 
 
 
I made a raw date caramel, one of my favorite things on Earth lately to go between the layers and on top of the cake.  It was hard to quit sampling it, but knew I would not end up with a pretty cake if I didn't.  I made a luscious fudgy frosting, and enjoyed my time assembling the cake, because in my opinion, decorating a cake is one of the most relaxing, calming activities you can do.  Plus, of course the fact that you get to eat the leftover frosting.  The cake turned out beautifully!  As I was diving into a large piece of it, I couldn't help but think that this raw version was my favorite of the three turtle cakes I have made in the last couple years.
 
 
Raw Pumpkin Turtle Cake

Cake:
2 cups sprouted, dried buckwheat (or additional walnuts if unavailable)
1 3/4 cups dried shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 inch chunk fresh ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
18 medjool dates, pitted
2 cups cubed raw organic squash*  

1/2 Frosting:
3/4 cup raw coconut nectar or raw agave nectar or raw honey

1 1/2 Tbsp raw coconut oil, liquified
3/4 cup sifted raw cocoa powder, or more if needed
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp maple extract


Caramel:
20 medjool dates, pitted
2 Tbsp almond butter
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup water


1/2 cup chopped pecans for filling
3/4 cup whole pecans for topping

To make the cake, combine coconut, and buckwheat in the food processor and process until finely ground. Add the sea salt, ginger, spices, vanilla, and dates and process until well blended and starting to hold together. Remove from processor and transfer to a large bowl. Place the squash in the food processor and process until very finely chopped, add back in nut mixture and process until combined.  Shape the mixture into 3 four inch (about) circles, and place on a teflex lined dehydrator sheet.  Dehydrate for 6 hours, then flip over and let dehydrate another 2 or 3. Remove from the dehydrator and set aside while you prepare the frosting and caramel.
To make the frosting, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until smooth (if too thick add a little water, and if too thin, a little more cocoa powder). Set aside. 
To make the caramel, combine all ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth, adding a little more water if too thick (you want to be able to drizzle it). Press the mixture through a fine meshed strainer to get rid of any date bits (optional, but creates a smoother caramel).   
To assemble the cake, place one round on a plate. Spread a couple Tbsp of frosting over, then a couple Tbsp of caramel.  Then top off with a few chopped pecans. Top with another cake layer and repeat.  Then top with the top cake layer.  Spread frosting on the top and sides of the cake.  Drizzle remaining frosting over the top and down the sides of the cake (if you put it in a bag and cut the corner off (pastry bag style) it makes it easier).  Top off with the whole pecans, arranging them decoratively. 

*I use squash because it is sweeter than pumpkin and tastes better raw.  You can use raw pumpkin if you prefer.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Raw Squash and "Sausage" Manicotti


One of the dishes that I loved most as a child was manicotti.  My Mother's manicotti that is.  It was always so flavorful and warming, not to mention the delicious cheese filling that would ooze out when you cut into it with your fork.  I can remember helping her make it, stuffing the shells in the kitchen as we laughed and joked about things, me all excited for the dinner that was to come. 
I decided this weekend that it would be fun to make raw manicotti, since I really haven't had any since I enjoyed my Mom's as a kid. It would be somewhat similar.  I wanted it to be bathed in a flavorful red sauce, have a creamy cheese filling, and also the tasty sausage enclosed in the pasta. 

 
So I got to work, and decided to use some tomato wraps for the "pasta" which I made in the dehydrator like fruit leather.  They were a beautiful color!  For the "cheese"filling, I combined pine nuts with squash for a seasonal twist.  The "sausage"was made from walnuts, as I love the texture they provide.  Would it satisfy my manicotti craving though?  Yes!  It was wonderful, I might have even liked it a little better than Mom's but do not tell her I said so. 

