Why Soak Nuts and Seeds?

Nuts and seeds are full of nutrients and are a great way of adding substance to a vegetarian or vegan meal. They can be sprinkled on a salad, used to make sauces or cheeses and have an important role in raw desserts. With so much versatility and goodness, nuts and seeds also contain substances that interfere with the body’s ability to digest them and absorption of nutrients.

Think about it. The nuts and seeds are the potential offspring of the mother plant and in order for the plants to continue to reproduce, these nuts and seeds need to be protected. We are not the only creatures that consume nuts and seeds. So Mother Nature has ‘coated’ the nuts and seeds in phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. What are these substance? Well the phytic acid helps protect the nuts and seeds until there are proper growing conditions present which allows germinating to occur. To ensure the nuts and seeds do not sprout before the conditions are suitable, the enzyme inhibitors prevent this from happening. However the enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid can cause problems in the digestive tract by either causing irritation or binding with minerals to prevent their absorption.

Soaking nuts and seeds, with a little salt, my preference is celtic sea salt, helps reduce these substance. If you then want crunchy nuts and seeds to snack on or use, then drying at a low temperature will achieve this. I dehydrate my nuts and seeds over night for about 12 – 16 hours at 46degrees in my dehydrator. This also means the nuts and seeds are still classed as raw as they have not been heated over 46 degrees.

The time for soaking, varies depending on the nut or seed. Cashews are 4-6 hours, while almonds are 12 hours. I tend to soak everything over night for the sake of simplicity.

Soaking nuts and seeds

  • 1 cup of required nut or seed
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • 1 tsp of celtic sea salt

Directions:

  • Place nuts or seeds in a glass jar and cover with the water. Add the salt and ensure the slat dissolves.
  • Ensure the nuts or seeds are completely covered. They will swell during the soaking time
  • Leave covered on the kitchen bench for at least 6 hours. I leave mine overnight.
  • Drain and rinse the nuts or seeds under fresh running water.
  • If dehydrating place on a mesh tray and dehydrate for 12 – 16 hours at 46 degrees. To confirm they are dry taste one and check for crunch. If using an oven, set the oven on the lowest temperature and dry for up to 24 hours. Continue to monitor the nuts and seeds
  • Let cool and then store i an air tight container.

What is your favourite nut or seed?

The Wheel of Life

There is warmth in the air today. Yesterday I was very excited to see the first buds on one of our trees. Mother Earth is starting to awaken from her winter slumber. In the last few days I have started thinking about cleansing. Cleaning up the ‘diet’ and also cleansing the house. With the lengthening of the days, warmth returning to the air and Spring just round the corner this is the perfect time to embrace this energy.

A while ago I was introduced to the Wheel of Life, a way of observing, connecting and living within the cyclic nature of Mother Earth and the seasons. There are four seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn)  and celebrations that relate to the position of the sun:

  • Winter Solstice, 20 – 23rd June (Southern Hemisphere) and 20 – 23rd Dec (Northern Hemisphere) marks the beginning of Winter with the longest night and the shortest day. A time of reflection, gathering in and stillness.

  • Spring Equinox, 20 – 23rd Sept (Southern Hemisphere) and 23 – 23rd Mar (Northern Hemisphere) marks the beginning of Spring, where the day and night are of equal length. New beginnings, gestation and possibilities.
  • Summer Solstice 20 – 23rd Dec (Southern Hemisphere) and 20 – 23rd June (Northern Hemisphere) marks the beginning of Summer with the longest day and the shortest night. A time of great activity, movement and being outside.
  • Autumn Equinox, 20 – 23rd Mar (Southern Hemisphere) and 23 – 23rd Sept (Northern Hemisphere) marks the beginning of Autumn, where once again the day and night are of equal length. Gratitude for all that we have, bringing the family together and acknowledging the seasons that has been are all part of this time of year.
There are also four cross quarter days which are celebrated as part of the agricultural calendar.
  • Imbolc, end of July/beginning of Aug (Southern Hemisphere) and end of Jan/beginning of Feb (Northern Hemisphere), half way point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox and marks the first signs of Spring. The long Winter is finally coming to an end, hope is in the air.
  • Beltane, end of Oct/beginning of Nov (Southern Hemisphere) and end of April/beginning of May (Northern Hemisphere), half way between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice and is a festival celebrating fertility of the land, nature and animals, including humans…….
  • Lamas, end of Jan/beginning of Feb (Southern Hemisphere) and end of July/beginning of Aug (Northern Hemisphere), half way point between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox and celebrates the first fruits of the harvest. What we have sewn/planted we now start to reap.
  • Samhain, end of April/beginning of May (Southern Hemisphere) and end of Oct/beginning of Nov (Northern Hemisphere), half way point between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice and is the final harvest festival. It is also the end of the harvest year and the beginning of the new year. Once again the cycle of life continues.
Together there 8 celebrations mark the Wheel of Life. I share this with you as a way of starting to connect more deeply with the cyclic nature of our seasons, Mother Earth and the cyclic nature of our own bodies. If we are able to see the cycles in our own life and realise that with every ending there is a new beginning, and from the beginning there are points along the way that can be celebrated, I think we will find more meaning in our life and find meaning in the challenging times.

