Whole Food Soul Nourishment

Let them eat cake…for breakfast.

I’m not a fan of food bloggers who need to write a novel, or a biography about how the cabbage in their sauerkraut found its true purpose in life, and thus make you scroll for kilometres until they give away their recipe. I’m a fan of food bloggers who just get to the damn recipe already. Having said that, I’m not really a food blogger, I’m crap at food styling, and the only camera I own is on my iPhone. But I do love the food I eat. It’s satisfying, it’s wholesome, it’s nutrient-dense, it tastes amazeballs, and that’s food worth sharing.

One of my favourite cakes in the whole wide multiverse is carrot cake. But because I advocate and have lived on a whole-foods plant-based diet for the last 2o-odd years, I’m not going to give you a recipe that will destroy your health just for a few brief moments of pleasure. No, this is the cake that keeps on giving.

And I’m doing it. I’m giving a backstory. Apologies. Here’s the recipe already (But first, an artsy picture);

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The Most Awesomesauce Carrot Cake Ever

(Makes one 20cm or 8inch round slice/cake)

Cake Ingredients:
  • 4 small carrots (or 2 large) – grated.
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup raw honey, maple syrup, or date paste*
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 Tbs psyllium husk or powder
Directions:

Pre-grease your 20cm spring-form pan with coconut oil and line the bottom with parchment paper. This makes it easier to remove when set. Grate the carrots and then combine in your food processor with the remaining ingredients. Pulse or process on a low setting until you get a crumbly cake-like texture. You don’t want it to become a paste. When you’ve reached the desired texture, press into the base of your pan. Set in the freezer while you make the icing (frosting).

Icing ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup softened coconut butter**
  • 1/4 cup raw honey, maple syrup, or thinned date paste.
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs coconut or cashew mylk.
Icing directions:

Blend all icing ingredients in your food processor until well combined and smooth.

Remove cake from freezer. It should be firm enough now to turn out onto a plate or cake board. Gently remove the outer casing of the pan, place the plate or cake board on top of the cake and flip over. Remove the base of the pan, and gently peel off the parchment paper. Your cake is now ready to frost. Use an offset spatula to evenly spread the icing over the top and around the sides of the cake. Dust with ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg and decorate to your liking. This cake is best stored in the fridge.

And yes, I have eaten it for breakfast. fullsizeoutput_93a

Footnotes:

* For a vegan version use maple syrup, coconut nectar, or date paste as your desired sweetener. To make date paste, soak 1 cup of dates in warm water for half an hour or so, drain, then add one cup of water and blend until you’ve reached a syrup consistency. Adjust the amount of water you use to get the consistency you desire.

**If you can’t find coconut butter (also referred to as coconut manna), you can use soaked cashews and blend to make a thick cream. But you’ll need to add about 1/4 cup coconut oil so that the icing remains firm and doesn’t drip off your cake.

NB: Credit is given where credit is due. This recipe, a variation of many raw vegan carrot cake recipes that have been shared in the community over the years, is an adaptation of the carrot cupcake recipe found over at The Unconventional Baker. I’ve adapted it by adding psyllium. I feel that this gives a slightly more cakey texture, and it also serves a functional role of supporting colon health.

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I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do!

Michelle xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plant Medicine, Whole Food Soul Nourishment

Engaging the Elder Mother

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The Elder is one of those plants deeply rooted in the lore and tradition of Western (European) Herbal Medicine. It gives something of itself to span the medicinal needs of all seasons, whether it be it’s clusters of delicate cream flowers in the late Spring/Summer, to it’s deep purple, almost black berries hanging from blood red stems that appear in the autumn and winter. It’s evergreen leaves also offer various virtues to us fragile humans, although more as a soothing topical application.

The species of Elder (Sambucus spp.) most commonly used in our tradition is Sambucus nigra. For those who like the odd tipple now and then, the genus name will be reminiscent of the drink Sambuca – which the flowers are an ingredient of. And it is reputed that the original Pan flutes were crafted from the pithy stems. The Elder also has a rich folklore attached to it, with varied tales of a wizened Elder mother (The Elder Mor) that guards the tree and grants only those who are worthy to make use of it’s medicine. There is a certain presence to this plant that I find to be quite welcoming, and one of the joys of the warmer season is the sight of an Elder in all her blooming glory enticing me to make sweet medicine, and even more delicious sparkling elixirs. So perhaps, I am one of the chosen ones 😀

image credit: wikipedia commons.
image credit: wikipedia commons.

Either way I am filled with joy and thanksgiving at the bounty this tree provides.

I use the elderberries to make an anti-oxidant, vitamin C rich Winter Immune Elixir. The berries also possess potent anti-viral properties that make it useful not only in prevention of, but also treatment of the dreaded ‘flu. However, here on the East coast of Australia, we are currently beginning the season for the flowers so this article will focus on what I like to do with these.

