janet @ the taste space

Posts Tagged ‘dehydrator’

Chocolate Mint Brownie Hemp Protein Bars (and Hiking in the Colombian Jungle)

In Desserts, Favourites on August 1, 2012 at 6:04 AM

Rob and I did a 5-day hike to La Ciudad Perdida while in Colombia.  You need a guide and we picked Magic Tours since they responded to our emails and assured me I would have vegan options on the trek. We started off with 4 other hikers, our guide, a cook and a porter (with 2 mules) for our 5-day 44-km hike.

We hiked through the Colombian jungle, with a well-delineated path, up and down many hills and through a river quite a few times! Gorgeous scenery with a great ruined city at the end. An unparalleled experience, to say the least.

I won’t lie. It was hard. We hiked in hot and humid weather, over 30C with at least 80% humidity. Shade from trees was a welcome treat after hiking in open sun. I also found the terrain difficult with many river crossings and steep hills. I wish I had had better ankle support on my hiking boots! By the fourth day, we reached The Lost City. There were 1200 steps to climb to reach the actual Ciudad Perdida with a further 800 steps within the ruined city, itself. Going up those stairs was not so bad; going down was worse! If you don’t like heights, this also won’t work well for you. 😛

Before I left, I made a few energy snacks. This was one of them which was a great source of protein when all I had to eat was fried rice and avocado for dinner (only once).

I was drawn to this recipe immediately after Cara posted it. It reminded me of a souped up Raw Brownie with a heavenly base of walnuts, dates and cocoa. However, to make this a protein power star, there are hemp seeds and protein powder as well. I ended up increasing the mint extract and substituting agave for the brown rice syrup. Absolutely delicious straight from the mixer. I dehydrated them at 110F for 7-8 hours hoping to make them more portable. The sharp flavours diminished slightly but my snacks were now able to come with me to the jungle! Sadly, I didn’t wrap them individually so they kind of smooshed together towards the end of my trip. Still good, though.

I will admit that Rob and I overpacked for our hike, but I would still travel with my snacks again. I still need to share the winner of the energy snacks, so stay tuned. I had some bona fide Larabars as well, which also seemed to ooze some oily stuff under the heat of the jungle.  If you are planning for a similar trip, definitely consult your tour operator to see what they recommend you bring. While Magic Tours had an extensive list of stuff to bring (sunscreen, hat, water bottle, clothes, etc), this is what I also found useful:

Hiking socks (I had pairs from IceBreakers and SmartWool)– No blisters here, baby!

Foot talc powder– We didn’t bring any but if you are prone to sweaty feet or slipping into rivers, this is for you!

Sanitizer– We didn’t bring any, but considering the lack of soap and toilet paper, this would have been great to have to not get traveler’s diarrhea.

Compact camera– You do not want to bring a big D-SLR with you on this hike. We actually don’t have too many photos because we were more focused on hiking then taking photos.

After bite & antihistamines– We had deet (although only 30%), and were still bitten by bugs. Lots of bugs. This helped.

Ibuprofen– You may be sore. You may get a headache.

Travel pillow– On the hike, you sleep in hammocks and the occasional bunk bed. No pillows. I am VERY picky about my pillow. I often travel with my day-to-day feather pillow because I have a hard time sleeping without it. This pillow, albeit not exactly what I am used to, was a godsend, even outside the trek in other B&Bs.

Hiking poles– I love my collapsible hiking poles.

Non-cotton clothing– Want your clothes to dry? Make sure they are not cotton.

Water purification tablets– You want to make sure you are drinking potable water. These tabs add no taste to the water.

What else do you like to bring with you on long hikes?

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cristina, and to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays.