 
Raw Squash and "Sausage" Manicotti
Serves 2

Tomato "pasta"sheets
2 medium tomatoes
2 tsp agave nectar
a pinch of sea salt

Sauce:
1/3 cup soaked sun dried tomatoes, drained
1 large organic tomato, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 date, pitted
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
sea salt to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
filtered water as needed

Filling:
1/2 cup raw winter squash, diced
3/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
filtered water as needed

Walnut "Sausage":
1 1/4 cups raw walnuts, soaked and dried
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp dried thyme
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp filtered water

fresh organic spinach (optional)

To make the pasta, combine all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Spread out on a dehydrator sheet lined with teflex, and dry for about 6-8 hours, or the consistency of fruit leather.  Remove from the dehydrator, peel off the sheet and cut into 4 squares.  Set aside.
To make the sauce, combine all ingredients except water in a high speed blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Add a little filtered water as needed until the sauce is smooth and pourable, but not so much that it is too runny. Set aside.
To make the squash filling, combine all ingredients except water in the food processor and process until smooth, adding filtered water as needed to create a ricotta like consistency.  Set aside.
To make the walnut sausage, combine all ingredients except water in a food processor and process until combined and finely chopped.  Add 1-2 Tbsp water, enough to make the mixture clump together. 
To assemble, spread a little of the sauce onto two plates. Lay out a "pasta" sheet, and spoon some of the walnut "sausage" to one side, then some of the squash filling over it.  roll it up, and place on one of the plates. Repeat with remaining pasta so that there are two on each plate.  Spoon more of the sauce over the manicotti on each plate, and top off with spinach if desired.  Serve!

 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Raw Coco Mac Caramel Dark Chocolate Candy




I just don't get as excited about buying bags of halloween candy as most people do.  Maybe it is because most of the commercially made is far too sweet for me, and full of artificial things.  Or the fact that I can't justify sitting and eating it because I don't get any trick or treaters at my house.  Normally, I would just forget the whole candy thing all together...crazy I know because I am sure a lot of you look forward to the candy. 

 
For some reason this year though, I decided that I wanted to make some of my own candy. This is very uncharacteristic of me because I would rather have a big piece of pie or cake than candy. But I wanted to create my own candy, something that was not buyable. 

 
I thought about going the recreating snickers or twix route, but I wanted to be a bit more creative.  So, I came up with Raw Coco Mac Caramel Dark Chocolate Candy.  I have to admit, I was influenced a little by my Mother who insisted I make something with coconut.  No problem as I love the stuff. 
Then I thought why not make a sort of almond joy, but with macadamia nuts.  This was not the stopping point however because I then decided to add caramel, one of my favorite things in the world. 

They turned out so increadibly good too.  The type of candy where you eat one and go for another...which is not how I feel about the normal Halloween candy.  These would actually make a nice gift too around the holidays, I would love a tin of them.  These were worth the extra effort!
 
 
Raw Coco Mac Caramel Dark Chocolate Candy
makes 16
 
2 cups finely shredded dried coconut
1/4 cup coconut butter
2 Tbsp raw agave nectar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
 
Caramel:


10 medjool dates, pitted
 1 Tbsp raw almond butter
2 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp water

 
16 raw macadamia nuts
 
1/2 cup raw coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup raw agave nectar or honey
pinch of salt
 
To make the coconut layer, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until combined.  Press out onto a plastic lined sheet pan, 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into 16 squares, and place in the freezer to firm up.  To make the caramel, combine all ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth.  Press the mixture through a fine meshed strainer to remove any date bits.  Place the caramel in a bag, cut the corner off, and pipe onto each coconut square in about 2 tspful amounts.  Top each caramel mound with a macadamia nut.  Place in the freezer until hard. 
To make chocolate, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Let sit a few minutes until it thickens to the consistency of melted chocolate. Line a sheet pan with foil.  Dip candies into the chocolate, using a fork and set on the foil to dry.  Once they are all dipped, place in the freezer to set.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Raw Almond Joy Granola


When I would go trick or treating as a kid, after I arrived home with my large stash of candy, I would spread it out on the floor, and divide it into two piles.  The "gross"candy, and the chocolate.  Yes, all I cared about was the chocolate.  All the stuff like laffy taffy, jolly ranchers, tootsie rolls (because they were not real chocolate so it didn't count) and anything not chocolate...that I traded, or gave to my parents.  Peanut butter cups were my favorite, snickers and butterfinger a close second.  But there was one chocolate that I would always give to my Mom because I didn't care for it and it was her favorite, Almond Joy.  I didn't like the coconut, and I didn't like the almonds.  Crazy, because as an adult I love both of those things!  But my Mom was appriciative, and so it worked out.


