Hiwa Kai Hawaiian Black Lava Sea Salt by Red Stick Spice Co

Photo courtesy of Red Stick Spice Co

Photo courtesy of Red Stick Spice Co

Looking for a way to boost some of your deeper, smoky cooking flavors?  I recommend trying lava salt.  And, my favorite?  Red Stick Spice Co’s Hiwa Kai Hawaiian Black Lava Sea Salt.  It is subtle in flavor but adds the perfect finish for a ton of recipes, including and especially those recipes with smokey paprika and cayenne.  This is certainly the kind of salt you put on the table (it will also get a great reaction from dinner guests) or use on top of your dish, right before serving. Trader Joe’s had a smoked salt (I hear it’s discontinued) that will do in a pinch, but there is a dramatic difference between it, which reminds me of my mother’s use of liquid smoke (which I don’t knock), and the layered flavor of Hiwa Kai’s added activated charcoal.  Yes, activated charcoal.

Food Matters tells us that:

Activated Charcoal, derives it’s name from the process of taking the charcoal which results from the activity of controlled charring of the starting material (usually Willow Bark, aka Salix alba), and subjecting it to an oxidizing gas, i.e. air or steam, at elevated temperatures (which enhances the absorptive power of the charcoal by developing an extensive internal network of fine pores in the material).

And some, in this case NaturalNews.com, claim that;

Activated charcoal is good at trapping other carbon-based impurities (“organic” chemicals) that are commonly found in pesticides, herbicides, plastics, and other industry and environmental pollutants. Additionally, charcoal has been shown to be effective at binding to chlorine, viruses, bacteria, and their metabolic byproducts and toxic excretions. It is estimated that daily use of activated charcoal reduces the toxic load in the human body by over 60%. The activated carbon itself is not resorbed in the gut but is eliminated in the feces.

The Mayo Clinic reminds us that activated charcoal is used in emergency poisoning situations.  The charcoal is suspended in liquid that, when ingested, absorbs the poison hopefully before the body of animal (even human animal) has a chance to absorb the toxic substance.  So, surely it removes toxins.  What toxins and whether or not this should be used in large doses, regularly, remains quite open to me.

But, the amount of activated charcoal in the Hiwa Kai salt is a dusting, so to speak.  Thus, the charcoal works more as a flavor enhancer than anything.  The salt is intense but not sharp.  Certainly, there is a soft smokieness that also brings out the depth of flavor in pepper-based seasoning.  Try it.

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Blueberry-Lemon Muffins

Sunday morning treat? Yes please!  I had a pint of blueberries teetering on the edge of wrinkled.  Voila!  Blueberry muffins.  More than that, lemon blueberry muffins.  Yum!  A great excuse to use my organic powdered sugar, too.

This is adapted from a recipe found on MyRecipes.com.

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Blueberry-Lemon Muffins

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 muffin)
Cook time: 20 Minutes
Prep time: 22 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup agave nectar or vegan granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind, divided
  • 3/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, divided
  • equivalent of 1 egg replacer
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup organic vegan powdered sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

  1. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk.
    1. Make a well in center of mixture.
  2. Add to a smaller bowl the blueberries, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons lemon rind; toss gently.
  3. Combine almond/soy milk, coconut oil, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and egg replacer in a bowl; stir well with a whisk.
  4. Alternate adding the blueberry and the milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
  5. Spoon batter into 12 paper lined muffin cups.
  6. Bake at 400° for 17 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove muffins from pan immediately; cool on a wire rack.
  7. Combine powdered sugar, remaining 1 teaspoon lemon rind, and remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice in a small bowl; stir until smooth. Drizzle glaze evenly over muffins.

Pinto Beans and Prunes from food.com

So, have you, too, a bag of prunes in your cabinet that you don’t know what to do with?  No?  Well, I did.  I think I thought I’d do something specific with them, and then never did that.  So, instead… this is what I’ve done.  Thanks to Cookgirl for this.

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Pinto Beans and Prunes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried pink beans
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, mashed
  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced (I tried 1 cup of fire-roasted canned tomatoes and 1 cup of leftover marinara sauce) or 2 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup prune, pitted and diced small ( reduced from 3/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar ( vinegar was not specified but I tried raw apple cider )
  • 1/4 cup apple juice or 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 dash ground cloves
  • 1 dash freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt, to taste
  • white pepper, to taste

Garnish

  • fresh basil, cut into ribbons or fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced

Directions

  1. Cook the dried beans *reserving* some of the liquid.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan.
  3. Lightly brown the onions and garlic for a few minutes.
  4. Add all the ingredients except for the beans and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until onions and prunes are soft.
  5. Add the drained beans (and a little bean broth to thin the sauce if necessary.) Heat through for a few minutes.

Original post, here.

Chewy Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies by Cookie Madness

Ooooh, Cookie MADNESS!!  I genuflect meditating upon your cookie greatness.  This is an oldie but goodie.  I’m making them now. Again.

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Chewy Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  10 mins
Serves:  24

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (3.25 oz)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 scant teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (3 ½ oz)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup applesauce, drained on a paper towel
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins, plumped and patted dry
  • Walnuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with Silpats.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. Mix both sugars, maple syrup, apple sauce, oil and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in the oats, followed by raisins.
  4. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Let cool for about 5-8 minutes on cookie sheets then carefully scoop up onto a wire rack.

Garlicky Kale [and broccoli slaw] by Eating Bird Food

So, have you had the Whole Foods garlicky kale?  If not, and you get a chance… do it.  No, wait.  Don’t do that, make it YOURSELF.  And, while you’re at it, add this delicious dressing to a cabbage or broccoli slaw (I combine Trader Joe’s broccoli slaw with their shaved brussel sprouts–yes I do).

Whatever you do… eat this.  It is amazing, and the perfect end-of-summer salad to go with your favorite backyard feasties.

Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Garlicky Kale Salad

Prep time:  15 mins
Total time:  15 mins
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch raw kale, washed, de-stemmed and dried
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or water)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos (tamari or soy sauce would work too)
  • 4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (1 – 2 cloves of garlic)
  • sesame seeds, to taste as garish (optional)
 Instructions
  1. Break or cut kale into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl.
  2. Puree all ingredients except kale and sesame seeds in a blender or food processor to blend the dressing.
  3. Pour dressing over kale and massage into the kale with your hands until all pieces of kale are coated.
  4. Let the salad sit in the fridge for an hour or so to marinate. You can skip this step if you need to eat right away, but allowing some time to marinate will wilt the kale a bit and make it a little more palatable – particularly for those who are skeptical of eating raw kale.
  5. Sprinkle on some sesame seeds before serving if so desired.

Original post, here.