PGM In Season | The Green Life
Closing out our late fall/holiday round of PGM In Season is the lovely Sophie of The Green Life with a vegan biscotti recipe (two ways) that is also an edible gift you can give, no less! We are thrilled to have had so much continuing support with this project through the community and our invaluable community leaders who take the time to create stunning recipes to share with you and allow us a peek into their lives, as well.
If you haven't already gotten to know our past three community leaders from this session we highly encourage you to go take a peek at Anise from Love and Garnish, Betty S. Liu of Le Jus D'Orange, and Shelly of Vegetarian Ventures. Their work and ethos are ones that resonate deeply with us and the Pure Green In Season Collaborative Recipe Anthology (PGM In Season!) not to mention, are prime examples of the type of submissions we are looking to recieve. So in the spirit of this wonderful holiday and project we hope that you truly enjoy all of the gifts a thriving and flourishing community like this one has to offer. We are grateful for you and if you have a recipe you would like to submit, please do so HERE by DECEMBER 15th.
We hope that your holidays are as delicious as ours! Enjoy Sophie's post below!
5 Questions with Sophie
WHAT 3 WORDS DESCRIBE YOU BEST?
Passionate, driven and creative. Some people are head people; they rationalize things and make their decisions based on reflection, logics and thoughts. I’m more of the heart type. Pretty much all of the decisions I make in my life (big or small), are dictated by my heart. I’ve learned to trust my instinct and follow my gut and passions. I rarely plan ahead, analyze, or even think of consequences. Some would say I’m a little naïve or irresponsible. But I like to think that my heart has the best answers for me, and that following it will lead me to wherever I’m supposed to be.
Driven. I’m determined and hard working. I’m not afraid of change, and I believe that stepping out of our comfort zone makes us grow. I’m willing to take risks and make the efforts to achieve the goals I set for myself. I’m a firm believer that dreams do come true, and that if you set your mind up to it, you can achieve absolutely anything.
Creative. I’ve always been inspired by creative minds and admire those who can make a living with their art. Creativity is how I express myself, it’s my fuel. I need to create and put something out into the world. I just love the whole creative process, and the satisfaction of seeing an idea come to life.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE INGREDIENT?
Ha, there’s no way I can pick just one. On the sweet side, I’d have to say dark chocolate. It would probably be my desert island food. Oh and maple syrup. I feel so blessed to live in Canada and have such easy access to the finest maple syrup. It’s definitely my favorite sweetener. On the savoury side, avocado! On everything. All year long. I seriously couldn’t imagine my life without avocado toasts. Whoever invented that is a pure genius!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST KITCHEN ACHIEVEMENT AND/OR FAILURE?
I can think of many kitchen failures, haha. But there’s definitely one (very embarrassing) that stands out. My boyfriend and his family offered me my very first Vitamix last year for my birthday (best birthday gift ever!). One of the very first things I attempted to make with it was almond butter. The thing is, it turns out the Vitamix is far from ideal for making nut butters. The container is too large for the length of the blades, so as soon as it starts processing, the nut paste quickly sticks to the sides. You then have to stop it, scrape the edges with a spatula, start it again, process for a few more seconds, stop it, scrape the edges, start again, and so on. I got annoyed by the tedious process and figured I could save some time by inserting the spatula through the lid’s hole, thinking I would be able to scrape the edges with the Vitamix still running. Bad, bad idea. It took about half a second for the silicon spatula to get crushed by the blades and disappear into thousands of tiny little pieces. My precious nut butter and my spatula both ended up in the trash. Morale of the story: never underestimate the power of your Vitamix. And use a food processor for your nut butters, it’s much easier. Obviously, that wasn’t my brightest move.
As for achievements, any good recipe I create is for me a small achievement. Receiving an email from a reader telling me they’ve made a recipe from my blog and loved it, is to me the most rewarding gift in the world.
HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY INTO YOUR LIFE?
