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I accidently created a twist on the classic cashew cream that I so love.

It tastes more like dairy. It had good bacteria. Many of you may think I’ve flipped my lid. But, ask yourselves, how is yogurt made? By sitting it in warm area. What does that do? Allows bugs to grow about and ferment. Why do we eat that stuff? Because it tastes good and because it is very good for our tummies. All the time it is good, but especially after anitbiotics or medicines or the Standard American Diet in general.

I’ve been making fermented foods for about a year now, replacing the good bacteria in our diets that many people get from yogurt, thus dairy, with saurkraut and pickles. Note that you have to make them yourself or buy saurkraut or pickles or kim chee or etc that are kept alive on purpose and stored in the refrigerator section– pasteurized pickles are dead.

Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz is the authority on fermented your own foods and making your own good buggies, probiotics and digestive tonics. His book also talks about fermenting sourdough breads, miso, drinks– he covers the world in many ways. The girl’s green popsicles in the previous post about hiding healthy food were made with mango, honeydew, and the fermented cashew cream this time. It was like adding a tangy yogurt taste to it. I’d always intended on making a post about the fermented stuff I’ve made, but so many others have. You can find many blogs, and of course the Wild Fermentation website, if you are interested in it.

I do believe that the cashew cream is my favorite DIY ferment so far though. I googled it and found several people have fermented their own cashew cream into ‘cheese’ or ‘sour cream’. And here I was, thinking I’d done something new and cool. But that’s the thing– once you start fermenting stuff on your own, it opens your mind to the realization that everything you eat isn’t supposed to come packaged and sealed in plastic or cardboard or dead. Our food is the most beneficial when it is alive. It sustains us more fully that way.

When I first heard of fermenting, I pictured canning and boiling mason jars and lids and preserving foods– I was happy to find out that that is entirely different from making a brine, covering the cucumbers, cabbage, carrots, okra or etc, and letting it sit for a few weeks and get sour and salty and yummy.

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Much simpler than I thought. Sometimes it turns out better than others, but I've never once made anything that makes us sick, which is the big fear we seem to have– that food that has sat out will make us sick. When it sits out from a fresh state, with beneficial bacteria living on it's surface, has enough salt to keep the bad bugs at bay, and the mold is removed, there is rarely a problem.

I definitely plan on experimenting with the cashew cream more!

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I think the reason these came out decently most is that they combine chickpeas with the almonds. I adapted them from a recipe that used lentils because chickpeas is what I had on hand (another testament to bulk amazon organic purchases). So they have a falafel-esque quality, but if you don’t like falafel, don’t worry.

I served them with rutabega oven fries.

Amounts are approximate, as all my recipes seem to be. Just do what you like. I taste and adjust. I’m impatient with recipes.

Food process or chop finely mix manually:

3/4 cups almonds. I soak mine for 4 hours or more. It seems to be true that it helps you digest them, because I do feel better, tummy wise, when they are soaked.

3/4 cup cooked or canned chickpeas

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp flax meal in 1/4 cup water (this is called flax gel, an egg replacer. Some people use chia seeds too)

We spiced it up with these spices, but you could really just do anything you liked. I might leave out the chili powder next time, for the kids.

1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt

Shape them into patties. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes on each side, so total 40-45 minutes.


I topped mine with freshly mashed up guacamole (avocados, lime juice and red onions) and cashew cream, since I don’t eat much grains for Ada’s sake. Payman of course put his on bread and made a nice sandwich. Gluten-free bread, but still bread that Ada can’t have.

And just to give credit where it is due, this is the recipe I adapted. I don’t love walnuts like almonds and cashews, so I haven’t ventured into buying them in 25 pound increments yet!

http://ohsheglows.com/2010/09/05/lentil-walnut-burgers/

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This is a recipe I entered into a blog contest a few weeks ago, but never put here. But it’s a good recipe, with a flour with decent protien and it holds together and stays soft, but doesn’t crumble (an issue with gluten-free baking) so I think it deserves a spot here.

Gluten, dairy, soy free, egg free, vegan, yada yada yada.

http://www.food52.com/recipes/12605_gluten_dairy_and_egg_free_overspiced_carrot_cupcakes_with_orange_icing

Over-spiced carrot cupcakes:

1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
1/2 cup Tapioca Starch
1 1/2 tablespoon dried ginger
1 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon guar gum or xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups water
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1 cup Palm Shortening
1 1/5 cup sugar
2 cups grated carrots
2 teaspoons vanilla
Orange-Vanilla Icing:

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup Dairy-free margarine like Earth Balance
1/4 cup Palm Shortening
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.Cream the shortening with the sugar and vanilla. I use a stand mixer with whisk attachment.

2.Stir the flax meal in to the water (this is a binder in place of eggs). Add to the creamed sugar and whisk for about another minute.

3.Add remaining dry ingredients, mixed together in a bowl, and whisk until mixed up. If using a stand mixer, you may have to stop and use a spatula to incorporate everything and mix again.

4.Grate or food process two cups of carrots. Fold into the batter. It will be a slightly thick batter, like muffins.