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Raw King Oyster “Calamari” (or Baked)

In Appetizers, Favourites, Sides on July 26, 2012 at 5:23 AM

Amongst my closer friends and family, I am the only vegan. Quite a few of my friends are vegetarian, but my closest vegan buddy is in Vancouver. That’s across one big country. One of my co-workers is a former vegan, choosing to eat fish as an omega supplement mostly. 😉 I have yet to know anyone who has tried raw cuisine without my influence. Most of my friends are adventurist eaters, so I can share my kitchen successes and failures. While I eat vegan mainly for health and environmental reasons, sometimes I wonder about connecting with other like-minded souls.

A few months ago, I travelled with Rob to meet some of his friends from Burning Man. While mostly everyone was vegetarian, it was exciting to meet someone else who also dabbled in raw cuisine. She encouraged me to try banana chips in the dehydrator and told me about one of her raw successes: King Oyster Calamari from Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis. Sarma’s restaurant, Pure Food and Wine in NYC, is my favourite raw resto to date, so I was eager to try the dish when I got home. King oyster mushrooms were on sale, too, to boot. I didn’t have the cookbook, but a quick google search led me to Emily’s site which had the recipe.

The recipe was simple: marinate king oyster mushrooms, bread them with spiced ground flaxseeds (works as both the breading and egg-substitute!) and then dehydrate. My new-found friend also gave me a few other tips.

While the recipe says to dehydrate for 2-3 hours, she suggested dehydrating up to 5 hours for them to become really crispy. She also warned me that the whole recipe made a ton of food, so I halved it. (I also quartered the cocktail sauce below, since I ended up thinning it and had an overabundance of sauce leftover). I tinkered with the recipe since I don’t have an Italian spice blend, and instead added whatever looked like an Italian spice from my spice drawer: basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano, sage, parsley. I threw in some dried onion and garlic granules as well as lemon pepper seasoning instead of the black pepper. Even though I used chili powder, too, I dipped my finger in and thought something was missing. I added black salt. Now we were set. (Note to self: next time I may try this with nutritional yeast and smoked paprika, since I liked that with my Asiago-crusted baked zucchini sticks). I had a bit of leftover crumbs, so you could probably increase the number of mushrooms with this mixture – or pack it in more than I did.

Now, if you don’t have a dehydrator, do not fear. You can still make vegan calamari! I made these both ways: raw in the dehydrator for 3 hours and a separate batch for 10 minutes in the oven. I don’t care too much about the raw philosophy of not cooking over 115F, but I love the inventive recipes… so to hurry things up, I stuck some in the oven, too. Both were good great. They honestly tasted like calamari. No hidden mushrooms here (Rob thinks he could taste mushrooms but only because he knew they were in there). Between the two versions, though, I preferred the raw dehydrated ones. They were more crispy and the breading stayed on (some of it stuck to my silpat in my oven version). The oven-baked version had more of a slippery calamari feel to it, though. In any case (or in both cases), Rob said he liked them better than regular calamari since it has a cleaner taste. I also preferred this version instead of the typical deep-fried options you find at restos.  Bright and fresh, healthy food, what’s not to like?

Speaking of connecting with other like-minded souls, I was wondering if I have any readers in the GTA that would like get connected? I was really sad I missed Sarah’s potluck in the park, especially since it looked like it was a lot of fun!

This is being submitted to this month’s Monthly Mingle featuring yellow foods and to this weeks Raw Foods Thursdays.

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Almost Raw Chocolate Banana Crepes with Almond-Coconut Cream and Cherries

In Breakfasts, Desserts, Favourites on July 4, 2012 at 5:34 AM

Strawberries are out and cherries are in. Seasonal eating at its best, right?

While I originally planned for a strawberry-filled birthday brunch, I worked towards the next seasonal fruit: cherries.

What do you think of first after I say cherry?

Please don’t say cherry red macronucleoli.
(Gosh, the July 1st studying mode has made its way into my blogging, ack!)

Try again.

Chocolate. Almonds.

Now you’re talking.

