Bone Broth a traditional nourishing food

Now, you might be wondering, isn’t this a vegan raw food blog?!

A bowl of Broth

No, it isn’t. Although I’ve been following that diet for five solid years, from 2001 to 2006, I don’t any longer.

Yes, I still teach raw food classes and a full-on Raw Chef Training. Promoting raw food as a ‘lifestyle’ is just not what I do any longer. I firmly believe however in the empowerment that comes from knowledge and skills in the preparation of great food made from organic ingredients. That includes culinary pleasing raw food – especially raw desserts and snacks AND fermented/cultured foods!.

In my own life, my wife Lydia and I are following more or less the recommendations of the Weston A Price Foundation (caffeine is the exception :-)). In my teaching I strongly support their views on nutrition – from personal experience.

It only took me about two years and several lost teeth to eventually listen to my dear doctor, Damian Wojcik in Kamo, Northland. When he recommended to me to start drinking bone broth to improve the state of my dental health I somehow turned deaf. ‘Only’ two abscessed and a few more pulled teeth later I finally gave in and got myself some beef bones from the Kerikeri Butchery. Imagine a raw food chef: hat pulled down into his face, collar up, frequently looking over his shoulder, tip toeing into a butcher’s door. With hushed voice I asked for beef bones – and got given a shopping bag of bloody animal spare parts. Yes, at no cost! You will find that happen frequently too. Bones are not highly priced items at most butcheries.

Nina Flintstone

To my great surprise, Bone Broth (Stock) made a strong impact on my almost constant sweet cravings and low energy levels. These are things of the past. Many other things have changed since then too. I’m drinking a Raspberry milk shake as I am writing this – made from organic raw milk with raw organic egg  yolks… I guess in that regard, I can still call myself a ‘Raw Foodie’ 😉

Lydia was the one who really got passionate about bone broth in the beginning. She bought a crock pot and made sure it was always filled with hot and nourishing stock – she had been a vegan for 24 years by then!!! Imagine being warm and nurtured and feeling it – from the inside. Nothing does that better than a cup of bone broth with a bit of pickle juice from lacto-fermented brine pickles!

Crock pot

I won’t bore you with all the marvellous properties and benefits of bone broth. You’ll find a truck load of valuable information on the Weston A Price Foundation website or by reading Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book: Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS).

Before getting into the culinary territory here a quick glance at some logical connections: Upon her struggle with temporary infertility a smart naturopath suggested to our then raw vegan friend: “If you want eggs, eat eggs!” She listened and is now the proud mom of two strong kids!
In a similar fashion, it strikes me as logical to think: “If I want strong bones and joints…” Before committing to painful and expensive surgical procedures on my joints (knees, hips, spine etc.) I personally would consider gelatine rich stock/bone broth an option.

And yes, there is a difference between those vegetarian bullion cubes/powders and real bone broth. Often even the organic versions of these soup powders or pastes have a variety of dubious ingredients that can easily contain or camouflage MSG (like: yeast, hydrolyzed protein, spices…), a chemical you don’t want to add to any person’s diet. I personally stopped using these industrial bone broth substitutes. Try a good miso instead!

And here is the recipe you have been looking for.

BONE BROTH

Yield: Approximately 14 servings. This recipe makes approximately 2-4 liters of broth depending on the size of your crock pot.

Ingredients

  • 4 liter of filtered water
  • 1.5 kg of organic grass-fed beef bones, canon bones/leg bones are best and have plenty of marrow. Ask your butcher to cut them into pieces for you so the fit into your crock pot and you can access the marrow! Organic pasture-fed chicken necks and carcasses are inexpensive and also work great.
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp of peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp organic apple cider vinegar, like Bragg’s
  • 1 tsp unrefined sea salt – more or less to taste
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic or 1 onion cut into quarters, optional
  • 1 whole carrot, optional

Preparation

  1. Brown or roast the bones bones first in a separate pan in the oven. It will caramelize the protein and give your broth a richer flavour. There is usually enough fat on bones to not require extra fat when roasting them. Spread them out on a baking tray and roast at 220°C for 4-5min from one side, turn the bones over and roast for a further 2min from the other side. Make sure NOT to char them!
    Roasted Bones
  2. Place all ingredients in a crock pot and set the heat to HIGH.
  3. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat setting to LOW.
  4. Allow the stock to cook for a minimum of 8 hours. The longer it cooks, the better (up to 24 hours)!
  5. Strain the stock through a fine mesh metal strainer. Add any meat bits to a soup or eat them as they are.
  6. Place the hot stock into glass jars and seal them for storage in the fridge (for up to a few weeks). Let them cool down on the bench before transferring the jars to your fridge.
  7. The bones can go back into your crock pot for another round – up to 12 times!!! They will release more minerals and gelatine with every round. Just add more apple cider vinegar and sea salt! After a few rounds you might want to add more black pepper corns and a few bay leaves.

