Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Blog with all New Recipes!

Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to let you all know that I have completely redone my website and have a brand new blog at amandanicolesmith.com

If you want more delicious recipes go check it out! For now I'll keep this blog up until I move and update all the old recipes.



Friday, October 12, 2012

Raw Lacto-fermented Dill Pickles

   Pickles along with many other fermented foods, have roots in history as some of the most valuable, health supporting foods. Unfortunately in today's society we are accustomed to eating, cooked, artificially flavored and preserved pickles that don't provide any of the health benefits that fermented pickles have.  A process called canning requires you to cook foods before preserving, killing bad bacteria but also killing the beneficial bacteria that make fermented pickles much healthier. There are many different ways to make pickles but today I will show you how to make vinegar free, lacto-fermented, raw(uncooked) pickles without the use of whey or similar starter cultures. This simple traditional method is an alternative to the modern canning process that keeps all nutrients and enzymes intact with the use of a salt and water brine.

Researching different pickling techniques and studying cellular respiration has helped me to better understand this incredible process and also gave me the knowledge to reduce the risk of making bad batches. Pickling is an art, it takes a little knowledge and patience but the reward is a flavorful crisp bite to the tongue like you've never tasted before. I grew up on store bought pickles, no past generations to teach me and no prior childhood memories of fermenting anything. If I can do it you can do it and I'm here to help you, health is the number one goal. A homemade life isn't necessarily hard but it isn't easy either. I had to change all of my habits and become more organized to get everything done but hey that's not a bad thing.

The Bacteria Behind That Healthy Tang

    The purpose of fermentation is to preserve foods by promoting a naturally occurring healthy living bacteria such as lactobacillus. Lactobacilli converts lactose and other sugars into lactic acid, consequently creating an acidic environment, robbing bad bacteria of food; thus, killing them off and preventing spoilage for long periods of time. During this transition time we must eliminate the bad bacteria and help the good bacteria thrive. This means oxygen must also be absent to prevent contamination from yeast and other undesirable microorganisms. A salt water brine along with spices are added to draw out moisture to further eliminate growth of bad bacteria and to keep the vegetables as crisp as possible. The 2 main by-products of this particular lacto-fermentation is lactic acid and carbon dioxide. We must release carbon dioxide and oxygen but mustn't allow oxygen back in, there are many different ways to do this, I will show you the easiest way with common household products. Probiotics or "lactobacillus already live in our intestines, on our skin, in our muscles and on the skins of various fresh fruits and vegetables. Probiotics are said to have the potential to heal diseases such as IBS, Crohn's disease, diarrhea, eczema and more. If there is any reason at all to take the time to make your own pickles it's because you want the benefits.

Past Batches: The Outcomes    

My first batch of pickles consisted of cucumbers, fresh dill, carrots, garlic, bell peppers and onions. The salt brine contained mustard seed, allspice, clove, bay leaf, peppercorn and a few other goodies that kept everything crisp and tasting amazing.  I was so happy with the 1st batch I decided to make another but this time I used sour spinach as layers, it added a sourness that I really enjoyed! I will probably use it every time now! I decided not to add in the carrots and bell peppers because that meant less pickles and that was my favorite part. For the 2nd batch the summer drought proved challenging for finding fresh dill but I did happen to find dried flowering dill seed, this also worked seemingly well, except as you can see in the picture I should have put all the spices at the bottom so I wouldn't have to pick all the dill seeds off. For the third batch I put all the same spices on the bottom this time with layered cucumbers, asian sorrel, garlic, onions and the returning fresh dill.  This was by far the best batch of pickles and so this will be the recipe I post here. Experiment and have fun, with a little persistence you can ferment all sorts of fresh ingredients to make some of your favorite dishes for cheaper! A few things you should not experiment with are deciding not to sterilize your jars, salt to water ratios, and not using fresh ingredients. All these things have the potential to spoil a batch and possibly make you sick.

