Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tri-Layer Blackberry Smoothie

Mmmmm... nana nicecream!! I'm drooling just writing the words.  If you haven't tried freezing and blending bananas into awe inducing goodness then get ready to change your life!  This stuff is so good that you'll find yourself eating bowls of this low fat ice cream alternative all day long!  Yes, you can eat ice cream for breakfast!  Since frozen bananas play center stage in most smoothies, hello emulsifier, then breakfast is the perfect time to fruit up your nice cream.  I don't know what it is about smoothies, fruit smoothies, kale smoothies, banana smoothies, whatever it is, it makes me feel good.  When I start the day with a smoothie, the whole day is better, I'm mentally sharper, have more energy and all around feel a profound sense of wellness.  Perhaps it is the serotonin inducing effects of the bananas (yes, bananas make you bliss out) but I just love it!  This picture pretty much sums up my thoughts about smoothies in the a.m. :

So shine on!!  What better way to feel happy and look good (blackberries are loaded with antioxidants) than to have a huge jug of my Tri-Layer Blackberry Smoothie!! 

 ♡ I've topped my tri-layer goodness with sweet pea flowers that I collected, goji berries (yay superfoods!), blackberries and coconut!  A quick tip: Remember to freeze your bananas without a peel and chop in 1/4 pieces so they are easy to blend ♡

 Bottom layer is nana nicecream
○ 2-3 frozen bananas
○ 1/4 cup coconut cream

Middle layer is blackberry
○ 3 fr
ozen bananas
○ 1 1/2 cups frozen blackberries
○ 2 Tbsp. maca powder
○ 1/4 to 1/2 cup water

 Top layer is nectarine whip
○ 1 nectarine, rough chop
○ 1/2 frozen banana
○ 2 Tbsp. coconut cream
○ 2 Tbsp. water
Start with the bottom layer, add ingredients to blender and process until smooth and creamy.  Pour into your glass or mason jar.  Melting will happen very quickly on a hot day so stick in the freezer while you make additional layers.  Repeat blending process for each layer and add on until all three layers are poured into the jar.  Garnish with whatever your heart desires!  Enjoy the smoothie and bliss ride of goodness, good health, and a tummy full of fruit! 

For additional bliss, try some a.m. yoga!  Back bends open the heart to the universe, stimulate blood flow, and increase the oxygen to your brain.


Stay sharp, stay strong, and always stay true to the good vibes!  Have a lovely day and thank you for visiting the Venturing Vegan blogosphere!!  ♡  ♡  ♡

I feel very blessed to live at the beach and wake up to moisture rich salty air, waves crashing, and beach flowers ♡ I love to share these moments of joy with you all!


Raw Lasagna with Killer Tomato Sauce and Quick Cashew Cheese

For months I've been wanting to make a raw lasagna.  With all of those layers of raw goodness, I thought that it would take a good half a day to make and would best be saved for a weekend when I could dedicate hours to slicing the zucchini, blending the tomato sauce, and soaking my cashews.  Boy, was I wrong!  After playing around in the kitchen for about 45 minutes, I had raw lasagna!  A little bit of Lindsay Sterling (she is awesome, if you haven't heard her music then check her out!!), some dancing, chopping, slicing, and blending then viola!! Raw lasagna and a really friendly new neighbor who stopped by to say hello and thought I was 17, bless him!!
Raw lasagna is awesome. Don't get me wrong, I love the authentic wheat based ooey gooey lasagna (check out my vegan tofu lasagna recipe here) but I do not miss the wheat belly, the indigestion and food coma of the more traditional fare.  Raw lasagna can be quick, easy, fun and this recipe is probably one of the most delicious foods I have EVER eaten, bonus points for being even more delicious as leftovers the next day.
Here we go, lets make a lasagna...

Here's what you're going to need:
2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into long strips using a mandolin
4 cups greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens, arugula or a mix
1 cup fresh parsley
1 cup fresh cilantro
Killer Tomato Sauce:
1 1/3 cups sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 15-20 minutes (I use the Trader Joe's variety from the bag)
1 1/3 cup chopped, seeded tomato (Roma work really well)
1/3 cup soaking liquid from sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 tsp Himalayan salt or sea salt
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil (if I have fresh basil on hand,  I'll omit the oregano and just use 4 large basil leaves)
1/4 tsp Herbs de Provence
1 tsp honey, agave, or stevia
Black pepper to taste
Quick Cashew Cheese:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 4-5 hours and rinsed well
2-4 Tbsp. cold filtered water
1/2 tsp. Himalayan salt or sea salt
1 Tbsp. chopped onion (white or red)
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (about two medium lemons)
1 heaping Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 small garlic clove
a dash of pepper
Parmesan Sprinkle:
1/4 cup raw cashew, ground in spice grinder to a crumble
Here's the method:
1. Zucchini Lasagna Noodles are easy to make. Set your mandolin to the thickest setting so that the noodles aren't too thin. Once you have sliced you noodles, place them in the dehydrator for about an hour to soften (ok, it takes a little bit longer than 45 minutes to make..).  In the meantime, make your filling.
2. To make the Killer Tomato Sauce, blend all ingredients in a blender until it's fairly smooth but some larger pieces remain. I like my sauce to have some heft and veer on the chunkier side.  If you want a smoother sauce, feel free to blend away to your desired consistency.  Pour the sauce into a fine mesh strainer to remove the extra liquid.

