Fermentation Master Class with Amy Levin and Jo Balfe

On Saturday 19th January, I attended a fermentation masterclass, taught by raw food expert chefs Amy Levin and Jo Balfe. The venue was Russell James’ fully-kitted out space, a perfect venue for the class.

Russell, Amy and Jo

Russell's place

Fermentation is a process that has been around since the dawn of civilisation, employed by people to preserve foods, make them more digestible and more nutritious. Amy and Jo are both masters at fermentation and through extensive experimentation and practice, have created recipes simple to learn and to make, with fantastic results both in taste and nutritional abundance.

Rolling cheese

The first thing we learnt to make were various fermented nut cheeses. Nuts in their raw state are not so easy to digest, but when fermented, they become a probiotic rich food, much easier to digest. Amy demonstrated clearly and efficiently how to make cashew, macadamia and almond cheeses. The cashew cheese was used to make the filling for a mocha chocolate cheesecake. She also made a macadamia cheese rolled in chives and parsley and an almond cheese covered in a crust. The results were absolutely delicious.

Lunch was a wonderful mix of many of the foods made on the day. Salad with sauerkraut, almond and macadamia cheese, tomato salsa, chutney and crackers were all served and hugely enjoyed by all!

Jo then demonstrated how to make a number of other fermented foods. First she made chutney. Due to the high fruit content, chutneys do not require a long fermentation time. She made a pear and ginger chutney, using date paste as the sweetener. Next to be demonstrated was a tomato salsa, an excellent way to preserve tomatoes ripened over the summer, beautifully flavoured with cumin and red onion.

Making Kimchee

Kimchi was the next recipe, a spicy ‘kraut’, which is a staple food in Korea. It usually consists of Chinese cabbage and other vegetables, mixed with hot spices and ginger, not only amazing tasting, but also full of health benefits, including anti-cancerous properties. Koreans actually have a separate Kimchi fridge in their homes, as they make and eat so much of it!

Making sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is another incredibly healthy fermented food that has been eaten for centuries. The naturally occurring bacteria present in cabbage produces lactic acid, which helps our digestive process. It is easy to make and Jo and Amy made it with a mixture of red and white cabbage, resulting in a sauerkraut with a beautiful pink colour and a fantastic taste.

Kefir grains


Pouring the kombucha

Last to be demonstrated were the fermented drinks Kombucha and Kefir. Kombucha is made when a Kombucha mushroom or ‘scoby’ is mixed with sugar, water and tea. The resulting fermented drink is full of enzymes, probiotics, B vitamins and Vitamin C to name a few. Kefir contains up to 30 strains of beneficial bacteria, vitamins and amino acids and is slightly quicker to ferment that Kombucha. Whereas Kombucha has a slightly more acidic and vinegar-like taste, kefir is more carbonated and milder tasting. We tried hibiscus Kombucha, mango and goji berry and also mixed berry Kefir. The possibilities for different flavours are endless!

Kefir and Kombucha

Amy and Jo were incredibly supportive and answered questions throughout the whole day. They have also set up a fermentation Facebook group to provide on-going support and expertise to all those that attended the course.

I left feeling totally inspired, educated and eager to get fermenting! This class is a must for anyone into fermenting, looking to boost their health or simply a lover of great food.

Attendees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For further details on upcoming courses with Amy and Jo, please visit http://www.ooosha.co.uk/teaching1.html.

Raw Blueberry Cheesecake Recipe

blueberries fresh
I absolutely love blueberries, busting with flavour and packed full of health benefits!

They have an incredibly high level of antioxidants and studies have shown that blueberries can help reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease, improve memory and reduce risks of certain types of cancer.

Instead of using traditional cheese for this cheesecake, I use organic cashew nuts, which give a wonderful creamy texture when blended and work perfectly with the other flavours in the dessert.

You won’t believe its raw!

Always buy organic if you can, due to the higher levels of antioxidants present than the non-organic counterpart, especially in the case of the blueberries.

