Pico de Gallo

I live for when the garden suddenly goes crazy, and oh so many treats are waiting for me in the garden. Fresh onions? Jalapeno peppers? Fresh Cilantro? Soon even my tomatoes! (Although I was bitter that I lost my entire wintered over Garlic crop this summer. Not sure why, but I am feeling it was because of the unusual winter.) Still….it’s summertime and I am enjoying my garden’s bounty!


Pico de Gallo


  • 1 pound tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 large Jalapeno pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp sea salt


Mix everything in a large bowl. Scoop out portions and process in a mini food chopper until finely chopped, transfer to an airtight glass storage container. Taste for salt, if desired add a bit more and stir in.

Refrigerate for a few hours before serving, stir well before using. Use within 3 days for best taste.

Bruschetta from Mason Jar Salads and More

In late August, the tomato plants in our garden are literally dropping ripe fruit. I have so many tomatoes, I can barely keep up with them.


That isn’t a bad thing though, because I love little more than sitting on the deck, nibbling on bruschetta, made with tomatoes & basil, fresh from the garden.


And while reading through a copy of the recently released cookbook, Mason Jar Salads and More: 50 Layered Lunches to Grab and Go, I saw a simple recipe for Bruschetta. While designed for an easy to take lunch/snack, it also works great at home.


The recipes are designed to be tucked into jars, sealed, and grabbed for on the go. Be it at work, school, on the road or even for lunch as you walk upstairs. There is a mix of cold and hot meals, with so much to choose from – and vegetables are the star.




  • 5 vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 8 large basil leaves, julienne-cut into strips
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Ground black pepper
  • Fine sea salt


Core the tomatoes and dice. Mix tomatoes together with garlic, basil, olive oil and pepper and salt to taste. Chill for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to come together, then transfer to half-pint mason jars, and seal, storing in refrigerator.


While bruschetta is normally used as a topping on toasted bread slices, honestly it goes on top of so much wonderfully. Boring veggie burger? Smother it. Leftover rice or pasta? A big dollop on top. Spoon on top of cucumber slices. Use as a dip with tortilla or pita chips. Or eat it with a spoon like I do….

FTC Disclosure: We received an advance copy of the book for potential review.

Spicy Pickled Cukes & Radishes

Prior to working for a Thai importer (the job that seriously kick started my love of food) I had never tried a vinegar cucumber salad, the most lovely of all salads….sweet/spicy/heat/crunchy. From my first bite I was hooked. In all its variations, I could eat a bowl of it every week. Now then…Kirk seriously doesn’t like cucumbers. So it is pretty rare that I buy them, as it is only me eating it. And while I can often find a nice bowl of it when I am out for dinner, it is never as good as when you make it yourself!

So when I saw this gorgeous box of vinegars from Marukan cross my door step recently I knew it was cucumber salad time!


I took a favorite Thai Cucumber Salad recipe of mine, and played with it. Seasoned Rice Vinegar is high in sodium, so a little goes a long way. I blended just enough in with regular rice vinegar to give it an edge to the sweetness of the sugar. As for the peppers used, seranos are easy to find and offer a spicy heat. If you can find Thai chili peppers, use them instead, although they are smaller and you will want 4 to 6. With the vegetables thinly sliced, the salad is ready within minutes.


Spicy Pickled Cukes & Radishes



Peel the cucumber, trim ends. Wash and trim radishes, discarding leaves. Thinly slice vegetables using the slicing side of a box grater (or a mandolin if you have one), add to a bowl.

Wearing disposable gloves, trim peppers, for mid-range heat remove and discard seeds and white ribs, for hot, leave in some of the seeds or rib. Dice up peppers and add to vegetables.

Whisk sugar, vinegars and ponzu until sugar is dissolved. Pour over vegetables, stirring gently. Cover and let marinate for at least 10 minutes. If making in advance store tightly covered in refrigerator.

FTC Disclaimer: We received complimentary products used in this recipe.

Delicious Raw Treats

Craving some tasty treats?


PB and Oat Bites:


Raw PB Cookies:


Sunflower Cookies:


Raw Chocolate Cherry Brownies:


Raw Chocolate Cake:


Raw Fig Cake:


Date and Almond Bars:


Raw Cocoa Bars:


Raw Cookie Dough Balls:


Walnut and Hemp Bars:


Coconut Macaroon Bars:


Raw Brownies:


To good taste and options! PS: If you are on Pinterest, I have a board for energy bars/raw treats/granola bars.

A Mix of Energy Balls, Bars and Raw Treats

Have a good Friday everyone! My morning is to try to fix the havoc the boys have wrecked on our Christmas Tree. Oh yay. It is apparently a “fun tree”.

Complied from posts on my TrailCooking blog, these are some of the treats I take hiking with me when Alistaire isn’t along – on those occasions when I can enjoy the foods he is allergic to!


