Cashew cream cheesecake

Between my farmers market experience and Joy blogging about cashew-oat milk, I decided to try my hand at making cashew cream.

At first I wasn’t sure what to make with it. Should I make a dip? Or just nut milk? But in the end I decided it would be fun to try a cheesecake.

I used this recipe. I was out of dates, so my crust was basically just a mix of almonds, pecans, and a little agave nectar. But if I had to do it over I think I would just use my recipe for fruit/nut bars instead. It’s so tasty, why mess with it?

So to make this version of non-dairy cheese, you start by soaking cashews overnight in water.

By morning they kind of plump up, just like when you soak dried beans.

Drain the cashews and put them in the food processor with lemon juice, agave and a little vanilla. I was thinking next time it might be nice to put in a little vanilla bean. Or you could blend in strawberries or blueberries for a fruity cheesecake or cacao powder for chocolate.

I think I could have gotten a creamier consistency here if I had a Vitamix, but I tried blending this in our regular blender and it basically just laughed at me. The food processor did a pretty good job.

Then you just assemble the cheesecake. Press the crust into the bottom of a glass dish.

Then spread the cashew cream on top. Put it in the freezer for a couple of hours to harden before serving.

I don’t think this resembles real cheesecake at all in taste, but it’s incredible close in texture. And since it’s basically all protein (you decide how sweet it should be), it makes a great energizing snack that you don’t have to feel guilty about.

Overall, thumbs up.

Juice-it-yourself breakfast

Now that I’m on two liquid meals a day I figured it was time to break out the juicer.

This thing is powerful. When you turn it on it sounds like a lawnmower. It’s a little scary, but it does the job.

What comes out is a little scary, too. First it’s this multilayered colorful juice, and then when you mix it all together it becomes the color of pond scum. Not so appetizing, but the weird part is that it does actually taste good. If you’ve ever bought a Green Machine juice at the grocery store you know what I mean.

So anyway, here’s my recipe. Never thought this is what my breakfast would look like.

1 apple
1 lemon
2-3 carrots
2 big kale leaves
2 ribs celery

I tried adding pineapple once and it was a little too sweet.

For dinner I’ve been having a really yummy butternut squash soup. I bought organic squash, and they turned out to be the brightest orange color and full of flavor. I roasted one squash (cut into chunks) with a couple of carrots and one apple. Then I sauteed some onions and celery, added four cups of water, a little apple cider vinegar and turmeric to my pot plus all the roasted veggies, and blended it all with my immersion blender.

It came out so well. There was no need for cream at all. I tried having a chilled avocado soup, too, but it wasn’t very good. It just made me think I was eating a bowl of salsa with no chips.

My other discovery this week is that it’s fun to blend red and plain quinoa together to add a little more color to your meals.

Next week I tackle lentils. I know you’re excited.

‘Clean’ snacks

The weekend was pretty brutal. I must have been detoxing from something because I had a throbbing headache, sore throat, and a low fever. I didn’t want to do anything but rest. The book tells you not to take pills for headaches, so I just had to ride it out. At times I felt like quitting the whole thing, as the whole point is to feel good. But today I finally broke through it and started to feel better.

I’ve had a lot more energy and way less hunger today, which is such a relief. I went to the store and stocked up on more ingredients that will help me be more creative in the kitchen. Now my vegetable drawer runneth over!

I love buying ingredients I’ve never worked with before. Have you ever had adzuki beans?

I’ve also never cooked with coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature but melts in your hands). If you get some on your hands it’s like lotion!

And let’s face it, this is the most important part of any cleanse.

I also trashed some temptations.

Over the last few years I’ve slowly been breaking my attachments to certain processed foods, and I’m still working on it.

I had been getting pretty frustrated over the weekend at feeling like I was eating the same things over and over, especially for snacks. You can only eat so many handfuls of nuts and fruit. So I thought I’d share some other recipes for quick snacks that you can pop in your mouth if you need a little energy or want to satisfy a sweet tooth without eating refined sugar.

(Use organics where you can.)

Hummus and carrots
adapted from the Clean book

2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Add a little extra water for smoothness.

Brown rice crackers
adapted from Clean‘s recipe book

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
I pinch each of dried oregano, basil, thyme, and black pepper

Mix flour, salt, herbs, and oil together in a bowl until you have coarse crumbs.

Mix in water until the dough forms a ball.

Roll out on a baking sheet to 1/4-inch thick and score it so you will be able to break apart the crackers.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, or until the edges start to get brown. After the crackers cool, gently break them apart.

Raw fruit/nut balls
adapted from my own recipe

1/2 cup finely grated coconut
1 handful pecans
2 handfuls almonds
1 handful dates (make sure they’re pitted!)
1 handful raisins

Toss all of the ingredients into your food processor and process until the nuts have turned into fine pieces and the mixture is starting to clump together. The smoother the better, in my opinion. Roll them into 1-inch balls.

If you like, you can roll them in a little extra coconut.

Chocolate almond butter balls
(they’re kind of like Nutella!)

1/2 cup almond butter
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar

Combine ingredients in a bowl, and roll them into 1-inch balls. Keep them refrigerated, so they hold their shape.

(I realize what these look like, but they taste much better than they look.)