Blueberry cheesecake 01

Crust ingredients:
1 ½ cups pre-soaked almonds
½ cup ground coconut
½ cup dates
pinch salt

Filling ingredients:
2½ cups cashews, soaked
1½ cup blueberries
3 tbsp lemon juice
6 tbsp coconut sugar, ground
1 tbsp maple syrup
¼ cup water
1 vanilla bean, scraped
Pinch salt
1 tbsp psyllium husks (optional) *
6 tbsp coconut oil

¬ Place all crust ingredients in a food processor and grind until mixture resembles biscuit crumbs;
¬ Press mixture into 7” tart pan and place in freezer to set;
¬ Blend all filling ingredients except coconut oil in a high powered blender until fairly smooth;
¬ Add coconut oil and blend again until very smooth;
¬ Garnish with ground coconut and crushed nuts or blueberries.

For more delicious recipes you can download them here from my Facebook page.

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Festive Nut Roast Recipe

Nut roast 01

Nut roast is a traditional festive recipe that is common amongst vegetarians. This raw version is packed full of flavour and contains lots of seasonal vegetables which are good for us at this time of year. All the ingredients combine to create a deliciously nutty winter dish.

For the Nut Roast:

½ cup walnuts
½ cup almonds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ red pepper, diced
½ yellow pepper, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 large courgette, diced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
¼ cup olives, finely chopped
1 tsp harissa
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
Pinch salt and black pepper
¼ cup ground flax seeds

Nut roast 02

¬ Process first four ingredients in food processor until finely chopped
¬ Marinate red and yellow pepper, tomato, red onion, courgette in olive oil and lemon juice in a separate bowl, for at least 30 minutes
¬ Add nuts and seed mix to marinated vegetables and stir well
¬ Add remaining ingredients and continue to mix all ingredients until thoroughly combined
¬ Roll into log shaped pieces
¬ Optional: place on mesh screen in dehydrator for 3-4 hours at 115F

Caramelised onions:

3 medium red onions, finely diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp ground coconut sugar

¬ Coat diced onions in other ingredients
¬ Place on teflex sheet and dehydrate for 8-10 hours at 115F

Butternut squash and sage mash:

butternut-squash-mash

1 medium butternut squash, peeled
½ cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours and drained
4 tsp fresh sage or 2 tsp dried sage
2 tsbp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp raw honey
1 tsbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
2 tsp Pink Himalalayan salt
Pinch black pepper

¬ Using a vegetable chopper or food processor, dice butternut squash into very small pieces. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp lemon juice and cover in water. Soak for at least 2 hours
¬ Rinse and drain butternut squash and place in blender with remaining ingredients. Blend until very smooth. Garnish with black pepper

Wilted spinach:
4 cups spinach, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
Pinch black pepper

¬ Add spinach to remaining ingredients.
¬ Mix well and marinate for 1-2 hours at room temperature

Mushroom gravy (optional):

3 portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tbsp sweet white miso
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
Pinch black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup water

¬ Marinate mushrooms in miso, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper for 30 minutes
¬ Spread out on a teflex sheet and dehydrate at 115F for 2 hours
¬ Place ingredients in blender with 2 tbsp olive oil and blend adding a little water at a time until smooth
¬ Place gravy in a squeezie bottle

Nut roast 03

To assemble:

¬ Place a bed of spinach in a circular bowl, with a circular space in the middle
¬ Spoon the butternut squash mash into this hole in the middle of the spinach
¬ Lay 3 nut roast pieces cut into 2 inch3 discs in a stack on top of the mash
¬ Optional – top each piece of nut roast with mushroom gravy
¬ Garnish with caramelised onions and diced red pepper
¬ To serve warm, cover and place in dehydrator for 2 hours at 115F

You can keep in touch with me on Twitter and Facebook where I share lots of great tips and recipes (and lovely photos of all the raw food goodies I’ve been making at Down To Earth Café.)