You will find that the jars with stock in your fridge turn into a firm jelly. That is caused by the high gelatine content!
If you like, you can skim off any fat that has risen to the top and solidified – consider this “tallow” – and feel free to cook and fry with it or just leave it with your stock for the next soup!

You can drink stock any time of day, before or after meals, or use it as the base for soups and stews! Perfect in any recipe that calls for broth/stock.

Variations

Use any other kind of animal bones you like – chicken, in fact, will take less time due to the smaller pieces. Chicken bones will fall apart after 3-4 rounds.
You can add chopped veggies like carrots, celery and onions for more flavor or variety.
Seaweed, especially Kombu, is a great addition to broth.
For a more smelly, yet gelatine-rich, version a.k.a. fish stock use fish heads! 🙂

For an interesting look at the mineral content of bone broth and the actual mechanism that makes it beneficial for building strong bones and joints have a look at this great article by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD here!

For an even deeper understanding I suggest you get yourself a copy of “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon or this little treasure here: ‘Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World’.

Enjoy and Be Nourished!
René
🙂

Nina cheers!

This is little Nina “Flintstone”. She is living with her dear parents Janaina and Ranieri at http://www.aro-ha.com, where Ranieri is the head chef. 🙂

KimChi – more than pepped-up Sauerkraut!

Here is another stunning fermented vegetable recipe. I am pleased to announce it is purely plant-based, so no fish sauce or other ingredients of dubious origin have been used 🙂

KimChiAt first I was concerned that all the spicy ingredients, which are natural anti-biotics would stunt the fermentation process. And yes, it slows the fermentation down a wee bit but not too much – if you leave it out at room temperature like sauerkraut. The batch in the picture above and to the left was made like  sauerkraut and worked out perfectly.

You have the option though to make the KimChi without adding the spicy chili paste to it initially. Let the vegetable mix ferment in peace first and store the chili paste in a thick-walled glass jar (it might burn holes in any fragile vessel *Twinkle*) Once the fermentation has stopped – after 3-4 days, add the chili paste to taste.
The chili paste can be kept indefinitely in the fridge.

Here comes the recipe. It is the shortened form of a very thorough description I found years ago on this website: www.treelight.com/health/nutrition/UltimateKimchi.html

KimChi
Makes 3-4l of KimChi

Vegetables

  • 1 head cabbage, shredded finely
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • 2 cucumbers or zucchini, shredded
  • 3 heads broccoli, shredded
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 2 small oranges, juiced
  • 2 t sea salt (more if needed)
  • 1T Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ¼ c Sesame seeds
Chili Paste

  • 3.5 red onions
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 small hand ginger
  • 4 soft flesh pieces of preserved lemons, optional
  • 2T Apple Cider Vinegar
  • fresh or frozen chilies, amount according to desired heat
  • ½ t natural sea salt
  • 1T toasted sesame oil, to cover the finished product when storing in a glass jar
  1. Prepare the vegetables by massaging with sea salt like Sauerkraut. Add diced apple, orange juice, sesame seeds and Apple Cider Vinegar and mix well.
  2. Prepare chili paste in a blender and balance flavours. Keep the toasted sesame oil aside for later!
  3. Now mix some of the chili paste with the vegetable mixture and massage with your hands. Test flavour and add more if desired. Keep left over chili paste in a glass jar. Cover top with a layer of toasted sesame oil to prevent oxidization and store in fridge.
  4. This Kimchi can be eaten immediately. Stored in the fridge in a sealed glass jar it will develop a stronger flavour over time and even ferment. Alternatively weigh the top down as when making Sauerkraut (cover top with plastic bag to keep the bugs out!) and leave it sitting in a bowl to catch any bubbling liquids that might escape the jar (see picture below!) on your kitchen counter or in your hot water closet for a week or so. Then take the weight and cover off. Seal the jar with a lid and transfer to fridge.

