The Smells Of The Season

One of the things I love most about this time of year are the smells. I can still remember the aroma that filled the house after Mom had spent the day baking holiday goodies. Warm and wonderful is how it made me feel, whether I was an eight-year-old coming in from sledding, or an eighteen-year-old coming home for winter break.

I've discovered you can re-create the same delicious scents by putting a raw spin on some traditional holiday favorites.

Going to a holiday party this weekend, or hosting one of your own? These simple recipes are sure to please the palette as well as the olfactory receptors. Merry merry!

Thumbprint Cookies
Yields two dozen cookies

1 medium zucchini, peeled and chopped
2 C almond meal**
1/4 C raw honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 C raw nuts, finely chopped

1/2 C raspberries (thawed, frozen raspberries can be used)
1/4 C raw honey

To make the dough: In a food processor, blend zucchini until pureed. Add almond meal and pulse until mixed. Transfer into a large bowl, add the honey, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest, salt and mix well by hand. Chill dough in freezer for 20-30 minutes.

Shape into small balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Roll each ball in chopped nuts and place on a dehydrator tray lined with a ParaFlexx sheet. Using your thumb, make an indentation into the center of each ball.

Dehydrate at 105 degrees for about 4 hours. Remove the ParaFlexx sheet. Dehydrate another 2-3 hours. Climate, temperature and humidity all affect dehydrating time. The cookies should be crispy on the outside and still moist inside.

To make the filling: Blend together raspberries and honey to make a jam. Fill the center of each cookie as it comes out of the dehydrator.

**Almond meal is raw, whole almonds that have been finely ground. I like Trader Joe's brand.

Fruity Peppermint Patties
Yields 30 patties

1 C pitted dates
1 C raisins
1 C dried cranberries
1 1/2 C walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 C raw honey
2 lemons, juiced
3 drops food-grade peppermint oil (I use Young Living)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
3 Tbsp psyllium powder
3/4 C coconut flakes

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Combine the dates, raisins and cranberries in the food processor. Pulse briefly until roughly chopped. Add honey, lemon juice, peppermint oil, cinnamon, salt, and psyllium powder. Continue pulsing until the mixture forms a firm dough. Transfer the dough into bowl with walnuts and mix well.

Shape into balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Roll balls in shredded coconut. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to gently press the balls into patties. (Tip: Wipe the bottom of the glass between cookies to prevent sticking.) Chill before serving.

Christmas Balls

Yields 20-25 balls

1 C raisins
2 C dried apricots, soaked overnight
meat of 1/2 young coconut (reserve water)
1 C sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp allspice

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until the dough forms a ball. If this doesn't happen, add a little coconut water until the ball forms.

By hand, shape into balls about one inch in diameter. Roll the balls in raw carob powder and ground Brazil nuts.

Persimmon Nog
Makes 6 cups

2 C almonds, soaked
6 dates, pitted
3 C filtered water
3 ripe persimmons
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom

Using a high-speed blender, blend the almonds, dates and water until creamy and smooth. Strain the liquid through a nut milk bag into a pitcher (save the pulp for a holiday cheese spread recipe).

Pour the almond milk back into the blender and add the persimmons and spices. Blend for 60 seconds. Serve in festive glasses.

Cranberry Wine
Serves 15

1 pound fresh cranberries
1 red beet
6 pounds apples, cored
1 head celery
1/2 lemon

Put all ingredients through a juicer. Mix well and serve in a large pitcher or punch bowl.

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