This Halloween is not only the first one that Paloma (now a 2 year old) can understand as a holiday, but, in a way, the first one for me. Although I’ve been living in the U.S. for twelve years, not having a young child and growing up without this tradition left me somehow indifferent to all the festivities. This year, everything’s changed.
Paloma is in daycare now, and is very curios about all the Halloween decorations and pumpkins that they’ve acquired. It’s funny how having a little kid can bring back the long gone excitement of the holidays.
I loved the challenge of making these raw cookies, playing with the shapes and colours. As for the flavours, I wanted to evoke true autumn tastes like pumpkin spice, carrot cake, nutmeg and clove, as well as include some new additions like matcha, mango, and black sesame. I was thrilled when everyone who tried the cookies loved the result.
I wanted to evoke true autumn tastes like pumpkin spice, carrot cake, nutmeg and cloves
This was a chance for me to experiment with sprouted oat flour, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I started with making a basic dry mix, and then added different ingredients for various cookie flavours.
Matcha powder (green tea powder) is another ingredient that I just started using. It’s been getting lots of good great publicity, as I always see tempting matcha recipes on food blogs and in magazines. Delicious! The multi-coloured oak leaves are also edible. Made of fresh coconut meat, flax seeds, and various fruits and vegetables – the recipe is coming soon!
I am ever-captivated by the creativity and extravagance of Japanese cuisine. I could stare at this set of photos for hours on end, mesmerised and intrigued by the mysterious ingredients and the form they take. Only the Japanese can make food so aesthetic, vibrant, and unique – all at the same time. The combination of ancient traditions and brave modernism bring their food culture to untouched heights.
Here, we combined maki-sushi rolling techniques with our favourite spicy Thai wrap recipe. The result was exactly what I’ve imagined and dreamed of making – a flavourful and striking dish. This particular rolling technique is called Rokusha or colour wheel, a very appropriate title. The colourful wrappers alone can be eaten as a snack, kid-approved by Paloma. (The same recipe was used to make the edible leaves that accompanied our Halloween cookies).
I am always in a state of excitement when cooking, but preparing this dish left me especially exhilarated – so much visual stimulation!
I am a huge fan of making homemade dressings. They are extremely easy to make, cost effective and much more delicious, not to mention healthier than the bottled stuff. Think about it.
Now I am a true blood New Yorker at heart which means, I must hit the town and dine out a few times a week. This gives me plenty of tasting opportunities and when I run across a yummy dressing…I make sure to ask for the recipe. Most of the time, I get some vague answer, but that isn’t a problem, that is a challenge. With my new flavor discovery, I go into my kitchen, and like a mad scientist, I try my hand at re-creating it. This was one of those inspired moments….
I have to admit, as a natural food enthusiast, Halloween and the entire holiday season ( Thanksgiving, Christmas ) really puts me in quite a quandary. On one hand, I love the mild madness that ensues around this time of year. The costumes, the parties, the creativity, the (idea of) candyland-come-true . . . clearly there’s some serious residual little-kid excitement in full force here. The irony is that much of what Holidays is about (conventional candy . . . and lots of it) is basically my nemesis. It’s not a matter of fun-size package denial, it’s a matter of reality: hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, red #5, or any ingredient made in a labcoat for that matter, generally equates to things humans should not consume.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to pull a scrooge moment. I understand this isn’t the time of year to tout the benefits of things like toothbrushes, raisins, or a nice apple. But don’t you worry; I’ve got plans for us. Better plans. Plans like, ahem, chocolate hazelnut plans. And while these chocolate hazelnut plans may still totally reside in the treat category (aka – don’t eat the whole recipe in one serving . . . everyday), this dessert is billions of times more beneficial than traditional holiday candy fare. Aside from using clean natural ingredients, it’s full of superfoods too. Raw cacao powder lends its copious antioxidant content and abundant minerals, and the chocolate coating utilizes the natural sweetness of mesquite powder (the milled mesquite pods from a low-lying South American shrub) making the exterior especially low in sugars. I’ve even snuck a little bit of optional adrenal-supporting maca powder into the filling of these candies, perhaps as a preemptive healthy strike against any conventional sugary “incidents.”
This dessert is billions of times more beneficial than traditional holiday candy fare.
Needless to say, these candies are an all-around “yes.” The exterior chocolate coating will remain solid at room temperature, and the inside pocket is a soft, sweet blend of cacao and hazelnuts. You can use ice cube trays for as molds for these, or get fancified and use real-deal candy molds with deep vessels to properly contain the filling. If using candy molds, double the amount of chocolate coating that the recipe calls for (the filling will remain the same). Short on time? Simply melt down a dark chocolate bar and use as the exterior coating instead of the raw chocolate recipe below.
I have two passions in life: Health and Art (in the sense of being creative and working with my hands). My goal: To eventually figure out how to merge the two together. How the hell I do that, still to be decided. I could write about all the options I’ve considered in my head, but then you’d just see me as a bipolar mess of a child. Literally, it expands from culinary school in France (to learn and embrace the emotional aspect of dinning/eating – which I think is SO important in our over-all health) to furthering my education in Natural Health – Like I said, two opposite ends of the spectrum. Pretty much, if you could jump inside my head, you’d beg to get out – as everyday it’s seems to become more and more a cluster f**k of ideas. Creativity truly is a blessing and a curse
In the meantime though, I’ll stick to the undecided route – i.e. cooking (or, playing) with healthy food!
