Easy herb and garlic cashew ricotta

Easy herb and garlic cashew ricotta

I’m just going to cut to the chase on this one.  No backstory of my entire life leading up to the discovery of this amazing ricotta.  Because this one is too good to skip over.

This ricotta knocked my socks off.  I whipped it up for a zucchini lasagna and it barely made it into the recipe because I couldn’t stop dipping apple slices and paleo crackers into the stuff.  It also came together in a flash.  I have made vegan cheeses in the past that are a multi-day event.  Not this.  This took 15 minutes start to finish. 

Follow my ratios exactly for the perfect fluffy creamy ricotta texture and then go ahead and tweak the herbs and garlic to your taste, or leave them out entirely if you are needing ricotta for a dessert.

This one is sure to please!

Ingredients:

2 cups cashews

¼ cup water

½ tsp lemon juice

½ tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 clove of garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp fresh parsley (or other herbs of choice)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Boil raw cashews for 5-10 minutes.  Drain and rinse thoroughly.

Add all remaining ingredients except for the herbs to a food processor.

Process until ricotta-like in texture.

Add herbs and pulse a few more times to incorporate.

Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Use in any dish that calls for traditional ricotta.

What are nightshades and why they could be effecting your gut health?

What are nightshades and why they could be effecting your gut health?

If you have never heard the term nightshade, you would not be alone, and even if you have, you might not fully understand the health effects they could be having on your body.

In fact, many night shades are widely considered to be health foods but could be having an unhealthy effect on your gut and autoimmunity.

If you are still sitting here wondering what nightshades are, they are from a family of foods called Solanaceae with over 2500 varieties, many of which are inedible, though some are used for medicinal purposes.

Some of the common night shades that you have probably eaten are; potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, chili peppers and gogi berries. The reason these foods can cause problems for some people comes down to their glycoalkaloids, in particular solanine.

Now if you are really wondering what the heck I’m taking, glycoalkaloids can easily be explained as a plants natural defense mechanism, it is most concentrated in the skin and is used to ward off insects and disease. This is why we are technically not supposed to eat green sprout-y potatoes and why people can get super sick from doing so. (Though c’mon, who among us hasn’t sliced off those little nobs and carried on with their potato cooking?)

In addition to Solanine, nightshades contain super high levels of Lectins (plant proteins) that can actually permeate cell walls, causing leaky gut and weird allergic reactions.
An ideal healthy gut can likely handle itself some glycoalkaloids. However, if your gut is already compromised (many of us with autoimmune disease have some level of leaky gut) or if your body displays an allergic reaction to nightshades, a wise choice would be to minimise your intake of them or cut them out entirely.

When I did my elimination diet, I was sure to also eliminate nightshades and discovered I get a severe reaction to eggplants. As a result, I have also cut back on eating peppers, potatoes and tomatoes just in case. My nutritionist informed me that cooked peeled Roma tomatoes are among the least gut offensive nightshades, provided I purchase them in a glass container (no BPA!) so thankfully tomato sauce is still on my menu and I still do enjoy me some peppers and potatoes in moderation.

Finally, it should be said that what is healthy for one person’s body can be incredibly toxic to another person and would never claim that everyone in the world should cut out nightshades entirely. I do highly recommend omitting them during an elimination diet and be very observant of how they affect you when you reintroduce them back into your diet.

For more information on how an elimination diet is an integral part of an overall health overhaul, I wrote a post about it here.

Delicious Herb Falafels

Delicious Herb Falafels

Falafels are one of those amazing foods that meat eaters enjoy as much as vegetarians.

In my vegan days falafels got me through some dark times, but now I am eating to heal my autoimmune diseases and have eliminated most grains and re-introduced pastured meats.

I have seriously never felt better, but that doesn’t mean I’m only into eating meat centric meals.  In fact I still have a well rounded arsenal of delicious grain free vegan recipes I love and would still consider my diet to be largely plant based.

While legumes can be tricky for some guts, I did an elimination diet that revealed garbanzos to be fairly benign for my sensitive belly.

And so, my love for falafel lives on.

The biggest problem with falafels is the price tag on the pre-made ones.  It’s crazy to me considering I know how to make these delicious little bad boys right at home, and I also know how ridiculously cheap it is to do so.  Two dozen falafels only cost a couple bucks to throw together.

They store in the fridge or freeze very well so you can make them ahead and always have them on hand. They are perfect to round out a salad, toss into a flatbread or just serve them up with some dips like coconut tzatziki, hummus, or my favorite cashew cheese!

The key to authentic tasting falafel that are crispy outside and fluffy inside is using dried garbanzo beans soaked for 24 hours.  Yes, I’m not joking, dried garbanzos!

Whenever I come across a food blog with falafel recipes that call for canned chick peas I am so outta there!  Not only are these recipes non authentic tasting, but they often call for a breading to get that crisp outer layer.

Real falafels are easy to make, take just a few ingredients and should always be 100% grain free and plant based.  These ones taste like they come from your local shawarma spot.  Try them out today and let me know what you think!