So, why did I decide to make Almond Joy Granola this week?  Well, I wanted to make a chocolate granola since I have never made one,  and I thought coconut and almonds would be delicious in it!  In the spirit of Halloween candy all over the place right now, I called it Almond Joy.  Although, this in my opinion was way better than the candy bars, which I now find way too sweet.


I used my usual sprouted buckwheat base, mixed in large flake coconut (one of my favorite things in the world), raw almonds, and cacao nibs for add ins.  Let's not forget the chocolaty goodness though, I made a coating from raw cacao powder and almond butter with a little agave nectar to sweeten, and it was delicious! 


My entire house was filled with the aroma of chocolate, which was an especially wonderful suprise to wake up to in the morning when the granola had finished in the dehydrator.  As usual, I could not stop sampling it, but I had to restrain myself and wait until after I had gone for my run to enjoy it. 

 
Raw Almond Joy Granola

Makes about 8 cups

2 cups raw buckwheat
2 cups dried large coconut flakes
1 1/2 cup raw almonds, soaked for 6 hours and drained
1/3-1/2 cup raw agave nectar or honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
3 Tbsp filtered water
1 Tbsp almond butter
2 Tbsp raw coconut oil, liquified
1 cup cacao nibs
1 cup large flake coconut (optional)

Soak buckwheat for 12 hours, rinse very well (as it has a slimy coating that needs to be removed) and drain. Place in a large jar and set in a well lit area (natural light, but not in direct sunlight). Let sit for a couple days, or until little sprouts begin to emerge from the buckwheat, rinsing 2 times a day. Once sprouted, drain well, and place in a large bowl, along with the coconut, and almonds. In a small bowl, whisk together the agave nectar (or honey), cocoa powder, sea salt, vanilla, almond extract, water, almond butter, and coconut oil. Pour the mixture over the granola, and mix well with your hands. Spread out on 2 dehydrator sheets lined with teflex, and dry for about 12 hours or until crispy. Pour into a bowl, and mix in cacao nibs and additional 1 cup coconut, enjoy! Can be stored in an airtight container for a few weeks at room temperature.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Raw Carrot Cake Cannoli


 
When creating desserts, I consider mistakes simply valuable learing experiences.  So no harm in making one say, such as dehydrating something a bit too long and having it turn out crispier than intended...right?  The best thing is when a so called mistake leads to the creation of something delicious.  I had this type of experience this weekend. 
 
 
I wanted to make some carrot apple crepes to use for a savory dish, but I ended up dehydrating them too long and they were a bit crispy and a little too sweet for the dish I wanted to make.  However, suddenly an idea popped into my head...raw carrot cake cannoli!  They were still rollable, and would be perfect as a cannoli shell. 

 
So I made some raw coconut "cream cheese frosting", and to it I added the classic carrot cake ingredients.  Sweet organic carrots, golden raisins, pecans, spices...well, at least my classic carrot cake.  It was delicious!  Like carrot cake with extra frosting!

 
Because frosting is the best part right?  I also added the extra to the finished dish on the side, just because I love it so much.  Let me tell you, these were not on the plate long before I took them down.  I was glad I had made a mistake with the shells, because I would rather have dessert for dinner anyhow. 

 
Raw Carrot Cake Cannoli
Serves 2

Shells:
1 small organic carrot, chopped
2 medium organic apples
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1 Tbsp coconut butter

Filling:
1 cup  plus 2 Tbsp raw cashew pieces (preferably soaked overnight)
1/2 cup plus 1Tbsp coconut water

1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups fresh young coconut meat* (or additional soaked cashews if not available)
1/4 cup raw agave nectar or raw honey
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and seeds of half a vanilla bean

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp coconut oil (warmed to liquid)

1 cup shredded organic carrot
3 Tbsp golden raisins
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Raw agave nectar or honey for plating (optional)