The Naked Sprout‘s brunch menu inspired me again to try my hand at raw crepes. While I had the raspberry banana coconut pancakes, Rob had the chocolate coconut crepes with banana and a blueberry cashew whipped cream drizzled with an ancho chocolate sauce and a strawberry compote. What a tasty mouthful!

Not so fancy for my home-grown brunch, though. We are aiming for stress-free gatherings, not stress-inducing gatherings!

In the end, I decided to pair the local, fresh cherries with an almost raw chocolate banana crepe and an almond-coconut cream. All of which I could make in advance and allow guests to assemble themselves.

I was scared of thin raw wraps since my raw zucchini wraps were a bit finicky. I have made these a few times, so let me assure you that these are easy to make. The Vitamix makes for a smooth batter and adding the flax seeds last gives you some time to work the batter into a thin sheet. I wanted round crepes, but here, you make a big sheet of a wrap and then cut out your desired shape. It is much easier to make a consistency thin wrap if it is one big sheet. Rest assured that the extra pieces of crepe were not wasted and went straight into my belly. This wrap has a nice chocolate flavour with a hint of banana and very pliable.

I paired the wrap with a coconut-based cream. Now that Rob is gaining experience with opening coconuts, I ventured with a coconut recipe. I contemplated making a macadamia-based whipped cream but cheap coconuts from Chinatown won that battle. I paired it with almond extract for a strong almond flavour, almost begging to be paired with cherries.

Top with sliced almonds, this was a glorious brunch… or dessert.. and quite a great way to introduce my friends to raw cuisine, if I may say so myself.

Sometimes simple is all you need, because the simple flavours melded so well together.

This is being submitted to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring holiday treats, to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, to this week’s potluck party for fruit dishes, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this month‘s Simple and in Season.

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Raw Maca Banana Pancakes with Strawberries and Ice Cream

In Breakfasts, Favourites on July 2, 2012 at 7:08 AM

If there is one thing that is predictable with my meals, it is my breakfast. Steel cut oatmeal with fruit and protein powder. Lately, I’ve been eating it with Vega, since I scored it at half price. Making a big batch each week is a time saver and doesn’t make me think too much each morning as I rush out the door.

With a bit of extra time this long weekend, I decided to host a birthday/housewarming brunch today. A time to whip out all the vegan brunch options. I know, one meal that can be challenging for vegans has got to be brunch, typically filled with cheese, eggs and baked goods. Not here.

A recent visit to The Naked Sprout‘s Sunday brunch had me in a tizzy over their raw raspberry banana coconut pancakes with coconut ice cream.  I thought it would be great to try my hand at it and I figured going raw for brunch would be an easy way to serve a crowd. The pancakes could be made in advance and then assembled once we were ready to eat. No need to slave over a stovetop, especially during this hot summer weather.

Of course, I had to do some research to make sure the recipe worked out before my guests arrived. Last week, while we still had strawberries, I did the first test run. This was the glorious result. Soft and chewy (not light and fluffy like SAD pancakes) pancakes with a hint of maca. Stacked, on top of berries and topped with banana soft-serve ice cream. I was definitely inspired by my meal at The Naked Sprout. This version was lighter and glorious in the melting ice cream. Make no mistake, their vanilla coconut ice cream was possibly the best I have ever had.

One problem: A few days later, my pancakes didn’t look the same. I stored a bunch in the refrigerator in anticipation of not dehydrating this weekend and they turned brown. The banana had probably oxidized or something. Still delicious, they just weren’t as um, photogenic. Well, at least to me, since I know they are supposed to be a light brown colour.

In any case, strawberries are out and cherries are in, so I’ve come up with an alternate breakfast plan. Stayed tuned!

This is being submitted to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring holiday treats, to this week’s potluck party for raw foods, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this month‘s Simple and in Season.

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Savoury Hemp Crackers (Raw Pizza Crackers, Raw Caraway Crackers, Raw Za’atar Crackers)

In Sides on June 14, 2012 at 5:36 AM

With the bright summery weather, I am thinking of doing a Raw Thursday series for the summer. A bonus recipe each week… Let me know what you think!

