Saturday, December 19, 2009

When the Weather Outside is Frightful...Raw Hot (well, warmish) Chocolate Made with Nut Milk

The weather is certainly frightful where I live in the Northeast today, and there’s nothing more delightful than a cup of hot chocolate to sip while you stay cozy inside! My hot chocolate is really more on the warm side, but just as tasty as the real thing! I made it with Brazil nut milk. I don’t do nut milk very often – I’ve never really been a milk person anyway, so it’s not something I’m looking to substitute – but for hot chocolate, I’m all over it! I used a regular blender, not a Vita-Mix for this nut milk – so you can, too! No fancy tools required. I also used panty hose (clean ones!) to strain, rather than a fancy nut milk bag, which I also don’t have.
You could use cashews instead, if you don’t have or don’t like Brazil nuts. For plain milk, just skip the cocoa powder. Add vanilla if you are craving a little egg nog-like treat, or a teaspoon of cinnamon and pinch of cayenne for Mexican cocoa.

Here it is, Ang's Raw Warm Chocolate:

1 cup Brazil nuts, soaked at least 2 hours (Cashews would work, too, and would require less or no soaking, if you don’t have time, and less straining)
3-4 cups water (depending on how thick and creamy you like it) that has been warmed to less than 112 degrees – I didn’t measure, but I stuck my finger in, and it felt comfy, so I’m guessing mine was about at body temperature
1-2 tablespoons raw agave nectar, to taste
2-3 tablespoons raw cocoa powder, to taste
Drain nuts and add to blender.
Pour 3-4 cups warmed water into the blender, and blend at the highest speed for several minutes in a regular blender, less if you have a Vita-Mix or other high speed blender (the high speed blender will also warm your water as it blends – be careful and stop to let it cool occasionally so it doesn’t get too warm and roast your nut milk!) Strain through a nut milk bag or pantyhose into a bowl.Pour milk back into blender, and add agave nectar and cocoa powder to taste. Leave out the cocoa powder for regular “milk,” add vanilla and a little more agave for egg nog, or do cocoa powder, cinnamon and cayenne for Mexican hot chocolate. Blend for another 20 seconds or so, and enjoy…raw appétit!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Have Your Carrot Cake, and Eat it Too


I was faced with quite the predicament this afternoon: no (well, very little) food in the house, and a little bit of a dessert craving. I just about always have dates and walnuts, which I would usually throw together with raw cacao powder to make brownies, but I was running low on cacao, and I wanted to save the half cup or so I did have for an emergency. (Raw girls can have chocolate emergencies, too!)

The one thing I did have was carrots…they were the stubby ugly ones left in the bag, but they were there. I’ve thought several times of making carrot cake and how I would do it, so I seized the opportunity. I didn’t decorate the top with anything cute, but you could whittle Barbie-sized carrots and stick them on top of the frosting, with little pieces of parsley for stems, if you were feeling like a big food nerd.

Cake:

2 cups of raisins

2 cups of walnuts

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt

2 cups of carrots, finely shredded or grated (I used my spiral sliver to make very thin tendrils…remember, you aren’t cooking it, so you need a pretty fine shred so the carrots are soft enough – you don’t want to crunch when you bite in!)

Blend raisins, walnuts, salt and cinnamon in food processor until the mixture is very smooth…you will hardly see pieces of walnuts anymore, the nuts will be releasing their oils, and the whole thing will turn into a doughy ball in the food processor. Add carrots, and pulse chop a few times, until the carrots are incorporated but still visible. Spread onto a plate or tray, about ½ to ¾ of an inch high, in a round or rectangular shape, whatever catches your fancy. You may notice that the walnut oil and carrot juice create a slightly greasy goo around the plate. Don’t worry. You can either sop it up with paper towels, greasy-pizza-style, or transfer the cake to another plate before frosting. Chill the cake before frosting if you can.

Frosting:

½ cup dates (I used very soft Medjool dates – if your dates are hard, soak them for at least an hour, then drain before using)

1 cup cashews, soaked for 1-2 hours, then drained

4 tablespoons fresh orange juice (or lemon, if you prefer)

Blend in food processor until very smooth and a little fluffy – be patient! Spread on cake and serve in small pieces, as it will be very sweet and rich…raw appétit!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Classes start in January!

I'll be teaching Alissa Cohen's Living on Live Food Level 1: Chef Certification beginning in January.

Kick off the New Year and make good on your resolutions by getting started on raw!

Are you ready to start losing weight, having more energy, and feeling positively radiant by eating the healthiest and tastiest food ever? This class is for you!

You’ll learn everything you need to get started on raw and living foods right now – no fancy gadgets or complicated techniques required! Just delicious, easy to make meals made of veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds.

Join me to in this day-long class, where we’ll discuss the basics of a day-to-day raw food lifestyle and make tasty dishes like “salmon” pate, angel hair pasta, fettuccine alfredo, stuffed mushrooms, collard roll-ups (a perfectly portable, take-anywhere raw meal!), broccoli soup, and of course, dessert...a delicious date nut torte, and more.

You’ll leave class knowing how to set up your raw kitchen, shop for food, and prepare meals that even the kids will love!

January 23
10am-3pm
Wilmington, DE

$125
Includes breakfast & lunch, raw recipe booklet, and Chef Certification from Alissa Cohen.

To sign up for class or ask any questions, please call me at 617-797-9994 or email at angelasalvucci@hotmail.com. You must sign up in advance. Check out www.rawteachers.com/angelasalvucci for more info on future class dates.

I will also be thrilled to work with you individually or in a group in your home - just get in touch and we'll work out the details!

Holiday Crowd Pleaser: Creamy Spinach Dip

It’s not the greasy, cheesy, mayonnaisey mess that restaurants serve – but that’s a good thing! No one will complain that they miss all that fat when you bring this the holiday party, because this dip is so yummy! Avocados are the secret ingredient that makes it rich and creamy. I got inspiration for this from Alissa Cohen’s Spinach Dip recipe in Living on Live Food, and kicked things up a little with more spices and flavoring. You could do even more, adding fresh or sundried tomatoes, or more of your favorite herbs.


16 oz baby spinach (Adult spinach is fine, too)

2 large or 3 medium, quite ripe avocados

2 large cloves of garlic

½ of a lemon’s worth of juice (about 2 tablespoons, or more if you like lemon)

1 teaspoon onion powder

¼-1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1-1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ cup packed fresh basil

Start by pureeing spinach in the food processor. It may take a while to get going, just be patient, and keep scraping down sides. Then add avocados, and the rest of your flavoring.Adjust salt, pepper, lemon, etc as necessary – working with fresh veggies means you never quite know how much seasoning it might need. Blend well, and serve with veggies to dip. My favorite is endive. Raw appétit!


