Saturday, July 21, 2012

Black Olive and Sun Dried Tomato Almost Tapenade

I've always loved olives. When I was a girl, my parents bought me a gallon of olives one year for Christmas, and I may have eaten them all by New Years.

These days I don't eat olives with quite so much abandon. I usually chop up two or three and include them in my dinner salad.  That was my plan for the half pint of olives I'd bought earlier this week.  But when I pulled them out of the refrigerator yesterday, I suddenly wanted something very, very olivey; something like a tapenade. I didn't have any capers, but I did come up with this tapenade-like spread. And my olive craving was sated.

 Black Olive and Sun Dried Tomato Spread Almost Tapenade Recipe
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, soaked 30 minutes
1/4 cup pitted black olives (I used Kalamata)
1 medium zucchini, cut in chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 large clove garlic, minced
splash apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Put everything except the salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until it's the consistency you want. You might find that it's plenty salty from the olives, so taste it before you add seasonings.  I think this recipe would benefit from some fresh basil if you have any, but it was plenty flavorful without. And of course, if you have capers, they'd be good, too.

Yesterday's Chow (rather than today's, since I made this recipe yesterday)
Smoothie inspired by halvah and chai, with bananas, tahini, vanilla, honey, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Black Bean Friday: I eat black bean soup on Fridays with my playwright friends. Not raw, but good.
Green salad
Almost Tapenade served on an assortment of vegetables and flax crackers.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Raw pesto-inspired sunflower seed pate

Since I began eating a primarily raw diet, I've found there are certain staples I reach for again and again: lots of lettuce, kale, carrots, avocados. These didn't surprise me. But one thing I didn't expect to depend on is sunflower seed pate. It's cheap, it's nutritious, and it's easy to vary. It can form the basis for all sorts of wraps or nori rolls, and it makes a great veggie dip.

A few days ago I made a pesto-inspired sunflower seed pate. Today I spread it over tomato slices, topped it with alfalfa sprouts, and served it with a salad for lunch. So good!

Pesto-Inspired Sunflower Seed Pate
1 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 cup tightly packed basil
1/2 red pepper
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
juice and zest of 1/2 large lemon
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp tamari, Braggs liquid aminos, or nama shoyu
1 date, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil

Put it all in the food processor and process until smooth.  Taste and add salt if necessary. 

Other good food news: it's raspberry season.

I used some of these in a watermelon/basil/raspberry smoothie. What a crazy combo--one I would never have thought to try if I hadn't found the recipe here.  It was unbelievably good. The basil gave it a depth and complexity. I have some basil essential oil, and now I'm tempted to combine it with fruity notes in a soap. 

Today's Chow:
Smoothie with frozen banana, strawberry, chard, avocado cacao.
some raspberries as I picked them
tomato slices topped with sunflower basil pate and sprouts; green salad
watermelon/basil/raspberry smoothie
more green salad
a raspberry/cashew/lemon experiment. If I perfect it, I'll blog it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ice Cream for Breakfast

See this? This was my breakfast.

It's the raw vegan version of ice cream. And if you've never tried it before, you won't believe how good--and easy--it is.

Strawberry Banana Raw Vegan Ice Cream
1 1/2 frozen banana, cut into chunks before freezing
4 fresh strawberries
a little almond milk if necessary for processing

Remove banana from freezer and allow to slightly thaw for ten minutes. Add banana chunks and strawberries to food processor. Process until everything is the consistency of soft serve ice cream, adding a little almond milk if the bananas are still too frozen. (I was impatient, so I needed the almond milk.)

This makes one unbelievably delicious serving. I topped mine with dried coconut and another strawberry, but you could use cacao nibs, other fruit, nuts, or eat it as is. You even serve it in little walnut date crust, or over a raw vegan brownie. But whatever you do, do it fast. By the time I'd finished taking this photo, it was starting to melt.

Update: I made it again with half bananas and half blueberries. Even better!

