Hackberry Love ( + Hackberry Milk Tutorial!)

My bestie Justin came to visit for a few days, and we roped him into coming along for hackberry fun!

My bestie Justin came to visit for a few days, and we roped him into coming along for hackberry fun!

The hackberry (celtis occidentalis and virtually indistinguishable  sugarberry or celtis laevigata) is an iconic example of a tree that is generally regarded as a “trash tree” here in the South, but which has a rich history of edible, medicinal and sacred use.

When Dan and I first decided to start learning about trees with the same fervor we had given to other plants, the hackberry was one of the first trees that stood out to me as someone I wanted to get to know. However, it took quite a while before I could consistently identify her.  It also seemed that every time I did come across a hackberry, the berries were never ripe-  that I was always finding the previous winters’ berries.  Some things just take the time they take.

A few days ago, I was in my garden tending to the compost when I noticed red berries all over the compost pile.  I wondered what they were, and thought that they looked a bit like hackberries.  I looked up, and saw overhanging our garden from the abandoned harden next door what seemed like a giant and ancient hackberry tree.  We had been in that yard many times before to pick sorrel leaves and tubers.  How could we have missed it, so glaringly obvious?  When it’s time, it’s time.

Once you know what you are looking for, it is quite difficult to miss sweet hackberry.  She has distinctive warts on the bark and is almost always full of galls on the branches as well as the leaves.

Hackberries have a long and extensive history of use on this continent by Native Americans.  The berries are rich in protein, fat and carbohydrate, so rightly so! They have been boiled, dried, ground and mixed into pemmican (a dried meat and fruit staple food). The tree has also been used to make medicine of different types.  The Houma would make a “women’s medicine”, which I love because to me, the tree has a distinct feminine spirit (hence my use of the feminine articles to describe her).  The Kiowa would also burn the wood in the altar fire during peyote ceremonies.  I adore finding plant spirit medicine connections!

Recently, I have spent quite a bit of time collecting the abundant, if extremely fiddly, berries.  I have done a bit of kitchen experimenting and am happy to share the results! Today, I am showing how to make a quick and tasty hackberry milk.  There are two ways to make it, one raw and one not.  This is for the raw version.  It has a beautiful color and a distinctive and slightly sweet flavor bursting with that wild food factor. Try it!

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I used a little over 1 cup hackberries, 2 tbsp. maple syrup, a pinch of sea salt and a dash of cinnamon.

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Blend in a high speed blender with about 2 cups filtered water for about 2 minutes (until the hard seeds are definitely blended smooth)

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Strain through nut milk bag, cheesecloth, paint strainer or fine colander until pulp is fairly dry.IMG_3919

You will be left with some beautifully golden and sweet hackberry milk.  We drank some of it as is, used some in place of coconut milk in a thai curry and also made this incredibly delicious chia pudding:

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Chia seeds soaked in hackberry milk, topped with pomegranate seeds, banana and foraged pecans.  So yum! My sincere desire is that you are inspired to go out and make use of this, or another wild plant today. Happy Foraging!

Week of Raw

I am so proud of myself this week! I have managed for the first time in a long time to eat mostly raw! Sounds crazy for a raw food business owner, right??! But I have to be real, open and honest 🙂 I reached a point where I just felt physically bad again because here in the States, unhealthy food really is ubiquitous- it is the status quo without a doubt. The amount of planning, research and willpower that has to go into maintaining a truly healthy diet ( raw or not ) is mindboggling. Which is why I do what I do!! If I can help someone eat a little better and feel a little better by offering high quality raw snacks and food then I have done my job 🙂
And the truth is, a week in- I feel amazing!! I’ve had lots of green juices, including this one with broccoli stalk, parsley stems, green apple and lime

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Raw soups, like this carrot, cashew, and Ras-al-Hanout spiced one

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This smoothie with mango, banana and spinach is pretty much like the very first green smoothie I ever had so many years ago!

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And I have been LOVING having different variations if Kate Magic’s Purple Mayhem for breakfast.

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The basic recipe is this:
2 tbsp. mesquite powder
2 tbsp. cacao powder
1 tsp. purple corn extract
Mix in bowl, then add
1 tbsp. tahini
1 tbsp. coconut nectar
1 tbsp. water
Then stir in
1 cup sprouted buckwheaties

I love trying out new variations on this and if always keeps me satisfied and energized for hours!! Also, breakfast has always been one of the most challenging meals to keep interesting while doing raw because I never, ever want a smoothie first thing in the morning.

Hope you try it and enjoy it! Much love.

Labor Day Eats

I hope everyone reading this had a stress-free, relaxing Labor Day! I ran into the supermarket today, and while I am grateful it was open for what I wanted, the truth is that it could have waited and I felt bad for the people working.

We woke up this morning and I made some blueberry vanilla almond flour pancakes. I love love love using almond flour and sometimes an almond/coconut flour combo instead of packaged gluten free pancake mix! The recipe I use is just so simple!!

