Sunday, September 30, 2007

Berry Good, Indeed!
Starting the morning off with a blend of fresh and frozen fruits is a berry good choice.

The Raw Divas recently posted a smoothie combination, sent in by Keely Bush, that consisted of apple juice, dark cherries, blueberries and frozen banana. Keely calls it a BBC. (Blueberries, Bananas and Cherries). Without having to change the name, I simply substituted blackberries for the blueberries. The smoothie pictured above is equally delicious. But do try Keely's combo, too.

This glass is filled with vibrant color, piquant flavor and super nutrition and like most fruit smoothies, lends itself easily to many variations. For instance, Keely used apple juice in her rendition, I used coconut water yesterday and today, I used a cup of pomegranate juice. Varying the choice of berries provides the body with a wider array of nutrients, too.

One cup of liquid (choice of juices or even filtered water)
one banana (I used unfrozen - but frozen would be great, too)
1/2 cup of frozen sweet black cherries
1/2 cup of frozen blackberries
1/4 cup dried Goji berries (optional)

This makes one generous serving. Increase the amounts accordingly to accommodate more servings.
Getting a jump start on the day with a quick and easy to prepare fruit smoothie is one of the best ways to start on the path to a healthier lifestyle. Adding a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to each subsequent meal during the day will not only improve our overall energy level but will effortlessly allow us to cut back on processed treats, empty calories and junk food, helping the body do what it was intended to do: provide vibrant health while healing itself.

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

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tropical Delight

This is another taste teaser! A blend of tropical flavors, each great on its own, but in combination they reach a whole new plateau.

I started with the juice from two, freshly squeezed Valencia oranges, added a fresh banana for body, not to mention the potassium, etc. and then added a generous handful of frozen pineapple chunks, a handful of frozen mango pieces and topped that off with a handful of dried goji berries.
Notice I don't get carried away with measuring.
Blend until smooth and creamy, drink and enjoy!
Breakfast or break — this is a super smoothie — simple, fast and filling.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Raw Broccoli Salad
It's a double treat to get such a full complement of vitamins and anti-oxidants from a dish that is so full of flavor.
It's been many years since I've had one of my favorite lite bites from Antonio's in Maitland, which really wasn't quite so light. We'd often stop in the downstairs deli for a quick slice of pizza and a side of one of their wonderful fresh salads. The broccoli salad was my favorite. As well as sporting a sweet yet tangy dressing, the broccoli, pine nuts, raisins and red onions were richly flavored with minced pancetta. It took many attempts at home in the mid-1990's to approximate the taste. It might have been our friend, John, who gave me a clue—sugar in the dressing!
With broccoli on sale this week, my mind and taste memory flew to that wonderful crunchy salad and I began to imagine how I would adapt it as a raw food item. For those who are just vegan, using a soy mayonnaise, thinned with a little rice wine vinegar and a spoonful of sugar is an easy route to go. But for those who would like to move more toward a raw food version, making a batch of almonnaise will get you closer to raw.
The basic salad is chopped broccoli, diced red onion, raisins, sunflower seeds or pine nuts. I tossed in the last of my snack sprouts as they are an addiction for me. They go in and on just about everything I make.
Enriched Almonnaise
- Courtesy of Marilyn Diamond in The American Vegetarian Cookbook from the Fit For Life Kichen
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 - 3/4 cup filtered water
1 tsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp finely minced garlic
3/4 tsp seasoned salt (kelp, etc) or sea salt
1 cup cold pressed olive oil
3 TBS lemon juice
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (Bragg's)
l. Blanch almonds quickly and when cool, slip off skins. Have all ingredients measured and ready to go (mis-en-place).
2. Place almonds in blender or food processor and grind to a fine powder. Add half the water along with the nutritional yeast, garlic and seasoning. Blend well, then add the remaining water and continue blending to form a smooth cream.
3. With blender running on low, remove insert in top and drizzle in the oil in a thin stream until mixture is quite thick.
4. Keep blender running and add lemon juice and vinegar. Blend on low for one minute longer to allow mixture to thicken to desired consistency. Refrigerate tightly sealed; this will keep for 10 days to two weeks in the refrigerator.
I used half of a large head of broccoli. Slice the florets, mince half a medium red onion, add a generous handful of raisins, and a 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds. This was heavy on the onion. A half onion is probably enough for a whole head of broccoli. Play it by ear according to your taste. Again, this is a forgiving combination and a little more or a little less of anything won't matter a bit. I made this with 1/2 cup of almonnaise thinned down with 2 teaspoons of rice wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of raw agave nectar.
If you want to whip this up with store bought mayo: 1/2 cup thinned with 2 teaspoons of vinegar and 1 tsp of sugar will adequately dress a half a head of broccoli. Double the dressing amounts if using a full head of broccoli. This salad does keep well in the fridge for a couple of days before tasting stale and soggy!
Till next time . . . to eat well; eat raw.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Red Rice Salad

