Vegan Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

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I love making this dish for my vegan friends, but when I cook for myself, I tend to incorporate it with an entrée that has more of a paleo approach, ie. not-so-vegan ingredients. Like chicken (pictured). This pesto recipe has walnuts in the place of the Parmesan cheese, and plenty of fresh basil and garlic. Although my diet is not entirely dairy-free, I actually enjoy this pesto more that the cheesy variety. It’s fresh and light and delicious raw as well as baked (as in the stuffed mushrooms). For a raw meal, just incorporate it into a salad, add it to raw zucchini pasta, or use as a dip for cucumber, broccoli, carrots etc. This dish can be wonderful as an appetizer or, as I like to present it, as part of a main dish with a protein and vegetable. Makes a great holiday recipe! Injoy!

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     Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts

2 cups fresh basil

½ cup high quality olive oil

2-4 cloves garlic

1 Tbls. fresh lemon juice

½ tsp. salt

Dash of pepper

12 mini Portobello mushrooms

     Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until incorporated, but slightly chunky.

3. Pull stems off of mushrooms and place them face up in a 9×13 baking dish. Spray lightly with olive oil.

4. Fill each mushroom with 1-1 ½ Tbls. pesto.

5. Set some aside if you’d like to include a bit of dressing on fish or chicken.

6. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

 

Superfood Spotlight: Raw Cocoa

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Raw cocoa is known to be one of the most nutritious super foods on the planet. It is the highest plant source of magnesium, iron, chromium and manganese. It is also extremely high in zinc, copper and phosphorous, minerals that are greatly depleted by stress. In addition, it is recognized to be the #1 antioxidant in the world. 15 times higher than blueberries, 20 times higher than green tea and 30 times higher than red wine. Also, if you’re looking to get more dietary fiber into your daily consumption, raw cacao provides a whopping 9 grams per 1 ounce serving.

Now, lets be clear that the processed milk chocolate we find in the candy bar isle, while derived from the same plant, does not offer these same superfood benefits. A great way to include more raw cacao is to add it to a smoothie, or I sometimes sprinkle it onto a banana or spoonful of almond butter. Injoy!

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In the Vitamix: Ginger Peach Sorbet

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It was a dark and stormy night… the makings of so many tales of intrigue and adventure. On this particular Sunday evening, after an uncharacteristically warm and sunny Seattle summer, it struck me how black the sky had become by 7:30pm. And the heavy downpours were coupled with ferocious gusts of wind, lightening bolts that filled the sky with flashes of electricity and rolling, rumbling claps of thunder. Needless to say, no one at the Boyz Haus wanted to go on a snack run. Not even the ol’ ‘you fly I’ll buy’ deal was working its magic to persuade any of us to make a trip to the store.

And so, the kitchen adventure began. Titus, Katie, Jasson and I began to scour the cupboards and freezer for anything sweet and delicious. Nothing seemed to add up. Nuts, but no apples or pears to bake. Homemade nut butter, but no dates to fill. Gluten-free flours, but no eggs to bake with. We did however, have peaches. A whole ginormous bag of frozen goodies stocked for smoothies. We ultimately consulted the Vitamix cookbook and settled on tweaking the recipe for peach sorbet.

The whole process took literally 2 minutes and the result, out of this world! We added the ingredients to the blender, then Titus popped his head out of the fridge and suggested the last little bit of fresh ginger in the fruit drawer. About 2/3 the length of my thumb. Admittedly, I was skeptical at fist, trying to imagine the flavor combination, but that little addition really brightened up the whole dessert and gave it that wow factor. Another option is to add dried or candied ginger. I will sometimes add it to smoothies for an extra zing. Also, just about any frozen fruit will work in this recipe, and you can also use fresh fruit and add ice. Though, a word of warning, the couple of times I’ve tried it, the result is more of a sweet, berry shushy. I hope you Vitamixers out there give this one a try. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know how it goes!

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Ingredients

1 lb. frozen organic peaches

3/4 cup coconut or almond milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/8 cup raw honey or other sweetener to taste

Instructions

1. Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in order listed

2. Turn machine on and quickly increase spped to variable 10, then to High.

3. Use tamper to press ingredients into blades.

4. Process about 30-60 seconds until smooth. Do not process more than 60 seconds as motor will heat up and melt the sorbet. Enjoy!

Make Your Own: Almond Milk

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One of the most simple and satisfying things you can create in your kitchen with a high-powered blender are nut milks. It’s easy, quick, saves money and is so delicious and creamy without those pesky preservatives. One additive that is found in nearly all store bought brands of almond milk is Carrageenan, a gumming agent derived from seaweed. Unfortunately, Carrageenan, found also in organic versions, is known to cause inflammation in the digestive tract and has been linked to irritable bowel disease and colon cancer by several peer-reviewed animal studies. It is a controversial additive found in many processed foods and best to avoid it when possible.

Which brings us to the simple task of making your own! One of the things I love about making almond milk (besides the base ingredients literally being almonds and water) is the flexibility of flavor and creaminess depending on what you’re using it for. The recipe below is for a moderately creamy version. I use it as a milk substitute in baking and to add to smoothies and coffee or tea. Also below find variations and flavors to add to truly make it your own.

I did not filter the almonds in my recipe, which I recommend if you want it to resemble a purely liquid consistency. I like to leave more of the protein and fiber in tact, so I leave the meal incorporated. If you do not have a Vitamix or high-powered blender, you will be left with some almond bits in the bottom of the pitcher and will want to run the milk through a milk bag or cheesecloth. Simply pour it through the cloth and squeeze, and I mean SQUEEZE, the liquid into jars to store in the fridge. Use the leftover meal in baked goods (I love it as part of a crumble topping for seasonal fruit) or add it to smoothies.

