So are you tired of me using sunflower greens yet!  I can't help myself, they are just too much fun.  I use a pallet of them and immediately start growing another.  I realized the other day that I wanted to share a juice recipe that included sunflower greens to show you yet another way to use them.  This juice is not for the beginner and definitely not for anyone who has a bad relationship with beets.  But if you are into juicing and interested in a new combination, then let me introduce you to one of my favorites: Sunflower Sunset.
    You may be thinking, "why is this drink called Sunflower Sunset?"  Because every juice (just like every color of paint) needs a great name.  One of the fun parts to juicing is trying to come up with a name for the color of juice that comes out of all the different combinations of fruits and vegetables.  Do you ever wonder how the names get chosen for colors?  Like, whose really fun job is it to come up with a new name for a crayola crayon.  Color is so important because even without putting something in your mouth you can taste and feel it just by seeing it's color.  Was "Sunflower Sunset" the correct name for the color of this juice, you tell me?    

The juicer that I use is a Breville Juice Fountain ® Compact

How to grow your own Sunflower Greens:  Click Here

Sunflower Sunset Juice (Raw & Vegan)

approx. 3 cups of juice (results will vary between juicers)

1 pallet of sunflower greens (approximately 2 cups)
3 peeled moro blood oranges
3 organic beets with their tops, scrubbed completely clean from dirt or sand
1 peeled sweet potato
4 large organic carrots, scrubbed clean
1/2 teaspoon spirulina*(optional)

Process the sunflower greens, oranges, beets, sweet potato and carrots through your juicer.  Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of spirulina if using.

*Spirulina is one of those health food items that is said to be super great for you.  I was recently introduced to this blue-green algae by my health coach.  Spirulina makes my mouth very dry when I consume it, but it doesn't seem to bother me when placed into a juice in small amounts.  It has a grassy and earthy flavor that seems to work well with the root vegetables in this juice which is why I like to include it.   

     I have been wanting to make baked oatmeal ever since I saw a recipe for one created by Heidi Swanson in her book Super Natural Every Day.  I have seen this recipe remade on more then a few blogs, and all of them seemed to stick with the same ingredients of bananas and blueberries.  Those ingredients did sound great, but what I really wanted was a gluten-free, vegan alternative that featured a different taste combination.  I wanted to make something that I could serve on Christmas morning so I started thinking about flavor combinations that are more seasonable.  I starting pondering ingredients like cranberries, pear and almond; all things that reminded me of the Christmas season. 

    The original recipe calls for milk, eggs and butter but if you are a vegan then those ingredients just won't work.  I decided to juice some of the pears (see how to juice pears below) and use homemade almond milk to replace the cow's milk.  I also substituted flaxseed meal for the eggs.  If you can't find the Coconut Secret products then you could use unrefined cane sugar to replace the crystals and use maple syrup to replace the nectar.  I really love the coconut products because they have a low glycemic index and are vegan.  The nectar tastes just like maple syrup, and the crystals are sort of like brown sugar.  
Forelle Pear Juice:   Wash 5-6 forelle pears and core them (keeping the skin on).  Place the pieces of pear through a juicer.  You will need to make 1 cup of juice (8 oz.) for this recipe so if you don't get enough juice increase the amount of pears you use.

    Forelle Pears are considered "specialty produce" because they are only found once a year here in the northeast corner of the United States of America.  They are available to us only in the winter, and they start to pop up around Christmas time.  I have normally seen them adorning tables, fruit bowls or gifted Christmas baskets, and I have always looked at these pears as more of a decoration then a food. My local grocery store had them in stock the other day and in the spirit of "trying new things" I decided to pick up a few and see how I could use them best.  Everything I read stated that they are not good for baking because of their small size.  I found this strange because never has size stopped me from using something yummy before. The suggested use for Forelles is just for snacking, but when I bit into one of these little gems I found a firm juicy sweetness, that to me seemed like a perfect fit for my juicer.  Pears are not well accepted by centrifugal juicers that normally destroy very soft fruit.  The Forelles held their own against the high speed whirling blades and transformed into a slightly thick and sugary sweet juice.  It was great to drink on it's own, but my mind had grander ideas to pursue with my new find. 