There is crack and then there are crack crackers.

Healthy, vegan crack.

I was honestly hooked on Mary’s Crackers for a while.
(In the US, the crackers are called Mary’s Gone Crackers for good reason!)

Then I said, enough is enough! Let me make my own crack crackers!

I started by making a sweet flax cracker with cinnamon and dates but wanted to tackle something savoury, too. This multiseed cracker, courtesy of Sarah, boasts not only ground flax but also hemp and chia seeds. This cracker base was great because it was so much easier to spread than the flax-only cracker.  It was more airy and flaky, too, compared to the Mary’s Cracker prototype. The flavourings are, of course, up to you.

I was itching to recreate Mary’s caraway flavour, which was simple. I also made a version with za’atar that was perfect with my go-to hummus.

My favourite cracker of the bunch, so far, is this pizza cracker. I spiced them with garlic, onion, rosemary, nutritional yeast as well as red pepper paste (a roasted red pepper or tomato paste could be substituted). The slight tang from lemon juice evened out the flavours just slightly.

If I thought Mary’s Crackers were addictive, now I know making my own crackers can be equally as addictive.

What flavour will I create next?

I like Angela’s suggestion to add kelp and Herbamare. Do you have any suggestions?

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cristina, and to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness.

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Raw Sweet Potato Mushroom Sliders

In Appetizers, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on March 16, 2012 at 6:02 AM

Would you go to a steakhouse for an upscale vegan experience?

It seems so counter-intuitive, eh?

My buddies were eager to dine out during Winterlicious and when I checked the menus there was only one that had vegan options: Prime, the steakhouse at the Windsor Arms Hotel in Yorkville.

I was hesitant, though. Could a steakhouse really have great vegan food? It turns out that they recently hired Doug McNish, Raw Aura‘s former vegan chef that catapulted raw food into my dream books. He added a complete vegan menu at Prime, so I was confident that this would not be subpar vegan eats.

I priced out their Winterlicious menu. It turned out it was cheaper to pick from their standard vegan menu than to limit oneself to the vegan options on fixed price menu, especially since there was overlap between the options.

I opted to try the wild mushroom and pearl barley risotto with crispy sage and truffle oil as a starter. It was decadent and delicious. It was also rich and filling, so I decided to pace myself and take half of it home. Rob tried the nori rolls stuffed with a creamy ginger dill sunflower seed pate but we didn’t find them that exceptional.

For our mains, I happily munched on the herbed portobello mushroom and tempeh burger which was the highlight of the night. I have never had such a flavourful veggie burger. Unfortunately, the sweet potato fries were subpar, even after I asked for fresh ones since mine were cold. They also forgot to give me the sun-dried tomato aioli, but I am glad I reminded them because it was really good with the burger.

Rob had been pining over the cornmeal crusted tempeh steaks, spiced sweet potato coconut mash, steamed greens with caramelized onion and cherry tomato relish but we both found it lackluster. I suppose we’ve been spoiled by great vegan eats from Blossom Cafe, Candle 79 and Pure Food and Wine in NYC.

For dessert, I was salivating the vegan Mango Cheesecake with a Raspberry Coulis. When I packed my risotto earlier, I wanted to make room for this dessert. However, it was bad. It was uber sweet but in a dry icing sugar kind of way. Turns out, I can make a better version at home anyhow (remember those Mango Paradise Bars?)

So, the winning dish that night was the mushroom and tempeh burger and that is what inspired me to try my hand at Susan’s Raw Sweet Potato Mushroom “Sliders” for Rob’s birthday party.

