For the rest of the country the holidays are a time of caloric freedom, of stressing less about physical fitness because they're in arctic tundra conditions and no one can see what hides beneath their thousand coats anyway. That's not the case for South Florida. It's mid-December, we're still at a steamy 80-degrees and we'll probably have to wear our bikinis to Christmas dinner to keep from overheating. We don't have the luxury of letting ourselves go and, more importantly, we don't want to. We don't just look better when we eat healthier, we feel better and that is really the key to how we make it through the hectic holiday season.
This past weekend we had the luxury of attending one of Matthew Kenney Culinary School's plant-based cooking workshops with Ale from The Hungry Post, her sister from Guilt Free Miami, Ari from Hedonist Shedonist and local raw food aficionados like Chef D and Sabra of Manna Life Food. The course was a multi-hour affair at their digs in Wynwood's The Sacred Space led by Chef Rick Yan where we learned how to cook raw holiday meals from scratch. We don't follow a raw food diet but we do subscribe to using uncooked, unprocessed ingredients as much as possible in our meals because they are better for our body. Alas, we went in with an open mind and seriously deficient cooking skills. Because we're not used to eating 100% raw foods, we didn't love the texture or taste of everything we made—for example, we'll stick to not drinking regular egg nog—but there were three recipes that were particularly impressive in their own right and we've transcribed for your cooking pleasure below. We know we'll be whipping up for our family to balance out some of those not-so-healthy dishes that are non-negotiably going on the table.
The raw holiday meal class was a lot of fun and opened our eyes to a new way of manipulating food in the kitchen. We're so glad the Sacred Space Miami has brought the infinite wisdom of Matthew Kenney to our doorstep. We recommend taking their classes if you're looking for a different kind of group activity or if you're serious about learning how to cook plant-based meals. We also highly recommend checking out other health and wellness programming at the Sacred Space Miami. Founder Karla Dascal has really built a beautiful space for meditation, workshops, and other events that encourage personal growth and transformation.
Kale Holiday Salad Recipe
4 ounces of kale, stems removed and cut into small pieces
1/4 c. fennel, shaved
2 tbsp. dried cherries or cranberries
2 tbsp. candied pecans, roughly chopped
1/4 c. pink peppercorn dressing
1.5 c. pecans, soaked for 6-8 hours
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. maple sugar powder
Dehydrate nuts for 24 hours. Mix together salt, cinnamon and maple powder. Combine maple syrup with vanilla extract and toss with nuts to coat. Sprinkle coated nuts with maple powder mixture until evenly coated. Spread on dehydrator screen and dehydrate for 24-48 hours.
Pink Peppercorn dressing
1/2 c. cashews, soaked
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 tsp. agave
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pink peppercorns, ground
Blend all ingredients until smooth.
Mix 1/4 c. of pink peppercorn dressing with the kale and toss gently until kale is well coated. Add cherries and fennel. Top with candied pecans. Garnish with cracked pink peppercorns.
Portobello Steak Recipe
1 Portobello mushroom, stem and gills removed
1 tbsp. olive oil
1.5 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper
Filet out the ridges of Portobello mushroom and toss with remaining ingredients. Place in vacuum seal bag, sous vide 1-2 hours at 115 degrees (or, if you don't have a sous vide machine like us, wrap tightly and allow to marinate in fridge overnight). Using a ring cutter, cut out three small rounds from the Portobello or slice thinly on the diagonal to make strips and serve.
Herbed Sweet Mashed Potatoes Recipe
2.5 c. sweet potato, peeled
1/4 c. pecans
1/4 c. pine nuts
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic (optional)
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
Grind the sweet potato in a food processor. Transfer to a strainer (cheesecloth, nutmilk bag, etc.) to squeeze out excess fluid. Put the sweet potato pulp in blender, along with remaining ingredients. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the fresh thyme. If the mixture is too wet, leave in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight to firm up.