The flowers, being carefully dried, are traditionally used along with peppermint (Mentha piperita) and yarrow (Achilles millefolium) in the famous tea blend that is taken at the onset of colds and flu. This combination increases the circulation, tones the mucous membranes, is anti-viral and induces sweating, allowing the fever associated with the body’s attempt to fight the influenza virus to break, and release the toxins through the skin. The actions of the Elder flowers themselves are anti-catarrhal (drying up mucous, yet also soothing the mucous membranes) in the upper respiratory tract (nose and sinuses), and so are specific for sinusitis, cold and flu, blocked nose, and blocked ears/deafness associated with sinus problems. They would therefore also be useful in combination with other specific herbs for treating hayfever.

The flowers are also well known for their delicate fragrance, which lends itself to a pleasantly refreshing cordial, sparkling wine, or probiotic elixir. Nothing says summer like an Elderflower Sparkle (Well, many things say Summer, but this is a highlight at picnics on a balmy mid-summer eve). The following recipe can be made two ways, depending on convenience and resources available. It imparts the anti-viral and immune supporting properties of the flowers as well as the synergistic virtues of the accompanying ingredients to provide an all round life-enhancing elixir.

I first made this on a base of water kefir. In short, Kefir is a symbiotic organism that feeds on sugar and in turn cultures or ferments the medium it is fed in, be it water (with sugar added), coconut water, or animal milk (lactose). (Note: the water kefir and the milk kefir are actually two distinct organisms, yet both offer incredible probiotic benefits)*

As my kefir is currently in hibernation (yes, you can do that), due to me being in transit at the moment, I have gone on for convenience sake, to make this on a base of coconut water first cultured with the contents of one potent probiotic capsule.**

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Elderflower Sparkle ( a.k.a Galactic Wayfarer’s Famous Ginger Sling)

1 litre of water kefir (cultured and strained of the kefir organism), or 1 litre of cultured coconut water

1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced.

½ lemon, sliced thinly.

3-4 dried figs, chopped

1 large handful (about 1.5 cups) of fresh Elder flowers, (picked of blemished flowers and hidden tiny spiders).

Place all ingredients in a 1 litre / 1 quart mason jar, loosely cap or place a tea towel over it, and leave to further culture overnight (again depending on ambient room temperature, this may take longer. I have been known to seemingly forget about it for up to a week and it still turned out well.)

When you see the mix go a bit cloudy, and a bit bubbly (more so if you are using the kefir), it is ready to strain. Add 1-2 drops of liquid stevia if desired. You can drink as is – in shot-size portions, about 100ml, or add as a base to juices or smoothies, or maybe even in place of tonic water with your favourite gin – FYI: mine is The Botanist)

Either way, it’s healing, it’s nourishing, it’s convivial, it’s all good!

Many Blessings,

Michelle x

*To learn the differences as well as how to nurture and make kefir for yourself, I would direct the reader to the most fabulous fountain of kefir knowledge on the web: http://www.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html

** After trying out a number of various probiotics for culturing purposes, I now favour the Ojio brand of probiotics. It contains 16 strains of implantable vegetarian-based microflora at a count of with 100 billion or 50 billion. Unlike my second favourite Healthforce Nutritionals Friendly Force, the Ojio brand must be refrigerated for optimum potency. To culture coconut water, I typically use a ratio of 1 litre fresh coconut water: 1 capsule. Leave at room temperature overnight (depending on ambient room temperature, you may need to leave it a little longer at room temp. and then refrigerate.)

***If you would like to learn how to make Elderflower champagne, I throughly recommend this recipe, which can be found here: https://theherbarium.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/‘champagne’/

Resources:

For dried herbs –

mountainroseherbs.com

australherbs.com.au (bulk)

highlandherbs.com.au

southernlightherbs.com.au

Musings, Reflections, Spirituality

Mulberry Maven

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At the time of writing, I am fortunate to share my current home with one small, but earnestly prolific, black mulberry tree (Morus nigra), and one large, equally productive, white mulberry (M. alba). The harvest this year, as it does every year that we have been here, has brought much gustatory joy. Seemingly, nothing more than the gentle caress of a lower branch seems to bring an untold delight to the tree itself, and in response it drops it’s fat, deep purple jewels as easily as rain drops bursting from an overburdened sky. Our hands and fingers stained in this royal hue eagerly scramble to gather as many of the juicy morsels as we can. Accompanied by the heady scent of a nearby Jasmine in full bloom, this frenzy of foraged delight is one of the highlights of our Spring.