Today's chow:
raw vegan strawberry banana ice cream
sprouted quinoa and blueberries with almond milk
blender soup with red peppers, cuke, jalapeno, garlic, one date, cashews, salt
flax crackers and guacamole
green salad with tahini dressing
banana chard smoothie (thought I was going to go a day without a smoothie, but no.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jicama Salad with Beets, Orange, Spinach and Walnuts

Last time I went grocery shopping, I picked up a jicama without being sure what I was going to do with it. Well, today I was poking through the refrigerator, wondering what to do about lunch, and I came up with a great jicama salad. Not only is it one of the tastiest salads I've ever made, it's also one of the prettiest.

It came together pretty quickly, too.  Here's the recipe:

Jicama Salad 

1 1/2 cup coarsely grated jicama
1 medium beet, coarsely grated
1 orange, sectioned and diced
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1/2 small avocado (about 1/2 cup), diced
2 tablespoons walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 1/2 lime, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

The directions are self explanatory--just combine everything and serve--except that I rolled up my spinach leaves and cut them into ribbons (chiffonade).  I used an organic Valencia orange, and it was more flavorful than a Navel. I bet a blood orange would be delicious, too.

Jicamas are high fiber, full of Vitamin C, and are wonderful for diabetics or people who want to lose weight because they contain inulin, a sweet, zero-calorie carbohydrate which doesn't metabolize in our bodies.

Also, remember I mentioned some flax seed crackers I was dehydrating? This is the first time I've made  raw flax seed crackers as opposed to bread, the difference being I didn't grind or process most of the flax seeds when I made the crackers. I did soak them first, and was quite surprised at how gelatinous they became. It's one thing to read about them becoming gelatinous, but quite another to poke them and have the seeds and water spring back at you. It reminded me of that childhood Halloween game where you pretend peeled grapes are a bowl of eyeballs.

I used this recipe for the flax crackers. More or less.  It made three trays worth of crackers. They looked like this before I put them in the dehydrator:

Now they're thin, crunchy and a little spicy, the perfect accompaniment for the guacamole I'm planning to make this evening.

Today's Chow:
smoothie with bananas, spinach, cinnamon, nutmeg and almond milk. Tasted eggnoggish. :)
morning snack of raspberries, blueberries and kiwi with a dollop of yesterday's cashew yoghurt.
Jicama salad
expecting to eat a green salad, guacamole and flax crackers for dinner.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Collard Wraps, Berries with Vegan Cashew Yoghurt

When you're eating a primarily raw diet--especially if you don't have a dehydrator--it can be challenging to look for presentations beyond salads, blended soups, and food processor mush. One way to change it up is to serve food wrapped in other food.  You've probably eaten stuffed grape leaves, spring rolls and burritos. But unless you're familiar with raw cuisine, you've probably never tried collard wraps.

My first attempt at making collard wraps--okay, my first couple of attempts--were disappointing. The leaves would tear; the filling would leak out. It wasn't the kind of thing you'd want to eat on a date. But then I learned to shave down the thick stem so the leaf was more pliable.

The collard leaves I had today were on the small side, so I used two for each wrap, overlapping them slightly. I filled them with a raw hummus I made yesterday from sprouted garbanzos, some alfalfa sprouts, and a little bit of apricot. (I wanted something sweet to contrast with my spicy hummus.)

Mind you, you can throw anything in a collard wrap.  Any kind of nut or seed spread, greens, julienned  vegetables like carrots or peppers, fresh herbs, or avocado would all be good choices.

I make my collard wraps using a burrito technique, first folding in the sides, then rolling everything away from me, keeping the sides tucked in. The end result is pretty, I think. I especially love the look of   the leaf's veins.

But another method for making collard wraps is to keep one side open. This way makes for messier eating. On the other hand, it allows you to see the filling's colors and textures.  You can learn this technique here:

I don't want to overload this post with too much disparate information, so I won't talk about my flax crackers until next post. Instead I'll leave you with this image of the mixed berry/cashew yoghurt dessert I made for Jake and me.

Of course that isn't really yoghurt. It's a raw cashew/banana/lemon concoction that took about one minute to throw together. I found the recipe on Raw on Ten Dollars a Day.  Delicious, and much lighter than the usual all cashew, no banana creamy sauces I'm used to.