Yield: 1 gallon of pickles
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Ferment Time: 5-7 days
Tools Needed: 
1 gallon jar or 4 quart jars, knife, freezer bag, rubber band

Tips For Choosing The Best Ingredients

-Pick the smallest and firmest cucumbers with the most warts.
-Buy all produce from the farmers market to make sure you are getting the freshest available.
-The fresher the ingredients the crunchier they will be. Which means just picked off the vine is best.
-Buying in the fall time has many benefits such as an abundance of harvested foods at a cheap price.
-Ask the farmer if they are chemical free or try to find organic if you must go to a supermarket.
-Save time and money by looking for pickling mix in the dried spices and herbs bulk section.
-These ingredients are best fresh when possible: dill, garlic and onion.
-Use only kosher, mineral or sea salt. No iodized salt allowed.

Ingredients- All these ingredients are optional and can be experimented with
approximately 15 small pickling cucumbers
1 large onion
1 head of garlic
1 bunch of grape leaves, horseradish leaves, or sour cherry leaves.
    ^These ingredients help the pickles stay crunchy but they are not absolutely necessary especially if you cut of the blossom ends of the cucumber.

Salt to Water Ratio: 1 cup salt to 1 gallon or 4 quarts water.

1/8 cup pickling spice
      -or 1 tbsp each -mustard seed, allspice, clove, bay leaf, peppercorn, cinnamon, etc.

The sour spinach with the red stems on the left hand side are so sour and delicious, 
it makes an excellent pickle companion.

6 Step Instructions

Step 1. Boil water to sanitize a gallon mason jar or 4 quart mason jars. Leave a 1/2 gallon of water out on the counter for 24 hours to dechlorinate or boil for 10 minutes. Chlorine will kill beneficial bacteria.

Step 2. Make the salt brine. 
     -Bring the 2 quarts of dechlorinated water almost to a boil.
     -Stir in 1 cup salt until it dissolves
     -Let cool until room temperature or put a few filtered ice cubes in to speed up the process.

Step 3. Wash cut and prep all ingredients, 
     -Cut off the blossom end of the pickles. (This will also help them stay crunchy)
     -Poke holes in the cucumber with a fork.
     -I like to quarter the larger cucumbers. (They tend to be less crunchy when sliced but still a great.)

Step 4: Layer all of your ingredients, trying to pack them as tightly as possible.
-leaves of choice
-repeat until you have about 3 inches of head space.

Step 5: Pour your room temperature brine into the jar until you have an inch or 2 of head space left.
-Poke the pickles with something such as a clean wooden chopstick to release as much oxygen as you can. The pickles may float to the surface if it was not packed tight enough.

Step 6: Releasing carbon dioxide

There are many ways to do this. The simplest option is finding a plate or lid that fits inside of the jars mouth to push the pickles down. Unfortunately this is harder than it sounds since I have yet to find a perfect match. The other way is to buy pickling lids. I have read they are very effective and mess free but the problem is you would have to buy 4 lids for 4 quart jars because it does not fit wide mouth gallon jars. I usually make 2 gallons at a time so this does not work for me. If you plan to make small batches this may be the best option for you. There is also the option to just put the cap on and call it good but I have not tried this and from looking at pictures the pickle juice tends to get very cloudy. Plus the carbon dioxide would build up and you would have to monitor it very closely so it does not explode. I have been using the freezer bag method and it has worked every time.

-Put the jar on a plate to catch any spillage.
-Fill 1 bottom corner of a freezer bag with filtered water and close shut
-Put the water filled corner into the pickling jar and secure around the lid with a rubber band.
-Use a cloth, coffee filter or paper towel to cover the bag and rubber band again for extra protection.
The bag should be pushing the pickles down and allowing excess oxygen to escape. while the cloth adds outside invasion protection.
Let the pickles sit in a dark, well ventilated area for 5-7 days.
The warmer it is the faster it ferments, the cooler it is the longer it takes to ferment.
You can check on them and taste them as often as necessary until it is the desired sourness.

Additional Information
Perfect Temperature 86-104 degrees F
Perfect PH Balance: 4.5
Light kills lactic acid bacteria.
If it smells anything but wonderful throw it out.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Raw Ginger Sauce

Quick & Easy Ginger Sauce

         Awaken your tastebuds with this flavorful ginger sauce that has a unique spiciness and sweetness. Not only is it raw but it's also extremely good for you. If you search ginger's many benefits you'll be amazed with this root and its many health promoting properties. All of the other complimenting ingredients are just as nutritious and create the most flavorful dressing I have ever tasted. No joke, I go through about 32oz a week, it's just that good. I use it for a variety of dishes, my favorites being garden fresh kale, swiss chard and cherry tomatoes mixed with brown rice and ginger sauce. Brown rice is obviously not raw but in moderation it's okay to have cooked foods that are whole and unprocessed. It's all about what makes you feel good and what your body can digest easily. I feel just fine with a little brown rice every once in a while but it's all up to you and your body.

