Friday, December 25, 2009

Great Green Soup

Christmas day dawned dark and wet. While it wasn't particularly cold in Orlando, the gray sky and pouring rain made one think it was certainly soup weather.
In keeping with the plan to include more greens in my diet, not just green juices and green smoothies, it seemed a perfect morning to pop on a pot of this great green soup.
While recently browsing through the Real Food Daily cookbook, I was taken with the simple directions for a creamy broccoli soup. The magic result obtained from using a few simple fresh vegetables along with some homemade veggie broth always amazes me.
This soup is a marvelous example of the depth of flavor that develops when broccoli, onion and celery are simmered in a simple veggie broth, with a couple of cups of spinach added at the end of cooking, before the whole pot is pureed with an immersion blender. Check out the instructions that include a nifty roasted red pepper crème. That finishing touch elevates this humble soup from a simple sounding peasant meal to an epicurean delight.
As I was making this soup for one and while I do like leftovers, especially soup, I cut the recipe in half and still ended up with a big pot full of marvelously flavored green soup.
You don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy Ann Gentry's instructive, enlightening and entertaining volume. And if you're in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills or West Hollywood, don't miss the treat of eating at a Real Food Daily restaurant.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons????
In this case, 'life', was my friend, Helen. These marvelous Florida lemons came straight from the tree, free of dyes, wax, fertilizer or pesticides.
Notice, they come in various shapes and sizes, some needing more scrubbing than others. But each is sweet (for a lemon) and filled with juice. I look forward to receiving a supply each year. I love to make lemonade - preferably 'soda lemonade'. A combination of freshly squeezed juice, a bit of sweetener, lots of ice, topped off with a generous pour of seltzer water. Holiday fare!
Another quick food tip: Squeeze the lemons and freeze in ice cube trays. The sections in my trays hold a generous tablespoon full. When the cubes are solid, I move them to a zip lock bag and they sit ready at a moment's notice to supply that TBS of lemon juice that so many live food recipes call for.

For the cook — a couple of cubes, reduced down in a hot sauté pan with a dab of spicy mustard, becomes a lively sauce, adding a nice finishing touch to a chicken breast, fillet of fish or better yet, steamed vegetables.
Stock up while citrus is in season - limes and oranges are great to juice and freeze as well.
Lemon juice is a wonderful salad topper - the dieter's salvation - but beyond that - an epicure's secret ingredient to producing a fabulous finishing touch.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kale and Avocado Salad
Here's a yummy salad that's quick and easy to prepare and another way to use raw kale other than in a green smoothie.

I was listening to a recent podcast with Karen Knowler. She reminded listeners that she has over 300 'how to' videos on YouTube. So this morning I took a look. One of the first ones I ran across was this simple salad - and with two fresh bunches of curly kale in stock - I decided to give it a try for lunch. Karen is thorough in her how to description and in 6 minutes I felt I could duplicate it with no trouble. You can, too!

The image above is what I didn't eat - the bowl was full and I managed to put away two hefty portions. No shy eater, here. But with calorie light fare such as this, one can indulge.

red onion
Kalamata olives
Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt
Lemon juice

Amounts will vary depending on how many you plan to serve. I used about 5 stems of curly kale, one ripe tomato, a slice of red onion, diced, half an avocado and 4 quartered olives. That made two generous servings.

Watch Karen's video for step by step instruction. This is a salad I'll be making often.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Let's Get Composed
Long before our taste buds get involved, our eyes play a big part in meal satisfaction. If something looks appealing, chances are we'll enjoy the food much more. Variety helps, too. Instead of always serving a tossed salad, occasionally it's fun to plate up the ingredients in an attractive fashion. Producing a composed salad.

My friend, Helen, and I have been hooked on roasted beets, avocado and sprout sandwiches. I've mastered whole wheat pita bread this summer, too. A fresh pocket has been the perfect spot to nestle sliced beets, ripe creamy avocado, juicy tomatoes and zesty crisp mixed sprouts — topped off with a drizzle of the very best extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt.

With this in mind, last evening I used the sandwich components along with a portion of mixed wild greens that I'd lightly spritzed with olive oil and drizzled with a bit of Balsamic vinegar.
The result was a lovely plate of colorful food. A treat for the eye as well as the palate.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Taste of Thai
I'd probably be stretching the point to call this raw Pad Thai. The sauce isn't quite the same, but it's reminiscent of Thai dishes with a lovely peanut sauce, a bit spicy, rich and satisfying.

Using my handy dandy Oxo julienne peeler, I made quick work of converting two medium sized zucchini and a long, slim carrot into lovely fettuccine shaped strands. This little peeler is a handy gadget for slivering up broccoli stalks or shaping any hard vegetable into manageable pieces for salads or other dishes.

It makes a lovely pasta or noodle substitute out of daikons, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, etc. Long, hard veggies are perfect for this type of preparation.

I try to plan a bit ahead to allow time for the strands to soak for 30 - 60 minutes in a bath of lightly salted filtered water with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. The lightly acidic water bath helps to soften the strands and also removes a lot of the starch.

After draining the noodles, wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out the excess water. The strands are fine to use as is, or they can be drizzled with a little extra virgin oil oil, a pinch of sea salt and sprinkled with sea vegetables or other herbs before adding to a salad or using as a pasta substitute.

I tossed the noodles with a bit of peanut sauce (see recipe below) then scattered sliced almonds and snipped cilantro over the top. It was so tasty, I had seconds!

