Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Happy Easter - the "sneaky" bunny brought a few treats ;)

Last Easter was a food-allergy disaster. The youngest obviously did not have candy, but my then-two-year-old daughter had both mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and a chocolate bunny, and her cheeks broke out in a horrible rash. Her mood totally changed and I was determined to not repeat the same mistake as last year.

However, I also worry about being too cautious and vigilant about sugar, so I decided that if they were going to have sugar and chocolate, it would be as un-processed as possible with a little bit of nutritional value.

I used the same "baskets" they had last year with the little plastic eggs, and shredded colored construction paper in our paper shredder. I put little ziplock snack bags full of dried cranberries, papaya, pineapple, and raisins from the Whole Foods Bulk Food section in the little plastic eggs. Then I stayed up late and baked some Easter Sugar Cookies and Chocolate Biscotti (at the request of my husband). The kids liked the dried fruit and sugar cookies...we let them decorate the sugar cookies with coconut frosting (no dairy) Easter afternoon. The kids didn't like the Chocolate Biscotti, but my husband did!

Easter Sugar Cookies (adapted from "Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook"):
2/3 c. shortening (Spectrum palm-vegetable only)
3/4 c. sugar (I used natural cane sugar, a less-refined, less-sweet version from Whole Foods called "Florida Crystals")
1 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 T. rice milk
1 t. vanilla
1 c. quinoa flour
1 c. oat flour

Beat shortening & sugar with an electric mixer until well-mixed, then beat in egg replacer and vanilla. Then I mixed in the baking powder and flour with a wooden spoon. I shaped the dough into a ball and chilled for about 30 min. Then I rolled it out, using more flour if necessary, cut out my egg and bunny shapes, and baked at 375 degress for about 7 minutes (watch carefully, how long you bake will depend on how thick your cookies are). I tried to make mine at least 1/4 in thick, because any thinner they'll be too crispy or fall apart.

I love the coconut frosting from "Vegan with a Vengeance." It uses shortening, coconut milk, powdered sugar, and shredded coconut. Yes, we used food coloring - though I know this isn't always considered "safe" - it was a fun special treat.

Creamy Jicama Slaw - Raw Food Craze

I'm just starting to get into the new raw food craze. After spending all winter baking, roasting, and broiling, I'm ready to give the oven a rest. It has not only been heating up our kitchen - but also our gas bill.

As a family with a preschooler and a toddler, it's not really feasible for us to go totally raw. Undoubtedly, there are some things that will need to be cooked...but I'm trying to take small steps to introducing more fresh, living foods. For example, I have tried just lightly steaming broccoli. My daughter was really excited about the mini "snack carrots" she calls them, and the kids all love fresh fruit. "Swiss-style" oats, soaked overnight in water or rice milk (or milk if you can have it), are also a great alternative to cooked oats.

For the raw foods lifestyle, it is essential to have a good food processor (I was lucky to receive the Cuisinart dual food processor/blender for a Christmas gift!) It will slice, shred, chop and puree most vegetables, and though I have broken my plastic bowl and top twice, Cuisinart has replacement parts available at a very reasonable price.

There are great shredded vegetable salad recipes in "The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide." My new favorite is "Creamy Jicama Slaw," basically shredded jicama with what they call "Super Smooth Sauce." The recipe in the book has the sauce made with macadamia nuts (I used the nuts and made nut butter in my juicer), however, I tried a tahini sauce for my kids and they liked it.

Tahini Sauce to dip or mix with shredded vegetables:
1 T. Tahini (I used a super-creamy brand that I found at Russo's in Watertown)
1 T. Water
1/2 t. unbuffered Vitamin C powder (tart-tasting)...I used a brand from Cambridge Naturals
1 T. Oil (I used extra-virgin olive)

Whisk together until smooth with a fork. Pour over fresh shredded jicama, cucumber, cabbage, carrots, or zucchini. This is also a good substitute for mayo (egg allergies).

Also a particular favorite of ours is the Carrot-Olive Salad containing shredded carrots, sliced black olives, and olive oil. My kids also love the coleslaw recipe from "The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook," which uses fresh apples and raisins, and a sauce made from olive oil, rice milk, vinegar, lemon and orange juice instead of mayo. We have also found that Vitamin C Powder is a great substitute for vinegar or lemon juice in salad dressings - my husband claims it's not as rough on his stomach as the more acidic vinegar.

Spring is here! More raw food posts to come this spring/summer...