       Raw food is an exciting journey, if you are just starting out this is a great recipe because you can incorporate it with cooked and raw meals. I know it can be tough to start out all raw so easing into it by replacing fatty dressings with raw nutritious dressings can be a step towards your health goals. Of course only until you realize how wonderful they make you feel and before you know it all you crave is raw wholesome food. Your tastes buds literally awaken and you can even taste the difference from a farm fresh tomato and an old super market tomato. Speaking of tomatoes, I love ginger sauce like I love ketchup and I love ketchup! For my next food adventure I am going to ferment some tomatoes to make a raw ketchup yumm. I have been experimenting with fermentation of all sorts and I actually had success on everything so I am really excited to share my dill pickles, gherkin pickles, and sauerkraut recipes!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serving Size: a little over 16oz
Tools Needed: Blender, Knife, Peeler

1/2 cup ginger
1/2 cup onion (scallions and/or leeks)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Bragg liquid aminos (soy sauce or nama shoyu not raw but same concept)
1/4 cup Bragg apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp coconut nectar -or- one date
1/2 tbsp turmeric
1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1 tsp peppercorn ground

Peel the ginger and garlic.
Blend ginger, onion, garlic and water together first until smooth.
Then blend in the rest of the ingredients
Refrigerate or serve right away.

It's that easy! If you are using a date instead of coconut nectar, add that into the mix first as well.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Best Raw Vegan Cinnamon Rolls Ever!!

Raw Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
Being healthy can get hard around the times I crave sweet and soft pastries, luckily there's this raw version!! There are 3 parts to this tasty treat, dough,cashew filling and macadamia frosting all made with raw ingredients. In the picture below I put the icing on the bottom and drizzled coconut nectar on top with a pinch of cinnamon, okay my mouth is officially watering!
My favorite part to any recipe is sharing it with others and asking how they like it. Even my non raw food friends say it tastes very similar to a cinnamon roll if not better because it's so moist and rich! There are also a few variations to this recipe like cinnamon fig rolls or cinnamon raisin rolls, I bet it would be good with a fruit filling to!
Yield: 10 cinnamon rolls
Tools: dehydrator, food processor, blender
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Dehydrate Time: 2 hours
Dough- This is the same dough I use for the french toast & bread base recipe
1 cup flax seed ground
1 cup almond flour/cashews ground
1 cup sunflower seeds ground
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup water add more if needed
1/4 cup coconut nectar
3 tbsp oil (grapeseed, olive, sunflower)
2 tbsp cinnamon
a pinch of sea salt
Date Paste
5 dates
1/4 cup water

Get a mixing bowl to start adding your ingredients. Grind all of your seeds in a spice grinder. In a food processor grind all of your nuts. Mix them well and then add in the rest of your ingredients. Stir until it becomes sticky like cookie dough add more water if necessary. I have found that if you follow the recipe exactly you can't go wrong! Spread out your dough using a piece of plastic wrap and a rolling pin. Dehydrate on the first side for 1 hour and then flip and dehydrate for another hour. I made a video explaining how to make your dough perfect here Bread Base Recipe.

Cashew Filling
1 cup cashews soaked
3/4 cup young thai coconut
1/2 cup water -or- coconut water
1 large juicy date
1 tbsp cinnamon
optional: 1 cup figs chopped and/or raisins
Soak the cashews for 1 hour or more. Open the young thai coconut and pour the coconut water into a glass jar to use later for smoothies or use it in place of the 1/2 cup water! Grind the cashews first adding in water slowly, then add in the date, lastly add the rest of the ingredients. Spread the filling out evenly leaving about 1/4 inch on all sides, because we are rolling it the filling will squeeze out and fill the empty space.
Now we need to roll it up. It's easiest to use a pliable piece of something underneath to help fold it evenly. So for instance if you're using parchment paper you would pull up the end closest to you and start rolling the dough on it's self. You will find that the paper helps bring everything up at the same time to avoid cracking and keeps things even. 