Peanut Sauce
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated into mixing bowl
1/2 cup creamy, almond butter
5 TBS mirin
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)
2 TBS tamari
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste)

Grate the ginger into a medium sized bowl. Then add the remainder of the ingredients. Use a whisk or fork to combine well. Store covered in the refrigerator. Great for salads or dipping veggie nori or rice paper wrapped treats.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Hibiscus Tea, Cayenne and Hawthorn Berry
a Heart Healthy Happy Hour

Intrigued by an article I recently read at Natural News, I've been having a mid-afternoon cocktail. A shot of cayenne followed by a cold refreshing glass of Hibiscus tea with lime. Believe me, after the cayenne shot, one needs something cold and refreshing!

Paul Fassa has offered some natural suggestions to support heart health inexpensively.

I had a package of dried hibiscus flowers, also known as Jamaica (pronounced ha-my-ka), waiting to be made into a refreshing iced tea after reading about that at Heidi Swanson's
website, some time ago.

The hibiscus tea alone has some interesting health results. Not only is it an ideal thirst quencher, Dr. Andrew Weil is quoted as saying, "Studies have found that people who drank two cups of Hibiscus daily for four weeks lowered their diastolic blood pressure by 12% - results similar to those for common blood pressure medication."

Better tea than drugs any day!

According to Fassa's article, Hawthorn Berry has been used as a tonic for the heart and cardiovascular system for quite some time. It's a natural source rich in flavonoids that has been used successfully for various cardiovascular disorders, including angina (constricted blood vessels), tachycardia (rapid heart beat), and arrhythmia (irregular heart beat). I've ordered the Hawthorn Berry as a tincture, intending to add it to my daily glasses of Hibiscus tea. It also comes in capsule form or a powder that can be made into a tea. Read the full article at Natural News. Or visit the author's blog at

Cayenne had long been known to have a great reputation for its medicinal properties, particularly as a digestive aid. But I was surprised to read that using cayenne in large doses, Dr. John R. Christopher, nicknamed, Dr. Cayenne, said he had stopped heart attacks in progress.

He recommends one teaspoon of cayenne powder in warm water taken 3 times a day. I'm managing 1/2 tsp mixed with about 2 TBS of warm water, once a day! I believe that doing things gradually is a good way to accustom the mind and body to change. I'll gradually up the quantity. Meanwhile, I'm also a firm believer that "something's better than nothing."

That's my afternoon cocktail. Gone are the days when I celebrated the end of the work day with a Cosmopolitan! 'Twas a lovely lift at the end of a stressful day, so I thought. But alcohol doesn't really provide a lift, on the contrary, it's a depressant! And all those empty calories, not to mention the abuse to my hardworking liver.

Try the Jamaica tea, it's light fruity taste is so refreshing with a splash of lime over ice! Even if you skip the cayenne and hawthorn - it still provides health benefits - something no alcoholic cocktail can offer. You can order organic hibiscus flowers and hawthorn berry from Mountain Rose Herbs, if you can't find them locally.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Savory Smoothies
Lunch or dinner calls for a more grown up version of the standard green smoothie. With a new Blendtec gracing my counter, I've become an absolute smoothie fanatic this week.

Fruit and greens in the morning, blender soups at lunch, fruit ices and iced fruit drinks in the afternoon, you name it, I'm trying it!

Encouraged by the 3HP motor which whispers, "give me your strong and your fibrous - I'll purée them in seconds", I decided to make a savory smoothie for lunch today. With the popular conventional vegetable juice in mind—you know the one that touts 8 veggies—I proceeded to gather fresh produce onto the cutting board.

I actually had 9 items, but I won't count the lone beet green I tossed in on a whim!

This gorgeous green glassful contained eight savory veggies:

yellow squash
sweet onion
beet greens

Precise quantities aren't important with something like this. Use what's on hand, fill up the blender jar, add a little filtered water to get things going, if necessary, and whirl away.

If you're not using a high powered blender, start with the softer veggies and water and purée a bit at a time, adding the greens last. It's a filling lunch - fast prep - and a powerhouse of nutrition.

The blender was a gift to myself. Once I tried it, I wondered why I'd waited so long.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Avocado Soup
Nothing beats the creaminess and sensuous mouth feel of a rich, ripe, fatty avocado, especially when making a raw food soup.

Pushing the window on a green smoothie, I combined directions for a simple Avocado Chipotle Bisque, courtesy of Ani Phyo, published in the Summer issue of Get Fresh magazine, with a heaping helping of dark green romaine leaves.

The result? A thick, creamy richly spiced bowl of refreshing bisque, without a drop of dairy.
A real stick-to-your ribs live food lunch.

To serve 4 (or two very hungry people):

2 medium avocados, diced (2 cups)
1 TBS olive oil, hemp oil, or avocado oil
1/4 cup lime juice
2 TBS white miso paste
1 1/2 Tsp minced fresh rosemary or 2/3tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp chipotle powder

1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup diced orange or yellow bell pepper

Blend all bisque ingredients with 3 1/2 cups of water until smooth. Divide among 4 bowls and top each serving with 2 Tbs diced tomatoes and 2 Tbs diced bell pepper.

I added 6 big dark leaves of romaine to the mix and found I loved the thick, creamy texture. Eating my green smoothie in a bowl with a spoon provided a satisfying lunch experience.
I divided the ingredient list in half to make two generous bowls of soup. A thinner soup or a drinkable green smoothie needs just a little more water to achieve the desired consistency.

