mini pie
Pie, Recipe, Uncategorized

Mini Cheeze Cakes – Mini Pies – Raw Vegan

mini pie

Raw vegan desserts are often better than their original inspiration. Ice cream, chocolates, cheese cakes… tiramisu: I’ve experienced vegan and raw vegan versions of each of these treats that would make your big toe shoot out your boot. Just another example of how plant-based living can be easy, delicious and healthy… win, win, win.

The inspiration for these mini-pies came from a chef and friend named Dorothy. I used to stop off and stay with Dorothy and her husband Robert when traveling from Michigan to Florida and the reverse. They were living in Nashville, TN, which was a perfect midway stopping point. Upon my first visit I was lavished with miso soup made with re-hydrated veggies from their garden. And the pièce de résistance or more appropriately “pie de résistance” were mini cheeze cakes that she pulled from the freezer, all organized by flavor in various ziplock bags. She had come to the realization that full-sized pies were difficult to store and thaw. Solution: mini pies.

Miso Soup
Miso Soup and Rehydrated Veggies

Flash forward 5 years and I’m now living in Florida and Dorothy and Robert are in Philadelphia… last I checked. I’ve never forgotten those pies and the brilliance of their miniature-ness.

Mini-pies require a mini-pie form

I started out doing this with small spring forms. This method works but you’re limited by the number of spring forms you have. Quality forms cost around $3-5 each or you can get 3 or 4 for $10-18. This is the more expensive and a more tedious way of going about this. Making raw pies 4 at a time is not an efficient use of time and plus those spring forms are a bit awkward to store. On top of that they’re usually coated with teflon. If you’re making raw vegan desserts, you’re likely informed enough to know that teflon is bad news and no matter how careful you are with teflon cookware, it inevitably ends up with scratches that can potentially flake off into your food.

silicon muffin pan

Silicon Muffin Pan (Silpan)

This is one solution that optimizes mini-pie making. These forms store well, hold from 6 to 12 pies at a time and they clean up quick and easy. The one drawback with these molds versus a metal muffin pan is that they aren’t rigid and bend and twist when you lift them from the counter. This bending makes a mess of your pies before you can get them in the freezer. The solution I found was to use a rigid piece of cardboard the size of the silicon pan. You could also use a cutting board. You will need enough space in the freezer to accommodate the silpan and the cutting board.

Basic Mini Pie Recipe

  • Crust – enough for 10 to 12 mini pies
  • 1 C dates (4 oz) – pitted and chopped
  • 3/4 C walnuts (2 oz)
  • 2 TB sprouted buckwheat (1 oz optional)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds (.15 oz) – ground
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp vanilla powder
  • pinch of Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 tsp water – if crust is to dry and doesn’t bind

Pulse ingredients in food processor with S-blade until combined. Texture should be coarse. Press mixture against side of processor to see if it holds together. If it crumbles, it is too dry. Run food processor on low and add the water. Ideal texture holds together when compressed.

Use a large spoon or 2 TB spoon to measure out crust and drop it into each of the silpan cells. I fill all the cells before I tap down the crust. Extra crust can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer for later usage… or just eat it. For tapping down the crust I use the pusher from a Champion Juicer. Ideally you want something that’s round with a flat bottom that fits into the cells. Spoons don’t work. Get creative. Tap all the crusts down evenly.

Champion Juicer Pusher
  • Filling
  • 1 1/4 C raw cashews (5.15 oz)
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/4 C agave or sweetener of choice (clear agave gives best look)
  • 2 TB Irish moss gel
  • 2 TB lemon juice
  • 1 TB coconut oil
  • 1 tsp sunflower lecithin
  • pinch of Himalayan salt

Place all ingredients except lecithin in a high powered blender and blend smooth. Scrape down the sides of blender and continue blender until you have a perfectly smooth texture. Add the lecithin and blend for 5 to 10 seconds.