Macadamia Icing
1 cup macadamia nuts
1/4 cup young thai coconut or the rest of what you didn't use in the filling
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp lemon
1 tsp salt

I like to place the roll in the refrigerator overnight and in the morning I will put it in the dehydrator to warm up for about 15-30 minutes. Or you can just dig in! Enjoy <3

Friday, May 25, 2012

Raw Cacao Fudge Balls

Raw Coconut Covered Fudge Balls

    With a consistency of fudge in a much healthier version, these fudge balls are sure to be to your delight. I have made brownies countless times, I love them, but I wanted something I could really sink my teeth into. This recipe is the perfect solution seeing as they are just the right amount of chewiness and firmness. The brownies have a base of pecans and walnuts whereas these have a base of cashews and almonds which are heavier and less oily than pecans or walnuts. Learning all about consistency really helps when trying to recreate your favorite recipes! I hope you enjoy these guilt free treats!

Yields: 20
Tools Needed: food processor, spice grinder
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Freeze Time: 30 minutes

1 cup cashews
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 dates
1/2 cup cacao
1/4 cup coconut butter
2 tbsp coconut nectar
1 tbsp raw honey
1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1/8 cup coconut flakes

-Blend the nuts first
-Grind the sunflower seeds in a spice grinder
-Add in the dates and sunflower seeds to the mixture and blend
-Add in the rest of the ingredients and then blend again
-Roll them into balls or spread it into a pan to cut out fudge pieces
-Sprinkle coconut flakes on top
-Stick them in the freezer for 1 hour and store in the refrigerator

All almonds grown in the US are pasteurized, meaning they are not raw anymore. If you have any ethnic markets around you I recommend trying to find nuts there because they are cheaper, and they come from other countries which do not have such pasteurization laws. Even if they are labeled raw from california it's a lie, I don't know why they can do it I just know they sadly do. I was elated to find all my favorite nuts, seeds, and exotic fruits at the turkish market near where I live. I find that when you go out to explore not having any expectations you find the most amazing places. This recipe is so quick and easy there will be plenty of time to go on an adventure for raw unprocessed nuts! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Vegan BBQ Pulled "Pork" using Jackfruit!

Vegan BBQ Pulled Jackfruit

      The best alternative to BBQ that I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Although it's not raw I'm willing to take the risk and cook it up for a much healthier "pulled pork" sandwich. I actually tried making it raw but the problem was the pulp is too slimy and has a latex like coating which does not come off unless simmered and/or baked.  A little trick is to coat your hands and utensils with coconut oil so that the latex does not end up sticking to everything the jackfruit comes into contact with.

     This recipe takes some patience but it is so worth it to divulge in a totally healthy BBQ. Plus a 20lb fruit should make up to 10 sandwiches!! Living in KC "The BBQ City" is taunting, sometimes I just want to sink my teeth into a juicy slow cooked pulled pork sandwich. I'm salivating just thinking about it....and then...I think about the many videos posted about coca cola+pork=maggots ...my next thought is I wonder how much bacteria must be in pork to begin with to feed off the sugars from the coke and to become visible by the naked eye in just a few hours. No thank you. Now back to the jackfruit...

    Jackfruit can be found at asian markets during late spring and summer. The jackfruit is the largest fruit tree with the larger fruits weighing anywhere from 20-80lbs. Note it's $1.29/lb at the Asian market near where I live. It is also very popular and we are lucky if they actually have them in stock. They use the fruit of jackfruit in many curry based recipes in India. They also boil and salt the seeds which is considered a delicacy. Another interesting fact, juicy fruit gum is inspired by jackfruit. The fruit actually tastes like juicy fruit gum with a chewy meaty texture. For this recipe we will be using the pulp which surrounds the fruit.

