Loving the Lemon

LemonOver the past two months of blogging, I have Adored the Avocado, waxed poetic about Key Lime Love and revealed the Magic of Mince. Now, for my last blog post of 2013, I am turning my attention to my all-time favourite fruit; the zesty, wonderful and spectacularly versatile lemon.

When I first started making raw desserts three years ago, the first dessert I tackled was the Raw Chocolate Mousse Pie. I must have made that recipe dozens of times. I took it to every party, made it at the cottage and even had hungry teenagers coming to my house after school for a decadent slice (before heading off to McDonald’s…oh dear!)

It wasn’t long before I started looking at other raw dessert options and, as a die-hard-lemon-lover, the next stop on my raw dessert journey was a Raw Lemon Cheesecake. I did not have to look far to find loads of delicious and intriguing recipes. As with all my raw desserts, I experiment with and combine my favourite recipes until the recipe comes out just the way I want it to.

And this one gets rave reviews!

Microplane GraterWhen I awakened this morning to a beautiful wintry wonderland, I decided to celebrate the last day of a wonderful and prosperous 2013 with a Raw Lemon Cheesecake. Before sharing the recipe I have to share the most important, and most recently acquired, kitchen tool in my collection. It is my Microplane Gourmet grater. Zesting the lemons for this recipe has always been somewhat of a chore with my IKEA grater. Now, zesting is my favourite part because it is so easy. Sometimes I wish I needed more than three tablespoons of zest because I get carried away. If you don’t already have a Microplane in your kitchen arsenal- get one!

As I write, my Raw Lemon Cheesecake is setting patiently in my chilly refrigerator. After writing this lemon-loving post I am seriously wondering whether I might just dip into it before the Filet Mignon, Portobello mushrooms and the rich red wine. Perhaps I will lean into the age-old adage of life being short and eating dessert first.

Wishing you all a wonderful, fun and safe New Year’s Eve!New Years Eve

Raw Lemon Cheesecake

 Crust:

  • 1 cup Fine Almond Flour
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Sugar or Maple Syrup Powder
  • 1/3 cup Coconut Butter
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla (optional)

Melt the coconut oil gently. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and then slowly add the melted coconut oil. Press into a pie plate and chill for at least an hour.

Filling:

  • 3 cups raw cashews soaked for three hours
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp zest
  • 3/4 cup raw honey
  • 3/4 cup raw coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla or 1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped, pod discarded
  • 1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt

To make the cheese, blend the cashews, lemon, honey, coconut oil, vanilla/vanilla bean, and sea salt. Blend until smooth and adjust to taste. (For the best results you need to use a high speed blender!)

Pour mixture on top of the “crust” and carefully tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Best if chilled overnight.

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Swept Away

Saving Mr. BanksI am a passionate lover of movies. I absolutely adore the feeling of being swept away. The sheer delight of a different place, a different time, and new people to welcome me into their lives.

I am particularly enthralled by the gentle movie. The movie that holds me tenderly for two hours and then lets me go somewhat reluctantly from the escape and the enjoyment. I often feel disoriented after such a movie and am, in some ways, disinclined to walk away from the delightful diversion and to re-enter my every day.

Simon and I decided that we would address the pneumonia-and-eczema-blues this afternoon with a trip to the movies. The family consensus was an afternoon showing of Saving Mr. Banks. There will be absolutely no spoiler from this movie-lover but, suffice it to say, it was one of the most delightful movies I have seen in a very long time. Emma Thompson delivers a stunning performance and Tom Hanks is a wonderful Walt Disney. And, with a particular weakness for the powerful supporting actor, I would say that Paul Giamatti just about stole the show for me.

I stumbled from the movie theatre over three hours ago with a full heart and puffy eyes. And, three hours later, I still feel utterly captivated by the story of the surprising chain of events that brought one of my all-time favourite movies to the Disney screen.Mary Poppins

Let Time Go Lightly

It is a Sunday evening. Certainly not my usual, however. Sunday evenings are for laundry, forgotten school forms, school lunch prep, grocery shopping, cooking for the beginning of the week, garbage & recycling at the curb and kids to bed early.

That’s my usual Sunday night.

RelaxingThis evening, however, is entirely different. Thanks to my heavy-duty antihistamine with the sedative and my higher prednisone dose, I actually got some sleep last night. When I got up this morning, however, I felt kind of shaky and hung-over. I am not a very good prescription-drug-taker. They make me feel shaky and disconnected from my body. And, as necessary as I know they are, it still feels weird to be leaning on pharmaceutical medication to get through the night.

A slippery slope perhaps?

I decided this morning that, rather than fight the feeling, I was going to lean into shaky and hung-over. So, after getting Zach off to a long play-date and Michael packed and picked up to go north to ski with my parents, I flaked on the couch and watched three chick-flicks. I didn’t watch the time, I ate when I was hungry, dozed when I felt like it, drank a wide variety of herbal tea and ate leftover raw desserts.

And the day has just drifted gently into evening.

I know that next Sunday evening will be an entirely different story so I am hugging the freedom and ease of this one closely to my heart. And, it gets even better; with a whole week left in my Christmas holiday, I will awaken on a Monday morning without the alarm. And, I will make a big pot of tea and go back to bed to read for as long as I feel like it.