For the shells, combine all ingredients until smooth in the food processor, and spread out into a sqare on a teflex lined dehydrator sheet. Dry for about 8 hours, or until dry, but still a little plyable (you need to be able to roll it and cut it).  Cut into 4 squares, and roll each into a tube about 1 1/2 inches high.  Place back into the dehydrator for a couple more hours until very crisp.  Set aside. 
To make cream, drain cashews and blend with the coconut water, coconut, agave nectar, and vanilla until smooth in a food processor.  Add the coconut oil with the motor running.  Set in the freezer about 30 minutes until a frosting consistency. Remove 1/3 of the mixture, and reserve for plating. Mix the carrots, golden raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and pecans into the remaining cream.  Place the carrot mixture in a ziplock bag and cut the end off.  Pipe the mixture into the shells, and place them on plates, two shells on each plate.  Place the remaining plain cream in a pastry bag and Pipe it decoratively onto each plate beside the cannoli.  Drizzle each plate with a bit of the honey if you wish, and serve!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Raw Apple Spice Granola

 
 
Biting into a honeycrisp apple is like ingesting a little piece of heaven.  Seriously, they are the perfect balance of sweet and tart with the just right amount of crunch.  If you are from Minnesota, you know what I am talking about, especially the locally grown ones.  If not, I hope you have had a chance to try one.  Since they are so good, I couldn't help but think they would make fabulous apple chips.  So a few weeks ago, I made some using the honeycrisps, and they were the best apple chips I have ever tasted!  



They were perfect for snacking on, but I knew they would make for a delicious additon to some raw granola!  So, I added it to a batch of granola I was making along with the spices I consider essential to my apple pie and my favorite nuts, and it was fabulous!

 
The honeycrisp apples were like little bursts of sweetness in the crunchy granola.  I have to admit I have been eating this a couple times a day this week because I enjoy it so much!  What can I say, it makes the perfect breakfast (instead of cereal) and bedtime snack!  Beginning and ending my day with it certainly puts me in a good mood.
 

 
 
Raw Apple Spice Granola

Makes about 8 cups

2 cups raw buckwheat
1 1/2 cups dried large coconut flakes
1 cup pecans, soaked for 6 hours and drained
1 cup raw walnuts, soaked for 6 hours and drained
1/4 cup raw agave nectar or honey
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp maple extract
1 Tbsp filtered water
2 Tbsp raw coconut oil, liquified
1 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
2 cups dried apple

Soak buckwheat for 12 hours, rinse very well (as it has a slimy coating that needs to be removed) and drain. Place in a large jar and set in a well lit area (natural light, but not in direct sunlight). Let sit for a couple days, or until little sprouts begin to emerge from the buckwheat, rinsing 2 times a day. Once sprouted, drain well, and place in a large bowl, along with the coconut, pecans, and wanuts. In a small bowl, whisk together the agave nectar (or honey), cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, sea salt, vanilla, maple, water, and coconut oil. Pour the mixture over the granola, and mix well with your hands. Spread out on 2 dehydrator sheets lined with teflex, and dry for about 12 hours or until crispy. Pour into a bowl, and mix in cranberries and apples, enjoy! Can be stored in an airtight container for a few weeks at room temperature. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Raw Pistachio Baklava with Pistachio Ice Cream


I made raw baklava a couple weeks back, and loved it so much that I decided I needed to make it again.  But me not being one to make the exact same thing twice in a row decided to switch it up a bit.  I had a large bag of pistachios, and I thought they would be lovely in the baklava! 


So much more pretty than brown walnuts, which don't get me wrong are delicious, just not as gorgeous as pistachios. To me, pistachios are a bit special.  I remember one time when I needed some for a recipe and I loaded up a large bag of them only to get home, look at my reciept and realize I had just spent over $40 on them.  I have since bought and used them as if they are something precious. 


This baklava I was imagining would be something special though, lovely green pistachios, red dried cranberries, and golden sweet honey between wafer thin sweet sheets of "filo dough".  I knew it would be heavenly.  I even decided to make pistachio ice cream to go along side it because I felt that all the crunch needed a creamy accompaniment.


