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?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reuben Salad and Beyond!

There it is. Reuben Salad. It has been weeks in the making! 

So how did we get here? Let me tell you the way!

On August 2nd I began a cleanse with a group called Cleanse America. This was the eighth initiative and I had done most of the previous ones as well. The objectives are to eat 100% raw food, a combination of raw food and liquids, or do all liquids – smoothies, juices and blended soups – for ten days. Why? Lots of reasons, but for me it is a time to gift my body with nutrient dense foods to allow healing, weight loss, and added energy. It works every time! This time I choose to do all liquids. I had never done that and I wasn't sure I could. Well, I did, and I loved it. Not only did I feel great, but went way beyond the 10 days – almost 30 days liquid – and on September 14th as I write this (in an airplane 35,000 feet in the air!), I am still doing lots of liquid meals – smoothies and juices, blended soups with garnishes – and I have begun supplementing a raw meal or so a day.

What does this have to do with a Reuben Salad? Well, Cleanse America is an online community and I have “met” lots of great people, from the ordinary that are doing extraordinary things, to doctors and professionals. I have learned so much. Well, one of these people posted a picture of the sauerkraut they were making. I was totally intrigued and knew I had to try it. As you may have read in my previous post, I Made Sauerkraut, it was a success. It made a lot. Really. A lot! I knew I had to use some of it for a Reuben Salad. And so it began. That meant I needed Eggplant Bacon and Thousand Island Dressing too.

Sauerkraut, Eggplant Bacon, and Thousand Island Dressing waiting to meet each other!

Let’s make the salad now that we have all the preliminaries out of the way.

First, I combined caraway seeds with the sauerkraut and let them talk to each other while I made the rest of the salad. The caraway seeds add a nice taste to the salad and soften the taste of the sauerkraut.

 The other players in this salad are romaine lettuce, red onions, cucumber, tomatoes and avocado.

I just love pictures of produce! First, I sliced, or shredded, the romaine, depending on how you look at it!

The tomatoes are chopped, the avocado and onion are sliced, and the cucumber was cut lengthwise, seeded, and then cut in bite size lengths.

In a large bowl combine the romaine, cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and a good scoop of the Thousand Island Dressing.

Mix it all together. 

Plate it.

And now for the final touches. Add the avocado slices to two sides of the salad. Or where ever you want it. Remember the reason for the salad? The sauerkraut! It’s time. Add a heaping pile of the yummy kraut right on the top!

We could stop here, but why?? Next up – eggplant bacon. Give it a good cracking so it looks like big bacon bits.

 Sprinkle it all over the salad. (I got a bit carried away but I love this stuff!)

Is it done yet? It could be. No. Not yet. (This is the "beyond" part!) I am adding two more of my favorites. Hemp seeds – everything is better with hemp seeds – and chipotle sour cream. I squirt chipotle sour cream on all kinds of things!! (Yes, I do use a raw vegan chipotle sour cream.)

Now what’s left to do?

Get a fork and dig in!

There are so many flavors and different tastes to this salad that you will have a party going on in your mouth! 

So get chewing and enjoy.

Monday, September 9, 2013

I needed Thousand Island Dressing

Because bottled salad dressing is processed and contains refined sugars, chemicals and other items that are who knows what, I choose to make my own salad dressings. It really is pretty easy and always fresh. This Thousand Island Dressing took some time to develop. I did lots of Google searching and found many recipes. A little from this one, and a little from that one, and I had a great dressing. Someone else out there may have this exact same combo??? I make it to use on my Reuben Salad.

But even before I make the dressing for my Reuben Salad, I had to make the Sauerkraut, which was a very fun process. That was a few blogs ago . . . I made Sauerkraut. And I had to make eggplant bacon too (since this is vegan, or course there would be no corn beef!). The dressing is the last thing I need to make so I can make one of my favorite salads.

So now, let's make dressing! The ingredients:

1/2 - 3/4 cup of cashews that have been soaked 3-4 hours, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil (less can work too)

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 20-30 minutes, 
drained and chopped (reserve soak water)

1/2 cup red onions, finely chopped*

1/4 teaspoon each:
salt, onion powder, & garlic powder

cayenne pepper - about three sprinkles (or more if you like)

1/2 cup of water which can include the sun-dried soak water if desired

Combine all these ingredients, *except only use 1/4 cup of the onions, in a blender and blend until smooth.

The last ingredient is chopped dill pickle. I use Bubbie's Relish. It is way faster than having to chop dill pickles! As you can see on the label there is no sugar added, or preservatives in this brand. That is important to me.

I still like to rinse the relish and press the liquid out before adding it to my dressing.

add to the blended mix:

1/2 - 3/4 cup of relish

the 1/4 cup of red onion that is remaining

and stir well.

Adjust the spices to taste. Add more water if the dressing is thicker than you like.

Done. Now wasn't that easy. A little jar for Mom, and a big one for me!

This dressing also makes a good dip, and a great spread for wraps.

Guess it is time to make that Reuben Salad. Soon. Very soon!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Eggplant Bacon

I was never a big fan of bacon. I was never a big fan of eggplant either. But . . . eggplant bacon, now that is a different story.

This eggplant is from the Cherry Street Farmer's Market. I love the deep purple color. And eggplant is so good for you. Just do a google search on eggplant and you will be surprised.

OK, so about that bacon. I first had eggplant bacon at Matthew Kenney's in Oklahoma City. His raw food restaurant was amazing and I have many fond memories of my visits there. Unfortunately for us, he has moved his raw restaurant to California. But fortunately for us, he has lots of cook books - well, nothing is cooked so it can't be a cook book, so . . . raw food books. My version of eggplant bacon is adapted from his eggplant bacon recipe in his book Everyday Raw.

The first thing to do is slice the eggplant. When I have the long thin eggplants I slice them lengthwise in strips, but in this case, with the oval shaped eggplant, I slice it into rounds. I use a mandolin for nice uniform thin slices.

Put the slices in a container - in this case a large bowl - and layer the eggplant with Himalayan salt. Salting helps rid the eggplant of excess moisture. Let it sit for an hour or two.

Pat the eggplant dry with paper towels. 

Now it is ready to take a bath in marinade. The marinade ingredients:

Combine the ingredients and blend well.

Combine the marinade with the eggplant and marinade 45 minutes to an hour.

Put the eggplant in a colander so the liquid from the marinade can drain.

Place slices of eggplant on dehydrator tray screens.

Dehydrate 24 to 36 hours at 105 to 115 degrees until crisp.

And that is all there is to it! 

And here is a great batch of crispy eggplant bacon ready to dip in hummus, eat like chips, crunched up and sprinkled on a wrap, or . . . yes, added to my Reuben Salad! 

That Reuben Salad is going to happen soon!

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