Ani mentions in her headnotes that a pinch of sea salt can be used in place of the miso and that the bisque will keep for one day in the fridge.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stuffed Marinated Mushrooms

I follow Kevin and AnnMarie Gianni's Renegade Health Show each week. It's a great way to gain additional knowledge and insight into the raw food lifestyle by being exposed to many diverse platforms that make up the raw food community. Kevin shares his quest for the healthiest lifestyle through entertaining and insightful interviews with many prominent, health conscious leaders. It's a casual armchair learning experience.

While Kevin and AnnMarie tour the country in their green* motor home, affectionately called, the Kale Whale, we travel vicariously, catching glimpses of the countryside as well as keeping up with what's happening in the raw food world.

Hats off and thanks, Kev and AnnMarie, for delivering a great show daily— come rain or shine; ice or snow!
* I believe the motor home runs on vegetable oil.

Recently, the Giannis visited with Shivie from Team Raw. Shivie graciously shared her recipe for Stuffed Marinated Mushrooms. The walnut/sunflower seed pâté really appealed to me. I was determined to give this a go at the first opportunity. You can watch Shivie make this dish on YouTube, but I'll post the recipe. It's an impressive dish to make for company or an easy dish to bring to a potluck dinner. Or you can do as I did, make a smaller portion to treat yourself. I used 10 mushroom caps to Shivie's suggested 20 and cut down on the portions for the filling accordingly.

I just had to dabble with adding a little sundried tomato and a generous pinch of cayenne to the pâté. That really made it sing! The filling is a marvelous addition to a raw food repertoire. Use it on crackers or as a dip with crudites, as a layer in a nori roll. Endless possibilities, yummy flavor and it's bursting with nutrients.

We had the stuffed mushrooms for lunch served on a bed of shredded salad—a combination of romaine, red cabbage and sweet onion—dressed with a little olive oil and a bit of sweet zinfandel vinegar. The crisp sweet and sour, colorful salad was a great foil for the rich, nutty, brown stuffed caps.

Stuffed Marinated Mushrooms
- adapted from Shivie of the Raw Team

20 Crimini mushrooms, stems removed and saved for filling.

2 tsp tamari
2 tsp lemon juice

Clean mushrooms and add them to marinade in a bowl with a cover. Marinate for 20 minutes or up to overnight. (The longer they are exposed to the acid from the marinade the more they will soften.)


1 cup mushroom stems
1 1/2 cups soaked sunflower seeds
1/2 cup soaked walnuts
1 clove garlic
2 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

(I added 2 big pieces of soaked sundried tomatoes and 1/8 tsp of cayenne) jw

Place all ingredients in a food processor with an S blade. Process until filling is well combined and has a smooth consistency. (I found I had to add some liquid. I used a bit of the soaking water from the sundried tomatoes to achieve the right consistency) jw

Brazil Nut Parmesan
1 cup Brazil nuts
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in food processor and process until fluffy. (Be careful not to over-process.) jw

I didn't make the Brazil Nut Parmesan to sprinkle on top of the mushrooms. But it certainly would be an elegant finishing touch.

Check out the Renegade Health Show and Team Raw for more ideas and great information.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Raw Tomato Soup
The summer issue of Get Fresh magazine features some wonderful blender soups, courtesy of Ani Phyo.
Armed with an abundance of perfectly ripe, organic, Campari tomatoes, and after a busy day of running around in the Florida heat and humidity, supper time last night seemed the perfect time to give the Essence of Tomato Soup a try.

I'm a big proponent of quick and easy, few ingredients, simple prep type meals. But this tomato soup exceeds all those stipulations by a mile! This easily could qualify as another five minute meal! Actually, after the minute of so of dicing, then blending, I stood there thinking, "is that it?" wondering if I'd forgotten something.

4 cups diced, ripe tomatoes, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs. agave nectar (I used 1 tsp)
1/2 cup basil, sliced into strips (chiffonade)
2 cups water
Blend 3 cups tomatoes, oil, agave nectar, and 2 cups water in blender until smooth.
Pour soup into 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1/4 cup Diced tomatoes and 2 Tbs. basil.

With a fresh batch of spicy kale chips, fresh from the dehydrator, I couldn't resist having a few as zingy accompaniment along with a ruby red glass of mellow Malbec.

So simple; so good!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rainbow Salad
Using a variety of deep colors on our plates is an easy guide to ensuring we're getting a wide variety of nutrients. This luncheon salad provides a mix of leafy greens, seeds, a bit of cruciferous, a sprinkle of sea vegetables, legumes, aromatics, as well as a sweet touch. With the dressing, a total of 10 ingredients. Make your salads a meal unto themselves. You're only limited by your imagination and the contents of the refrigerator!

I used small amounts of everything — this was lunch for one. Increase amounts to meet your needs. Salads don't require precise measurements or specific ingredients. Try to include dark leafy greens, aromatics, a vegetable or two, a starch, a bit of sea vegetables and either nuts or seeds. Not only is this a delicious plateful, it's filled with vitamins, minerals, protein and phytonutrients. But the bottom line is, it tastes wonderful.