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An Introduction to Superfoods – Part 2

Maca

Archaeological evidence shows that maca was domesticated over 2,000 years ago by the predecessors of the Incan people.

maca

Often indigenous tribes would bring cacao nibs and beans (raw chocolate) up to the Andes from the jungle and in exchange maca would go down from the Andes into the jungle. Both cacao and maca were used as money by ancient indigenous peoples, which says a great amount about how much it was revered.

Maca is a powerful adaptogen, which means it has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s systems, such as the cardiovascular system, nervous system, musculature and lymphatic systems. Adaptogens also boost immunity and increase the body’s overall vitality by 10-15% according to most studies.

Rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sulphur and iron, and contains trace minerals, including zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, bismuth, manganese and silica, as well as vitamins B1, B2, C and E. Containing nearly 20 amino acids and seven essential amino acids, Peruvian research claims that maca improves memory, increases oxygen in the blood, improves the function of neurotransmitters and increases libido.

Maca is excellent in smoothies, desserts and chocolate. It has a wonderful synergy with cacao due to its hormone balancing properties. It has a beautiful and powerful malty caramel flavour, but beware it is strong, so use responsibly! I have experienced excellent benefits to energy levels when I have maca and found it has also helped when endurance is required such as in sports training or exercise.

Carob

The carob plant bears fruit known as carob pods. 

carobThese pods have been used as food for more than 5,000 years. Carob powder comes from carob pods.Carob powder is an alternative to cocoa powder, having several distinct advantages.

Unlike chocolate, carob contains neither caffeine nor theobromine. Caffeine, and to a lesser extent theobromine, are both stimulants, making you more alert and giving you a boost of energy. However, they can also make you restless, anxious and irritable.

Too much caffeine can lead to headaches and even abnormal heart rhythms. For many people who consume caffeine on a regular basis, stopping consumption leads to symptoms of withdrawal. If you like a taste similar to chocolate, but without the stimulating effects, carob provides a suitable alternative.Carob contains calcium, which is important for proper bone and teeth formation and about 100g of carob provide almost half of the average person’s daily calcium requirement.

It is rich in minerals such as magnesium, iron, phosphorus, manganese and potassium. It is also a good source of fibre and protein. In addition to being naturally cholesterol-free, carob also contains pectin, which lowers cholesterol levels and decreases your risk for heart disease. In a study by Zunft et al, carob pulp was shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic patients.

Carob is a great addition to raw desserts and works really well in smoothies. Use as a great alternative to cacao for that energy boost without any stimulant effects. I love the beautiful malty flavour. It is a wonderful natural sweetener. I especially love putting carob in chocolate as it adds another dimension of flavour.

Lucuma

Lucuma is a subtropical fruit of Andean origin. Its flavour is similar to a cross between maple and sweet potato. It has been called the “Gold of the Incas”.

lucuma-giant

Lucuma is an excellent source or carbohydrates, fibre, carotene, vitamin B3, and other B vitamins. It has remarkable concentrations of beta-carotene, an immune system boosting vitamin and also contains niacin and iron with significant amounts of calcium and phosphorus.

The level of complex carbohydrates, minerals and fibre make it an excellent low glycemic addition to desserts and recipes.

Lucuma can be mixed into smoothies, used to make ice cream or can be used as an excellent sweetener replacement, due to its low GI score. It provides a delicious caramel-like flavour. I love adding lucuma to sweeteners and have recently discovered a wonderful recipe for raw caramel, which includes lucuma, maple syrup, coconut oil and ground almonds.

Please do contact me if you’d like anymore advice on Superfoods! 

You can keep in touch with me on Twitter and Facebook where I share lots of great tips and recipes (and lovely photos of all the raw food goodies I’ve been making at Down To Earth Café.)

Sign up for my newsletter and be the first to hear about my upcoming Raw Food Workshops and the latest Raw Foods Company news.

p.s I highly recommend a Fermentation Master Class that I will be attending, taught by Amy Levin – you can find out more details and book your place here.

An introduction to Superfoods (part 1)

Superfoods can have hugely positive impact on health, especially when high quality foods have been sourced.

