pesto crackers

with fresh garlic, swiss chard, and organic golden flax

Since first bartering with Ben at Little Hat Creek Farm for basil in June 2015, I had an itch to invent a crisp cracker with the intense flavor of pesto. After a couple hours at the city pool the next day, I whipped up a mini-batch test version of these just in time for dinner (bartered Twin Oaks vegetarian chorizo with sauteed onions and greens), and was lucky enough to catch them before burning while juggling everything else. They were an instant hit as we ate them still warm, even with Fionn, who tasted one and asked for another with a mouth still stuffed with the first one.

I’m particularly excited  to include authentic Spanish smoked paprika sea salt from Spanish Food Works in these crackers. Jane Gregg, the maven of la comida de España behind Spanish Food Works, bartered her smoked pimentón salt for crackers during the soggy Saturday storm at City Market in summer 2015, and I suspected it would work well with the basil and garlic. A year later, I’ve made a few tweaks to the original test recipe, I can say that these are now ridiculously tasty and honestly nutritious. Welcome back, basil season!

Local producers: Spanish Food Works (smoked pimentón), Little Hat Creek Farm & Brightwood Vineyard & Farm (basil), Avant Gardens (fresh garlic)

Ingredients: organic golden flax, organic millet, organic raw sunflower seeds, filtered water, fresh basil, Swiss chard, organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar, organic dates, locally grown garlic, organic extra virgin olive oil, smoked pimenton flor de sal, smoked paprika

sunshine carrot cookies

If you’ve ever traveled with a toddler on a group vacation, then you might be familiar with the need to explore a new area much earlier in the morning than you might otherwise want to.  Last week, my husband and I flew to Oregon, where we drove to a nice spot along the Deschutes River for a family reunion of about 18 folks on my mother-in-law’s side. Our bodies loyally remained on East Coast time until, conveniently enough, the day we were flying home. Our son’s body seemed slowest to acclimate, as he was up between 5 and 6 every morning, when my still-sleeping brother-in-law would mumble at him groggily from under a pillow on the fold-out couch when reduntantly asked “what’s Uncle Bobbins doing? Is he sleeping? Is he sleeping?” On the second morning, we attempted to mitigate this kind of irritation by hightailing it to Bend, about 15 miles to the north, where we found very little open at 7 am. Except, that is, Sarah’s Raw & Vegan Cafe, a hidden jem in the back of a chiropractic office that offered a slew of different medicinal smoothies, a bunch of old toys, crayons, and (seriously) a sandbox out back. Perfect.

Not one for sweets so early in the day, my inner child was nevertheless wooed by the prospect of a snickerdoodle– curious what a raw and vegan version would taste like. What is a snickerdoodle without a generous coating of granulated sugar and cinnamon, anyway? At $3 a pop, finding an answer was a bit of an investment.  Fifteen dollars later, I had tried every flavor she offered, and quickly decided I would attempt a nut-free version as soon as I got home.  I even made a visit back the next day to buy a large stash for the flight home, and you can rightly surmise than none of them lasted long enough to see the inside of an airport, or get caught on camera.  I guess I was concerned with the more practical matter of taking home the list of ingredients.

Of course, I had to try to find a way to get some veggies in my version, and had acquired a large bag of small carrots from Elena Day (of Elena Day’s Pies & Produce) the day before our trip. So I revisited an old “carrot cake cookie” recipe attempted from This Rawsome Vegan Life (which is a rather inspiring site, by the way, if you have enough bandwidth to load and scroll past the zillion of food-porny photos accompanying each recipe– you know, in order to actually GET to the recipe?).  I did not manage to achieve the same perfectly crumbly texture that Sarah did (I think I that might require limiting the vegetable content and using more dry sweetener), but the result for these cookies is a crunchy exterior and a moist, chewy interior.  Fionn loves them and can eat several in a sitting, which is a lot for him!

