Monday, 14 May 2012

Berry Friendly Strawberry Raw Vegan Tartlets

I made these dessert cups for my mom and a group of her friends who were getting together the day before Mother's Day.  I wasn't there, but apparently the tartlets were a hit and everyone asked for the recipe, which of course my mother didn't have.  But now you do:

Crust -
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • handful of dates, pitted and soaked
  • pinch of sea salt
Filling -
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 1/8 cup coconut oil
  • 4-5 tablespoons raw sweetener (honey, agave, stevia, etc ...)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (alcohol-free)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • water, enough to make everything blend
  • 2-3 strawberries for garnish and filling (optional)
This is actually the recipe I used for my very first raw vegan cake!  That was an exciting day for me ... and for the people we had for dinner the next night.  This time I cut back a lot on the coconut oil because I found it a little too coconutty, and well oily as well.  The coconut oil is basically what holds the cake together, so instead of making a cake I chose to put individual servings in muffin cups.  That way it didn't matter if there wasn't enough coconut oil to hold it together.

You can't see it in the picture, but the crust is on the bottom.  Simply crush the nuts in a food processor until it's a powder.  Add the salt.  With the processor running add the dates one-by-one until the mixture begins to form a ball.  Press the crust into the bottom of the muffin cups.  Place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

I used to think I could never blend a nice nut based dessert in my cheap low-speed blender, but that's so not true.  It just takes a little bit of extra work (and maybe more liquid).  Add a little bit of water in the bottom of your blender and about half the strawberries.  Mix until well combined and then add the rest of the strawberries.  It's important to have some liquid to help everything blend.  Add the cashews one handful at a time.  Stop the blender often and stir.  Make sure it's not getting too hot!  This is a raw tart after all.  Keep adding the nuts and then the rest of the ingredients and blend until it's smooth.  This took me about 20 minutes.  If you have a high speed blender it'll probably take you 5 seconds ...

Add a little of the filling into the crust.  I placed some sliced strawberries inside for a sweet surprise.  Fill the cup with more filling and garnish with a strawberry slice on top.  Place in the freezer overnight to firm up (since there's not much coconut oil).  Remove from the freezer 1-2 hours before serving. 

This recipe made 10 tartlets.  My mom was getting together with 7 friends, so you know what that means.  I had 2 tartlets to play around with myself.  Here's a peak at what I did:

That's right!  I added 1 heaping teaspoon of aromatic velvety smooth raw vegan cacao!  It's been so long since I've had anything with raw chocolate.  I'm trying to be a good yogi and stay sattvic, but I just couldn't resist.  And the cacao really helped to keep the filling firm.  I'm thinking of trying it with cinnamon next time.  I also put the crust in a cute flower shaped cake mold.   

Stay tuned for more raw vegan dessert recipes very soon ... 

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

What is Organic Honey?

Have you ever wondered, what does organic honey actually mean??  It's not a plant that can be sprayed with pesticides.  It's not grown in soil with artificial fertilizers.  Is conventional honey from bees treated with antibiotics??  I started to wonder, how different can the organic honey be from the non-organic golden goo?  Is this just another case of the big bad marketing man trying to fool us innocent consumers? 

(Note:  I know, I know, it's not vegan.  But as I've mentioned before on my blog, I occasionally use local raw organic honey as a sweetener [and facial moisturizer], rather than highly processed, albeit vegan agave syrup from abroad).

Thankfully here in Canada there are quite a few rules being enforced by organic honey certifiers that make organic honey quite different than conventional.  Here's what I found out about organic honey standards in Canada:

[Caution: before reading further, only truly organic nerds will find this stuff interesting ...]

  • Origin of bees - All bees must come from organic sources.
  • Sources of nectar - Sources of nectar and pollen must be mainly from organic plants.
  • Location of bee hives - There must be a buffer zone of at least 3000 meters from plants treated with non-organic substances.
  • Food - Organic honey must be the main food for adult bees.
  • Humane treatment of bees - Adequate honey and pollen must be left in the hive for the colony to survive after the honey is harvested, clipping of the Queen Bee's wings is forbidden, bee smokers cannot contain synthetic materials, destruction of hives after harvest of honey is forbidden, lead-based paints are forbidden.
  • Pest Management - Antibiotic drugs are forbidden and only non-synthetic (certifier approved) substances can be used to control pests, parasites and diseases.
  • Extraction of Honey - Beekeepers cannot extract honey from a comb with a live brood inside.
  • Cleaning - Only organically approved cleaning products can be used.
The Soil Association has similar rules for organic honey in the UK. 

I definitely feel better buying organic honey after researching all this, and I never would have imagined there are so many guidelines regarding humane treatment.  No wonder so many bees have gone missing in the past few years! 

Remember that like organic food, organic honey also has a lengthy (and costly) transition period.  So if your favourite stall at the farmer's market isn't selling honey with the Canada Organic logo on it, it could be that they are following most of these same rules but are awaiting certification or simply cannot afford it.  Talk to them and see how they produce, collect and jar their honey. 

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