Friday, August 31, 2007

A Transitional Dish

Several people have commented that they would like to 'try' raw food but as they have to prepare meals for the family, not just themselves, it's too much of a challenge. Here's a full flavored, easy to prepare, salad that makes a great try-it meal. With the cooked beans and a bit of cheese incorporated, this doesn't qualify for inclusion in the raw food lifestyle, but it's a great dish to bridge the gap between cooked food and raw food.

This is the same corn and black bean salad that shows up on my menu at least once a month in the summer. I make a big bowl full and serve it, with some variations, at several meals. This is simply diced onion, red pepper, tomato, jalepeño, fresh corn, off the cob, chopped cilantro, and organic, cooked black beans, served over greens (your choice). The corn and bean salad is dressed with sea salt, the juice from one fresh lime and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (first cold pressed). The salad above covers a bed of soft Bibb lettuce and to add a bit more zing, I topped if off with a few pitted Calamata olives.

To serve this salad to family members who expect a 'real' meal, add some cheese (Chevrè is a good choice) and a crisp crusted loaf of whole wheat bread with olive oil for dipping. If you are trying to incorporate more raw fruit and veggies in your diet, this is a good dish to start with.

Simple, fresh ingredients combined to produce a fast, easy, nutritious meal.

Till next time . . . To Eat Well; Eat Raw!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Going Green

I'll admit, I've had a difficult time with green smoothies. My mentors, Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, and Tera and Amy, The Raw Divas, along with just about everyone in the raw food community, advocate green smoothies as one of the most important 'meals' in a raw foods lifestyle.

Until I made the little number above, I've not been able to palate any of the green combos I've made. The glass above holds blended cantaloupe and organic baby spinach, simply blended in a regular household blender. The ripe cantaloupe cut into chunks and pureéd first and then the washed spinach leaves added and blended.

I found this combination posted on the Raw Divas Sisterhood forum by Shari from Everett, WA. Shari uses cantaloupe and either spinach or romaine for a great green smoothie. While the forum conversations describe the flavor as leaning towards vanilla, I found it just tastes like cantaloupe. Nothing wrong with that.

I highly recommend this combination as a great jumping off spot for making green smoothies a part of your diet. Even if you aren't attempting some portion of the raw food lifestyle, this is a potent fresh drink that will give you mega nutrient value along with increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and to top it all off, it's delicious. I used one half cantaloupe and two big handfuls of baby spinach = 8 oz glass. Try it soon.

To Your Health

Till next time. . . To eat well; eat raw.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Gazpacho Base
What better time to make a batch of piquant, refreshing gazpacho? You don't have to be a raw foodist or a vegetarian to enjoy this delightful cold soup. But if you are a raw foodist and/or a vegan, this simple mix provides some fine meals.

Most gazpacho instructions call for pulverizing or pureeing the veggies, in a food processor or a blender, for the base. Early this summer, I read a different approach developed in the Cook's Illustrated test kitchen, and I decided to give it a go this past weekend. I liked the results of dicing the vegetables instead of pureeing. I did give the bowl a couple of swirls with the immersion blender, to thicken up the juice before placing in the refrigerator, but left most of the diced vegetables in tact.
The recipe from Cook's makes about 3 quarts, 8 - 10 servings. You can easily halve the recipe, but the soup does keep well and the leftovers are just as good as the first time around.Ingredients: 3 ripe medium beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4 inch cubes (about 4 cups)
2 medium red bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into slices then into 1/4 inch cubes (about 2 cups)
2 small cucumbers, peeled and seeded and cut into 1/4 inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1/2 small sweet onion, peeled and minced (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
freshly ground pepper to taste
5 cups tomato juice
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional) or
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional)
8 ice cubes

Directions: Combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, salt, vinegar and pepper in a large (at least 4 quart) non-reactive bowl. Let stand until the vegetables just begin to release their juices, about 5 minutes or so. Stir in the tomato juice *, hot pepper sauce, if using, and ice cubes. Cover tightly and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