Delicious Herb Falafels

Ingredients:

1.5 – 2 cups dried garbanzos soaked for 24 hours (should look like roughly 3 cups after soaking)

1 shallot

3 large garlic cloves

1/4 cup cilantro

1/4 cup parsley

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp pepper

1.5 tsp salt

1 tbsp. garbanzo bean flour

0.5 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup refined coconut oil

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend into breadcrumb texture

Gently form small balls about the size of ping pong balls

Heat oil and fry until golden brown in two batches

Drain on a paper towel and serve with your favorite dips such as, cashew cheese, coconut tzatziki, or hummus.

Dole Whip inspired smoothie bowls

Dole Whip inspired smoothie bowls

I’ve only been to Hawaii once but I have to admit my experience did not live up to all of the hype I had been promised… horrible right?

Don’t get me wrong, I feel very blessed and grateful that I even had the opportunity to go to Hawaii, but Waikiki in the middle of summer is just not my cup of tea.  It was steaming hot, balls deep crowded and beyond expensive.  Pay money to hike to a waterfall?  No thank you.

Also, more than one person asked me if I had ever seen the ocean before, assuming of course that being from Canada I live in a frozen dry wasteland.  (Quick fact, Canada has the longest natural coastline of any country in world.)

Ok, so the warm crystals waters and white sand beaches weren’t exactly terrible…. There’s no way I will write off the Islands entirely until I at least give Maui a shake, but I’m in no rush to head back to Honolulu anytime soon.

My highlight of the entre trip was driving to the (slightly less crowded) North shore to snorkel.  We stopped on the way at the Dole plantation to look at adorable little pineapple plants and to taste the world famous Dole whip.

We didn’t end up doing the full tour, because that, like everything else in Oahu, cost way too much money, but the Dole whip? That shiz fully lived up to all the hype and exceeded my wildest expectations.

I still can’t get over the fact that it is dairy free.  It’s sweet, creamy, and bursting with  pineapple flavour.   A perfect way to cool down mid July in the tropics.

My recent Vitamix purchase has made banana ice cream a regular thing in my house, but in memory of those frosty whips I thought I’d spice up our usual blended bananas and try my hand at recreating something similar right here in freezing cold Canada.

My home made version turned out amazing, a very respectable nod to the real Dole deal, but less sweet and more natural tasting.  I highly recommend it, especially on a hot day.

I topped mine with home made grain free granola, kiwis and pomegranate seeds but you can just go ham with anything you have around.  #usewhatyouhave

That is the beauty about fruits and veggies, endless flavour combinations that all just seem to work.

Dole whip smoothie bowls

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen bananas

2 cups frozen pineapple

1/4 cup coconut milk (creamy part)

1/2 lime juice

Directions

In a high speed blender mix all the ingredients together

Use the tamper to push it down and scrape the sides as needed

Add a bit of liquid from the canned coconut if desired to help blend

Separate into bowls and top as you like

Toasted nut and seed crackers grain free – paleo – primal

Toasted nut and seed crackers grain free – paleo – primal
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I used to love a certain brand of seedy, nutty, toasted crackers.  On days that I was feeling particularly ballin, I would toss a couple packs in my grocery cart like it was nbd and then start to sweat a little when I got to the till.  They aren’t cheap.

As I’ve learned more about nutrition in my own healing quest, I’ve realized, they also aren’t really as healthy as the price tag might have you believe.  I mean the first ingredient is wheat flour, c’mon.

But I still salivate a bit when I pass them in the cracker isle and I finally decided to create my own grain free version.

Much to my relief they turned out GREAT on the first shot.  (There’s nothing worse than making a big old batch of dog poo out of expensive ingredients)

So if you want to have some crunchy, chewy, sweet, savory, snackable, and very impressive little morsels in your pantry, I’m here to help.

These have the perfect flavour, but the texture is slightly more crumbly than the originals.  I also found it very hard to slice super thin so they did end up a bit thicker than I had hoped.  I’m sure a high quality knife would do the trick and it’s on my birthday list!

Thick or thin, they hold up amazing with red pepper jelly and cashew cheese, or whatever else you want to throw at them, and are guaranteed to be gone before you know it.

I’ve done the testing so you don’t need to take any chances with your one million dollar paleo flour, these are sure to please.  Enjoy!

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Healthier Toasted seed crackers (raincoast crisps*)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup cassava flour

1/4 cup almond flour

2 tbsp ground flax

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp coconut sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp water

2 tbsp fat (I like grass fed butter but coconut oil is great too)

1/2 cup soaked chopped almonds

1/2 cup soaked pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup flax seeds

1/2 cup dried fruit chopped ( I used half cranberries and half cherries)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the wet ingredients.
  4. Toss in the chopped nuts/seeds/ and dried fruit.
  5. Lightly oil a mini loaf pan and line the bottom in parchment (helps make removing the toast easier)
  6. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
  7. Turn don oven to 300
  8. Remove the toast, allow to cool and freeze for about an hour (let it get nice and solid).
  9. Using a super sharp serrated knife slice as thin as humanly possible.
  10. Place slices on parchment lined sheet pans and toast in a 300 degree oven until crisp 15-20 minutes.
  11. Enjoy with your favorite vegan cheese, jam, real cheese, sliced prosciutto, hummus or whatever the heck you like to eat.