Once all created and assembled, it was a sight to behold, almost too pretty to eat, but who am I kidding...I dove right in and devoured like nobody's buisness!
 

Raw Pistachio Baklava with Pistachio Ice Cream
Serves 2

"Filo" sheets:
1 large organic apple
1/2 cup almond meal
a pinch of sea salt
1 tsp raw agave nectar or honey
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Filling:
1 cup shelled pistachios
6 medjool dates, pitted
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
1 cup large flake coconut
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
2 Tbsp raw agave nectar or honey plus additional for serving

For the "filo sheets", combine the apple, almond meal, sea salt, agave nectar, and cardamom in a food processor and process until smooth. Spread out thinly onto a teflex lined dehydrator sheet in a large square. Dry for a few hours, or until not tacky anymore, then score into 9 squares. Place back in the dehydrator for about another 6-8 hours or until very crispy. Remove squares (you will have one extra to snack on).
For the filling, combine pistachios, dates, crasins, coconut, and cinnamon and cardamom in a food processor and pulse until well combined but not pureed. You want to have chunks still. Add 2 Tbsp agave nectar and pulse a few more times. Remove from the food processor.
To assemble, set out 2 plates. Drizzle each with a bit of the agave nectar or honey. Place one filo square on each, and top with 1/3 of the pistachio mixture (deviding evenly between the two). Top each with another square, then half the remaining filling (deviding evenly between the two). Then another square, then the rest of the filling then another square. Drizzle each baklava with a bit more agave nectar or honey, and scoop some pistachio ice cream beside each (recipe follows). Enjoy!

Raw Pistachio Ice Cream:

1/2 cup coconut water
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 4 hours and drained
1/2 cup  pistachios, soaked 4 hours and drained
1 cup young coconut meat, chopped
1/4 cup raw agave nectar or raw honey
seeds of one vanilla bean
a pinch of sea salt
1 large handful spinach
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed to liquid

1 cup chopped pistachios

 Add coconut water to a food processor, along with cashews, 1/2 cup cashews, coconut meat, agave nectar, vanilla, sea salt and spinach. Process until smooth, then with the processor running, add the coconut oil slowly and process until well incorporated, about a minute. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to directions. Remove from ice cream maker, stir in 1 cup chopped pistachios and pour into a freezer safe container. Let chill in the freezer for a few hours until a little more firm before scooping.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mini Raw Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake

It has been a while since I have made cheesecake...well, maybe more like a month and a half.  But that is a long time considering I was making it every weekend for a while!  I guess I was giving the cheesecake a break for a while so I wouldn't get tired of it.  But then again I do not think it is possible to get tired of raw cheesecake.  It is one of my favorite things in the world.  This weekend I decided to break that no cheesecake streak and make some. 


I have had quite a few requests for a raw pumpkin cheesecake, so pumpkin it was!  I suppose I could have gone traditional and just done a pumpkin filling and left it at that.  But that is not how I operate, so although I packed the luscious pumpkin filling with plenty of spice and deliciousness, I added caramel swirls as well.  


If you have been keeping up with my blog, there has been a lot of raw caramel going on, as it is quite addictive.  I knew it would be perfect combined with the creamy filling!  I decided to use a combination of pumpkin seeds and pecans in the crust in keeping with the whole pumpkin theme and it was delicious with the rest of the cake! 


Spiced pumpkin seeds made it onto the top of the cake as well, because I couldn't resist pairing the lovely green with the pale orange of the cheesecake.  I couldn't wait to dive into this one.  As if I hadn't sampled plenty of the filling already, but there is something more special about having your own individual cake to devour.  Devour I did.  I have a feeling you would love this too, so do check out the recipe below!