Yeah, I picked those raspberries. I love that I can find wild raspberries in my urban environment.

Today's Chow:
Smoothie with strawberries, apricots and spinach. No fat; I was starving in a couple of hours, which led to an emergency raw chocolate/walnut snack mid morning.
Collard Wraps for lunch.
Snacked on my dehydrating crackers!
Green salad.
Berries with cashew yoghurt.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Raw Sunflower Seed Pate with Sundried Tomatoes

Sunflower seeds are a new favorite, ever since I made this raw sunflower pate with sundried tomatoes. (We're going to pretend I typed it with an accent mark over the e, because I'm talking about a pa-TAY, not a bald head.)

I'm not sure why it took me this long to appreciate raw sunflower seeds. I've always liked them roasted, but raw they struck me as bland. I should have realized that their blandness is a virtue. Like tofu or avocados, they're culinary chameleons, taking on the flavor of whatever they're prepared with while adding body and nutrition.  Sunflower seeds are also much less expensive than most other calorie-dense options for raw vegans. At my local co-op they cost a little over $3/lb (organic); about a third the cost of the nuts I might otherwise reach for. They're high in Vitamin E, magnesium, selenium and phytosterols (good for lowering cholesterol). 

Soaking sunflower seeds so they begin to sprout makes them more digestible and increases their protein. So begin by soaking them for at least four hours, then rinse and drain them. I usually soak them overnight, drain, then refrigerate until I'm ready to use them.

Raw Sunflower Seed Pate with Sundried Tomatoes Recipe
1 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked and drained, reserving water.
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked 30 minutes
1/2 red pepper, coarsely chopped
1 handful cilantro (or basil if you prefer; I had cilantro I wanted to use up.)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 date, chopped (or use a smidge of honey)
1 lemon juice and zest
1 tablespoon red or sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
one teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon tamari and/or salt to taste 
black pepper to taste
soaking water from tomatoes if necessary

Put everything in the food processor and go to town, adding reserved tomato water a tablespoon at a time until it's the consistency you like. 

Sorry I didn't take photos! I was selling my soap this weekend at a big festival and was crazy busy. But I'm proud of myself for packing all raw snacks and meals for two days. I brought watermelon, gazpacho, this pate and green salad both days. 

One thing I did photograph was this sprouted garbanzo bean.

 I threw a bunch of these in my salads. Notice how the tail is only a quarter inch long? That's how you want them. Raw sprouted garbanzos remind me of jicama in taste and texture.They help turn a green salad into a satisfying meal.  

Today's Chow
smoothie with banana, Swiss chard, 1/2 avocado, cocoa powder, one date, cinnamon
fruit plate provided to the vendors!
green salad and sunflower pate
After I got home, I had two kiwis and some frozen banana "ice cream" (just frozen bananas buzzed in food processor.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Raw Vegan Corn Soup with Almond Milk and Cilantro

Raw corn is so delicious, I don't think I'll ever cook it again. A few times this week I've included some kernels in my dinner salads, but today I made a raw vegan corn soup for lunch. This was good enough to impress carnivorous Jake.  (Sorry my soups look so frothy when they're freshly blended.)

Raw Vegan Corn Soup

kernels from one large ear of corn
1 red pepper
1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 large clove onion, minced
1 generous tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 handful cilantro (or substitute another herb if you don't like cilantro)
minced jalapeno or hot sauce to taste
about 2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
about 1 1/2 cup water

Reserve a few corn kernels and cilantro leaves for garnish, and put everything else in the blender. Blend! Enjoy. This made enough for me to have one bowl with lunch and another with dinner.

I also had my standard red cabbage, carrot and golden raisin salad with lunch.

And I made a sunflower/sun dried tomato pate before dinner, but I forgot to photograph it so I'll give you the recipe tomorrow--if I have time. This weekend I'm selling my soap at an enormous festival and I'm scrambling to get ready!