Recently, Heidi Swanson posted a fabulous Indonesian red rice salad recipe that she adapted from Robin Asbell's great grain book, New Whole Grains Cookbook.

When I read Heidi's post, along with her dramatic shot of the finished dish (nothing like the one above), I knew it was the perfect vehicle for the package of red Himalayan rice loitering in my staples cupboard. It's such a simple preparation, with common ingredients, that it was a delight to whip together. Heidi cautions to make this when you're not pressed for time as there is some chopping involved, but the chopping isn't that big an endeavor and I found I had the veggies and sauce ingredients ready for the pot in no time at all.

I'm not going to list all of the ingredients, as Heidi has done such a super job of that and her website has the added benefit of allowing you to switch to a print version of the recipe. I strongly urge you to subscribe to her postings as the images alone are magic. But beyond that, Heidi has wonderful treatments for whole foods that really tweak our imaginations when it comes to food prep and she offers simple procedures with good explanations for cooks at all levels.

This recipe calls for soy sauce. I used tamari instead of soy and as I added it to the sauté pan with the coconut milk and molasses, I chuckled to see the bright orange and green of the carrots and beans quickly turn to a very blah shade of brown. It brought to mind the constant moaning and groaning from the food designer in Nevada Verde Barr's fun novel, Last Bite. He seemed to constantly be faced with the challenge of making brown food look good for the TV cameras.

The myriad of flavors and textures in this dish makes it a surefire palate pleaser. Mine has a little extra kick, besides the hot chili pepper, I added the remnants of a little red curry paste that was lingering in the freezer - a scant teaspoon full. It added just the right amount of kick to assure there is nothing blah tasting about this red rice salad.

Till next time . . . keep on cooking.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another Super Smoothie
This jewel-toned beauty with little purple and orange flecks is a nutritional powerhouse of acai berries, blueberries, white peaches, frozen banana and a helping of anti-oxidant superfood.

Spicy Veggie Juice

I didn't know that red mixed with green would give me this odd shade of brown. . . not the most appealing color, is it? This is a riff on V-8 juice - or gazpacho in a glass. Fortunately, it tastes much better than it looks.

I started with a thick, chunky gazpacho. Then blended a couple of cups with a little water and lots of romaine lettuce, and added a dash of Tabasco to the finished veggie drink. This simple Gazpacho mix makes a great chunky tomato sauce to serve with sliced veggies. It's a great cold soup as is, or blended with greens as I did above, it makes a great meal in a glass. The addition of softened sun-dried tomatoes adds a depth of flavor along with a rich mouth feel.
Allowing time for the flavors to marry and the soup to chill adds a lot to the flavor.
This gazpacho recipe will serve two as an entreé or 4 as an appetizer or make three large smoothies blended with greens. Spinach, chard, romaine or kale are all possible options.
Another Take On Gazpacho
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped kirby cuke
1 small onion chopped
2 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup sun-dried tomates, soaked until soft
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup parsley chopped
1 TBS oregano
1 tsp dark mustard
1 tsp agave nectar or honey
juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste
Blend the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, agave, mustard and half the tomatoes in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Add remaining tomatoes, onion, cuke, parsley and oregano and pulse until desired consistency.
Adding fresh, raw, organic fruits and veggies to the daily diet is quick, easy and delicious.
Till next time . . . You know the drill.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Peachy Keen

Okay, that's a term that dates me and many of you have probably never heard anyone say, "peachy keen". But that was the first thing that came to mind when I took the first sip of this morning's smoothie. Everyday is both a new experience and a new experiment as I choose what to toss in the blender for breakfast.

