Gastronomy is simply defined as discovering, tasting, experiencing, researching, understanding and writing about food preparation and the sensory qualities of human nutrition as a whole. If that doesn’t define my passion for food and Paleo cooking, then I don’t know what will.
I’ve always loved food, but up until about 6 months ago I hated cooking it. Not only did I hate cooking, but honestly, I sucked at it. I didn’t want to suck at it, I just did. In my head though I was a master chef, whirling around my beautiful copper pot lined French kitchen, baking and sauteing impossible French entrees that were cooking to perfection over my mammoth Viking range, humming and chopping away so elegantly that even Julia Child would be envious…but in reality I was red in the face, frustrated, sweaty, with hair flying in every which direction, smudges of ingredients everywhere, all over my face, clothes and not to mention the smallest of counter space in my tiniest of inglorious, non-French kitchens, trying to cook on that left burner, the crooked one that tilts, and is that something burning I smell? My sad cooking journey might have ended here. It probably should have, but I’m just too stubborn.
I began my Paleo journey in September of 2012 as part of a 30 Challenge with my CrossFit box. As most of you Paleo-ites know you have to really take an active role in planning and preparing your meals or it’s just not gonna work. I started slowly, mostly “pinning” recipes on Pinterest and reading all the who’s who of Paleo blogs. I made a commitment to myself that I would try one new recipe a week just for sh!ts and giggles. Slowly but surely I found out what worked and what didn’t and I would be so incredibly proud of myself and my creations on these momentous occasions that I started taking pictures of them and posting them all over my Facebook and Instagram pages. My poor friends. But they love me, so they (Marin) pushed me to start a blog (to save themselves and all humanity!) My boyfriend Brad also thinks it’s a great idea since he is usually my taste test guinea pig. I call him “my Non-Paleo taste buds”. His are “packaged and processed” with gluten, artificial flavor, corn syrup, preservatives, and partially hydrogenated oils (eek!), and all types of other terrible (delicious) things. So logically I figure if it tastes good to him it probably legitimately tastes good! He is the Stewart to my Martha so you will probably hear about his rants, raves and reviews.
Apparently God thought it would be incredibly funny to give me the biggest sweet tooth known to humanity but then make me insanely obsessed (in a good way of course!) with nutrition and CrossFit. So let’s get real, pretty much most of the things I post will probably be sweets because to me that’s the hardest part about living Paleo and eating clean. I still often have sweet sweet daydreams about eating a Costco sized box of Oreo’s on the couch while watching The Notebook and chugging an ice cold glass of milk…but who doesn’t? Instead I find a recipe that looks good and get busy making it! Also as a side note if there is anything you have a craving for but want a Paleo version, holla at ya girl! I would love to make it my personal challenge to create something “sustainable” and save you from your Oreo/Notebook moment.
So here it is. The first recipe I have made for my blog and will share with you is this Paleo Cheesecake with Raspberry Compote. I found the recipe here but will type it out for you below with my notes.
Paleo Cheesecake with Raspberry Compote
*Makes 8-12 servings
On the preparation:
Do not skip soaking the raw cashews in water. Soaking increases your body’s absorption of the vitamins & minerals, and neutralizes enzyme inhibitors naturally present in raw nuts and seeds.. Soak them for at least 4 hours, if not overnight. A blender works best for the filling (made it creamier), and food processor for the crust. Also, don’t substitute the coconut oil for any other oil, as it is solid at room temperature, and therefore helps the cheesecake stay firm.
For the crust
1/2 cup raw pecans
a little more than 1/2 cup soft pitted dates
1/4 cup raw flaked coconut
tiniest pinch of sea salt
For the filling
3 1/2 cups raw cashews (soaked overnight or for at least 4 hours & drained)
2/3 cup agave nectar
2/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 2 vanilla beans, scraped
1. Begin by soaking the cashews. After they’ve finished soaking, prepare the crust. In the bowl of a food processor, chop the dates, nuts, coconut and sea salt. Process until it holds together when you press it between two of your fingers. Set aside. Begin the filling by slightly warming the coconut oil in a bowl of warm water (it melts at 77 degrees). Add the cashews, coconut oil, agave, lemon juice and vanilla into the pitcher of a blender, and blend well (until completely smooth). Blend a little more, just to be safe.
2. Press the crust evenly into the bottom of an 8-inch spring form pan (don’t go up the sides). Pour the filling on top and freeze for 4 hours, or over night. To serve, let the cheesecake thaw for about 30 minutes, and cut into small slivers.
1/2 cup of raspberries
1/4 cup of water
1 tsp of raw honey
1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract
a dash of almond milk (or you could use coconut milk)
1. Put all of the ingredients together in a bowl and use a hand mixer or immersion blender until combined. Then drizzle desired amount over your slice of cheesecake.
Good luck finding an 8″ spring form pan. I went to 5 stores trying to find one, I do not lie. I finally found a set of 3 (for only $14.99, score!) at Bed Bath and Beyond that came with 8 1/2, 9 1/2 and 10 1/2. The 8 1/2 worked fine. GO EASY on the lemon juice! I would probably use half of what was recommended and go from there, tasting the “batter” as you go. Unless you want lemon cheesecake. Then you’re set. I would also probably add some almond butter to the crust to give it a little more flavor and make it creamier. The agave nectar worked nice, it was so subtle and didn’t compromise the texture or flavor. I would also recommend thawing for an hour, it was still frozen solid after 45 min. Maybe I just have a hardcore freezer?
Ways that you could make this cheesecake more awesome would be to add some unsweetened cocoa powder and .Gasp. make it chocolate! If you wanted to get super cray with it, bust out that Kerry Gold butter, brown it, and make yourself some toffee caramel to go on top OR add the browned butter to the recipe for a toffee chocolate cheesecake! Ooooh now I’m gonna have to make that one for you! On another note you could also sub lime juice for the lemon and make a key lime cheesecake. Notes from Stewart (Brad) on this cheesecake are “Oh this tastes good, it’s like key lime pie and I love key lime pie, I like it.” And there you have it! Voila!
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Instagram – vanessabarajas
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Until my next recipe, Keep Calm and Paleo On!