Monday, November 30, 2009

Eat the Garnish: Kale Chip Variations


My mom spotted me eyeing the kale used to anchor the stems of a fruit bouquet at Thanksgiving, and we joked that I like to eat the garnish.

But it got me thinking, the garnish is a good place to look for raw foodies at a restaurant or at a party, looking for things to eat. I won’t necessarily condone canvassing a restaurant for shreds of kale and pieces of parsley from your fellows diners…don’t give raw foodies a bad name!...but keep in mind that most restaurants will have garnish items (like kale) available, so you can always ask them to add it to the mix to spice up a big salad or plate of veggies. And no one will be the wiser is you grab a few extra pieces of parsley off a cheese or fruit display, and it could spice up your salad a little, not to mention give it a little nutrition kick. So go ahead, eat the garnish!

In that spirit, I got home last night after several days of Thanksgiving travel, and was definitely happy to get back to my dehydrator, and the variety it provides…I have some raw pizza going in there now, and also my favorite snack: kale chips!

I already know how they’ve turned out, because I snagged pieces at various stages of crispness (including not crisp at all) throughout the day…and they are, as usual, delicious, although not as complicated as when I usually make them.

Usually I use a pesto, but today, I was without basil. So I tore up my kale into medium pieces (the size of a large Tostito), washed it very well, and prepped it for chipification in the following ways:

Salt & Pepper Kale Chips

Drizzle of olive oil…about as much for a similar quality of salad. Probably about 1-2 tablespoons for a big, loosely packed bowl of kale

Salt & pepper to taste…BE CAREFUL with the salt. You want to salt the kale until it tastes like it could use just a tiny smidge more, but then don’t add any more. The chips taste saltier (or more peppery, garlicky, or whatever) once they are dehydrated

Smoosh the S&P and oil into the kale with your fingers, so the leaves are evenly coated…dehydrate at 105 for 3-4 hours or so.

Spicy Kale Chips

Same thing as with the olive oil & salt above, but instead of black pepper sprinkle on chili powder…again, be careful of how much your use, because the flavors concentrate once the kale it dry.

Leftover Tomato & Basil Kale Chips

I had leftover tomato sauce, about a quarter cup. I had used a 1:1 ratio of fresh tomatoes and soaked & drained sundried tomatoes, one clove of garlic and a pinch of salt in the original recipe. To the quarter cup that remained I added about a tablespoon of olive oil and a small handful of fresh basil, and an extra pinch of salt. Massage into a big bowl of loosely packed kale, and dehydrate…may need a little longer than the others, like 5 hours, because the tomatoes are extra wet.

Raw appétit!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Raw Thanksgiving Ravioli


Thanksgiving, and what to bring, has been on my mind, since this is the first Turkey Day that I’ve been raw. I was never really a fan of the bird anyway, but I used to load up a plate of veggies and DEFINITELY tucked into the apple pie.

So, I’ve been pondering a good dish (in addition to the Harvest Soup I wrote about last week) to bring along for the big day, to eat as my meal and to share portions of with my family.

While running the other day, I had a brain storm! I decided to change up the sausagey ravioli I made a few weeks ago, and turn it into Thanksgiving Ravioli, with some of the best flavors of the day, but with none of the cholesterol, and no post-meal stupor!! I’m posting a video of me making it below – pretty good camera work for an iPhone, I think! – as well as the written recipe below.

Thanksgiving Ravioli

Shells:

4 small-medium white & purple turnips (of course you’ll need fewer for this amount of filling if you manage to find nice big ones so that you can use one per ravioli)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

On a spiral slicer or mandoline, make paper thin slices, and marinate in olive oil (I would say for at least half an hour, so they are nice and soft to serve)

Filling:

1 ½ cups walnuts, soaked for 3-4 hours and then DRAINED

¼ cup sweet onion

1 clove garlic

½ cup celery

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1 teaspoon fennel

1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1-2 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos or Nama Shoyu (omit if you don’t like, and just season with a little extra salt. I used Braggs for the meat-y kind of flavor, and you’ll notice in the video, I started out with 3 tablespoons…this was on the salty side. Start out with one and add more if you want more!)

Salt & black pepper to taste (if necessary)

Grind up the walnuts, onions & garlic first, so you get them going and don’t have huge chunks. Then add the rest. I like to still be able to see the parsley and celery, if only in little bits. It’s like sausage stuffing!

Let this warm to room temp, or to 105 in the dehydrator before assembling/serving.

Sauce:

2 cups cranberries

1 green onion (just the tight part, white and a little green before it gets branchy)

½ cup fresh squeezed OJ

2-3 tablespoons agave

¼ tsp salt

Few cracks of fresh black pepper

Dash of cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

Blend all very well in a food processor. I had little tiny bits of cranberry still…if you prefer something smoother or chunkier, go for it!

To assemble, lay softened turnips on serving plate, plop in a heaping teaspoon of filling, fold turnips into a half moon or top with another slice, like a sandwich, depending on how big they are, and top with sauce. This amount made about three dozen ravioli for me (sandwich-style). I warmed mine up in the dehydrator a bit. Raw appétit – and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Too Amazing Not to Share!


Big news! I was just certified to teach Alissa Cohen Living on Live Food Classes, both Level 1 (a basic, getting started program) and Level 2 (advanced raw & live food prep, plus teacher certification for Level 1). I’m thrilled to start teaching – stay tuned for a link to class listings! If you have questions in the meantime, please feel free to email me at angelasalvucci@hotmail.com. Here’s a picture of me with Alissa…it was great to finally meet her, after reading and using her raw food guide & cookbook to get myself started on raw food, and I learned so much. I’m so grateful for the experience, and so excited to share it!

Meanwhile, here’s a recipe too yummy not to share! I learned it at a demo by Patricia Escoto of Inner-Workings at my health food co-op. I actually lost the original recipe, but I think I remember pretty well…

Harvest Soup

In a blender, combine:

1 large zucchini, chopped

2 cups of carrots, chopped or shredded

2 tomatoes, chopped

2-3 stalks of celery, chopped

2 dates

1 clove of garlic

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 cup of water or so (depending on desired consistency)

1/2 cup flax oil (or olive oil…I much prefer the flax, because I think it has a squashy flavor…you could use less, of course, if you wanted to make this lower-fat)

Salt & pepper to taste!

It actually looks like and is reminiscent of a butternut squash soup…delish! I’m planning on making it for Thanksgiving. As they say in France, raw appétit!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Raw Sausage Ravioli! That's Amore!


