Category: raw

Raw! Raw! Raw! (Raw Vegan Chocolate Torte with Berries & Cashew Cream)


I received some delicious homework this week: 

Make a pie. 
Rules? Carte blanche. Do as you wish. Make it interesting.

Challenge accepted!

I decided to take this opportunity to make a raw, vegan, gluten-free dessert. I’ve seen the raw food movement really begin to shine in the past couple of years with the appearance of raw vegan restaurants, quite a few beautiful food blogs, and raw cookbooks. Though it hasn’t gone mainstream just yet (many of my peers had never heard of it), popularity has grown among the foodie community. Search #raw or #rawfood on Instagram or Pinterest, and you’ll see what I mean.

Why raw? Why not! The first thing that attracted me to raw food – the simple fact that it’s a new type of cuisine – which means a whole new world of meals and desserts to try. As an added bonus, the health benefits of adding raw plant-based foods to your diet are countless. The dishes themselves, when prepared properly, can satisfy any craving, from light to hearty, savory to sweet. The majority of the recipes that I’ve seen have been vegan – perfect for me – and are chock full of veggies and fruits. And, if you’re wondering, “what about protein?” Trust me, there is a ton of it. As with many vegan dishes, protein comes from nuts and seeds, and soaked and sprouted grains.

In many raw recipes, nuts and seeds are used in ways that I’d never thought of before, and this really intrigued me. For instance, I’ve seen recipes that involved fermenting wheatberries to create rejeuvelac, then combining them with blended raw cashews to make a savory cheese-type spread. Sunflower seeds and pepitas are ground and pressed together and then dried out to create crackers. My ultimate WOW moment? When I discovered that I could make a whipped cream out of cashews.

Sold.
I decided that I needed to try it out asap.

So I experimented, and then experimented some more. And I came up with the creamiest non-dairy cream I’ve ever had. My favorite part was that it didn’t have that dreaded soy-aftertaste, unlike most of the non-dairy “cream” products that I’ve tried in the past.

Oh, and the WOW factor of this pie is off the charts. 
Seriously. I brought this to my pastry student friends and it disappeared in seconds. In a room full of pies, the raw vegan one disappeared first.

You want to impress (insert name of anyone here)? Make this. 
Don’t tell them what it is right away. Just tell them it’s pie. 
Let them taste it.
Then tell them how there’s no processed sugar in it. 
Then tell them that it’s vegan.
Then tell them that it’s gluten-free. 
Then tell them that it’s raw. 
Then tell them yes, they can have seconds. 

Chocolate Torte
with Cashew Coconut Cream & Berries
raw, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need

crust
2 cups gluten-free oats
12 dates, chopped
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
filling
2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup water
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 tbsp raw agave nectar
how to do it
Pulse oats and cocoa powder in blender until flour consistency is reached. Add dates and coconut oil. Pulse until mixture comes together. Press into bottom of 10″ springform pan. Refrigerate.
Clean out blender.
Blend cashews and water. Add a little bit more water if cashews are too stiff to turn. Add oil, blend again for about a minute. Mixture will be warm from blades. Add vanilla and agave. Pulse until combined. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours. 
Note: if your cream is too watery to pipe, add more coconut oil and blend. 
Pipe cashew cream onto crust. Top with berries. 
Refrigerate until ready to serve. 
Enjoy. Every. Single. Bite. 



Wild Things (Chia Pudding)


Basic Chia Pudding*
RAW, VEGAN! original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need

4 tbsp ground chia seed
1 cup unsweetened almond milk**
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp vanilla (optional)
**Note: soy, coconut or hemp milk would work too, all yielding different flavours.

how to do it

whisk all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.
allow mixture to sit and thicken, about 10 minutes.
Serve immediately, or refrigerate and keep for later.

*This is a basic recipe. On it’s own, it has a very mild flavour. For added flavour and pizzazz, I recommend incorporating one of the following variations:

BANANA – Add one pureed banana to the mixture

CHOCOLATE – Use chocolate almond milk instead of unsweetened. Reduce agave nectar by 1 tbsp. Top with cacao nibs.

TROPICAL – use coconut milk in place of almond. Add 2 tbsp shredded coconut, and 1/4 cup crushed pineapple.

BERRY – Add in the puree of about 1/2 cup of your favourite berries. Add 1/4 more ground chia seed if pudding becomes too watery.



Spring Fresh (Avocado & Mango Salad)

I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my warmest welcome to my most desired season: springtime. While blooming flowers begin to paint the city with their limitless palette and scent the warming air with their intoxicating perfume, while the days get longer and the skirts get shorter, and while the sunshine begins to lend my chalky skin a warm glow, my two favorite elements of springtime are, unsurprisingly, food-related. 



