So if you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that I’m not a raw food person. I live in a mostly cold climate that requires the consumption of soups, stews, curries, roasted veggies and, ahem, certain hot beverages involving whiskey. I love experimenting with living food recipes and eating at raw restaurants for sure, but as a lifestyle it’s not for me. I am, without a doubt, a dessert-for-breakfast kind of person though. Like, for sure.
Enter raw desserts. These treats are generally made from fruit and nuts (or raw cacao, irish moss, coconut meat etc). Oh, and they’re free of refined sugars, gluten and animal products. That’s breakfast material right there! Insanely delicious, filling and healthy breakfast material to be specific.
There is so much local fruit available right now: berries, peaches, plums, first apples and pears, all at the same time! It’s a miracle really. I make a simple crumble mix from dates and nuts to scatter on top and a vanilla almond cream to make it seem a bit more indulgent. An initial word on the almond cream: it’s amazing. Some vanilla bean makes it so lovely. I have a high speed blender so I can whip this cream up pretty easily, but I’ll add instructions for food processor usage as well. It might not be as smooth, but the flavour will still be outstanding.
raw fruit crumbles
serves: 4-6 (a week’s worth of undeniably fabulous breakfast)
notes: If you are using a food processor for the almond cream, pulse the soaked almonds until they’re about one stop short of becoming almond butter, then add the other ingredients and put it to high until the cream is as smooth as possible. Also, I painstakingly peeled all of the almonds once they were done soaking. You don’t have to do this! It will taste just as good.
1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight
1/2 cup water (plus extra, I needed another tbsp, but this could vary)
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp agave nectar (or maple syrup, raw honey etc)
seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean (or 1 tsp extract)
teeny pinch of salt
1 cup nuts or seeds of your choice (I used a mix of pecans, walnuts, almonds and hemp seeds)
3/4 cup pitted medjool dates
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
a smidgin of seeds from the vanilla bean (or 1/4 tsp vanilla extract)
pinch of sea salt
1-2 cups of sliced/chopped fruit per person
maple syrup, agave nectar or honey
Make the almond cream: place the soaked almonds and water in a blender. Turn the blender onto a low-medium speed to break up the nuts and stop when the pieces are starting to form a puree with the water. Add the coconut oil, agave nectar, vanilla bean seeds, salt and more water if necessary. Turn the blender to high until the mixture is as creamy and smooth as possible. This took a couple minutes for me. Scrape almond cream into a container and chill thoroughly.
For the crumble: Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pule until the nuts become large crumbs and the mix holds together when you pinch it. Set aside or keep in the refrigerator if you’re making it ahead. Also, if you press this mix into a pan it’s like homemade Larabars! Awesome.
To assemble: Place sliced/chopped fruit into a bowl and drizzle lightly with maple syrup/agave/what have you. Sprinkle a teeny bit of cinnamon (or cardamom!) if you’re into that. Spoon some crumble mix evenly on top of the fruit and put a fat dollop of almond cream on there.
You might also like…
It’s chilly, tea-sipping, sweater-wearing, snuggle-all-the-time weather. No doubt we’ll get a little September heat flash soon, but right now I’m loving the coziness of these chilly days. The grey, heavy clouds and tall, swaying grasses looked so autumnal from my window on the weekend. I was ready for soup.
I had to make up some vegetable stock first, which was actually a bit exciting for me. I take huge pride in this task and have serious issues with people advising others to just throw scraps in the pot. Stock is essentially water flavoured with whatever you put into it, simmered down a bit and concentrated. Do you want your soup to taste like slightly concentrated water with the essence of… scraps? Mind you, some less-than-desirable bits are fine: onion skins, mushroom stems, something with decent flavour. But seriously, use some good stuff that you’d want to eat. Nice herbs, fresh root veggies, crisp celery, lovely alliums, you get the idea. If it’s worth doing in the first place (and it is), do it proper.
I will admit that soup-making was my nemesis for a while. I always made it too thick or too watery or too spicy and on and on. I kind of stopped working from recipes and they started turning out a lot better. I build on a general formula, work with what I have and taste as I go. I know cooking from intuition doesn’t exactly translate to… um, a recipe on a cooking blog. So! I’ve included a recipe that is full of options and really leans toward that recipe-as-a-guide thing. Hope you’ll give it a try and enjoy it with someone you like.
tomato and white bean soup with quinoa or!
tomato and bean soup with whatever you like
serves: so many! it’s a big pot full
notes: I really take the time to cook out the tomato paste so that the raw, saltiness kind of dissipates. You should too! If you’re serving the soup right away, by all means add the finishing greens and herbs. When I freeze it or put some away for later, I usually add the greens and herbs as I’m heating up the portions to avoid icky, overcooked greens.