I’m only ¼ Italian (although apparently that was enough genetic material to form the entire lower half of my body, which seems to be made for climbing hills in Italy…but I digress…) but somehow Italian food has always been what I gravitate towards cooking. That’s been true on my raw journey as well…my favorite recipes are for lasagnas, pizza, noodles, and now…ravioli! I’ve worked with both beets and turnips as ravioli shells, and both work really well, look pretty, and taste yummy. “Rawviolis” are pretty enough for company, and seem pretty safe and comfortable for folks new to raw.

If you’ve read some of my previous blog entries, you’ll know I love the spicy, concentrated flavors of cured meats…so I did a sausagey filling in the ravioli, but you could make a simpler nut cheese and it would work as nicely!

Here’s how to make some smashingly tasty raw ravioli:

3-4 small purple turnips (this is good for 2-3 people…double the number of turnips and the rest of the ingredients for more)

1 ¼ cups walnuts, soaked for 3-4 hours

½ a medium avocado

¼ tsp ground mustard

½ tsp red pepper flakes

½ tsp fennel seeds

3 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

½ tsp onion powder

1 large clove of garlic

Salt & pepper to taste (watch it with the salt – after the Braggs, you may not need any)

First, prepare your ravioli “pasta”…with a spiral slicer or adjustable mandoline, make VERY thin slices out of all your turnips, about the thickness of two or three pieces of paper. Mine were small, so I made round slices to turn into sandwiches, but you could make half moon shaped raviolis with big turnip slices. Toss turnips slices with a tablespoon or so of olive oil to begin softening them.

Combine all of your filling ingredients in a food processor. For the love of Pete, try not to eat it all before you assemble the ravioli!

On the plates on which you intend to serve the ravioli, place the slices for your undersides. Places a teaspoon of filling on each, and then put the tops on, and press down until they stick.

For sauce, I used a concoction of ¾ cup sundried tomatoes, which had been soaked for several hours, ½ cup fresh parsley and basil, ¼ cup olive oil & salt & pepper. Pesto would taste great, too, or a more complicated tomato sauce.

Put a dollop of sauce on each ravioli (I use mine to cover the seams created by the spiral slicer), and warm in dehydrator at 105 or an oven set on the lowest tempt for 15-20 minutes.

Raw appétit…or should I say, appetito?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

(Sometimes) It Ain't Easy Being Raw

I spend a lot of time telling people how easy and yummy it is to be raw…and it is, under ideal circumstances, with health food stores and great grocery stores and a dehydrator always at your disposal.

But when you are away from home, sadly out of range of a food processor and stuck in the land of SAD food (standard American diet), it gets a little tricky.

And if you are like me, it’s NOT GOOD to get over-hungry, and then be faced with irritating factors like an inability to find anything raw to eat. I seriously sometimes go berserk when I’m past the point of needing to be fed. [Side note: My mom told me that she recently saw on Dr. Oz that this is an actual medical condition, where some kind of chemicals in my brain or belly aren’t working right. So I’m not nuts. Well, I am nuts, but it’s not that I want to be! Still, this information is of little consolation to those around me when I get HANGRY – a combo of hungry and angry.]

Last weekend, there was an entire day in which my hangry reign of terror nearly made my boyfriend lose his mind. First, we made impromptu plans to stop at the home of friends of his, whom I’d never met, for lunch on the way back from a little road trip. Great, but I don’t know these people, and I don’t want to walk into their house demanding to be fed only raw goodness. On the other hand, the likelihood is low that they just happen to be firing up the dehydrator to make me some kale chips. And of course, it’s always polite to bring food to a party…but all we can do is stop at a regular grocery store, and hope for the best.

Fortunately, they had a few prepared packaged salads – carrot-apple-raisin and cucumber-tomato – that were reasonably nice to bring to share. Otherwise I might have tried to hit the olive bar. I was dreading the idea of rolling in with my own bag of lettuce. Is that any better or worse than refusing egg salad sandwiches or a quiche someone slaved over? I didn’t know…it was a careful balance of not wanting to seem rude and also wanting to eat. I got really anxious at the store, trying to figure out what I should do. Walking into someone’s house with plastic containers of supermarket fare is not my idea of being a gracious guest, but that’s what happened. Our hosts had made Caesar salad, so I had just the veggies along with the side salads we brought, and it all went fine, and we had a lovely, lovely time.

Until later that night, when we were in search of some takeout to just go home and eat and not have to prepare anything or wash any dishes. The first Italian place had literally nothing raw. The second sandwichy place had seaweed salad – that does not a dinner make, and it was getting late, and I was hangry and anxious! I melted down, like a two year old with a tantrum, and then my meltdown embarrassment made me melt down further. Not at all pretty.

After the adult equivalent of throwing myself on the floor and beating my fits on the ground, I ordered veggie sushi (no rice! Just avocado, cuke, and carrot handrolls. I believe the nori was probably toasted, but this was an emergency) from a Japanese place, with, duh, seaweed salad on the side. There was joy – well, at least no more hangriness – in Rawville.

Fast forward to the next evening: I’m in New York, and my sweet, kind and not remotely raw or vegan friend Jean suggests we hit a raw restaurant for dinner. I honestly nearly started crying while I was reading the menu, looking at all the possibilities for my meal. No stress, no worry, just tons of delicious, fabulously healthy raw dining options. A little slice of raw heaven.

Fast forward again to the evening after that: Ordering takeout from a fancy pan-Asian place. A friend orders RAW veggies for me. They promise they will be raw, and I can add my own sauce…but alas, somehow they arrive steamed. What can you do? I could just eat the veggies – will steamed broccoli and greenbeans kill me? – or I can make everyone feel bad and demand lettuce. I went cooked, and I’m still alive!

I envision a day when every restaurant will have a raw entrée on the menu – just as most have vegetarian options now – and life will get a lot easier. Until then, I will pack Lara bars to help stave of the hangry horrors.

Thursday, October 22, 2009



Salad is what’s for dinner several times a week. And it is frequently what’s for lunch, just about every day. Once I’m comfortably situated in front of my trough of tasty greens, I am usually pretty happy, but sometimes the thought of first of all making, and then sitting down to ANOTHER salad makes me want to run in the direction of Chinese takeout (I kid!).

A lot of the time I try to keep it very simple, especially with dressing (salt and pepper, oil & vinegar or lemon, thrown right on top of the salad before I toss it) but, again, it gets a little boring, and you can start to feel like a bunny.

If your nose is starting to twitch like mine is, here’s a cool way to have a little fun with your salad toppings, making the whole thing feel a little more special than just feeding time.