Today's Chow:
Mojito-inspired smoothie with lime, mint, a date and a banana blended with water
the last of the sprouted quinoa with blueberries and coconut, served with almond milk
corn soup and cabbage/carrot slaw
more corn soup, green salad with a dollop of sunflower pate
I was going to have frozen banana "ice cream" but I wasn't hungry. So the bananas are still in the freezer. I bet tomorrow I'll be happy about that.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sprouted Quinoa Breakfast Porridge

When I woke up this morning, some quinoa I'd started sprouting yesterday was ready. The last time I sprouted quinoa I used it in a tabbouleh-type salad. But nibbling a sprout this morning, it tasted so sweet that it inspired me to use it in a raw breakfast porridge.

I gave the quinoa one last good rinse and drain. Then I topped a small bowl of quinoa with sliced banana, dried coconut, a couple of chopped dates, and about a tablespoon of walnuts. It tasted a bit dry. So I tossed the whole thing in the food processor (what would I do without my food processor?) added a pinch of salt and nutmeg, and processed everything until it was pretty well blended. It was still too dry, so I added some more banana and tried again. This time it was moist, and the flavors were well melded.  I topped it with more of my neighbor's blueberries and a little more coconut. Delicious!

I had already had a smoothie at dawn, but it felt good to eat more mid morning.  I think the high protein in this breakfast was good for me. I wasn't hungry all day like I was yesterday.

For lunch I had my friends' kale in a salad with a good dose of kim chee mixed in! This was so good that now I'm going to have to learn how to make kim chee. I wish I had taken a photo.

But I did take a photo of a cold tomato soup I had with my dinner salad. It's almost gazpacho, except I didn't have basil so I used cilantro instead.  It looks a little frothy here, poured straight from the blender. I garnished it with avocado, olives and nasturtium petals. Nasturtiums are among Jake and my favorite things to grow because they're low maintenance, they're bright and cheerful looking in the garden and in a salad, and both the leaves and the blossoms have an enlivening radish-like taste.

Today's Chow:
smoothie with blueberries, banana and Swiss chard
quinoa porridge
kale salad with kim chee
a piggish amount of watermelon
almost gazpacho and a big green salad

Monday, July 2, 2012

Kale, Friends and Keep It Simple

This morning when one of my friends read on my blog that I was out of kale, she sent me a message letting me know that her garden was overflowing, and asking would I please come pick some kale so it wouldn't  go to waste.

Kale is my favorite vegetable. Last time I kept a blog--a journal of what I bought and how much waste I generated--kale became a running joke because I mentioned it nearly every day. I like kale in salads, smoothies and soups. I like kale chips and kale sauteed with garlic and olive oil.  I have two house rabbits who love kale, too.

So as you can imagine, I raced over to her house. She lives on the other side of town, and I hadn't seen her garden yet this summer. She and her husband have turned their entire urban back yard into a series of raised beds connected by flowing paths. I'm kicking myself for not having brought my camera, because it's both enchanting and impressive. Kale, chard, beans, squash, tomatoes, carrots, herbs, potatoes and more mingle with sunflowers and other bird-attracting plants.

My friend told me to take as much as I could eat from the plants that were threatening to bolt. I clipped their centers and left their outer leaves. This gave me about a gallon of kale, plus she told me to take some Swiss chard, too. Then--my friends are so generous--she and her husband gave me some of the kim chee which had been given to them by another friend who makes it in five-gallon crocks.

As if all this weren't enough, her husband even filled two big buckets of compost for me.

I had brought a little soap to barter for the kale, but it turned out that my soap was a mere trinket compared to everything they gave me.  "Barter's the way of the..." She stopped herself from saying the future. "Barter's the way of right now."

Her husband said, "Pay it forward is even better."

So for lunch today I happily ate a kale, kalamata olive and sesame seed salad with a sun dried tomato vinagrette. To make the vinagrette,  I soaked the tomatoes in water for about an hour (I'd started soaking them before I left to pick kale.)Then I put them in the food processor with equal parts cashews and olive oil, a clove of garlic, some apple cider vinegar, a little salt, and buzzed them until smooth. I used the cashews because I was getting low on olive oil. I could have used a different nut or some avocado, or of course made it with all olive oil. You can be flexible substituting one source of fat for another when making salad dressings. You can also substitute different acids: vinegar, citrus juice, even tomato. Just make sure you have a fat, an acid, and some salt when you're improvising; and feel free to add herbs or sweeteners.