Ingredients: local carrots, organic raw sunflower seeds, filtered water, organic dates, organic coconut flour, organic flax seeds, raw hemp seeds, organic coconut oil, sea salt, vanilla extract, organic cinnamon, organic ginger, organic nutmeg

#raw, #vegan, #paleo

 

 

sesame zuccumin crackers

Last week at the market (August 1), a palate-savvy young customer asked if I made anything with sesame. Though I do have a pumpkin sesame cracker recipe, it occurred to me that, with pumpkin season a couple months away, I should come up with something a little more summery to go with sesame. This cracker pairs fresh zucchini, onions, and tomatoes with organic flax, sunflower, millet, and sesame, cumin, and brava sea salt from generous fellow market vendor Jane Gregg of Spanish Food Works. I’ve been looking for a cracker to use my beloved Egyptian Walking Onion, which creates small bulblets at the top of the stalk (not underground, like most onions), and this was the one.  In late spring, the plant is glorious and alien (see photo below)– by now, the bulblets have made the plants so top-heavy that their dry brown stalks lay on their side, seeming to nap on hot August Days. 

The resulting cracker is more subtle than the vegan three seed pesto cracker I have been making the past few weeks, meaning that it could be good to eat with a variety of bean or pepper dips.

Ingredients:
organic zucchini (Whisper Hill Farm), organic millet, organic flax seeds, organic raw sunflower seeds, organic sesame seeds, egyptian walking onions, cherry tomatoes, filtered water, organic extra virgin olive oil, brava blend sea salt (Spanish Food Works), lemon juice, organic cumin

tangy spinach crackers

Last Monday, I helped the PB&J Fund wrap up the semester’s Chef-in-Training program, working alongside Chef Harrison of Brookville Restaurant.  The challenge to the two teams of middle-schoolers was right up my alley: “Here is what is available from farms locally right now. Make a meal.” Spread on their prep tables were:

  • 3-4 pounds of fresh chicken drumsticks and thighs from Timbercreek Organics
  • a quart of fresh strawberries
  • a big bag of fresh Red Russian kale (baby leaves)
  • asparagus
  • a gigantic bunch of fresh tarragon

I was shocked at how quickly the two teams plunged in and rolled up their sleeves, leaving Chef Harrison, the PB&J staff, and myself to mill around for a while, making observational comments (kinda lame ones, in my case) and offering minimal suggestions as a sous chef and dishwasher. I won’t bore you with the menu details, but they definitely deserve some kudos for creativity and speed!

 

As I walked home with a little of the leftover tarragon in my pocket, I wondered what the heck I was going to do with it, excited by a little kitchen challenge of my own. Somehow, I had gotten through life thus far never growing or cooking with tarragon, and I was a little at a loss for what to combine it with. So… (insert “doodily-oop doodily-oop doodily oop” fast forward time warp a la Wayne’s World here), I researched online and played around with a test batch of crackers, adding some curry, anise, and a little sweetness from currants to my standard base of sunflower seeds, flax, and spinach. I really like the result, and might be experimenting more with tarragon!

Each bag contains two servings of 1.5 by 1.5 inch crackers, which are a good source of Vitamin K, Manganese, and Magnesium, with only have 2 grams of sugars (from the raisins) per serving.

Ingredients:
organic golden flax, organic millet, local organic spinach, organic pumpkin seeds, filtered water, organic raisins, organic extra virgin olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar, fresh ginger, sea salt, locally grown tarragon (Planet Earth Diversified), organic curry, organic anise seed

 

Mint Mayhem

Minty Superfood Saucers with Kale (Beta)

We have a small bed in our garden that gets full sun, drains very quickly, and has come to be known as the “death bed.” This is partly an homage to Patton Oswalt* as well as an admission that every time we’ve attempted to plant even heat-loving vegetables there (sweet peppers, eggplant, and basil), each are met with a stunted, slowly dessicating demise.  So when I came into a chocolate mint plant at a Master Gardener sale a couple years ago, I knew exactly where to put it.  I discovered chocolate mint about 15 years ago, on the organic farm where my husband and I both once worked (when we had spry knees, hideous tan lines, and could be bribed into long hot hours of heirloom tomato transplanting with cans of Natty Boh). There, it sprawled vigorously along the outside walls of the greenhouse, out-competing other weeds. Sometimes, at the end of a hot day, I’d grab a sprig and rub the crushed leaves on my neck so that I could hide from my own stench for a while. It made a refreshing, richer-than-peppermint sun tea, too, which I guess is what I should have been drinking more of instead of Natty Boh. In any case, no one who has ever tried to grow a little mint will be surprised when I say our little chocolate mint turned the death bed into a vibrant purplish-stemmed jungle of fragrance, even creeping several feet out into the lawn. Even I can’t drink this much tea.

