Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Up to 40% OFF - Sizzling Hot Savings at Natural Zing

Save on kelp noodles, Peruvian olives, sprouting seeds, raw cookies, Host Defense products, books and more.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I've been "Chopped"

Or have I? I think I succeeded in this battle, but I'll let you be the judge.

Although my diet is mainly raw vegan (I'll admit to some cooked here and there), I'm strangely drawn to watching the Food Network's "Chopped." I love the concept on being given a mystery basket of unrelated food items (there is usually at least one curve ball in there) and a time limit in which to whip up something harmonious out of them.

For example, unsure of what to make for today's post, I pulled out a few random items from Natural Zing and tossed them in a basket for inspiration. I had some raw cashews, Bali cocoa powder, lucuma powder, maca and kelp noodles. I have to admit that the kelp noodles were the kicker.

Luckily, my son was around to help me out with that one. Hearing the word "chopped," he automatically thought of Spongebob and his karate chops. Of course, I wasn't surprised when he also thought the noodles should be put in a kelp shake, something that was quite popular in an episode of that cartoon.

I was a little hesitant at first, as I don't recall anyone using these noodles in any other fashion than as noodles (like in this extensive list of recipe ideas). But, since they don't have an overwhelming flavor that would compete with the others in a beverage, I thought, "why not give it a try?"

Besides, I already had a coffee alternative idea in mind, due to the cocoa powder and maca being in the basket. Cocoa and maca always give me energy when I need it most, and this particular cocoa powder actually smells and tastes a bit like coffee, as I found out while making these mini raw cupcakes for a friend.

This idea was perfect, especially after reading a post by Alicia Silverstone on The Kind Life site about a certain coffee chain now offering its Frappucinos "however you want it" by giving customers the opportunity to select their coffee/tea (or you can go coffee-free), milk or soy (one day maybe they'll offer a raw alternative), flavorings and toppings. Until it includes some raw options, here is what I'll be making how I want it in my kitchen. I like to call it My Mocha Kelppucino.

My Mocha Kelppucino
4 ounces (1/3 of a bag) kelp noodles, rinsed well and chilled
1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight in fridge
1 cup cold water
1 Tbsp. lucuma powder
1 Tbsp. maca powder
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of sea salt
1 frozen banana, chopped (and/or ice)
2 Tbsp. Bali cocoa powder
*date syrup drizzle (optional)
*sprinkling of cacao nibs (optional)

In a high speed blender, blend the kelp noodles, cashews, water, lucuma, maca, vanilla and sea salt until smooth. Add the frozen banana and/or ice (I like to use banana to add sweetness and a smooth texture; if you just use ice, you might want to sweeten it up a bit with some dates, agave, yacon, etc.), and blend to incorporate.

Remove some of the mixture (maybe about 1/8 to 1/4 cup) and set aside for the topping (this makes it look like a cappuccino).

Add the cocoa powder to suit your taste (I went with 2 Tbsp. to really perk me up, but you can use less if you want), and blend. Pour it into a mug or glass, and top with the cocoa-free mixture. Garnish with a drizzle of date syrup (as seen in this Raw Chef video) and a sprinkling of cacao nibs. Enjoy!

Just as a word of caution, this stuff is a little thick like a pudding, but that's how I like it. It doesn't melt as it gets warm. Feel free to add extra water and ice, if you'd like. Remember, this is your personalized drink. Don't be afraid to swap the banana for strawberry, eliminate the cocoa, add some green tea, or perhaps spirulina to give it a kelp shake appearance. Have fun :-)

Shannonmarie, a.k.a. "Rawdorable," also posts on her blog of the same name, www.rawdorable.blogspot.com.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Everyone deserves a little sweet

Lately, in the blogging community, there have been a lot of posts about low-glycemic options, especially when it comes to making sweet tasting snacks and desserts. I, for one, have addressed the issue on my own personal blog, due to requests from my readers (there was a need for a low-glycemic version of my raw cupcakes, which I'll share again at the end of this post).

The first option that usually comes to mind is stevia, which comes in crystals, powder and liquid form.

"Stevia, an herb native to South America, is now grown and cultivated throughout the world. Stevia is easily digested, dissolves quickly and has no calories or carbohydrates per serving," as stated on the Natural Zing website (click here to read more about it in the product description).

I have found that stevia has a distinct flavor that some people enjoy, while others would rather look into finding yet another option. I, being one of the latter, have found I actually prefer yacon.

Yacon syrup is a great alternative to agave nectar in recipes, and is similar to molasses.

"Pressed from the yacon root, this gift from nature has been enjoyed for centuries in the Andean highlands of Peru," according to the Natural Zing website.

Both stevia and yacon do a good job of providing the sweet, but what do you do if you need your "sweet" to bind, too?

Date pastes and other dried fruit equivalents are generally used in raw food recipes to both add flavor and act as the glue to keep the "crumbs" together, like in my raw cupcakes. Unfortunately, they are far from being classified as a low-glycemic food.

My online raw foodie friend Ela of Ulterior Harmony has found her own solution she refers to as "chia-sweet," using none other than chia seeds as the star ingredient. You can read more about how she makes it here.
I have yet to try this method as a replacement for date paste in my raw cupcake recipes, but have found success with my own experimentation.
Yacon slices soaked and blended will also yield a similar result. Just soak them in water for a few hours, drain and puree them into a paste. Then, you can use your yacon paste in this nut-free, chocolate-free, low-glycemic raw cupcake recipe below. Enjoy!

Specialty Carob Cupcake
Tailor-Made Just for You

*Makes one raw cupcake tailor-made for those with special dietary needs

1/3 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1 Tbsp. carob powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. yacon paste (see text above)
touch of vanilla
pinch of sea salt
*coconut yacon topping (see explanation below)
*dried coconut flakes for sprinkles
*dried yacon slice for garnish

In a mini food processor, combine the seeds, carob, vanilla and sea salt. Process into a fine crumb. Add the yacon paste (see the blog entry above for directions) and process until evenly distributed throughout the "batter" (this helps break up the little gel-like pieces in the paste).

The batter should be moist, but not so damp that it requires "baking" in your dehydrator (although you could if you desire). Form into a cupcake shape using a reusable silicone cupcake liner, teacup or ramekin.

Top the cupcake with coconut yacon topping (a combination of equal parts yacon paste, sunflower seed butter and coconut flakes; cinnamon and yacon syrup are also nice additions), a sprinkling of yacon flakes and a dried yacon slice garnish.

Shannonmarie, a.k.a. "Rawdorable," also posts on her blog of the same name, http://rawdorable.blogspot.com/.