1 cup dry beans soaked for at least 2 hours and drained (I used navy beans)
2 tbsp grape seed oil
1 medium onion, diced (I added a small-diced shallot too)
1 rib celery, diced
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs thyme, leaves chopped fine
1 sprig rosemary, leaves chopped fine
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups halved grape tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes or 1 can of diced tomatoes etc)
2 quarts vegetable stock
2 cups diced vegetables (I used zucchini and green beans)
1/2 cup quinoa, soaked (or rice or millet or small pasta etc etc)
1/2 bunch kale, leaves removed and chopped roughly
5 sprigs of parsley, leaves chopped fine
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a big soup pot over medium. Add the onions and cook until they soften up just a bit, about 5 minutes. I kind of like to stew the onion in the oil for a while so that it gets really soft and blends right in with the soup. Add the celery and bay leaf and cook until the celery softens, another 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and rosemary. Cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and stir continuously until paste is broken up and its flavour is cooked out, about 5-7 minutes. Add the beans and tomatoes and stir to coat in the tomato paste mixture. Add about 1/2 cup of the stock and scrape the bottom of the pot to get any browned bits up. Add the rest of the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until the beans still have some bite, about 35 minutes.
Add the quinoa and stir. If you’re using rice, add it with the beans. If using pasta, add it after letting the beans cook for about 40 minutes since it doesn’t take as long as quinoa.
Add the vegetables and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. If using heartier vegetables like carrots or squash, add them sooner to allow adequate cooking time.
When the beans are a little soft (but still have some bite!), add the greens and parsley. Stir until greens are wilted a bit and serve.
You might also like…
Another breakfast treat! Clearly I’m living the good life. I’ve been getting into autumnal baking mode lately and craving little sweets with tea. To avoid the dizzying sugar highs and general lethargy associated with constant cake-eating, I try to include at least some whole grain flour and the smallest amount of natural sweetener I can muster. I’ve always found banana bread comforting (with chocolate chips, no substitutes), but I’ve been known to enjoy spiced zucchini bread quite a bit as well.
So I combined the two! And with fantastic results. I just realized that we had about 3 Costco sized bags of quinoa in the pantry, so I figured I would make flour out of some of it (seriously, I don’t know anyone that could eat that much quinoa). The flavour of quinoa flour is quite strong, especially when you make it yourself. It works particularly well here with the banana, chocolate and toasted seeds muting its flavour out a touch. It also ramps up the protein content big time.
Whole spelt makes up the other half of the flour used, while maple syrup fills out the role of sweetener. A little extra virgin coconut oil along with the zucchini makes it moist. In review: fruit, vegetable, wholesome little seeds, natural sweetener and all whole grain flour. Oh and a bit of chocolate. This little loaf cake is health city! Breakfast treats for the win!
banana zucchini bread
notes: Try your best to not over-mix the flour. Whole grain flour can make cakes really tough when it’s roughed around too much. Just be gentle :) Oh, and maybe you don’t want zucchini? Replace it with another cup of mashed banana.
1 cup mashed, ripe banana (about 2-3 bananas)
1/4 cup milk of your choice (I used the So Delicious coconut milk)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp melted extra virgin coconut oil (or canola, grape seed etc) + extra for pan
1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave nectar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup whole spelt flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup finely grated zucchini (about 1 small)
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup chocolate chips (you could do any combination of nuts, seeds and what-have-you; up to a cup)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×2 loaf pan with some of the oil. Lay a sheet of parchment paper in with edges hanging over the sides of the pan. Grease the paper and lightly flour the pan, tapping out any excess.
Combine the mashed banana, milk, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla in a medium bowl. Whisk thoroughly, getting out as many banana lumps as you can. Set aside.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Add the banana mixture and shredded zucchini. Stir until everything is just combined. Fold in the pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips gently.
Scrape all of the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the center of the oven for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack completely.
