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Nuts Dressed for The Holidays

Monday, November 26, 2012

While I'm a huge fan of roasted chestnuts, and do indulge every year, they're not the only warming holiday treat I can think of, not to mention that they can't be eaten raw. I figured it would be nice to have cupfuls of different kinds of flavored nuts on the table. They're so satisfying to have around and they can be done raw. No roasting or toasting required. They only take a few minutes of preparation and then the dehydrator takes care of the rest. VoilĂ , your family and friends and your guests can reach for just a handful of savory or sweet goodness amidst the, you know, everything else that's going on...
The savory ones are still being made so here are some sweet versions for now.

Chocolate Almonds
To be coated:
1 1/2 cups almonds
1/2 cup raisins

For the coating:
3-4 tsp honey / agave syrup / other sweetener
2 tsp melted coconut oil / other oil
2-3 tsp cacao powder
tiny pinch of salt
optional: pinch of vanilla, pinch of cayenne

1. Mix the oil, sweetener, and salt and then add cacao little by little. Taste test and adjust the amount of sweetener. Raw cacao is quite bitter so if you're not used to that you might need to add more sweetener to your mixture or simply use less cacao.
2. Optional: Chop up the raisins into smaller pieces.
3. Add the almonds and raisins to your mixture and make sure all of them are coated well.
4. Spread them out on a teflex sheet and dehydrate for a few hours at 115˚F (46˚C).

Maple Walnuts
To be coated:
Walnuts that have been soaked for a couple of hours OR rinsed. The ingredients will only stick to wet walnuts. You may use maple syrup instead of solid sweeteners and then you can keep your walnuts dry. If you go that route the end result will have a glazed look instead of what's pictured here.

For the coating:
4 tbsp maple crystals / coconut sugar / other solid state sweetener in crystal form
1 tbs cinnamon
1/2 - 1 tsp mesquite powder*
tiny pinch of salt
optional: add lucuma powder to your mixture for a hint of "caramel"

1. Mix your coating ingredients. Taste test and adjust the amount of cinnamon, you might want to add more if you're a huge fan of cinnamon like myself. Mesquite has a unique flavor so use less if it's new to you and add more if you like it.
2. Add the wet (really damp but not dripping wet) walnuts to your mixture and make sure all of them are coated well. Because of their shape this might take some moving them around with your hands or a fork so that you get the mixture in the grooves as well. 
4. Spread them out on a teflex sheet and dehydrate for a few hours at 115˚F (46˚C), until crispy.

By the way, good luck having an untouched batch at the end! You might want to make a double batch to start with because the smell and just knowing that they're in the dehydrator might invite more visitors, like Cookie Monster, etc. whom will make sure only about a portion of these nuts will get all the way dehydrated and crunchy. Either way, if by any chance you ended up with empty trays at least you made your house smell like a healthy cake shop :)

*Magical Mesquite
What's used to be a staple food for Native Americans is available in health-food stores now in a powder form. It's a nutritious way to add a very distinct, somewhat sweet and malty, or even caramel-like flavor. Mesquite helps balance one's blood sugar level, which makes this superfood an excellent choice for those healing from diabetes. Very high in protein, fiber, minerals, and the hard-to-get amino acid, lysine, it's no surprise it has been pronounced a "superfood". Use it in desserts, smoothies, mylkshakes, even soups, etc.

2 For 1: To Dress Your Salads

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Most of us have our favorite dressings, I admit I'm no exception. In fact, I usually vary two different kinds for a period of time before I set out to create new versions. I guess a period has just ended because I recently came up with a couple of new ones. Here they are. You get two recipes today. They're both rich and creamy and they're both quick and easy to make.