Last night, I found myself in a typical situation of having several items that I wanted to use before they passed their prime…several very ripe avocados, a red bell pepper, some celery that was turning a little floppy.

I whipped up Alissa Cohen’s salmon pate recipe from Living on Live Food, which consists of 2 cups of walnuts, one red pepper, two stalks of celery, a scallion, and ¼-1 tsp of salt, blended til smooth in the food processor. I didn’t have a scallion so I used a few tablespoons of onion, and it came out just fine.

Here’s where I got creative: I used a large tumbler lined completely with plastic wrap (make sure it sticks out over the top of the glass) and layered halved cherry and teardrop tomatoes, ¼ cup of salmon, ¼ cup of avocado, and repeated it, and then inverted the glass onto a plate, and carefully lifted the glass, and removed the plastic wrap. And voila! A nifty layered tower of salad goodies! I surrounded it with a whole lot of greens (dressed with a “fancy” dressing, by my standards – juice of one lemon, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, and salt and pepper, all processed together). This would make a pretty salad if you were having mom or a girlfriend over for lunch…and the possibilities are infinite! You could use guacamole, a nut cheese, chopped olives or tapenade, mango or other fruits…raw appétit!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Plenty of Peaches...Raw Peach Pie


We got a whole bunch of peaches the other day – probably won’t be too many more of those this year! – and, as often happens when you get a lot of something at once, I have been scrambling to put a dent in the batch before it starts to go bad.

Hence, raw peach pie!

And it’s easy as…you guessed it…to make.

This recipe will work for your plentitude of fall apples or pears as well!

For Crust:

I used Jennifer Cornbleet’s recipe from “Raw Food Made Easy” for the crust…

2 ¼ cups ground almonds

¾ cup pitted medjool dates

¼ teaspoon salt

You just grind it all up in the food processor. I was pretty approximate in my almond measurements, and I added a handful of dried cherries for a little extra flavor.

Press the pie crust into a standard pie plate, about 8 or 9 inches, into the bottom and up the sides, just as you would a graham cracker crust.

Slice 4 medium peaches (or pears, or apples) to about ¼ inch thickness.

Toss fruit with 1 tsp cinnamon and 2-3 tablespoons agave nectar, depending on how juicy the fruit already is.

Let the fruit marinate for about half an hour, and then arrange it all pretty in the crust. Drizzle an extra few tablespoons of the leftover juice over the pie (and then drink the rest).

This comes out of the plate more easily than a regular pie!

Raw appétit!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Aw, Nuts!


It’s College Game Day…gotta have some snacks! I whipped up some guacamole, with carrots and cukes for dipping, and made some spicy “beer nuts”…nothing like something they serve at a bar, and definitely not full of everyone’s fingernail germs (which may be a good way to get your B12? Hmmm…).

I get bored of plain old nuts all the time, but even just salt won’t stick to raw almonds…so here’s what I do:

In a medium bowl, combine the juice of 2 limes, 1-2 tablespoons agave nectar (depending on how sweet you like them!), ½ tsp cayenne (or more, to your preference), ½ tsp sea salt. Stir it all til the salt is dissolved, and add 2-3 cups of almonds or cashews, a cup at a time. Toss to coat, and let the topping dry in the dehydrator at 105 degrees for about an hour, shaking the trays a couple of times while they are in there, or spread on cookie sheets in a cracked-open oven at the lowest temp until dry to the touch. Very classy to drink with a glass of wine (beer ain’t raw, folks!) while cheering on your favorite team!

Today, I’m rooting for the Irish!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ben & Jerry Ain't Got Nothin': Raw Chocolate Ice Cream...with Avocado!


Last week I made ice cream for breakfast…but I have a healthy, raw version that’s even more indulgent…perhaps a little more lunch-y. The secret ingredient is one of the richest, creamiest things found in nature…and also not something you associate with sweet treats: avocado.

Believe it or no, this raw chocolate ice cream tastes like the most amazing premium ice cream, and it is soooo easy to make. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, freeze it in a block and then whip it up a little before you serve it, or just omit the water and have decadent – and great for you – chocolate pudding. This is the best recipe for when all the avocados are suddenly ripe at once, and you need to use ‘em up!

Raw Chocolate (Avocado!) Ice Cream

2 quite ripe avocados

½ agave nectar

1 cup water (omit or add to desired consistency to make pudding)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup cocoa powder

Blend all ingredients in a blender. Pour into ice cream maker, and let it do its magic. Eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner…or maybe even dessert! Raw appétit!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ice Cream for Breakfast


Who hasn’t eaten ice cream for breakfast (a few times!)? But if you eat RAW ice cream for breakfast – or lunch, or dinner, or all three – you can feel good about it, and its good for you.

My banana ice cream recipe is crazy easy, really yummy, and another good one for traveling – easy for non-raw folks to try, easy to make anywhere that has a freezer and food processor.

And for nutritional value, I’ll watch it go head to head with crusty old Cheerios any time!

Here’s my raw ice cream recipe, although it barely even deserves that name, it’s so simple:

3 bananas PEELED (don’t try to freeze and THEN peel, or you’ll get frostbite…I know from experience), cut into one inch chunks and frozen

3-4 tablespoons raw cocoa powder (I used 4 heapers…don’t tell)

And that is it. Throw the goodness in a food processor, and let it do its magic. Depending on how cold your freezer is, the mixture might be really crumbling at first. Let it sit and warm up a teensy bit, maybe like 3 minutes, and try again. It will turn into thick, custardy, chocolately heaven once it defrosts a little. Add a tablespoon or two of raw almond butter for an extra rich treat. Do it in a blender with ½ - 1 cup of water or coconut water, and it’s a milkshake!

Still traveling – I’ll post a picture of my raw banana ice cream when I can find a camera cable that fits!

Raw appetit!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Raw on the Road: BYO Raw Cocoa

Im in Massachusetts visiting my family, and although traveling and eating raw usually means lots and lots and lots of salad, my mom prepared the cupboard for me with tons of fresh fruit and veggies, raw nuts, and…RAW COCOA POWDER! It has been ages since my local health food store has even had any of my sweet, dark master in stock, so I was doing the happy dance when I found it in the cabinet. And the first chance I got, I busted out the food processor (mom has a normal size one, which is also a nice treat compared to my usual mini chopper ways) and made a raw chocolate snack.

Here’s a super easy, yummy raw recipe for brownies that’s easy to make on the road…it requires few ingredients, and you can get all but the raw cocoa at the regular grocery store. BYORC, and you’re all set! They are also pretty palatable to raw newbies, and cocoa powder is an amazing superfood: according to the package of mine, 2 ½ tablespoons has 60 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 8% of your daily iron, and a slew of antioxidants. But the bottom line is: it’s chocolate!

Easy Raw Brownies:

1 cup medjool dates, pitted (use 1 ½ cups if they are the smaller, drier supermarket variety, and you may need to add a couple tablespoons of water if it is still very dry and crumbly in the food processor after all the ingredients are added)

1 cup walnuts (or cashews, or almonds, or whatever nut you’ve got, unsoaked.)

¼ cup (or so!) cocoa powder

Pinch of sea salt

Combine all in food processor until a dough ball starts to form. Add water a tablespoon at a time if this doesn’t happen, which may be because your dates are dry. Form into a ¾ high round or square shape on a plate, or roll into bite sized balls. Cover and freeze or refrigerate…raw appetit!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Eat the Garnish! Pesto Kale Chips


My mom visited last weekend, and while I planned to take her to regular restaurants the whole time, she actually requested that I make her a raw meal! We had a sampling of things…among them, my pesto-flavored kale chips, which she had heard me rave about and was eager to try.

I can understand how even someone whole loves veggies might be a little turned off by kale…you could call it tough and chewy straight from the garden, and it definitely tastes very, very green. But it has tons of nutrients – tons of vitamin A and C, and a bunch (pun intended) of iron and calcium. And, if you turn kale into chips, it is really darn tasty! My Guy frequently refers to them as his favorite “greasy bar treat.” When something that used to be the garnish under a pile of onion rings becomes the main event, you know it has arrived.

For my chips I use an entire huge bunch of kale. Tear it into pieces the size of, say, large Tostitos, excluding the huge center stems, and wash it really well – you want the chips to be crunchy for all the right reasons, and sand is not one of them.

In a food processor, combine:

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil (use more if you love basil, or none if you want your chips to taste cheesy as opposed to pesto-y)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Juice of one lemon

About ½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

Hefty dash of black pepper

2 cloves of garlic

Working in batches (I do half and half – of you have a huge bowl, you can do it all at once), smoosh dressing into kale so that all the leaves are well coated

Lay on mesh dehydrator sheets…its okay if the edges are touching, but you don’t want them to overlap…and dehydrate for 4 hours or so at 105, until they are dry and crispy. If you are lucky, you’ll still have half a batch in there by the time they are all done – they are so tasty, I’m dipping into the dehydrator all day! If you don’t have a dehydrator, you could just marinate the kale in this dressing and then eat it up, or put them in a regular oven at the lowest temp…I’m not sure on the timing in a regular oven, and I would imagine you’d want to flip the chips occasionally if they were on a non-breathable surface.

Collard greens also work pretty well, and they are flatter than traditional kale, and also come out really yummy. And this is a bargain…kale is very inexpensive, whereas I’ve bought tiny packages if kale chips at the health food store for literally $8 (shame on me, I know), so this recipe is a winner all around. And FYI, mom LOVED ‘em!

Raw appétit!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sprouty McSprouterson….and why he and all his cousins had to be sacrificed for my falafel




Sprouting works, you need not fear it, and it lets you make some pretty cool stuff. I sprouted chickpeas this week to make falafel…the chickpeas start out as hard little things that look like a small version of their bloated, canned selves. You can buy seeds for sprouting at the health food store, and specific instructions usually are listed on the package. For chickpeas, I soaked the cup or so of seeds in a LOT of filtered water overnight. They expand more than you think! Then I drained the water, and spread the little sprouts-to-be around and up the sides of a big shallow bowl, covered it loosely with paper towel, and rinsed and drained them two or three times a day for three days, until most of them had about a quarter to a half inch of sprouty growth. They are so cute, it makes me feel bad eating them. (If eggs are rape and meat is murder, what is eating sprouts?)

I stopped feeling guilty once I made this delish falafel.

In a food processor, combine:

2 cups sprouted chickpeas

½ cup onion

Juice from ½ a lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne

1-2 tablespoons curry powder, to taste

Form into golf balls sized balls or flatten into patties, and eat as is or over a salad, or dehydrate overnight (or longer, if you prefer them very dry). An oven on the lowest setting & cracked open will dry out the outside if you don’t have a dehydrator but don’t want to eat them totally squishy. I made a falafel “pita” with a big old collard leaf, with cukes and tomatoes and a drizzle of tahini.

Raw appétit!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Raw Chocolate Layer Cake...Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, and Guilt Free!




Even the biggest veggie-thumping, wheat grass-slurping health nuts need a little treat now and then. And as much of a veggie monster as I am…I have a pretty big sweet tooth. I had a birthday party to attend yesterday, and none of my regular, humble sweet treats would do...so I created a special layer cake that was a heck of a lot simpler, and way better for you than a traditional birthday cake…plus it was wheat, gluten, dairy and egg free! A great one to make if you know someone with an allergy, or just want a better-for-you indulgence.

Don’t get me wrong…this bad boy still does some hefty caloric damage, and has plenty of fat…but it is also packed with good stuff, like nuts, cocoa, and coconut butter, so it delivers a nutritional punch that will knock out your sweet tooth!

I made mine in layers, upside down in a round container with the bottom perpendicular to the sides. A very small sauce pan would also work…you just don’t want something more than 5 or 6 inches in diameter.

For this fabulous cake, first make your “batter”:

CHOCOLATE LAYER:

1 ½ cup walnuts

1 cup medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped

¼ cup raw cocoa powder [Full disclosure: The health food store has been out of raw cocoa for weeks, and they don’t have carob either, so I used natural, unsweetened cocoa NOT processed with alkali…the alkalization process is sometimes referred to as “dutched.” So, best to use raw, but if you can’t, don’t get alkalized cocoa.]

Pinch of salt

Process in food processor until thoroughly mixed into tiny crumbs

COCONUT LAYER:

½ cup walnuts

½ cup shredded coconut

¼ cup coconut butter

2 tablespoons agave nectar

Process till smooth

GANACHE LAYER/FROSTING:

½ cup coconut butter

1 cup cocoa powder

½ cup agave nectar

Pinch salt

Dash vanilla extract

Process til smooth…this may make your food processor a little cranky

Lay a big sheet of plastic wrap over the container in which you’ll build your cake, and press into sides of container (so that when you invert it later, your cake will just slide right out, with just a little tug of the plastic)


Press into the mold…I used ½ of the chocolate crumb layer – press the layers really well! – then the entire coconut layer, then 1/3 of the ganache, then the rest of the chocolate layer. I let my set up in the fridge for about an hour before I did the ganache frosting, and then gently inverted it onto the serving plate (do like Martha Stewart and put about a teaspoon of your ganache on the plate first to keep the cake from sliding around). Leave the ganache out at room temp until you are ready to frost the cake. To make the frosting layer, put the remaining ganache blob between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment on a big surface, and press/roll out to a diameter that will cover the entire top and side of the cake. Flip on top of the cake, and press lightly down, then trim any extra at the bottom. Serve chilled or at room temp…sooooooooo good.