5.Line two muffin panswith paper cupcake cups. Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to fill cupcake cups a little more than 3/4 full. Use finger tips to smooth the tops if desired.

6.Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Let the cupcakes cool thoroughly before attempting to ice or handle them.

7.Cream all icing ingredients together while the cupcakes cool. Ice and enjoy!

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Colored with yellow beet juice, turmeric/paprika, red beet juice, raspberry juice, blueberry juice

I had a fun little project a week or so ago. A sugar-rushy project.

Before I had Ada, I ate little to no cane sugar. I baked with honey and only ate sugary desserts at a restaurant. I feel it pretty strongly when my blood sugar whoooooshes. Payman can count on me to get annoyed easily when I’ve had too much sugar.

More than that though, I had read an article a few years ago (before kids) about how when the body breaks down cane sugar into glucose and fructose it creates free radicals, which are bad. So I tried to eat more natural sugars. I still do— the sugar in this experiment was all evaporated cane juice. Still sugar but less processed.

But what’s funny is that now that I don’t eat gluten, or eggs, or dairy, or soy…. eh, I don’t mind some sugar slipping in for fun occassions. Or maybe it’s that I have to get my baked goods to stay together with no protein from wheat gluten, no protein from the eggs, no binding from the eggs, no protein from the dairy, no leavening from the eggs… and they do, and they are fabulous, but maybe I’ll get around to trying to get them to be made with honey instead of cane sugar after birthday seasons is over!

Now, I do need to do green… but I worked with what I had, because it was an impromptu experiment.

The coloring agents… paprika and turmeric to make orange. Tasted a bit spicey, but on the cake the kids didn’t mind. I heard that if you leave the spices out in the open air for a day it takes away some of the flavor.

Blueberry juice. I didn’t boil the blueberries down or anything. I actually took frozen ones and put them in a mesh strainer with a bowl underneath and mashed them until the strainer only had the skins left, and the bowl underneath was blue dye.


I did the same thing with raspberry juice, and I had yellow beat juice and red beet juice in the freezer. We don’t get beets alot, but everytime we do, I make sure to pour the water from boiling them into a freezer-safe container (otherwise known as old jam jars, with enough room for expansion).

I was happy with the brightness of the red and pinks I was able to make. The darker red is the beat juice and the lighter red was the raspberry juice. Just a tablespoon or two. They might come out less bright if I made a whole batch though— it wasn’t a stiff icing because I didn’t make too much.

Of course, now that Azita knows I can make all these colors… she wants a rainbow cake for her birthday.

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I am hardly the first person to blog about cashew cream. If you search, you’ll find lots of hits. Some just instruct to blend the cashew with water. Others call it ‘Cashew Sour Cream’ and add lemon juice, salt, and apple cider vinegar.

I used to add just lemon juice and salt, and it’s good, but the combination of vinegar with lemon juice helps give it the bite that is dairy-ish.

Last time I added dill as well, and it was too tangy for Payman’s taste but I loved it. I like tang. What can I say.

Next time I make it savory, (and that tart), I am going to add garlic and cucumber to make a dip like tsatiki sauce. That was always one of my favorite sauces, but obviously yogurt/dairy based.

The important things if you are going to make cashew cream:

The cashews must be raw. Roasted won’t do it.

You can get raw cashews for about $6 a pound at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. We don’t have access to those here where I live, and the raw cashews are a bit more expensive locally, unless you can shop on Post. I order mine online. You can order them in bulk from different places– I actually just used Amazon the last time. I got 10 pounds and store them in the freezer. It’s been about two months and I make cashew cream pretty regularly.

People often worry that dairy and gluten free replacements cost too much. I use about a cup or two of cashews at a time, which is not a whole pound, and that makes a few cups of cream. Sorry I’m not more specific. I’ve never been into measurements. I like to wing it. Either way, I don’t think it’s more expensive than any decent quality dairy, and cheaper than organic I’d bet.

After you’ve soaked your cashews, rinse them with fresh water and put into a blender. One to four with the water will make a thicker cream, and one to two with the water makes a thicker cream, i.e. 1/4 cup of water to 2 cups of cashews, or 1/2 cup of water to 2 cups of cashews.

The cashews will plump up while soaking and make also get small purplish streaks. This is normal.

Blend up the cashews with a pinch of sea salt, the juice of one lemon and and a dash of apple cider vinegar. This makes it a tad sour, giving the dairy-ish-ness. Then taste it and see if you like it more sour. I use more than this when I’m not worried about what my husband would prefer. Haha.

Or, put a dash of vanilla and a few tablespoons of honey or maple syrup.

Now, if you don’t have a really high speed blender you may have to use more water instead of less. The cream will definitely thicken up in the fridge though, so if you want it thick, don’t fret.

I’d love to have a vitamix or a blendtec, but I’ve got a medium priced– more than $40 but less than $100– Cuisinart that does the job okay. You could probably do this in a food processor too. As this blender has gotten older and the blades duller, I’ve had to add more water to get all the cashews blended.

No matter how good your appliances, the end product would very very doubtfully be *bad*. I just couldn’t see it.