Yesterday’s playtime included squash (told ya you’d be seeing a lot of this) and cookie cutters… Which I heart, because cookie cutters equal perfect shapes and perfect shapes make this perfectionist, perfectly happy.
At first I thought, “ravioli!” Which was then immediately followed by, “boring!” So instead, I went for a mix between lasagna and ravioli – A ravioli stack. Easy, but elegant. What more could a girl want!?
For this recipe, you might end up with some extra filling, which is still very good by itself, with a green salad or crackers. Knowing my family’s appetite, I made a double portion of the crust “dough”, and used it for a variety of tart sizes, making individual ones for Paloma. She now eats entirely on her own and enjoys being in charge of her meals, not letting anyone interfere with her spoon. Having a quiche all to herself made her one happy girl, and there may have been a few second helpings involved.
As predicted, I didn’t regret making the extra quiches, as all of them were gone in no time.
The quiche is particularly good when combined with a simple watercress and pea salad, my newfound culinary delight. I’ve tried watercress many times before, and always believed it to be too strong and tangy for me to enjoy. Well, I’ve recently realized that that’s not always the case. If you try it in a right combination of flavours that balance the tang just right, it’s quite refreshing and delicious.
We’ve been enjoying milder weather, which is always exciting after months of lazy summer heat. Consequently, our farmers market has opened for a new season, and the lengthy wait for the freshest local produce is over. We’re happy.
My professor once told me that everyone’s personality has a distinct shape, much like a zodiac sign. She said that she is a circle, which somehow made perfect sense, and we proceeded to guess the shapes of everyone in the classroom. Circle? Triangle? Square? Everyone had some good laughs while guessing. I knew right then and there that I am a triangle.
I love triangles as a visual element. They always appear in my doodles, which are said to be a great tool for looking into one’s subconscious. Of course, I equally enjoy the triangle’s 3d sister, the pyramid.
Recently, when I saw a mini pyramid cake form for sale, I knew right away that I found a way to do justice to one of my favourite cakes, ginger and lemon. I’ve been making it for a couple of years now, but every bite from every batch makes me smile, close my eyes, and listen to the flavours, just like the first time around.
A simple almond and date crust (at the base of the pyramids) frames the creamy and zesty filling. Here, I sprinkled the cakes with some ground freeze-dried bananas for a pyramids of Giza effect.
Meyer lemons are one of my all time favorite lemons. They are sweeter, less acidic and juicer than your regular lemon. You will find them at the markets this time of year up until about April. They also have very soft skin that is tender enough and yummy to eat!
You can not, replace a Meyer lemon with a standard lemon in this recipe.
Over the holidays, I did quite a bit of cooking. And yes, by cooking, I mean the kind that involves heat.
Something I’ve never made before, but have had bookmarked for ages – are candied citrus peels. Now, most recipes and/or ideas I bookmark are usually craving driven, but these, were presentation driven. I didn’t so much care about the food part, I just cared about the process and the final outcome. However, I have to say that I did end up really enjoying them taste wise, and, so did Polo! Sure, they aren’t much more than sugar + more sugar, but I guess if you’re going to eat candy, it might as well be organic, preservative/dye free, and homemade.
For most, this recipe would be nothing short of a punishment given the detail that goes into cutting the peels. For a detailed oriented person like myself though, I found it extremely relaxing. Then again, I’m the person who will scribble the same word over and over for hours on end to calm my nerves… Think I’m kidding? Just look at my desk – I actually think it’s borderline disordered.
Any who, with that being said, it’s obviously not the quickest recipe. But if it’s any consolation, the aromatic qualities from start to finish (peeling, cutting and boiling of the orange rinds) will surely help calm any tension it may bring.
As a side note, the original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar to every 1 cup of water. However, I couldn’t bring myself to use that much sugar. So instead, I used 1/2 Cup of sugar for every 1 Cup of water. In the end, it worked great – leaving absolutely no reason to use the original 1-to-1 ratio!
Before falling in love with raw food, I went through a vegetarian phase, which lasted for several years. My kitchen shelves are still stocked with lots of inspiring cookbooks from that time. One of my favourites was New Vegetarian Food by Christine McFadden. It had a number of smart, tasty recipes that I kept coming back to, and this tart is a tribute to one of them. A sun dried tomato, basil and olive tart.
Let me just say that the recipes for both the original and raw variety of this tart are very close to my heart.
The former reminds me of the time when I just became interested in whole foods. It brings me back to those first few exciting years in the kitchen, when I discovered that nourishing food is also versatile and delicious.
The latter is a source of personal culinary achievement. I love it when a recipe that I’ve been daydreaming about comes together just the way I imagined. This raw tart tastes almost exactly like the original, or maybe even a bit better.
Of course, the original recipe calls for ricotta and parmesan cheeses, eggs and butter. After some brainstorming and careful estimations, I came up with this little tribute, and we loved it on the first try. It’s wonderfully creamy, with a subtly spiced crust, and bits of basil, sun-dried tomatoes and black Cerignola olives spread all throughout.
Luckily, it’s the season of fragrant, local & organic tomatoes here in Florida – just in time to garnish and bring some sweetness to the plate.
I made several tarts of different sizes, as I usually do with any kinds of tarts, pies, or quiches. There were individual, baby ones for Paloma and for bringing to lunch at work, and bigger ones for the whole family. I also discovered that the tart holds very well in the refrigerator for several days, unlike many other raw dishes. In fact, it becomes even better after it sits and all the flavours become integrated.