Together, We Are One: Spicy Sunflower Nori Crackers (Grain Free, Vegan)
Wow, it’s been a crazy few weeks since I returned back to work on March 1st. My, my–where has the time gone? Last night marked a true melding of my work with my avocation, with the first ever college-sanctioned tweet chat for my classes. The students loved it (and I must admit I had fun), but it meant that this post was deferred until today. And I’ve been itching to share this recipe!
So, are there any Mad Men fans out there? On the season premier last Sunday, the ineffable Don Draper–that raven haired, steely eyed, cut-throat ad man with the not-so-washboard-abs–shocked his co-worker Peggy by doing something. . . nice. To what can we attribute this sudden transformation in Don (nee Dick)’s persona? Well, rumor has it, the kinder, gentler Don is most likely due to his new French-Canadian bride, Megan. Love heals all psychic wounds! (Well, and it doesn’t hurt to have a killer body in a micro-miniskirt, either).
The show got me thinking about that age-old concept of yin and yang. You know the one–the ancient Chinese notion positing two complementary forces in our lives (and all of nature), which are natural opposites of each other: Yin is known as the calm, docile, damp, female aspect; while Yang is the fiery, passionate, bright, excitable, male one . When I first learned about this theory, I was outraged at the ostensible sexism inherent in the ideas: as usual, females were pegged as “docile” and “calm” and “powerless.” However, more research revealed that the traditional definition proposes both yin and yang in each of us; and, in an endless circle, they come together, move apart, come together again, all the while supporting each other. Each is necessary for the other to exist. In other words, a perfect symbiosis bewtween equals.
When you think about it, there’s evidence of yin and yang all around us in the natural world: Morning and evening. Vinegar and oil (which actually go together well in salad dressings). Charcoal and Chalk. Sugar and salt (which go together in many desserts). Summer and winter. Sweating and shivering. Elsie and Chaser. Corvette and Volvo. Love and marriage (which go together like a horse and carriage). The HH and me.
You get the idea.
So, despite her cheesy, ratings-booster rendition of Zou Bisou Bisou during which she twitched and flitted around the room like a boozed up butterfly, Megan, I’ve decided, is the perfect foil for Don. She’s impassioned, fiery (definitely some ”masculine” yin in that lady) and unaffected; while Don is rendered calmer and more benign because of her presence, suggesting that he’s more of a complex human being and less of a wax figure at Madame Tussaud’s (albeit one with great hair). It’s a win-yin situation all around.
Before I wrote up this recipe, I posted a teaser photo on Facebook (above) and asked readers to guess what these were. I was tickled to see how many people guessed “dessert” for this recipe (I guess my reputation precedes me). My favorite response came from Bob: “If it has to do with all 3 [parts of this blog's name], then I guess its a rice cake with a carob spread on top but tastes terrible so you give it to the dog!” Too funny, Bob. In fact, The Girls do tend to “test” almost everything I create (unless it contains onions, chocolate, raisins, or other dog-antipathetic ingredients).
(“We love being your taste-testers, Mum! Your food is delicious! Then again, we never bother to chew anything before we gulp it down, so we don’t actually know what it tastes like.”)
I consider these crackers a perfect embodiment of yin-yang principles in one food. The black nori sheet provides the necessary backbone for the crunchy, spicy cracker portion to maintain its form. Alternately, the grain- and nut-free, seed-based cracker is the perfect flavor foil to the seaweed: savory, spicy, and nubby-textured, the yang to the subtle umami nori (which also offers amazing nutritional properties, mega-mineral content and Omega 3 fats). And, of course, each triangle visually evokes the yin-yang opposites beautifully with its black-and-beige color contrast.
I must admit that I blatantly copied the concept for these crackers from one of my favorite product lines, Live Organic Raw, which are produced alongside their restaurant of the same name here in Toronto. The HH and I both adore them, but at more than $1.00 (Cdn) per cracker, we just can’t buy them as often as we’d like. My version isn’t raw simply because I no longer have a dehydrator; but they could easily be made that way if you’re willing to dehydrate long enough to achieve the same effect.
If you’re feeling impatient for these snacks to bake, tap into the yin side of your personality (calm, slow, still) while you wait.
Or, you could just sing a few bars of Zou Bisou Bisou.
Spicy Nori Crackers (grain, gluten, soy, nut, dairy, egg, sugar free)
Suitable for Anti-Candida Diet (ACD), all Stages
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) raw sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp (30 ml) ground flax
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) (or more) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) coconut aminos
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
1/2-1 tsp (7.5 ml) cayenne pepper, to taste
3 sheets of raw or toasted nori seaweed (the kind used for sushi)
Preheat oven to 200F (95 C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Place the onion in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to chop it up. Add remaining ingredients except for nori sheets and blend until you have a chunky paste, stopping when it’s almost smooth but some bits of sunflower seed (about the size of sesame seeds) remain for texture.
Place the 3 sheets of nori on the parchment-lined sheet. Carefully spread 1/3 of the paste evenly over each sheet (using a silicone spatula to pat down the mixture is useful).
Bake in preheated oven about 1 hour, until the tops are starting to dry out. Cut each sheet in half on a diagonal, from one corner to the opposite corner to create two triangles; then cut each in half again to create 4 triangles. Separate the triangles and return to the oven for another 2-3 hours, checking every 30 minutes, until dry, crisp, and barely browned. If some of the pieces are ready before others (due to uneven seed mixture), remove those first and continue to bake the remaining crackers until they are done. Cool before consuming. Makes 12 triangles. Will last up to 10 days in a sealed bag at room temperature.
Other Snacks or Seaweed-Based Recipes: