Cranberry Banana-Blueberry Cheesecake

It's nearing the Christmas holidays and I am starting my celebrations early this year. Today I'm in the kitchen preparing for guests. Here's the menu:

Salad with sesame ginger mustard dressing
Whipped Mashed Potatoes
String Beans
Neat Loaf
Cranberry Banana-Blueberry Cheesecake
Hot chocolate (non-dairy)

For those of you who have my book - Vegan Bite By Bite - The Neat Loaf recipe is on page 141.
I just documented the dessert recipe and here it is below:

Coconut flour to dust 7" spring form pan (bottom and sides)
15 dates
2 cups shredded coconut
5 tablespoons water
3 cups raw cashew nuts
2 cups pure water
1 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1- 7.5 oz. pkg. fresh cranberries
1 large banana
1 - 6 oz, pkg. blueberries

1. In a food processor puree dates and water and place in a medium bowl. Add shredded coconut and mix together by hand. Dust a 7" spring form pan with coconut flour. Press the crust mixture tightly on bottom and high sides of the pie pan.
2. Blend filling ingredients EXCEPT blueberries and banana and leave in blender until step 3.
3. Add sliced banana and add blueberries to pie pan and pour filling in blender into the pie pan, stir lightly.
4. Refrigerate at least 24 -48 hours for the pie to set up properly. The longer it is refrigerated, the firmer it will slice.
5. Use a serrated knife along the edges of the pie crust before releasing the pie from the spring form pan - for easy release.

Serves 12 - 16

My husband Wendel makes up a delicious hot chocolate out of cacao powder, almond milk, dates, pinch of cumin and cinnamon and a teeny, teeny, teeny pinch of cayenne pepper. Lately we have been having this treat since it seems rare to be able to order this when we are out and about.
There are days that I feel motivated to be in the kitchen and see what develops! First I may go through the freezer to see what grains or legumes are on hand. The next step is to check out the refrigerator and circulate the food by preparing what needs to be used first - while it is still fresh. What I need to use - decides the dish. I trust this process.

After I place the produce on the counter, I can then scan through my cupboards to see what else can be used, giving me the intuitive ideas of what I can prepare.

Yesterday, I found about 2-3 cups of split peas in the freezer, so I decided to make SPLIT PEA SOUP since I had celery, carrots, white onions and Yukon potatoes.
Basically, I cut up the above produce, except the onions and garlic, and placed them in a bowl.

I don't always document a recipe because it takes away from my intuitive spontaneity and flow. Documenting a recipe takes me into my head – with having to stop and measure and write down the details. Actually, I find a difference in the way recipes taste – so I prefer preparing recipes spontaneously, as well as teaching others to learn to trust their intuition. In the beginning, there may be something to learn from this process that will make your style of cooking unique! So I encourage you to give it a try.

First I diced a large onion and minced garlic and sautéed it with 1 tablespoon of liquid amino's in a 5-quart pot until they were translucent. Usually I will soak the split peas the night before to avoid longer cooking time, but I didn't, so I just rinsed them and added them to the pot with about 14 cups of water. After turning on the high heat and bringing the soup to a rolling boil, I turned it down to low-boil. I added a couple of medium size bay leaves and when the split peas were tender and broken down I added the cut vegetables and potatoes. I like adding cumin and coriander to a recipe like this, but I found I had no coriander, so instead I added garam masala (a blend of ground spices common in Northern India and South Asia). I like being heavy handed with the seasoning of herbs and spices. In this way the dish has a good deal of flavor. When all of the ingredients were tender and the bay leaves were removed, I re-tasted the soup and added the finishing touches of white miso (to taste) and some sea salt (to taste). Miso should always be added at the end of a soup, after the heat is turned off. In this way the delicate properties of beneficial friendly intestinal flora contained in miso will not be destroyed.

Sometimes intuitive cooking means adjusting a recipe – adding more water or even more vegetables and seasonings –– it all works out - with attention to texture and tasting as your dish cooks. Keep adjusting and tasting until you reach a desired flavor!

I was somewhat concerned about whether my husband would like the soup because he's used to a much thicker version of Split Pea soup. Instead, he raved about the soup, saying it was a "keeper!" Sometimes I secretly wish that I documented a recipe and at the same time I know that when the creative process takes over - a recipe may come out differently each time - yet, it comes out surprisingly delicious!
Everyone should stay aware of the GMO issue to protect their health. I just got this email from a friend of mine and read it. I suggest you take a look at this link:

These are important times for the consumer to be aware of the harms of GMO's (genetically engineered Organisms) Humans that consume them are being used as guinea pigs. Jeffrey Smith, Institute of Responsible Technology and author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette has been spearheading the movement against GMO's. His website and books are one of the best educational reading resources. Vegan Bite By Bite also has information on GMO's included in the chapter "What to Stash and What to Trash".