This is the base filling with no fruit added or coloring. It should have a sweet and lightly sour taste. We’re trying to replicate cheese cake, so that bit of sour is needed. Pour 1/2 to 2/3 of this mixture into your mini pie form. You want to fill the cells at least 1/2 way. I tend to fill them more than half. The left over pie filling will be used to make the fruit creme layer. Add a 1/2 Cup of fresh berries or thawed frozen fruit. This where you add color and flavor. Strawberries and blueberries are an easy addition but the skies the limit. You can also add CACAO POWDER to make a chocolate cheeze cake.

  • Flavored Filling
  • 1/2 C fresh fruit/thawed fruit or 1/4 C cacao powder
  • 1 TB agave
  • For strawberry I sometimes add 1/4 tsp beet powder for color

Blend smooth and top off your pie cells. Use a chopstick or tooth pick to swirl in the mixture. At this point you can also float a piece of fruit, flowers or cacao nibs on top. Once finished swirling and decorating, place the pies in the freezer for 4 hours to set. Once they’ve set you can pop them out of the silpans and store them in freezer bags. Easy as pie!

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear from you. Leave comments and even requests. – Keep It Live!

Macadami_kiwi_pie2
Pie, Recipe

Epic Vegan Kiwi Pineapple Macadamia Pie

 

Macadami_kiwi_pie1   Greetings Health Fans,

Feast your eyes on this beauty of a raw vegan pie. It’s often difficult for me to eat something that looks so beautiful but the only thing better than how it looks is how it tastes.

Macadami_kiwi_pie5Don’t take my word for it though. Make one yourself. The crust features macadamia nuts and dates. The bottom layer has cashews, coconut milk and maple syrup. The top whipped layer uses the meat from young Thai coconuts blended with coconut milk and more macadamias. A layer of kiwi separates the bottom layer from the whipped goodness on top. The good news is that this pie is cruelty free, dairy-free and gluten-free. Follow the recipe below to experience your very own high pie-brational bliss.

Macadami_kiwi_pie3

Kiwi Macadamia Pie / Cheese Cake

Crust Layer:
1/2 cup dates (8) – pitted
1 C macadamias
1 C almonds
1/4 cup coconut flakes (add last)
1/4 tsp salt

Combine ingredients in food processor. Add coconut at the end and pulse in. Press crust mixture into pie pan or spring form.

Cheese Cake Layer:
2 C cashews soaked
1/2 C date (8) – pitted
1/3 C lemon/lime juice
1/3 C maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla powder
1/4 C coconut oil (melted)
1/2 C nut milk ( almond or coconut)

Combine in blender. Pour into crust and allow to set in freezer for 3 hours. Once set, add a layer of cut fruit of your choice. Return to the freezer.

Whipped Topping:Macadami_kiwi_pie2
1 1/2 C coconut milk
1/2 C macadamias soaked
Meat of 3 Thai coconuts
2 tsp vanilla powder
1/2 C maple syrup
3 TB coconut oil – melted

2 TB lecithin
Combine ingredients in blender adding lecithin last. Pour whipped topping onto frozen pie. Tap pie on counter to remove air bubbles. Set in freezer for 3 hours. Once set, decorate with fruit slices.

Allow to thaw for 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

Watch the videos for step by step instruction.

 

blog, Raw Food Adventures, Restaurant Review

2012 Here We Come

durian_smoothie_better_life_LA

The beginning of 2012 is only days away. Are you ready? Do you have your RAW 2012 Calendar? It’s loaded with 13 raw recipes from me.

It’s likely that 2012 will be the most over-hyped year I will see in my lifetime, second only to the uneventful year 2000 and all the Y2K foolishness. Anyone living above ground and keeping up with headlines is well aware that things are heating up on all fronts… economic, political, social, agricultural, spiritual… if you can name it, it’s likely that it’s changing dramatically for better or for worse. We all must do our best to see the big picture regarding the changes that are occurring. In isolation, the news headlines can be a bit scary and I believe that’s the whole point, to scare the public. We need to look beyond the manufactured headlines and try to see the whole picture. I see antiquated, exploitative, unsustainable, unbalanced, unhealthy, unfair and unethical systems being dismantled. The news media isn’t going to point this out because they’re an important part of this dysfunctional system that is on the way out. So it is our responsibility as conscious and accountable individuals to read between the lines and move in the direction of positive change. If you’re reading this then what I’m saying most likely resonates with you, and life is all about resonance and the vibration of things.