Later I had a watermelon/mint smoothie. Delicious! But then I wondered how it would taste with some lime and honey. The answer: not as good.  This was a lesson in Keep It Simple, Stupid.

After dinner, I had more of my neighbor's blueberries, topped with this recipe for lemon cashew cream. The lemon cashew cream was tasty--I can think of a lot of potential uses for it--and I wanted a substantial dessert because I'd been hungry all day. But honestly, it wasn't as good as just eating a handful of blueberries. Another lesson in the KISS principle.

I'm going to end with a little story about my sister. She e-mailed me to say she'd tried to make the carrot/date/nut cookies I'd mentioned a few posts earlier, but had failed miserably. "Oh no," I wrote back. "What happened?" She said she'd bought the dates. And then she ate them.

Today's Chow:
smoothie with cherries, blueberries, chard and lamb's quarters. No fats, which is probably why I was ravenous most of the day.
kale and olive salad with sun dried tomato vinagrette.
leftover pesto and zucchini rolled in a leaf of Swiss chard. Green salad.
blueberries and lemon cashew cream.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Raw vegan pesto and zucchini

This morning when I started rooting around the refrigerator looking for something I could bring to work for lunch, I realized I had more in the produce drawer than I'd remembered. True, I was almost out of both lettuce and kale, which made me sad. But I did have some spinach and quite a few fresh herbs: basil, parsley, cilantro. I decided to whip up a raw vegan pesto to serve with zucchini.

1 small bunch spinach
1 generous handful basil
1/3 cup or so sunflower seeds
1/3 cup or so pecans
1/4 cup or so olive oil (Measuring cups don't get much use around here.)
1 large clove garlic
about a quarter teaspoon salt, or to taste

I didn't pre-soak the nuts or seeds because this was a spur of the moment cooking adventure. Didn't kill me, or even injure me slightly. Yeah, soaking nuts and seeds is a good idea, but if you forgot it's not the end of the world.

First I pulsed the garlic, sunflower seeds and pecans in the food processor until they were finely chopped. Then I added my greens, and processed everything a few seconds more until it was well blended. This gave me a chance to gauge how much olive oil I'd need for a good pesto consistency. I added \the oil and salt, and processed everything until the oil was incorporated. Voila! Pesto.

I had two small summer squashes from the farmers market which I'd planned on using as a vehicle for some kind of sauce. Because I don't have a mandolin or a spiralizer, I normally turn them into something vaguely reminiscent of noodles with a vegetable peeler. But today I coarsely grated them, salted them, then let them sit about fifteen minutes. Did you ever swim in a leech-infested pond, then pour salt on your leeches when you were done? (Have I just over-shared?) The salt draws the moisture out of the leeches until they resemble the final moments of the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz. Likewise, salt draws moisture from zucchini and other raw vegetables. So after fifteen minutes, I rinsed the salt off the grated zucchini and pressed out the excess water. For lunch I mixed the zucchini with a big glob of pesto.  It wasn't pretty, but it was really good. Even my Italian foodie boss said so.

After work my neighbor invited me to help myself to her bountiful ripe blueberries (yay for edible landscaping). So I had a big bowl of blueberries, then an hour later a cabbage/carrot/golden raisin salad with a mustard vinaigrette.

Today's Chow:
breakfast smoothie with banana, avocado, raw cacao powder, very little honey blended with water. This is richer than my usual breakfast smoothie, but on Sundays I often have to go six or seven hours before lunch, and this smoothie reliably sees me through.
zucchini and pesto
cabbage/carrot/raisin salad

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Boring Food Day

This is going to be a short post because I didn't eat anything worth writing about. But the good news is that I ate raw today with very little effort, largely because I had some broccoli salad leftover from a few days ago. I've been spending a fair amount of time thinking about food since I went mostly raw, so it was good to have a day when I hardly thought about food.