You might also like…
I love scones. I actually love breakfast treats in general, but the scone is my absolute favourite one of them all. Croissants or pain au chocolat are a tad indulgent, muffins are fine, good danish or sticky buns are few and far between, but scones! They’re the perfect vehicle for some jam and a most lovely accompaniment to tea. There’s a bake shop near my family’s home that sells really fantastic ones dotted with seasonal fruit. Really delicious every time, but with the usual unhealthy trappings of white flour, white sugar, butter etc.
I’ve been making my own flour lately in the blender. It’s actually sort of fun. You throw the whole grains in, watch them grind up and swirl around. Then when they stop moving towards the blade, you’ve got flour essentially. The homemade stuff is a bit more coarse than what you would buy, but in some baked goods that’s just what I’m after. I wanted to work the creamy sweetness of barley into a scone with some juicy fruit and warming spice.
I roasted some lovely prune plums with maple syrup, cinnamon and a smidgin of cloves, chopped them up rough and folded all of that juiciness into a wholesome, lightly spiced batter. These are a bit heavier than traditional scones, but still a delight. My plums were a teeny bit sour and played off of the creamy, sweet batter just right.
barley scones with roasted plums
adapted from the Babycakes NYC cookbook
serves: makes 6-8
notes: So in the Babycakes cookbook introduction, it advises on measuring everything (including liquids) with dry measures. This is key. Pour that oil and agave into the dry measuring cups!
3 prune plums (or any other type you fancy), pitted and cut into wedges
1 tsp melted coconut oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
1 cup barley flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/3 cup agave nectar (I used half agave, half maple syrup)
1/3 cup melted (liquid form) coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot water
3/4-1 cup diced, roasted plums (this will depend on the size of your plums!)
For the plums: preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the plum wedges with the coconut oil, maple syrup and spices. Lay them out on a small parchment lined baking sheet and roast until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Chop roughly once you can handle them.
For scones: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the agave nectar, coconut oil and vanilla. Stir until a dry batter forms. Add the hot water and stir just until all of the flour is absorbed. Gently fold in the chopped plums.
Place 1/3 cup measurements of batter onto the parchment, rounding the edges slightly with dampened fingers. Brush the tops with coconut oil if you like. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let the scones cool on the tray for 15 minutes before eating.
You might also like…
We still have so many greens in the gardens! Chard, kale, spinach and lettuces, leaves of plenty. There’s a lot of vitamins and good, healthy things happening in these vegetables. I’ve been trying with all my might to work them into my daily eats somehow, but I’m getting tired of the usual cooked greens or green smoothies. I wanted a salad. With Kale. In my body giving off health glow vibes. Immediately.
But I wanted to enjoy it! I’m not one to eat some buzz food for the sake of being healthy. Not to say that kale is buzz food! It was definitely always cool in my books. Was I eating it before it was cool? Who cares. Anyway, there’s no point in suffering through a sub-par salad if it’s just going to make you crave something deep fried in the end. Thoughtful preparation and enjoyment of healthy things = healthy life.
That’s where this salad comes into play. We enjoyed it the other night with some leftover butternut squash and panzanella and it was the MVP for sure. Just a small addition of some salty parmesan really makes this salad special and it tastes so delicious with the juicy peaches. You kind of have to massage the dressing in to tenderize the tough kale leaves. It makes them a touch less bitter and a thousand times more enjoyable in raw form. Plus! Rigorously massaging kale = healthiest form of exercise possible?
kale salad with peaches & walnuts
notes: Really massage that kale! It’s integral to the enjoyment of this salad. Other stone fruits could fill in for peaches easily. Also, you could use pecorino or any other hard, aged cheese of your choosing. Ontarians!: Monforte’s Toscano cheese would be perfect here.
1 bunch of kale (about 5-6 normal size stems), leaves removed and torn into small pieces
3 sprigs flat leaf parsley, leaves torn off
1/2 small red onion, cut into thin half moons (or 2 green onions sliced thin)
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese + extra for garnish
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 ripe peaches, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup of walnuts, toasted and chopped roughly
Combine the kale, parsley leaves, red onion, parmesan, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Massage all of the ingredients together until the kale leaves feel a bit softer and the leaves taste of lemon, parm, onion etc. Season with salt and pepper again if necessary.
Place the kale mixture onto a serving plate and garnish with the peaches and walnuts. Add another dusting of parmesan for garnish.
You can dress/massage the kale up to an hour before serving. Add garnishes right before.
You might also like…