Monday, December 24, 2012

I'm Dreaming of a Raw Christmas

In the summer when the weather was hot and produce was plentiful, I couldn't imagine what it might be like to be raw in winter, especially during the winter holidays.

However, while produce varieties aren't the most plentiful in this season, tips for raw holiday feasting are.

Check out this free gift - sign up with your email address and receive  12 different PDF file gifts for tips and recipes for the holidays.

To help get into the holiday spirit, I attended Chef Areeya Marie's Raw Prep Class at the Go Raw Cafe.

Chef Areeya

On the menu was Ree's Spiced Holiday Nog Milk, Herbed Root Vegetable Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette, Country Cornbread Stuffing Rollups, Rosemary Crusted Sweet "Neats" on a bed of Savory Greens, and for dessert, Spiced Pear Crisp with Mango Fig Drizzle.

It was delicious, and as always, Ree's class was fun and informative.  Her Rosemary Crusted Sweet "Neats" inspired me to try to make some holiday "sham" for our holiday meal.

Right now I'm marinating pieces of young Thai coconut meat in a mixture of organic shoyu, maple syrup, ground clove, ground allspice, ground dried onion, ground dried garlic, smoked paprika, sea salt, mustard powder, a drop of liquid smoke,and a smidgen of marjoram and thyme.  I'm hoping that after marinating and dehydrating, the flavors will resemble ham.  We'll call it "sham."  Of course, I realize that the maple syrup is not raw and the liquid smoke is probably not optimal, but at least it isn't cured pig with nitrates!

Here are some links to some recipes and ideas we might try.  Later I'll return and report on how it went.

Raw Wassail

Raw Figgy Pudding

Or perhaps this raw Christmas pudding

I've already commented on this delicious Persimmon Nog

Maybe some Gingerbread Cookies

Walnut Pate


Raw Snowman

Raw Triple Layer Cake 

Excalibur Presents A Healthy Holiday Menu


What a terrific day!  We made a raw Christmas pudding by putting together a mashup of two recipes from the links we posted above.  We used dried fruit without sulfates, and it was mostly raw except for some agave nectar, which can be replaced with dates for those who wish to be 100% raw.

Raw Vegan Christmas Pudding

1 cup hazelnuts, soaked 8 hours and rinsed
1 cup walnuts, soaked 8 hours and rinsed
1/2 cup pecans, soaked 8 hours and rinsed
12 deglet noor dates
4 kalamata string figs
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
5 dried pineapple rings
1/2 cup dried montmorency cherries
1/2 cup dried apricots
juice and zest of two oranges
juice and zest of one lemon
3/4 cup almond pulp
1/2 cup mesquite powder
1/4 cup lucuma powder
1 tsp vanilla bean powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Mix the nuts and fruit in a large bowl.  Place about 1/3 to 1/2 of the mixture in a food processor, (whatever your machine can handle,) and process until finely chopped.  Repeat with the rest of the mixture.  For added texture, reserve about 1/3 of the chopped mixture to stir back in at the end.  Stir into the remaining 2/3 of the chopped mixture the orange and lemon juice and zest and the dry ingredients, and process again in batches until the mixture starts to bind and form a ball in the machine.  If it doesn't bind, add small amounts of  orange juice, processing until it does.  Return it to the large  bowl and stir in the almond pulp and the reserved chopped fruit and nuts.  At this point the mixture should be approximately the texture of cookie dough.

Form the dough into small cakes using ramekins or cupcake tins.  I used silicone cupcake liners, which worked very well.  Place on a dehydrator screen and dehydrate at about 105 degrees Fahrenheit for about 4 hours, or until the cakes begin to shrink away from the sides of the molds.  It smells divine as it's drying!  This made 14 little cakes.

For the topping:

1 1/2 cups macadamia or cashew nuts, soaked 8 hours and rinsed
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla powder
juice and zest of one lemon
1-2 cups water as needed  (if you aren't a 100% raw purist, you could consider adding a bit of dark rum to the water for flavor)

Blend the first 4 ingredients in a high speed blender.  Add just enough water to get it going.  After the mixture is smooth and creamy, continue adding water and blending until it is the thickness you like.

A note about mac nuts vs. cashews:  I think that cashews would be better for this recipe, however in our family some members are allergic to cashews.  I think cashews make a lighter, more velvety topping with a buttery flavor.   

I'll try to write about the "sham" tomorrow. . .

Update on the "sham:"

It did look and taste like ham.  I added dried powdered beet to the marinade, which tinted it pink.  Brushing it with cold-pressed roasted sesame oil at the end of drying gave it a sheen and added to the "meaty" flavor .  Unfortunately, the texture wasn't right.  It turned out more like the texture of chewy baked lasagna noodles than ham, (you know, the ones on the edges of the pan after they get a bit dried out.)  Perhaps with trial and error it will be possible to produce and acceptable "sham."  Or maybe we'll call it hamish.  Because it is rather ham-ish.

The Christmas pudding recipe, on the other hand, is a keeper,  Not only was it good, but it's a bit better each day.

2nd update on the "hamish:"

Yesterday, my husband made "hamish sammiches" by putting the marinated coconut on Ezekiel bread with mustard.  It was good, although it would have been better on raw bread.  I asked him if I should make it again, and he said yes, definitely.  Next time, I'll start sprouting seeds and grain for raw bread when starting the coconut marinade.  That way, by the time we have leftover hamish, we'll have fresh raw bread.

When making hamish, I'll pay closer attention to the texture of each coconut in the beginning of the process.  In young Thai coconuts, the texture of the meat varies in each fruit, and you never know what will be inside before you open it.  My current theory is that the thicker, firmer coconut meat should be reserved for making milk or cream, and the thinner, softer meat makes more tender hamish. 

I am under the impression that many of the more seasoned raw foodists don't bother with trying to make fruits and vegetables taste like meats and cheeses.  They mostly consume green juices, smoothies, salads, raw soups, and occasionally raw nori sheets and maybe some almond butter.  We eat a lot of that too, but we are still in transition.  I don't want my family to feel as if they are missing anything.  We like the flavors and textures of meats and cheeses, we just don't like the consequences of eating them.  Perhaps, gradually, as time goes by, we will eat fewer raw desserts, raw "uncheeses," "hamish," etc.  For now, we enjoy them.

Many thanks to Chef Areeya for the tips and inspiration to make raw food appealing and accessible for everyone. 

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So what do you think? Have you tried raw vegan food?