It’s a Celebration!

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It’s been a long time coming…. this celebration.

I had been planning to write a food blog for a while, didn’t really know how… figured it would be super complicated…  I’m not at all tech savvy, so basically I put it off because I was afraid of it. I had been creating recipes, taking pictures, saving files – you name it. I was doing it. Then, in an emotional tantrum I accidentally deleted everything I had been saving up. Absolutely all of it. From that day, it took me another four months to even consider starting up this blog. I suppose, maybe I had taken it as a sign from the universe that I just wasn’t ready to write (yes, sometimes I am unreasonably emotional).

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So finally, I did it.  I told myself that I would not register a domain until I had had the blog for a full year, and had made more than five or six posts.  It’s not that I typically give up on projects, it’s just this one had given me some grief and I was starting it up in a personally vulnerable time.  In reality, it ended up being the outlet that I needed to get myself up and at ‘er and I have since clearly made more than five or six posts.   In fact, in this first year (and a bit) I have filled a bound journal with double sided pages of hand written recipes, some successes and some flops.  I have begun a photography certification course, originally starting because I wanted to learn how to photograph food of course; a certification that has now blossomed into a whole secondary passion. Another wonderful creative outlet that makes me so happy, and is so rewarding.

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Starting this blog has made me realize so many things about myself. It has been freeing personally, and has helped me grow exponentially. Having a creative outlet is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, seriously. The first year anniversary of my blog was in September, this celebration as I said – has been a long time coming.  Finally this morning I have made good on that promise and have purchased my domain. Woo! Hooray! Yippeee! http://www.sproutinganoldsoul.com exists! In celebration, I paired together ingredients from some of my older dessert recipes (Avo Cacao Pudding & Banana Chocolate Tarts) and created a *nut free* raw chocolate mousse cake.

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Crust

1 Cup Dried Black Mission Figs
3/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
3 Tbsp Cacao Nibs
Pinch of Himalayan Salt
6 Tbsp Water

Mousse

3 Ripe Avocados
1 Ripe Banana
2 Heaping Tbsp Raw Honey
1/2 Cup Cacao Powder

Plating

1/3 Cup Raspberries (fresh or frozen)
Splash of Water
Cacao Powder for Dusting

Soak the figs in warm water until they are squishy. Add the figs, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, and salt to a food processor – start with two tablespoons of water. Give the crust a whirl. Continue adding one tablespoon of water at a time while the food processor is running until the crust forms a thick paste. Six teaspoons may not be required depending on the moisture in the figs, but six was how many it took for me. Start with less, you don’t want the crust to be too squishy! Line a small-medium spring-form cake pan with wax paper. Push the figgy crust into the pan or shape into small tart shells by hand, then place it in the freezer to set.

To make the mousse, simply add all ingredients into a fresh food processor and whirl until there are no chunks of avocado or banana and a thick mousse has formed. Gently scoop it into the crust, cover, and let it set up in the freezer overnight or for at least six hours. This will ensure the mousse will be able to slice.

Depending on the temperature indoors, remove the cake from the fridge 1 to 2 hours before serving. Blend the raspberries with a touch of water and spread on a plate to be used as a garnish under the cake, or use as a drizzle over top. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the extra cacao powder and slice it into pieces.

Voila!

An Asian Market Adventure… Turns into Herby Salad Rolls

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Salad rolls are one of those go-to items for me, I love that they’re so versatile! Throwing in rainbow colored veggies and making an assortment of different sauces, it’s just plain fun.  They are healthy, relatively quick (once you get the hang of wrapping them up), and they don’t leave you feeling heavy or full. All of those things combined – for me anyway – make the perfect lunch… especially for days when a bowl of salad just isn’t what I’m searching for.

These were born after a trip to one of the Asian markets here in the city; a trip which was very successful considering I was looking for some fairly specific things.  Thai basil, a herb that surprises me each and every time I go in search of it. I always expect it to be easy to find, tucked in with the other herbs in the greens section. Fortunately, I thoroughly enjoy going on a mad hunt all over town for single ingredients, fortunately I also feel very comfortable in ethnic markets and will often take the time to walk through every single isle. Asian markets hold a special place in my heart as Asia is where the bulk of my travel experience has been; walking in and submersing myself is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

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This trip to the market was not one of my typical, long, exploration types; this one had a bit more of a time line. To be able to spend the day with my man, making gyoza and bowls of green Thai curry meant we had to be in and out quickly.  We headed straight for the herbs and mushrooms, then right on outta there.  Lucky for me, we over did it on the herbage and after all was said and done there was plenty of the fresh green aromatic beauties left over. Alone with my herbs, my kitchen turned into a salad roll factory.

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The one thing we impulsively purchased while at the Asian market, was a package of fresh green pepper berries (peppercorns). I had never until that day seen them fresh! Well, not here anyway. In China I had seen them, tasted them, but never here. I was so excited! I didn’t know what I was going to do with them, but was so super excited to have found the fresh little pungent berries that the very second we entered my house.. I popped one into Jonny’s mouth and forced him to chew it.

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Once my salad roll making factory had begun to close shop, all herbs used and my fingers smelling absolutely divine from all of their fresh green herby oils. It occurred to me I hadn’t made a sauce.  I know typically when you order salad rolls in a restaurant you get peanut sauce, often times with sriracha and crushed peanuts.  Well I don’t usually have peanut butter, plenty of other butters, but that one I tend to omit (why have peanut butter when you could have cashew? Hazelnut? Almond?). Peanut butter is just not a favorite of mine. I did have, however, plenty sunflower seed butter and my fresh sambal. Perrrrrfect! Top it off with some fresh crushed green pepper berries, and voila!

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Herby Salad Rolls
(Makes quite a few)

1 Package of Rice Paper Sheets
1 Small Package of Rice Noodles
1 Small Zucchini
1 Avocado
3 Cups of Thai Basil
2 Cups of Mint
1 Bunch of Cilantro
Green Onion
Handful of Enoki Mushrooms
Romaine or Green Leaf Lettuce

Cook rice noodles as per package directions, julienne zucchini, slice the avocado and green onion. Rip individual leaves or groups of leaves from the Thai basil and the mint. Separate the cilantro, and enoki into small bunches and set out pieces of lettuce. Having everything set up and in reach is key! Fill a medium sized bowl with warm water, circling the first rice paper wrap into the water. Once the rice paper is wet and pliable, lay it flat on a cutting board or work surface. Begin stacking the filling ingredients on top of the rice paper, play around with it – depending on the size of your rice paper you might find it easiest to fill right in the middle – I personally find it easiest to fill the bottom third, leaving about two a finger width space at the bottom.  Fold the bottom up, over top of the fillings, then the two sides before turning the roll onto itself and sealing up the top… and repeat!  Don’t be discouraged, it can take a couple tries!

Spicy & Creamy Sunflower Seed Dipping Sauce

2-3 Tbsp Sunflower Seed Butter
1/4 Cup Warm Water
Sambal or Sriracha*
Green Pepper Berries*

Combine the sunflower seed butter with the warm water, stirring until it is your desired consistency. Whirl in some hot sauce of your choice, giving it a good kick of heat and finish it off with some hand crushed green pepper berries for a nice pungent finish.

*Optional, add in as much or as little as you’d like!