Thursday, April 29, 2010

raw onion bread

For the past couple of weeks, a special schedule of Mysore-style ashtanga yoga classes was offered at our yoga studio Ki-Atsu, and Stefanie and I attended as many as we possibly could. The teacher was the proprietor Ki's son Olivier, who had spent a total of five months over the past year studying yoga intensively in India, with most of that time spent in Mysore. These classes were excellent. Olivier was very attentive and provided wonderful adjustments and helped me with some bits of instruction that I was lacking. And I enjoyed the atmosphere he created in the room with a mantra box and incense.

After class one day last week the three of us met for lunch at the Go Raw Cafe. I don't remember how the subject came up, maybe we mentioned some raw flax crackers that Stefanie and I made recently, but Olivier told us about the onion bread served at his favorite raw restaurant in the world, Euphoria Loves Revolution in Santa Monica. Conveniently, the cookbook: RAWvolution: Gourmet Living Cuisine by Matt Amsden was on the shelf nearby. We pulled it down, and were immediately impressed by the recipes and photography. The Onion Bread looked fabulous, and we made it ourselves a couple of days later. It is an incredibly simple recipe, and tastes amazing. The following is our version of the recipe, which we altered slightly from the original:

3 lg yellow onions
1 C flax seed, ground in a high speed blender
1 C raw sunflower seeds, ground in a high speed blender
1/3 to 1/2 C nama shoyu, depending on the level of intensity you prefer
1/3 C olive oil

Peel and halve the onions.
In a food processor, cut the onions with the slicing disk.
Transfer to a large mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and mix until all are thoroughly combined.
Spread 2 cups of mixture evenly on a dehydrator tray with a teflex sheet.
Repeat until all the mixture is used. Dehydrate at 100 for 24 hours.
Flip the crackers onto a tray with mesh only and remove teflex.
Dehydrate another 12 hours. Once dehydrated cut into 9 equal pieces.

We love this bread and plan to start making it regularly. We used 1/2 cup of nama shoyu, but next time we'll try 1/3 cup because it was a little bit too salty.

This was my first time hearing about nama shoyu. I do not care much for regular soy sauce and was surprised by how much I liked the taste of this kind, which is the only raw unpasteurized soy sauce available, meaning that it is replete with the healthy enzymes and the beneficial bacteria found in other properly fermented foods.

Stefanie's note: You can find ground flax seed (also known as flax seed meal) at most supermarkets with a health food section; however, we strongly recommend buying the seeds in bulk and grinding them as you need them. This is because the seeds begin to lose their nutritional value over time once you grind them. Katherine and I use the Magic Bullet blender with the flat blade to grind our seeds, and it works beautifully.
Working the batter onto the teflex sheets takes a little practice to get it spread thinly and evenly, but after you do it once, you'll be a pro.
This recipe reminds me very much of a healthy version of the scallion pancakes you might find in most Chinese restaurants. Everyone who tried this "bread" thought it was delicious, myself included!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

vegan macaroons

On a relaxing Sunday, I found some time to prepare a little treat for myself for the week ahead. Because I work at home, I find it helpful to have (somewhat) healthy sweets on hand to grab when I need a snack, to keep me from opting for a less healthy alternative. In this case, the recipe came from a cookbook entitled Raw Food, Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melingailis, which is such a beautiful book it could double as the coffee table variety. The recipes I’ve tried are delicious, if complicated. I received this book as a gift a few years ago when I was preparing to try an all raw vegan diet. As it turned out, that lifestyle (and it is a lifestyle, not just a diet choice) was not for me, but I did add a few of the recipes from the book to my repertoire before I gave up. This macaroon recipe was one of those.

The coconut oil, almond meal and unsweetened shredded coconut contribute a substantial amount of fat, but it’s good, energizing fat. It may be appropriate to point out here, for those of you who don’t know, that fat is not the enemy, and coconut oil has been given a bad rap over the years. As with anything, moderation is key. [More on coconut oil] They are sweetened with maple syrup. Purist raw foodies may object here that maple syrup does not technically qualify as raw, and they would be correct. Maple sap is heated to reduce it to a syrup. That being said, I tend to agree with the authors when they say that you do need to live a little from time to time – especially when it comes to dessert. The only other ingredients are sea salt and vanilla extract. It is a pleasant surprise that such a simple, short list of ingredients could produce such a delicious snack.

Some special equipment is required; you’ll need a dehydrator. I mixed the ingredients manually with a pastry blender, but of course a simple fork will do. Mix thoroughly – the coconut oil is the consistency of Crisco and you want to make sure it gets mixed in well so you don’t have chunks. Then I formed the macaroons with a melon baller. If you want them to be uniform in size you’ll need to press the batter into your melon baller with your fingers before you slip it onto the tray, so you create pretty little mounds that present very well. I covered my dehydrator tray with some plastic wrap. If you have screens for your dehydrator, that would be the preferred, more sophisticated option. (I’m saving up for a higher-end dehydrator, and when I get one, I’ll invest in some tray covers. For now, I’m using plastic wrap.)

1-1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
1/2 cup maple syrup
2-1/2 T coconut oil
1/2 T vanilla extract
1/4 t. sea salt

The process is simple. Mix all the ingredients together, form the batter into balls and place the balls on the dehydrator trays, then dehydrate until the crust is hard but the inside is soft. It may be helpful to know that this could take a day or two, as is often the case when using a dehydrator, depending on the humidity of your climate and the moisture of your ingredients.

Katherine's Note: I am very lucky that the first time I had these rapturous cookies was in a special location. Stefanie and I were camping in a group up at Kyle Canyon near Mount Charleston last year, and under the canopy of large old Ponderosa Pines, Stefanie brought these out at breakfast and we had them along with some fine tea made from nettles harvested the day before on a hike up the Fletcher Canyon Trail. We also had a great fruit salad that I made for the trip that I believe included fresh cherries, mangoes, plums, nectarines and grapes, mixed with a sauce made of blended mangoes, cherries, and a little lemon juice and honey. Yum!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

a parcel of herbals

A couple of days ago I received a hefty box of herbs from Mountain Rose, and am so grateful now that it's my day off that I can enjoy a nourishing tea and soothe myself from the maelstrom of the work week and continue my allergy treatment also.

Today I stuck to ingredients that have been my most revered favorites for a long time, but I am also inspired by a blend at the Mountain Rose site called Vita-Blend.

My mix includes a good pinch of nettles, alfalfa, oatstraw, and horsetail, and then a bit of orange peel and licorice.

I am particularly excited to start using the alfalfa in teas. I was reading The Way of Herbs for my course last week, and gravitated to the description of this herb as "a superlative restorative tonic" the name of which means "Father of all Foods" in Arabic.

I have lost a little weight during the last few months, which isn't necessarily bad since I feel fine and am eating healthy meals, but I am interested in the properties of this herb for ensuring the assimilation of nutrients, and thus increasing flesh and thus strength and vitality. Apparently, this is quite similar to the effects of Astragalus, which is another herb that I ordered and am looking forward to learning about.