Rainbow Salad
4 dark Romaine leaves
3 1/4" slices of red cabbage, chopped
1/4 large, sweet red bell pepper, slivered
2 thin slices of vidalia onion - or to taste
1/4 cup chick peas
4-5 sliced baby portabella mushrooms
2 TBS sunflower seeds
1 TBS golden raisins
Generous sprinkle of dulse and kelp flakes
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar (or lemon juice or apple cider vinegar)
Toss it all together and enjoy!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Banana — Bok Choy Smoothie

Wow, is this a neat taste treat!

With a fridge full of fresh greens, I almost had to go 'eeney, meany, miney moe' to choose which crisp, big, dark leafy green would have the place of honor in my morning smoothie.

Look who won!

For a rich, creamy drink, I've found using a combination of fresh and frozen bananas along with a little water, makes a great base for a green smoothie. Not too sweet, yet sweet enough to offset the sharper taste of dark leafy greens.

For a 12 oz drink, I used:
One large fresh banana
One frozen banana
8 oz of filtered water
3 - 4 large leaves from the top of a bunch of bok choy
(save the crisp white bottoms to toss in a salad)

Simple and satisfying !

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Smoothie In A Bowl / Salad In A Smoothie?
For breakfast I had a fruit, berries, and greens smoothie. It was light, delicious, quick and easy.

1 cup filtered water
1 cup blueberries
1 ripe, juicy mango
4 large, dark Romaine leaves
All blended until thick and smooth.
When I opened the fridge at lunch time, I was inspired to use the same basic components to make a big bowl of salad with a couple of additions.

6 dark outer leaves of Romaine
4 lighter inner crispy leaves
1 cup of blueberries
1 diced ripe, juicy mango
2 thin slices of sweet Vidalia onion
Tbs sunflower seeds
1 Tbs raisins
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
pinch of sea salt
As I crunched my way through this refreshing fruit-based salad, I thought how simple it would be to convert salads to a whole new range of interesting smoothies and smoothies to a vast variety of salads.
A little imagination can turn raw food mealtimes into an adventure. One that not only provides super nutrition, but has a three-fold benefit:
• Enhances our creativity.
• Offers great mealtime diversity.
• Encourages us to use what's on hand.

As I write this, my taste buds tingle thinking about adding a frozen banana to the smoothie and a sliced, fresh banana to the salad. Ah! Endless possibilities . . . let your imagination run rampart!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Zucchini Pasta with Pesto

I've been vying with the snails for first dibs on the basil leaves lately. I won out this week. The little pot on the patio sported lovely big green basil leaves just begging to be plucked and put to good use. A quick whirl in my mini-processor produced a generous portion of vibrant green sauce to coat the zucchini pasta.

I have a simple Oxo julienne peeler—a $6 investment—that works perfectly for making fettuccine type shards of cukes, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, daikon, any long hard vegetable. No need to invest in a fancy spiral cutter, this works perfectly.

I soak the strands of raw veggie in lightly salted water for upwards of an hour, if time permits. It helps to soften them and make them more spaghetti-like. But soaking isn't absolutely necessary.

I've found that squeezing the veggie pieces dry, in a clean kitchen towel after draining them, helps the sauce adhere and prevents watering it down.

I made a simple pesto:

1/2 cup pine nuts

1 cup fresh basil leaves

3 cloves garlic

juice from 1/2 lemon

1 Tbs white miso

1/4 olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

Whirl it all to a lovely bright green paste in the food processor. Thin with a bit more lemon juice, if needed.

I garnished the dish with a diced tomato that had been sprinkled with lemon zest and 4-5 minced calamata olives. Then topped it all off with some crumbled, spicy kale chips. The kale chips are a great snack and a super addition to add zing to a meal - a tale for another day!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Mango—Avocado Rolls
Browsing through the latest issue of Vegetarian Times, I ran across a great recipe for a rice paper wrap. The VT version calls for vegan cream cheese and a couple of other ingredients that I don't use or didn't have on hand. But I did have half an avocado left from lunch, a big ripe juicy mango on the counter and a fresh batch of mixed sprouts. And, of course, a package of rice paper wrappers. Within minutes, I had minced some sweet onion, a little bit of jalepeño, a slice of red bell pepper, diced the avocado, and mixed it all together with the juice from half a lime along with a little lime zest. An improvised guacamole that was just a slight variation from the Vegetarian Times instructions.

Rice paper wrappers are softened with a brief dunk in warm water and then a 30 second rest on the work surface. Once ready, I layered on a generous portion of the avocado mixture, then slices of mango, finishing with a heaping of mixed sprouts.

The wrap is a simple burrito wrap. Lifting the bottom portion of the wrap over the filling, then folding in each side and rolling up to complete. A little practice and it's a snap.

The portions given above were just enough for the three rolls as shown. Another good example of using leftovers or what's at hand. Inexpensive, simple, but absolutely delicious.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Is it a Cracker or a Chip?

Improvising with raw food recipes is another fun-filled benefit of eating foods in their natural state, it's hard to make a mistake.

I've been making various versions of flax crackers since my Excalibur dehydrator arrived on the scene. After the first few times when I followed written recipe directions, I've been experimenting with different herbs and spices, ground flax and whole flax and combinations. This latest version is a mix of almond pulp, from a batch of almond milk, and whole soaked flax seeds. The combination proved a winner with the other flavor additions. They turned out spicy, thin and crispy, a fine stand in for chips, after about 16 hours in the dehydrator.