Forelle Pear & Cranberry Baked Oatmeal
(Vegan & Gluten-Free)

makes an 8-inch square pan

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 forelle pears, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons coconut nectar by Coconut Secret
+ extra for drizzling

1 cup homemade almond milk (or unsweetened original almond milk)
1 cup of forelle pear juice (see the how-to above) (or Pear juice/nectar from the store)
1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal in 3 tablespoons of warm water (this is the egg replacement)

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup coconut crystals by Coconut Secret
1 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum and gluten-free)

2 cups gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped

    Preheat oven to 375° F.  Grease an 8-inch square pan with the coconut oil, making sure to cover the sides too.  Scatter the roughly chopped pears and a 1/4 a cup of the fresh cranberries into the pan.  In a small bowl mix the flaxseed meal in warm water and set aside until it becomes thick and gelatinous, about 10 minutes.  Then in a large bowl whisk together the coconut nectar, almond milk, pear juice, vanilla extract and almond extract.  Add the flaxseed "egg replacement" into the liquid and whisk to incorporate.  In another bowl toss together the coconut crystals, baking powder, rolled oats, and a 1/4 cup of the toasted and chopped almonds.  Pour the dry oat mixture over the fruit in the pan.  Slowly drizzle the liquid ingredients over the oats.  Sprinkle the 1/4 cup remaining fresh cranberries and remaining 1/4 cup of almonds on top of the whole thing.  Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until it looks browned and set. Serve it warm out of the oven and drizzle some extra coconut nectar over the top.

* To toast almonds I normally just place them in an ungreased frying pan over medium high heat and toss them around until they are golden brown.  Just wait until they cool down before chopping and adding them to the recipe.  You could also toast them in a 400° F oven on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes, tossing them half way through cooking.
    Two things come to mind when I think of Halloween: candy and parties.  As a kid all you can think about is the candy, but as an adult on Halloween, it is all about the party.  Nothing says Halloween without a costume party full of scantly dressed women and enough alcohol to send everyone searching for the illustrious hangover cure the next day.  Being not only a new food blogger, but someone who loves to read food blogs, I was torn between going the traditional route of posting a proper pumpkin recipe or doing something completely different.  As a mother of two, my getting "wasted" days are far behind me, but I'm not going to say that I don't enjoy a drink now and again. 

    The whole idea for this drink came about due to an impulse buy at the grocery store.  A bag full of perfectly plump little cranberries just waiting to jump in my basket, and small box of clementines that my son loves to snack on during the day.   My child (like most I assume) has an addiction to juice and a strong aversion to vegetables!  I did a lot of thinking about how I could get him to eat healthier, but the kid was determined never to eat anything green. 

    I was eventually introduced to juicing (the juicer that I own), and quickly found out that it was not only something my son enjoyed doing with me, but he would drink any kind of juice I gave him.  So I vowed never to buy juice from a bottle again, and every day after nap time he gets up and comes to the kitchen, ready to make his afternoon juice.  Normally we fill up a tall glass and share it together, most days fighting over who gets the last drop.  I decided to make this juice for the two of us as a seasonal treat from our normal "green" juice.  As I sipped this lovely concoction I was thinking this was not only a lovely healthy juice for me and my children, but it would also make a killer cocktail for a Halloween party!
Halloween Cocktail

makes 1 drink (about 8-10 oz)

6-7 peeled clementines
3/4 cup fresh cranberries
1 Arkansas Black Apple*
1/4 cup ABSOLUT ORIENT APPLE Vokda (optional only for the responsible adult)

    Place the clementines, cranberries and apple through a juicer in the order listed.  Give your juice a few good stirs with a spoon, and pour into a glass over a few ice cubes.

    If you are making the alcoholic version place the freshly made juice plus the vokda into a mixing glass with ice cubes.  Shake and strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass and serve garnished with fresh cranberries, clementine curl or even an apple slice.

Note:  If you are planning to make this drink for a crowd, I would possibly suggest using navel oranges over clementines as your juice yield would be much greater and you won't have to spend an entire morning peeling hundreds of little clementines.  I would substitute 2 navel oranges for 6-7 clementines but you might have to experiment to find the most delectable combination. 

*Arkansas Black apples have a complex taste and crisp texture that is slightly tart, but yet it has a wine-like sweetness.  It is an apple that is considered ideal for juicing, and is a common find among apple growers in the Northeast United States. If this is not available then I would suggest either using what you have available or finding an apple that is semi-tart and crisp.

“You can learn a lot about a woman by getting smashed with her.” - Tom Waits