One of the best ways I’ve found to raise my vibration is by my food choices. We eat food for energy and energy is vibration so the foods with the highest vibration are the best sources of energy. These foods are fresh, naturally grown, whole foods which include fruits, vegetables, sprouts, nuts, seeds and sea veggies. Fermented foods like miso, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi are also high in vibration.

Things to avoid are low vibration foods or foods with dissonant vibrations. These foods stress the body and create imbalances that eventually lead to disease. To be avoided are flesh foods (meat, fish, eggs), dairy, fried foods, processed foods, white sugar, white flour, corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, synthetic drugs, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, soft drinks and anything made with genetically modified ingredients. I like to say, “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.” Stress is a dissonant frequency that should be avoided as well. This is often easier said than done being that almost anything can be a potential stressor. Just remember to breath and be grateful. We are truly blessed. Thoughts and intention have been shown to have an effect on the vibration of things. With this in mind think positively and bless your food and drink with intention when ever possible.

Speaking of being blessed, I recently toured Los Angeles, California and visited an array of raw food restaurants. Here’s a rundown of some of the spots I visited:

Cru_raw_vegan_LA_cafeCru

1521 Griffith Park Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 / tel: (323) 667-1551

Silverlake is a hip section of LA which is home to Cru, a raw vegan cafe featuring some fine raw cuisine.The decor inside Cru is minimal and sparse but the food is full of flavor and color. I dined that evening with my friend Robyn who was nursing a broken jaw. She ordered a fresh green juice while I enjoyed a young Thai coconut and ordered the evening special – Jicama Raviolis. The presentation was divine, price was right and the portion ample. Oh yeah and it delicious as well.

Cru_slivelake_LA_raw_ravioli

I followed up the entree with a slice of blueberry/strawberry pie which was great… not a religious experience like pie at Cafe Gratitude, but good. In keeping with the minimal decor, the slice was decorated with a strawberry fraiche.  I’m not one to pass on dessert and I didn’t pass on this one, plate was licked clean.

berry_pie_raw_cru_LA
Nice Slice

Better Life Cuisine

717 Broadway Ave. Santa Monica, Ca 90401 / Tel: 310-458-7620

raw_burrito_better_life_cuisine
Gigantoid Burrito

Better Life Cuisine is home of the “big a$$ burrito”. Enter with an appetite and leave satisfied and with a “to go” container. I enjoyed not only the fried bean burrito but also a durian smoothie, cinnamon bun and kale chips. Everything was fresh, tasty and well priced. The only challenge was finding the place. We had blindly followed the directions from the GPS which had us driving in circles in Venice. Fortunately we didn’t give up on our quest. Check out my video review below and remember to Keep It Live!

blog, Raw Food Adventures, Restaurant Review

Bartertown Diner, Vegan Raw Restaurant Review

 

bartertown vegan diner grand rapids
good vegan eats

Recently I was in Grand Rapids, MI on a raw food detox mission. I’m not at liberty to discuss the details of this covert operation at this time… just kidding. I was there doing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox stuff and visiting Lansing for a raw potluck and screening of Forks Over Knives. If you haven’t seen Forks Over Knives you need to get with it and watch it online, rent it, buy it… you could even steal it as long as you promise to show it to everyone in your life. It’s great to see conscious media catching on. This movie was made for all those people that felt totally jipped when they watched Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Yeah, you know the film about global warming that completely overlooks factory farming’s contribution to green house gas emission… it tops all of the worlds motor vehicle emissions. Al Gore was too busy tending cattle on his family farm and polishing his Oscar and Nobel Peace prize to notice Livestock’s Long Shadow. No worries, even though Forks Over Knives is about degenerative diseases and diet they still manage to squeeze the facts in. Livestock production is the main source of human-made methane which is responsible for 22% of man’s total contribution. I say “man” because I think if it were left up to woman, factory farms would have never come into existence.