I'm running out of produce now, though. I'm working at the restaurant tomorrow and the co-op closes before I'll get out. Wonder what I'll eat tomorrow and Monday?

Today's chow:
Smoothie with blueberries, banana, spinach and tahini.
leftover broccoli salad with Asian-inspired peanut sauce.
snack of pecans and raisins.
Big green salald with mustard vinaigrette.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Raw Sprouted Quinoa Salad

One of my summer staples is a rice salad with parsley, cilantro, tomato, scallions, garbanzos and maybe some feta cheese or black olives. I found myself wondering how I could create something similar on a raw food diet. The answer: sprouted quinoa salad. This didn't involve much prep time, but it did involve a little advance planning because I had to start sprouting the quinoa yesterday in order to eat it today.

Quinoa is a great addition to a raw (or any) diet because it's a complete protein; it's high in calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. It's also a good source of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients like quercetin. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa, so perhaps you'll be hearing more about it soon.  

Sprouting quinoa is easy. Quinoa, whether raw or cooked, needs to be well rinsed to remove the water-soluble outer coating, or else it will be bitter. So begin by put your quinoa in a bowl of water and swishing it around. You'll notice the water will be cloudy. This is from the bitter saponins you're trying to remove. Drain the water and repeat until the water remains clear.  Drain the water and let your quinoa seeds sit for approximately eight hours, either in an upside down mason jar with cheesecloth rubberbanded to the lid, or in a fine mesh strainer. This way all the water will drain away.

After eight hours, swish your quinoa in a bowl of water again, and rinse and drain one more time. Let it sit another eight hours, rinse and strain, and take a good look at your quinoa. If you see tiny white tails a quarter inch long emerging from your seeds, you're done. Refrigerate your quinoa until you're ready to use it. However, if your kitchen is cool, you might not see any tails yet, in which case let your quinoa go another eight hours. By that time you should be able to give it one last rinse and drain, and it will be ready to use.

This morning I added tomato, parsley, cilantro, scallion, mint and avocado to my sprouted and dressed it with a garlic/lemon/olive oil dressing.  I would have loved to add black olives or nut cheese, but I didn't have any. Nonetheless,  this and a leftover carrot cake cookie made a delicious lunch to eat at my farmers market booth.

Post-market I had a snack of some blueberries, strawberries and leftover cashew cream: a little red, white and blue in advance of July 4th. My cashew cream is a couple of days old now, so I want to use it up.

For dinner I'm planning on having some raw avocado/cucumber soup leftover from yesterday and a big  green salad. So far today I haven't had many leafy greens, and I'm craving them.

Speaking of yesterday, I was too short on time to post. But I'm sure I'll make the soup again before the summer's over, and write about it then.

Today's Chow:
Chocolate Banana smoothie!
Quinoa Salad, raw carrot cake cookie
Berries and cashew cream
Dinner (anticipated): green salad, avocado/cuke blender soup.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Raw Vegan Nori Rolls and Carrot Cake thumb print cookies

One raw lunch option with the convenience of a traditional sandwich is the nori roll. Nori rolls are simple to make, provide plenty of room for improvisation, and require no special equipment. They're a good vehicle for leftovers and whatever vegetables you have on hand.

The basic ingredients for a nori roll are flat sheets of nori seaweed, available in Asian markets, health food stores, and many traditional supermarkets; vegetables like leafy greens, scallions, sprouts, or harder vegetables like carrots peeled into long ribbons with a vegetable peeler; and some kind of spread like guacamole, hummus or miso. You could also include condiments like pickled ginger or wasabi, or something with a rice-like consistency like the parsnip/carrot rice I made a few days ago, or soaked almonds or sunflower seeds pulsed in a food processor.

To make a nori roll, first lay a nori sheet shiny side down on your cutting board or sushi rolling mat if you have one. Cover the third of the nori closest to you with your lettuce or other leafy green. Next lay down your “rice” if you have one. If you don’t, pile on the other vegetables, ending with your condiment or something with strong color like a carrot ribbon, or strong texture like alfalfa sprouts.  This last ingredient will be the center of your roll.