KimChi bowlAlternatively ferment Kimchi vegetables first, like in the Sauerkraut recipe. After 3-4 days you can add the chili paste and transfer the jar into your fridge.

What else can I say but:
‘Best of Success!’

René
🙂

Wakame Miso Nut Crumble – a perfect salad tune-up!

Another day with the same salad? Healthy snacks nowhere to find?
There is help! If you have a dehydrator or kind-of-modern oven this recipe will brighten your day!

Wakame Miso Nut Crumble
Makes about 4-5 dehydrator trays

  • 400g Almonds, soaked over night
  • 300g Pumpkin seeds, soaked over night
  • 300g Sunflower seeds, soaked over night
  • 300g Sesame seeds, soaked over night
  • ½ c chia seeds
  • 25g dried Wakame sea weed (1 bag), crushed and soaked for 2 hours
  • 3 T Tamari sauce
  • 4 T Brown Rice Miso
  • 1 T Honey or coconut flower nectar
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, minced (Microplane)
  • 2 t natural sea salt
  • ½ t mild chili powder
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 1 lime, juice
  1. Rinse the soaked nuts and seeds. In a food processor pulse the almonds and pumpkin seeds into a coarse crumbly texture.
  2. Combine everything in a large mixing bowl and stir well. Let it sit for a while for the seaweed and chia seeds to soak up some of the moisture of the mix. That will help sticking things together when dry.
  3. Spread loosely onto Teflex sheets so that enough air can flow through the clusters and the wet mix does not touch the tray above.
  4. Start dehydrating at around 145°F, turn down gradually to 115°F and eventually to 105°F. If you have an Excalibur dehydrator make sure to rotate the trays horizontally from time to time and also rotate from the centre out to the top and bottom rack.
    Should the oven be your only gadget, set the temperature on low: 50°C, turn the fan on, leave the door slightly ajar and go for it! Yes, a few baking trays will do.
    Dehydrate till crisp and completely dry.
  5. Enjoy as crumble over your salads or as individual snack.

Miso Wakame Crumble dry

Miso is one of the few soy-based foods I would actually use. Tamari is the run-off/whey from the Miso production.

Enjoy!
René
🙂

Turmeric, Cauliflower and Carrot Brine Pickles

Have you ever wondered how those delicious pickled cucumbers or vegies were made when you grew up? I certainly did.
If you happen to ask any chef about pickles, they will highly likely start talking about vinegar, sugar etc. The art of preserving and enhancing vegetables with a salt brine, creating a lactic fermentation process is almost forgotten.

Large jar

Thank Heavens and himself for Sandor Ellix Katz’ book: ‘Wild Fermentation’!!! It reconnected me with more than one traditional way of preserving and enhancing food.

These brine pickles have become an absolute staple in our kitchen. And here we go:

Cauliflower and Turmeric Brine Pickle
adapted from Sandor Ellix Katz’ recipe for Sour Pickles
Time frame 1 – 4 weeks
Will make enough to fill a 4.5l jar/crock pot.

  • 2-3 heads of organic cauliflower, cut to small florets, stalks peeled and diced
  • 1kg organic carrots, sliced into thin ‘coins’
  • 500g fresh turmeric.
  • 3-5 heads of garlic, peeled, cloves cut in half
  • ½ t Grape tannin powder (home brewing supply shops). Or a handful fresh grape-, cherry-, oak-, and/or horseradish leaves (if available).
  • 20+ black peppercorns
  • 1T black mustard seeds
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves, optional
  • 6 T sea salt and 2 liters filtered water (keep ratio to 3T salt/liter of water, if more liquid is required!)
  • 2-3 cabbage leaves, outer
  1. Chop cauliflower into small florets. Peel the stems and dice. Using a mandolin, grate/cut Turmeric into small matchsticks.
  2. In a large bowl mix all the vegetables, turmeric and garlic. Keep a few cloves of garlic aside to put on top of the finished crock. Keep cabbage leaves aside.
  3. Dissolve the sea salt (6T/90ml) in 2 liters of water to create a brine solution. Stir until salt is thoroughly dissolved.
    This concentration works well in most applications: 3T sea salt/1 liter water
  4. Clean the crock, then place at the bottom of it some of the mustard seeds, fresh grape leaves and a pinch of black peppercorns.
  5. Place the mixed vegetables in the crock. Disperse some more of the black mustard seeds, bay leaves and black pepper throughout. Finish with the remaining garlic cloves on the top.
  6. Pour brine over the vegetables. Fill the jar/crock almost to the top. Put folded cabbage leaves on the very top of the mix and press down. The cabbage leaves should be partially covered by the brine. Now put lid in place and close the crock/jar.
    Cabbage leaves on top
    The jar in the picture has been fermenting for a week or so. You can see that some of the brine has been forced out by the fermentation. You can top that up with fresh brine (3T sea salt/liter of water)
  7. If the crock pot does not have a tight fitting lid or you are using a traditional Sauerkraut crock pot, place a clean plate over the vegetables  then weigh it down with a jug filled with water or a boiled rock. If the brine doesn’t cover the weighed-down plate, add more brine mixed at the same ratio of just under 1 T sea salt to each cup of water.
  8. Cover the crock with a cloth to keep out dust and flies and store it in a cool place.
  9. Check the crock every day. Skim any mold from the surface, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all. If there’s mold, be sure to rinse the plate and weight. Taste the pickles after a few days.