Creamy Green Goodness 
Approximate ingredients:
1 avocado
generous handful of cilantro
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
splash or two of olive oil
1/4 hot sauce*
1 tbsp mustard
2 cloves of garlic
1/2-1 tsp salt 
ground black pepper to taste
water as needed

* I use some of my homemade hot sauce. If you don't have any handy, you can substitute half a jalapeno and some water.
Blend all of the ingredients, taste test, adjust seasoning, and add more vinegar or water if it's too thick. Use on your favorite salad ingredients.

Horseradish Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (soak beforehand for a few hours if possible)
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup of juice)
2 tbs tamari / soy sauce 
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbs shredded horseradish
1 small jalapeno chopped up
sprigs of fresh dill
1/2-1 tsp salt
ground black pepper

Blend the above ingredients until you get a very smooth consistency, taste test, adjust seasoning, and add more vinegar or water if needed.
Another tip: If you see a good amount of your dressing stuck to the bottom or the walls of your blender, rinse it out with some water or vinegar and add whatever you save that way to your batch. Nothing wasted :)
I haven't talked about hemp seeds and what good they have to offer so let's touch on their health benefits.

Hemp Hearts (Shelled Hemp Seeds) for your Heart
These precious seeds are a very good source of complete protein and are extremely rich in minerals like magnesium, zinc, and iron. A very good source of essential fatty acids, they're a good addition to your diet for a healthier heart and skin as well.

The spicy, fibrous root will spice up your kitchen but that's not all. It's high in vitamin C and rich in antioxidants, has antibiotic properties, cancer-preventing characteristics, and sure can come to the rescue when one is suffering from a stuffy nose, respiratory/chest congestion, etc. and you need such a small amount to get these benefits. It is truly are a wonderful food to try out, experiment with, and add to recipes. You might shed some tears while shredding some but it's worth it. I promise! : )

Soft & Crunchy Carob Energy Bars

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

There's a Bio store (organic health food grocery store) in Budapest that carries some cookies that are filled with a carob-sesame-honey filling. I lived on those for a while when I was there. Aside from the honey, they're vegan and whole grain and organic but of course not raw. That was perfect for me back then when I was a vegan whole foods enthusiasts and had not even heard of the strange concept ; ) of eating raw yet. So I was in heaven when they had them and was quite upset whenever they were out. They sold like hotcakes so you had to be on top of things and learn when they were delivered and be there shortly after. But that was then....and THIS is now.

It's been long overdue that I combined the above described flavors and created a raw delicacy and without further ado I'll share with you the "rawsome" outcome of my trial-and-error snack bars.

Crunchy Carob Energy Bars
(Makes 5 bars)
1/4 cup and 2 tsp carob powder
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup buckwheaties*
2 tsp lucuma powder
1/4 cup and 3 tsp tahini
3 tsp honey (not vegan) or maple syrup (not raw) or agave syrup
juice of 1 small carrot and a 1 in (~2 cm) piece ginger

For coating: cinnamon or extra carob powder or lucuma powder

* Buckwheaties are sprouted and dehydrated buckwheat. You could just soak and dehydrate them to be qicker. I usually make a big batch to have them around whenever I need to use them in a recipe.

1. Optional: grind the sesame seeds just a little bit to break them up.
2. Using a fork, mix all of the ingredients in a bowl adding the juice little by little.
3. Add more juice if the mixture is too dry to handle and add more carob powder if it gets too wet. Taste test and add more sweetener if desired.
4. Form bars or any other shapes out of the mixture. It will be a sticky experience but it's so worth it. Roll each bar into cinnamon or carob powder.
5. Store them in the fridge if you prefer them firm, leave them out for a softer snack.

Carob's benefits
This caffein-free bean that's commonly used instead of cacao in desserts is very rich in calcium, practically fat-free, has no oxalic acid to interfere with absorption of nutrients, and is naturally sweet so you'll probably use less sweetener in your recipes when using carob.

Buckwheat and ginger have warming energy, a perfect cold-weather food. Sesame seeds and tahini are extremely rich in minerals and B-vitamins and will nourish your bones, your hair and skin.