1 cup flax seeds, after soaking close to 2 cups

1cup almond pulp

4-5 pieces sun-dried tomato, soaked until soft (reserve soaking water)

1 large clove garlic

1/2 cup parsley, minced

2 TBS tamari

juice from one lemon

1 heaping tsp Herbs de Provence

dash of cayenne

pinch of sea salt (taste first - add if needed or desired)

Process all to an even wet paste (thin with tomato soaking water if needed). Spread evenly over 3 - 4 sheets (Teflex or parchment paper) onto dehydrator trays. I spread the mix very thinly, approximately 1/8" thick. Score the batter in desired shapes and sizes with the edge of the offset spatula used for spreading.

Dehydrate at 115° until top side is dry enough to turn over (approx 7 -8 hrs). Turn, remove Teflex or peel off parchment paper, and continue drying on mesh trays at 110° until the desired crispness is achieved (6 - 8 hrs.)

When done, break along perforations, allow to rest a bit at room temperature, to be sure chips are completely dry, before storing in an airtight container. In my experience, these keep very well for a couple of weeks at room temperature.

Great for snacks, perfect for dips, or crumble over a big green salad.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Faux Foie Gras?

Just saying faux foie gras has saliva slithering over my lips and down my chin. In my meat eating days, I was not a liver lover regardless of how it was prepared or by what cachet it was called. But when I scooped out portions of my latest seed pâté, I realized it had the same color and texture as the glamorous, glorious, French favorite, foie gras aka duck liver!

Nut and seed pâtés can be as simple as soaked sunflower seeds, lemon juice and seasonings or as complicated as using expensive nuts, a long list of aromatics, vegetables, herbs and seasonings. Whichever route you go, having a basic bowl of pâté in the fridge is a lifesaver when hunger pangs ping or when one just doesn't feel like fussing with a meal. Slathered on leafy lettuce, stuffed onto cukes, celery stalks or zucchini spears, a pâté fills the bill for quick and easy snacks or light meals providing both taste satisfaction and super satiety.
This latest batch was simply made with:
1 cup soaked, sprouted, inexpensive sunflower seeds
1/2 cup almond pulp (left over from a batch of almond milk) optional
3 soaked sundried tomatoes
1 soaked sundried chipotle
3 thick slices of sweet onion
1 clove of garlic
juice from one lemon
1 TBS tamari
enough soaking water from the tomatoes and chipotle to achieve the desired consistency.

A few pulses in the food processor produces a nice chunky texture, a bit more processing delivers a paste. Mix it to your liking. This simple basic pâté is a great starter recipe and one to have on hand for a 'quick fix'.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Oft Neglected Beet
Jessica Rosen visited us recently, and brought with her the idea for a fabulous sandwich combination—beets and avocado.
One of my favorite sandwich combinations is tomato/avocado/sprouts. Beets and avocado had never occured to me. I think beets are perhaps a vegetable often neglected, avoided or in many cases, even untried. An old-fashioned vegetable in the same category as turnips, parsnips and rutabagas. Something ones grandmother or great-grandmother might have cooked. No beets in sight at the fast food drive in windows, that's for sure.

On the last day of Jess's visit, I joined her and her mother, Helen, for a marvelous impromptu lunch combining it all: tomatoes, avocado, sliced beets, and mixed sprouts served on fat slices of Helen's freshly baked whole wheat, crunchy crusted baguette, drizzled with drops of extra virgin olive oil. This was a big hit and a fun project to eat. Best done family style with the individual components plated separately allowing each diner to stack her own baguette slice. Messy? Oh, yes. But worth every drip and each swipe of the napkin. If you try this, I'd advise using paper napkins. The beet juice is a real stainer.

The memory of that taste treat begged for an encore. With freshly baked whole wheat pita on hand, it was a snap to split one open and layer in juicy slices of red, ripe tomato, a couple of slices of cold, roasted beets, slivers of sliced Haas avocado, all topped with a big handful of freshly grown mixed sprouts. This messy sandwich made a fabulous supper treat.

Either bread choice makes a good sandwich, whether you choose open faced or closed. And the rich flavor combination of beets, avocado and tomato, tossed with a big bowl of dark leafy greens, dressed in a light vinaigrette, would make a super salad for a gluten free feast.

Live it up! Add beets for a new taste treat.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Broccoli in Hoisini Sauce

adapted from Russell James

I suspect most raw foodies are familiar with the creative genius of Russell James,the raw chef who develops some of the most interesting gourmet raw food recipes. On the whole, gourmet raw foods are probably best kept for special treats or when entertaining guests as they do require a bit of planning and a lot of prepping and often, hours and hours of dehydrating.
However, I've found that by adapting a few of the steps, sauces, or other fancier preparations into everyday meals, I can add a whole new dimension to simple raw foods.
Russell James has several fabulous raw food prep books and he sends out great blog posts with FREE recipes like this broccoli hoisini. Check out his website and sign up for the blog/newsletter. I guarantee it will give you some great new ideas to expand your raw food repertoire. This broccoli dish is a great example. I've adapted it to serve me for lunch, but I can't wait to follow the complete directions for the original dish. Russell's dish includes instruction for making parsnip "rice" to round out the dish and his broccoli is dehydrated a bit before adding the sauce. That will be a weekend endeavor. Meanwhile, I enjoyed a whole new take on broccoli salad. Thanks Russell, you're a creative recipe genius.
I marinated the broccoli along with sliced button mushrooms and sliced Vidalia onion for a couple of hours at room temperature and then whisked up the sauce to dress it, turning it into a variation on broccoli salad but with a completely different take on the flavorings.
For the original recipe, which is a simple preparation for a great, gourmet raw dish, check out Russell's newsletter. Meanwhile, here's my adaptation.