I also recently made a dairy, egg, and soy free potato salad by mixing up cashew cream with soy free veganaise.

This is my cashew cream musings. If you make it and have a different experiance or just something to add, please do!

If you didn’t see my last post, take a look, and then imagine that I made the cashew cream with raw cacao powder and maple syrup over the raspberries a few days ago!

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Okay, so I’m over my post from last week. People can be inconsiderate, blah, blah blah, oh well.

We have been diggin’ some cashew cream around here these past few weeks. Our ice cream maker– which dutifully turns cans of coconut milk into near-instant treatery died a few weeks ago and I am waiting to get a new one by mail soon. In the meantime, what is a dairy-free girl (and her two dairy-free kidlets) to do?

We already loved cashew cream as a sour cream-type-ish thing for dips for veggies and crackers, or put on top of meat or veggie tacos and etc.

I wanted to do something special for Ridvan, and my cashew cream-key lime-berry parfait was born.

I layered sweet cashew cream made with vanilla and honey, which I think I’ll detail how to make in the next post, with raw key lime pie filling — this one was avocados, mangos and lime juice and then with chopped up strawberries, whole raspberries and blueberries. I food processed the strawberries, just pulsing, so they didn’t puree. You can freeze them slightly, or freeze them hard and let them thaw a bit, or just chill them in the freezer. You get a different texture depending on how you do it.

They were a wonderful and filling treat…. protein, healthy fat, no dairy, gluten, egg, soy, corn etc. Allergy friendly, unless you reacted to cashews, but that’s low down on the list of more common allergens.

I think I’m going to make big batches and keep them for breaskfast.

Since the initial set I made a few weeks ago, I’ve done a few with just cashew cream and pureed strawberries, which gives a slightly different effect then the chopped fruit. But the key lime pie *with* the berries and cream really makes it.

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I made some gluten-free cinnamon rolls the other day and a few people asked that I post the recipe.  Just a word of warning, though they got great reviews around here, if it’s the first thing you are making gluten-free, you can’t expect them to be exactly the same.  They won’t unroll the way a cinnamon roll made out of wheat will.  They don’t rise and puff up.  So they actually might seem more like mini-cinnamon rolls to those used to the mainstream ones.

Another note– I used a mix.  Now, using a mix in the gluten free world isn’t exactly the same as the dump and pour mixes of glutendom.  The mix we used was Namaste “Biscuits, Pie Crusts and More.”  I love this mix, and this brand has a dedicated facility and their xanthan gum is not sourced on corn (you’ll know what that’s about if it matters for you or your kids).  So I like the brand, I think they are trying to be sensitive to the needs of those of us that don’t eat certain ingredients. 

Many of their mixes don’t work well without egg, but this mix doesn’t call for it, so since I don’t eat eggs, that isn’t an issue for this recipe. 

Anyway, yes I used a mix, but there is still some love you gotta put in to make these come out well.

As a kid, we always ate Orange Danish Rolls out of the can by Pillsbury.  Full of high fructose corn syrupy, aluminum whatchamcallits, and hydrogenated oils.  YUM-O!

And Azita loves, adores, anything made with cinnamon.

Thus, this Saturday morning’s gluten, dairy, egg, cane sugar, soy and corn free cinnamon rolls were really inevitable.

I play around with recipes and am not good at amounts, but I’ll try:

I took about 3 cups of the Namaste Biscuit Mix,a teaspoon or so of cinnamon, added a table spoon of maple syrup (honey would be fine), and plopped in 2 or 3 heaping tablespoons of Spectrum Palm Shortening.  It is thick and white and like crisco, but organic, non-hydrogenated and free of soy/corn/canola or any other oil but palm.

Then I add just a little bit of water at a time– probably starting with 2 tablespoons.  You do not want a batter, you want a dough.  I use a fork and mix it all up and the corseness of the flour helps the shortening and honey distribute evenly.  I had to add maybe another tablespoon of water.  I just keep riding the fork round the side of the bowl so it incorporates all the ingredients.  It should be able to be picked up and rolled in to a big ball.  It wasn’t sticky.

Now the love and gentleness are important.

I plop my ball onto a glass or ceramic surface and just flatten to a 3/8″ square with my hands.  Bigger than 1/4″ but smaller than 1/2″.  Rolling it is hard with gluten-free stuff, at least for me.  So I gingerly shape it to a square and mush it down.

I sprinkle cinnamon around.  You could add cane sugar here if you wanted to, but we let the sweetness come from the glaze and the little but in the dough.

Roll it up– I started from the outer edge and worked toward myself, just slowly, lovingly, gently, pulling up the pieces that stuck to the surface as needed.

Then cut them into pieces and baked at 350 for more than 20 minutes, but less then 30.  Until they were done.  Sorry I’m not more specific.  It’s not one of my strong suits in the kitchen.

The glaze.   What makes it, really. I took creamed honey, which is practically like a glaze into itself, and mixed it with the juice of a fresh orange.  Less juice than honey, so it was still thick.

So that’s what we did.  It wasn’t perfect or done by a great gluten-free chef, but we ate them up.

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