In the history of man, science has never been able to improve upon Nature! GMO's abbreviation stands for "God Move Over". Woe is in store for those who care for money and power over the consideration and care of the public's health.

There is a ballot initiative for 2012 that GMO's be labeled on products and produce, so be sure to vote for GMO labeling. This may be the best we can do to protect ourselves and support our health in these changing food clash times.
Breakfast actually spells out the words break fast. For all fasts, they are best broken gradually or gently. After dinner and starting digestion up again, I recommend fruits to gradually jump start the process of digestion. If I'm eating a fruit bowl for dinner, then I may start breakfast with a cooked grain and pureed vegetable like Toasted Buckwheat n' Beet Greens. Recipe is on page 156 - Vegan Bite By Bite.

This morning I made up a fruit bowl and included the fruits I brought home from Farmer's Market this week. Sapote, (exotic, custard like fruit) Persimmon, apple, banana and strawberries. Added to the bowl was a blend of cashew milk which consisted of raw cashews blended with dates and pure water to a milk consistency. Yummy for the tummy!

Last weeks strawberries seemed to break down very quickly, so I mentioned it to the stall farmer, and he insisted I take a 3 pack of strawberries in their place. I love when farmers stand behind their produce. It makes me want to continue giving them business because it strengthens my trust in the quality of their produce. None of us in today's economy can afford buying less than desirable quality. And why should we?
The good thing about having guests for dinner is that it keeps me on track with cleaning the house.

For this dinner, I used ingredients that I already had in the fridge for a Mexican meal. I felt like making it simple, so I made some Tempeh Tacos. The main time for prep is in advance, and then it is easy to just put out the various prepped ingredients on the table for everyone to serve themselves.

It's fun to place a festive colored tablecloth, wild flowers and candles on the table for the occasion.

I made up some Brown Rice and added some taco seasonings close to when the rice was finished and also some Earth Balance vegan butter.

I sautéed some chopped onions in a bit of olive oil until they were caramelized and then
added a package of tempeh (which I ground finely in the food processor) and then added a few squirts of Bragg's aminos, and browned it, and then added a package of taco seasonings (bearitos brand).
I shredded some lettuce, chopped finely some tomatoes, scallions, and opened a can of chopped olives. I put these ingredients separately in bowls. Then I made up some guacamole, salsa and some vegan sour cream for toppings, and put those in bowls.

All I had left to do was steam the tortillas when my guests came.

I had some ice cream in the freezer, so that was dessert.

The recipe measurements for this meal are in my book – Vegan Bite By Bite.

What shall I make for dinner?  My favorite way of playing in the kitchen is to create recipes with what I have in stock in my cupboards and refrigerator.  Of course the immediate days after shopping I have more options to get creative with.

My personal style of preparation is to use my intuitive guidance from within.  I don't like to say "I hear voices" or someone may read this blog suggesting that I see a therapist.  But I do get intuitions of what goes next in a recipe – and I find that when I trust that intuition, without question, the recipe gets lots of rave reviews.  At first, it may not make much sense, but as I continue with the recipe it turns out very good, often to my surprise.  For instance, I had company the other evening for dinner and I needed to make a salad dressing.  I found some sun-dried tomatoes in a jar, added them to the blender with a tiny amount of olive oil, some garlic, capers, dates, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and Dijon mustard, jalapeno pepper and sea salt. I seem to be very fortunate in being able to create a recipe a first time and have it be a winner, which it was. 

When I worked as a consultant and chef to Woody Herralson's 02 raw foods restaurant, I used to get an idea of what ingredients I wanted in a recipe, add them, and send the dish up to the restaurant customers.  If I liked it, I found that the customers loved it!
Don’t be afraid to trust your intuition when you are in the kitchen.  When you taste a dish, you can tell if it needs more salt or pepper.  Well, you can also see if it needs a more tart or sweet flavor, etc. Start trusting your kitchen intuitions slowly and soon you will gain confidence in taking more recipe risks in your cooking and raw foods creative process.

This is a valuable link regarding GMO's food fight.
There is also information written about GMO's in Chapter 4 of Vegan Bite By Bite. 
After Farmer's Market, I usually go to a natural food store in my area to shop for the staple ingredients for my intended recipes.  I make up a quick shopping list beforehand and once again begin to build my menu from what I can find on sale, keeping in mind the vegetables and fruits that I already purchased at Farmer's Market.

