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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Absolute BEST Raw Key-Lime Pie You Will Ever Eat!

It is relevant to tell you a little back history to this recipe.  I am a serious food  nerd.  Years ago I saw, first-hand, the results of eating a raw, plant-based diet, and was forever hooked on the benefits of the rawfood lifestyle.  

In recent years, I have found myself gradually putting on weight.  After trying almost every "fad" diet out there, I decided the best, long-term solution is to move towards a plant based diet, with a large portion of this being raw fruits and veggies.  To help my appetite reset, I decided to do a 4-week, 100% rawfood cleanse.  I have done this in the past and the first few days always go pretty smooth, but you can only eat so much salad before you get bored.  This time I made it about a week before one day I was here at the house by myself, and the cravings set in.  I found myself searching the house from top to bottom and nothing that was "allowed" sounded good.  So I decided to experiment:-)

I decided I wanted pie.  Something creamy and decadant.  In the rawfood world, I knew that nuts and dates created wonderful raw crusts, and I knew avacados and cashews take the place of dairy.  So I looked around my kitchen...

Hmmm...  I had several avacados that were perfectly ripe and needed to be used within the next day or so.  I also noticed I had limes.  I decided I would experiment with making a mostly raw key-lime pie. I say "mostly" because the only ingredient that is heated at all is the organic maple syrup, but if you wanted to keep it 100% raw, you could use agave nectar or raw honey.  Either one would work just fine.

Let's start with the list of ingredients.

FOR THE CRUST
(1) cup walnuts
(1) cup pecans 
(1) cup pitted dates
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tsp Sea Salt

FOR THE FILLING 
(4) ripe, mashed avacados
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp fresh lime zest
1/2 cup pitted, medjool dates soaked in 1/2 cup very warm water 
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple syrup (or other sweetener such as raw honey)

FOR THE TOPPING
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lime zest

TO MAKE THE CRUST
Put the nuts, pitted dates, and sea salt in a food processor, place your hand firmly on the top to keep your processor from "walking" away.  Be prepared for a LOT of noise!  Allow the mixture to process for 10-20 sec and stop occasionally.  Keep doing this in cycles until the nuts and dates are pretty small.  About the size of whole peppercorns, or slightly smaller.  Once you have reached this size, pour in the maple syrup and process until the mixture begins to come together.  And your crust mixture is ready!

Here is the picture breakdown:

Here are the whole nuts and dates prior to mixing.  (In this particular batch, I used almonds and cashews, so it's really up to you as to what kind of nut you want to use.  I do recommend using 2 different types for depth of flavor.


A quick shot of the front of my processor.  I use an old 80's Cuisinart food processor.  Nothing fancy!

Here is what the mixture should look like when it's ready.

Now it's time to prepare the crust.  I use a 9-10" springform cake pan.  I also spray it lightly with cooking spray because it makes taking the pie out a breeze!

Next all you do is dump the crust mixture in the pan...

And start moving the mixture around.  I wear exam gloves so that the mixture does not stick and makes it easier to press it in.

Here is the finished product.  Isn't it pretty?!  Now just set this aside and let's start on the yummy filling!

HOW TO PREPARE THE FILLING

Into the food processor, put the soaked medjool dates along with the soaking water, the fresh lime juice, lime zest, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.  Process until smooth. 


 **Note**  If you want a smooth  and silky pie, I recommend using a blender for these ingredients.  A food processor will not completely break down all the chunks, and you will be left with some small chuncks of dates.  

The finished product (sans avacado) using a high-speed blender.

Ok.  At this point I transfer the mixture back to the food processor.  You don't need to wash the food processor between making the crust and the filling.  This is what mine looked like, and I used it.  It's saves time, and hey that's a big deal!  Here's how my food processor looked after the crust mixture..

From this point I pour the brown, sugary mixture back into the food processor..


Then I add the smashed avacados and blended until smooth.  Check out this bright green deliciousness!!