The film screening was a great success with close to 100 people showing up. I had the honors of conducting the Q and A session after the screening. A big

forks over knives lansing
full theater in Lansing, MI

“THANK YOU” to Charles Terry for organizing the event in Lansing.

Grand Rapids, MI is one of my new favorite cities. The city has a cozy and clean downtown surrounded by welcoming neighborhoods. There’s a mixture of college housing and residential homes from the turn of the century. My friend Kim lives with in walking distance of the local vegan restaurant Bartertown Diner. This blurb from their website rings true with me for many reasons:

“We as Chefs want to take back the food  and serve it to you the way it was meant to be: fresh and local. We are craftsmen and want to have the space to perform our craft for you. At Bartertown education is the key. We will not hide recipes from you. We will have classes on cooking raw/vegan and vegi dishes, and what it means to eat this way. Our focus will also be on the having a simple diner atmosphere that will be fun and exciting to visit for all”

Bartertown is also a worker owned business. At the time we visited they were a “cash only” establishment but as of Oct. 18th 2011 it shows on their website that they are taking steps to be able to accept credit/debit cards. We stopped in for lunch and tried all the raw items on the menu that day. Keep in mind this review is coming from a seasoned raw food chef who has done his fair share of work in the trenches. With that said, here’s my review of the raw items we tried.

raw pizza bites
Raw Pizza Bites

Pizza Bites

I expected a little more from a menu item touted as raw pizza. There’s 101 ways to peel a mango and just as many to make “raw pizza” but one thing that is critical for pulling off a believable pizza is a dehydrator for making the crust. Then you need some nut/seed cheese and tomatoes. And the final touch is some herbs to bring it home. This was zucchini slices with a cauliflower medley perched on top of it. It was good, don’t get me wrong. It just needed a more appropriate name.

vegan salad
raw trash salad

Raw Trash Salad

Appropriately named this was a hearty salad combination that took me back to my college days of making “garbage time stew”. That’s where you open the pantry and the refrigerator and just start combining whatever is on hand. The only difference here is that there was some tasty method to the raw trash madness. The salad featured a mound of salad greens, walnut taco meat, marinated veggies, sliced apples and a cashew based creamy dressing. Good eat’n! Once again very fresh and hydrating unlike some of the raw food cuisine you encounter at raw cuisine establishments.

raw zucchini pasta
raw pasta

Zucchini Noodles Salad

This noodle salad was similar to Raw Trash Salad, minus the greens, plus the zucchini noodles, cauliflower and brocolli. Very fresh, very tasty. On their own each of the 3 salads is unique enough taste experience but when you have them all on the table at the same time you notice some similarities and overlapping of ingredients. As a chef I know that at times you must create a variety of menu items out of the same core ingredients. Not a big deal though. I realized that what Bartertown specialized in was vegan, local and seasonal cuisine… raw was just a bonus that I much appreciated.

After to speaking with chef/co-owner Ryan about the raw menu at Bartertown I found out they don’t have a dehydrator on premises. That explains a lot. They’re a vegan cooked diner with some raw food items so it’s not realistic to expect exotic and decadent raw cuisine from them. One thing to keep in mind is that with a seasonal menu things change. What we did get were some great fresh salad combinations featuring local produce, prepared with love and a couple slices of quality raw vegan pie.

raw vegan pie
chocolate and lemon pie

Chocolate Pie, Lemon Pie

Bravo to Jeremy Kuhn of Deliciosity for producing raw vegan pies for Bartertown. We tried both a chocolate and lemon slice of cheese cake style pie. I enjoyed that the chocolate wasn’t super super chocolatey. I noticed slight hints of carob in the coconut oil based filling. The lemon pie was tasty as well with hints of banana. Needless to say when Kim and I left the table there wasn’t any food left behind. There’s more to the menu at Bartertown then just raw food so if you’re in Grand Rapids, stop in and give them a try. Keep in mind that as of this post they are CLOSED TUESDAYS. Grow your own, buy local, eat seasonally and Keep It Live!