Thus, my inspiration for a Minty Kale Superfood Saucers was born. I had debuted the saucer at City Market this past Saturday, but wanted to experiment with new flavor that didn’t come out of a bottle, or resort to adding cacao nibs. Who wants to risk a potentially napless afternoon with an energetic toddler simply for a snack that had even a tiny bit of caffeine? Caffeine can be mommy’s little helper, sure; but only when it’s in HER hands.

If you haven’t heard my empty calorie rant, or my frustrations with “energy bars,” then I will only say briefly here that these saucers, like all my experiments, are designed to have a significant amount of vegetables (organic kale from Brightwood Vineyard & Farm) and lots of healthy essential fats from whole food ingredients. No isolates, syrups, sweeteners, unpronounceable preservatives, gluten, nuts, or dairy.

After getting some feedback from vegans on Saturday, I made a few changes in this beta recipe (Mint Modification V1.0), that allowed to me make a completely raw, vegan version. That means the texture is slightly different, with the sunflower seeds, chia, and flax more thoroughly puréed. Nevertheless, I am always looking for ways to improve size, texture, shape, and other attributes in order to make things most appealing to kids. Who cares how many vitamins are in something if it never gets to their mouth?

Ingredients: organic raw sunflower seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, organic unsulfured apricots, organic medjool dates, organic flax seeds, local organic kale, organic chia seeds, organic virgin coconut oil, chocolate mint, sea salt, organic vanilla extract

By now I understand why most energy bars are in opaque packaging. They are ugly, and I lack the food-porn photoshopping skills or hipster craftiness to make them look sexy with a little jute twine and parchment paper. Little help, anybody?

Until I find the magic packaging solution for these, each bag has four saucers, which are about 100 calories a piece and packed with vitamins and healthy fats from seeds. Order here for pick up at ACAC downtown on the mornings of Tuesday June 2nd or Thursday 4th. Add a comment if neither of those times work for you and you want to arrange another meet-up.

If you want to be notified of about what’s fresh week to week, subscribe here for email updates.

*If you have read this far and are afraid to raise your hand and ask what the heck Patton Oswalt has to do with gardening, well, he doesn’t. But please watch his “Death Bed” stand-up sketch after the kids have gone to bed. There are rather superfluous F-bombs.

Bears Share: A Snow Day Baking Tale

I thought we were done with snow days for the year, but alas. It was raining and 40+ degrees when the City of Charlottesville decided to cancel school due to a winter storm warning that would supposedly turn the rain to ice and snow later in the day. Spoiler alert: it happened, despite my fervent disbelief, and it’s sleeting buckets as I write this, safely at home.

Fortunately, Thursdays are not school days for Fionn anyway, so we pretty much operated as normal, waking about 6:15, eating breakfast, sitting on the potty, and finding socks that could pass for matching at 20 feet. Plenty of time to get ready and to head to the gym where he could play with all the other preschoolers off from school.

Sam & his mama wrapping cakes
Sam & his mama wrapping cakes

At an afternoon trip to the library this week, I picked up a book called You Can Do It, Sam by Amy Best and Anita Jeram. As usual, I was judging books by the covers when I made a series of quick grabs because before Fionn disappeared down an aisle or dumped a pencil container. I’m also just superficial like that, despite being an English major who should know better than to judge literature by its cover art. Upon getting home, though, my method proved fortuitous: the book features a mama bear and her son Sam, who together bake twelve little cherry cakes before sunrise on a snowy day. They wrap each one and drive out into the pre-dawn snow, delivering them to the doorsteps of their friends and neighbors, Sam hopping out of the passenger side of their beat-up green pick-up truck at each house.  I can practically hear the door creaking on its hinge into the cold air each time. The sun is just rising as they get back home, and they enjoy the two remaining cakes with some cocoa, Sam proudly recounting his baking and delivering, hoping his friends liked their surprises. This story brought back memories of my mom’s holiday candy-making (she was a maven of fudge, sugar-coated pecans, chocolate covered peanut butter balls, and just about anything so full of sugar that your teeth would get a migraine after two bites). Every year before Christmas, she would fill little boxes and bags with her treats and urge me off to the neighbors for delivery. I HATED it. Oh, I get nostalgic now, sure, but I HATED it, and I could empathize with little Sam as his mama nudged him out of the truck to go leave his cake surprise at the first house. Then he got into it, of course, just as I did… after about seven years.

