Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Life of the Party: Raw d'Oeuvres!

The Fourth of July came and went last weekend, fireworks and all. Yippee! Summer is officially here!

Summer is my favorite season, and July my favorite month. (Not just because it’s my birthday month.) For me, summer is like the weekend of the year and that makes July Saturday - the best day of the weekend. Saturday is like the filling of the weekend sandwich, as it were. (And everyone knows the filling is the best part - see Garlic Almond Cheeze recipe below, lol!) Arriving on the heels of a carefree Friday night and with a relaxing Sunday to look forward to, Saturday is the Freedom Day of the week. Based on my analogy, it's hardly a coincidence that Independence Day comes in July!

Here in New England, where cold grey days drive us inside for a good part of the year, summer is the season to be outdoors. That's why, when it comes to summer parties, cookouts rule! Or, in the case of a raw foodist, un-cookouts.

It so happens I went to a great cookout/potluck party just this past weekend, held in the lush garden-yard of my wonderful friend and colleague Dr. Emily Maiella, naturopathic physician at Montague Integrative Health.

The dish I brought to share was this platter of mini “raw d’oeuvres” – tasty little Garlic Cheeze & Crackers canapés. They were fun to assemble and even more fun to eat, with each delightful biteful simply bursting with flavor. Everyone loved these diminutive treats and I am happy to share the recipes with you here (as promised to my fellow party goers).

The Garlic Almond Cheeze Spread is really easy to make (even for Lazy Raw Foodists) and very versatile. Use it as a spread or as a dip. Or, thin with water to make a creamy salad dressing. Or, toss a spoonful or two with fresh mung bean sprouts (omg - I totally recommend this!). You may even want to place a nice dollop atop your favorite steamed veggie dish for some mouth-watering, nut-based protein power.

The Savory Flaxseed Crackers take a wee bit more time and advance planning than the cheeze because they are made slowly in a dehydrator. It's not a great deal of actual work for you, but you must allow about 24 hours of drying time, more or less depending on the ambient humidity and how crispy you want the end result to be. Flax crackers are a great source of inflammation-busting omega-3 fatty acids plus fiber and protein. And they taste great!

Here I am on my front porch, ready for the party:

And here are your recipes. Let me know how you enjoy them!

Garlic Almond Cheeze Spread


1 cup raw almonds, soaked 8 hours or overnight
2 Tablespoons raw coconut oil
1 to 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (1/2 lemon’s worth)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
½ to ¾ cup filtered water
1 handful cilantro, minced

Soak almonds and pop off the skins. Add peeled almonds to blender along with all other ingredients except cilantro. Use more or less water depending on the consistency you are going for. Blend until very smooth and creamy. Stir in cilantro by hand or pulse in blender to mix.

Savory Flaxseed Crackers

2 cups golden flaxseeds, ground
4 cups filtered water
2 cups carrot and/or beet pulp, leftover from juicing
1 cup roughly chopped red onion (1/4 of a large red onion)
2-4 cloves garlic
4 Tablespoons fresh oregano, minced (or 2 Tablespoons dried)
1 teaspoon dried onion granules or powder
2 teaspoons sea salt, any type
¼ cup nama shoyu or wheat free tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos

Soak ground flaxseeds in 3 cups water for one hour or longer. Stir well while you are adding the water to the ground flaxseeds to minimize clumping, and, if possible, stir occasionally while soaking for the same reason.

Add carrot-beet pulp to the soaked ground flaxseeds and combine thoroughly. Blend remaining 1 cup water with onion, garlic, spices, salt and tamari. Stir this into the flax-carrot mix till well combined. Feel free to use a food processor, a Kitchen Aid mixer for this, or if you have a Champion or Omega 8005-style juicer, you can homogenize the dough using the blank. (I try to get away with just hand mixing to reduce clean-up!)

Divide dough onto four dehydrator trays lined with Teflex sheets. Wet your hands and spread out each mound of dough into a large square shape of cracker thickness. Dehydrate for 1 hour at 145 degrees, then reduce heat to 105 degrees and continue dehydrating for another 6 to 9 hours.

Flip crackers onto mesh sheet, dry side down, and peel off Teflex. Use a pizza cutter to score each sheet of dough into 16 squares, or any size shape you like. Dehydrate for another 6 hours and do a taste/crispness test. Continue drying up to 12 hours, or until desired crispness is attained. I average 10 hours drying time per side in this humid summer weather.

Raw Garlic Cheeze and Crackers Assembly

Cut each Savory Flaxseed Cracker into four mini squares. Put a little Garlic Almond Cheeze Spread on each mini cracker and top with a slice of cherry tomato. Easy!

I added four layers of canapés to my little Pyrex container, separating each layer with a trimmed sheet of waxed paper.


shalini said...

I don't have a dehydrator but will try the dip recipe - sounds delish! Which is a good dehydrator and how much does it cost?

Thanks for the awesome content on your Blog!

Diana Allen, MS, CNS said...

Hi Shalini - Thanks for stopping by eat2evolve! I have an Excalibur dehydrator (9 trays w/ timer). Most raw foodies like the Excalibur best. Prices vary but are usually around $200, depending on how many trays you want. Look here: for a great overview of all the kinds of dehydrators, pros and cons, and deals...They also have good juicer comparison info and more... :) Diana