Ingredients: One head of broccoli, florets only, 8 oz sliced button mushrooms (or mushrooms of choice); half a large Vidalia onion, sliced into half moons. Marinade: 2 TBS lemon juice;3 TBS olive oil; 1 TBS tamari.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Let sit covered at room temperature for an hour or two. Or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sauce: 1/4 cup tahini; 1 tsp lemon juice; 1 tsp agave; 1 tsp apple cider vinegar; 3 tsp tamari; 1 minced clove garlic; 1 small chili without seeds; 1TBS chopped fresh ginger. Blend in high speed blender or whisk thoroughly by hand. Thin with a bit of filtered water until the right consistency.

Mix with broccoli when ready to serve.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Pseudo Samosas

It may be stretching it to call these roll-ups samosas. Where are the potatoes? Where is the crunchy deep fried crust? Where is the zingy green sauce?

A raw foodie will go that extra imaginative mile to call a dish by its favorite cooked food name, I guess. This was a first attempt at capturing the spicy memory of a favorite street food — the simple samosa. Encouraged by similar combinations I've been reading about, particularly in Matthew Kenney's book, Raw Food, Real World, and with a head of cauliflower beckoning to be used, I tossed together this spicy melange of cauliflower, peas, cashews and spices.

Instead of potatoes, peas and a spice mix cradled in a tender whole wheat flour crust, then baked or deep fried, here's a fresh mix of cauliflower and peas processed with a clove of garlic into small bits, then dressed in a sauce evoking the flavor memory of samosas using a tablespoon of garam masala, another of freshly minced ginger, and a generous helping (about 2 tsp) of Penzey's blend of hot curry powder, all puréed together in the blender with 1/2 cup cashews and one cup of filtered water.

I spread the wet mix onto a large dinner plate and placed it in the dehydrator at 115° for about 4 hours. This softened up the cauliflower a bit and also dried out the mixture. The finished dish was moist but not runny.

When dinner time rolled around, I washed three large dark green outer leaves from a head of romaine, sliced out the crunchy stem (don't waste it, nibble on it while proceeding) then sliced each leaf in two along the stem line.

Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on a leaf piece, wrap the skinny tail up over the filling then continue wrapping, much like a burrito fold. I used the peanut dressing I've posted before to accompany the rolls. It was a bit difficult to actually dip the rolls. Using a teaspoon to drizzle the sauce onto the rolls as I ate was much less messy. However you do it, it's fun and pretty tasty!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

More Veggie Sushi
I'm forever learning new tricks which keeps eating fresh and fun. I recently read about spreading a little wasabi paste directly on the sheet of nori before adding ingredients. That really works well. Here is a quick pre-lunch snack I made this morning.

Making a quick roll up is fast and easy after you've done it a few times. The bamboo rolling mat makes a pro out of any novice willing to give it a go. Practice makes perfect. Watching a couple of YouTube video demonstrations certainly helped as well.

I mixed a generous teaspoon of wasabi powder with a little water to a smooth, spreadable consistency. Spread that over the bottom half of the sheet of nori and then topped it with a layer of nut/seed pâté, slivered cucumber, red pepper, avocado and mixed sprouts. A quick roll up, then slice into segments and sprinkle with sesame seeds. No dipping sauce needed.

A few odds and ends become a tasty snack in minutes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ready To Roll
A quick easy lunch or snack. . . another application of that versatile nut/seed pâté posted earlier.
Here it is packed onto a sheet of nori, topped with slivers of red bell pepper, cucumber and mixed sprouts. Any thinly sliced crisp veggie would work well.

Faster than spreading peanut butter and jelly on Wonder bread. Yikes, do people still do that?

Rolling is easy with the aid of a bamboo mat — do it a few times and you'll be a pro. Dampen the edge of the nori with a little water on your finger to seal the roll and voila!

I didn't use a dipping sauce or sesame seeds with this version. But you certainly could.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Light Lunch

A trip to the produce market produced some lovely little deep red and yellow tomatoes. The true color of the red ones, was more of a maroon, not captured by the camera. I longed for some green zebra striped tomatoes but was happy to find these as well as some little orange ones, which I devoured standing over the sink, the tomato in one hand, the salt shaker in the other. Shhh.

I had a bit of nut/seed pâté left in the fridge. It made a nice filling for a big, crisp lettuce leaf along with some mixed sprouts. I included a little sliced avocado with the tomato—one of my favorite combinations.

I chose to lightly drizzle a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar onto the plate as I wanted the fresh flavors of the produce to shine through. I thought a heavier dressing might overpower the delicate, sweet taste of the tomato. I used a generous sprinkle of sea vegetables for the mineral content as well as the aesthetics.

Taking the extra minute or two to plate food attractively adds to the enjoyment and puts a little extra emphasis on each delicious component. Composed salads are a nice change from the ubiquitous tossed salads.

Take another look at this fun plate of food!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Raw Chili Rellanos

With temperatures already in the 90's in Central Florida, what better time to make a transition to raw, whole foods? Tasty, tempting, quick and easy — fruit and vegetables starring at every meal can be as simple as eating a bowl of fruit or a big green salad or as fancy as preparing some gourmet raw recipes.

I chose to make a nut & seed pâté with a Mexican flavor*, then stuffed it into Poblano pepper halves. The stuffed peppers make a great appetizer or a quick fix for lunch or supper, accompanied by a big salad of dark leafy greens, crunchy cabbage and sweet onions.