To serve: Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and remove and discard any unmelted ice cubes. Serve cold, drizzling each portion with 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil and topping with desired garnishes.
Traditionally, diners garnish gazpacho with more of the same diced vegetables that are in the soup. Additional garnish possibilities include garlic croutons, chopped pitted black olives, or finely diced avocados. With this treatment, so chock full of nicely diced vegetables, I served it as is, without garnishes or olive oil. Serving the soup in chilled bowls adds a nice finishing touch, too.
* I used a quart of Knudsen's organic vegetable juice in place of the tomato juice called for.
With fresh, garden tomatoes coming into season across the country, this is a terrific dish to prepare. Dicing the produce doesn't take much time and the results are worth every minute.
Till next time. . . To eat well; eat raw!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I've been so immersed in the podcasts from the Raw Food World Summit for the past two weeks. Listening to a wide variety of personalities, all with compelling stories to tell of how they became involved with a raw food diet, and how making that change has affected their lives, health and happiness.

This awesome endeavor, gathering so many notable raw food enthusiasts and authorities sharing their insights and experiences, has been an education par excellence and the tuition can't be beat— it was FREE. Hey, I even caught up on all the ironing while I listened! Each speaker brought a different perspective to the table. Indeed, there was something for everyone.

I particularly enjoyed Dr. Doug Graham, and want to look further into his 80/10/10 System. I'm eager to read David Wolfe's books, Eating for Beauty and the Sunfood Diet Success System. Victoria Boutenko's talk was delightful. I'm a subscriber to the Raw Family Newsletter and can highly recommend her book, 12 Steps to Raw Food as a great place to get started.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Mike Adams from NewsTarget. It was Mike who steered me into the raw food scene. I've been a subscriber to his newsletter for quite some time. I appreciate the in-depth investigative reporting on health, drug and food issues. It was great to listen to him on the podcast.

I've been a whole foods, no processed foods, no synthetic chemicals, no artificial anything eater for years, but as I've aged, I've grown fat and sluggish. The high energy, mental clarity and effortless weight loss are just a few of the benefits of eating raw, organic food. The main reason to do it is to reverse or preferably, avoid deadly, debilitating diseases.

The carrot juice above along with this lovely, luscious plate of cukes with a mound of mixed veggies was today's lunch. The slaw is a combination of green and red cabbage, carrots, thinly sliced fennel, a Granny Smith apple cut into matchsticks, a few raisins to sweeten the pot and topped with a couple of tablespoons of snack sprouts. Lots of variety. Great textures. Nothing to bog me down for the afternoon.

Here are the other presenters in the Raw Food Summit podcasts. Do see Angela Stokes fabulous weight loss story. She lost 160 pounds! Dr. Gabriel Cousins is a world-renowned health authority. Happy Oasis is the calmest, most laid-back personality I've ever encountered. Check out The Raw Food Festival she's overseeing. I loved Richard Blackman's presentation and his no-nonsense approach. And there was Dorit, "Celebrating Our Raw Nature", Brendan Frazier, Matt Monarch, Brendan Cobb, Rhio and we wind up with Shazzie tonight.

Raw Food Summit surprised us with a couple of extra treats: Mark Perlmutter spoke about his upcoming documentary film, Raw For 30 Days, which I believe will be screened at the film festival in Osceola County this fall. Check out the trailer. Steve Prussack from Raw Vegan Radio was another bonus speaker. Check out the current episode.

Lots of excitement in the raw food world—lots of wonderful results. Imagine, just going back to eating the way nature intended, such a simple step offering such dramatic results.

