Tuesday, July 19, 2011

conscious eating niagara - fourth potluck

Another month, another Conscious Eating Niagara potluck right? 

Well, it would be easy to pass of our latest potluck as another notch-in-the-belt gathering, so to speak, but this time around saw us venturing into the great outdoors to soak up the much needed warm weather and sunshine. 

Oh, and we had a bounty of raw/vegan/living food to sustain us through our get together (of course!). The pictures speak for themselves - please, do peruse:

Henry's Blueberry Chocolate Pie and my Strawberry-Cherry Crumble

Toni and Paul's Tabouli-Falafel Wraps

Sharlene's Marinated Portobello Mushrooms with Almond Cheeze

salads, salads, salads!

fresh figs and Jessica's Raspberry Ganache Cake

Karen's salad topped with fresh sliced coconut

me and my super groovy dinnerware; very Biba!

Our special guest speaker was Sharlene Brewer, who owns PURE Natural Health and Wellness. She is a certified yoga instructor, holisitc nutritionist, wellness coach, reiki practicioner, and meditation facilitator. She gave a wonderfully inspiring talk on balance, rather, how to stay balanced in our every day lives.

A big thank you to everyone who made the potluck another success 
- see you all in a few weeks for the next one!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

summer in the raw dinner party

Summertime and dinner parties seem to go hand in hand, don't they? There is nothing I enjoy more than preparing an evening meal for friends, especially when the weather is warm, and the sun is shining. I had the pleasure of hosting a raw evening for my dear friends Lee and Kent the other week, and wanted to plan the perfect menu and dinner.


Planning a raw dinner party is one thing, but executing the many dreamy (and sometimes overly lofty ideas I usually have swirling around in my mind) recipe and dish ideas is usually another. I find I usually have such grandiose visions of what to serve, that I don't take into consideration that I more often than not don't have enough time to prepare particular recipes to their ultimate perfection. I also find that rather than sticking to tried and true recipes, I opt to try new and exciting recipes that sometimes work, and other times, not.

Here was our totally raw menu:

Appetizer: a Raw Hummus with Corn Chips (above), guacamole, and crudites 

Main dish: Falafel and Hummus Wraps with Mediterranean "Roasted" Vegetables and Side Salad

Dessert: Strawberry Crumble with Cherry Ice Cream and Cherry Cacao Ice Cream Sandwiches (leftover from my attempted entry for the Raw Ice Cream Sandwich challenge - I decided not to enter them because I felt the presentation was just not quite right).  

I just had to try my hand at making Russell James' recipe for Falafel and Hummus Wrap with Mediterranean "Roasted" Vegetables (do click on the link for Russell's amazing recipe and see for yourself - those pictures!). I first encountered this amazing recipe a few months ago, and promised myself I would make it for such an occasion.


Overall, the recipe is fairly straightforward, and tastes excellent (I followed all of the ingredients carefully, save for the hummus in which I substituted soaked almonds for macadamia nuts).  My only complaint would have to do with not taking into account adding some extra dehydrator time (the recipe says to dehydrate the wraps for 6-8 hours at 105 degrees, when really, they needed almost twice that amount of time). I've since learned that dehydration times can vary depending on your appliance, as well as your climate.

Here are the wraps, just waiting to be filled with hummus, the falafels, and the roasted vegetables (which we decided to have raw).The falafels, by the way, were out of this world; I will definitely be making these again.

Dinner time!

the lovely Lee with her wrap and some chaga tea

Have you had any dinner parties this summer?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

rawmazing this summer - cake pop feature in Niagara Magazine

I am one luck lady, folks - Niagara Magazine decided to feature my cake pops, which I have been selling at local farmers markets, in their latest July/August issue!

Although they opted to use a stock photo of regular cake pops to coincide with the vibrant summer colors of the issue, they were so kind to mention my raw + vegan, healthy cake pops as a healthy dessert option.

The feature is entitled "Be Rawmazing This Summer"; take a look below and enjoy (you can click on the image for an enlarged version of the feature):

You can check out a photo of some of my cake pops below, adorned with almond daisies and mulberries: 

If anyone is interested in more information about the cake pops, you can e-mail me at: barefoot_and_frolicking@hotmail.com 
or check out the Raw Cacao & Confectionaries page on my blog.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ladies who lunch - a vegan potluck in the park

Happy belated Canada Day and Independence Day everyone! This past weekend, I attended the most delightful vegan potluck in the park (Trinity Bellwoods in TO, to be exact) with the loveliest ladies - you might know them, of course: Lisa, Danielle, Camille, Ashley, Steph, Lisa and Cassandra (from Earth and City).

We spent time catching up with new and old friends, sharing some laughs and delicious vegan food, as well as dodging some ominous rainclouds (luckily, the weather held out for us).

Everyone brought the most beautiful raw and vegan dishes, including a Mango Salad, Kale and Quinoa Salad (with organic kale from Camille's garden), Mini-Strawberry Cheezecakes, selection of raw desserts from Earth and City (a super groovy raw + vegan dessert company based in TO, whose name I adore - check out their website for more information about their healthy goodies), fresh organic watermelon, hummus and carrots, and some cacao-Coconut Energy Balls.

I brought a raw + vegan Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble and Grape Leaf Chips (you heard right!).  The Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble used some freshly-picked strawberries from the day prior, as well as local/organic rhubarb from our CSA.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble
raw + vegan

Serves 8 fabulous ladies at an afternoon potuck

5 quarts fresh strawberries, chopped (approx. 5 cups)
1 stalk rhubarb, chopped
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp psyllium husk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup almonds
1 cup raw oat groats, ground into a powder using a coffee grinder
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of sea salt

To make the filling,blend 1/3 of the chopped strawberries with the maple syrup, vanilla, psyllium husk, and rhubarb until a smooth, liquid consistency. Set aside. In a large bowl, toss the remaining chopped strawberries with the liquid (this will mimic the texture of a regular, cooked crumble). Chill and let the mixture 'set' for at least an hour before serving (the psyllium husk helps to thicken the liquid, binding the mixture together).

To make the crumble, process the almonds in a food processor using the 's' blade until crumbly. Add in the ground, powdered oat groats, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and process until well-combined and a crumbly consistency. Top the berry crumble filling with the crumble topping just before serving. 

Note: in my experience, some people have issues with the taste of raw oat groats, finding that they have a soapy or burning taste. This could be due to individual taste buds or that the oat groats are rancid. I noticed a slight soapy taste with the crumble, while other did not.

And just what are grape leaves, you ask? Well, exactly that - preserved grape leaves are commonly used in dolmas, but these are wild, fresh, and organic grape leaves that make for an excellent alternative to kale chips. Simply toss the grape leaves with your favorite coating and dehydrate like you would kale chips. The leaves have a natural lemon flavor, so it's best to  keep the coating simple. I used olive oil, thyme, and some pressed garlic scapes.

Lisa's beautiful mini-strawberry cheezecakes - love the individual jars

the post-potluck aftermath: the food was enjoyed by all

laughing with the lovelies on a summer afternoon

I had such a great afternoon with these wonderful, inspiring, and like-minded women, and was so happy to be included in this get together - already looking forward to the next one!