Or you can expand your raw food kitchen skills and take those Chili Rellanos a step further.

Here they are with a puddle of raw marinara sauce and a scattering of mock cheese. They spent an hour or so in the dehydrator, which softened the raw pepper a bit and warmed up the pâté and sauce. A nice little gourmet touch for guests or as a special treat for ones self.

* following the basic nut and seed pâté recipe in the last post, I added a dried chipotle to soak with the sun-dried tomatoes. Added a half cup of chopped fresh cilantro and a generous pinch of Mexican oregano to the mix for a little change of flavor.
Raw Marinara Sauce
Combine in a blender or food processor: 4-5 plum tomatoes, 2-3 soaked sun-dried tomatoes, a large clove of garlic, a generous helping of fresh parsley and basil (or use 1 TBS dried Italian herbs), a pinch of sea salt, and a teaspoon of agave nectar (optional) to offset any bitterness from the tomatoes. Add enough filtered water to achieve a thick purée. Taste for seasonings, adding more if necessary. Letting the sauce sit for 2 - 4 hours, if time permits, allows the flavors to marry. Or it can be made ahead and refrigerated in a covered container.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nut and Seed Pâté with Raw Veggies
Looking for tasty appetizers or a light lunch?

Save the pulp when you make nut milk and turn it into an interesting pâté— perfect for a dip or use it to stuff lettuce wraps or as the first layer in nori rolls.

After making a quart of almond milk, I had a scant cup of almond pulp. I decided to improvise a little pâte with it and it turned out to be the highlight of a raw veggie meal. I tucked some on fresh cabbage leaves and rolled up, dipped sugar peas in it and slathered sweet red bell pepper strips with a generous helping. Fun to eat with lots of crunch, great zingy flavor and a wide spectrum of nutrition.

1 cup almond pulp (residue from making almond milk)
1 cup raw sunflower seeds (soaked 4 hours)
3-4 sundried tomatoes (soaked until soft)
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 clove garlic
1 - 2 shallots (or substitute green onion)
juice from half a lemon
1 Tbs tamari
pinch of sea salt
pinch of cayenne

Combine all in food processor, scraping down sides to incorporate all into a fine pâté. Thin with more lemon juice or a bit of water if needed to achieve the right consistency.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Live Food Adventures

These aren't your same old same old (so-so) salads.

Eating a diet consisting primarily of live foods can be quite an adventure. Unfortunately, most folks think celery and carrot sticks, with lots of lettuce tossed in, when they hear raw food. On the contrary, with so many professionally trained chefs entering the raw food scene, there are countless fine recipe guides for preparing gourmet raw foods, many mimicking the cooked foods we've grown both accustomed to and addicted to.

Many of the gourmet recipes require quite a bit of prep work, many hours of soaking, dehydrating, etc. and are perhaps best kept for weekends or special occasions. But there are still opportunities to feast on fresh, uncooked ingredients that can be prepared in minutes without resorting to carrot and celery sticks.

I enjoy a big bowl of interesting salad at lunch time most days. Combining an unusual mix based on what's in the fridge. I'll admit, when I shop, and I do shop 2 or 3 times during the week, greens are at the top of my list. Not only do I use dark, leafy greens in a smoothie each morning, but I make green juices 4 to 6 times a week and then I include a variety of different greens in my salad bowl.

Here are a couple of interesting combinations that are quick and easy, inexpensive and nourishing. Not to mention, delicious and thoroughly satisfying.

Cabbage and Green Beans

New green cabbage was in at the produce market and I had some blanched green beans in the fridge. I minced a couple of cauliflower florets, sliced a bit of Vidalia onion and then for added zip I minced up two or three slices of pickled jalepeño pepper. I tossed this all with a generous dollop of Angela Elliot's Satay Sauce from her great little book, Alive in 5.

Cucumber and Arame

adapted from Renegade Health via Donna Gates at Body Ecology
Incorporating sea vegetables into everyday meals isn't something I grew up with. But after reading about this rich source of minerals, I've been experimenting. This salad is a snap to make and a nice side dish, if eating only a big salad isn't your cup of tea.
I pared down the quantities listed to accommodate one person. The full recipe, listed below, will serve 3 to 4 as a side dish.
1.5 oz of Arame
4 cucumbers, peeled and very thinly sliced (I used a mandoline)
2 tsp sea salt
1 red pepper, diced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (raw with the mother)
2 TBS cold-pressed oil - I used olive oil. Hemp or flax oil would be fine, too.
pinch of black pepper

Soak arame for 15 minutes in enough water to cover. Sprinkle sea salt on cucumbers and let set for several minutes to release juices. Discard soaking water from arame. Chop arame and add to cucumbers. Add all other ingredients and toss.
Big thanks to Kevin and AnneMarie Gianni at Renegade Health for showing me how via video, with a salute to Donna Gates at Body Ecology for developing this easy sea vegetable salad.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Arugula and Corn Salad

A trip to the produce market yielded two fresh ears of corn, red leaf lettuce and baby arugula. In a flash they became lunch.

I've become very fond of sautéed corn kernels in coconut oil with a touch of thyme and a bit of sea salt. I love the kernels raw mixed with black beans, too. But I've had this compelling urge for the warm, thyme kissed kernels with just a faint hint of coconut from the organic oil.

