17 January 2013

Rawnola Tutorial

Being on a vegan/raw diet sometimes presents a problem when it comes to rib sticking between meal snacks. Eating raw fruit and veggies as a snack option is great, but sometimes it is nice to have something with some protein in it. My solution  is to keep a supply of rawnola bars on hand. The ones that I have found at the health food store are very expensive and don't taste very good, so I decided to develop my own recipe.
Rawnola bars are full of all kinds for raw seeds, nuts, grains and fruit. They are sweet, crunchy and filling, but they are dehydrated at low temperatures, not baked, so they are raw. They are high in calories, due to all the nuts and fruit, so it isn't something I eat every day, but they are great for tucking into my purse or backpack for times when I am peckish and won't be home for hours.

Where granola bars are usually made with a base of rolled oats, rawnola bars use a base of buckwheat. The reason for using buckwheat instead of granola is two fold, #1 rolled oats are not really raw; heat is used in the process of removing the husk and rolling the grains flat, #2 sprouted buckwheat is not as dense and chewy as uncooked rolled oats, so the buckwheat makes the rawnola bars light and crunchy.

There are several parts to the process of making rawnola bars, so I often break up the process into to two sessions. One session to prepare the buckwheat and to soak the nuts and seeds and dehydrate them. The other to put the rawnola together and dehydrate it.

Step #1 Prepare the Buckwheat

  I usually prepare a large quantity of sprouted, dehydrated buckwheat and then just store it away for use whenever I need it. It makes great rawnola, but is also good for sprinkling on top of salads, or it can be a topping for a bowl of fruit. The texture is similar to Rice Crispies and the taste is not unlike Grape-nuts so it is great as a breakfast cereal as well. To prepare the buckwheat, start with organic raw buckwheat, ( not Kasha which is toasted and won't sprout). Raw organic buckwheat can be purchased in the bulk foods department of your local natural foods store, it may also be found on the isle with other Bob's Red Mill products. If you can't find it anywhere else, you can purchase it online from Bob's Red Mill .

 The buckwheat needs to be thoroughly rinsed. Place the desired amount in a fine mesh strainer and rinse, shaking the strainer for several minutes. Once you are sure it is well rinsed, place the buckwheat in a wide mouth canning jar, (I sprout large amounts at a time so I use a 1/2 gallon jar, but if you want to make less, a wide mouth quart is fine), cover with water to about an inch above the grains and leave to soak for 4 hours covered with cheese cloth and a rubber band or a plastic sprouting lid that will fit a wide mouth jar.

   Once the grain has soaked, pour liquid and grains into a strainer and rinse well for several minutes to remove the thick starchy liquid that will have formed. Return the grains to the jar, place the sprouting lid or cheesecloth on the jar, and invert the jar in a dish drainer or plastic storage container, at a slight angle, lid down to allow excess water to drain away. Rinse in the jar, two more times during the day, being sure to shake as much water as possible from the jar and return the jar to the draining area. Leave overnight to sprout. By mid morning the next day, tiny tails should begin to appear on the grain. 
On top is unsoaked raw buckwheat. On the bottom is buckwheat that has been sprouted and dehydrated. If you look closely at the bottom sample you can see the tiny dehydrated tails

At this point, the grains are ready to be used in a recipe or if you are preparing them ahead for use later, spread the grains out on a Teflex dehydrator sheet on a  dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 105 degrees for 4-6 hours, or until bone dry and crispy when tasted. If you don't have a dehydrator, spread the grains out evenly on a shallow edged baking sheet and place in the oven at lowest possible temperature. Prop the door open with a empty metal can from the recycling to allow some air circulation. Turn the tray 180 degrees at least once during drying process to insure the grains are evenly dried. Once dry store the grains in an airtight container.

I also soak nut and seeds in bulk, soaking and dehydrating a whole bag of nuts or seeds at one time. I do this so that I have a shorter prep time on the day I plan to use them in a recipe. I soak all nuts and some seeds, due to the fact that there is a digestive inhibitor present on the surface of most nuts and seeds that blocks access to many nutrients and can cause gastric distress. The process is very simple. Soak the seeds for the recommended time, drain and rinse, then put in the dehydrator at 105 degrees until the dry. At this point I put them in a freezer Ziploc, label, date and freeze for future use.

Step#2 Assemble and Combine Ingredients
*Pumpkin is just a prop and is not part of the recipe... although that isn't such a bad idea...I'll have to try it in the future!*

2 cups raw almonds, soaked  4 hours then drained
1-2 cups raw pecan, soaked 4 hours then drained
1-2 large apples, shredded
1 1/2 cups date paste, *7-10 pitted Mejhool dates soaked for 1 1/2 hours in water to cover. Reserve 1/4 cup soaking water and drain the rest of the water. Place dates and water in a blender and puree.
1 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked for 1 1/2 hours then drained
1 cup soaked pumpkin seeds, soaked 1 1/2 hours then drained
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2-3/4 cup sprouted raw buckwheat
1 cup finely shredded coconut
1 cup craisins
1 tsp. pink Himalayan salt, (ground fine), or Real salt
2-3 Tbsp. honey if desired
2 Tbsp. orange juice and 2 Tbsp. finely zested orange peel
1 Tbps. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1Tbsp. vanilla, (I use Mexican vanilla so I use a little less)
In a food processor, place soaked and drained almonds and pecans and process to medium sized pieces.

 Add sunflower seeds, flax seeds and and buckwheat, pulse 2-3 times.Turn out into a large bowl, add pumpkin and sesame seeds, coconut, and Craisins, , mix well with hands.

                 Place shredded apples and soaked dates in the food processor.

  Process the apples, date paste, orange juice and zest, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and optional honey to a thick consistency.

Step #3 Dehydrating and Finishing the Bars
Add the apple mixture to the nut mixture and work in well with your hands. Spread the mixture evenly on two Teflex sheet on dehydrator trays, making sure to square off the edges as much as possible. Place in the dehydrator and set the temperature to 105 degrees. Dehydrate until the mixture is mostly dry on the surface and the Teflex sheet can be lifted at the edge of the sheet and peeled away from the back side of the rawnola, without sticking to the sheet. Slide the Teflex sheet off the tray, place the tray on top of the exposed side of the rawnola, and carefully turn the rawnola over so that the exposed side is facing down on the tray. Peel the Teflex sheet off of the top of the rawnola and return the trays to the dehydrator until the rawnola is dry all the way through. The total drying time will depend on atmospheric conditions, if it is damp or raining it will take longer, but the drying time will range from 12-18 hours in total. **For those without a dehydrator, use the technique described above for the buckwheat. The only difference being to use parchment on the trays when spreading the wet rawnola, and then invert the rawnola onto another tray when the top is mostly dry to the touch and the rawnola can be lifted up from the parchment at the corner.

Once the rawnola has completely cooled, take an extra dehydrator tray and place it on top of the exposed side of the rawnola. Turn the trays over so that the tray that originally held the rawnola is on top. Lift off the top tray and remove the plastic tray liner from the back of the rawnola . Slide the rawnola off of the bottom tray and onto a cutting surface. Cut into bars with a sharp knife. I cut them into strips 2 inches wide and then cut them into individual pieces that will fit into a snack sized ziploc-style bag.  Stored in a cool, dry place these bars will last for a month or more...if you don't gobble them up before then! Enjoy!

Blog Hops this post is linked to: http://frugallysustainable.com/
Country Homemaker Hop#57
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