It has been forever. I haven’t been developing recipes. More just experimenting in the kitchen and enjoying the freedom of being in the moment with cooking. Not taking notes or writing anything down. But, it is back to recipe making for me.
Of late, I have been trying to eat more raw while at home. Out. It doesn’t matter. I feel like our bodies give us signs that we need to change our diet or our lifestyle. And for me it was my hair. It started to look dry and brittle. No longer any shine or luster. I wanted to make sure my diet had less of my favorites (bread, dairy, sugar, caffeine) and more whole foods. Thank goodness it is spring and I can barely keep up with the food that I am harvesting from the garden. Vegetables abound. Yet, this recipe does not happen to include any such vegetables. Instead, it is for onion crackers. Which are totally inspired by Matt Amsden’s Famous Onion Bread. They do happen to pair quite well as a side to a fresh garden salad though.
This makes a small batch. Just enough for snacking on over the week. However, it is easily doubled or even tripled for that matter.
I use my oven as it can be set at 100 degrees. However, you can also use a dehydrator tray lined with a Teflex sheet, but I don’t own one so I cannot verify the time and temperature.
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 Tbs sesame seed
- 3 Tbs chia seed
- 1 Tbs Nama Shoyu
- 1Tbs olive oil, extra virgin cold-pressed
- 3 Tbs water
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until you get a smooth puree. It will still have bits and chunks so don’t stress. Just until it is mixed and the onions seem chopped.
Spread the mixture on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Spread it as thin as you can without being paper thin. Just think a cracker. Then sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. You can go ahead and lightly score them if you want perfectly square pieces. I never do. I just break them apart once they are done.
Dehydrate them on 100 for roughly 20 hours (depending on how thin you spread the mixture, it may take up to 24), flipping them halfway through. I usually put another piece of parchment paper on them and us it to easily flip the entire mass. If you are prescoring them, score the other side as well.
Thanksgiving. I love the essence of the day. Spending a day around a table feasting with those you hold most dear. Celebrating the blessing of life and each other. My favorite Thanksgivings are when the house is packed with people. Old and new acquaintances. Family and friends. When hearts and bellies are equally full of joy, love, and food.
It is literally only a few days away. And all I want are brussels sprouts. We still haven’t finalized our menu, but one thing is for sure. Brussels sprouts will be on it. Usually I am the one to defend stuffing, mashed potatoes, and rolls and make sure they are represented Thanksgiving day. This year, although I still want those mashed potatoes, all I really want are brussels sprouts. With all the other roasted vegetables that will be consumed on Thursday, a raw salad seems a necessity.
Raw Brussels Sprout Salad:
- roughly 30 Brussels sprouts (depending on size)
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 6 Tbs olive oil
- 3 Tbs lemon juice
- 1 Tbs honey
- 1 Tbs Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- pinch cayenne pepper
- sea salt to taste
Begin by toasting the pumpkin seeds in the oven, being careful not to burn them (or forget them). While the pumpkin seeds are roasting, remove the outer leaves of the brussels sprouts and chop off and discard the stem. Carefully slice the sprouts as thin as possible. Add to a large bowl with the raisins and pumpkin seeds.
In a small bowl, add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Season to taste and then pour over the salad ingredients and toss to coat evenly. And enjoy!
(On a typical day, I love this as a side salad served along with roasted sweet potatoes.)
*And, if you want this to be truly raw, omit the Dijon and use raw pumpkin seeds rather than toasted. Also, make sure you are using cold pressed olive oil and raw honey.
I am a dessert girl. Growing up, my father always wanted dessert after a meal. It is engrained in me to crave a bit of sweet to finish a meal – I take after him. Sometimes I am able to resist temptation, but most of the time, I give in.
On a recent trip to Nashville, I stopped by the Franklin Farmers Market and picked up some peaches from The Peach Truck. Although perfect for eating just as they were, I decided to make a raw peach crisp to satisfy my craving for dessert.
Raw Peach Crisp
Prep: just enough time to cut peaches, measure ingredients, and combine in the blender!
- 4 peaches, sliced
- 1/2c pecans
- 1 Tbs cinnamon
- 1 Tbs millet
- 1 Tbs oat groats
- 1 Tbs raw honey
- Wash and slice peaches into bite size pieces.
- Combine the next 5 ingredients in a blender and pulse until almost ground – a crumb like consistency.
- Divide peaches into two bowls and pour topping over them.
This recipe is heavy on cinnamon – the way I like it – but feel free to cut back as desired. Enjoy!…Virginia
Falling in love with radishes was a bit of a slow love affair. For me, sometimes it is immediate and sometimes it takes a while. The turning point was not until a couple of years ago when one of my sisters made a radish salad from the Simply in Season Cookbook from Ten Thousand Villages (which is a good cookbook…their sweet potato fries recipe is wonderful). I saw their merits. The bitter flavor no longer hindered me from tasting them and enjoying them. From that point on, I realized that radishes can be delicious. Now I love them. Fennel was a different story. Fennel had always been a so-so kind of food. Never a favorite, just always okay. Until my youngest sister made a Baked Red Pepper recipe from My French Kitchen. There and then I was in love. Fennel has, since that moment, excited me. It literally makes me happy to see it at the market, to buy it, to eat a meal made using it. I love fennel.