That's right, these bars are not only yummy but quite nourishing as well. I took one a day with me to work last week and looked forward to my after-lunch dessert more than ever :) They're great for traveling too. Enjoy!

Proposition 37: Label GMO Foods!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Let's just say I have never been a huge fan of politics and that is an understatement. From what I've seen most politicians, if not all, never tell you the truth, or at least not the entire truth. Well, that's why I never think politics is even worth my time. BUT this is something completely different!

The elections are just around the corner and unless you already had your chance to cast your vote early you'll be given the choice to mark little boxes (?) next to propositions, yep, not just who you'd like to be the next president of the United States. And if you're registered to vote in California you'll see Proposition 37 on the list. THAT is the one you want to say YES on. WHY?

Would you eat anything without knowing whether it's been in contact, or has any ingredients from genetically modified (GMO) foods? Chances are, since you're reading an article on this site, that you're aware of at least some of the reasons why it's not a good idea to consume GMO foods but if you still need to be convinced here are a few points that I've collected:

What Does Genetically Modified Mean?
Genetically modified plants have had foreign genes forced into their DNA. These genes come form species like bacteria and viruses and are inserted into plants to help them survive deadly doses of weed killers.

Why Is It Only A Problem Now?
It's not that it was safe before but, as it usually happens, political appointees who were under orders from the White House to promote GMOs did their best to hide the truth from the public. Twenty years ago the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claimed that it had no information showing the dangers of GM foods and that they were safe to consume. Interestingly, Michael Taylor, the former attorney (and later VP) for Monsanto, the largest biotech company, was the FDA official in charge.

Health Risks and Consequences of Genetically Engineered Foods
GMO foods have been linked to toxic and allergic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in laboratory tests performed on animals.

Farmers use a much larger amount of herbicides on GM crops, in other words, GM foods have a much higher amount of herbicide residue.

GM soy cause allergic reactions

BT (made by Monsanto) corn and cotton are linked to allergic reactions

BT cotton is forced on farmers in India and with devastating results. Watch the movie "Bitter Seeds"

GMOs might cause liver problems. It does in laboratory tests. Rats and mice have suffered due to altered liver cells caused by GMO feed.

GMOs also affect the reproductive systems of laboratory animals. How they affect the human body is unpredictable.

The French team has released shocking images of tumours in mice caused by exclusively eating GM corn. However, the research has been criticised as being of 'no value' by other scientists

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2205509/Cancer-row-GM-foods-French-study-claims-did-THIS-rats--cause-organ-damage-early-death-humans.html#ixzz2BJh7CZLp 

BT crops are linked to sterility, disease, and death. Thousands of farm animals in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. have fallen victims to GM foods and Filipinos in several villages got sick when nearby BT corn was pollinating.

DISTURBING: There are no human clinical trials of GM foods. The only published human feeding experiment revealed that the genetic material inserted into GM soy transfers into bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function.

More Relevant Facts
Over 60 countries require labeling of GE foods.
Labeling didn't increase the cost of food in those countries.
About 68% of GM crops are herbicide tolerant. - what do you think that may do to your health?
About 19% of GM crops produce their own pesticide secreted by the inserted genes in every cell. When this pesticide is eaten by a worm its stomach breaks open, killing the worm. - How do you think this might affect your body?
Good news: thousands of California Farmers and all major natural and sustainable food businesses and leading labor groups are saying YES on Proposition 37 : )

Foods That Are Most Likely Genetically Engineered In The U.S.
Sugar beets
Hawaiian papaya
Yellow crookneck squash
GE salmon  is on its way to people's dinner plates too!

Source: Some of the above information I've been aware of for a while and the rest I acquired from a Responsible Technology Flyer.

For more information, go to: www.ResponsibleTechnology.org

Please share this with family and friends for your own health's sake, for the planet, for all of its creatures and to help stop the poison from spreading! 
If you know of additional information that should be included here, feel free to share in a comment below and I'll be happy to add it to the above.