I enjoy raw food because the flavours really pop. At Prime, although their meals are not raw, their tempeh burger had great flavours mingling together which is what captured me into the dish. Here, these mini burgers are flavoured with shiitake mushrooms, sage, rosemary, garlic with bulk from pumpkin seeds and sweet potato. They don’t require a long dehydration time since you want to maintain some moisture. Don’t have a dehydrator? I bet they could easily be baked for 15 minutes or so but I can’t say for sure.

I ate my sliders as mini sandwiches with a slice of tomato as the base, followed by a bed of alfalfa sprouts. The slider was then topped with a smear of avocado with a touch of salt. Delicious!

This is being submitted to this month’s Veggie/Fruit A Month featuring sweet potatoes, to this month’s Ingredient Challenge Monday for mushrooms and to this week’s Wellness Weekend.

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Cinnamon Flax Crackers

In Appetizers, Desserts, Sides on February 24, 2012 at 6:38 AM

Did you know you can revitalize stale chips and crackers with a dehydrator? We were skeptical, but when Rob and I unearthed some stale chips we had forgotten about, we put the dehydrator to the test. After an hour at 145F, we had fresh chips once again! I guess it just goes to show you that it is the moisture that sucks the life out of stale goods.

I don’t think my mom really approved of Rob buying me a dehydrator for Christmas. Figured it would be a passing phase and end up being a dust collector.

Never fear, it is still being used for many different things, even though I haven’t shared them on the blog. I’ve become pretty adept at making apple chips, although dehydrated pineapple is quite good, too (very chewy!). My naked and maple-sweetened cranberries didn’t work out so well, unfortunately. Kale chips have also been great. Rob and I enjoying the polar opposite kinds. He loved the chocolate kale chips, whereas I preferred the Sarah’s maple sesame version. I’ve made raw chocolate macaroons and raw chocolate mint brownies with delicious results. Zucchini wraps, too.

Next up: Crackers.

Looking for a healthy dessert alternative, I decided to make cinnamon flax crackers after spotting them at Vegan Culinary Crusade. I increased the cinnamon for a bigger burst of flavour but otherwise followed her recipe. I mixed together the soaked flax seeds, water and dates in the food processor to create a thick gooey dough. Spread as thinly as possible for a crispy cracker.

Even with 1/2 cup of dates, this wasn’t a sweet cracker. But it was sweet enough to release its prowess with me. I gobbled these crackers up so quickly with their warming hug of cinnamon. I used brown flax seeds but will try golden flax seeds next time since they have a milder taste. In any case, while I originally planned to eat these for dessert, I found they paired beautifully with a butternut squash soup.

This is my submission to Cook Eat Delicious Desserts featuring herbs and spices, to this month’s Sweet Luv and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

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Raw Zucchini Wraps

In Mains (Vegetarian) on December 26, 2011 at 6:11 AM


Hope you are enjoying some time with family and friends this holiday season. A time to (hopefully) relax… and even catch up on some television and movies. Maybe.

There is no television in my house.

Thus, I do not watch the food channel or other cooking shows.

It is not that I don’t need help in the kitchen, though. I am mainly a self-taught, learn by experience (and sometimes from my family/friends) kind of cook. I love cookbooks that explain and educate so that I can figure out how and when I can modify the recipe to my own tastes.

Truthfully, I still firmly believe that I don’t make anything too complicated and anyone can make the recipes on my blog. Because if I can do it, so can YOU! 🙂

Rob bought me the Cadillac, I mean Excalibur, of dehydrators for Christmas. While I quickly made some snacks and treats (apple chips, zucchini chips and kale chips, galore!), what I really wanted to make were crackers, flatbreads and wraps. After giving up refined flours, I have only enjoyed these at raw restaurants so I was itching to make them at home.

However, dehydrating is not as simple as it may seem. I made these zucchini wraps after only consulting Gena’s recipe at Choosing Raw, but it took 12 hours for  them to dry and by that time, they were more chip than wrap. Tasty, but very hard to roll. So I consulted the lovely youtube and found this great tutorial. I needed some visual guidance.

