Posts made in March, 2013

raw key lime pie

Posted by on Mar 29, 2013 in desserts, featured | 1 comment

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I’m a chocolate kind of girl, but one of Rob and my all time favorite desserts is key lime pie.  The tart and tangy taste is somehow so refreshing in a dessert.  It’s kind of like a little bit of tropical sunshine in every bite.  Now that spring has finally arrived, my body is ready to ditch the warm, cooked vegetables, soups, and stews, and trade them in for all the raw, fresh goodness that is coming in season.  And, I just happen to love the whole raw food thing.  Even though I’m not strictly a raw foodist or a vegan (I still need a little bit of animal protein in my diet, but not much, and I choose good clean protein sources to eat), I love the creativity, taste, and the way my body feels when I eat at least 50% of my foods raw.  50% is an easily attainable amount of raw food.  If I start out my day with a green smoothie and have a salad for either lunch or dinner, throw in some cut up raw veggies and a handful of nuts for snacks, and I’m already there.

 

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Can’t think of a better way to kick off the raw food season, than with a little something sweet.  I decided to make a raw key lime pie using soaked cashews, an avocado, and raw coconut oil to accomplish the creamy filling.  To make this recipe (like most raw food recipes), I had to dust off my food processor (I had dropped it and bent the post), and try to repair it.  In the past, I’ve used my Vitamix dry container to do the job, but for this recipe, I wanted the filling to be as smooth and creamy as possible.  I was able to sand down the post enough, so the blade would fit over it – thank goodness!!  I’ve missed you, hardworking Cuisinart!!

 

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To make the crust, I used 2 cups walnuts and 1 ½ cups raisins.  I processed them together in the food processor until a big clump of dough formed.  One of my favorite things about raw food recipes is the simplicity.  Who knew such a delicious crust could be made with only walnuts and raisins!  Pecans can be substituted for the walnuts, and dates can be substituted for the raisins to make your crust.  Or, a mixture of macadamia nuts and almonds would be another delicious choice.

 

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I used a springform pan to hold my raw key lime pie.  I have had this springform pan so long that I can’t even remember when or why I bought it!  I noticed when taking this picture that it has Pampered Chef written on the base.  I don’t think I’ve been to one of their parties since my babies were in cribs.  I certainly wasn’t cooking or baking much back then, so who knows why I bought this pan.  It sure has come in handy for the right recipes, so I’m glad I did!  To form the crust, I pressed the ball of walnut-raisin dough into the bottom of the springform pan, and put it in the fridge to harden.

 

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After rinsing out my food processor, I started on the filling.  First, I used my Microplane zester to zest the limes.  I used 8 organic limes instead of key limes.  Key limes are so darn tiny and hard to zest and juice, so I substituted the plain jane variety, and the taste turned out just fine.  I transferred the zest into the food processor and then juiced the limes in my juicer and added the lime juice to the food processor as well.

 

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Next, I strained the raw cashews out of the soaking water and discarded the water.  The longer the cashews have soaked in the water, the easier it will be to achieve a creamy texture for the filling.  I added the soaked cashews, avocado, raw coconut oil, agave, and vanilla extract to the food processor and processed the ingredients until they were thick and creamy, which probably took at least a minute.

 

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What I love about raw food recipes is that no cooking is involved (duh!), so I can taste the finished product before totally committing.  While the filling is still in the Cuisinart, I made sure it was sweet and creamy enough for my liking.  I like my key lime pie pretty tart, so make sure to taste yours and add more agave and/or vanilla if you like a sweeter version.

 

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The last step – I poured the filling over the walnut-raisin crust in the springform pan and then refrigerated the pie for at least 2 hours.

 

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Before cutting and serving the pie, I removed the side from the base of the springform pan.  So the pie wouldn’t stick to the edge, I gently ran a knife around the edge between the side of the pan and the pie.  Once the side is removed, I garnished the pie with a few slices of a lime.  Ready to slice and serve.  All kinds of taste bud satisfaction with under 25 minutes of actual time in the kitchen!  Love, love, love it!