Now simply pour the pie filling into the prepared crust.

Now all you do is smooth out the top using an offset spatula!

Depending on how big your avocados are, the amount of filling you end up with will vary.  My avocados were pretty good size.  Notice in the picture above the crust is slightly above the level of the filling.  So I went ahead and pressed down on the crust to make it look nice and neat:-)

Ok now for the fresh lime zest topping!  All you do is mix 1 Tbsp of lime zest and 1/4 cup raw sugar.  This is what it looks like.

Now just sprinke on top and spread around to make an nice, even layer.

Because the pie is still fresh and gooey, the sugar topping will settle in during the chilling process, and you will be left with a fresh, crunchy top!  

Now all you do is wrap the pie in saran wrap and place in the freezer for 4-6 hours.

After 4-6 hours in the freezer, you get this creamy, decadant piece of deliciousnes that I cannot even describe.  It is a little slice of heaven!


The really wonderful thing about this pie is that, even when frozen "solid," you can still slice it fairly easily and eating it frozen is delicious too!  Another really cool thing is the things you can do with the pie filling!  You can use it to make this wonderful key-lime pie.  You can spoon it into dessert bowls and enjoy a rich, key-lime pudding (my 2yo was licking the processor bowl), or you can spoon it into ice cube trays, insert popsicle sticks and you've got wonderful key-lime popsicles!

I hope you enjoy!!





Friday, August 16, 2013

Tendon Release is Scheduled!

Some of you may be aware of the extreme pain Ava has been living with...  Because of her brain injury she suffers a common related disorder known as "dystonia."  This basically means that her muscles do not work properly and, in her case, stay in a flexed state constantly.  Which means she has constant pressure on her joints, constant pain.  Imagine a Charlie horse that NEVER went away...ever.  Ava's right ankle is turned in at such a sharp angle that her ankle bone is constantly stretched taughtly under the skin.  It is always red, always in a state of bruising.  She has received Botox therapy, is constantly on Motrin and Tylenol, and now even Oxycodone does not bring her relief, except to knock her out.  

Suffice it to say I am extremely relieved to get this surgery, but there are always inherent risks.  She is going to have a cast on for several weeks, possible upwards of a month or so.  So there will be no way to look at the surgery site.  

So if you are a praying person, prayers for her quick healing would be much appreciated.  This surgery is not necessarily a long-term fix, but it should bring relief for some years.

Thank you and God Bless,

Vicki

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Goldfish Crackers..BETTER than the original!

This awesome recipe has been shared several times.  It was not mine, not sure exactly where it originated, but it is Ah-Mazing!!    A few things to note, after making several batches of these.  

1.  Spend the $13 to buy the little tiny goldfish cutter, it just makes them cool!  You can buy it here on Amazon.  http://www.amazon.com/Mini-Tiny-Fish-Cookie-Cutter/dp/B0043CJPWK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376355060&sr=8-1&keywords=goldfish+cookie+cutter

2.  Use Daiya non dairy cheddar cheese, it's the best!
3.  A toaster oven makes them really nice and crispy!  If you don't have a toaster oven, go ahead and bake in a regular oven at 425 degrees, then blast them for 2 minutes on LOW broil to make them extra crispy!!
4.  Once they're done leave them in a bowl until COMPLETELY cool befo putting them in a closed container, because if you cover them up too soon it makes them go soft.  They can always be re-crisped in the oven, but if you must allow them to cool all they way you'll be fine.
5.  Make a double or triple batch because the kids will love them and how down!  The good thing is it takes less than 2 bags of Daiya cheddar to make a triple batch.  All in all these are very cost effective considering they are made with all healthy, organic, non-GMO ingredients:-)

ENJOY!!


