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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Shaved Beet & Carrot Salad with Spicy-Sweet Dressing

I am still in Costa Rica, but my trip is drawing to an end.
I will miss it here so much. I love everything about this place- the climate, the people, the animals.

But alas, all good things must come to an end.
I am nearing my departure with a heart full of gratitude for all I have done and learned.
And of course, I'll also be bringing home lots of inspiration of all sorts. 

I'm inspired to live simply and eliminate stress, just as I have been able to do here.
I'm inspired to spend less time online and more time with books, nature, and others.
I'm inspired to experiment with new flavor combinations, make more from scratch, and use what's available to me at the moment. 
But really, how could you not be inspired by this?
There are little peppers called ají dulce that grow all over the farm and are incredibly spicy. 
They often find their way into our food here, as just about every current volunteer has a penchant for all things hot.

I'm not big on heat, but I've been learning to adapt.
It's a good thing my taste buds are desensitizing, as this month's Recipe Redux challenge is to make something smoky and/or spicy.
I focused on the latter, viewing it as a perfect opportunity to utilize these cousins of jalapeños.

Not wanting to push myself too past my comfort zone, I chose to incorporate some sweet elements as well. All fresh, all local- a shining representation of the crops grown here on the farm.
The secret ingredient of this delectable sauce is a spoonful (or two) of mango jam.
We made some here at the ranch- recipe shared soon- but in the meantime you can try to make your own or use this one.
If you want a subtler flavor, you can mix your finished salad into some fresh greens as we did.
Otherwise, enjoy it as the gorgeous and tasty dish that it is.
Clockwise from top: yucca/veggie curried stew, beet & carrot salad, brown rice, lentil & spinach salad with peanut dressing
I hope this glimpsed into Costa Rican cuisine fuel your imagination as much as they have mine.

  • 1 large beet
  • 4 large carrots
  • 3/4 cup kefir vinegar (can sub pineapple or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1.5 tbs. mango jam
  • 1 ají dulce pepper
  • 2" knob of turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Grate beet and carrots and set aside
  • Combine all remaining ingredients in blender
  • Blend until smooth
  • Pour over carrot/beet salad and toss

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Raw Vegan Macadamia Cheese + Greetings from Costa Rica!

I am a wimp.
Well, let me rephrase that. I am a wimp when it comes to cold weather. I cannot deal very well.

In other words, I spend all winter super-bundled, wearing two pairs of pants and as many socks as I can manage, still shivering, dreading the moment I must step outside.

And this is in North Carolina- not exactly Arctic conditions.
But it feels pretty bitter cold to me.

Which is why I am writing this post from Costa Rica!
 It is absolutely beautiful...
And full of great culture.

I am here volunteering at an organic farm- spending my days transplanting crops, creating new recipes and tending to adorable animals (plus much more).
Say hello to my favorite of the clan (shhh, don't tell the others).
This is Bambi. She was abandoned by her mother and adopted by the farm.

The work here is tough but I am learning a lot- not to mention that I get to express my food creativity on a daily basis. With the wide variety of fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds grown here, the possibilities are infinite. 
One of my favorite recipes I've made on the finca so far is my raw vegan macadamia nut cheese. It was such a hit that I decided to pass the recipe on to anyone looking to get their non-dairy fix.
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tbs. kefir vinegar (can sub apple cider vinegar)
  • 1.5 tbs. olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • Optional- other herbs to your liking (like basil, oregano, rosemary, etc.)

  • Combine macadamias and water in high speed blender
  • Blend on high for about 45 seconds
  • Strain the mixture and set aside liquid for later*
  • Take the "nut pulp" and place in blender along with remaining ingredients
  • Pulse to get things moving and then blend on high speed for about 30 seconds or until smooth
*The remaining liquid is macadamia milk- perfect for lightening coffee, splashing over oatmeal, or blending into shakes!

If you're a traditionalist, try the cheese on pasta or as a spread on toast.
If you would rather venture into slightly more exotic territory, however, I have got some suggestions for you.

I first enjoyed the cheese as a condiment for my cuadrado fritters (called patacones) and veggie patties.
*Cuadrados are like plaintains, but shorter*

Patacones, veggie patties, macadamia cheese, spiced chayote squash, and
salad with papaya dressing.
The next way (and my favorite) to eat the cheese is folded gently into tamales.
Tamale filled with macadamia cheese, sweet chili sauce, sauteed sweet potato leaves and black beans, served with salad topped with mango dressing and homemade sauerkraut.
We've made tamales a few times since I've been at the farm. I'm not sick of them yet!
They are surprisingly easy to prepare.

I don't yet have my own tamale recipe for you at this time, but I hope to perfect one once I'm back in the states. In the meantime, try out this or this recipe if you're interested in making some.

Although I obviously have wi-fi here, I have been trying to maintain minimal internet time while here (which is very easy with so much work to do and places to explore). But I am very glad to hop back on the blog for a quick post.

I look forward to sharing more of my adventures and Latin-inspired recipes with you as soon as possible. 

Wherever you are in the world, try out this awesome cheese and pretend you are sitting under the warm, Costa Rican sun. Talk to you soon!