 

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raw key lime pie
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1½ cups raisins
  • zest of 8 limes
  • juice of 8 limes
  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for at least 30 minutes and soaking water discarded
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ cup raw coconut oil, warmed to a liquid
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. To make the crust, process the walnuts and raisins together in a food processor until a ball of dough forms.
  2. Press the dough into the bottom of a springform pan.
  3. Rinse out the food processor.
  4. Zest 8 limes, and transfer the zest into the food processor.
  5. Juice 8 limes, and pour the juice into the food processor.
  6. Add the soaked cashews, avocado, coconut oil, agave, and vanilla to the food processor, and process until thick and creamy.
  7. Taste the filling, and add more agave and/or vanilla for a sweeter pie.
  8. Pour the filling into the springform pan on top of the walnut-raisin crust.
  9. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  10. Slide a knife between the side of the springform pan and the pie to separate the edge of the pie from the pan.
  11. Remove the side of the springform pan from the base, slice, and serve.

 

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tuesday tips: natural ways to dye your easter eggs

Posted by on Mar 26, 2013 in tuesday tips | 2 comments

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This is probably one of the most fun posts I’ve written!  For this post, I got to tap into my inner “kid” and also my inner “scientist” (have I mentioned that I was a middle school science teacher back in my pre-children days?).  This project was like one big experiment, as I really did not know anything about dying Easter eggs naturally before starting.  Finding an alternative to the Paas dying kit is something I vow to do every year after we dye our eggs, as I hate wasting perfectly good hardboiled eggs that are contaminated with all kinds of unnatural coloring.  So this year, I set out to see if I could find a way to color my eggs with ingredients I already have around the house.  I was so surprised at the result, and now I have a fridge full of pastel colored eggs, which are much more fun to eat that the plain white or brown variety.

 

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When buying eggs to dye, I chose white free-range eggs.  These happen to be on sale at our nearest grocery store, so that was a definite bonus since I was buying so many.  In my mind, I always think of brown eggs as being more “natural” and healthy, and white eggs being kind of like white flour – the kind that comes from less healthy factory chickens.  Well, that is a myth.  The color of a chicken’s egg depends of the color of the chicken (kind of like the difference between us having brown eyes and blue eyes) and in no way affects the nutrients found in the egg.  If you’ve ever visited a local farm to buy your eggs (fresh eggs from a chicken free to roam are the healthiest), when you open your carton of eggs to check for breakage, you’ll see eggs of all different shades of brown and white.  So have no guilt about buying white eggs – they certainly soak up the dye better and result in much prettier dyed eggs than the brown variety.

 

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The first step in dying Easter eggs was to hardboil the eggs.  Check out this post for how to perfectly hardboil eggs.

 

The second step was to choose some brightly colored foods that I already have around the house.  I tried to pick out foods that I remember staining my fingers or dishes in the past, as I am assuming these foods have pretty potent plant pigments.  The first foods that come to mind are beets, blueberries, and turmeric.  But upon digging around in my fridge and pantry, I found a few more.

 

Next, I followed these steps to dye my eggs.  If the food was already ground, I skipped step 1, and if it was already a liquid, I skipped to step 4.

  1. Chop the food into small pieces.
  2. Place the food in a small saucepan, and simmer in 2 cups water with a little salt added for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain out the food over a small juice glass to separate the colored liquid or dye. (The cooked food can be stored in the fridge for use in other recipes.)
  4. Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar to the dye.
  5. Place a harboiled egg in the dye for at least 2 hours, overnight for darker eggs.

 

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To achieve the following colors, I used:

 

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Blue:  ½ purple cabbage

 

 

 

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Purple:  1 cup grape juice

 

 

 

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Dark green:  skin of a purple onion

 

 

 

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Deep blue:  ½ cup frozen blueberries

 

 

 

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Blue-green:  1 teaspoon spirulina

 

 

 

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Pink:  1 beet

 

 

 

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Dark Red:  1 cup cranberry juice

 

 

 

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Orange:  2 tablespoons paprika

 

 

 

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Bright yellow:  2 tablespoons turmeric

 

 

 

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Light yellow:  1 sweet potato

 

 

 

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Brown:  1 cup strong coffee

 

 

 

 

 

I have to say that I am both surprised and happy with the result!  It was so easy to do, and I now my Easter eggs look both beautiful and appetizing.  This was a fun project, and one I will definitely be repeating with my kids.  I’d love to hear your ideas for foods to use when naturally dying Easter eggs.  Please comment and share!

 

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wasabi sesame deviled eggs

Posted by on Mar 25, 2013 in side dish, snacks | 0 comments

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What’s Easter brunch without a plate of deviled eggs?  Eggs have long been a symbol of Easter, as they represent new life.  Eggs and baby chicks also stand for the rock tomb out of which Jesus emerged when he rose again.  Easter marks the beginning of spring, which is the season of new life, as nature starts blooming all around us.  Even though we’ve had a recent cold snap (hopefully our last!) here in Texas, I still see my backyard coming to life again when I take my puppy outside every morning:  new leaves are beginning to grow on the rose bushes and the grass is starting to wake up as well.  What a testimony in all of creation of new beginnings and second chances!  I love this time of year!

 

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I also love adding Asian flavors to recipes – especially the spicy kick of wasabi, the Japanese horseradish that is actually a root with a burn your nose hairs kind of strong flavor.  You can buy it in a powder form, which is the ground up root, or in a ready to use tube or condiment form, which is the kind I used for this recipe.  I chose this Roland wasabi paste because it is made with all natural ingredients and no artificial food colorings.  Because the wasabi root is a member of the Brassicaceae family along with foods like cabbage and broccoli, it has anti-cancer properties as well as anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.

 

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Most deviled egg recipes call for a generous helping of mayonnaise, but for this recipe, I first processed together apple cider vinegar, a little agave nectar, olive oil, and raw cashews for a healthy homemade mayonnaise substitute.  I then added the other ingredients to make my deviled egg filling:  egg yolks from the hardboiled eggs, Dijon mustard, wasabi, juice from ½ a lemon, and a little salt and pepper to taste.

 

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To complete the Asian touch in these deviled eggs, I sprinkled these toasted sesame seeds that I picked up at Whole Foods on top as a garnish.  Toasted sesame seeds are a super versatile condiment that is handy to have around the kitchen.  From sprinkling them as a garnish on coleslaws and salads to dredging chicken and fish in them before baking, toasted sesame seeds contribute flavor and crunch to all kinds of dishes.  Recently, I added them to a homemade hummus, and today I’m using them to top my deviled eggs.

 

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Ever have trouble peeling your hardboiled eggs?  Does the shell ever stick to the white of the egg resulting in a mess when you try to peel them?  Or what about green yolks?  Ever notice the yolks of your hardboiled eggs turning green?  Try these three steps to make perfect hardboiled eggs that are easy to peel and have pretty yellow yolks:

 

1.  Place eggs in a large pot, and cover with 1 inch of cold water.

 

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2.  Place over medium heat until water comes to a full boil, and then cover and remove from heat for 12 minutes.

 

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3.  Remove eggs and place in an ice bath for 10 minutes.

 

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The result is these perfectly hardboiled eggs that can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.  Enjoy them throughout the week as snacks topped with your favorite condiment or make them into egg salads or deviled eggs.

 

 
Ingredients
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons raw cashews
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons wasabi paste, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • toasted sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Place eggs in a large pot, and cover with 1 inch cold water.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and then cover and remove from heat for 12 minutes.
  3. Transfer to an ice water bath for 10 minutes.
  4. Peel eggs, and cut eggs in half lengthwise.
  5. Remove yolks, and set them aside in a small bowl. Put egg halves on a plate and set aside.
  6. In a Vitamix or food processor, process apple cider vinegar and agave nectar.
  7. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, and then add cashews and process until smooth and creamy.
  8. Add egg yolks, wasabi, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, and process until smooth and creamy.
  9. Using a small spoon, spoon egg yolk mixture into the hole in the egg halves.
  10. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, and serve.

 

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grain free carrot cupcakes

Posted by on Mar 22, 2013 in desserts | 2 comments

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I can’t believe Easter is just around the corner, a week from Sunday.  2013 is flying by!  Easter is most definitely my favorite time of year.  Not only is it a powerful reminder of God’s love and the sacrifice He made for me on the cross, but it is also a time to remember the new life I have in Christ.  I don’t know where I’d be without Jesus, and that is why I love this time of year more than any other.  “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8:39

 

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Easter also comes with it’s own food traditions, including desserts.  A favorite of mine is carrot cake, so I made these grain free carrot cupcakes to celebrate the season.  Carrot cake became a traditional Easter dessert because little children wanted to leave a sweet treat for the bunny when he comes around to fill their baskets with goodies.  Just in case the Easter bunny is minimizing his grains like I am, I made these carrot cupcakes without them (although I don’t think they’ll last long enough for him anyway!).

 

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For my grain free carrot cupcakes, I used a blend of 2/3 almond flour and 1/3 sweet potato flour.  Using sweet potato flour helps the cupcakes have a more desired texture, and it also reduces the amount of almond flour.  Almond flour is a heart healthy flour to use, but it also has a lot of omega 6 fatty acids.  You may remember from an earlier post that omega 6 fatty acids are important for our bodies, but not in the huge quantities in which we eat them, as they are the ones that promote inflammation.  Omega 3 fatty acids are those that have an anti-inflammatory effect, so the healthiest way to eat is to strive for a 1:1 ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.  Including sweet potato flour in this recipe helps reduce the omega 6 intake from the almond flour.  Sweet potato flour also carries with it all the health benefits of one of my favorite foods, the sweet potato – lots of fiber, vitamin A or beta-carotene, vitamins C, Bs, and E, potassium, and manganese.  Plus, as a bonus, sweet potato, like its name, is sweet, so it lends a sweet flavor to any baked item.

 

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Carrots, besides being a favorite of the Easter bunny and being famous for benefitting our eyesight, are also naturally sweet and contain lots of fiber, vitamin A or beta-carotene, vitamins C, Bs, K, and E, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, and lots of other phytonutrients.  Carrots are a hard root vegetable, so to use them in my carrot cupcake recipe, I must first shred them with a standard grater.

 

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Traditional carrot cake spices are similar to pumpkin pie spices, cinnamon and nutmeg, with the addition of cardamom.  Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of a ginger-like plant that is used whole or ground and comes in two varieties, green and black.  It also lends a warm and sweet flavor when added to gingerbread, banana bread, pancakes and other desserts and combines just as well with savory dishes like risottos, other grains, soups, stews, and sauces.

 

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I used maple syrup and raisins pureed in my Magic Bullet to sweeten these carrot cupcakes.  Some carrot cake recipes call for the whole raisin, but I know many people who don’t care for the texture of raisins in their baked goods.  The pureed raisins are sweet, so not only can I reduce the amount of syrup but I can also avoid the raisin texture in the cake.  I happen to like the taste of raisins in baked items, so this option allows me to please everyone.

 

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After blending the wet and dry ingredients together and adding the shredded carrots and chopped pecans, I lined my muffin pan with unbleached cupcake liners and filled them each with a large spoonful of batter.  These liners are free of chemicals, so my cupcakes will be as well.  We come in contact with so many different chemicals everyday, making simple switches like these cupcake liners is one small way I can reduce my family’s exposure.

