Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Costa Rican Experience

On my journey to wellness and renewed health, several people have had a profound impact on me. Kat Conrad is one of those people. Kat is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a Holistic Health Counselor, Nutritional Coach, incredible raw food chef, and best of all, my friend. Recently Kat went to Costa Rica, to the Tanglewood Wellness Center, and came back with renewed health, and some great raw food ideas. These ideas turned into a Costa Rican Inspired Raw Vegan Culinary Experience. And an experience it was!

I had the opportunity to be a helper, decorator, photographer and guest at this extravaganza. I took almost 300 pictures and had the hardest time deciding which ones to post!

While Kat and her Mom, Lynda, were busy doing magic in the kitchen. Stevie, Kat's roommate, an event planner at TASM, and I decorated. OMG, Stevie can make a weed look great. Out to the backyard she went, and in came cuttings of this that and whatever, and the house was transformed. It was so fun.

This is Stevie. She is such a beautiful person.

And she can stand on her own two feet. (Check out those shoes!!!)

Here are a few of the evenings decorations:

Kat's mom, Lynda, made the place mats and the napkins. 

Even the bathroom sink got decorated!

Now let's talk about the menu. I never heard of half of the things on the menu, but I am here to tell you I ate them all! Yes, this was a culinary delight!

Check out this pitcher. I want it! This was the drink of the night: "Chan Fresco"
This chia seed drink with lime juice and honey was excellent.

Served with a wedge of fresh pineapple, it was totally refreshing.

The First Course: Ceviche
"white fish" marinated in lime juice with sweet peppers, red onions and cilantro

The white pieces, the "fish," was made from oyster mushrooms and even tasted "fishy"! I loved the presentation. The chips were amazing too. 

The Second Course: "Guiso de Maiz"
Corn stew with "chorizo sausage" & "bacon"

This was my favorite dish of the night. You better believe I left none in my bowl!! The "bacon" and "sausage" topping totally enhanced this yummy stew. I will make this stew, soon!

The Third Course: "Flor de Calabaza Tamal"
Squash blossom tamale filled with creamy cheese & Anaheim peppers

The squash blossoms were fresh from the farmer's market and the filling was creamy and delishious. Another pretty presentation of the night.

The Fourth and Main Course: "Casado Tipica"
Marriage of typical Costa Rican foods: "Gallo Pinto" (rice and beans), marinated "beef," "white fish," sweet plantain, fresh green salad, avocado, mango salsa, sour cream and corn tortillas.

All plated beautifully on a banana leaf. What a combination of flavors and textures on this dish! And color!

This is Kat and her Mom. Two amazing ladies. 

The Fifth Course: "Arroz con Leche"
"Rice with milk" pudding with cinnamon, cloves, raisins and lime zest. The perfect final touch to this amazing eating experience. 

The square of chocolate was made by Kat's friend, Ronnie Landis, who is launching a chocolate line. It was awesome chocolate!

With dessert, Teeccino was served.

This is a really nice alternative to coffee. Here is the package in case you might want to try it.

So there you have it: a Costa Rican Inspired RAW Vegan Culinary Experience by Kat Conrad.

The flavors, the colors, the textures, the smells, the creativity, combined with some great people, made this an evening that truly was a culinary experience. 

Then of course, there is this. Holy cow. The clean up! Lynda is one hard worker in the kitchen.

And here is Kat, eating the fruits of her labor, at the end of the evening. She is just remarkable and one of the sweetest people I am fortunate to know.

And there is more . . . an ebook! Kat is giving each guest an ebook with every recipe she created to make this dinner. 

I can't wait to get mine! 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Vegan Veggie Broth Powder

This recipe for Homemade Veggie Stock Powder by Tales of a Kitchen (I love this site - do check it out!) was posted on Facebook. I thought it was a terrific idea so had to try it. It is so easy to do, but with dehydrating time it does take a while. I must say, the end result is definitely well worth your time!

I sliced or chopped all my veggies using my mandolin or a knife, which took no time at all, and dehydrated them for about 18 hours. They may have been ready sooner than that, but that is when I had the time to check them. I dried 4 small parsnips, 3 good size carrots, 1 onion, 1 zucchini, 2 portabella mushrooms, 4 tomatoes, 1 Hannah sweet potato, 1 large red bell pepper, 1/4 of a yellow pepper, basil and parsley. I did not have any cabbage or clove garlic as the recipe called for, so that was eliminated, and I added a zucchini and red and yellow peppers which were not part of the recipe. This is an easy recipe to make your own.  This is how it looked when the veggies went into the dehydrator,

and this is how it looked when they came out.

Once all the moisture is gone the veggies sure shrink up!!

I used my Nutribullet to process all of the ingredients into a powder. This is the blade that I used.

I did it in batches and just dumped it all into a bowl.