Mini Raw Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecakes
Makes four 4 inch cheesecakes

Pumpkin seed garnish:
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp raw agave nectar or raw honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt


 
Crust:
1 c
up raw pumpkin seeds 

1 cup raw pecans, soaked and dried
10 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt


Caramel:
10 medjool dates
2 Tbsp raw coconut butter or macadamia butter (raw almond butter will also work)
3 Tbsp raw agave nectar or honey
1 tsp maple extract

1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp fleur de sel
1/4 cup filtered water (or more if too thick, add an additional Tbsp at a time)

Filling:
2 1/4 cups raw cashews (preferably soaked 6 hours)
1 cup fresh young coconut meat (or additional cashews if not available)
1/2 cup coconut water (or filtered water)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 3 Tbsp raw agave nectar or raw honey
2 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract and seeds from half a vanilla bean (other half reserved for topping)
2 cups chopped raw organic squash or pumpkin*
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp coconut oil (warmed to liquid)

Cream for edges:
3/4 cup raw cashew pieces (preferably soaked overnight)
1/4 cup coconut water
1 cup fresh young coconut meat (or additional soaked cashews if not available)
3 tablespoons raw agave nectar or raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla and seeds of half a vanilla bean (the other half of the one you used for the filling)
1/4 cup coconut oil (warmed to liquid)

For pumpkin seed garnish, mix together seeds, agave nectar, spices and sea salt and spread out on a dehydrator sheet.  Dehydrate until dried (about 4 hours), and set aside. 

Lightly coat four 4 inch spring form removable bottom pans with coconut oil. To prepare the crust, process pumpkin seeds, pecans and sea salt in a food processor until the pecans are fine crumbs, then add the dates and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers. Firmly press crust into the bottom of the prepared pans, and set aside in the freezer.

To make caramel, combine all ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth (if too thick add a little more water 1 Tbsp at a time).  Press the caramel mixture through a fine meshed strainer to get rid of any date bits (optional, but makes for a prettier caramel).  Set aside. 
To make the filling, drain the cashews and combine them with coconut water, lemon juice, agave nectar, ginger, spices, sea salt, vanilla and squash in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Slowly add the oil to the food processor with the motor running and let process until well blended.  Remove the filling from the food processor, and press through a fine meshed strainer (if a smoother result is desired, but you can skip this step if you don't care). To assemble the cheesecake, pour half the filling over the crusts then dot the filling with caramel by the tsp.  Pour the other half over, then dot the top of the cheesecake with the caramel by the tsp, and swirl with a thin knife.  Then place the cheesecakes in the freezer until it is set, 4 to 6 hours, then once set store in the fridge. 

To make the cream for the edges, combine all ingredients but the coconut oil in the food processor and process until smooth. Add the coconut oil with the motor running and process about a minute more.  Place in a bowl and put in the freezer to set until frosting consistency, about an hour. 

To serve the cheesecakes, place on plates.  Place cream in a pastry bag and pipe along the edges of the cheesecakes (if you have extra and you feel like it you can go along the tops as well).  Garnish the top of the cheesecakes with the pumpkin seeds and serve!  Store leftovers in the fridge.

*I use squash instead of pumpkin in my recipes because it is sweeter, you may need to adjust the sweeteners and add more if you are using actual pumpkin.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Raw Southwest Quinoa Sushi


I used to love sushi when I was a pescatarian, in fact I ate it quite often.  But once I stopped eating fish, I didn't seem to crave it as much.  Although I ordered vegan sushi once in a while, it never seemed to have much flavor, or the same deliciousness that I had previously thought the fish sushi had.  It needed something...like maybe more flavorful veggies than just cucumber?  I always found myself loading it up with the extra wasabi on my plate for pow, because I like the kick.


So, I am not sure what possessed me last week to create sushi at home, but I decided to.  I figured I could tailor it to my tastes.  Oh yes, it was non-traditional, but that is just how I roll...sushi roll that is.  I decided to replace the rice with sprouted quinoa, as I am not a big rice person anyways.  I mixed black and white quinoa to make it pretty. 


I thought about making Asian flavored sushi, but instead decided on a southwest sushi because I have been craving those flavors lately and I had all the ingredients.  I combined green and yellow summer squash, red bell pepper, avocado, and green onions in the filling then laced it with some hot sauce for a kick in place of the traditional wasabi. It was pretty, but more importantly, it was the best veggie sushi I have had!  I enjoyed the twist on a classic, and I think I may just have to make more sushi soon!