I knew I wanted a big green salad for lunch. The bag filled with greens I brought home contained kale, red leaf lettuce, spinach on the stem, arugula and hearts of romaine along with the indulgent two ears of corn. I chose the red leaf lettuce and arugula for lunch. I saved the big outer leaves of the red leaf for juicing and used the crunchy heart for the salad along with a generous couple of hands full of arugula. Half a thinly sliced Vidalia onion and the sautéed corn completed the salad. I gave the bowl a generous sprinkle of sea vegetables, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a spritz of sherry vinegar.

The warm, sweet corn played nicely against the peppery arugula and the crisp, buttery red leaf lettuce tempered it well. It turned out to be a great combination. Another quick, improvised meal with a few fresh ingredients. A great way to eat more raw dark leafy greens.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rapini Al'arrabiata
My mouth watered for a spicy pasta meal. Old habits and food addictions die hard. It was Sunday and there was no pasta in the house. The only noodles I buy are organic buckwheat soba noodles. While they are wonderful, that really wasn't what I had in mind. They always say Asian influence to me. I was in the mood for Southern Italian.
I had a lovely large head of fresh rapini in the fridge. In one of the recent food magazines, I'd read about penne with greens and while the recipe had no red sauce, I thought wanted it all. Greens, pasta and a spicy red sauce.

I will say that the longer I'm careful about what I eat, the easier it is to overcome these sudden food urges. Not only do I like to lead by example, but I've had the daily experience of high energy, clear mind, soft skin, and best of all, vibrant health. Why would I want to undermine all I've achieved?

I made a decision to go with the spicy sauce—ah, yes—a cooked meal. But a vegetarian, whole foods meal. I made an easy sauce,see below. Then lightly steamed the rapini long enough to soften the stems a bit, then removed the lid from the dutch oven and let the water evaporate. I added a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil to the bottom of the pot and let the greens sauté a bit, adding salt and pepper.

I plated the dish with a spoonful of sauce, then a generous heaping of the greens, topped with more sauce and then, my big indulgence, a light grating of Parmesan Regianno.
And I never missed the pasta!

Quick Al'arrabiata: simple sauce that can be used for a variety of dishes. A good one to have in your fast food repertoire.

1 28 oz can Muir Glen Organic diced tomatoes
1 large shallot - minced
1 cloves garlic - minced
1 TBS Italian herbs (or a mix of basil & oregano)
1/2 tsp salt

Sauté the shallot and garlic in a little water to soften. Add tomatoes using just enough water to rinse out the can. Add herbs and salt and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Morning
Mother's Day morning found my kitchen counter covered with extra goodies.
The lovely fresh flower arrangement, courtesy of our Annual Friends of the Library meeting and luncheon. The gift box of flavored vinegars at the far end, a gift from my son and daughter-in-law and not showing, another welcome Mother's Day gift: heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo from my other son and daughter-in-law. You see, they've all got my number. No better gift than fine food stuffs.

With the rising sun brightening my east facing kitchen, I prepared an interesting green smoothie.

All green smoothies appear to look alike, however, they don't necessarily taste alike. This blend is made up of:

1 ripe mango
1 banana
1/2 frozen banana
6 red leaf lettuce leaves
enough filtered water to thin to taste

Delicious, but what should I call it?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Great Green Juice

Despite all my recent postings of cooked foods, I haven't forsaken raw green juices.

Being 'high raw' is not the same as being 100% raw. Being 100% raw is an admirable goal, but the steps along the way need to be gradual and most importantly, sustainable. Adding green smoothies and green juices is a great way to speed us along the road to vibrant health and better eating habits as we gradually free ourselves from food addictions, bad habits and poor food choices that are prevalent in the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Most of my green drinks are smoothies, some fruit with dark leafy greens blended in a high-powered blender. But I do include freshly made juices regularly. A combination of carrot and apple juiced together makes a great mid-afternoon sweet snack. And the green lemonade recipe provided by Natalia Rose in The Raw Food Detox Diet® book is a favorite that I turn to over and over.

Now that I've been making green drinks for almost 2 years, I do experiment a bit. Most times successfully, occasionally the results are not so good. This morning I took an assortment of fresh greens from the fridge that I thought would make a nutritious breakfast and taste good, too. Since it turned out to be a winner, I thought I'd better write down what and how much went into the juicer.
Swamp Water #9
1 heart of romaine
2-3 kale leaves
6 " piece of hot house cuke (or 1 reg cucumber)
generous handful of sunflower sprouts
1 green apple
1 lemon (peel and all)
1" piece of fresh ginger

Juicing adds dimension, variety and a multitude of nutrients to our daily diet.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lentil Burgers
Dehydrated lentil burgers add a new dimension to raw food. While technically still raw, as they haven't been heated over 118° degrees, the crunchy texture provides a satisfying mouth feel.

I followed the easy recipe in Nomi Shannon's Raw Gourmet, which is a simple combination of soaked lentils and sunflower seeds, grated carrots and aromatics. The lentil burgers can be dehydrated by machine or placed in the sun or even 'cooked' in a slightly warm oven.

Fresh and slightly warm from the dehydrator, I had the patty 'taco style'. Red leaf lettuce served as the wrap, enfolding some crumbled lentil patty and fresh salsa.

One large ripe juicy diced tomato, half a diced sweet onion, a minced jalapeño pepper, with a pinch of sea salt and juice from half a lime and minced cilantro to taste, turns out an easy bowl of salsa fresca. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled to serve more.