Sustainability is about the little things I do. It’s in the small actions and choices I make on a daily basis, and where I decide to put my money. For a long time, I was unaware of the effects of my own consumption on the planet, resources and eco-system; I would buy everything and anything, without thinking about where it was coming from or where it would eventually end up. I now make conscious and informed decisions, which allow me to contribute to a more sustainable world. I don’t shop at supermarkets anymore; I get most of my food from the local Farmers’ Market. I support smaller shops and local businesses whenever possible. I make my own nut milks and nut butters, making an effort to reduce unnecessary packaging. I use reusable glass containers, bottles and bags. Most of my waste goes to recycling and composting. I bike, walk or subway whenever possible. I also buy my beauty and personal care products from local companies who have sustainable and eco-friendly practices. And the most important thing is I make conscious efforts to reduce my overall consumption to a minimum. Whenever I want to buy something, I pause and ask myself: do I really need this? If the answer is no, I don’t buy it.
WHAT DOES EATING LOCAL, ORGANIC, AND SEASONAL FOOD MEAN TO YOU?
It basically summarizes my food philosophy. Living in Canada, eating purely seasonal and local is not always possible, especially in the colder months. But it’s what I strive for most of the time. Food grown a few minutes from your home, with responsible and eco-friendly practices will be much richer in nutrients, will taste so much better and will have a much lower impact on the planet than food that travelled 1000 miles to get to your table. To me, it’s also one of life’s greatest pleasures. There’s nothing more satisfying than cooking dinner with fresh herbs I’ve grown on my balcony (one day, I’ll have a real garden!), or eating melt-in-my-mouth raspberries picked from my mom’s backyard. These are experiences I value and cherish. I dream of a world where organic food will be cheaper than conventionally grown food, and that is why buying organic is so important to me. The more the demand will grow for organic food, the more accessible it will become. We, the consumers, have so much power. By making those conscious efforts now, we can together create a better world for future generations.
EDIBLE GIFT: VEGAN BISCOTTI, TWO WAYS
A few years ago, my sister made a few dozens biscotti - three different delicious flavors - for the holidays. She beautifully packaged them in pretty little Christmas boxes and offered one to almost every person she knew. Years later, I still remember that gesture - to me, this little attention and the time and effort she put into making these delicious cookies outweighed any gift one could ever buy. I was totally inspired by her this year and thought I would recreate these lovely treats into a vegan, gluten-free, and overall healthier version. These biscotti are not overly sweet, which I like. The flavors are easily adaptable, so feel free to play around and replace nuts and dried fruits by the ones you like to create your own combination. For an extra decadent treat, dip one side of the biscotti in a high-quality melted dark chocolate. Package them in decorated jars or boxes - they will make a perfect edible gift for your loved ones this holiday season.
Each batch makes about 16-18 biscotti
Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti:
- 1½ cup oat flour (from ground rolled oats) – certified gluten-free if necessary
- 1 cup hazelnut meal or almond meal (from ground hazelnuts or almonds)
- 1/4 cup cacao powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped
Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti:
- 1 ½ cup oat flour (from ground rolled oats) – certified gluten-free if necessary
- 1 cup pistachio meal (from ground pistachios)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup pistachios, chopped
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Mix well with a fork or using your hands to make sure no clump remains.
Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract and coconut oil to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well, using a fork. Add the chopped nuts (and cranberries, if using). The dough will become very thick, so you will want to start using your hands at this point. Mix well until the ingredients are well incorporated and the dough sticks together. Form two log-shaped balls with your hands.
Place the logs of dough on the parchment lined baking sheet and flatten with your hands. Shape into two small rectangles about 4 inches wide, 6 inches long, and 3/4 inch thick, with the ends squared off. You can place a small sheet of parchment paper on top of the logs and lightly roll over with a rolling pin to flatten. Pat the edges well to make sure no cracks remain.
Place in the oven and bake for 17-18 minutes, or until the edges turn slightly brown. Remove from the oven and let the biscotti cool for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, reduce the oven temperature to 325F.
Using a very sharp bread knife, carefully cut the biscotti into 3/4 inch slices. Be extremely careful and take your time to avoid breaking the delicate biscotti. Place the slices cut side down back on the parchment lined sheet. Return to the oven and bake at 325F for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let fully cool before serving or storing.
***Notes on the recipe: To make oat flour, place rolled oat flakes in your food processor and grind to a fine, flour-like consistency. To make nut meal (pistachio, hazelnut or almond), place raw nuts in your food processor and grind until you get a meal/sand-like consistency. Don’t blend too much otherwise the nuts will start turning into a nut butter. For this recipe, you can either use liquid or solid coconut oil, I’ve tried it with both and they turned out great every time.