10. Enjoy the pickles as they continue to ferment. Continue to check the crock/jar every day.

11. Eventually, after one to four weeks (depending on the temperature), the pickles will be fully sour. Continue to enjoy them, moving them to the fridge to slow down fermentation.

The same recipe works to create different colours, e.g. with zucchini (add tannin to keep crisp!!!), beetroot, carrots and garlic. This will be a deep purple pickle! Experiment with greens too! Silver beet pickles beautifully!

Purple Pickles

Feel free to play with other spices too! Ginger, coriander seeds, juniper berries etc.

Cauliflower Turmeric

This one was made at the last Raw Chef Training Level 1 http://wp.me/P1RysK-5F

I find it not necessary to weigh down the top of the pickles etc.. It is usually fine to fill the jar to the top with vegies and brine and then just seal the lid, put the jar into a bowl to ferment – to catch the brine that gets squeezed out during fermentation.

For metal lids I use a double sheet of cling film over the top of the jar before putting on the lid. That prevents the salt brine from corroding the lid.

Pickles

Enjoy your pickles as a side dish, vegetable part of your meal or a yummy snack between meals!

René
🙂

PS: Yes, we’ll make these kind of pickles at the Raw Chef Trainings, Level 1.

How to learn a craft? or What does it take to apprentice?

Funny title for a food related blog, you might think. I agree, yet it’s not that weird.

Why are you here reading this? Right, you want to learn, expand your horizon. You were maybe looking for that ONE recipe out there that finally tells you how to use fresh turmeric. You are willing to go out of your way for new knowledge that will improve the quality of your life.
If I’m wrong I probably lost you by now 😉

That’s however not the kind of learning I mean with ‘apprenticing’ or ‘apprenticeship’. These days online courses, webinars and home study courses are all the hype.
Why?
In my arrogant opinion: because they are easy to market and have a low commitment level from the student (both in terms of financial- and time- investment as well as showing up to the actual course).
Usually in the end, your online education provider will send you a certificate that you can display on your website or hand you a few e-book files that you are now allowed to sell with your name on.
There is:

  1. Active marketing and an initial sales process, usually with brilliant promises of ease and great gain
  2. You pay up front, once you have convinced yourself that this is what you really need and always desired
  3. You receive the information
  4. End of interaction for now
  5. You remain on their e-mail list to be continuously marketed to

What’s wrong with that? Nothing! I might do it myself one day 🙂

It has, however, NOTHING to do with learning a craft.

Have you ever started a new sports discipline?
How long did it take you to stand up on that surfboard, ride that horse/bicycle/motorbike…?
It took me 5 years in bicycle racing (started at age 10), 3 years in whitewater kayaking and 4 years on motorbikes to attain a level of unconscious competency. Same in my professional life: first mechanical engineering, then raw food chefing and teaching, network marketing, now traditional nutrient-dense foods. Coaching next.

A common progression for learning a new discipline in life is:

  1. Discover your Passion.
  2. Develop it.
  3. Practice, practice, practice – no shortcuts here.
  4. Realisation that you require more training and guidance
  5. Pick a Master in your field, who has accomplished what you strive for
  6. Apply with the Master
  7. Pass the Test and agree on the terms
  8. Apprentice. Study, train and work side by side your Master
  9. Teach others while you learn. It develops your own mastery.

