Crackerin’ up

I got re-united with my beloved donutrator ( I don’t dehydrate donuts, the shape of my dehydrator is like a donut) last Sunday, and since I have been hydrating my obsessive needs to dehydrate stuff. The toilet has been smelling of delicious food for the past 3 days, because that is the only place where I am allowed to use the donutrator, since there the constant humming is the least disturbing. It’s no Excalibur, but my dear Rommersbacher which I bought for a fair price from the flea market few years ago, definitely can get stuff dry, crispy and tasty!

 

Dry basics: apples, bananas and rutabaga chips
Dried basics: apples, bananas and rutabaga chips

Besides fruits, I have been experimenting with different crackers. Sadly enough, I am rather bad at taking measurements for recipes. Whats even more sad, is that my appetite is like of an obese weight watcher’s on a cheat day; therefore I often forget to take pictures of the fruits of my labour and the loving care of the donutrator (sounds like a weird diet, right?). However, I do have one or few recipe-ish for you.

Making crackers is fairly simple: just blend some nuts/seed combo, maybe add some vegetables and definitely spices, put the dough in your dehydrator or donutrator or even conventional oven, smell the nice smells and be patient. I prefer making the crackers in the evening, so I’ll have more to look forward to when waking up the next day!

 

O-mega! Chia, hemp, pea protein, veggies - good for more than your bones
O-mega! Chia, hemp, pea protein, veggies – good for more than your bones

Few notes on making crackers:

– Flax and chia seeds (grind to flour) work well as binding agent.
– If you blend for example sunflower/pumpkin seeds, leave some whole ones for extra texture. Chopped sun dried tomatoes give nice crunch, too.
– Vegetable pulp/grated veggies i.e carrots bring lightness to the dough. Remember to squeeze excess liquid out (in a nutbag, for example).
– Use nut pulp from making nut milk! Also sprouted quinoa and/or buckwheat are great for crackers, they make it more like hard bread.

Sweet!

Easy apple chocolate carob cookies:
– 1 dl nut pulp
– 1 medium peeled apple, blended / 0,5 dl applesauce
– few drops of vanilla/toffee stevia and some honey for sweetness
– 2-4 tsp each of cacao and carob powder or as much as you like (or be athletic and use chocolate protein powder!)
– cacao nibs and other nibbles (pieces of nuts, mulberries, gojis) for crunch,
– cinnamon, nutmeg and such for extra flavor

Mix everything together and form a dough that sticks enough (some coconut oil can help with this), and get creative with forming whatever shapes you want and your dehydrator allows. Leave overnight, but do turn them around if you happen to go pee (or snack) during the night. Depending on how moist you want your cookies, keep and eye on them for the perfect consistency.

I will have a picture of these babies tomorrow morning unless I eat them before remembering that I could be an almost proper food blogger if I was a bit more patient. But they smell so good, you’ll understand how hard it is!

 

Vegetables. Shrunk in size yet not in flavor!
Vegetables. Shrunk in size yet not in flavor!

There’s more! If you want to swap your Doritos, Lays (or Taffel here in Finland) or whatever other chips you munch, to something way more interesting, enter the root veggies!

Vegetable chips
– Big carrot (if it is small, it will become tiny. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s less fancy and visual treat)
– Rutabaga
– Sweet potato
– Any other veggies (except for beets. I am traumatized from beets and just cannot handle them, except for the dumplings in Restaurant Day, krhm.)

sauce:
– a nice splash of (apple) cider vinegar
– salt
– cayenne pepper/chili
– powdered onion/garlic
– any other spices you fancy, take your pick
– for possibly desired sweetness, some honey, agave or other sweetener (really not necessary)
– for possibly desired fatness, some coconut oil (chips without fat? Ooooooh, diet food!)

Yep, you guessed it: mix ’em all together, lay on the donutrator (nope, I can’t get enough of that word) and be patient. This stuff crispens out and shrinks pretty fast compared to the crackers, so you might want to watch out for these babies and snack a few samples every few hours. They will keep in airtight container for fairly long, unless you have a good movie to watch. They can also be used in soups or other dishes, for example in salads.

 

Kale chips and friends
Kale chips and friends

 

Who said raw food is just about slurping wheatgrass shots and green smoothies?

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Restaurant Day Asian Raw Bar

Good people, good food and good vibes
Good people, good food and good vibes

Approx. 24hrs of work, but totally and beyond worth it: this Restaurant Day most likely blew away many of those who are sceptic towards raw foods, but also was something special to those already dedicated to the subject.