3. To make the Quick Cashew Cheese, add all ingredients except the water to a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade.  With the food processor running, slowly add the water a little at a time until the cheese is creamy.  Add as little water as possible, turning off the food processor and scraping down the sides a few times, so that the lasagna doesn't get soggy from excess water.
4. For the veggie filling, add the greens, cilantro and parsley to your food processor then pulse until all your greens are chopped up into little sprinkles of sunshine and chlorophyll.  This will ensure that whole leaves of greens don't fall out and your lasagna holds its layers like a pro.
5. To assemble, use either a pie pan or a square baking dish.  Depending on what type of dish you use, it might be necessary to trim the zucchini noodles slightly to fit your dish.  I trimmed a little off of my outer noodles to fit my round pie pan.  This will keep your layers well defined.  For the first layer, cover the bottom of your dish with noodles.  Then add cheese, sauce, greens and repeat 2x ending with a layer of zucchini noodles on top.  Top with cashew parmesan cheese and you're ready to eat!

To serve: Cut lasagna into symmetrical squares and serve either as a 3 layer lasagna OR stack two squares on top of each other for epic, and I do mean epic, deep dish lasagna!

This is a favorite recipe of mine and it brings me great joy to share it with all of you! Every time I make this dish, it inspires me to laugh, dance around the kitchen and enjoy the fragrance of a kitchen full of life!  The beauty of raw foods is the astonishing flavor and vitality that can be experienced when using the freshest ingredients Mother Nature has to offer.  Enjoying food in its unprocessed, whole foods state is a joyful experience and I hope that you have as much enjoyment in your kitchen when you make this dish!  Happy eating!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shredded Spinach Salad with Pear Vinaigrette

The threesome of  shredded zucchini, and carrots always makes me think of being in college.  Before instagram (gasp) and before the craze of mason jar salads, we used to make our salad and put it in tupperware.  Nowadays, the USC cafeteria is pretty much a small Wholefoods but when I was a student, a cinema major who spent hours upon hours in the editing lab, foley stage, sound mixing, etc., I had limited selection.  My options were premade cucumber avocado sushi or froyo (yes, I was only vegetarian in college).  So, I had to start making my own food for the first time in my life.  Salads are so easy to pack, they keep well, and you can eat them pretty much anywhere.  My go to salad was always spinach, shredded apple/carrot/zucchini with a little bit of olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.  The dressing was light so the spinach stayed crisp and with shredded veggies, I could eat in class and not draw attention with loud crunching.  A love of this blissful threesome was born and I am now a shredded spinach salad devotee.
Last weekend, a friend invited me to their orchard to pick some gorgeous pears! There were so many to choose but picking fruit is hard work! The best ones are always hard to reach!
These gorgeous and local beauties were perfectly ripe and quite a few of them didn't survive the trip home! With the pears that I managed to not gobble up on the ride home, I saved for this recipe.  Shredded Spinach Salad with Creamy Pear Vinaigrette is a favorite and is one of my most used recipes for late summer and early autumn.  The dressing is tart, creamy and sweet all at the same time and pairs beautifully with the earthy flavor of spinach.  If I were still in college, this would be a mason jar salad every week!  For now, it will grace my deck while I sunbathe and blog.
Shredded Spinach Salad Ingredients:
1 carrot, shredded
1 apple, shredded (if your apples are organic, do not peel them because the skin is loaded with nutrition)
1/2 zucchini or soft yellow squash, shredded
3 cups spinach, stems removed
1 Tbsp. cashew halves to garnish
Creamy Pear Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1/2 - 3/4 cup pear, peeled, cored, diced
1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts or raw cashews
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar to keep it raw
pinch of Himalayan salt
Add all ingredients to a blender and process until smooth and creamy.  To plate your salad, you can either lay out your ingredients so that you may first eat with eyes and size up all the goodness you are about to enjoy (pictured at the top) or you can toss the salad (pictured below) and serve.  Either way, I hope this tart and creamy salad will soon become a staple in your home as it is mine! Happy eating!
Thank you for visiting! I hope you've found some delicious foodspiration while on the VV blogosphere and I hope you'll visit again soon!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Spiced Pear Ice Cream with Caramel Swirl

