SPOOOOOONSHAAAAAKE! What is a spoon shake, you ask? Well, as I told my slightly confused new friends around the table, spooning brings people together. (I knew you would agree, readers). It was night one of a week-long First Descents kayak camp, only this time, I was there as sous chef Flip Flop, and not kayaker / cancer ninja badass Flip Flop (although I would still consider myself a cancer ninja badass, even while making hummus). As many of you know, when I get started on the subject of First Descents, I get slightly manic as I try to get across just how life changing this organization is for everyone involved. As a cancer fighter and survivor, I have attended two kayak programs (which you can read about here and here). This time, chef Curly Kale and I would be cooking nourishing meals (breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner, and dessert for 22 cancer survivors and volunteers. An intimidating feat, for sure!
(Makin’ hummus and takin’ names!)
Normally, when I step off a plane for a First Descents trip, I’m carrying a little bit of nervousness, some quick-dry clothing, and a healthy serving of excited giddiness. This time, I arrived with an extra loads, both physically and mentally. TSA finds it amusing and unsettling when one carries a 7 1/2 pound cast iron skillet through security, but they can’t stop you. Fortunately, there aren’t any regulations on cookware! My mental heaviness came from just having wrapped up a difficult round of testing at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. I didn’t know how I would muster up the strength to be in a support role when I was feeling so unstable myself, but I had faith that the FD magic would kick in and that in supporting and nourishing other cancer survivors, I would be fed and nourished as well.
(TSA’s worst nightmare)
Throughout the week, I got to witness the re-building, re-strengthening, and charging up of 15 amazing cancer survivors. Everyday, my new spoon buddies came back with a little more of a spark in their eyes, holding themselves up a little higher than before. I felt grateful to be a part of their experience. Somewhere along the way, I began to see myself in them, remembering my first kayaking trip and the strengthening that happened that week in my own life. I started to get that old familiar feeling of You got this, Flip-Flop! You can do this! Cancer may take some things away, but there are certain things it can never take.
(Our view of Mt. Hood from the back patio)
One of the recipes that I made on the trip was this key lime pie. It has been described by some as “THE BEST KEY LIME PIE. EVER”. Not “The best raw, vegan, gluten-free key lime pie ever”. Yes, it is raw and yada yada yada…but it’s a legitimate stinkin good dessert! It’s made with avocado and agave, coconut and lime. The date, granola and raw nut crust tastes even better than a good graham cracker crust, and offers nutritional benefits as well. Although dates have natural sugars, they have a low-glycemic index, and contain fiber and B vitamins, and when you add nuts and granola, you’re getting a dose of protein, healthy fats carbs. Let’s not kid ourselves, this is a dessert, it’s not a seaweed-kale salad. However, it’s a treat that tastes every bit as good as the original and offers good stuff to your body as well!
This recipe can be found in the new First Descents cookbook, which I’ve sampled many recipes from and can say that I’m VERY excited to receive my copy in the mail! The recipes are fresh, nourishing, and colorful. You can check out the book and purchase it here. There’s even a video at the bottom of the page which shows the cookbook party where we made recipes from the book to be photographed (I’m the one in the red sweater!). All proceeds from book sales benefit First Descents and help to send more young adult cancer survivors to these life-changing programs!
In my typical fashion, I’ve adapted this recipe slightly to increase the amount of dates in the crust in order to make it more pliable and crimp-able (a.k.a pretty) in the pie pan. This also serves to hold the pie together when serving it. I’ve also added sea salt to the crust (who doesn’t love that sweet-salty combination?!). The filling is heavenly as written, and was just begging to be sprinkled with some fresh lime zest.
Okay, now let’s come together everyone. Turn your hand palm side up and curve your fingers in the manner of a spoon. Find a friend (or as many people as will participate), and place your spoon hand in their spoon hand, or vice versa. Now, lift up your spoons in united goofy solidarity, and cheer SPOONSHAKE! Now doesn’t that feel good?
Key Lime Pie (raw, vegan, gf)
Adapted from Out Cooking It (The First Descents Cookbook)
Original recipe by Lisa Nielson, Holistic Fitness and Nutrition Advisor
For the crust
1 1/3 cup low sugar, gluten-free granola
1 cup raw unsalted nuts, such as pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, etc…
1 1/2 cups raw dates, about
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
1 medium ripe avocado, about 7 1/2 ounces
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup light agave nectar
6 tablespoons full fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soy lecithin*
1/2 cup coconut oil
finely grated zest of one lime
Blend the granola and nuts in the food processor until they reach a rough sandy texture. Add the dates and salt, blending until the mixture sticks together. Press into a pie pan and set aside.
Halve the avocado, remove the seed, and scoop out the flesh into the pitcher of a blender. Add the lime juice, agave, coconut milk, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth. Add the lecithin and coconut oil. Blend until well incorporated.
Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Smooth out the top using a flat spatula or frosting spreader. Sprinkle some of the lime zest over top of the filling. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until set. Pie can also be chilled in the freezer for 20 minutes to speed up the setting process.
*Soy lecithin is a vegan thickener that works when blending cold ingredients, ie: doesn’t need to cooked like corn starch or tapioca starch in order to thicken and set. Look for it in health food stores in the supplement aisle. Sometimes stores stock Bob’s Red Mill brand lecithin as well.