Raw recipes put health into the holidays | Food

WINCHESTER — The holiday season brings with it a lot of heavy eating and a plethora of sugary desserts. To help add a healthy twist to the season, Barbara Hineline, chef and owner of Fit Food, held the Raw and Beautiful holiday cooking class.

The class was presented on Monday through Your Healthy Side, an organization based in Winchester that focuses on bringing the community together with the common goal of improving health. Lori Fountain Bales, owner and chief executive officer of Your Healthy Side, said raw food is a recent trend in healthy eating. In raw recipes there is no cooking of the ingredients.

“People in the food industry believe in the benefits of eating raw food and not depleting the nutrients through cooking,” she said.

Hineline created three raw recipes for the class — a carrot cake with cashew vanilla frosting, avocado cacao mousse and a caramel apple pie. All of the recipes are vegan.

None of the desserts use processed ingredients. All of the sweetness comes from honey, dates or foods that are naturally sweet.

Hineline said the desserts don’t take a lot of prep and are quick to put together because there is no baking involved.

The carrot cake consists of carrots, pitted dates, walnuts, unsweetened coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Hineline combined all of the ingredients in a food processor, then pressed the cake into a square using a baking pan as a guide.

To make the cashew vanilla frosting for the carrot cake, soak the cashews overnight in water to soften. Store-bought cashew butter with no added ingredients may also be used to skip this step. Hineline added coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract and lemon juice to the cashews and blended them in a food processor to make a thick frosting.

“You can wet the back of a spoon with warm water and use it to spread the frosting,” Hineline said.

For the cacao mousse, Hineline used four ripe avocados that add healthy fat and a creamy texture to the dessert.

“You want them to be soft but firm,” Hineline said. “You should be able to pinch them a little bit.”

Silken tofu is added to the mousse and is transformed into a cream-like texture when it takes a whirl in the food processor. In lieu of the tofu, 1/4 cup of full fat coconut milk, plus two tablespoons of melted coconut oil may be substituted.

The flavor of the cacao dominates the dish, and honey is also added for sweetness.

To make the crust of the caramel apple pie, combine walnuts and dates in a food processor until they form a dough. Hineline pressed the dough into a square and then placed it in the freezer until she was ready to top with the apples and sauce.

To make the caramel sauce, Hineline combined dates that were soaked in water to soften, filtered water, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a food processor. She then poured the sauce into a bowl over three medium apples chopped into small chunks. She then stirred the ingredients together. The mixture is added to the top of the pie crust and can be placed back in the freezer to firm before serving.

Part of Your Healthy Side’s services include offering cooking classes that are free to attend for Your Healthy Side members. Non-members may also participate in the classes for a fee.

To find out more about Your Healthy Side, visit www.yourhealthyside.com. Classes are held at Bales’ house on North Avenue.

3 cups shredded carrots (about 1 lb.)

8 oz. (about 1 cup) pitted dates

2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

(optional) 1/2 cup raisins

Pulse together all ingredients in a food processor until well-blended. Press mixture into a mini cheesecake pan or mini 4-inch springform pans. Top with raw cashew vanilla frosting just before serving (recipe following).

Raw cashew vanilla frosting

2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight in water

2/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup water (use more or less to achieve desired consistency)

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until blended. Add extra water to thin to desired consistency, if needed.

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh fruit and nuts, for garnish

In the bowl of a blender or food processor, blend avocado until smooth. Add all other ingredients, blending until mixture is uniform. Chill for about 2 hours in the fridge or half an hour in the freezer. Garnish with fresh fruit or chopped nuts.

6-18 dates, pitted and divided

1 cup filtered water, plus more for soaking

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Line the bottom of a round 8-inch tart pan with parchment paper; set aside. In a food processor, blend the walnuts into a fine meal. Add 8-10 dates and process for 20-30 seconds, just until the dates are blended and combined. Press the dough into the prepared pan, then cover with plastic and freeze until ready to use.

Add the remaining 8 dates to a small bowl and cover with water; soak for 10-15 minutes. While the dates are soaking, prepare the apples by peeling and coring them. Cut into 1/4-inch thick slices then chop into small chunks. Transfer to a small bowl and cover with a damp towel (and lemon juice, if you’re worried about them browning). When the dates have finished soaking, discard the water. Add the dates, water, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to a food processor and blend until smooth — about 15-20 seconds. Pour over apples and toss until the chunks are evenly coated.

Remove the pie crust from the freezer and pile with apple filling. Freeze for at least 45 minutes and thaw before serving. Pie will keep frozen in an air-tight container for up to 6 weeks.

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