Raw appétit!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Raw Tacos...A Crowd Pleaser Even Mikey Will Like!


I made these raw tacos the other day when a friend came to visit. Their familiarity raw food newbies and just the fact that they are super yummy make them a good recipe when entertaining the uninitiated. My brother is SUPER picky, and thinks raw food is very strange, but when he was a little kid he said once he must actually be Mexican because he likes tacos so much…I think he might even eat these (but hold the guacamole for him!).

I make fancy taco shells in the dehydrator, but you can also use lettuce as a little wrapper…these are just as delicious in a romaine leaf boat!

The taco shell recipe I made up after looking at a couple of other ones…it dehydrates in like four hours, which is great in case, like me, you didn’t know last Monday what you are going to have for dinner tonight!

For the taco meat, I actually bought a packet of taco seasoning from the grocery store to see what they put in there for spices…I think my blend is pretty good!

Raw Taco “Meat”:

1 ½ cups of walnuts, soaked for like 2 hours

½ a cup of sundried tomatoes, chopped and soaked for an hour or two if not packed in oil

¼ cup onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon chili powder (which contains stinky tacos spices already)

Extra ¼ teaspoon of cayenne if you like ‘em spicy

½ teaspoon oregano

¼ teaspoon salt

2-3 tablespoons olive oil….

Food process it up until it looks like taco meat from Tuesday night suppers that mom used to make with the supermarket taco kit!

Taco Shells:

16 oz. bag of frozen corn (you could also use fresh, but that’s a lot of corn to cut off the cob!)

¾ cup ground flax seed

¼ cup lime juice

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chili powder (or more, to taste)

Blend it all up in the food processor…if you are still living in the stone age, or have no counter space and therefore still only have a mini chopper, like me, you may need to do this in batches and mix it all together in a bowl.

Spread thin on teflex sheets – about ¼ inch thickness, or a little less if you can manage and not see through it at all.

Dehydrate at 105 for around 4 hours, flipping onto mesh screens half way through.

When the edges get crispy, but the whole thing is still a bit pliable, flip the whole think onto a cutting board and use a jar lid or something to cut 5 inch circles out with a paring knife. Fold in half into taco shapes, and lay them on their sides with a chopstick on top so hold they the shape (or just fold them up when you eat them).

Top with taco meat, guacamole and pico de gallo (chop up a couple of tomatoes, an onion to equal half that amount, throw in a handful of cilantro, a good squirt of lime, and you’re in business)….deliciosa!

Raw appétit!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Oat Groats: The Breakfast of Raw Champs


Today as I was making my own raw breakfast of champions, I realized I have never blogged about the most important meal of the day!

Typically, I just have a lot of fruit for breakfast, over the course of a morning. Fruit digests quickly and easily if it is on its own in your belly, so it is best eaten on an empty stomach, and if possible, one kind at a time. For example, melons digest really quickly…best to eat them first and give them a while before you start downing bananas or raisins or what have you. I might have a whole bunch of watermelon, then a peach or two an hour later, then a banana or two a little later.

That is, unless I’m in marathon training.

Today I ran my first longish run to train for the Philly marathon (12 miles…I’m a little behind schedule!) on November 20, and made myself a breakfast of raw champs: soaked oat groats!

Before I went raw, I would usually have a bagel before a long run, and if it was before the actual marathon, I might slip in a few pretzels for a little extra salt. I didn’t like bananas because I felt like I regurgitated them a little when I started running (sorry, too much info!).

I ate soaked oat groats during training for last year’s Boston Marathon, and had great results, although I managed to gross out one of my fellow runners on the bus…I had blended it up with a few other ingredients…she asked if I was eating tuna salad! Hey, whatever works…

Anyway, oat groats are as easy as regular oatmeal. The groat is the whole grain kernel, before it is steamrolled or whatever those Quakers do to all those oats them sell.

To eat the groats, you have to soak them, for at least 24 hours (change the water once in there). I have about ½-3/4 of a cup dry for one serving. Once it is soft, I like to give the groats a quick chop in the food processor. Sometimes I add in a little almond butter to make it creamy. Bananas, raisins, cinnamon, and a little squirt of agave are also delicious toppings to stir in. In a pinch (meaning, it is the night before a long run and I haven’t soaked my groats yet), I use steel cut groats (eg, Irish Oatmeal), which are already chopped up and absorb water a little faster, and just soak over night.

Interesting to note…I don’t have problems digesting bananas now that I’m raw!

Best thing about raw oats…no sticky pan to clean after!

Raw appétit!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Raw Tapas for Dinner...Guess What I Turned Into "Bacon"!?



Tapas are on the menu for dinner! Small portions of several tasty treats make my ideal meal, because I like really tasty things (which can be too much for a whole meal) and because I love experimenting and making up raw recipes.

A few of my favorite tapas from my pre-raw days included patatas bravas – spicy, fried potato chunks – and these super tasty dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cheese and an almond sliver, from Boqueria in New York. I made my own version of those as well as kale chips last night for din din along with a big salad.

So first, I had to accomplish my most amazing raw feat yet, to turn a date into bacon...well, turn a date bacon-y. I've had "bacon" made out of eggplant, but had the brainstorm that a smooshed date could be made to resemble the porky treat a little bit more. I pitted a medjool date, and sliced it into ¼ inch pieces, stuck them together and pounded them out between plastic wrap, then drizzled a teensy bit of oil and a little salt on ‘em, and warmed in the dehydrator. I felt like a pretty big genius having figured this out, so I took a few pictures. Then I wrapped pieces of the “bacon” around an almond…so it wasn’t EXACTLY like the cooked version, but the salty/sweet, crunchy/gooey combo was spot-on.

The patatas bravas idea was born out of my attempt to turn avocados into something like french fries…I’ve tried a few times, and the results have been so-so…but the patatas bravas for some reason worked really well. Here’s how to do it:

Cube an avocado

In a small tupperware bowl that you have a lid for, mix up 1 tsp of paprika, ¼ tsp cayenne (more if you like a lot of spice), ½ teaspoon of granulated onion, and ¼ tsp of salt.