Also, I like to keep some pre-soaked nuts on hand so I can make milk on a whim without having to wait for them to soak overnight. It is a good idea to soak all nuts and seeds anyway, even the ones you eat in trail mix etc., and especially almonds and walnuts. The bitter tannins are released which adds to the smooth natural sweetness, and the sprouting process begins which increases the nutrient profile considerably. A certain enzyme is released which makes digestion easier for many people as well. Be sure to take nuts out of the shell before soaking and discard the leftover liquid; do not add it to recipes.

Almond milk is truly and delicious and nutritious alternative to cow’s dairy. Soak, blend, pour. It’s really that simple! Give it a try and let me know what you think! Enjoy!!

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Ingredients:

1 cup raw organic almonds

3 cups water

pinch of sea salt (optional but recommended)

Recipe:

1. Place almonds in a small bowl and cover with purified water. Soak at room temperature for 8-12 hours or overnight.

2. After the almonds have soaked, rinse them well and place in blender with water and salt.

3. Blend on high 2-3 minutes until you have a very smooth milk. If you have a Vitamix, blend only for about 1 minute as the liquid will start to warm up.

4. Pour liquid through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth into a container to filter.

5. Store in a covered glass jar or container for 3-4 days.

Variations:

1. Add 2 tsp. vanilla

2. Add 2 Tbls. maple syrup

3. Add 1-2 tsp cinnamon while blending

4. Add 3/4 cup of freshly squeezed OJ for a creamcicle-like beverage

5. Add 2 dates for sweetness

6. Use half almonds and half cashews for a variation on flavor and texture

7. Use 1/2 cup almonds for a more liquid consistency

8. Use 1 1/3 cup almonds for cream substitute

Lime Avocado Tart with Macadamia Nut Crust

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I’m feeling especially inspired today. On a visit with my family in California, I am celebrating my 30th birthday, my nephew Gavin’s 4thbirthday and my Dad’s wedding all at once this weekend. So many reasons for dessert! This time around, I have consulted one of my favorite cookbooks of all time, Nourishing Meals. And as usual, it didn’t disappoint! The recipe that follows is a modified version, quick, simple, and deliciously satisfying.

A quick tip: it’s best to use perfectly ripe or slightly under avocados. I used one that was a little over and the earthy, strong flavor resulted in needing to increase the lime juice, zest and honey. The avocado provides lots of healthy fats and lends itself wonderfully to this smooth, creamy tart, but you should not taste the avocado, lest it resemble guacamole!

I would be fibbing if I said my family, accustomed to Costco sheet cakes with buttery sugar frosting, came running to the kitchen ready to scarf up every last crumb. They were hesitant at first. But each and every one of them tried it and loved it. Even going back for seconds! I have a feeling I will be requested to make this one again on future visits. Win!

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     Ingredients

Macadamia Nut Crust:

1 cup raw macadamia nuts

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

4 medjool dates, pitted

pinch sea seat

Filling:

4 small ripe avocados

6 Tbls. melted coconut oil

8 Tbls. freshly squeezed lime juice

5 Tbls. honey

3-4 tsp. lime zest

       Instructions

1. You will need a 9-inch spring form pan. Cut out a 9-inch circle of parchment or wax paper to line the bottom of the pan.

2. Place the macadamia nuts into a food processor with the S blade and process until finely ground. Be mindful nut to make nut butter!

3. Add shredded coconut, dates and salt. Process until combined.

4. Press an even layer in to the bottom of the pan.

5. Rinse out the food processor and add all of the ingredients for the filling. Process until smooth and creamy.

6. Pour into the pan with the crust and spread with a spatula or back of a spoon.

7. Freeze for 2 hours until set. Once it is frozen, remove from the freezer 30 minutes before you’d like to serve it. Garnish with lime zest or fresh berries. Enjoy!

Smoothies and Veggie Juice and The Vitamix, Oh My!!

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Today, I am on a mission to test out the new kitchen toy that is soon to revolutionize meal prep at the Boyz Haus. Behold! The Vitamix! If you’ve ever fired up one of these puppies, let’s just agree that going back to an average Oster blender after using one is simply not possible. The machine, er engine, is measured in horsepower. Enough said. It can boil water. Whaaaaaat?! And, my favorite part, when making smoothies/ veggie juice, you include the entire vegetable, skin, seeds and all. It get’s pulverized into liquid with all of the fiber and nutrients intact. That’s what I’m talking about!

So today, it’s test kitchen time. After a trip to the farmer’s market, I’m ready for a delicious, nutritious veggie juice. Beets, check. Kale from the garden, check. I also included apple, carrot, cucumber, fresh ginger, blackberries, blueberries, pre-soaked cashews and hemp seeds. The results…

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…are awesome! In 30 seconds on high (no kidding), this meal in a cup is ready. It’s the perfect amount of sweetness and zing from the ginger, and I especially love the color. If you ever want to get children to eat more veggies, this is the trick, conceal the flavor a bit with an apple and make it pink. Voila! They’re sucking down kale and spinach in no time!

I highly recommend incorporating fresh juice and smoothies into your diet to increase the enzymes and phytonutrients available in raw veggies. The average American doesn’t even get close to the recommended amount of vegetables required for optimal health. At a half cup serving size, a large smoothie can offer 6-8 servings in one yummy glass! I also suggest including raw nuts, a nut butter or a scoop of protein powder (whey, hemp or pea protein is best) to balance out the carbohydrate load with some protein and fat. You can also include a squeeze of lemon juice to lower the glycemic value and keep your blood sugar from spiking. I don’t tend to use a recipe when making things like this, but if you’re someone who likes a little guidance, Megan the Detoxinista gives some great recipes! Enjoy!