Intl Raw Food Festival 2004

Basically, any learning evolves through 4 phases:

  1. Unconscious Incompetence. We don’t know that we don’t know and go on an ill-prepared kayak trip into a cyclone weather front.
  2. Conscious Incompetence. We now know that we don’t know. Ring the ‘Coastguard’, get rescued, become a member and apologise to our dear partner who knew all along that this was crazy 😉
  3. Conscious Competence. We learn study and practice and now know that we know. We have the right gear, are practicing our paddling and rescue skills and are gaining confidence.
  4. Unconscious Competence. We don’t even know that we know. Our subconscious mind has taken over. Think of driving your car now vs. when you first started driving!

In my experience, from teaching hundreds of people in sports as well as the culinary field, many of us operate in the first category: Unconscious Incompetence. We think we like something, attend a seminar, webinar, food demo and usually get some great entertainment out of it. Once back home we might give it a shot to do what we saw the lecturer do.
Now HERE is the chance for real learning! If we DON’T succeed, we might throw the towel in and call it ‘too hard‘, OR we get intrigued and switch into Conscious Incompetence with a keenness to learn and to find out how.
This state, B.T.W., is not automatically maintained! You can easily fool yourself and think: ‘Aah, now I know!’, ‘I could have done that myself.’
Trust me, until you are actually doing it yourself, you won’t!

For me this is usually the stage when I engage with a Master in my field of interest – by default when apprenticing as a machine builder in 1985 at the BWF in East Berlin; with Master Chef Chad Sarno in 2003 and lately with Sally Anderson.

Freefall Coach

Now what’s required at this point? – you might ask. First of all an empty glass. You might have heard the Bruce Lee story and how he prepared his students to teach his excellence in martial arts. Stop reading until you have watched this video below with John Kanary at least twice!

Have you ever had a small school kid lecturing you with incorrect facts about something you had attained mastery in? Funny isn’t it?! Yet a waste of your time trying to re-educate the little one – until he is willing to let go of what he thinks he knows.

So the first step in asking a Master to teach you is to let go of what you think you know. The next step will highly likely be a test. In my mechanical engineering apprenticeship it went like this:
Master: “Who wants to really get to know a turning lathe?”
Apprentices: “Me!”, “Me!”, “Please, can I?!”
Master: “Sure. There is a broom and shovel, rags are over there, and the dirty turning lathe is right here. Start cleaning it!”
Apprentices: “*@$%*#!!!”
– and we learned! 🙂
In kitchens it often involves peeling potatoes or chopping onions. Similar scenario, just more tears.

Why? Because the person teaching is extremely happy to share her/his knowledge with keen students. Yet, the way to test anyone on their keenness to learn is to test their commitment to excellence in an easy field first.

Do yourself a favour and order this book: ‘Don’t Try This At Home! Culinary Catastrophes from the World’s Greatest Chefs‘ by Kimberley Witherspoon and Andrew Friedman!
In there you will find a story of a young New York chef who had recently found herself a job at a Seattle restaurant. Her boss was a Master in French patisserie (correct me if I’m wrong!) and she was keen to be taught by him. Yet he refused to teach her his craft until she took sweeping the kitchen floors seriously. For how could he teach her excellence in a craft that required a very high skill level if she showed NO excellence whatsoever at a task that required no skills?!!!

So it is often at the bottom we start in any new craft. It is a test of our commitment to completion (Excellence). Once the Master sees that the student is willing to do what it takes to learn, then the next door opens. It is a rite of passage of some sort.

Think of it! It will have taken any Master in their field long years of practice, often disastrous mistakes, hard learning to accomplish their level of game – and they are still learning!
Would you be spilling out all your hard-learned experience to that school kid, trying to lecture you with incorrect facts?
Hell No! You are looking for an empty glass and a willing mind who treasures your wisdom.
What a Master is looking for in an apprentice is:

  • Commitment
  • Dedication to walking it out in their own life
  • Someone who will carry their Legacy forward
  • Someone they can TRUST their secrets and wisdom to

At this point the real apprenticeship starts. The terms will be clear. How long, how often, how much – most apprenticeships are free B.T.W. (but that’s another blog post :-)). Just know, Wisdom/Teaching is always a GIFT, regardless the price or fee.
Prove yourself to be worthy of receiving it!

I had a Master of mechanical engineering at the IWF of the TU Berlin, Reinhard Preiss, who took a long time to open his heart, but once I was in, I was considered family. We had a great relationship! I still look up to his level of excellence and attention to detail! Yet, our relationship was enriched by a great human interaction, a trust that had developed by me being diligent under his cautious eyes. I had earned it.