Almond Balls


For rolling:

  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds


Add the dates and almonds in a food processor, process until fine crumbs. Add in cocoa powder, work in. Pulse in almond extract. Add water in, as needed, running on high, until the mixture comes together as a solid ball, this will depend on your dates. Medjool from Costco, in the produce section, are usually quite moist. I needed about 2 Tablespoons water, yours may need more.

Run the coconut and almonds for rolling in a mini food chopper, or break up in the food processor before making the balls. Spread on a large rimmed plate.

Make 1 Tablespoon balls, roll smooth in your hands and set on a piece of parchment paper until all are done (a 1 Tablespoon Disher helps). Roll the balls in the nut mixture, pressing in gently. Set on a large plate, chill for an hour before packing away. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until eating time.

Makes about 24 balls.

You can use juice instead of the water, or even alcohol, for an adult take.


Cherry Almond Bars


  • 1 cup Dried Cherries, plus more for topping
  • ½ cup Medjool dates, pitted (about 8)
  • 1 cup slivered almonds, plus more for rolling
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract
  • Pinch fine sea salt


Grind the cherries and dates together till smooth in a food processor. Add in almonds, process until chunky, add almond extract and salt, process until smooth (it will ball up).

Flatten between sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap, cut into desired shapes, or make balls instead.

Crumble up some more slivered almonds, roll bars or balls in them. Press additional cherries on top.

To make the “cookie” shapes, roll balls in the almonds, place a cherry on top and gently flatten with thumb.

Store tightly covered in refrigerator till trail time. Carry wrapped or in a small container.


The cherries I use do not have sulfites, look for naturally dried cherries. Medjool dates are sold in the produce section. Costco carries them at a good price. Same with the slivered almonds, look at Costco or Trader Joe’s for best prices.


Halva (Halwa) is often a very sugary treat that can be made many ways but is often based on sesame/honey and a boiled syrup (think candy making). Which while delicious isn’t something I can justify in our current way of eating. But I got inspired that maybe I could make a bar treat that was inspired by it but remain less processed.

I played with it and made a mostly raw batch, cut into bars. I also opted in for brown sesame seeds rather than the more common white hulled seeds. It gives a deep robust flavor, especially when paired with maple syrup. Use what you prefer, if you are not used to whole sesame seeds I recommend going with white (also sold as ‘raw’). And should you love really robust, try finding black sesame seeds. They have an amazing flavor (black sesame oil is a real treat!)

And feel free to play with the sweetener, use what you like as well. Raw honey is the traditional choice.

Pistachio Halva Bars


  • 2 cups brown sesame seeds or hulled white sesame seeds
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachio nuts, finely chopped (roasted or not, salted or plain)
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp or to taste ground cinnamon


Grind the sesame seeds to a flour-like texture in a spice or coffee grinder.


You need your grinder to be clean. Grind through it a handful of raw rice and dump out, the rice removes the scent left behind from spices.

Why a spice or coffee grinder and not a high-powered device such as a Vitamix blender? Simply put, sesame seeds are over 50% oil. They will turn to a butter before you know it. And more so, the more powerful the device, the higher the heat output. And that means the seeds will warm up.

Grind a small amount, dump into a large mixing bowl, then grind a bit more, and repeat. A couple of tablespoons is plenty.

If your grinder gets heated up , stop and let it cool. You want flour, not sesame butter.

Once done, stir in half the maple syrup, salt and cinnamon. For ease put on a pair of food grade gloves and mix with fingers. Keep adding teh maple syrup, until the mixture sticks together, and is as sweet as you desire.

Line a bread pan with plastic wrap, pack the mixture in, smooth out and wrap the excess plastic over. Press down firmly to pack.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours, unwrap and cut into bars. Wrap each bar tightly, store in the refrigerator until trail time.

Due to the high fat content, these bars carry best in the cooler months. They can also be rolled into balls and flattened into “cookies” and wrapped.

Oatmeal Raw Cookie Dough Balls

A recipe I often enjoyed while hiking, before we found out about Alistaire’s cashew allergy.


Oatmeal Raw Cookie Dough Balls


  • 2/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips


Add all the ingredients, except for chocolate, into a food processor. Process on high until finely chopped, scraping sides as needed. Add in chocolate, process on high until chopped up.

Make 1 Tablespoon scoops, roll in your hands to pack. Chill until set, store sealed.

Makes about 10 balls.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Tasty Little Fudge Balls

I came across 30 Healthy Desserts You Can Eat Every Day on Amazon, and due to my love of raw desserts picked it up.


The desserts are luscious, be it for home or on the road, there are plenty of choices. Don’t feel you have to commit to fully raw. Use what you have on hand. Don’t have raw almond butter? Use natural peanut butter. Or Sunbutter for allergies. No raw cacao powder? Use unsweetened cocoa powder. Simple and adaptable.


Basic Recipe Fudge Balls (As adapted)


  • ½ cup dates, pitted, preferably Medjool
  • ½ cup nut or seed butter (raw or not, any variety will work)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa power, raw cacao powder or carob powder

Also add:

  • ½ tsp pure peppermint extract (if desired) or vanilla extract

For rolling in:



Process the dates in a food processor until smooth (it will ball up). Add in the nut/seed butter and cocoa/cacao powder, process till mixed, scraping as needed. Add a pinch of fine sea salt if desired and flavoring, process in.

