I’ve been on the go and busy this holiday. There are articles and blog posts just bursting in my mind as I drive, usually while I’m hungry and stuck in traffic, having waited way too long to eat something. Like sugar plums dancing through my head this holiday season, I dream of beautiful raw whole foods and recipes. Unfortunately, I’m clutching the steering wheel rather than the chef’s knife, and by the time I’m home I’d rather have dinner waiting for me than cook. Sound familiar?
Over the weekend I immerse myself in the pleasures of the kitchen. It makes me happy to create recipes using whole, unprocessed grains, fresh produce, and lots and lots of veggies.
My youngest daughter had a play date last Sunday, so while the girls ran around the backyard and scampered through the house with dolls, I wrapped myself up in an apron and made an Asian style vegetable stew of sorts. Carrots, ginger, lotus root, kabocha squash, lemongrass, broccoli. I was inspired by a dinner date I had the night before with my fiancé, a Shanghai-style menu that was simple and elegant. The vegetable dish we shared seemed so basic, but the way it was prepared allowed the vegetables to really come out with flavor, just mustard greens and bamboo shoot in a light broth was all there was to it. And I thought, I could do that.
As I served the veggies over steamed brown rice, my daughter’s friend’s mom arrived. She exclaimed at how the house smelled so good and noticed her two daughters at the long table outside with bowls of veggies before them. The littlest girl picked out the vegetables and ate just the rice. Her oldest girl, my daughter’s friend, made a suspicious face at hers. My daughter ate her veggies heartily without a flinch. The mom sat down and ate too, remarking that it tasted ‘really good.’ With some tact I inquired if she liked to cook, even though I knew the answer.
“Oh, I don’t have time to cook,” she said flatly. I could tell she wasn’t in the least bit interested in cooking.
Her daughters eat fast food often. They don’t like vegetables. As much as I tried to encourage them to eat the fresh food in their bowls, it was clear that it was just too healthy for their palates. This concerned me and broke my heart a little. Picky eaters and busy moms that don’t cook fresh foods, I want to inspire you to enjoy more rather than drive through and pick up quick to-go containers.
Like all the meals I make and share, fresh is key. I’m just as busy as most, but maybe it’s my passion that keeps me going, or the way that I’m inspired by certain foods. I have said that phrase myself: “I don’t have time to cook,” but what I’ve learned is that making something healthy is so much better when I take the time to do it anyway. My only rule is not to cook when I’m upset or completely exhausted. Other than that, there are ways to make your own on-the-go meals (Mason jars are amazing) that are whole, raw and vegan with aphrodisiac superfoods.
Let me inspire you to create nourishing meals and desserts at home this holiday, and get your kitchen going with this recipe. It’s made with superfood ingredients full of vitamins and antioxidants, textures, flavors and wholesome tastes that are pleasing to the senses and palate.
There is one ingredient that I’m obsessed with: freeze-dried cranberries. They sparkle in this deliciously decadent dessert that can be served as a breakfast treat or taken along in a sealed Mason jar for later. I’d like to think that this is a sensual on-the-go quick fix for busy foodies as well as a luscious dessert or breakfast when you have time to take it nice and slow.
For the fresh berries:
1 whole vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
5 tablespoons vanilla extract
½ maple syrup
For the macadamia cashew cream:
1 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup macadamias
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh coconut water
1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp pure ground vanilla
1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
For the granola:
2 ¾ cup muesli or oats
1 cup shredded coconut flakes, unsweetened
1 1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
3 Tbsp raw honey
1/4 tsp sea salt
For the toppings:
12 freeze-dried cranberries
12 fresh vanilla-infused blackberries
cardamom, freshly ground
For the fresh berries:
- In a saucepan, pour in the vanilla extract, maple syrup and vanilla bean and warm on a low flame for about 5 minutes.
- Add the fresh berries to a bowl and coat them with the vanilla syrup.
- Allow the berries to muddle in the bowl for at least an hour. You can keep them in the refrigerator if they macerate longer in the vanilla syrup.
For the macadamia cashew cream:
1. Soak the cashews for about 2 hours then rinse.
2. Add all ingredients into a high-speed blender (like Vitamix) and blend until cream is smooth.
Refrigerate. Allow the cream to set in the fridge.
Heat oven to 300F degrees.
1. Mix coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla in a saucepan over a low flame until well blended. Grate fresh cinnamon and nutmeg into the mixture and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix the muesli oats and nuts together and add the warm coconut oil and maple syrup mixture to it. Stir until well coated. Add more cinnamon and nutmeg spices as desired.
3. Spread on a sheetpan covered in parchment paper and toast in the oven at 300F degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until the mixture is lightly golden and sticky.
4. Remove from oven and let cool.
Pick a few Mason jars glasses and layer them with granola, nuts, macadamia cashew cream, freeze-dried cranberries, vanilla-infused blackberries and goji berries. Top with some freshly ground cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg, drizzle with extra maple syrup, add a few small pieces of honeycomb, pistachios, a little chopped fresh mint, a sprinkling of chia seeds and serve or take along with you.