There is a wonderful quote from Joseph Campbell “The function of ritual….is to give form to the human life, not in the way of mere surface arrangement, but in depth.” I believe that by recognising the changing of the seasons and celebrating this change, in what ever way feels right for you, we start to bring ritual into our lives.

So for us in the Southern Hemisphere, we are heading towards Imbolc, the first signs of Spring. Which I have seen on the trees. So with this energy of emergence and new beginnings, I am going to be starting an internal cleanse – more green smoothies, cleaner eating and more water. I am also going to start detoxing the house, looking at each room, how do I want that room to feel, to represent and then clearing out anything that does not fit in with this new feel. I’ll be starting with the kitchen as this is the heart of our heart, literally and figuratively. Time to shake of the winter robes and embrace a lightness in Spirit.

Can you feel the stirrings of new beginnings? Are you feeling drawn to cleanse either the house, a room or your body? How will you mark the changing of energies?

Spiced Elderberry Wine

I was scrolling through recipes the other night looking for inspiration. I didn’t have a dish in mind, I was just hoping something would catch my attention. As it is winter here, the few recipes for warm spiced drinks certainly did. I could see myself siting in front of the fire, allowing the dance of the flames to lull me into a relaxed state and slowly sip on my beverage. Inspiration had visited!

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Looking through the pantry, it was then what could go with what to create a warming beverage. My bottle of elderberries seemed to vie for my attention so out they came. I decided to start with them by adding a table spoon and 2 cups of water to a small pan and sitting that on the stove top to gentle heat. As the water began to warm the sweet, spicy scent of the elderberries wafted around the kitchen. With this scent tickling my nostrils I began searching for the remaining ingredients.

Star Anise was the first spice to join the Elderberries. I love the aniseed smell, fresh and inviting. Cinnamon and Clove and two spices I love adding to my spiced creations. It would have to be the powered form of each as I did not have a cinnamon quill or the clove flowers.

My favourite spice essential oil at the moment is doTERRA’s Cassia. Cassia is a cousin of Cinnamon, but is so much softer. When I inhale Cassia it is like a warm blanket being wrapped around me, and I know that I am being held by something bigger than I am. For me, Cassia is warming, nurturing and soft, while Cinnamon is it’s louder cousin. There is nothing understated about Cinnamon. Because Cassia gives me this sense of being nurtured, I added two drops to the simmering mixture.

A drop of doTERRA Ginger Essential Oil was also added to lift the mixture and to give it a bit of zing. The fragrance of this oil is also very warming. Then to add a hint of sweetness 2 teaspoons of coconut syrup was stirred into the deep red liquid. Any liquid sweetener would work if you do not have coconut syrup.

After everything had simmered for a few minutes I turned the heat off and let the spices and essential oils to infuse. I could almost imagine each ingredient dancing with each other and creating the final performance which I would enjoy soon,

Once strained, I sat with the elderberry wine (ok there is no alcohol in it but the colour of the beverage reminded me of spiced wines), inhaled and slowly sipped while watching the flames. I hope you enjoy this beverage.

I was given the flower garland at Sydney’s Vivid festival this year. When I wear it, a lightness of spirit and joy comes over me. This is the energy I like to have when creating so why not wear the flower garland in the kitchen. It will definitely be joining me in the kitchen more now that I have it. :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs Elderberries
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 2 tsp coconut syrup, or your favourite sweetener
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp clove powder
  • 2 drops doTERRA Cassia Essential Oil
  • 1 drop doTERRA Ginger Essential Oil

Prior Preparation:

  1. Nil

Directions:

  1. Place elderberries and water in a small saucepan and gentle bring to simmer.
  2. Once simmering add remaining ingredients.
  3. Simmer for a minute then turn off the heat and allow the ingredients to infuse with each other. I left mine for about 20 mins.
  4. Strain and then pour back into the saucepan to gentle warm.
  5. Pour into your favourite vessel to enjoy.

You can leave the mixture to infuse for longer.

In vibrant health, Vicki

Marbled Raw Chocolate and Orange Cheesecake

I love the patterning that occurs when a cake is marbled. It means that no two pieces look the same and if the ingredients are different for each colour then each piece of cake will taste unique. 

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To add colour to cheesecakes, I have used turmeric for yellow, beetroot for a red and baby spinach for green. When people find out what the ‘secret’ ingredient is there is often surprise. So I decided to see if I could use sweet potato. As it is orange in colour I thought orange juice would go lovely with it. What goes with orange? Chocolate of course, so this was the beginning of the idea.