Till next time . . . To Eat Well; Eat Raw!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Dinner Salad
Take a close look at all the goodies tucked into this bowl of spinach. The ease of tossing together a great plate of food when eating raw, is one of the highlights of the program for me! Knowing that I'm feeding my body the best possible foods, with it all tasting so great and then having it be so easy, with so little prep work and so little clean-up, is just marvelous. This assumes, of course, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand.
I'm still not 100% raw, and many of my readers certainly aren't even 25% raw, so I'll continue to provide vegetarian cooked foods along with some ideas for increasing the amount of raw food we eat by sharing the meals I make for myself or suggesting places to look for more ideas that comply with being on the path to vibrant health.
Snack Sprouts
This spinach salad has sliced spinach leaves, washed and spun dry. A few thin slices of red onion, a generous helping of snack sprouts, a tablespoon of chia seeds, a cup of fresh blueberries, a couple of tablespoons of raisins, and is dressed with a splash of raw apple cider vinegar(Bragg's) and a very light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Toss well and enjoy. This salad is a perfect canvas for adding mango or pineapple chunks or even some citrus segments. You're only limited by your imagination and what you bought at the produce stand.

Till next time . . . to eat well; eat raw.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Salad in a Wrap
This light combination of tomato, cuke and lettuce has a secret punch. The whole wheat wrap has a light coating of organic, wasabi, soy mayonnaise. Simple, raw veggies make a quick lunch and with a little imagination offer a filling and satisfying meal. The sweet crunch of romaine topped with crisp slices of cucumber and juicy vine-ripened tomatoes becomes a wonderful sandwich filling. Adding a condiment with a bit of bite, brings this simple fare to a whole new level.

Asian Influence
Here's a quick veggie side dish or, in my case, main dinner course, with an oriental twist. Three young yellow squash, sliced, half a large vidalia onion, sliced; one clove of garlic, minced, two heads of Shanghai bok choy, sliced and half a cup of edamame. The veggies are cooked in layers.

In a large skillet, heat 1 TBS olive oil, when shimmering add the sliced onion, when it begins to soften, add the sliced squash and the sliced bottom portion of the tiny bok choy (reserve the soft green tops to cook last). Stir fry the vegetables until the squash and bok choy are fork tender and then toss in the minced garlic, reserved bok choy greens and edamame. Stir fry for 2 - 3 minutes. Finish with a dash of tamari, a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Till next time. . . keep on cooking.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rawsome !

Lunch, with a big bowl of fresh greens, romaine and spinach enhanced with the bite of some thinly sliced red onion and crisp Kirby cucumber, sweetened with diced mango and blueberries, add a bit of crunch with a generous sprinkling of snack sprouts (adzuki, lentil and mung beans) as well as some raw sunflower seeds, then top it all off with crisp, crunchy sunflower greens. Zowee! How good can it get?

I dressed this bowl of raw food with a drizzle of fine extra virgin olive oil and a dash of Bragg's apple cider vinegar. Doing so veers from the discipline of true raw foodists but offers an alternative stage for those of us who want to eat better.

This bowl of green goodies was absolutely delicious—summer at its finest. While fresh, local produce is available, we should indulge at every opportunity. I didn't sprout my own sunflower greens. I purchased a container grown by Glaser Organic Farms in Miami, soil grown in natural sunlight, from Whole Foods.

The more I read and investigate, the more I'm convinced that taking responsibility for our health by what we eat and the lifestyle we choose, is the only way we can achieve vibrant health, avoid or overcome debilitating diseases, and enjoy an active, illness-free old age.

The Raw Food World Summit started 8/7 and continues via podcasts and teleseminars featuring some of the most internationally, notable raw food specialists—a fascinating, educational experience.

I also joined The Raw Divas Sisterhood, a great way to gain more knowledge, to interact with women, globally, who share the same goals: vibrant health, positive attitudes, fit, slim and mentally alert. Look into it!
Just adding more live, raw, organic foods into your daily diet will be a great first step in the right direction. Ironically, not only is it good for you — but it tastes good, too!

Till next time. . . To eat well, eat raw!