Raw Southwest Quinoa Sushi
Serves 2-3

1 cup quinoa (I used mixed, black and white)
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

1 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks
1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into match sticks
1 large bell pepper, cut julienne
2 medium avocado, cut into strips
a few green onions, sliced
raw hot sauce (optional)

6 nori sheets

To sprout the quinoa, rinse well, then soak it in cool water for 6-8 hours, then drain and rinse again.  Place in a jar, with a breathable lid, and let sit for 1-2 days, rinsing and draining well twice a day to prevent mold.  Your quinoa should be sprouted in 2 days.  Once sprouted, place in a covered bowl in the fridge until ready to use.  If you do not wish to sprout the quinoa, you are also welcome to cook it the traditional way. 
Mix the rice wine vinegar, honey, and sea salt into the quinoa until well blended.  To assemble, lay out a sheet of nori, and spread about a 2 inch strip of quinoa near the top of it.  Place a line of a few zucchini strips, yellow summer squash strips, red bell pepper strips and avocado strips in the center, and sprinkle with some green onions.  Place a little bit of hot sauce along the veggies if desired.  Roll up tightly from the top down. Moisten the edge at the bottom to get it to hold together.  Repeat with the other 6 nori sheets.  Slice each roll into 6 rounds, place on plates and enjoy!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Raw Pear Caramel Hazelnut Crumble with Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream


Earlier this week I woke up with a terrible headache.  I was feeling sore, tired and just didn't want to head out the door for a run.  So I decided to pray that I would feel better and you know what?  I somehow managed to lace up my running shoes and give it a go.  It was raining, it was cold, and it was wet, but half way through I couldn't help but be glad I didn't listen to my doubts and got out there!  I managed to run my route a minute faster than usual, and do an extra mile after.  Anyone that knows me well knows I hate to run in the rain too.  When I finished, my headache was gone, and despite being wet, I was energized!  Just goes to show a little prayer can make all the difference when you think you cannot do something. 


Along with the chilly Autumn weather we are experiencing lately, I have been craving thing and nuts...so crisp was a must this week.  I decided to make a raw pear hazelnut crumble.  Of course I had to add caramel as well.  If you have read any of my recent posts, you probably know I am obsessed with raw caramel lately.  It was delicious enough on its own with the perfectly ripe d'anjou pears, light spice, sweet gooey caramel and crunchy nuts...but since I had it on hand...


I decided to serve it with some pumpkin spice ice cream I had in my freezer.  Which is delicious on its own with the caramel by the way, but in my opinion, crisp always needs some ice cream to accompany it.  You may think I am a little crazy needing ice cream when the weather is chilly, but it is essential to have on hand for desserts like this at my house.  I hope you all are having a lovely fall!


Raw Pear Caramel Hazelnut Crumble
Makes 2

Crumble:
1 cup hazelnuts
1 cup finely shredded dried coconut
12 soft pitted dates
1/8 tsp sea salt or to taste
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
3/4 cup coursely chopped pecans

pears:
3 large organic pears, sliced and slices halved
2 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 Tbsp lemon juice
a pinch of sea salt

Caramel:
10 medjool dates, pitted
1 Tbsp almond butter
2 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp water

Raw Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream:
(recipe follows)

In a food processor, combine 1 cup hazelnuts, coconut, dates and sea salt and process until finely ground. Place in a bowl and mix in agave nectar and chopped hazelnuts with hands until it holds together a little when squeezed. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine pear slices, agave nectar, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon, sea salt, and mix well. Let sit for 30 minutes.
To make caramel, combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
To assemble, place a 4 inch round ring mold on each of two plates (or I used the top part of my 4 inch springform pan. You can also use a 4 inch wide can with the bottom cut out.) place 1/3 of the nut mixture into the bottom of each (dividing between the two). Then, 1/2 of the pear mixture (dividing between the two molds), arranging the pears so they are flat and pretty. Drizzle each with a little of the caramel. Top with half the remaining crumble mixture, then the other half of the pear mixture then a little more caramel, then the remaining crumble mixture. Carefully remove the molds, drizzle with a little more caramel, and serve with Raw Pumpkin Spice ice cream!