In this blog post, the focus is on 3 plant based superfoods, grown and cultivated in pristine waters and lakes – Chlorella, wrack seaweed and blue green algae.

Chlorella

chlotella_plate

Chlorella has its name due to the high concentration of chlorophyll it possesses. It has the highest amount of chlorophyll per gram of any plant studied so far. Chlorella is known for its remarkable detoxification properties. It has been found in numerous research findings to aid in the breakdown of hydrocarbon toxins and heavy metals such as mercury and lead, whilst also being involved in strengthening the immune system.

Chlorella stimulates red blood cell production and helps transporting oxygen around the body and also to the brain.   Is is also thought to increase interferon levels, which results in increased production of T-cells and macrophages, enhancing the body’s natural defences and protecting against diseases such as cancer.

Being high in fibre, it has a cleansing effect on the bowel and aids in healthy digestion due to the presence of digestive enzymes such as pepsin and chlorophyllase. Chlorella is also alkalizing for the body helping to balance pH levels.

It is important to ensure your source of chlorella is high quality, as poorer quality sources may contain contaminants and toxins.

Wrack Seaweed

wrackseaweed

A perfect trace mineral balance for the human body. Wrack seaweed is also very alkalising and acts as an excellent preservative for other foods.It is one of the finest natural sources of iodine and all amino acids. It contains up to 60 trace elements and contains vitamins A, B, B12, C, E and potassium.

The ocean contains the same minerals and trace elements as human blood and these are integrated into the living tissue of seaweed. The natural vitamins, foundation minerals and vital nutrients are in a form that is easily assimilated. It has been estimated that certain seaweeds are up to 30 times higher in minerals than land food, which is affected by depleted nutrient levels in our soils.

Many people are understandably concerned about consuming produce from the oceans due to media reports of pollution, but this issue is widely misunderstood. Generally the ocean is a far less polluted growing medium than land soil especially farm soil because of the widespread use of pesticides, insecticides and fertilisers as well as airborne industrial pollutants.

Blue green algae

bluegreenalgae

Blue green algae, also known as Cyanobacteria is found naturally growing in alkaline waters of ponds and lakes. It is actually closer to a bacteria than an algae. It is rich in vitamins A, C, E and the B complex vitamins including B-6 and B-12. These vitamins are highly bioavailable, in a state that is easily assimilable for the body.

Phycocyanin is the pigment which gives blue-green algae its characteristic colour. Blue-green algae is high in protein and essential amino acids and also rich in minerals such as magnesium, calcium and iron and high in trace minerals.

Due to the exceptionally high nutrient content of Blue-green algae, it has huge energy-bossting and immune-system strengthening properties. It also has strong anti-oxidant properties, which aids in the detoxification and elimination process. It is also believed to balance flora in the gut and fight overgrowth of candida. Other potential benefits can include anti-ageing, reduction in depression and levels of stress and improved memory.

It is very important to find a high quality source of blue-green algae, as poor quality sources may contain high levels of heavy-metals and other toxins.

And with all superfoods source only organic, truly raw and the highest quality possible ensuring that those growing the foods are committed to living sustainably.

You can keep in touch with me on Twitter and Facebook where I share lots of great tips and recipes (and lovely photos of all the raw food goodies I’ve been making at Down To Earth Café.)

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Eating Seasonally (Part 2)

So I decided for this blog to pick out another delicious food that is very suited to being enjoyed at this time of year – butternut squash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butternut squash is a winter squash, and is actually a fruit, as it contains seeds. It has a lovely nutty flavour and is packed full of antioxidants and phtyonutrients. It is low in fat and high in fibre, making it great for the digestion and also for the heart. It is also high in potassium, which helps support healthy bone growth.

It’s vibrant yellow colour is indiciative of the high levels of carotenoids, which support heart function and it also contains beta-carotene, which has been shown to help prevent breast-cancer and prevent macular degeneration. It’s levels of vitamin A also help to support healthy skin and mucus membranes and it is also very high in Vitamin C, helping to boost the immune system in those cold winter months.