Even Raw Dessert Chef Maria Lönnqvist approved!
Even Raw Dessert Chef Maria Lönnqvist approved!

The mouth-watering super-delicious [insert other phrase words here] menu was the following:

Pad Thai Asian noodle salad with crunchy almonds
Spring rolls with almond dipping sauce
Chinese beetroot dumplings with chili plum sauce

Blueberry crumble pie with fresh coconut vanilla sauce
Blueberry chocolate cheesecake

Blueberry cheesecake pictured just before eating by Markus Karjalainen
Blueberry cheesecake pictured just before eating by Markus Karjalainen

 

I think everyone left the place happy and satisfied. We had time to tour around other places after wrapping up our pop-up restaurant. There was a lot of entrepreneurship going on in different parks in Helsinki, and apparently the offerings were very versatile (437 restaurants!). We were treated to a free shot of tequila and pureed cranberry juice served on a block of wood, and we also popped by a paleo cafe, but unfortunately I was too full to try their cookies or sandwich. I don’t know which is more fun: to organize a restaurant or to visit several places and sample different things. If the menu is as good as ours, I think I prefer to be in the kitchen!
 

Nuff said.
Nuff said.

 
This week I’ll stay in Helsinki for Borisraw food courses, where I’ll be assisting. Despite the pouring rain, this is going to be a good week!

Upgrade Your Day: Chocolate cereal

Many people swear by starting their day with oatmeal, if not for its’ divine taste, then because of the various nutritional benefits it provides. I have got my share of porridge/oatmeal already in my childhood, where although not every day, I ate a lot of it. Always made with water and never with milk, eaten with a blop of butter in the middle and sugar sprinkled all over, or then with frozen berries, berry soup or cinnamon and apple. I could consider eating overnight oats or porridge made with other grains than oats, but I’d rather start my engines with something else.

Elovena, the image of Finland
Elovena, the image of Finland

Enter the fast, easy and cheap savior of all moms, common enemy of health freaks, the industry with plastic by-gifts and endless, more or less ridiculous and misleading health-claims: cereals, muesli, granolas and all the other sugar, fat and other additive-ladden grain products! I have to admit, I was once a junkie of the Coco Pops, Frosties and Honey O’s (the last eaten plain, without milk), then “upgraded” to the “whole grain family” of Special K, Fitness and mueslis. After realizing what crap I was eating, how un-nourishing and addictive it was, I started feeding my cravings with better stuff, i.e self-made granola. Success! The only downside with making my own batch of granola, no matter how healthy it may be, is that I have never been really good at portion control. Uh-oh.

With all this interesting history to my habits (listen to the coco pops pop, drink the chocolate milk and complain to my brother for wasting his milk), I present you an alternative to your morning routines and everyday-oats, in case you ever get sick of it. I am sure there are thousands of variations how to eat it, but stepping out of the box and into another bowl is sometimes in place. So, here goes:

Ultimate (raw) Choco Pop Cereal

– Cacao mass
– Raw honey, agave syrup, coconut nectar or other liquid sweetener
– Coconut oil
– Quinoa/amaranth/buckwheat pops or sprouted and dehydrated “buckwheaties”, if you’re super DIY
– Milk of choice (optional)
– Spices if desired, i.e vanilla
– Cocoa nibs, if you’re feeling indulgent or it’s the weekend!

IMG_9086

Melt the cacao mass in a water bath, and add desired amount of sweetener and a tad of coconut oil. Adjust the sweetness according to taste. If you want honey cereal, just skip the cacao! Stir in the cereal. If you want to make “rice krispie treats”, increase the amount of coconut oil, and add so much pops that the mixture becomes sticky. For regular cereal, you’ll know the right amounts when it looks like something you’ve seen in your childhood, yet less processed. Put to your breakfast bowl, top it off with desired milk (or eat plain), and go down the memory lane. It may not come with a toy and pop like rice krispies, but it’s still way better!

If you are a coffee drinker, I suggest swapping your regular bulk brew to at least an organic variety. You’ll taste -and know- the difference. If I ever get addicted to coffee and start drinking it at home, I will definitely get an aeropress.

Quality coffee at Johan&Nyström
Quality coffee at Johan&Nyström

If you are wondering where to get the amazing substitute cereal for rice pops and nutrition-stripped (GMO) cornflakes, you should be able to find amaranth/quinoa pops in health stores. In Finland, Stockmann Helsinki has a variety of different supergrain pops in the bulk section, and they’re way cheaper than anywhere else! I made a mixture of different pseudograins, and it definitely does the trick. Gluten-free, protein-packed and delicious!