Toss the avocado to totally coat (no green peeking through!) and dehydrate on mesh screens for 2ish hours, until they are a little crispy on the outside. I fooled my guy – he thought there were real potatoes inside the crispy coating!

I'll save the kale chips recipe for another time...

Raw appétit!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

"As Seen on TV" (Raw) Dinner: Jamie Oliver's Funky Pasta, Done Raw

Are you like me and find TV cooking shows absolutely mesmerizing? I don’t know what it is…but I could watch Giada and Ina all day long. Not that I can use most of their recipes, since they are mainly cooked, but I have found some that are easy to adjust, and work as good kind of crossover dishes if you are cooking for someone who isn’t raw…

To that point, the other night I made “Funky Spaghetti” that I watched Jamie Oliver make with Oprah on a repeat the other day. I had a mix of zucchini fettuccine (just start peeling with a potato peeler, and don’t stop!) and angel hair out of the spiral slicer, while my Guy had regular spaghetti.

According to Jamie, you just crush up a whole bunch of cherry tomatoes or other little tomatoes in a bowl, with all the seeds and juice and everything (just use your hands, tear ‘em in bite size pieces), tear up a couple of good handfuls of fresh basil (and he added marjoram and garlic, too – I forgot those), and let that sit for a few minutes (eg, while you make your pasta) with a little salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss with your pasta, and that’s it!

I’ll keep the “As Seen on TV” recipes coming!

Raw appétit!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Raw on the Road: Raw Snackathon in Boise, Idaho


I just got back from Boise, Idaho, and brought back a few souvenirs in the form of raw treats.

There’s a great co-op there, which is just about heaven for a hungry raw-food eater, with raw snacks galore…all kinds of crackers and cookies and lots of CHOCOLATE. So I stocked up and had a little raw food snackathon.

I find the hardest thing about staying raw is that you get so darn sick of salads, and if you are traveling or just want something quick, salads and fruit and plain nuts are kind of the only option (until McD’s starts serving billions and billions of raw burgers, that is!). So it’s fun to find goodies that are different and unusual and best of all, you don’t have to make yourself!

Not that you should subsist on raw junk food alone, anymore than you would eat only Doritos and Twinkies, as raw snacks are still pretty high calorie. But man, was it fun to have me some treats!

I sampled raw onion rings, “Mac’n’Cheese” crackers (tasted like spicy Cheez-its – yum!), Carob Fudge Balls, sauerkraut seed crackers, “Focaccia” bread, and chocolate filled with “caramel.” I recommend these mac’n’cheese crackers if you come across them, and the seed crackers and focaccia are great to accompany a salad or a dip, although they are pretty dense.

The great thing about these treats is that if you really like one, you can probably re-create it…all the ingredients are listed in the order of their concentration (that will take a guess), but it isn’t like you have to be worried about oven temperature and timing! Just spin the dial to 105 or 110, and it is ready when it is ready! I’ll write about my forays into raw snacks on Raw Appétit very soon!

If you happen to be in Boise, the Boise Co-Op is great for raw foodies, as well as the Farmers Market on 8th Street on Saturdays, where there are tons of seasonal fruits and veggies from farms near by…and yes, there’s MUCH more than just potatoes!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pesto? Presto!



This time of year is great for fresh veggies and fruit…everyone is reaping the rewards of their gardens. While the little basil and parsley plantings in pots on my deck have long since been depleted – save for a few “volunteers” that have sprung up in the window boxes – friends have been nice enough to share with us, including my Guy’s colleague who has given us TONS of gorgeous basil from her gardens. As they say, when life gives you basil, make pesto!

Although traditional recipes usually include cheese, you hardly miss it if you make your pesto RAW, and it is one of those really simple, yet kind of fancy seeming, recipes to make for yourself or others. My recipe is a little something like this: use a LOT of basil (just the leaves, and wash ‘em good), at least 2 cups tightly packed, a handful (1/4 cup) of pine nuts, a clove or two of garlic, a quarter cup or so of olive oil (depending on how much basil you have), and blend it up well in the food processor, then salt & pepper to taste. You can use walnuts or pistachios, and add other herbs as well.

For pasta? I like to use a zucchini, either making angel hair pasta with a spiral slicer or just using a potato peeler lengthwise to turn it into fettuccine. This is a great substitution for pasta- with all the awesome pesto, you won’t miss the starchy regular pasta. And for someone trying to diet, it’s a huge calorie saver. Zero Weight Watchers points! I usually warm mine up in the dehydrator or the oven on the lowest setting for a few minutes first. Yellow or summer squash works, too, or use your pesto as a dressing or dip for veggies.

Last weekend I kept the pesto on the thicker side and stuffed cherry tomatoes with it (just cut of the very top, and scrape out the seeds with the top of a paring knife).

Here is an example of my Guy’s foray into food styling…it’s like a little pesto smiley face! Too cute!




Friday, August 28, 2009

Just like Mama Makes - Raw Eggplant Parmesan


I guess I have always been a little bit of a food snob. By second grade, I was so used to my mom’s spaghetti sauce and also sufficiently food snobby that I literally couldn’t eat anyone else’s mom’s sauce. I can recall once actually gagging on it, and my friend’s mom making me a sandwich (which was very sweet – I’m sure she though I was a total brat).

My mom learned the tricks of the sauce trade from my dad’s mom, and when I left to go to my first apartment after college, she copied all of my favorite recipes, including the sauce, down in a little notebook. My sauce has never been quite as good as hers – possibly because I try to eat it too soon, before letting it mellow sufficiently, possibly because she left out an important ingredient, not wanting to give me the keys to the shop just yet. Anyway, the lady makes a mean sauce, and it’s especially killer on her eggplant parmesan.

But traditional eggplant parmesan? Not so raw. And it relies on lots of cheese. (On our first date, my Guy likes to recall, I asked him “What’s the point of cheese?” Hey, he can’t say he didn’t know what he was getting into!)

So I crafted my own raw eggplant parm recipe, all raw, baby! Here it is:

Your first step is to peel the eggplant (one is good for two people, use more and double the “mozzarella” cheese recipe if you have a bigger crowd), slice it into thin slices -1/4 inch is good. Lay them on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and let them sit for an hour or so, then flip them and do the same thing on the other side. My mom never does this with hers, but my nana does, to take some of the bitterness out. It might take a while, but, hey – this is homemade Italian cooking, folks!