Talk about a Radical Act!Pot of Tea

A Bigger Towel

ItchWell, I thought that Throwing in the Towel two days ago would be enough. Apparently, it wasn’t. And even my highly celebrated 50mg dose of Prednisone hasn’t put a dent in my misery. I am still covered with the itchiest and most painful eczema I have ever experienced. To add insult to injury, I am not sleeping more than an hour at a time because I wake myself up scratching like a madwoman. And, truly, I am tired of starting my days at 3:00am.

I have had yet another doctor’s appointment and a phone consultation with my Naturopath. I am now loaded up with pharmaceutical and natural remedies and all I can say is that I really need to ring in the New Year on the back-end of this f***ing flare. I know that on the scale of global importance, my month-long eczema flare does not crack the top one million. However, in my little glass-half-full corner of the world, I am sure struggling.

I don’t know about you…but I’m tired of this topic!

Fingers crossed for better news tomorrow.

Mince Magic

My mom and I have a Christmas tradition that goes back as far as I can remember. Our pyjama breakfast on Boxing Day always starts with at least two mince tarts and a hot cup of tea. There is something so delightful about the taste of mincemeat first thing in the morning; that delicious blend of sweet, spicy and savoury that just tantalizes my taste buds. Mom and I are the only mincemeat lovers in the family, so it has remained one of our own special customs.Mince Tarts

As I was heading into the Christmas season this year I was disappointed to realize that my severe diet restrictions would mean no mince tarts. Mincemeat is loaded with corn starch and refined sugar and even gluten-free pastry is contraband.

Darn!

During one of the many sleepless nights I have had recently, I decided that I was not going to eschew our tradition and that I was going to find a raw/live version of my classic favourite. If I am eating Raw Lemon Cheesecake, Raw Key Lime Pie and Raw Chocolate Mousse Pie, surely I could find a Raw Mince Pie recipe.

I absolutely love recipes and thoroughly enjoyed sifting through and blending various recipes I came across. I have no idea whether I will be blogging next Christmas so I figured I would share this mincemeat pie recipe today.

I Love My MomMom and I did not get our breakfast yesterday as I was at the hospital. However, we snuck a special few minutes in together after our family Christmas dinner last night. And, even though the mincemeat tasted different, it wasn’t a tart, it wasn’t warm, and the crust wasn’t flaky, it was just as special. Perhaps even more so because each and every ingredient agreed with my body, my spirit and my heart. And, I was enjoying it with one of my favourite people in the whole, wide world; my mom.

Just in case you want to try it, I’ve included the recipe below;

Raw Mince Pie with Zucchini Cream

Crust:

2 cups Cashews (soaked three hours)

1 ½ cups Medjool Dates, chopped

½ cup Shredded Coconut

1/3 cup Coconut Oil

¼ tsp Celtic Sea Salt

1 tsp vanilla
–         Process cashews in a food processor

–          Add dates and process some more

–          Add the rest of the ingredients and process until well blended

–          Press into a pie plate

–          Cover with Saran Wrap and place in fridge (for at least 30 minutes) to set

Mincemeat:

4 Pears, grated

2 Apples, grated

1 cup Raisins, chopped

6 Medjool Dates, chopped

2 Oranges, zest and juice

2 tsp. Ground Cloves

2 tsp. Cinnamon

2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

–          Mix all ingredients in a bowl and set aside to marinate for 2 to 6 hours

–          Transfer into a nut bag or cheesecloth to squeeze out some of the juice (leave some so the mincemeat stays moist)

–          Pour into pie shell

–          Leave in fridge until ready to serve

Cream:

1 cup zucchini, peeled and chopped

¼ cup agave nectar

1 cup cashews, soaked three hours

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. ground nutmeg

–          Process  the zucchini, agave, vanilla and nutmeg in a food processor until smooth

–          Add the cashews and process until smooth

The Towel

I’ve gone ahead and done it. I’ve thrown in the towel. At 3:00 this morning after yet another restless night of itching, scratching and pain, I decided that I could no longer fight the good fight. And so, six hours later at our local Urgent Care Centre, the proverbial towel landed directly at the feet of the doctor.

My skin issues are not, as I had supposed, hives. Rather, just a Throw in the Towelmassive systemic flare of eczema. I will not go into unnecessary and gory detail but, suffice it to say, the doctor’s jaw dropped when he learned that I had been suffering since the beginning of the month.

Fortunately, there is no infection so antibiotics were not necessary. However, a strong dose of oral Prednisone was prescribed and I have never felt happier or more eager to fill a prescription in my life. And when the friendly young pharmacist told me I might feel relief as early as this afternoon, I could have thrown my arms around him and kissed him!

Just the possibility of an-itch-free day is the very best Christmas present ever.

There is a little niggly piece of me that is disappointed that the allopathic route was necessary. I just do not agree with the practice of covering up symptoms. However, in this case, I am not sleeping, I am miserable and I am as uncomfortable as I think I have ever been. I just could not continue with this particular fight.

And so, thanks to my first dose of Prednisone almost five hours ago, I am already feeling relief. I can actually live more than two feet from an ice pack, I don’t feel the urge to burst into frustrated tears and I know it will be even better tomorrow.

And so, the Grinch has once again been transformed and life is looking up. I am off to enjoy a wonderful Christmas dinner with my husband, kids, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews and siblings-in-law. And, honestly, I think it will be the first meal I have truly enjoyed since this month began twenty-six days ago.

A Radically Happy Christmas indeed!Grinch