I loved the salad my sister made for her birthday weekend, and with a bulb of fennel and some radishes still in the fridge, I decided to create my own version. Here it is:
Prep time: 20 minutes
- 2 bunches radishes, chopped into thin pieces (save the greens for smoothies or salads)
- 1 gala apple, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped into 1/2″ pieces (use every last bit you can including the stems)
- 1/2c cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4c raw apple cider vinegar
- 1/4c lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- pinch salt
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- drizzle of honey
- In a large bowl, whisk the first five dressing ingredients together.
- Add all the salad ingredients in the bowl with the dressing and toss.
- Drizzle a little honey on top to taste and toss again.
(If anyone has a really good bok choy recipe, I have not yet learned to love it.)
The great thing about eating raw is that cook time is minimal. All it usually takes to prepare a meal is some washing, chopping, and mixing (and occasionally some blending). I love this kale salad and seem to make it once a week with all the kale I get from my CSA.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2 (hearty portions)
- 1 large bunch of kale, washed
- 1 gala apple
- 1/2 c pecans
- optional: 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 Tbsps ginger, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsps honey, raw
- 1/4c red wine vinegar, raw
- 2 Tbsps untoasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbsps cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
- Tear away the stems from the kale leaves and discard the stems. (We have chickens so “discarding” never seems like a waste, as they act as our compost bin.) Chop kale roughly into pieces. They just really have to be small enough to eat. Or if you prefer, you can slice them into thin ribbons. I personally like them a bit hefty.
- Chop the apple in to 1/2″ pieces. You can chop them matchstick style or diced wedges, whichever you prefer. I honestly do both.
- In a small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk.
- Put the kale and the dressing in a large bowl and combine. I like to use my hands to massage the dressing. By “massaging” the kale, you aid in breaking down the structure of the kale so that it wilts, resulting in a less bitter taste. Add the remaining ingredients and toss. One of the great parts about this salad is that it is still great the next day. Even though it will definitely be wilted, it still tastes great as the flavors in the dressing only intensify.
Benefits: As for the actual health benefits, I am by no means a nutrionalist but…Kale, a member of the brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, collards), is full of vitamin K, which is important for preventing bone fractures and bone loss (osteoporosis). It is also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C , vitamin B6 and manganese, as well as a good source of dietary fiber, calcium, copper, and potassium. That is why kale is called a super food! Sesame is supposed to be high in calcium and also great for building strong teeth and bones and combating osteoporosis. Sesame seeds contain sesamin and sesamolin (which are supposed to prevent the development and growth of certain cancer cells), magnesium, and vitamin E (strengthens nervous system and promotes good digestive health). Ginger has been used for ages as a natural remedy for nausea, reducing inflammation, and stimulating digestion. It is also said to provide migraine and menstrual relief as well as is a mood enhancer and helps relieve stress. Garlic is known for its antibiotic properties. Garlic seems to be the cure all for so many things or at least aid in the treatment…blood pressure, cancer, colds, heart disease, infections. Know that you are doing good to your body with what you are eating.
So I have come to find that I tend to use the same ingredients over and over, just in different ways, depending on what is in my CSA or at the Farmers Market. Here is a list of my MUST haves for my raw food pantry/fridge. I really use these almost every day.
- Curry powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- Ginger, root and ground
- Vanilla, both extract and beans
- Sea salt
Oils & Vinegars:
- Olive oil, extra virgin cold pressed
- Untoasted Sesame oil
- Red wine vinegar, raw, unpasteurized
- Apple Cider vinegar, raw, unpasteurized
- Nama Shoyu
- Honey, raw, local
- Medjool dates
- Maple syrup
- Kale chips
- Greek olives
- Two Mom’s granola bars
Fruit & Vegetables (in addition to what is local and in season):
- Gala Apples
- Almonds (mostly to make almond milk)
- Coconut, unsweetened, shredded
Other Foods (these are not a daily necessity but I use them maybe once a week):
- Cacao butter
- Cacao nibs
- Cacao powder
- Sprouted lentils
- Steel cut oats
- Hand juicer
- Mason jar (for making sun tea and storing my almond milk)
- Vegetable peeler
From this list, I pretty much can make all the raw food recipes I love. There are a couple of other things in my pantry, but they don’t get used as often. I just purchased some Ume vinegar and Coconut oil, neither which I have used yet. I also have some buckwheat groats, goji berries, hemp seeds, millet, and oat groats that I have not gotten around to using yet. Some of the other things I like to keep on hand but don’t use as frequently are: cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, flax seed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and a coconut (both for the water and the meat). For supplies, I occasionally use a Benriner Cook Helper Slicer for spiraling vegetables. I still have not bought a dehydrator and do not feel like it has been an issue.
As with all my food, I try to source my fresh produce locally if possible and to make sure it is raised naturally and organically. However, if it cannot be sourced locally, I try to make sure that it is organic and grown in the United States.
My goal for this week: to start sprouting seeds.