Monday, January 23, 2012

Nut-seed pâtés...

I pretty much always have a couple of pâtés on hand, as they are super easy, tasty and very versatile both as a snack or part of many main dishes.  You can make them in a variety of flavors with a variety of fresh ingredients, and they keep well in the frig up to a week.  I usually have an almond pâté and/or a hemp seed pâté in the frig at all times.

Pâtés go great with flax crackers or used as dip with veggie slices.  One of my favorite things to do is use them in salads.  I'll toss mixed greens or massaged kale with a variety of veggies and a nut-seed pâté for a very filling, nutritionally balanced and delicious meal on its own.  Pâtés can also be used as the filling for chile rellenos or enchiladas or stuffed in mushrooms or used in nori wraps or sandwiches.

You can easily satisfy cravings with pâtés by changing the veggies and spices you use.  Depending on my mood, I'll make a spicy southwestern chile pâté, a thai curry pâté, a mediterranean inspired pâté, a ginger miso pâté when I'm craving asian flavors, etc.  Get creative.  Start by using ingredients in combinations you know you love and then be adventurous and venture out to try new ones too.  It's tough to mess up pâtés, you can always add more of something to balance out the flavor if you go overboard.  The trick is to add slowly and taste as you go, adjusting accordingly.  Remember that flavors continue to mingle after a day or two in the frig, and that's often when your pâté tastes its best.  Remember too, raw foods vary in their flavor and consistency.  So sometimes your chipotle or sundried tomato or fresh herbs and veggies will be more spicy or flavorful than other times.  Allow for these variations, and welcome them as part of the joy and adventure of raw cooking.  Also seek out veggies grown locally and in season to maximize the flavor and nutrition of your food.   
I tend to use hemp seeds and almonds the most for pâtés.  I also regularly rotate pumpkin seed, sesame seed, and sunflower seed pâtés too.  I very occasionally make a macadamia nut or walnut pâté.  In general, I think seeds have a lighter, more energetic quality to them and pack a little more nutritional bang for the buck.  Aside from almonds which I use in heavy rotation, I tend to use seeds more for daily eating and nuts more for desserts because they provide a texture, consistency, and richness you can't really achieve with seeds.  For pâtés, feel free to mix and match nuts and seeds in a single recipe (almonds and pumpkin or sunflower seeds go really well together) or substitute your favorite nut or seed instead of the ones I use.

Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet and one of the best plant based sources of protein.  Hemp seeds contain all essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary for healthy life.  The protein in hemp is complete, balanced and easily digestible.  Only spirulina and other forms of blue-green algae like marine phytoplankton exceed hemp's protein content, quality, and digestibility.  The nutritional content in hemp supports healthy brain and liver function, rapid recovery and regeneration from stress/trauma/exercise, building muscle and strong bones, and balancing blood sugar.  Hemp is a rich source of phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, lithium, iodine, and other essential minerals.

Almonds are arguably the most nutrient nut on the planet.  They are definitely my favorite.  They are nutrient and mineral dense, particularly rich in vitamin E, zinc, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.  They are also high in protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids.  They are incredibly versatile and suitable for all kinds of savory and sweet raw food recipes.  Always soak almonds for at least 6-8 hours, preferably 12 hours in order to release the enzyme inhibitors.  Rinse and recover almonds with filtered water at least twice during the soak time.  Never use the soak water in your food prep, and always do a final rinse before eating.  For all pâté recipes, you can simply use the wet almonds immediately after soaking and final rinsing, no need dehydrate.           

Sundried tomato basil hemp seed pâté
3 cups hemp seeds
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked
1/3 cup packed fresh basil
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
2 T lemon juice
2 T Vega EFA oil*
~1/4 cup + 2 T sundried tomato soak water

Lemon dill almond pâté
2 cups soaked almonds
1/3 cup packed fresh dill
1/4 cup + 1 T lemon juice
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 T Vega EFA oil
water as needed

*Vega EFA oil is a high quality oil with omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. 
You can substitute an equal measurement of olive oil in these recipes.

For the hemp pâté, put 2 cups of hemp seeds plus all other ingredients in a Blendtec or Vitamix blender or cuisinart.  Blend until smooth.  Stir in a cup of hemp seeds and a little sea salt.  Keeps five days in the frig.

For the almond pâté, put all ingredients in a blender or cuisinart.  Blend until desired consistency.  I like mine a little textured, so I stop blending before it is entirely smooth.  You may need to add a little water to achieve desired consistency.   Keeps five days in the frig. 

Enjoy as a spread on flax crackers, as a dip with veggie slices, stuffed in mushrooms or peppers, or on salads, sandwiches, and nori wraps.  Check back for a series of posts this week that include recipes and ideas on how to use pâtés to build quick, easy, nutritionally balanced, and satisfying meals. 
Bon appétit!

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