Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. Growing up on the beaches of Lake Michigan, the 4th was a celebration of life's greatest gifts: summer, family, and freedom. And those fireworks!
The heart-wrenching reality that I have learned over the years is that those fireworks can also trigger old wounds of the men and women that have so valiantly fought for our freedom that we are celebrating by lighting fireworks. It breaks my heart every year to know that this celebration could be hurting anyone that has fought for me and my independence. So this year, I tried something different.
A friend of mine suffers from PTSD that has plagued his life ever since his time in Vietnam. He will often disappear at the beginning of July and not reappear again until a few days after the last firework has been lit. After watching him do this for a couple of years, I wanted him to know how much I appreciated him and his service. So I cut a few pieces of fresh mint from my garden, cleaned some delicious berries from the local guys at Blue Heron Farm, created this desert in his honor, and delivered it to his door late in the morning on the 4th.
It is generally considered helpful to eat organic food whenever possible, especially produce. In the case of strawberries, it is extremely important.... the most important to some. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 98% of conventionally grown strawberries contain pesticide residues. Of course, some of these pesticides are more harmful to humans than others. Those of greater concern are those that have been linked to damage to the male reproductive system, some cancers, and harm to the nervous system. It was found that nearly 60x more pesticides were applied to strawberry crops than corn crops. Many of these chemicals seep into our groundwater and damage the environment. It isn't surprising then that strawberries top the EWG's Dirty Dozen, their popular listing of the most pesticide-laden produce. So please... buy organic when it comes to strawberries.
This desert is vegan, gluten-free, organic, low in sugar, high in anti-oxidants, and full of a symphony of flavors. None of these reasons are why this recipe is my "Life Savin' Snack" for the month though. This Summer Shortcake is this month's choice because of the reminder that we all have the opportunity to save each other's lives a little bit every day. Hope you will also try this tasty little treat in honor of everyone that got or gets wounded because of their efforts to serve others. Maybe even share it with one of your friends that could use a little extra love..
The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.
- Hubert Humphrey
Yields: 6 servings
Total prep time: 45 minutes
1T ground chia seeds
1/2c coconut flour
1/2c oat flour
1/4c sorghum flour
1/4c arrowroot powder
1 1/2t baking soda
2T hazelnut milk
1t lemon juice
2T vegan butter
Strawberry Mint Syrup
3/4c fresh strawberries
3T coconut sugar
1/4c chopped fresh mint leaves
Coconut Milk Whipped Cream
1 can of coconut milk
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Make the "chia eggs".
Mix ground chia seeds and water together very well.
Place in refrigerator to sit while you prepare the whipped cream.
Make the strawberry mint syrup:
Place 1 cup water and sugar in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until sugar completely dissolves.
Hull and slightly muddle strawberries.
Add strawberries (and all of the juice) to the sugar water. Reduce heat to low.
Lightly simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Prepare the coconut milk whipped cream:
After the coconut milk has chilled in the refrigerator, it will separate into the white solid portion on top and the clear-ish coconut water on the bottom. Place only the solid white portion in a stand-up mixer or large mixing dish. (You can drink the liquid or use it in your next smoothie.)
Mix or hand blend on high for 2-3 minutes, or until small peaks form.
Place this fresh coconut milk whipped cream in the refrigerator to chill as you begin to prepare the biscuits.
Remove the syrup from the heat and add mint leaves.
Prepare the biscuits:
In a medium or large mixing bowl, combine the coconut flour, oat flour, sorghum flour, arrowroot powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the chia eggs, hazelnut milk, lemon juice, and vegan butter. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Form small biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Biscuits should be about 1 inch in diameter.
Place in oven for 12-16 minutes, until slightly browned.
Carefully pour un-strained syrup into a blender along with 3-5 fresh strawberries. Blend until smooth. Place in freezer to cool briefly.
Wash blueberries and strawberries. Cut strawberries into quarters.
Pull the whipped cream from the refrigerator, the syrup from the freezer, and build your treat:
Place a biscuit, some blueberries, and some strawberries in a bowl.
Pour strawberry mint syrup over biscuit and berries.
Top with a dollop of coconut milk whipped cream
Share and enjoy!