Tag Archives: pine nuts

Granola Love

Welcome to my new self-hosted WordPress blog and happy late Valentine’s Day!

I made a couple batches of granola recently, one from The Candle Café Cookbook and one from 500 Vegan Recipes. Both were totally different kinds of granola, but delicious in their own right. :)

The Candle Café Granola was really interesting in that it used steel cut oats as well as regular rolled ones, which I’ve never done before. Plus, it called for coconut oil and maple syrup–the best fat and the best sweetener! This granola came out super crunchy, with no clumps whatsoever–almost like a cross between granola and muesli.

Unfortunately, I had barely any of the ingredients that it called for, so I subbed sesame seeds and pine nuts for the sunflower seeds and walnuts, dried orange cranberries and candied ginger instead of currants, and extra almonds for the coconut. Now that I think about it, I think my version is better. Much more exotic–it had a really exciting flavor that you couldn’t quite put your finger on!

Then I made a recipe I’ve been dying to try since Celine first posted it at Have Cake, Will Travel: PB&J Granola!

This was a much healthier, more subtly sweet granola made with rolled oats and brown rice flour (or at least I think I used brown rice flour–we forget to label our plastic bags of bulk bin flour sometimes…), with chunks of jam swirled in just before baking. I used strawberry of course! What is UP with those people who only eat grape PB&Js?!

Maybe I underbaked it, but this granola was super soft and chewy. It made GREAT clumps, so if clumpy granola is your thing, then please go buy this book (there are also four or five more phenomenal granola recipes in the book!).

Perfect with bananas and vanilla hemp milk!

Kabocha Is Taking Over My Life

…And that’s totally okay by me.

If you made the Kabocha Soup from my last post, you probably have half a squash or so left over. Or maybe you don’t–but don’t let that deter you from making the dish I’m about to describe!

Maple-Cinnamon Squash Ringlets
(Scaled down from the Candle Café Cookbook recipe)

1/2 kabocha squash
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch crushed pepper
Pinch sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

With a sharp paring or vegetable knife, carefully cut the squash into 1-inch circles, then halve into semi-circles Lay them side by side on baking sheet. Whisk the olive oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, pepper and salt together in a small bowl. Brush the oil over the squash rings and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the squash is just tender.

I served my squash ringlets with…no, that’s not hummus! (Though I do love to eat roasted squash with hummus…) It’s Swell Vegan’s Vanilla Lemon Pine Nut Cream! I don’t know what made me think of this luscious raw cream as an accompaniment to my squash, but I’m glad I did! Together, they made for a perfect treat. The only change I might make is to slightly lessen the amount of agave in the pine nut cream because I found it a tad sweet. It’s really lovely though – even made with vanilla extract instead of fresh beans, and omitting the acidophilus. (Because, really, who has acidophilus in their pantry?)

It really does look like hummus though, doesn’t it?! I swear I’m not tricking you.

Raw for Dessert

I was recently contacted by the Book Publishing Company in Summertown, Tennessee with the opportunity to review one of their many vegan cookbooks! Being a fan of some of the BPC’s classics–such as The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and Becoming Vegan–I was more than happy to take advantage of the offer, and gleefully requested a copy of Raw for Dessert by Jennifer Cornbleet.

I love raw desserts. Not only are they easy to make and incredibly healthful, but they generally seem to feature more unique, creative, and exciting combinations of flavors and textures than their cooked counterparts. I’m not gonna lie–I love me a good chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, but sometimes a raw chocolate brownie, rich and dense, can do the job just as credibly.

Before I get to the recipes I made, I just want to say that this book is laid out really nicely, and it truly runs the gamut of the dessert world in its 7 chapters: Basics (mix-and-matchable creams, sauces, frosting, and crusts that many of the subsequent chapters require), Fruit Desserts (ranging from simple strawberries soaked in orange juice to the more complex Banana-Caramel Crumble, which I made), Sorbets, Ice Creams, and Sundaes (whether you want Concord Grape Sorbet or a Knockout Brownie Sundae, this chapter’s got it!), Cakes, Cookies, and Bars (Cheesecake, brownies, etc.), Pies and Tarts (which includes a pumpkin-less Pumpkin Pie that I’m dying to try), Creamy Desserts (you probably thought you’d never have crème brulée again after going vegan, but what about a raw Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée?!), and Candy (Truffles and stuffed dates galore!).

I tried to cover the book’s variety in choosing my review recipes, so there’s a little of everything!

First up, Dark Chocolate Truffles.