So, with two hours before needing to get on with our day and head to the gym (where we both get to play, SEPARATELY, which is key), we got busy with Mollie Katzen’s recipe for Orange-Cherry Cornbread Muffins in the Sunlight Café cookbook, subbing honey for the sugar and using whole wheat flour. I also made my own buttermilk with raw milk and apple cider vinegar, because who keeps buttermilk handy? Fionn’s stirring of the dry ingredients resulted in only minor flour casualties, a triumph he made up for by dumping vanilla extract all over the counter while I grated orange peel. I swabbed it up and used it as cologne to prophylactically disguise my eventual sweat stank at the gym. Little dab for him, too, since toddlers always seem to smell a little weird.

I’m not the type to get fancy with gifts (my wrapping jobs often get mistaken for a man’s), but we managed to fashion a humble sharing receptacle out of an old Amazon Prime box. You should know that I am sheepishly looking away as I type “Amazon Prime,” by the way. Of course, in our version of the story, Fionn didn’t hesitate to stuff his face with two muffins before sharing. Gotta taste test, right? And hell if we were going to hand-deliver each muffin all over town. 

The box survived a couple accidental overturnings on the way (I’m a klutz), and eventually found a home on the kitchen counter in the ACAC Kidzone, where I am sure the staff were happy to see baked goods from me that didn’t include turnips or spinach. Yes, I brought paleo turnip spice muffins to share a few days ago. “Dude, just TRY one! Even Fionn says they’re nummy!” was met with skepticism.

NOTE: If a recipe says “10 muffins,” just trust it rather than trying to squeeze out another one with the batter.  Ours would have been fuller, with coveted muffin tops, if I had followed instructions. Great recipe, Mollie, as always. The orange zest is crucially delectable.

Oscar the Grouch Cookies

He loves cold weather, stinky things, and loud noises. Who better to celebrate the transition from February to March than Oscar the Grouch? Fur matted with please-I don’t even-want-to-know, is he really not such a bad guy? If you don’t fully appreciate the contrarian that is Oscar, then you can call these Crocodile Nuggets.

If you are familiar with baking using sunflower butter or meal (I wasn’t), then you are probably well aware of the emerald result when chlorogenic acid reacts with baking soda. Chlorogenic acid is present in the stems and leaves of most plants, but peculiarly also in the seeds of sunflowers. This cookie takes advantage of it!

I am going to continuing playing around with this recipe to enhance it. I learned a valuable lesson in the course of modifying the original recipe, which is that sometimes, I need to leave well enough alone. I tried my hand at Against All Alligator Surprise Cookies_InsideGrain’s N’Oatmeal Raisin St. Patrick’s Day Cookies, and ended up with something soft, creamy, sweet and delicious, in addition to being bright green on the inside (see photo to the right). Then I decided that if it was going to be green anyway, wasn’t it disingenuous to NOT contain some kind of leafy vegetable?  I tried a version with spinach, then with chard. They were equally delicious, but a less vibrant green throughout. The recipe below includes that veggie infusion, but as you can see, the cookies are a dimmer, “Oscar” shade of green throughout, even textured a bit like his fur. Still surprisingly creamy and moist. If you want a version that is deceivingly brown and cookie-like on the outside and bright green on the inside, though, go with the Against All Grain recipe.  I will update this if I can manage to retain the emerald illusion WITH the greens.