My favorite part of spring? Visiting the outdoor farmers’ markets to obtain fresh, local produce, and planting my vegetable & herb garden. (Harvesting my own garden is my favorite part of Summer, but we’ll get to that when it happens.) This year, I’m trying something new: a balcony garden. As many of you may have experienced, urban living often comes with the sacrifice of a yard. However, inspired by a friend of mine, I’ve decided to be more proactive about where my food comes from and have decided that a little lack of terrain will not stop me from relishing the joy of harvesting my own veggies at home! 

As it’s the first time I’ll be doing this, I’m keeping it quite simple, with an assortment of herbs, some lettuces and, (my favorite) yellow cherry tomatoes. If you have any advice on balcony gardening, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment here or on my facebook page. 

Until my garden grows, I’ll be getting my fresh produce at the markets, where it seems as though each week something new is in season, which is an encouraging way to consume variety and enjoy fresh flavours at their peak!

A recent pot-luck dinner that I’d attended showcased a delightfully refreshing mango salad, and it inspired me to add some variety to my routine mixed greens. Today, I wandered over to the market, where I was further inspired to throw this fantastical salad together. The following is a recipe that I’m going to be making about one million times this summer. Once you try it, you likely will be repeating it, too. 

The list of ingredients alone are enough to make any foodie drool: Mangoes. Avocadoes. Radishes. Mâche.  An odd combination, perhaps in your mind. But in your mouth, I assure you, it is like no salad that’s ever grazed your lips.

Oh, and to top it off, a nutmeg balsamic dressing. 
Yeah. That’s right. Nutmeg. 
Crazy you say? 
Delicious, actually. 

Note: if you cannot find mache in your area, it can be replaced with watercress or dandelion greens.


Avocado Mango Salad with Nutmeg
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need (serves 2)

salad:
3 ripe medium-sized avocadoes (1 cup, diced)
3 or 4 ripe medium-sized mangoes (about 1.5 cups, diced)
1 cup chopped baby spinach
2 cups mâche
10 medium radishes, slivered thin

dressing:
3 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dry mustard/mustard powder
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup light olive oil
2 tsp sea salt

how to do it
Combine all dressing ingredients into pouring cup. Whisk until well blended.
Combine mache and spinach. Toss with dressing. Lightly toss in radishes, mangoes and avocado. (Do not toss too much, as avocadoes will turn to cream!)
Enjoy immediately. 
Preferably on a nice spring day. 







You Just Might Make Friends With Salad. (This Time).

I’ve never liked lettuce.

Being a vegetarian for so many years, this fact has often startled people.  Each time that I tell someone that I dislike lettuce, the reaction that I receive generally follows the same pattern. It begins with a baffled, “but how could you not like lettuce?” And is often followed by ” So I guess you don’t eat salad, then?”

Ah, how I love receiving that follow-up question. Each and every time, I’ll respond with, “actually, I love salad.” I then adore watching the person’s facial transformation – twisting mouth and furrowing brow – as he or she becomes even more confused. If the person does not immediately conclude that I am simply delusional, I will begin my usual – salads-don’t-need-lettuce rant.

Salads do not (always) need lettuce.

Now, you may have heard that you don’t make friends with salad, but I think that that is only because most people are doing it all wrong. There are so many vegetable possibilities out there – all you need is two or three of them, and you’ve got yourself a salad. Lettuce-free.


My two favorite salad combinations are: 1. Cucumber, tomato and celery and 2. Spinach, dried cranberries and almonds. Lately, however, I’ve been on a more exotic/experimental gourmet salad kick. I started the week off with a fabulous concoction of pan-seared red pear slices, brie and chopped walnuts. And then, yesterday, I picked that – as I discovered today at lunch – is even tastier once it’s been marinating for a while. Unlike lettuce salads that become soggy a day later – this salad maintained it’s crunch beautifully.

Go ahead and make some friends.


Marinated Fennel & Cucumber Salad
 an original recipe by Allison Sklar

what you’ll need
for the dressing: 
1/8 cup rice vinegar (any other light-tasting vinegar will do)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp mustard powder (acts as an emulsifier)
1 tsp dried crushed oregano
1/2 tsp garlic or onion powder (or both, if desired)
for the salad:
1/3 fennel bulb, chopped into thin slices
1 carrot, coarsely grated
2 lebanese cucumbers, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
handful toasted almond slices


how to do it
Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk until well blended. Toss vegetables to coat. Marinate for at least one hour – the longer, the better. If you desire lettuce, add some shredded iceberg just before serving.