I'm so impressed with the many benefits of drinking fresh coconut water despite the challenge of opening a young coconut. Read about my first efforts here. But then how boring would life be without a few little challenges? If opening a coconut is the extent of the trouble I encounter in life, I'm certainly not going to complain.

Today, with a base of coconut water, I added a handful of frozen mango chunks, a frozen banana, a cut up fresh peach and a handful of goji berries,then gave the old blender a whirl. It took a few seconds with the blender on low to get things going, but as the frozen fruit pieces started breaking down in the coconut water, I slowly increased the speed until a nice whirlpool developed and voila! A peachy keen glass of vibrant nutrition that tastes like an elixir for the gods...or as I imagine an elixir for the gods should taste.

Making a nutritious smoothie is a fun exercise in using what's on hand and a little imagination. Each day I use a different mix of fruit, greens and superfoods to assure a balance for the body and an interesting journey for the taste buds.

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

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Confetti Smoothie

What's a girl to do but improvise when confronted with these results? Instead of posting about my new green smoothie, I called it confetti to account for the little specks of green and red floating throughout. A VitaMix is at the top of my wish list. Meanwhile, I make do with an old Krups workhorse of a blender. It does have some difficulty getting the last bits of green completely disintegrated, or the red, for that matter. But that doesn't affect the taste!

6 oz pomegranate juice

1 Gala apple, cored and quartered

1 Bartlett pear, cored and quartered

1 frozen banana, broken into pieces

1 head of Romaine, chopped before adding.

The result is a subtly sweet, light green, rich smoothie, with the delicate pear flavor dominating.

Using a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables offers a wider selection of nutrients for our bodies to use in maintaining our health. Branch out, be adventurous, have some fun!

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


Looking for a good book? These entertained me last month.

Edna Buchanan . . . . . . . . . . Love Kills

Art Corriveau . . . . . . . . Housewrights

Patricia Volk . . . . . . . . . To My Dearest Friends

Maeve Binchy . . . . . . . . Scarlet Feathers

Michael Palmer . . . . . . . . The Fifth Vial

Jacqueline Mitchard . . . . . . . Still Summer

Laura Lippman . . . . . . . . Baltimore Blues

Faye Kellerman . . . . . . . . Burnt House


Monday, September 10, 2007

Not Quite Raw; Slightly Cooked

Here's a quick and easy vegan stir-fry with a healthy helping of quinoa and a piquant tahini dressing with a hidden surprise, a generous dash of ground chipotle.

This is particularly quick and easy with a little advance prep, yet it's a snap to prep the veggies and whisk up the dressing while the quinoa cooks. (30 minutes).

Wash and prep the veggies while the grain cooks. To serve two: half a large sweet onion, sliced; half a large red bell pepper; 2 small yellow squash, sliced; 2 small zucchini, sliced; a generous handful of snow peas. (Double to serve 4, etc). This is a very flexible dish. Sauté veggies in a little olive oil. Start with the onions and red pepper. Sauté for a couple of minutes, lightly salt and pepper, add zucchini and yellow squash, stir fry for 3 - 4 minutes, add a splash of tamari and continue turning and cooking for another 2 minutes, add snow peas and continue stir-frying for a two or three minutes. Veggies should be crisp tender, not soggy and overdone. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add some minced fresh herbs. Basil is nice, but cilantro, oregano or thyme would be just as nice. Or be adventurous and make an herb blend.

In a small bowl whisk up a little tahini dressing: 1/4 cup organic raw tahini; 1/4 cup warm water; 2 TBS fresh lemon juice; 1 clove minced garlic, salt to taste and a generous pinch of cayenne or ground chipotle. (This makes ample dressing for 2 servings - double up on the quantities to serve more).