At this point I added spices: a tablespoon each of turmeric and black pepper, 2 teaspoons of garlic granules, and a teaspoon of nutmeg. I did not add salt at this time, but you could, however, I prefer to let the salt be added by the person eating it when it is served. I also did not add dill, because my husband doesn't like it, and I chose not to add the chili flakes either. That can be added if desired in the soup when it is made. I stirred the mixture and added it to a mason jar.

And that is how to go from this

to this!

It made about two and three fourths cups of veggie broth powder. I used one teaspoon of the powder to two cups of boiling water and tasted it. Then I added another cup of boiling water (that makes 3 cups to one teaspoon if you are counting) and the broth was still excellent. As a matter of fact I drank a cup of it! As you can calculate, this powder will go a long way!

Soon, very soon, I am making soup!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Butternut Squash Spaghetti

Who says spaghetti sauce always has to be red? How about orange?

Hmmmm . . . this could be an OU or OSU competition!!!! You'll get that if you are an Okie!

One day, somewhere on the internet, I saw a recipe that combined pasta and butternut squash. I looked and looked for it again, and couldn't find it. I love butternut squash. It never disappoints me.

Today I had the opportunity to have some kitchen time and came up with my own butternut squash and pasta dish.

It really is quite simple to make. I started out by roasting a butternut squash that I got at our farmer's market. I peeled it, seeded it, sliced it, and after roasting it, cut it into 1/2 - 1 inch cubes. I am not sure of the quantity, since I didn't measure, but I would guess the squash was about a pound and a half to two pounds.

In a large saucepan I sauteed a chopped onion, two minced cloves of garlic and two sliced red Anaheim peppers until they were soft. I added salt, pepper and sage to it while it sauteed. Then I added a cup to a cup and a half of water and let it simmer for ten or twenty minutes.

These little orange tomatoes are some of my favorite tomatoes. Sometimes they never make it into a salad because I eat them like they are grapes! I used a cup or so of these, cut in half in this dish. After cutting them in half I put them in a bowl and covered them with a little more than half of the hot squash mixture. It was just enough to warm them up without cooking them and making them mushy.

Using my immersion blender, I pureed the remaining squash mixture, adding water a little at a time until it was the consistency I wanted. There it is, the orange spaghetti sauce!! It would even be a good soup. But today it is spaghetti sauce. While I did this, the spaghetti was cooking.

I rarely eat processed food. So as much as I love this dish, I probably won't make it often. Or if I do I will put it on greens rather than pasta. It was the first time I tried this pasta. It was quite good, and I liked that it was gluten free. I think this sauce would be good on any pasta. Actually, it would be good on anything!

The assembly: fill a shallow bowl with spaghetti, add sauce, and then top it off with the squash mixture. Add salt and pepper and enjoy. 

You may find yourself going back for more!

Monday, September 23, 2013

My new favorite snack: Pizza Bites

Tis' the season of tomatoes and basil. And boy do they go well together! I love just looking at all the neatly lined up containers of various tomatoes at the farmer’s market. I cannot go home without an assortment of them! I am always sad when tomato season is over.

While reading an article on line about the unhealthy lunches our kids are eating at school, whether they eat in the cafeteria or pack them themselves, I ran across a link for healthy snacks. That had my name all over it so of course I clicked it! And aha! I found a great recipe to use both the tomatoes and basil together.  This year I had basil growing in my garden like crazy, so I was eager to combine the two. I altered the recipe a little, but basically followed the one that was on the Reboot with Joe website.

This is the finished Pizza Crisp or Pizza Bite as I call them. I didn't want to make you wait until the end to see what it looks like!

Let's make some. Start out with beautiful basil. Ah, the smell!

Add it to the blender with cashews that have been soaked 2-4 hours, rinsed and drained. Add the spices and garlic cloves and blend it until smooth. Add water if necessary. You want a thick almost paste consistency.

This doesn't look too appetizing. Looks like green goop or a science experiment that went wrong! But I assure you it has a remarkable taste and the basil smell is wonderful. (I diluted what was left and used it as a salad dressing!)

Next up, the tomatoes. I just love tomatoes no matter how you slice them!

But for our Pizza Bites, you want to slice them thinly, maybe 1/8th of an inch or so. I used my mandolin for nice uniform slices.

Now coat the tomato slices with the basil mixture.

Cover it pretty good.

Line the coated slices up on a teflex sheet on your dehydrator tray.

Then sprinkle with nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes.

Pop them in the dehydrator at 105 – 115 degrees.

Within 24 hours you will have a great snack, and while they are dehydrating your house will smell like pizza!

Here is how they looked when I took them out of the dehydrator. They were very crispy.

All piled up and waiting to be eaten!

These actually did not last very long. Because we ate them! I did store them in a glass container and they stayed crispy until they were gone. I have dehydrated tomatoes before and I have dehydrated basil, but never together like this. 

I made another trip to the Farmer's Market. Lot's of tomatoes and basil came home with me. 

Can you guess what I am going to make?

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