 

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These cupcakes turned out so yummy!  While they were baking, I pulled out my Easter decorations and set them out around the house.  The kids always notice when I decorate for each holiday, and even though they are getting so old, they still think it’s fun to have a festive home and some festive goodies – chocolate eggs are their favorites and never last long.  I have a feeling these cupcakes won’t last long either, as Kayley has already eaten one and let me know they are way better than the last dessert I made.  Gotta love her honesty. Happy Palm Sunday everyone!

 

Print
grain free carrot cupcakes
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup sweet potato flour
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (warmed to a liquid)
  • 1½ cups shredded carrots
  • ½ cup pureed raisins (soak in warm water for 30 minutes before discarding the soaking water and pureeing in a blender or food processor)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, extra for garnish
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients - almond flour, sweet potato flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom - in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Combine the wet ingredients - eggs, maple syrup, coconut oil, and pureed raisins - in a small mixing bowl.
  4. Mix together the wet and dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the shredded carrots and chopped pecans.
  6. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  7. Spoon batter into each liner. Makes 12.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, and then let cool.
  9. To make the frosting, blend together coconut oil and maple syrup in a Magic bullet, food processor, or other blender.
  10. Chill for at least 15 minutes, so frosting solidifies.
  11. Frost cupcakes, and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

 

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what i ate wednesday

Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 in what I ate today | 0 comments

Since getting back in town from my short weekend trip, I have been craving vegetables.  That happens to me when I’m on the road away from home like I was this past weekend.  I start missing all the colors and flavors and crisp freshness.

 

Another thing that happens to me when I’m out of town for a weekend is that my whole system around my house gets all messed up.  So, here it is Wednesday, and I haven’t made it to the grocery store yet this week.  Thank goodness I stocked up on plenty of fresh produce last week.  This week’s mission is to use it all up before it starts wilting and looking a little less appetizing.

 

For starters this morning, I ate…a big nothing!  I got so busy getting the kids to school, fitting in a workout, phone calls, and finally getting Kayley’s backpack with all her make up work back down to school (yes, she forgot it, and yes, I took it back down to her – I’m sure the best parenting books would say not to so a lesson could be learned, but I was a big softy today and didn’t want her getting late grades on 3 days of work).

 

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Around 10am, I made some green juice with kale, cucumber, green apple, lime, a little kiwi, and ginger.  I’m always amazed at how much fresh juice fills me up.  I had hardboiled a dozen eggs earlier in the week for snacks, so I grabbed a couple of those and drizzled a little Dijon mustard on top to add a little protein to my morning.

 

photo-tuna saladAfter a mid morning meeting, I settled in for a haircut.  I mentioned on an earlier post that my stylist is one of my closest friends, so I always look so forward to the uninterrupted few hours of time with my friend getting my hair colored and cut.  She has this really nice man that comes around her salon every day at lunch with his cart of homemade entrees for sale that never disappoint.  I actually look forward to his meals, as all are healthy and fresh, and I don’t have to make them.  Today I chose a tuna salad on greens with avocado, tomato, and another hardboiled egg.  And, I snuck a little chocolate from the candy bowl for something sweet.

 

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Rob is in New York this week, which is another reason it’s a good week to use up all the food I already had in my fridge.  The kids and I just start pulling stuff out that looks appetizing each night he is gone to see what we can come up with that sounds yummy.  Tonight, I peeled and sliced some sweet potatoes, tossed them in melted coconut oil, and sprinkled them with spices:  cumin, chipotle chili powder, chili powder, garlic, and sea salt.  Then I baked them at 350 for about 45 minutes, and topped each slice with a little bit of avocado.  For some protein, we rolled up slices of Applegate Farms turkey with a little jalapeno hummus inside.  The kids peeled some cutie oranges to have with theirs too.  I’ve got to say that as much as I don’t like when Rob is out of town, I really do like these casual evenings that I get to spend with my kids.  Volleyball was moved to Thursday night this week, so we’re even able to fit in a movie before bed.

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