Talk about crack in spherical form. Made from coconut oil, dates, maple syrup, and cocoa powder (okay, so these aren’t quite raw due to the last two ingredients, but they’re a heckuva lot more raw than what I’d be eating otherwise!), these little gems were melt-in-your-mouth sinful.

I made half of them with the traditional cocoa coating, and half using the coconut variation that the recipe provides.

Next time I make these, I might try the curry variation. My mom vetoed it this time around, but what does she know?!

Along with the truffles, I made some Pine Nut Caramels. Who knew that dates, pine nuts, and vanilla were so sexy together? These caramels lived up to their name–buttery, sweet, and, well, caramel-y!

Leaving the Candy chapter, I also explored Fruit Desserts by making the Banana-Caramel Crumble, and, boy, did I choose wisely.

Bananas are mashed with a Shortbread Crust, then topped with a date-cashew butter-maple syrup caramel sauce, and finally with more crust crumbles. I took Cornbleet’s suggestion and placed the crumbles in a slightly heated oven so that they would “warm up,” while still remaining raw.

The crumble was quite sweet, but given that it’s served in small ramekin-sized portions, it’s just right. My family and I agreed that no one would ever know that this dessert was raw without being told.

In my last post, I mentioned that I made a raw carrot cake to go with the standard carrot cake for my sister’s birthday. What I was actually referring to was the Spice Cake from this book, to which I added some grated carrots, and frosted with Vanilla Cashew Cream. Lucky for you, the Book Publishing Company has given me permission to share one recipe, and I knew it had to be this one.

Raw Spice Cake with Vanilla Cashew Cream
Yield: one 6-inch cake (8 servings)

Cream Ingredients
1 cup cashews, soaked for 8 to 12 hours (1 1/4 cups after soaking), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup light agave syrup or maple syrup (I used maple)
1 vanilla bean, seeds only or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used extract)

Ahead of time: Soak the cashews for 8 to 12 hours. Drain and rinse. Soaked cashews can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Place the cashews, water, and agave syrup in a blender and process until very smooth. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender jar with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla bean seeds and process until well combined. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator, Vanilla Cashew Cream will keep for 5 days.

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup raw almonds (unsoaked)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup raw walnuts (unsoaked)
1 cup raw pecans (unsoaked)
8 pitted medjool dates
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup raisins
1-2 carrots, grated (my addition!)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or dark agave syrup (I used maple)

Place the almonds, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cloves, and nutmeg in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until finely ground. Add the walnuts and pecans and process until finely ground. Add the dates and orange zest and process until the mixture begins to stick together. Add the raisins, maple syrup, and carrots and process briefly to incorporate.

Line a 6-inch cake pan with a parchment-paper round. Pour the nut mixture into the pan and distribute it evenly. Press down with your hand to compact.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a serving plate upside down on top of the cake pan. Invert, then lift the pan off. Remove the parchment round.

Frost with Vanilla Cashew Cream.

Covered with plastic wrap, Spice Cake will keep for 5 days stored in the refrigerator or for 2 weeks stored in the freezer.

This cake is wonderfully dense, moist, and rich, so a little goes a long way. The orange zest was an especially nice touch–every bite was full of its vibrant flavor. Paired with the velvety sweetness of the cashew cream, this cake was dreamy.

If you didn’t get the message yet, this is a book that’s worth buying. Whether you’re an omnivore, vegan, or raw foodist, you’ll flip over these and countless other recipes. Plus, as far as I could see, none of the recipes called for a dehydrator, which, if I may generalize based on my own experience, can be frustrating for the average raw food amateur. As far as I’m concerned, Raw for Dessert blows Ani’s Raw Desserts (the only other raw dessert book I have) out of the water!

What are you waiting for? Go make some raw cake! If you’re still skeptical, check out Hannah’s, Celine’s, Bianca’s, and aTxVegn’s reviews!

Moussaka and Miraval

Sorry for the long absence, dear bloggies! It was a busy weekend, starting on Thursday, when I became a level 7 vegan. You know those famous recipes that stand out among the many within the vegan (blogging) community? I know you know what I’m talking about – Chickpea Cutlets, Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, Tofu Ricotta, Smlove Pie. I could go on, but they’re those recipes that almost every vegan has either tried, been meaning to try for as long as their (algae-derived supplement provided) omega-3-powered mind can remember, or have given up on trying because they seem too complicated. Anyways, one of those recipes is the Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream from Veganomicon. I’ve had the page dog-eared ever since I bought the book, but was always too lazy or didn’t have the time to make this decadently rich Mediterranean feast of a meal. But I’m proud to announce that I finally overcame that lameness and kicked some serious moussaka a**!