Having had a serious sweet tooth all my life, cutting back on processed sugar has been a fairly new decision. When my mom was diagnosed with epilepsy last February, we made a decision to change our diets. Countless hours of research had given us the notion that a diet free of gluten and refined sugar could help the body regain its natural balance and could help reduce seizures.  Armed with this new information, my mom, sister and I all decided that we would make the change.  Years ago, my mom and sister had gone from vegetarian to vegan to support me when I made the switch. Now it was my turn. Just as I had loved cheese and learned to let go with never looking back, so too have I let go of cane sugar and wheat.  My sister had always been sensitive to wheat and being gluten free was a decision she made a few years prior.  However, giving up sugar was completely new ground for us and I felt confident we could live with little to no processed sugars. 
Eating food as unprocessed as possible has been a goal of mine since I developed from a junk food vegan to a plant based, whole foods vegan. Refined sugars are toxic and they are added to everything! I don't want it in my body, affecting my blood pressure and my mood.   Instead, I chose to rely on coconut nectar, stevia, maple syrup, and date syrup.  There was a big problem though.  I love ice cream!  Who doesn't love creamy, sweet, delicious ice cream! Well, I do!  I don't have an ice cream maker and I'm not too keen to wait for hours while my ice cream churns. Also, as a vegan my ice cream bases are limited to coconut, almond, cashew, and rice.  Raw nuts are definitely part of my diet but they are so expensive and full of fat (albeit, good fat) that I try to be selective in my consumption of them. Then, I heard about banana "nice" cream.  Who would have thought that frozen bananas would taste like ice cream?!! Plus, all I needed was my food processor and I could have sweet, creamy ice cream in minutes.  It's a match made in vegan heaven for this sweet toothed nutrition junkie! 
The combinations are truly endless and nice cream will now begin to make an appearance in my blog.  Stay turned for new creations but for now, I'd like to share my Spiced Pear Ice Cream with Caramel Swirl!  With pears coming into season and the slight scent of Fall in the not too distant future, this spiced nice cream was the perfect creation.  My neighbor was kind enough to gift me some of the pears from his beautiful tree!
In the picture above, the nice cream is shown with chunks of fully raw chocolate on top but that is not part of this recipe.  I had some on hand and added it to the top but I promise to blog a nice cream recipe with chocolate in it very soon!  I hope you guys like pears! Let's get started!

Spiced Pear Nice Cream Ingredients:
  • 6 frozen bananas (tip: peel your bananas and chop them into 1/4 pieces before freezing)
  • 1-2 cups pears, skinned, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • a small squirt of lemon juice
  • 8 medjool dates, pitted, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter (you can also use peanut butter but it won't be raw, still yummy though)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. water
  • pinch of Himalayan salt if using unsalted butter
Caramel Method:
To a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade, add the dates, almond butter (or peanut butter), vanilla and salt. Process slowly and add the water as needed to create a smooth, liquid caramel consistency.  Once blend, place your caramel in a mason jar and set aside.  Don't rinse the food processor.
Nice Cream Method:
To the food processor add the frozen bananas, pears, and cinnamon.  Process until creamy.  At first the bananas will break into small pieces, keep scraping down the sides and processing. I promise it will turn creamy!  If you don't have a strong food processor, use with caution because it could damage weaker/small food processors.  If you want to use a blender, use a high speed blender. Or use whatever blender you have on hand and add about 1 Tbsp. liquid (water or almond milk would work) to make the blending process easier.  Once you have creamy banana pear nice cream, pour into a loaf pan, cover and place in the freezer.
To swirl:
Bring a sauce pan of water to a boil.  Once boiling, remove from heat and place the mason jar of caramel inside.  This is just to warm the caramel so that it is easy to swirl.  Whisk it a bit to help it warm and once it is pourable grab your nice cream from the freezer.  Pour the caramel on the nice cream in a line lengthways.  Then use a butter knife in a wave pattern to pull the caramel though the nice cream in a swirl.  It gets easier with practice.  If it doesn't look like a swirl, you'll still have an amazing tasting nice cream!!
We always finish ours right away but it should keep for a couple of days in an air tight container in the freezer.  Enjoy!

 Thank you for visiting!