It was here that I picked up some great tips. First, I was worried that my wraps were too thick, but thinner wraps would actually be more likely to break. To help dehydrate them better, I could flip the wraps over mid-way (and there is an easy way to do that with an extra tray). Lastly, the best tip I found out in this video, is that if you over-dehydrate something, you can always  rehydrate it with some water!!

I thought I had zucchini flatbread, but with a brush of water, I could roll them into zucchini wraps. Therefore, I made the recipe again, this time flipping the wrap over after 3 hours. I let it dehydrate one more hour and it was finished. A little sprinkle of water is all that it needed to become pliable to roll. However, they are still delicate and there is no fancy tucking of the rolls, though. Just rolling.. At least for now, until someone teaches me otherwise. 😉

My only new tip is that these wraps don’t keep very well once assembled. The fillings will fall out unless you wrap them in plastic/wax paper. Just as they will absorb water, they will absorb the moisture from your filling, too.  Therefore, they are best eaten freshly wrapped.

These wraps have good flavour as-is: nutty from the flax with a hint of zucchini. Season it with your favourite seasonings if you want something more  pronounced. I wanted my filling to shine, so I kept the wrap without extra flavours.

Currently, I am testing recipes for Terry Hope Romano’s new vegan cookbook, Vegan Eats World, and I stuffed my wraps with her filling for Rice Paper Rolls with Kale and Asian Pear with a Peanut Coconut Sauce. I can’t share the recipe, but it is delicious. Truly. One of my favourite recipes from the book so far.

Each aspect makes this wrap shine. I loved the juxtaposition of a lime-coconut-kale salad with Asian pear, packed next to some noodles, next to a spicy and creamy peanut-coconut sauce. Terry uses her peanut sauce as a dipping sauce, but I preferred it to be right inside the wrap, making it a lot less messy with my zucchini wrap. With the rice paper roll, the dipping sauce worked well, though. It really was the perfect merriment of flavours- sweet, sour, spicy, creamy. Feel free to add in some baked tofu for a complete meal.


This is my submission to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.

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Raw Chocolate Macaroons

In Desserts on December 16, 2011 at 6:20 AM

Rob and I were recently in New York City and bought a few raw treats while visiting Whole Foods. Namely some chai spice and mint chip raw macaroons from Emmy’s Organics. They weren’t as decadent as the macaroons from Rawlicious; they were a bit more crumbly, too, but I definitely enjoyed the flavours. One package managed to sneak its way back to Toronto.

Rob was out one night, and I decided to open the last packet: 3 mint chip macaroons. I ate one, then quickly followed it up with #2. I definitely had to leave the last one for Rob, right?

I emailed Rob to let him know I was struggling with leaving him the last one…. and then told him I was leaving.

To go to the bulk food store (aka our other pantry) to buy coconut and cocoa to make my own macaroons.

(Now that I have a dehydrator, I have no excuses!)

I used Happy Foody’s recipe as my main guide- I halved the recipe, used agave instead of maple syrup and melted my coconut oil. I stuck one macaroon  in the freezer for more immediate gratification, but placed the remainder in my dehydrator.

Over twenty four hours later, I had my macaroons. This was no instant gratification. But darn, they were great. The freezer version was too firm and sweet for my liking, but the dehydrated treats were perfection. Not as cloyingly sweet with a chewy middle but a crispy exterior.

In retrospect, making 16 more macaroons was probably not the best antidote to not eating the last macaroon. 😛

Although, I definitely spread the macaroon lovin’. My brother and sister-in-law had us over for dinner, and I surprised them with a handful of macaroons for dessert (they are, thankfully, not afraid of raw foods).  They were as equally surprised as my mom that I was making sweets. Anyhow, Rob and I are happily munching through the rest.. 🙂

This is my submission to this month’s Healing Foods featuring Healthy Food Gifts, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend and to this month’s Cookie Blog Hop.

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