Gluten-Free Almond Flour Pancakes

1 cup almond flour ( I sometimes sub 2 tbsp. for coconut flour)
3 flax eggs ( or other egg replacer or organic pastured eggs if that is your thing)
3/4 cup almond milk ( or water or any other plant milk)

You can add in whatever you like!! I added 1 tsp vanilla powder and a big handful of organic blueberries.

I cook mine in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. They do take longer than regular pancakes- maybe 3-5 min per side. I like to top mine with coconut oil, real maple syrup and more fresh berries!

This recipe makes enough for two big appetites and a baby 🙂

After such a delicious but heavy breakfast we played outside with Amethyst in her sand box and did some more tidying. For lunch I wanted a salad!! I made this and it was sooo good! Farmers Market kale massaged with avocado and lemon juice, with grated carrot, chopped apple and spring onions all seasoned with sea salt and pepper and topped with homemade Dill Kraut! So perfect!

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Amethyst didn’t really eat much salad so I made a big smoothie that we all shared with banana, avocado, frozen blueberry, cacao beans, dates and almond milk topped with fresh berries.

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We went for a drive and met this Elder who let us take some of her berries! We are going to tincture our haul this time and have some wonderful immune support this winter! We were so pleased as we hadn’t been able recently to get to know a lot of Louisiana flora. Glad to know that Elder lives here too!!
After that I was hungry and tired so I stopped into the stupormarket where I bought pineapple and some purple corn on the cob (so surprised to see this) which we had for dinner! I had my corn with coconut oil and black pepper. Delicious and satisfying!!

Sunday morning

The last couple of weeks have been just absolute chaos! I’ve been writing, so I have a few posts to share with you but due to probs with the Flickr uploader, getting pics from the iPhone to ye olde blog has been problematic. Enough of that, though!

So, the week of the opening of the Shreveport Farmer’s Market (thus the opening of the Sacred Strawberry stall) we had to go to New Orleans for my hubbies immigration interview.
On the way down, we stopped in Baton Rouge to eat at a place I found online called Truly Free Bakery and Cafe. We loved if so much that we stopped to eat again on the way back up to Shreveport. They are a completely gluten-free establishment and have a ton of imaginative vegan options. The first time, I had a vegan Reuben on a collard wrap. This was amazing! Tempeh, sauerkraut, creamy tangy dressing and a *steamed* collard wrap! Sooo good! I also got a red velvet cupcake that just wow’ed the pants off of me! Dan had a burger and he loved it!
Well, the next day on our way back we decided to stop there again for lunch. This time, I took pics 😉

I had a veggie burger this time, with avocado, barbecue sauce and mushrooms I think.  Oh, and vegan cheese! This was one epic burger!
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Aaand another cupcake, this time chocolate peanut butter with a banana frosting inside! Um, yes!
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Oh, and lots of green juice all around!
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Of course, no trip to New Orleans would be complete without a whistle stop at Whole Foods to drop some cash we didn’t need to spend! Of course I got a kombucha (ginger from my fave Austin based brewer) and some raw brownie goddess bites I fell in love with in Austin! Also, Popsicle molds for the little one and yummy spices!

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On the way back after lunch, we got the news that Dan is getting his green card!!! Words cannot express how ecstatic we are to know this! Our lives here can officially begin!

In other news, I have been making epic quantities of these , among other things, for my stall:
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All in all, life is good here!  Lots of working out and gym time, nourishing foods, cuddles with babies and doggies, tending to the garden, and loving sharing my vision with the public on a larger scale!  How about where you are?

Fudgy Gluten-Free Cookies and the river!

I haven’t updated in a while.  To be honest, physically I have been *exhausted* and my meals have been super simple.  I’ve been eating tons of watermelon ( I really do mean it.  I ate a 6 kilo watermelon in 2 days recently!), gluten-free pizzas, homegrown sunflower sprouts, tahini+stevia+carob on rice cakes, raw fruit sorbets, etc.  Things that are quick, easy and tasty are what I am about now.  There are so many recipes that I want to try out and I would love to spend hours in the kitchen doing it but my body is rebelling against that.  I suppose that with less than two weeks until the baby comes, I need to rest when I need to rest and that is that!

I did, however, whip up these super easy, super delicious and (in my book) super healthy cookies from Sketch Free Eating.  These cookies are the bomb!  They are filled with high quality ingredients like buckwheat flour, chickpea flour, honey tahini and flax. And the recipe is so versatile!  For example, the recipe calls for honey but I wanted my husband to be able to enjoy them as well,  so I substituted the same amount of xylitol and added some quinoa milk I had on hand to thin out the batter a bit.  I also love the fact that with the chickpea flour, they are quite high in protein.

Find the recipe at the website: Fudgy Socca Carob Cookies.