I’ve used doTERRA Wild Orange in this recipe to intensify the orange flavour. I use doTERRA essential oils because they are exceptionally high quality and they also food grade, that is the ones that can be ingested. If you do not have doTERRA essential oils you can either purchase them here, or add 2 Tbs of orange zest.

Coconut butter can either be purchased or made. Considering how easy it is to make and what to cost is of the purchased variety, I prefer to make my own. 4 cups of desiccated coconut into my Vitamix (high powdered blender). Start on the low setting and then turn up to the high setting. Using the tamper I push the coconut down. The coconut will start to form a liquid. Keep using the tamper until the coconut has turned into a smooth liquid. You now have coconut butter. It is that easy! There are only one tip and that is to ensure the blender jug is completely dry. Any moisture will stop the coconut butter from forming. If you do not have a high speed blender the coconut butter can be made in a food processor. It may not be a smooth though. Pour coconut butter into a storage container. I store mine in the cupboard. It does go solid (like coconut oil in cooler weather). I put container into a saucepan and then pour boiling water into the sauce pan to melt the coconut butter. Remember the storage container needs to be able to withstand the heat of the boiling water. If not it will crack. Yup I learnt that the hard way. :(

So lets begin.

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Ingredients:

Base

  • 1 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • pinch celtic sea salt
  • 4 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 Tbs filtered water


Cheesecake

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potato
  • 4 drops of doTERRA Wild Orange Essential Oil
  • 4 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter, liquid
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder

Prior Preparation:

  1. Soak cashews in 2 cups of filtered water over night with a pinch of celtic sea salt.
  2. Line 5 x 15 x 4 cake tin with baking paper.

Directions:

Base

  1. Place pecans, ginger powder and celtic sea salt into a food processor and process until breadcrumb consistency
  2. Add chopped dates and water and pulse until mixture sticks together. 
  3. Press mixture into tin to form the base.
  4. Place in freezer to set while making the filling.

Filling

  1. Drain and rinse cashews.
  2. Place cashews, orange juice, sweet potato, maple syrup and vanilla extract into a high speed blender and process until smooth.
  3. Add doTERRA Wild Orange Essential Oil and coconut butter and blend again.
  4. Pour half of the mixture into a bowl.
  5. Add cacao powder to blender and blend until mixed through.
  6. Remove base from freezer.
  7. Alternate spoon orange filling and chocolate filling onto the base to form a checkerboard pattern.
  8. To smooth the top, gently bang the base of the tin into the kitchen bench.
  9. Place in the fridge or freezer to set.
  10. Slice the cheesecake into pieces and then store in the freezer for a sweet treat later on.

So what do you think of this marbled cheesecake?

In vibrant health, Vicki

 

Spiced Apple Biscuits

IMG_6415The last few weeks I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen making a huge range of desserts. Why? I enrolled in Deb Durrant’s ‘Sweet‘ online course to learn more about raw plant-based desserts, the art and science. I have learnt so much and I’m looking forward to creating more of my own recipes with my new knowledge.

My first treat that I am going to share is my Spiced Apple Biscuits. I have never made raw biscuits before, in part because I didn’t know how and I had also never found a recipe. Until now. These biscuits are SO moorish and are lovely with a cup of chia tea, in front of the fire.
Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs almond flour
  • 2 1/4 cups cashew flour
  • 1 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup dried apple, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tbs coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4 tsp celtic sea salt
  • 1/2 cup date paste
  • 1 drop doTerra Cassia Essential Oil

Prior Preparation:

  1. Soak dried apple in 3/4 cup of filtered water. Add 1 drop of doTerra Cassia Essential Oil to the soaking apples. Leave to soak for 1 hour.

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl mix the almond flour, cashew flour, oat flour, ginger powder, coconut sugar, cardamom and celtic sea salt.
  2. Drain the apple pieces, reserving the soaking water. Add the drained apple pieces to the bowl and mix through.
  3. Add the date paste and 2 Tbs of the reserved apple soaking water to the mixture and and gentle mix it through the dry ingredients to form the biscuit dough.
  4. If the dough is dry add more apple soaking water, 1 Tbs at a time.
  5. Spiced Apple BiscuitsPlace the dough between two Teflex dehydrator sheets and roll the dough out to about 0.5cm thick.
  6. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits.
  7. Place the biscuits on the dehydrator mesh sheets and dehydrate for 12 hours at 46C.
  8. Turn the biscuits over and continue to dehydrate for another 8 – 12 hours. This will depend on how chewy or crunchy you like your biscuits.
  9. Allow to cool before storing in an air tight container in the fridge.

While I was typing up this recipe I decided to make them again as I remember how much I loved the biscuits. My Mum, who was a high school cooking teacher, (yes she even taught me but that is another story) is always interested in what I do in the kitchen and how I create dishes without cooking. Most of them she will try and she always gives me feed back. I know she loved these biscuits, because every time I went to the container for one, she would call out “I’ll have one too thanks.”

I would love to know if these become a favourite in your house.

In vibrant health, Vicki