The outside of a jackfruit is quite jagged but squeezable
and easy to cut with a knife. You may notice white stuff
on the outside don't be alarmed it's just sap from the tree. 
This is the jackfruit turned inside out. The light
yellow strands are the pulp that we will be
 using for this recipe. The dark orange pieces are
the fruit which contains the seeds
The first step is to cut the jackfruit horizontally in half. Next take out the core in the middle. I recommend 3 bowls for each part of the fruit. The seeds come out first, located in the middle of the fruit. The fruit comes out second and then you want to take your coconut oiled scissors and cut out the pulp, rinse and pat dry. Now we are ready to make the BBQ Marinade/Sauce

BBQ Marinade & Sauce
10 sun dried tomatoes
1  large tomato
1/4 cup onions
2 garlic cloves
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
This is what it looks like before 
it's cooked. It is extremely tough 
and hard to chew raw.
2 dates
1 tbsp mustard seed
4 basil leaves
1 tbsp spice (jalapeƱo, red chili, cayenne)
pinch of salt and pepper

-After we make the BBQ sauce and marinade the pulp for at least an hour, preferably over night, we will then simmer the pulp for 25 minutes. 
-Make sure to add water every time it starts to get dry. 
-When 25 minutes are up put the mixture into a baking pan and pour a little bit of bbq sauce over the top.
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, leave it in for 10 min
 -Cool for 15 minutes and it's Time to eat! 
      I used Udi's gluten free buns this time but I would   normally get the sprouted local bread from the 
        farmer's market. Next time I will plan a little better. 
I just happened to see the jackfruit by chance and 
had to get it right then! This really has been an interesting fruit that I enjoyed very much 
and I hope you all enjoy too!

This is what the "pork" will look like when it's done. Delicious.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chili Cheeze Fries Raw Food Style

This 4 Part Recipe Includes

Jicama hot fries, sweet and spicy chili meat, cheesy sauce, and lime salsa

  I have to say this is probably the most brilliant discovery in raw food history! There is nothing I missed more than warm crispy fries loaded with the good stuff. Miss no more because now there is an amazing raw version.
 There are 4 stages to this recipe but don't be afraid it doesn't take long and it lasts a couple of days!This recipe makes a large batch of "meat", cheeze, and salsa. If I have extra I use them for tacos, chili bowls and/or more jicama fries! Here is my blog for corn tortillas or you can use good ol' collard greens. It's a favorite amongst my raw and non raw friends!

Jicama Fry Marinade
1 jicama peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp oil (grapeseed, olive, sunflower, etc)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp smoked paprika (not raw but you can substitute for regular paprika)
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tsp caynne
salt and pepper
Mix everything but the jicama in a bowl, then add in the jicama and shake it around until evenly coated.
Marinade these preferably over night or just enjoy as is. I like to dehydrate mine so they aren't as messy for about 1 hour at 105 degrees while I make the rest of my toppings.

Sweet & Spicy Chili Meat

1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup walnuts
10 sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup carrots
1 cup kale
1/2 cup sweet bell pepper or tomato
Flavor- don't be afraid to add or subtract ingredients
1 scallion
1 bunch chives
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp lemon
2 tbsp lime
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp cilantro
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp miso or nama shoyu(soy sauce)
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp hot pepper
salt and pepper

My favorite extra to add in at the end is 1 cup of raisins. The raisins amp up the texture and provide a sweet little surprise when you bite into it. I prefer not to grind it up rather just keep them whole. Also try to find golden raisins they are delicious!

The flavors get better and better the longer the "meat" sits in the refrigerator. If possible I recommend letting this sit over night to get the best overall flavor.

Cheezy Sauce
1 cup cashews soaked over night
1 red or yellow bell pepper
3-4 tbsp nutritional yeast (depends on how cheesy you want it)
1 tbsp lemon
1 tbsp smoked paprika
salt and peper
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 clove garlic
1 tsp soy sauce
If you look at the top left hand corner you can see an elephant head!
Lime Salsa
2 tomatoes 
1/2 cup sweet bell pepper
1/8 cup fresh cilantro
2 tbsp lime
1 tbsp lemon
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp white pepper
salt and pepper
I also like to throw kale or mustard greens in it to give it extra nutrition and a chunkier texture.

Last but not least I cut up a few onion and garlic chive slices and throw it on top and it's ready to eat or you can dehydrate for 30 minutes at 105 degrees until warm. The cheese thickens and stays on the fries better that way as well. Over all this recipe is an A+ for me, it hits the spot every time.