GLUTEN FREE “GOLDFISH” CRACKERS

I am so excited to share this with you all, so I am going to make a second post today!!  This is not my recipe, I will never take credit for something I did not create. This recipe is from a cookbook by Roben Ryberg.  She is the founder and former owner of Miss Roben’s gluten free foods.  The following recipe hails from her cookbook, “You Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free!: 500 Delicious, Foolproof Recipes for Healthy Living!”  I absolutely love love love this cookbook, every recipe I have tried so far has turned out great.  I was initially very skeptical because many of the recipes only call for one GF flour and I have always been taught that when using GF flours, you needed several different types blended together. Roben has shown in this book that that is not always the case!
Another neat aspect about this cookbook is that Roben gives a few different versions for each recipe.  The following recipe, which is simply titled, “Crackers, Cheese” in the book, is a corn-based recipe (p.28).  On page 29, she gives an oat-based version.  Page 30 is a potato-based version.  Page 31 is a rice-based version.  So, if there are additional food sensitivities in your family besides gluten, you have other options!
I have 2 copies of this cookbook. If you do not have it, I HIGHLY recommend buying a copy!
UPDATE (9/22/10): Just recently I tried the rice-flour version of this recipe on page 31 of the cookbookand we thought this version was even better! Most of the ingredient proportions are different for the rice flour recipe, so I recommend getting a copy of the cookbook instead of just switching out the cornstarch for rice flour. I used superfine white rice flour (Authentic Foodsinstead of regular rice flour to eliminate the gritty texture that you get with regular rice flour.  I also switched out the plain milk called for in the recipe with a buttermilk substitute I made from plain Greek yogurt and milk after reading this).  We definitely thought the rice-based/faux buttermilk version of this cheese cracker was better than the cornstarch/plain milk version of the cracker (even though we think the cornstarch version is really good too).  The photos you see are of the rice-based cracker. :-D
To buy the Goldfish Cookie Cutter that I use for my crackers, click here.
Gluten Free “Goldfish” Crackers
Rating: 5
Prep Time: PT20 - 30M
Cook Time: PT8 - 10M
Serves: 6 dozen \"Goldfish size\" crackers
Gluten Free “Goldfish” Crackers
Ingredients
  • 4 oz. Cheddar Cheese, shredded (For a dairy-free, soy-free version, try using Daiya Cheddar Shreds…I also added a bit more cheese, about 4 1/2 oz.)
  • 4 Tbs. Butter (for dairy-free: use Earth Balance buttery spread)
  • 3/4 c. Cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 2 Tbs. Milk (for dairy-free use your favorite substitute, I used a splash more so when I rolled out the dough with additional cornstarch it wouldn’t become too dry)
  • Optional Toppings: salt, dried herbs or spices if desired
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Combine all the ingredients, except the milk, in a medium size-bowl. Mix until the mixture resembles a fine crumb. Add the milk and beat well.
  3. On a lightly greased surface (I sprinkled the surface with cornstarch instead), pat or roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 3/4 inch squares or another small shape that you like (click this link for mini fish cookie cutters I use). You can also cut the dough into larger round or square shapes, just extend the cooking time.
  4. Prick the tops of the crackers with a fork and sprinkle lightly with your desired topping (I just used salt). Bake on the prepared baking sheet until golden brown and crisp, approximately 10 minutes (Mine came out perfect at 8 minutes with my convection oven). The crackers will be light and crispy, although barely browning at the edges. The bottom of the crackers will have a bit more color.
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Gluten Free Goldfish Cracker Recipe
Or, you can make gluten free “Cheez-Its!”
Gluten-Free Cheez-Its
To me, they taste identical to the commercial crackers. My boys can have goldfish crackers right along side their buddies. The bonus: No artificial flavors or preservatives. No neon colors, (Luke will actually run away from Cheetos screaming. He freaks out over the bright orange color, no kidding!). Zero chemicals that you cannot pronounce. It’s a feel good mommy moment.
For colored goldfish crackers, click this link: Gluten-Free Goldfish Crackers, part deux (I no longer make the artificially colored crackers, but since we are all at different places on our journey, I kept the link here). ;-)
For a photo tutorial on how to make the Goldfish crackers, click here.

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