Now it is on the student to be a ‘sponge’, an ’empty vessel’, to absorb as much of the Master’s experience, knowledge and wisdom as possible. This is often not done by lecturing, but by working alongside each other, by sharing the space, solving a task together. It is the VIBRATION of Excellence that is taught!

Now, since we are on a culinary playing field… What does it take to work with a master here?
Travel! Volunteer! Work with the people who have gone before you! Approach them in a humble manner and ask if you can be of service and help them! Bring your own sharp knives and know how to use them.
Again, this does not have to cost you more than your travel and accommodation. That’s how I studied and worked with Chad Sarno from 2002-2005.

Fresh Festival 2005
When you are with your Master/Mentor these are the qualities most suited to acquiring what she/he has got and you want:

  • Courage to be open and let go
  • Trust
  • Patience
  • Commitment
  • Passion/Drive
  • Stamina and Staying Power
  • Vision
  • Humility
  • Reverence and Respect
  • Gratitude and Love for your Teacher/Master (that will come naturally)
  • Eagerness to learn
  • Faith
  • The application of what you learn in your own practice

If you come to an accomplished chef to learn new recipes you are wasting your time.
Get yourself a recipe book and start playing!
When you are with them you will learn a new way of being with food. That’s what is taught!

When back in your own kitchen you are now Consciously Competent and will have to PRACTICE, PLAY, CREATE and TEACH! Nothing will shortcut your 10000 hours to mastery and Unconscious Competence but doing it (read ‘Outliers, The Story of Success’ by Malcolm Gladwell!)!

It comes down to the question I first heard from Artemis Limpert:
“Are you willing to be bad for long enough to become good?” – Are you???

Just don’t rock up at a Master’s door not practicing in your own life what you came to learn here! Takeaways are just not an option when you want to become a chef. Sorry!
Work your field! Every day! Be in the kitchen, cater, teach, invite your friends for dinner! Again: 10000 hours.

In the traditional way of how a craft was passed on in the guilds of Europe an apprentice, once considered being skilled enough to have finished his/her apprenticeship, was given a task to prove his/her skill level (Gesellenstueck). Passing the test they were now considered a skilled worker (again the concept of Conscious Competence).
To achieve the title of ‘Master’ in that tradition requires to complete an even more complex task, to prove all one’s skills: the Master Piece.

Once you have reached that level of Mastery, you will highly likely have developed these essential qualities of a good Master and are fit to train others:

  • Excellence – the commitment to completion
  • Trust
  • Love
  • Patience
  • Vision and an understanding of your Legacy
  • Letting go
  • Respect
  • A commitment to your student’s success – a stance for their very own Greatness

Does that resonate? It has been on my heart for a while. I trust it will be understood on a heart level too.
What I have written here applies not so much to individual classes and workshops I offer, yet to the craft of ‘Culinary Arts and Education’. Should you consider to attend my Raw Chef Trainings to further your education I will however appreciate your understanding of the above.

With much Love,
René
Rene

Strawberry Chocolate Torte – a Summer Treat!

It’s summer! – at least for us on the Southern half of this planet 🙂

That means an abundance of local, fresh, ripe fruit, especially berries! What better to do than to whip up a yummy chocolate torte with it?! Make sure you use organic or spray-free berries though, as the ‘conventionally’ grown ones can hold a lot of pesticides.

Raw Chocolate Strawberry Torte

Should you happen to not dwell on the strawberry side of the globe this torte is easily made with orange slices, bananas or even pears. For a more decadent crust feel free to replace the shredded coconut with macadamia nuts and make sure to sprinkle some bits over the top! B.T.W. the torte below was made in a spring form.

Orange Chocolate Torte

This recipe was introduced to me by my dear friend Matt Samuelson in 2004 and has been a staple in my dessert repertoire ever since.

And here we go!