Make 1 Tablespoon balls (a 1 Tablespoon Disher works well), roll in hands to pack and smooth out. Roll in the coconut if desired (I rolled half in, left half plain). Store in the refrigerator tightly sealed.

Makes about 12 balls.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Raw Cookie Dough Balls

I originally made this recipe before Alistaire was old enough to eat solids – and before we knew about his food allergies. I had it on TrailCooking and figured even if I can’t make it now due to the nuts, it is too good of a recipe to not share!


These raw cookie dough bites are easy to whip up and don’t need a food processor either. Granted you might not have all the ingredients on hand, but I can tell you that you should! The base ingredients are great in many other recipe ideas for the trail and at home. If you haven’t eaten coconut flour before you might find the texture sandy, it grows on you though, and is very delicious.

And should you have any left over? Indulge in a post hike bowl of So Delicious Cookie Dough Ice Cream, with the balls tucked in alongside.


A delicious snack while hiking or just enjoying being outside in fall-time? Here you go:


Raw Cookie Dough Balls



Add everything but the chocolate chips to a mixing bowl, stir till combined. Add in the chocolate.

Make balls and roll gently to smooth (a 1 Tablespoon Disher helps), place on a plate and chill for an hour. Pack into an airtight container for long-term storage.

Makes about 15 balls.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Raw is Hot: 5 New Books

Only a few years ago, finding well done books on raw foods/recipes wasn’t easy. The market has exploded! Which, to me, is a good thing. So many new ideas, ranging from out-there-hippy-fair to mainstream eating.

Kirk and I played with raw quite a bit, until we found out about Alistaire’s allergies. Due to the heavy use of nuts in raw recipes, we had to back off. Which I miss, but ah well!


Raw, Quick and Delicious!: 5-Ingredient Recipes in Just 15 Minutes is a neat take on raw: 5-ingredients recipes made in 15 minutes (or less). It is very approachable for even novices, which Robert Rose published books usually are. You won’t feel overwhelmed by unusual ingredients, the author stays away from supplements in them (which I found nice, as supplements can be expensive and hard to find).


Not every recipe in The SimplyRaw Kitchen: Plant-Powered, Gluten-Free, and Mostly Raw Recipes for Healthy Living is raw, that is fine though – living shouldn’t be about not having, but rather about being more mindful. Eater better, cleaner and make your meals count. That was on thing about raw for me – we played with it, but I cannot see giving up hot meals, so when I encounter cookbooks with options, a smile comes on. Natasha covers the basics and a lot of hands on recipes that will intrigue the mind. In her recipes, she notes at the top if they call for nuts (thank you!) and if they are served warm. Easy to find what you might want!


On the other side of the raw niche is Raw Magic: Super Foods for Super People, which is definitely treading in the hippy-side

For the definitely hippy-crunchy-granola folks, there is Annelie’s Raw Food Power: Supercharged Raw Food Recipes and Remedies. Written by an author who picked up and move to the jungles of Costa Rica with her family, if you love a nut and seed heavy diet (which I’ll admit I do miss at times) and you love supplements, baby wearing and counter-culture….you will love this book. Unfortunately, with the nut allergies I couldn’t enjoy the book, yet I have friends waiting to borrow this book!


Live Raw Around the World: International Raw Food Recipes for Good Health and Timeless Beauty –

A gorgeous, full-color book, that weaves travel and food together but smells so bad I couldn’t finish reading it. Sadly, one of the downsides of printing big, lush and full-color books is they are normally printed in China. If ink smells don’t bother you (they give me awful migraines), enjoy this lush cookbook and enjoy the raw tastes of Italy, Germany, France, Greece and Spain.

FTC Disclaimer: We received review copies of the books.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Raw Sunflower Honey Balls

This week I took our website Trail Cooking live in its new look. I am very excited as it hasn’t had a reboot since 2007! That being like forever in web years 😉 It now matches the blog of TrailCooking as well. If you like hiking, backpacking, camping and anything outdoorsy, come by and check it out!

One recipe on the blog is Sunflower Balls, which were made with both sunflower seeds and almonds. With the baby’s allergies, I played with it, and came up with an allergen-friendly version. Have a great (if cold) weekend everyone!

Raw Sunflower Honey Balls


  • 1 cup Raw Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/3 cup Medjool dates, pitted (about 5 large)
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup raw honey, preferably locally sourced (or raw agave nectar)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or Raw Cacao Powder
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt


Add the first sunflower seeds and dates to a food processor, run on high until small pieces. Add the remaining ingredients, process on high until a ball forms. Line a small baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and make 1 Tablespoon balls, rolling in your hands to smooth. A 1 Tablespoon Disher works nicely. Chill in the refrigerator, then transfer to an airtight container.

To carry tuck into a snack bag or light hard sided container.

Makes about 20 balls.

Do not serve to children under 1 due to containing honey.

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