Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thank Goodness for the Big Salad!

It is hard to believe that is is back-to-school time, and still so darn warm on the East Coast!! Hurricane Earl will be taking care of that in just a few days for us, but in the meantime, not only is it too hot to slave over a stove (if you are one of the crazy nuts still cooking your food) but it is too hot to even think about standing around the kitchen, chopping and blending and creating raw food meals!
Thank goodness for hearty salad, perfect for hot summer nights, especially when there's amazing produce in season. Elaine on Seinfeld was onto something with her Big Salad!
One of my favorite big summery salads uses sweet, local corn and local peaches...juicy, sweet and salty all at once, satisfying yet not too filling...and quick and easy to make!
Here it is, in the giant salad bowl my mother-in-law gave us as an engagement gift. We use it every day!
Here's what I throw together in my Big, Fat Local Summer Salad
A huge bowl full of salad greens (soft and juicy red leaf and green leaf work great, as do baby greens)
2 ears of corn, sliced off the cob
2 peaches, cubed
2 handfuls of walnuts, chopped (I like to sprinkle a little salt over them, before I chop, so it gets in the nooks and crannies)
Handful of dried or fresh cherries, chopped (chop with the walnuts & sprinkle of salt if using dried, for an assured salty-sweet contrast)
Combine ingredients in a giant bowl, and dress with:
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste (maybe 1/8-1/4 tsp of salt, and several cracks of fresh pepper)
Teaspoon or so of raw agave nectar, if you are so inclined
A tiny bit of minced shallot or onion, or a dash of onion powder, also optional
Whisk dressing ingredients together in a little bowl, and toss to coat salad.
Raw appetit!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hawaii is for Lovers...and for Lovers of Raw Food!

I'm just back from Hawaii, after a fantastic wedding - complete with a raw entree option and raw wedding cake - and am happy to saw that the 50th state made feasting on living food easy.
Not only were there a slew of little restaurants and natural food stores with raw options, but fresh fruits and veggies were in abundance!
My new husband and I started our trip with a layover in Los Angeles, where we had enough time in the evening for a walk along the beach, and a great meal at Juliano's Planet Raw. We sampled all kinds of things...the jalepeno poppers and coconut curry soup were our favorites, although with a fabulous tasty salad. Of course, we brought a box of chocolate balls back to our hotel for dessert...
In Hawaii, we started out in Kauai, and straight from the airport we went in search of lunch. With the help of the iPod's map/search feature, we were soon on our way to a place with vegan options, figuring it was our best bet...but stumbled upon a raw food restaurant that had opened just a week before! Rainbow Live Food is in the same strip as Java Kai and the Mermaid Cafe in Kapa'a, located in the back of the building. We had delicious live burgers, wraps and falafel on our several trips there...and some fantastic smoothies. While we were eating lunch one day, a supplier brought in a box of avocados the size of dinosaur eggs! We were so grateful to have been drawn to the restaurant, especially since it had just opened.
Breakfasts at our gorgeous hotel consisted of TONS of amazing fruit...melons, citrus fruit, mango, and papaya, and of course sweet, perfectly ripe pineapple.
In Maui, we were staying at a condo, and therefore had our own kitchen to prepare food...woo hoo! On our first night there, we hit a Safeway, which had mangos from Mexico and greens of California...kind of a let down, since we'd really been hoping for some local produce.
We headed to the Whole Foods in Maui, though, and got tons of local kale and lettuce, local tomatoes, mangoes, avocados, etc...and of course, local pineapples. Even though pineapples are said to be "picked ripe" when you buy them on the mainland...the pineapples in Hawaii were so much more golden and sweet...much less acidic...I have to think they are picked a little riper when they don't have to be flown halfway around the world before you eat them. Once the workweek rolled around, there were a lot of farmer's markets to buy produce as well. The mangoes we found at Whole Foods were so incredible...much more interesting, intense, complex flavors than mangoes in the grocery store in the northeast...that we tracked down the farmstand for the orchard they came from, Yee's, and bought almost a dozen! Like everything in Hawaii, the mangoes were not cheap, but they were all ripe and incredibly delicious.
We also came across Joy's Place, a natural foods cafe and deli in Kihei on Maui, and were thrilled to find raw options there as well...in Paia, the Manna Natural Food store had raw entrees and desserts, and plenty of amazing produce, and some raw "junk food" like crackers and cookies as well. I wish we lived closer to this place...it looked smaller from the outside, but it went on forever inside, and had everything you could want.
On the Big Island, we survived with the help of a few picnics we foraged for at the Island Nautrals chain of health food stores. We visited three on the Big Island (there's at least one on Maui as well). They have some raw entrees and dessert options, depending on the location, as well as a big salad bar and snacks, and a juice/smoothie bar.
And of course, the coconuts are literally falling off the trees in Hawaii! Lop the top off, and you'e got the most refreshing drink. We convinced the restaurant to hack into the coconuts above for us, so we could scrape out the meat once we finished the coconut water, and I made a dressing with it one day, and added it to a smoothie the next.
Of course, we did our share of sightseeing, swimming, snorkeling, etc. while we were there...and as great as Hawaii was for our bellies, it was even more beautiful for our eyes. Nature's beauty - and fury, as we witnessed while lava flowed, hissing and steaming, into the ocean only 20 or 30 feet away - was fully apparent in Hawaii, and it reminded us that we are just guests on this incredible planet.