I made the sauce and pine nut cream and roasted the vegetables the night before, so the day of I only had to assemble it, which was super easy. I thought this would be a fun recipe to do a step-by-step preparation series for:

Tomato sauce and (whole wheat) bread crumb layer over the initial layering of eggplant and potatoes:

And zucchini over that:

After the second and final layer of tomato sauce and bread crumbs, the celebrated pine nut cream:

Spreadage:

Topped with pine nuts!

All golden-browned and luscious right out of the oven:

Sorry I don’t have any gooey inside shots! It was for a dinner party, and I didn’t have the time or light to snap a picture!

Anyways, the moussaka totally lived up to the hype, and my dad even said it might be the best thing I’ve ever made! The subtly cinnamon-spiked tomato sauce was to die for, and the pine nut cream was thick, tangy, rich, and downright cheesy. Who needs noodles when you can make a lasagne-like dish as good as this with only layers of vegetables? This is definitely a “make again.” Hooray for vegan milestones!

Early the next morning, and still in slight food comas from the night before (okay, maybe that was just me?), my mom, sister, and I drove up to Miraval Resort in Tucson, my mom’s favorite spa getaway!

It was my sister and I’s first time there, and I was very excited after hearing my mom rave about it the last time she went. You basically get to live in the lap of luxury for the duration of your stay, and because it’s a pre-paid package deal, eat however much, and do whatever classes and activities you like! I did Morning Yoga, Body Conditioning, Yogilates, the Evening Photography Walk, Swing and a Prayer (a ropes course challenge!), and Dream Yoga, and attended a Cooking Demo, an Introduction to Ayurveda, Tea Here Now (a two-hour class on tea that included an authentic Chinese tea ceremony!), and a class called Changing Your Metabolism. It was such a great experience, and as you can guess, I was absolutely exhausted afterwards (wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a relaxation resort?)

The food was delicious and healthy of course, with calorie counts on everything – you might think that would make eating stressful, but it was more just an affirmation of the lifestyle that Miraval represented. Over the course of two days I enjoyed a huge variety of fresh produce and salads, delicious vegetable juice blends, plenty of baked sweet potato (which I smothered with cinnamon and Miraval’s reduced fat peanut butter that’s made by blending PB with carrots), delicious mango-mint soup, and this (the one thing I got a picture of…), tofu-vegetable stir-fry with sweet plum sauce over brown rice:

I can only hope I’m lucky enough to go again someday! In the meantime, here are some cool pictures I took during my photography walk there:

This was actually a sign for the Agave Center, where yoga was held, but being the food blogger/health nut nerd that I am, I had to get this shot:

I never got a chance to go swimming, but this guy and his happy feet make me wish I had…

Mesquite pods! We have a tree in my front yard actually, and I really want to try grinding my own mesquite flour soon! They smell heavenly, especially when it rains. All sweet ‘n smoky.

The night we got back from Miraval, I wanted a quick and easy yet delicious meal–and a warm, cooked one that would address the vata imbalance I found out I had in my ayurveda class (I’m a vata-pitta by the way, but, given that like increases like in ayurveda, my vata is totally out of control and needs some kapha to tone it down…). Just ignore me if you think I’m crazy! To get to the point, it seemed like something like pumpkin soup would fit the kapha bill, so I decided to try the Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup from The Vegan Table:

I could say I followed the recipe except for a couple of changes, but that’s not really true. I changed a lot. I added a Tbs of peanut butter because I’m me. I also added extra cinnamon and cumin, and even put in some curry powder because the strong cardamom flavor was tripping me out. I generally love unique and unexpected sweet/savory combos, but for some reason, the cardamom in this soup was too much for me. And, because I hate to let a meal go by without anything green in it, I added a few cups of baby spinach. I think it’s better with the spinach actually. Without it, the soup’s a little one dimensional. Still, though, this is a good recipe! And it does benefit from a day in the fridge – as most things do, right?

Finally, my breakfast after the longest run of my life on Sunday (9.5ish miles): a young coconut!

And not just any young coconut…a frozen young coconut! I had it in the freezer because I wasn’t sure if it could go bad since I’d never had one before. I took it out to thaw before my run and assumed it would have melted, but I cracked it open to find a coconut ice ball! It sucked because I had to wait awhile to eat it, but once it softened a little, I just broke it up and it turned into a delicious and refreshing coconut slushie. It’s like nature’s icee! The true vitamin water if you will. Full of electrolytes, vitamins, and nutrients, I think I’ve finally found my perfect post-run recharge meal! Screw Vitamin Water. This is vitamin water.