While the white mulberry is best known as a food for silk worms, and perhaps more recently as a superfood, the Mulberry tree (species interchangeable) also nourishes and heals humans with both it’s leaves and it’s succulent fruit, it’s root bark ad twigs. From a medicinal perspective we find the following*;

The leaf – anti-bacterial (against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria including diphtheria and ‘Golden Staph’ infections), anti-microbial, astringent/styptic (stops bleeding and weeping in wounds and mucosa). It appears to have an affinity for conditions that are hot, dry, and painful in nature, such as with coughs, colds, and sore dry eyes. The leaf has also been shown to possess blood-sugar lowering, as well as blood pressure lowering, anti-thrombotic, and general anti-inflammatory actions – perhaps due to it’s astringency as well as high anti-oxidant properties.

The root bark – also has expectorant (lubricates the lungs and stimulates elimination of excess mucous) properties, as well as lowering blood pressure, and having some general sedative properties. The twig is also pain-relieving and anti-spasmodic in action.

The fruit – it’s crowning jewel, is rich in anti-oxidant polyphenols such as resveratrol (anti-aging!), as well as vitamins C, E, and K, beta-carotene and the B complex. It is also a highly mineralised fruit. It is a useful low glycaemic fruit, so won’t spike blood sugar levels in diabetics, and helps to reverse atherosclerosis. It also assists in bowel regularity.

I often add the fresh leaves to a foraged green smoothie, but they, along with the young twigs and root bark can be made into infusion or tincture to take advantage of the medicinal properties.

My focus for this article however, is what we can do with those delicious fruits.

This year I decided to make Mulberry Pie, raw vegan style.

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Mulberry Pie

Crust: 

1 cup raw walnuts 

1 cup dates – pitted

2 heaped tsp cacao or carob powder

1tbs coconut flour

1 vanilla bean, or ½ tsp vanilla bean powder.

Filling:

1 cup of fresh black mulberries (I also threw in some white mulberries simply because I had a glut, and it adds sweetness)

1 cup fresh dates – pitted

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 cup prepared Irish moss paste or 2 cups prepared agar agar**

In a food processor with the S blade fitted, process the crust ingredients until crumbly, then press into a lined and oiled 9″ flan, or springform cake tin (line with baking paper and oil the sides with coconut oil- it makes it easier to remove when done), place in the fridge to set a bit while preparing the filling.

To prepare the filling, gently wash and de-stem the mulberries. Add the de-stemmed mulberries, the lemon juice and the maple syrup to a high-speed blender and blend until pureed. Start the blender on a  slower setting and work up as you scrape the sides down and then blend until a puree is formed. This also prevents overheating. Once pureed, add the pitted, and chopped fresh dates and blend until incorporated into the smooth mulberry puree. Now add the prepared Irish moss paste or still-liquid agar agar, and blend again. Pour into your pre-made crust and place into the fridge to set. This usually only takes an hour or so. 

Once set, remove from tin, plate up and decorate however you wish. I find that this mulberry pie pairs extremely well with coconut yoghurt (both taste-wise and synergistic health giving properties). To learn how to make that super simple recipe, check out my Instagram account  instagram.com/radiclemichelle

If you have a mulberry near you, consider yourself blessed. Or consider buying a tree. Dwarf mulberries that are suitable for pots are now available for people who live in small or temporary spaces.

** Irish moss (Chondus crispus) is a raw, fresh dried seaweed that can be bought from online suppliers. It has been used since ancient times for it’s soothing properties, of particular use in respiratory conditions. It is also used a vegetarian gelling agent, as when gently cleaned, soaked overnight, rinsed, and then blended with good water to form a smooth paste it forms a gel that can be used in various food preparations. Like many botanicals from land and sea, commercial food and pharmaceutical industry has isolated and extracted the active chemical compound known as carrageenan responsible for this thickening property. And like constituents from other other plant foods and medicines used in isolation, it has been known to cause problems. We know that empirical evidence often shows more logic than reductionist science, and that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, so we use the whole plant as a safe form of food and medicine. Agar agar is also a sea vegetable used for it’s gelling properties in food, and can be found online or in healthful stores. It can be bought in powdered or flaked form. I find the powdered form easier to work with. And whereas Irish Moss can be used raw, agar agar must be mixed with boiling water, simmered briefly and then gently cooled to allow it’s gelling properties to fully work. For a good consistency that isn’t too soft or too firm, I use 2-3g of powder to 2 cups of water. Irish moss can be added to recipes in it’s paste form, whereas I find that agar agar must still be added in a slightly cooled (but still warm) liquid form, or else the end result with agar agar becomes a bit clumpy.

Enjoy!!

Resources:

Herbal Roots eZine written & illustrated by Kristine Brown- a great resource for kids and beginning enthusiasts of herbal medicine. available as an online subscription from herbalrootszine.com

Irish Moss (includes instructions) can be bought from;

markusproducts.com

therawfoodworld.com

purejoyplanet.com