Last weekend, we went out to the river again and had a lovely day.  We went to a more remote part, which meant that we had the entire place to ourselves!  The pools weren’t quite as deep as the more popular (i.e. filled to the brim) spots, but they were more than sufficient to totally immerse yourself in the cold, clear water!

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I basically spent the whole day laying in this!  I only got out to have a beautiful lunch of some tortilla de patata, gazpacho and pimientos de padrón.  All made by a friend who must love me very much 🙂

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me getting my Vitamin D!

I hope your week has been great so far!  I am looking forward to a lazy afternoon and a ginormous salad!

Epic cake post!

Last weekend, I realized that I had tons of almond and hazelnut pulp stored in my freezer.  And I also really wanted cake.  So I defrosted the pulp and got to work creating!  And here are the fruits of my labor:

First I set to work on a Carrot Cake.

Horrible pic but delicious cake 🙂  This is made with hazelnut milk pulp, carrot pulp, date past, lucuma, coconut oi and spices and topped with an amazing cashew white chocolate coating.

And then I decided I also wanted a choccie cake!

This one is made with almond pulp, cacao nibs, carob powder, lucuma, purple corn and cacao butter.  I think the topping is the same one I used for the carrot cake but with some ground cacao nibs and a bit of chaga powder as well.

And if that wasn’t enough, last week when I placed an order with Raw Living to stock up on my favorite Sunwarrior protein powder, I also bought a mini Quantum Cake made by the delightful Kate Magic.

Anyone wanna pop round for some raspberry leaf/nettle tea and some cake?? 🙂

Gluten Free Pizza Crusts

Wheat and I really don’t get along.  I have never been formally diagnosed as celiac or even gluten intolerant, but I do know that when I eat something with wheat in it, I start itching.  My hands, arms, legs, and scalp itch and the skin around my eyes feels really puffy and sensitive.  Clearly something isn’t right with that!

Even so,  I have found it extremely hard to actually give up wheat once and for all.  I seem to do fine with oats and most other grains, and I can generally eat some glutinous grains like spelt or kamut.  The problem with those is that I feel fine eating them for a while, but then I reach a point where all of a sudden I don’t.  It’s like there is some kind of hidden threshold that I have to stay under or something.

I think my sensitivity to wheat and gluten is one of the reasons why raw food is so appealing to me.  99% of the time, it already is gluten free and I don’t have to think about it.

One gluten free recipe that I love is this one:  http://www.nourishingmeals.com/2009/12/thin-buckwheat-pizza-crust-gluten-free.html

I’ve made this pizza base recipe before and every time I make it I am generally happy with how it comes out.

Terrible picture,  as it was already nighttime when I made this 😦

 

with sun-dried tomato and basil sauce, zucchini, onions, red pepper, crumbled smoked tofu and fresh basil

 

The only changes to the recipe that I made were to increase the amount of ingredients, substitute baking soda for baking powder, and leave out the sweetener completely.  It made enough for dinner tonight, which I served with my favorite raw red pepper soup and also enough to take tomorrow for lunch as I am starting my second week of Kundalini yoga class!

I have had a wonderful weekend and I am now looking forward to a wonderful week 🙂

Purple Porridge

Today, my oatmeal came out fantastic, so I thought I would share the recipe here:

2/3 cup rolled oats

1 c water (or you could always use a nut milk to make it richer!)

1 tsp chaga powder

.5 tsp tulsi/holy basil extract

1 tsp purple corn extract

dash of cinnamon

Let simmer for  a few minutes and when the oats are tender, top with:

5 sliced strawberries

1 tbsp almond butter

1 tbsp agave nectar

Delicious!!

Red Thai Curry Nori Bites, take one

It’s been such a long time since I last posted.  I really got stuck in a major rut and had some personal issues to sort out, but I am ready to try this again!

When I went to the Raw Magic Retreat, one of the things in the shop were these a-freaking-mazing thai curry nori crackers made by Anna over at http://www.annamiddleton.blogspot.com.  Since she lives in Bristol and I live in Madrid, I knew I had to recreate those crackers to the best of my ability.  So this is my first attempt, although certainly not the last.  There are a few tweaks that I want to make and I also want to try green thai curry.

If you want to make this 100% raw and make your own Thai curry paste, then please feel free.  There are many recipes that can be found easily on the internet. I am happy with using the highest quality prepared paste that I can find.

Without further ado:

Red Thai Curry Nori Bites

3 c flax, soaked

2 small red bell peppers

.5 zucchini or summer squash

2 stalks celery

2 heaping tablespoons red curry paste

1 red onion, chopped

.25 c cilantro

Nori sheets

Blend  peppers, zucchini and celery until semi-smooth. Add curry paste and blend again.

Add flax and blend until well combined

Add onion and cilantro and pulse until incorporated.

Spread on nori sheets and dehydrate.

For me, this amount made about 7 sheets.

Enjoy!

Emily

xx