HEALTH THROUGH FOOD WITH THE WHOLESOME KITCHEN:
Vegan Blueberry Parfait (or – I Found My Thrill!)
by Joan Saddler & Augustine Filomena, The Wholesome Kitchen
In the early 1980‘s, I taught aerobics classes at the Downtown Hartford YMCA. While that was the heyday of neon spandex, leg warmers and sparkling sweatbands, no one from the “Y” would be caught dead in any of that stuff. We prided ourselves on being gritty, serious, urban jocks with baggy, sweat-stained cotton t-shirts (minus the Flash-Dance rips), shorts, and white athletic tube socks. High-impact aerobics was IT. With my history of classical ballet classes as a kid, I was in my element – leaping, high kicking and twirling in front of my class, shouting out the next moves over my shoulder and cracking jokes. The carefully choreographed moves were done to popular “Top-40” songs, with a few 1950’s and 60’s “oldies” mixed in. The participants ranged from delicate, corporate beauties who escaped their desks at lunchtime for a 1/2 hour workout, to a big, Mr. T – looking dude with a missing front tooth, happy to put down his free-weights for a change. There was one older lady (maybe 40? That was old back then . . ) who appeared at every class in a jelly-bean purple leotard and matching tights. We called her “The Eggplant” in secret, but embraced her gladly as part of our motley crew.
One of our favorite “cool-down” routines, done at the end of every foot-stomping, maximum-heart-rate pumping class, was performed to the famous 1950’s recording of “Blueberry Hill” by Fats Domino. It warmed my heart to see The Eggplant, Mr. T. and the Knot’s Landing Beauties side-by-side, sweaty and smiling, arms slowly swaying like palm fronds in the breeze and toes pointing while Fats crooned of how he found his thrill on Blueberry Hill.
This dessert will certainly give you a thrill. It’s long and involved, with 3 distinct recipes that are amazing in their own right: blueberry kanten, sweet tofu cream, and granola. When combined . . . WOW. I think Fats Domino and my lovable, scruffy aerobics clan would agree. So will you.
First: the Kanten (a jell-o type dessert, minus gelatin and sugar)
• 1 quart unﬁltered organic apple juice
• 4 TBS agar ﬂakes (ﬁnd in the Asian foods aisle at ECM)
• 1 cup fresh blueberries or one 12-oz bag frozen (MUST be organic)
• 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
• Pinch of unreﬁned sea salt
Combine all ingredients (except blueberries) in a saucepan, bring to a boil over low heat stirring occasionally. Once boiling, simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the blueberries, cook an additional 2 minutes. Pour your desired amount into individual clear serving bowls then place in fridge to cool at least 1 hour.
Second: the Sweet Tofu Cream
• 1 box Mori-Nu organic silken ﬁrm tofu (same aisle as agar ﬂakes at ECM)
• 1/4 cup maple syrup
• 1 TB melted unreﬁned coconut oil
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/4 tsp almond extract
• Pinch sea salt
In a food processor, blend the tofu alone until it is silky-smooth (stop blending and scrape down the sides several times). Add all other ingredients and blend well. Pour into a container, place in fridge to chill.
Third: Granola Crunch
• 3 cups organic quick oats (use McCann’s Irish Oats if gluten-sensitive)
• 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry ﬂour (or millet ﬂour if gluten-sensitive)
• 1 cup raw chopped almonds or walnuts
• 3/4 cup raisins
• 1/2 cup coconut oil or sunﬂower or safﬂower oil (please – no canola oil)
• 1/4 cup brown rice syrup and 1/4 cup maple syrup!
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp sea salt
Heat oven to 400°F. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, then spread thin over 2 oiled cookie sheets (be sure to use unbleached parchment paper if your cookie sheets are aluminum or teﬂon coated). Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring often to make the cooking even. Allow to air-cool before storing in an airtight container in the fridge. This will make more than you need for the dessert,
so enjoy the rest as a snack or any way you see ﬁt.
The kanten will gel once cooled. Spoon several scoops of chilled tofu cream on top of the kanten, then sprinkle cooled granola on top. Garnish with several raw blueberries if desired, or mint leaves, or both. Dig in and ﬁnd your thrill! These keep well in the fridge several days.
A few health notes (you know I can’t leave this out) – Blueberries have an exceptional array of antioxidants in their deep blue-purple skins, shown to beneﬁt the entire muscular system from the heart to over-worked leg muscles; the nervous system, digestive system, blood-sugar levels, cognitive function – too much for me to list. As a native of North America, they are truly a “macrobiotic” fruit for those of us living in areas where they grow (like Connecticut!). Also touted to have anti-inﬂammatory properties (see Sage Basil Walnut Pesto blog for my anti-inﬂammatory rant).
Agar ﬂakes – what is that? Sometimes called “Kanten Flakes”, agar is derived from a species of red sea vegetable. It is used to make gelatin, with a neutral ﬂavor that won’t interfere with your dish. Full of wonderful trace minerals as all sea veggies are, agar is also known to be a mild laxative on intestines that are too tight from contracting (yang) foods. Be sure to get agar ﬂakes, not the highly processed agar powder.
A gentle reminder: always buy and use 100% organic ingredients whenever possible.
Joan Saddler, along with her fiancé and business partner Augustine Filomena, are owners of The Wholesome Kitchen. What began as a successful last ditch effort to heal nagging health issues, Joan now has over 16 years of studying and cooking macrobiotic foods based on the teachings of Michio Kushi. Augustine has been eating and cooking macrobiotic since meeting Joan 9 years ago and attributes his weight loss, bicycling performance, and freedom from medication to this way of eating. Together they offer personal chef services and use hands-on cooking classes to teach individuals and small groups how to use whole, unrefined ingredients for optimal health. Visit The Wholesome Kitchen and The Wholesome Kitchen Blog for more information on what they offer and recipes.