Strawberry Chocolate Torte
Serves 8

For the crust:

  • 1.5c shredded coconut
  • 1.5c cashews
  • 4-6 Medjool dates, pitted
  • Pinch cayenne pepper

For the filling:

  • 3 avocados, peeled, pit removed
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • 5T organic cocoa powder, raw if you prefer
  • 1/2c Rapadura, raw cane sugar
  • a few drops lemon or lime juice
  • 1 punnet (500g) fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
  • To make the crust, in a food processor grind the shredded coconut into a fine powder. Add the cashews and cayenne pepper. Continue processing to a coarse meal.
  • Add the pitted dates and homogenize until the texture resembles a graham cracker crust. Mixture should be loose and crumbly, yet hold together when pressed tightly.
  • Press the crust into a 9 inch ungreased pie plate. Press firmly to get the crust to hold together. Place it in the freezer or refrigerator to set up while making the filling.
  • To make the filling: place the avocados, vanilla, cocoa and Rapadura in a food processor with the “S” blade and homogenize until completely smooth. Make sure to add a little splash of lemon or lime juice! It will nicely balance the flavours in your chocolate. (Just don’t tell anyone! ;-))
  • To assemble: Divide the filling into 3 equal parts. Spread a thin layer of filling on top of the crust. Next, place a layer of strawberries on the filling. Spread another layer of chocolate filling on top of the strawberries, and then layer more strawberries, another layer of filling and the remainder of the berries.
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour prior to serving.

Be sure to use a very sharp knife, yes VERY sharp!, when cutting this torte. The strawberries have a tendency to slide all over the place when cut with a dull knife.

Strawberry Chocolate Torte

Enjoy!

René
🙂

2012 in Review and new Events Calendar for 2013

Happy New Year Everyone!
May it be a vibrantly healthy and peacefully conscious one for all of us!!!
Thank you for your loyal readership and support in 2012. Below a little statistic summary of the most popular posts from last year. I promise to keep it up in 2013. There is quite a bit in the pipeline 😉 Stay tuned!

My events calendar for the first part of 2013 is posted here. Have a look!
I will have a few dates available to facilitate demo classes and workshops on our way through Europe and Canada from June to August 2013. Please get in touch early so we can align our schedule.

Warm regards and my best wishes,
René
🙂
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 16,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Kombucha 101

A great blog post on Kombucha and its benefits! Sure you’ll enjoy the read as much as I did.
Rene
🙂

How would you feel if someone told you to drink this:

Welcome to the wonderful, yet sometimes frightening world, of Kombucha.

What exactly IS Kombucha?!?!  Well, according to Synergy, a leading manufacturer…

Kombucha is alternately known as a Chinese tea, a plant, or a mushroom. But it’s not really any of these. It’s a living culture of beneficial microorganisms, and in Kombucha’s case, the whole is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts! Our Kombucha is delicately cultured – some liken it to fermentation – for 30 days. During this period, essential nutrients form like active enzymes, viable probiotics, amino acids, antioxidants and polyphenols. All of these combine to create an elixir that immediately works with the body to restore balance and vitality. Kombucha has been used for hundreds of years throughout the world as a daily health tonic. The culture resembles a light brown, tough, gelatinous disk—and because…

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Apple Spice Granola Recipe – a staple in our house

Ever been suspicious of what these supermarket breakfast cereals contain? Often less nutrition than the cardboard boxes they come in.

Here is a time proven raw granola recipe I was introduced to years ago by my good friend and mentor Chad Sarno. Not much tweaking needed to happen since. Some creations are just perfect. Saying that, especially this basic granola recipe is almost crying for some playful changes or addition of ingredients like Maca powder, chia seeds, cacao nibs, Sacha Inchi powder, freeze dried fruit slices etc.. Knock yourself out! 😉

wet nut mix for apple spice granola

Don’t be afraid to substitute or add other nuts and seeds like pumpkin seeds, coconut chips or brazil nuts. Just adjust the amount of date paste to obtain the desired sweetness.

I often use sprouted buckwheat for this recipe as it is a reasonably priced alternative to lot of highly priced nuts, like pecans or walnuts. Buckwheat also dehydrates beautifully into a crispy crunch. I believe the thick ‘slimy’ run-off from the sprouting grains also helps to bind the granola clusters together – similarly to what happens with flax and chia seeds when you soak them.

This brings us to another great little secret wit this recipe. By soaking and sprouting the nuts and seeds and then mixing the wet ingredients with date paste, apples and whatever spices and superfood powders you want to add, you achieve a natural clustered crunchy granola after dehydration. Adding wet and dry ingredients to nuts and seeds before dehydration and then dry the lot together in clusters, bars or any shape, will nicely attach the flavours and hold all other components together.

Now just pop your granola clusters into a bowl, add some banana slices and pour your freshly made almond milk or raw organic Jersey cow’s cream over it and enjoy!