How do you start your day? Do you have any childhood favorites?

How I Roll

Sushi, probably the best-known definition of Japan and the Japanese cuisine, is definitely one of my favorite things to eat and make myself. Rather than the conventional white rice rolls and balls topped with all sorts of sea creatures, I prefer to jazz things up a bit. By “a bit” I mean skipping the rice, which technically makes these rolls not sushi, since sushi is based on su-meshi rice. Sushi or not, these rolls are as modifiable as far as your imagination goes, and my results have always been rather pleasing.

Here’s few ideas on What and How to Roll.
If you want your rolls raw, opt for ingredients that require no cooking (duh). If heating is not a problem, then you have more options to choose from. Since there is no need for washing, soaking, boiling and waiting for the rice to cool, the rolls are ready to be devoured quite quickly. Fast food at its’ best, specially if you don’t cut them!

Step 1: “Rice”
First of all, the base of the roll doesn’t need to be rice-like. You can opt for quinoa in stead of rice, or puree or chop some cauliflower into tiny bits to make it resemble rice (add some cashews for extra creaminess). Sprouts, salad or chopped cabbage work as well – the result just won’t be so conventional sushi-like. If you use cabbage, sprinkle it with some salt and squeeze excess liquid out. Mixing some chia seeds in gives more texture, but also helps to bind the moisture. If the base is too moist, it might be hard to roll and the nori might break.

Chopped veggies for filling
Chopped veggies for filling

Step 2. Veggies
Go crazy. Anything works – the more color, the prettier! Avocado gives creaminess, carrots and bell peppers are nice and crunchy, mushrooms are always good…try your favorites, but don’t over-stuff the roll – you’re supposed to be able to actually roll it (or then just eat it like a temaki handroll, but still it shouldn’t be too fat). If you wish, season the fillings with wasabi, pepper or which ever spices you wish.

Few favorite combos:
Sprouts, avocado, fresh mint and mango
Cauliflower “rice”, avocado, cucumber, red bell pepper
Salad, strawberries, cucumber, fresh basil

Cabbage-chia (mushroom powder) base with veggies, ready to be rolled
Cabbage-chia (and mushroom powder) base with veggies, ready to be rolled

Step 3: Ready to Roll
Place a nori sheet on a dry cutting board (or use sushi bamboo rolling mat). Spread your “rice” evenly, leave about 1/3 of the top of the nori without filling. Top the “rice” evenly with veggies, and hope for the best. Moisten the top edge with water, fold the front edge over the fillings. Keep rolling until the end, making a firm tube. Place the seam on the cutting board, and use your best knife to cut even pieces.

Quality nori and knife are essential in cutting the rolls
Quality nori and sharp knife are essential in cutting the rolls!

 

The rolls are best served with tamari/shoyu soy sauce, with gari (pickled ginger). And what’s sushi without misoshiru (soup)? Oh, and edamame (soy beans) would make a perfect appetizer to this. All to be enjoyed with a nice pot of sake and a cup of green tea, of course.

Itadakimasu!
Itadakimasu!

Have you tried making sushi yourself? What is your favorite kind of sushi – conventional, fusion or other?

Vegfest 2012: Omnoms with a good conscience

This weekend was the climax for over half year’s work. Since last autumn, I have been responsible for the publicity and marketing of Vegfest, Finland’s biggest vegetarian festival. The weekend was a blast, even though weather-wise Friday was pretty much as bad as one can imagine. On Saturday the sun shined, we had lots of visitors and the atmosphere was terrific!

The greenery area included plants that were treats for the eye as well as the stomach

The programme included speeches, workshops, food tastings and lots more!

Vegan version of the traditional Tampere food – blood sausage
Sweet and savory treats were offered to passers-by – the feedback was very positive
Crowd in the restaurant area

Even though I spent almost whole three days in the festival area in Keskustori, I think I did not really work hard. It was fun to hang around, meet new people, have interesting conversations and, well, eat lots and lots of delicious vegan food! Working in an event that was completely run by volunteers was inspiring – everyone was in a good mood, working full-heartedly for the benefit of all, not for personal gain or financial benefit.

Some of the animal art potrayed in the cafe

I wish I could do something similar in the future as well! Next time Vegfest will be held in 2014, it will be interesting to see if I can participate or visit the event!

Happy pig and happy human

For more Vegfest mood, check out the Vegfest Youtube channel!