The amazing queen of grains — quinoa. One cup, rinsed and added to 1 1/2 cups of boiling water with a pinch of salt. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until water is absorbed and little tails emerge from each grain. Approximately 25 - 30 minutes.

To serve, place a generous helping of quinoa in center of dish, surround with a few large spoonsful of crisp, tender veggies, add a dollop of dressing and a little minced fresh basil. Pass additional dressing at the table. Enjoy a simple, yet delicious and nutritious one dish meal.

A fresh green salad for a starter, a lively little merlot to accompany, and this meal is a staple to add to the 'meals in a hurry' file.

Till next time . . . keep on cooking!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Salad Days

Papaya and Spinach

Heaps of green with vibrant color from fresh fruits and vegetables makes for a wonderful lunch or dinner salad. With a spirit of adventure, I've been enjoying a myriad of flavors and textures in my salad bowl by randomly choosing a wide variety of fresh, raw food.

Ten Ingredients In A Bowl

What are all those dark flecks? Sea Seasonings! Most of us have grown accustomed to a salty flavoring on our food. Seaweeds provide both the iodine we need and the salty taste we desire, without much sodium. Sprinkle on the nutritional benefits of sea vegetables, skip the table salt and enjoy another layer of flavor.

This is a tasty blend of organic dulse, laver and sea lettuce, harvested from the ocean off the coast of Maine. Read more about these sea vegetables and the folks who bring this great product to you.

Okay, so what's in those salads? The top one is a great bowl filled with green leaf lettuce, baby spinach, papaya, vidalia onions, cucumber, red bell pepper, raisins, sunflower seeds, and snack sprouts. It's dressed with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of apple cider vinegar.

The bottom salad contains, green leaf lettuce, broccoli, fresh basil leaves, cuke, sweet onion, avocado, mango, peppadew peppers*, sunflower seeds and a generous sprinkling of the Maine Coast Triple Blend Flakes described above. There is no dressing on this salad except for the juice that I could wring out from the flesh surrounding the mango pit. Allowing the salad to sit and wilt a bit, provided a nice juicy meal without added dressing. A light dressing with a citrus note would be a lovely addition, though.

* I cheated. The Peppadews are not fresh, they're processed with sugar and vinegar, and came in a jar! But there's flexibility in the raw food lifestyle — certainly in my version of it!

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

Monday, September 03, 2007

Peach Melba

The raw food lifestyle isn't just about green smoothies. This morning I blended a fabulous combination that I immediately knew I wanted to share, as it has such great nutritional value but is a super taste treat as well.
I bought a young Thai coconut for the first time. Getting it open was quite a challenge. Without the aid of a cleaver, hatchet or machete, I found myself whacking away at it with my 8" chef's knife. Scary proposition. I worried I'd slip and amputate a digit or two or worse yet, harm my favorite knife!
I was trying to follow the directions for opening a white coconut from Markus Rothkranz's site, I just didn't have the right tool.

Nonetheless, determination prevailed! I did get the top off, poured the coconut water into the blender and then when I couldn't get to the meat by cleaving the coconut in two, I resorted to a hammer! You know the old adage, "where there's a will, there's a way".

I was eager to get to the coconut water and use that as a base for my morning smoothie. According to the information on Markus' website, coconut water is identical to human blood plasma. It has strong anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-yeast and anti-fungal properties. Along with the coconut water, I scooped out the small amount of soft white flesh and tossed that into the blender, too. I decided on a simple blend of banana, peaches, and frozen raspberries. Delicious!

Peach Melba Smoothie

Blend until smooth:

8 oz fresh coconut water (and coconut meat)

1 frozen banana

2 ripe freestone peaches

1 cup frozen raspberries

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

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Saturday at the Market
A quick walk through the Winter Park Farmers Market produced a few nice images. Unfortunately, it's another market with lots of plants, some cheese and bread, a few sweets, street food vendors, and many veggies that looked like refugees from the supermarket.
But there were a few nice choices to be had.
Fragrant Herbs

Lovely Sentiment!

Muscadines, the southern grapes with character!

Sweet and Juicy - Summer Favorites

Just saying . . .
Till next time . . .