Raw Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream
Makes about 3 cups

1 cup chopped raw organic pumpkin
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
1 cup young coconut meat, chopped
1/2 cup young coconut water
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
a large pinch of sea salt
seeds of one vanilla bean
2 tsp ground vietnamese cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp maple extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed to liquid

In a food processor, combine the pumpkin, cashews, coconut, coconut water, agave nectar, sea salt, spices, and maple extract, and process until smooth. With the processor running, pour in the coconut oil and process until well incorporated, about a minute. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to directions. Once processed, pour into a freezer safe container with a lid, and let harden until scoopable consistency, about 4 hours, or overnight. 



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Raw S'mores Brownies


We all have those days when we get up, look in the mirror and feel like we feel ugly.  I know I have them...I feel fat, or my hair does not want to cooperate or maybe I have a big zit.  But you know what?  Even on the days when you feel ugly someone always thinks you are beautiful.   Waking up on one day with a bad outlook one day doesn't change the fact that you are beautiful, and what is on the inside is what really counts.  If you have a beautiful heart, it will show on the outside as well.  Every woman deserves to feel beautiful, and that includes you! 

On the topic of beauty, if you think about it, brownies may not be the most beautiful dessert in the world.  I mean, they are not a very pretty color, they are flat, and the tops tend to be wrinkly.  But once you take a bite of one, then you know why a brownie might be considered beautiful.  Afterall, you cannot take a bite of something that delicious and call it ugly.  


Last weekend, I decided to attempt raw s'mores brownies.  I wanted them to have a "graham cracker" crust, a fudgy layer of brownie topped off with some gooey chocolate and a vanilla "marshmallow" layer.



So, for the crust, I used crunchy pecans laced with a bit of cinnamon and it was better than graham crackers.  I topped it off with my fudgy raw brownie recipe, and some raw chocolate fudge for something a little gooey (afterall, chocolate melts a bit s'more so some gooeyness was needed).  I made the marshmallow layer from coconut cream, and it was light, and sweet as marshmallows should be.  Lastly, I dusted them with a bit of cocoa powder for the toasted outside of the marshmallow look. 


They were heavenly...I think I actually enjoyed them better than real s'mores, and dare I say so they were beautiful brownies.


Raw S'mores Brownies
Makes 9

"Graham Cracker" Crust:
1 cup pecans
1 cup dried shredded coconut
10 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt

Brownie base:
2 cups raw pecans
2 cups dried shredded coconut
1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
2/3 cup raw agave nectar or honey
1/4 tsp sea salt

Fudge:
4 Tbsp raw cocoa powder
1 Tbsp raw coconut oil, warmed to liquid
4 Tbsp raw agave nectar
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

"Marshmallows":
2 cups young coconut meat
1/2 cup coconut water
seeds of one vanilla bean
2 Tbsp raw honey or agave nectar
1/4 cup raw coconut oil, warmed to liquid

1 Tbsp cocoa powder for dusting

For the graham cracker crust, in a food processor, combine pecans, coconut, dates, cinnamon and sea salt and process until finely ground and starting to hold together.  Press crust mixture into a 9x9 inch pan lined with foil (oiled so brownies are easily removed). 
To make the brownie layer, in a food processor, combine pecans, coconut, and cocoa powder and process until finely ground.  Add agave nectar and sea salt and process until the mixture comes together like a dough.  Press the brownie mixture into the prepared baking sheet over the graham cracker crust making sure it is even.  Place in the fridge to firm up. 
For the fudge, whisk together all ingredients until smooth, and spread over the brownie layer.  Place in the fridge while you prepare the marshmallow topping. 
To make the marshmallow topping, combine the coconut meat, coconut water, vanilla bean, and honey in the food processor and process until smooth.  With the processor running, add the coconut oil and process for about 30 seconds until well incorporated.  Remove the mixture from the food processor and place in the freezer for about 45 minutes to an hour to firm up to frosting consistency.
Once the marshmallow topping is firm enough, place in a pastry bag and pipe over the fudge layer on the brownies (or spread it over if you don't want to mess with piping).  Dust the top with cocoa powder, and enjoy!