Sometimes a produce item is not available at the outdoor market, so I pick those items up first.  I am always on the lookout for produce that makes up a variety of different salads, like dandelion, escarole, cabbages of varied colors, watercress, etc.  I then scan my mind for ingredients I may need for salad dressings, as I like to make up dressings fresh and perhaps add white miso (replenishes the friendly bacteria in the body).  By adding a variety of interesting ingredients and herbs to fresh dressings, they will enhance the dressing flavors, as well as, encourage eating more raw foods in your meals. Personally, I serve salads with all meals, except breakfast! In this case, the more fiber the better!  Your body will love you for it!

Before I leave the store I make certain that I have the basic complex carbohydrates like potatoes, yams, whole grains, etc. along with everything on my shopping list.

Now that I have spent my shopping budget I head home to organize the foods I just purchased.

I start bagging vegetables in plastic Ziplock bags that I will store in the fridge and those fruits that need to ripen I place carefully in bowls outside the refrigerator, like tomatoes, avocados, lemons, etc. I generally wash a couple of heads of lettuce in pure water and allow them to drain and dry thoroughly. If the lettuce leaves are still damp, add a paper towel to absorb the moisture. Before bagging them, squeeze out all of the air.  If they are put away in the fridge wet or damp they will not hold up well for storage. I only wash veggies that I intend to use in the next day or so.

I organize my fridge in a way that I keep fruits in one place and then store other items in the same location so that I don't have to continually wonder where the items are in a crowded fridge.  Keep a note pad on your fridge to mark down the items you may need to shop for, as you run out.

I then start preparing a couple of varieties of salads that I place in a Ziplock bag for future use.  This way when I get hungry I don't have to start preparing something – or later regret eating something because I was too hungry and tending to leave out my salads. I now have something that I call "fast foods" in my refrigerator to pull from.

I continue to organize my fridge and prepare simple dishes from my refrigerator and ingredients stock so that I can put together a simple meal in a few minutes for quick hunger pangs from my husband or myself.

It's now time to sit down and relax.  It's been a busy day!

I feel so grateful to be able to shop at a Farmer's Market. The produce is farm and morning fresh, and I can know that the words "Organic" are reputable because I have a relationship with the farmers.  I get a 'rush' of ecstatic feelings seeing the lush vegetables and fruits and I get excited with the ideas of what I can prepare from the plant potpourri of selections.

I feel that shopping at a Farmer's Market can be a money saver. It is certainly a quality saver.  I ask my organic stall farmer's if they have the green tops of beets, (because many shoppers aren't aware of the health value of the greens, they have them cut off and they get discarded). All leafy greens are a good source of calcium. I also ask for daikon and turnip greens, which by the way, are delicious steamed or sautéed in a tiny amount of coconut oil.  When I buy radishes, if the leaves are young and fresh, I will steam them or add them to a fresh salad.  My son Stewart has an organic garden and when I visit him in Rhode Island I add radish greens freshly cut into my salads, which create a delicately spicy flavor.

Underneath many stalls there are sometimes boxes that may contain either discarded cut greens for cooking, or perhaps bruised vegetables.  There are times I have been happy to bend down and sort through the give-away produce.  Only my false pride keeps me from bending low to discover the possible rich harvest that may be available.

I allow the best savings and lush produce to guide me about what I will make with the selected produce.  For instance, if the organic kale is tender and robust, especially if it is priced well, I may make a kale salad and kale-barley soup.  I may also add some kale to a pineapple-coconut smoothie, or design a recipe where I use my dehydrator to make kale chips. If I get an especially good buy on some produce or shopping ingredients, I may do some quantity cooking for the freezer.  This is the only way I do "fast foods!"

You can search for locations at Farmer's Markets and CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) @

Especially during these times of GMO affecting the quality of our food and our health – it is a good time to create a relationship with your farmer so that you can confidently know about the source of your food, and how it is grown – and the importance of the effect it will have on your future health.

Organic Consumers Association is a website that you consider looking at to educate yourself about GMO's and their potential harms to our health.
Signing necessary and important petitions may be the only way we have any food rights for the future of our food.

I have a chapter on the subject of GMO'S in my various e-book formats and paperback, Vegan Bite By Bite.
Once on the path to personal health, using my background and spontaneous experimental methods, I spring-boarded from experience to experience, cooking for doctors, catering, consulting and teaching, privately and with groups.