Fresh Fruit Salad with Granola

You are still waiting for the actual recipe, right?!
Here it is:

Apple Spice Granola
Makes 4 cups

  • 1 c pecans or walnut pieces, soaked10-12 hours
  • 1 c almonds, soaked 10-12 hours
  • 1 c sunflower seeds, soaked 10-12 hours
  • 1 c hulled buckwheat, sprouted for 1-2 days
  • 1-2 c date paste
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 2 T chia seeds
  • 3 apples, diced small
  • 2 T cinnamon, ground
  • 1 T maca powder
  • t natural sea salt
  • 1/2 t lemon juice
  1. Keep the sprouted buckwheat aside. Using the food processor, pulse all other nuts and seeds until coarsely ground. Add in a large bowl to the sprouted buckwheat.
  2. Also using the food processor blend the dates with a small amount of water until it becomes a smooth paste. Dry dates will require soaking over night.
  3. Toss the paste along with the diced apples, chia seeds, maca powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt with the nut mixture. Hand mix well. Adjust flavour with lemon juice.
    wet nut mix for apple spice granola
  4. Continue by crumbling the ‘wet’ granola onto Teflex dehydrator sheets and dehydrate at 145 F for 2 hours. Over the next hours turn the temperature gradually down to 115 F. Turn trays periodically. After 6-8hours flip over and remove Teflex sheets. Dehydrate at 105 F for 12 more hours or until crisp.
    wet granola ready for dehydrator
    This process is important to stop the granola from fermenting during the dehydration process. Not that it would be bad for you, yet the flavour would be slightly different 😉 It would definitely clear up any phytic acid remnants after the soaking and sprouting.

    Spaced granola clusters on dehydrator tray

    Notice the space between the clusters when wet!

  5. Store in sealed glass jars.

4 dehydrator trays of granola

Enjoy!
René
🙂

Grain-free Almond Bread recipe – GAPS

Here is my latest creation, still warm and fresh from the oven: a sweet almond bread that follows the guidelines of the ‘Gut and Psychology Syndrome’ nutritional program.

Freshly baked Almond Bread

I am thrilled about the healing potential of this approach: Autism, Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, Bi-Polar, Leaky Gut, Auto-immune conditions etc.. Please read up for yourself on Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s website: www.gaps.me!

Lydia and I have been experimenting lately with all kinds of fermented raw milk products, like Kefir, Yoghurt, Sour Cream and Viili. With a steady supply of local grass-fed raw buffalo milk and cream (check out the picture below!) and organic jersey cow cream. A true joy!

Stocks and Broth from different organic sources and game have become another staple in our diet. So much that I will be teaching a half-day workshop on it in Mahurangi West on September 29th, 2012. Check out the details here. If you or one of your family members falls into the GAPS symptom category go ahead and book you space by contacting us here or directly on our Events page.

A bowl of Broth

Yet here is the recipe for the ultimate pleasing sweet almond bread for anyone (your kids included) on the GAPS nutritional program. Please check the allowed foods for the phase you are currently in!

Almond Bread sliced

Sweet Almond Banana Bread

  • 750ml/3c organic almond flour
  • 1/4c homemade yoghurt (we use raw buffalo milk)
  • 3 eggs, from pastured hens or ducks
  • pinch of natural sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of raw organic honey, local is best!
  • 1/4t organic vanilla powder
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2T Kombucha, optional
  • 1T chia seeds
  1. Whisk the eggs. While whisking add the yoghurt, then the honey, vanilla powder, salt and kombucha.
  2. With a fork mash the bananas into the mixture.
  3. Now mix in the almond flour with a whisk or fork until the dough resembles the consistency of a porridge.
  4. Let sit for 30min to 1hour. Cover with a tea towel.
  5. Grease a bread tin with butter or coconut oil, line with baking paper and fill with the dough. Smooth the top with a spoon or rubber spatula and sprinkle with the chia seeds.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C, then bake the almond bread on one of the low rails for 1 hour at 150°C. To check if the bread is finished baking, poke a wooden skewer into the middle of the bread. No dough should stick on it when you pull it out.
  7. Let the bread cool down in the tin, then lift out and carefully remove the paper. Let it sit upside down on a rack to allow excess moisture to evaporate.
  8. Keep wrapped in a cotton towel, so the bread can breathe.
  9. Enjoy with buffalo cream! 😉

Thick Buffalo Cream!!!