30 August 2011

Chocolate No-Bake Cookies and Cold-Pressed Coffee

I know someone who likes to use this simile, "Sex is like pizza. Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good." If that's true, then I can say this for sure: sex is not like coffee. If coffee is bad...well, it's just bad.

I love good coffee. It really is one of my favorite things. I am not one of those cup-a-day-ers who need caffeinated brown water just to make it to lunch. No, if I'm gonna have a cup of coffee or shots of espresso, I want it to be good. Good coffee to me means strong, smooth and black. I like to savor a cup of coffee or espresso in the afternoon--not to help keep me awake, but just to enjoy.

The best espresso in Nashville is at Crema and if you ever go there with me and I order an Americano, just be forewarned that I might make faces and comments as if it is the best thing I've ever tasted. The crema (thin foam on top of the espresso) is enough to make my day--it's just so perfect and beautiful. Sadly, many restaurants in the US serve lukewarm, dark-ish liquid made from beans ground two years ago that have been sitting in a humid cupboard or a freezer for several weeks. It's just as unfortunate, that many Americans think that the best part of waking up is Folgers in their cup. It's not. Trust me.
You can imagine my disappointment when coffee became one of those things that I needed to limit in my diet. Coffee creates a more acidic environment when it's consumed and I'm going for more alkalinity in my system. I still enjoy a cup every so often, but in the last year I've tried to stick to green and herbal tea. It's just not the same, though.

Then, a few weeks ago, I came across this recipe for cold-processed coffee that is supposed to cut the level of acidity in coffee by 75%. The recipe is for a restaurant-sized portion, so I did some mathematics and came up with this formula: 8-10 Tbsp coarsely ground coffee to 4 cups cold/room temp. filtered water. After the coffee steeps for 24 hours, press it and then drink it or store it in the fridge for a few days. I stored mine in glass jars and then added hot water for an americano and coconut or almond milk for a latte (hot or cold). It turned out great. If you don't have a french press, go get one today. I may or may not bring my own coffee grinder and french press to work sometimes. It's a little ridiculous, but I just don't think it's worth it to drink coffee if it doesn't taste good, you know?

Alongside my cold-pressed coffee, I had some mini sausage patties. Yum.

Just kidding. They're really no bake chocolate cookies, but the pictures kind of look like breakfast sausages. I promise that they didn't taste anything like sausage. Coffee and sausage do not pair well together. Coffee and chocolate, on the other hand, are a perfect duo.

Following my current raw food kick, I created this little snack/dessert out of soaked brazil nuts. Brazil nuts are one of my favorites. They made the cookies light and gave a nice alternative flavor to my more common chocolate/almond combination.

Chocolate No-Bake Cookies
1 cup soaked brazil nuts
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut flakes
stevia to taste
pinch of sea salt

Blend all ingredients in food processor until well-mixed and "dough" is firm enough to form with your hands. Roll into balls and lightly press to flatten into small cookies. Place in fridge for 15-20 minutes until they become more firm. Store in fridge or freezer. 

Go forth and consume good coffee and chocolate!

19 August 2011

The Latest on the Raw Food Front

Thanks to Cafe Gratitude, I've been a bit obsessed with raw food cooking these days. Well, I guess it's technically not cooking....how about raw food creating. Sounds more untamed anyway. Here's what I've been up to concerning raw, live food:

What I'm currently reading...

I first saw this book at one of the vineyards during the wine country day of my San Francisco vacation. I took a picture so I wouldn't forget the title. When I got back to Nashville, I picked it up from the library. Libraries are magical places. I've only read a couple chapters of the book so far and skimmed some recipes. It appears that if I want to become serious about this fermenting thing, I need to get my hands on some crocks. Anybody out there have extra crocks they'd like to donate toward my cause? Crock. Haha, funny word.

What I'm currently eating...

Hearty Italian Bread by Raw Food Warrior, a new raw food company run by a local Nashville couple. They have a tent each week at the East Nashville Farmer's Market and that's where I first learned about and tasted their stuff. This "bread" is my favorite thing of theirs so far. It is definitely hearty and chocked full of raw nutty goodness.
Also eating...

Kale Artichoke Dip. I was dreaming up a raw version of the popular Spinach Artichoke appetizer, but I didn't have spinach on hand. I was really pleased with how this one turned out. It was also my first time soaking almonds, which I'm learning is better for digestion and maximizes the beneficial enzymes in nuts, seeds and grains. Can't beat that with a stick. This raw version doesn't really taste like the cheesey, baked original, but it's yummy, and a great way to sneak kale into your diet.