 

Oscar the Grouch Cookies
Yields 12
These nuggets are better than they look. Due to the reaction between baking soda and the chlorogenic acid in sunflower seeds, the interior of these cookies will turn green after cooling, which makes for a nice surprise for kids. The sunbutter makes them creamy and just sweet enough.
Write a review
Print
Cook Time
16 min
Cook Time
16 min
170 calories
23 g
16 g
8 g
3 g
2 g
67 g
124 g
17 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
67g
Yields
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 170
Calories from Fat 71
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
13%
Saturated Fat 2g
9%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 16mg
5%
Sodium 124mg
5%
Total Carbohydrates 23g
8%
Dietary Fiber 3g
12%
Sugars 17g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A
5%
Vitamin C
3%
Calcium
3%
Iron
6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 large egg
  2. 3 tablespoons hot water
  3. ½ cup unsweetened sunbutter
  4. 6 medium pitted dates
  5. ½ apple, with skin
  6. 3/4 cup chopped spinach (about 1/3 cup purée)
  7. 1 tablespoon honey
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. ½ cup finely shredded coconut
  10. ¼ cup coconut flour
  11. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  12. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  13. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  14. 1/3 cup dried currants
  15. 1/4 cup pepitas
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the halved, pitted dates into a glass or metal measuring cup and pack down. Add the hot water and let sit 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the egg, sunbutter, greens, applesauce, vanilla extract, and dates (with their liquid) in a food processor. Process for about a minute until smooth.
  4. In medium bowl, measure out and combine the coconut, coconut flour, ground flax, arrowroot flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir until fully incorporated.
  5. Add the purée mixture to the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine.
  6. Add the currants and stir to incorporate. Let the mixture sit just a couple minutes so the coconut flour can absorb a little of the moisture.
  7. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Each cookie should be about 2-3 bites in size. Gently flatten tops of cookies with a spatula. Add a few sunflower seeds to the top of each cookie for decoration.
  8. Bake for 16 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Cookies will turn green once cooled and will continue to get a deeper green after 2 hours.
Notes
  1. This makes between 24-26 "three bite" cookies. The nutritional information assumes a toddler serving of 2 cookies.
Adapted from Against All Grain
beta
calories
170
fat
8g
protein
3g
carbs
23g
more
Adapted from Against All Grain
https://goodphytefoods.com/

Kale & Apple Roll-ups with Quinoa & Flax

Most fruit/veggie roll-ups (yes, even the organic ones with “feel-good” branding) have fruit or vegetable juice concentrates or extracts, not to mention liquid sweeteners and added pectin. By comparison, these kale roll-ups are simple, sweetened only with whole local apples, loaded with fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein.

Kale & Apple Roll-ups with Quinoa & Flax
Serves 8
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
75 calories
12 g
0 g
3 g
2 g
0 g
71 g
8 g
4 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
71g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 75
Calories from Fat 23
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
4%
Saturated Fat 0g
1%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 8mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 12g
4%
Dietary Fiber 3g
12%
Sugars 4g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
39%
Vitamin C
35%
Calcium
4%
Iron
4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups fresh lacinato kale leaves, packed
  2. 1 1/2 medium apples, cored
  3. 1/4 cup flax seeds
  4. 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
  5. 1/2 peeled orange
  6. 3 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. I use a Nutribullet, and this fills it up to the brim.
  2. Spread the puree evenly on a 14” by 14” silpat baking sheet or parchment paper.
  3. Pour the mixture onto the sheet and use a rubber spatula to evenly spread the mix from one corner to the other, somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Get it as smooth and even as possible, erring on the side of making the edges just slightly thicker than the center.
  4. Place in dehydrator and dry at 135°F or 57°C for about 3 hours (maybe longer in humid conditions).
  5. To test for doneness, press the leather lightly with flat fingers. If your finger leaves an indentation, it is not ready. If the leather feels moist or sticky, it is not ready. It will be slightly tacky, but it should not feel wet at all. If it pulls off the paper easily, it is done. If parts stick to the sheet (which is more likely at the center), it is not done. Look for color variations, wet spots may be much lighter or much darker in color.
  6. If it is dry and brittle, it is too dry, but it makes a nice crunchy "chip."
Notes
  1. Spinach or other mild greens can be substituted for the kale, and chia or other seeds can substitute for the quinoa, if you want a "grain free" version.
beta
calories
75
fat
3g
protein
2g
carbs
12g
more
https://goodphytefoods.com/