Herbaceous Babe is going to be a little less regular in the days to come as the author gets launched in her professional career. Keep checking back, because there's no telling when a new post will appear!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Dehydrated Flax-jacks

It's not often I find a dehydrator at my disposal. And in fact, being a product of my instant culture, I don't like them very much except for preserving purposes. I prefer meals that can be prepared, start-to-finish, in less than an hour. But it had been so long since I had eaten pancakes that, by the time I received my new cookbook, I had become quite pliable.

Behold, the flax-jack: a flax-banana-pear smoothie without the cup. Okay, that doesn't really sound appetizing.... It's one of only three recipes in the entire book that does not have a cooked option - go figure. The banana is the predominate flavour, and though I rather enjoyed it, my sister found the texture a bit disconcerting. It's times like these when one must remember to appreciate an 'alternative' dish for its intrinsic value, and not compare it to the thing it is intended to imitate. Like I said, I liked them.

This is another flax pancake recipe from Amber Shea Crawley, but not the same as the one in her book.

Monday, December 24, 2012

"Practically Raw" & Hot Cocoa

All week my brain has been a-whir with wondering what to eat for Christmas dinner. One can only consume so much squash, sweet potato, kale, mushroom, and lentils before the belly begins to yearn for Spring and the asparagus it brings - not to mention green beans, snap peas, cucumber, zucchini, and weather warm enough to venture into a raw-er diet.

Almost in response to my silent musings, the delivery truck pulled (or rather, slid) into the yard with a Christmas care package from my grandparents: Practically Raw by Amber Shea Crawley. As I leafed through the 240-page tome, I thought aloud, This gal gets it! The recipes and their ingredients were simple, written for real people with real lives, complete with substitution suggestions and both raw and cooked options. Informational bubbles and sidebars offer practical tidbits about nutrition, organic vs conventional produce, nut soak-time, and much more. The best part is that most raw recipes are automatically gluten- and soy- free! I've perused several raw and vegan books over the last year, and this is the best book I've seen by far. I look forward to curling up with this book and a hot cup of Crio Brü.

Crio Brü is prepared just like coffee, but it's made of antioxidant-rich cocoa beans that are naturally caffeine free. Vegans rejoice, because now there's a simple alternative to those instant hot cocoa packets! *insert victorious cackle here*

So what am I cooking for Christmas? Flaxjacks - raw, gluten-free pancakes. I'll let you know how they turn out ;)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Raw Fudge and Mousse

Have you ever thought you knew a recipe by heart - and been wrong? Yup, I've been there. It was mousse day without a decent avocado, so we opted for fudge and set some cashews to soak. A few hours later, I opened the uncook book and oh no!  This recipe called for almond butter and chopped walnuts... no cashews :(

I had a decision to make: make the recipe and save the cashews for later, find a recipe that did use cashews, or substitute. Well, since there weren't any walnuts in the house (and they're optional anyway), the choice was fairly easy.

After blending the nut butter, nuts, agave, and cocoa in the food processor, I pressed the mixture into a 9"x9" pan (lined with parchment) and left it to set in the refrigerator. But there were still more cashews! Well, when life gives you cashews... make mousse anyway.

About the time I started making the fudge, I peeled and froze some overripe bananas. If it makes a great base for "ice cream", why not mousse? I'll tell you, the cocoa has to battle the banana for flavour pre-eminence. The avocado, on the other hand, is cloaked rather nicely (though I would recommend pre-mashing to optimize sneakiness). The banana is still tasty, but I think next time I'll substitute with a slightly greener banana.

And now it's time for Feature Failure. This week's guest: GF Thumbprint Cookies.

GF flour is tricky business, and I knew even after an extra 1/4c applesauce that my all-purpose was too dry (the recipe calls for oat, almond, and tapioca flours). It wasn't even soft enough to make the necessary indentation - hence the volcanic appearance. If I just think of them as a savoury snack, they're not so bad.... That's what I told myself. Then they cooled, and not even the chickens could eat them. Oh well. I don't miss cookies that much anyway. At least, that's what I'll tell myself until I work up the courage to try again.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Winter Bean Soup

Can I just tell you how ridiculously delicious this soup is?! Nope - words fail to capture the perfect blend of flavour, texture, and nutrition packed into this glorious bowl of pure genius.

Oven-roasted butternut squash, tomato, onion, carrot, kale, and white beans with a kiss of thyme will warm your belly and leave you satisfied on those cold winter evenings. Forewarning: Sister and I ate the entire pot - a projected 6 servings!

*Skip those overpriced tetra-paks and make your own vegetable stock! Save your veggie ends and peelings in a freezer bag until you have enough. Fill a large pot with water, add veggie pieces, boil for a few hours, and strain. It makes the house smell a little weird, but so worth the savings!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bean Burgers!

It all started with an interview at Down in the Valley Gluten-Free Bakehouse in Burnsville, MN. I figured knowing what their products taste like would be a good idea, so down the road to Valley Natural Foods Co-op I went.

There were GF pies, cookies, brownies, a few other items - all pleasant options, but I really wanted something I hadn't made at home yet: hamburger buns!

What goes better with hamburger buns than a super-simple vegan burger. Seriously, four ingredients (beans, flax meal, nutritional yeast, and water) mashed or processed together, shaped, and fried in a skillet. (These were made with Adzuki beans.)

Honestly, the bun was pretty standard, and perhaps a bit on the dry side, but paired with a few slices of juicy tomato and crisp lettuce, and nobody will notice ;)
*I don't think the buns are vegan, but hey, you can't win 'em all at once. If you have a GF vegan bun recipe, I'd love to try it sometime!

Greek Sandwich (Vegan Gyros??)

*This post is labeled nut-free. However, some individuals with nut allergies may have a reaction to sesame seeds (contained in the hummus).

Gyros, shawarma, and tacos al pastor are variations of doner kebabs, by definition "meat roasted on a spit." Though my family makes lamb and tzatziki on "Greek night," I make my own GF lafa (a pocketless pita which I jokingly refer to as "non-bread") and stuff it with hummus, tomato, cucumber, lentils, and Mahatma saffron yellow rice.  (Note: this is one of my few packaged products indulgences. I never seem to get the same effect making it from scratch.)

Okay, the lafa was not very pliable, making this meal somewhat difficult to eat, but it is so delicious and definitely worth both the work and the mess. Then again I'm still in the experimenting stages with the whole GF flour thing, so I'm bound to find the right ratio eventually... right?

Yes! A 1:1 ratio of GF flour and water with a dash of flax meal fried in a skillet makes a pancake-like lafa. Keep the temperature a little lower than medium so the lafa cooks thoroughly.

 See those beautifully golden brussels sprouts? Learn how to make your own here.