Creamy butternut squash and sage mash

This mash is an easy recipe to make and is full of flavour. It can be enjoyed as it is, or can ben served in place of regular cooked mash as an accompaniment to any meal.

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash, peeled
½ cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours and drained
4 tsp fresh sage or 2 tsp dried sage
2 tsbp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp raw honey
1 tsbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
2 tsp Pink Himalalayan salt
Pinch black pepper

• Using a vegetable chopper or food processor, dice butternut squash into very small pieces. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp lemon juice and cover in water. Soak for at least 2 hours.
• Rinse and drain butternut squash and place in blender with remaining ingredients. Blend until very smooth. Garnish with black pepper.
• The mash can ben served cold or warm. To warm, if you have a Vitamix, you can continue to blend on high, until mash reaches desired temperature. Alternatively, place mash in a pan and warm on a very low heat.

You can keep in touch with me on Twitter and Facebook where I share lots of great tips and recipes (and lovely photos of all the raw food goodies I’ve been making at Down To Earth Café.)

Sign up for my newsletter and be the first to hear about my upcoming Raw Food Workshops and the latest Raw Foods Company news.

Eating Seasonally (Part 1)

In today’s world, with the advent of supermarkets and imported food, we have become accustomed to eating pretty much any food at any time. Eating seasonally however, can bring major boosts to your health and can also support the health of this wonderful planet we are living. When we eat fruits and vegetables that have not been grown in season, in a large number of cases they have been flown long distances, up to 1000s of miles to get here.

They have often not been allowed to grow to maturity and are picked in an immature state, which means they will more than likely lose a lot of nutrients before they arrive on our shelves. As well as the reduction in nutrient content, the cost in shipping and increase in atmospheric pollution to deliver this produce to us cannot be ignored as a major detriment to the sustainability of the planet.

By eating seasonally, you are living much more in tune with the planet’s natural cycles. The food you consume will often contain nutrients that correspond to your bodies’ needs. You are also purchasing fruit and vegetables that have had time to ripen and reach their optimum level of quality, when they will contain the highest possible levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Alongside eating seasonally, it is also really important to choose high quality organic produce. By choosing organic, you are avoiding the harmful pesticides and chemical that are sprayed on the fruits and vegetables and research has shown that there are higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants in organic compared to non organic produce.

Farmers’ markets are an ideal place to shop for high quality organic fruits and vegetables. You get to speak to the local farmers and find out exactly how they have grown their food and at the same time you are supporting the businesses that are working with food in the right way, rather than giving your money to nameless multinational organisations that care more about profits than creating a harmonious and sustainable planet.

A seasonal vegetable – Parsnips

Parsnips are a perfect vegetable to be eaten at this time of year. Most people know the conventional ways of eating parsnips, but when prepared in the right way, they can also be eaten raw, preserving more of the beneficial nutrients and enzymes. They are an excellent source of dietary fibre, and contain antioxidants, which have been shown to have anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. They are also rich in Vitamins K and E and high in folic acid, a B vitamin, which can help prevent birth defects in pregnant women and support healthy brain function.

Fruity-spiced parsnip rice

One of the best ways to eat parsnips raw is to create parsnip rice. There are many ways of making different flavours of parsnip rice, so feel free to play around with the ingredients, but I enjoy this recipe as it contains warming spices, which are perfect for this cold time of year. The parsnip rice can used in place of normal rice, added to a salad or enjoyed on its own as a snack!

Ingredients:
4 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped roughly
3 tbsp cashew nuts
4 tbsp mixed dried fruit, including raisins, cranberries and apricots
1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp ground coconut sugar or raw honey
1 ½ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp lemon juice
Himalayan salt and and ground black pepper to season

•    Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until ‘rice-like’ consistency is reached.
•    Parsnip rice will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days

You can keep in touch with me on Twitter and Facebook where I share lots of great tips and recipes (and lovely photos of all the raw food goodies I’ve been making at Down To Earth Café.)

Sign up for my newsletter and be the first to hear about my upcoming Raw Food Workshops and the latest Raw Foods Company news.