Sauce:

1 ½ cups sundried tomatoes, chopped and soaked for at least an hour (or not, if you don’t time)

1 ½ cups tomatoes, chopped, with seeds and all

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped green bell pepper

1 big clove of garlic

½-1 cup of water, depending on how juicy your tomatoes are (use the soaking liquid from your sundrieds, if you can)

Throw the sundried tomatoes in the food processor first, with some of the regular tomatoes, to get them smoothed out, like tomato paste, and then put most of the ingredients in the blender. I put the onions and peppers in last, and just gave them a little whirl, so they were still in teensy chunks, not totally blended. Salt & pepper to taste. Make the sauce a day ahead if you can, and refrigerate until a couple hours before you use it.

Breading:

½ cup ground flax seeds

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

½ cup walnuts

½-1 teaspoon oregano (depending on how much you like)

Dash of black pepper & salt

Grind it all up, and then brush the sides of the (dried) eggplant slices with a little olive oil (if you don’t have a nifty pastry brush, do like I did and use a paper towel). Pour the breading into a plate, and press onto the eggplant slices. You can skip the breading if you like – I experimented, and it was still yummy. Put ‘em in the oven on the lowest temp with the door open, or put them in the dehydrator on mesh screens at 105 (I tried both ways, as well). It took mine about 2-2 ½ hours to get soft and yummy, either method.

While you are waiting for the eggplant to “cook” make your cheeses…

Parmesan:

½ cup pine nuts

¼ cup nutritional yeast

3 tablespoons lemon (use only one if you want your cheese really dry and crumbly)

½ teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper

Food process it. I was a nerd and spread mine out on a teflex dehydrator sheet to make it a little crispy. You can just crumble yours on top.

Mozzarella:

1 cup of cashews, soaked an hour or two

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (there’s a lot of nutritional yeast in this recipe, I know…if you think it is weird or aren’t near a health food store that has it, you can skip it. It imparts a cheesy flavor, but this will still be yummy without it.)

3 tablespoons lemon

¼ teaspoon salt

1-2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons oil

Process to your heart’s content. I like mine smooth, so I used 2 tablespoons of water and processed a lot. If you like it more like ricotta, do less water and less whirling.

Assemble it all together! I made little individual piles, layering eggplant, cheese, sauce, eggplant, cheese, sauce, eggplant, more sauce, crumbled parmesan on top. I put it back in the dehydrator for a few minutes so all the parts could make friends and get warm together.

(Almost) just like Mama makes!

I served mine with spinach marinated for several hours in lemon, a few tablespoons of olive oil, diced garlic, and salt and pepper..deeeelish.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

No, I Don't Eat Sushi...What's Up with Raw Food


So what’s this whole raw thing about, anyway? I made a raw meal the other night for a group of friends, and naturally had to explain the premise of my wild and crazy “diet.” The meal was more or less the lasagna recipe from “Raw Food Real World” by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis, a big salad courtesy of my friend James, as well as my own made-up brownies, and everyone really enjoyed it (the lasagna pictured is my very adorable attempt). The lasagna was actually the first consciously raw meal I had, at Kenney & Melngailis’ restaurant in New York, and although I loved it and noticed that I felt totally great afterwards, it took me a few years to come back around to the raw food world.

I explain my choice like this: First off, there are lots of studies out there showing that animal products – meat and dairy – are linked to cancer and other diseases, so there’s the case for going vegan. (In addition to the fact that most animals raised for food are hopped up on antibiotics and weird hormones, and treated poorly…I’m not militant about animal rights, and I make my nutritional decisions for my own health, but the food chain is seriously messed up.) So why not just go vegan, and live it up on french fries, Wonder Bread, and soy “frankenfood”?

Cooking food – in the case of what’s vegan and raw naturally, that means veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds – above a certain temperature…112 or 114 or 118, depending on what you are reading…destroys enzymes in the food. That means your body has to use its own enzyme store and energy to breakdown the foods, rather than saving them up for healing itself. Raw foods are therefore easier to digest. Nutrients are also depleted at higher temps, meaning that you have to eat MORE cooked food to get everything you body needs. I started out eating raw because I was curious – and have wound up sticking with it because of how great I feel doing it. I sleep better, feel a constant “buzz” of energy, and never worry about what I’m eating, as long as it is raw. My relationship with food has changed…I eat raw treats with no guilt, because I know that even my “ice cream” and brownies are packed with nutrition! And people say you live longer and look younger on raw food…I’ll keep you posted!

But here’s a confession: I do “cheat.” For example: I end up eating cooked veggies a couple times a week, if they are in a salad I want to order at a restaurant, or if there’s simply not much else available and I’m starving. I tried my brother’s cheesesteak in Philly this summer – totally not worth it. I had a little bit of lobster with my family. That WAS pretty tasty, and I washed it down with a ton of salad, and didn’t notice any difference. On a week long vacation, I cheated a lot – staying mostly vegan, but eating bread and pasta and junk, and guess what? I gained weight and got headaches and felt awful, like a food hangover.

The point is this: Eat your veggies (and fruits, and some nuts and seeds), and eat MORE RAW! If you won’t go “cold turkey” all-raw, all the time, make an effort to do it most of the time. You’ll feel great!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Real Men Make Gazpacho

The steamy hot weather lately has been enough to wilt even this hearty flower, so light, cool food has been the name of the game. My Handsome Guy and I have made gazpacho three times within a week, inspired by the gorgeous tomatoes at local farmstands – even the “ugly” ones are pretty! Handsome has become the expert, and we’ve narrowed it down to a pretty good recipe, I think. ALL raw, great way to get your veggies! Really traditional gazpacho has bread in it, but we 86ed that and some of the fussier steps like seeding the cukes and straining out the chunks. The blender does a pretty good job with both. Here’s the recipe we used tonight:

4 huge tomatoes – squeeze out the seeds over a strainer with a bowl underneath, to save the juice

2 big cucumbers (American or English – we don’t discriminate)

½ to ¾ of a large red onion, depending on how much you like

1 green bell pepper

1 big clove of garlic, diced

3 tablespoons fresh cilantro

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp cumin

¼ cup vinegar (red wine this time, but we tried apple cider the other day and that was great, too)

¼ cup olive oil

Chop everything up, combine in a bowl, give it a good stir, and if you can, let it hang out for an hour or so. It helps if you dance around the kitchen to the Gypsy Kings while you do the dishes, we’ve found. Then blend it all up – you’ll probably need to do it in two shifts. Add half a cup of water, if you need to to get the blender going, but we’ve found the veggies to be plenty juicy, and haven’t added much water. Fancy recipes call for you to strain out the solids at this point, but we aren’t afraid of a little fiber. (Please, no gas-pacho jokes.) Let it chill for a few hours in the fridge (or not). It’ll be even better for lunch tomorrow! We garnished with some extra veggies and avocado.