If I close my eyes, I can conjure up memories of childhood visits to my grandmother’s house at Christmas time, where I would always expect to see a large bowl of nuts on the dining-room table. Although there were other things I could have done to occupy myself while at grandma’s house (tea time, doll house, grandma’s jewellery), for some reason I really enjoyed practising my nut-cracking skills.
There were a large assortment of nuts in that bowl, but walnuts were by far my favourite. Their size alone required much focus and a steady hand in order to position the nut correctly in the nut cracker, so that when you pressed down you could watch the layers of the shell crack in misguided directions. The broken shell revealed a golden seed with two bumpy lobes that looked like abstract butterflies, and I loved that.
This memory is tied to nothing specific, really. It is made up of many visits, and the countless times I snacked on the nutritious nut. And it is the reason I still prefer unshelled nuts as a snack—because it takes me back to those times long ago, if only for a moment.
When it comes to baking though, shelled, raw walnuts are the way to go. Lately, I’ve been having fun playing with nut flours in my cookies, muffins and pie dough. Walnut flour, in which I buy shelled walnut halves and grind them into a soft nut meal, produces a moist, nutty flavour like no other. For gluten-free and wheat-free baking, it’s a godsend. Not only are nut flours a flavourful flour alternative, but they also add a boost of protein, heart-healthy fat, and they require less additional fat to moisten the final product.
My latest walnut raisin cookie recipe has become a new favourite. Chewy, nutty and unapologetically old-fashioned, these cookies are what baking dreams are made of. Combining one full cup each of walnuts, rolled oats and spelt flour along with a handful of raisins, more chopped walnuts and a touch of cinnamon, this is the kind of cookie that will satisfy anyone looking for a sweet but heart-healthy snack. Enjoy!
As an avid reader of recipe books, I rarely find myself purchasing a book whose target audience is new to vegan cooking. Yet, macrobiotic vegan chef Christy Morgan’s gorgeous first book, Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body and Planet, seems fit for anyone interested in making healthy, delicious, animal-free meals without a lot of effort.
Known to her online audience as The Blissful Chef, Christy takes you by the hand and eases you into her world of macrobiotic vegan eating with a comprehensive introduction, teaching you how to stock your pantry, the best cooking tools for your needs, some basic cooking and cutting techniques, and how to integrate fresh, natural, unprocessed and unrefined foods into every meal. She explains in simple terms that what you eat has a powerful and profound effect on your entire life, and that if your diet is filled with junk, you won’t feel at your best—vibrant, alive and blissful.
And trust me, the meals she shares are pure bliss. Most of the 175 recipes are low in oil, gluten-free and, equally important, can be made in under 45 minutes. I love that there’s hardly a tub of Earth Balance or soy cream cheese to be seen—the emphasis here is on seasonal, whole foods.
In addition to the bounty of information and delicious recipes, the book is loaded with glossy, full-colour photos and resources for cooks. Another fantastic feature is the recipe colour coding, where each recipe is easily identified by season, time and if it’s raw, gluten-free, soy-free or oil-free. Star icons also indicate chef favourite and fan favourite recipes.
It happens every year. As we start to feel the crisp chill in the air and experience the shortened days, my kitchen becomes a warm and comfortable little haven and the need to bake is almost instinctive. The winter holiday season is lurking just around the corner, so it makes sense to get out our rolling pins, muffin pans and cookie cutters, and get ourselves warmed up with some traditional baking.
To get in the spirit of the season, I began by creating soft and spicy gluten-free pumpkin cookies and then decided to pair them with a version of Ricki’s delicious chocolate “buttercream” frosting, a rich buttercream alternative that is made from a base of pumpkin puree and unsweetened chocolate. There’s no doubt this pair was meant to be together, because the end result was pretty incredible.
For the pumpkin cookies, I made use of my favourite vegan egg substitute and binder—flax. If you’re new to vegan baking and are interested in learning the proper how-to of flax eggs, check out Sayward’s recent post. It’s a great method!
Now, time to light yourself a scented candle, put on a pot of tea and get ready to participate in one of the season’s most beloved pastimes, starting with this recipe. Enjoy!
There’s nothing I love more than browsing through some of my favourite food blogs on a lazy Sunday evenings. Food bloggers’ passion, and the delicious results of that passion, never fail to inspire me. Since I’ve been having fun testing out my new Excalibur over the last several weeks, I’ve been on the search for some unique raw dessert ideas. Here’s to raw recipe love…
Multigrain pear ginger cakes
Remember the raw dessert demo I did at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival back in September? Lisa and I shared some quick and easy ice cream blizzards using the miracle of banana soft serve. It is one of my all-time favourite treats because of its simple preparation: Freeze bananas. Blend until they resemble soft serve. Eat. Repeat.
At the demo, I remember mentioning a certain kitchen gadget that has been invented specifically for banana soft serve, but nobody had any idea what I was talking about.
Well, here it is, folks: the Yonanas. Have you heard of this before?
While I’m not so sure I would spend $60 on something that can easily be made in my blender, I won’t stop making new versions of the delicious frozen treat. My latest creation involves combining the raw cookie dough blizzard with the raw Oreo cookie blizzard from our demo recipes to make chocolate chip sundae sandwiches!
For these pretty babies, I made a version of the raw chocolate cookie portion of Oreo cookies and dehydrated it overnight, then combined raw cookie dough balls with banana soft serve for the filling. I put it all together using my new ice cream sandwich molds I picked up on my trip to San Francisco and, voilà! Pretty frozen treats perfect for summertime reminiscing.