Raw Kale Artichoke Dip
2 cups chopped kale
1 cup artichoke hearts (i used TJ's frozen ones)
1 cup soaked almonds
2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 tsp italian seasoning
1/4 cup chopped onion
1-2 garlic cloves
juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil 

Put soaked and drained almonds in your food processor and process until you have a course almond meal. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the olive oil. Blend until it's mixed well (for about 3 minutes). Then, slowly add the oil, little by little, until the dip is creamy. Eat with crackers or veggies.

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

15 August 2011

Sharing the Wealth

I love my neighborhood. It's a rare thing in southern cities the size of Nashville to be able step out your front door and walk to the grocery store, coffee shop, pub, library, church, farmer's market, salon, etc. But that is my life. Even though Nashville's population is around one million (I think), there's rarely a time I don't run into someone I know when I leave my house. Sounds pretty picturesque, huh. Now, Nashville is definitely not perfect, and I can't even say it's the best place to live ever, but in the community/neighborhood/friendliness category, I give it 5 stars. If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I probably would have said 4, but the 5th star came hand delivered to our front door this past week when our neighbors brought a bounty of home grown produce from their backyard garden.

Check this out.




Sage, thyme, marjoram, basil, scallions.


Thank you, neighbors, for your generous gift. And don't worry, we did more than just take pictures of the produce. We also enjoyed every bite!

12 August 2011

Cafe Gratitude

If you are ever in San Francisco and you are even just a little bit adventurous when it comes to food (meaning you like vegetables, flavor and can do without meat and potatoes for one meal), you must eat at Cafe Gratitude. It was so good that my friend Katie and I ate there twice...and that says a lot because San Francisco has some of the best restaurants in the country and we were there for only one week.

For me, it wasn't just the taste of the food--which was incredible--it was the intrigue of "how do they make that?" Half of the menu is cooked and half is raw. I'd never eaten at a raw food restaurant before, but after eating at CG, I'm sold. I'm amazed at what can be done without an oven or stove.

This wrap and salad was my first meal at CG. We went to their Healdsburg location because I had some friends (Hi Josh and Meg!) who live there and they hadn't tried the restaurant before. I ordered this wrap which is totally raw--bread and all. It's a "live" sandwich with almond pâté, carrot, lettuce, tomato, avocado and spicy mustard sauce on apple curry bread. Raw foods are described as "live" because they have maximum enzyme activity--which is helpful with digestion and overall nutrition. Cooking foods at high temps kills some of the beneficial enzymes and nutrients that whole foods offer.

So there's that.

There's also this freaking amazing apple curry wrap. It was delicious and super filling. I want to learn to make that bread. First, though, I need to save a couple hundred bucks for a fancy dehydrator. Probably won't happen any time soon...

As you can see below, the cafe is friendly, homey, colorful and spirited. In other words, it's hippie. And slightly new-agey. When we walked into the restaurant, the girl who seated us asked me, "How would you like to be acknowledged?" I stared at her blankly and said, "Uhhh, do I need to answer now, or can I think about it for a minute?" What I really meant was, "[eye roll] Oooooh boy."

But then, guess what? We sat down and started talking about things that we wanted to be acknowledged for. Go figure. Those thankful hippies showed me. (I've been learning not to be so cynical, but I'm kind of slow.) We had a great conversation about our jobs, our personalities and ways that we hoped to learn to be kinder and more hospitable. It was a memorable discussion that wouldn't have happened without the cheesy "ice breaker" question.

There is one other new-agey thing about the restaurant that's a little hard to take seriously. The names of the dishes. Have a look at the menu and you'll see what I mean. The wrap that I ordered is called, "I Am Nourished" and the raw pizza below (which was amazing) is "I Am Hearty." The names wouldn't be such a big deal, except when you order, it goes like this:

Server: What can I get for you?
Me: Umm, I'll have "I Am Nourished."
Server: [acknowledging head nod] "You Are Nourished."

Haha, I can't take it. All I wanna do is be like, "Helllloooo. I Am Hungry!" [Server head nod] "You Are Hungry..."

But the people that work there are soooo friendly and helpful and I really love most everything about this place.

They have beautiful and tasty desserts aplenty. I heard that their raw key lime "cheese"cake is to die for. I didn't have a chance to try it, but when I go back, I will for sure.

I did have a vegan cookie dough bar dipped in chocolate (that's not it's official name, but that's what it tastes like).

I'm completely in awe and inspired by what this cafe is doing. I've even been doing research (both online and in the kitchen) about raw food recipes. I will be sharing some of them soon!