Raw coconut macaroons
from Fork in the Road (I like to halve the recipe)

3 cups shaved coconut
1 1/2 cups raw cacao powder
3/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls (or use a mini scoop). They can be dehydrated too, if you like.

I also just wanted to say that I had never realized how dependent my diet was on wheat. It seems like it’s in everything. I have a whole new appreciation for those on a gluten-free diet, and I will try to put more gluten-free recipes up here.

Cleanse, day 4

I still haven’t technically started the cleanse part of the cleanse yet, but I’ve definitely changed my eating habits in a big way this week.

The biggest thing I notice (and it was the same when I tried a raw foods experiment) is just how colorful every meal is. I think if you take nothing else away from something like this, it should just be to try to get more color into your diet.

I’m not gonna lie, the shake I had for breakfast the first two days was pretty gross. The ingredients sounded good: almond butter, peaches, and cardamom. But the consistency was sort of watery and weird, and the cardamom was way too potent.

Day three I tried a berry smoothie, which tasted much better. You have to be careful with those blueberry bits, though. They get stuck in your teeth! Maybe if I had a VitaMix…

The best smoothie by far was the one I made this morning (sorry, I drank it before I remembered to take a photo). I decided to improvise rather than using a recipe, and I came up with frozen mango chunks, homemade coconut milk, a bit of agave nectar, and flax seed meal. Mango has just the right consistency for a smoothie, and the flax seed gives it a little more body and protein. I will definitely make it again.

I’ve also made some really yummy veggie stir-fries with brown rice that I will make again.

I’m thinking about trying my own sushi, too. The only dinner that was a total fail was last night. I tried making buckwheat noodles, and they came out one giant gummy mass. Blech.

The big challenge will be the weekend. It’s Mike’s birthday, and I know we’ll eat out. I’ve already been feeling more energetic and less hungry in the afternoons, though, so I’m hoping that holding on to that feeling is more important than indulging.

Fresh cucumber salsa

I realized the other day that I have never made salsa before. Mike used to make a delish black bean salsa in the summertime, but since he’s been super busy, tomato duty has fallen to me. So, I dug out a recipe I took from the Boulder farmers market back in 2005 and adapted it to what I had in the kitchen.

I had some tomatoes and a green pepper from our garden and a cucumber from the farmers market, plus a few other things.

The recipe made the freshest, most vibrant, colorful salsa I could have imagined. And it tasted really good, especially when you got a little bit of the marinated tomato juice in the bottom in your bite. I had gotten out my spice blend to add to it, but realized it didn’t even need that. I stuck with a sprinkling of salt and pepper for seasoning, just like I would on a sliced tomato.

Fresh cucumber salsa

4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a big bowl. That’s it!

Nature’s PowerBars


I learned how to make these when I was writing a story about raw food diets. They’re sort of like an energy bar that actually tastes good. The closest thing I could compare them to is a Larabar. They’re basically just nuts, dried fruit and coconut blended up in the food processor.

If you want them to be truly raw, buy all raw nuts and unsweetened coconut (I bought a real coconut for the first time to make this recipe, by the way, but you don’t have to). This time, I just tried to use up what I had left in my cabinets.

Raw fruit/nut balls

1/2 cup finely grated coconut
1 handful macadamia nuts
2 handfuls almonds
1 handful dates
1 handful raisins

Toss all of the ingredients into your food processor and process until the nuts have turned into fine pieces and the mixture is starting to clump together. The smoother the better, in my opinion.

Roll into 1-inch balls and then roll those in a little more coconut. I keep mine in the freezer – I think they taste better cold.

Holy Guacamole

Because Mike and I felt like having a little fiesta in this 30-below weather, and because avocados were so surprisingly ripe at Hy-Vee today, I give you the only recipe for guacamole you’ll ever need.

But first! I give you my most frequently used spice blend, which you’ll need for this recipe, and it goes like this:

3 T. ground cumin
3 T. ground chili powder
1 T. Celtic sea salt

Why so little salt? That particular kind goes a looong way because it’s in a very natural form, and that’s a good thing, right? I buy my spices from Penzeys, or at Mexican or Indian grocery stores where they usually have a wide array of affordable bulk spices.

Guacamole

3 ripe avocados
2 cloves garlic, minced
About 1/8 of an onion, diced
As much fresh jalapeno as you can handle, diced (I use maybe 1/4 of one, seeded)
The juice of half a lemon
2 T. of your spice blend
10 grape tomatoes, halved, or half a seeded tomato, diced

As you can see, this is a very imprecise recipe, so if you have more avocado, add a little more of each ingredient. The important thing is to use fresh ingredients. If you get a little too much garlic, so what?

Scoop out your avocados and dice them up. Squeeze in the lemon juice so your avocados don’t turn brown.

Add the garlic and mash it all together with a fork.

Add the onions and jalapenos, then the tomatoes.

Mix in the spice blend. Taste it. If it needs a little more seasoning, adjust it here.

And for God sakes don’t feel guilty about eating guacamole. Avocados are full of good fats. This recipe is vegan, raw even. If you’re not going to eat it with other veggies just go easy on the chips. Lots of guacamole on a little chip. Cerveza. Tortilla soup (recipe coming). Perfect dinner for a ridiculously cold night.