Next coat the third of your nori farthest away from you with your spread. Finally, begin rolling your nori keeping it as tight as possible. When you get to the end, the moisture from your spread should seal the roll. But if isn’t secure, you can use a little warm water to close it up.

You could eat your roll as is if you’d like, or you could slice it into bite-sized pieces so you can see the layers of vegetables. If you’ve used a sushi roll, these pieces probably look perfectly round. But even if you didn’t, they’d still look pretty.  And if you serve imperfect nori rolls at a party no one is going to think, “Hey, this nori is lop sided.” Nope, they’ll think, “Wow. Nori rolls. What a great idea.”

For dinner I made something really decadent to accompany my salad: raw carrot cake thumb print cookies with a dollop of cashew cream frosting.  

I slightly adapted this recipe from One Green Planet, subbing six dates for the agave, and using the food processor to grate the carrots. I didn't want them to be as large as cupcakes so I shaped them like cookies. Yeah, they came out a little lumpy looking. Go ahead and laugh. But Jake and I agreed they taste even better than traditional carrot cake, which is to say they are oh my god delicious.

Today's Chow:
Breakfast: smoothie with one banana, strawberries, Swiss chard, lambs quarters and mint. No oils or nuts. This smoothie tasted fresh and light and extra delicious, but I did get hungry before lunch.
Lunch: nori rolls, kale salad with tahini dressing, golden raisins and soaked pecans. (Soaking raw nuts and seeds improves their digestability.)
Dinner: green salad, carrot cake thumb print cookies with cashew cream. 
Drink: cucumber, mint, lime and very little salt blended with water.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Raw Zucchini Hummus, Southwest style

Don't you love having hummus in the house? You come home hungry and there it is, ready to become a sandwich or a vegetable dip, or even eaten by itself with a spoon.  Guess what. Raw hummus is great, too.

Some of the raw hummus recipes out there aren't super tasty or easy to digest. (I'm talking about you, sprouted garbanzo bean hummus.) Other, nut-based variations are delicious, but expensive and heavy. But one staple of many raw food kitchens is a zucchini-based hummus. It tastes great, can be thrown together in a few minutes, and is perfect for summer when zucchinis are abundant.

I had planned on making a pretty standard garlic/lemon flavored hummus to go with my flax onion bread, but when I came home for lunch I saw we were out of lemons. Ah well, these things happen when you don't live alone. Fortunately I had some limes, so I came up with this variation.

Raw Zucchini Hummus, Southwest Style

3 small zucchinis, roughly chopped
1/2 sweet red pepper
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 1 1/2 lime (about a tablespoon)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
salt to taste

Finely chop the zucchinis in a food processor, then press out the excess water using cheese cloth or a strainer. Return zucchinis to the food processor and add remaining ingredients. Process until it's as smooth as you'd like it to be.  Taste to see if it needs more lime or spices and adjust if necessary. That's it. Ta da! I didn't have jalapenos, but I think a little heat would make this even better.

It took me twenty minutes to prepare a lunch of this, some kale salad and my leftover bread.

Today's Chow
Breakfast smoothie with mango, Swiss chard, mint and cucumber.
Lunch: zuccini hummus, flax/onion bread, kale and celery salad.
Snack: a few strawberries. Wow, they were good. 
Dinner: nori rolls filled with parsnip rice, avocado, lettuce and sprouts. I'll talk about that tomorrow.
After dinner: Half a beer! Jake and I went out with some friends. Last time I went on a raw diet, I was completely strict and wouldn't have gone. This time I'm going to be more flexible. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, at least for now.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Raw Parsnip Carrot Rice Recipe; Wild Edible Greens

I improvised a new recipe today: a raw parsnip and carrot rice. Of course it wasn't really rice, just rice-like in consistency. It tastes good on its own, or can substitute for rice in nori rolls or stuffed vegetables. And, like rice, it satisfies cravings for something soothing and starchy. After eating this, I didn't have any thoughts about dessert.

This recipe requires a food processor--or a fine grater and some determination.

Easy Raw Parsnip and Carrot "Rice"
3 parsnips
1 carrot
1/4 cup tahini (approximately; I used two heaping spoonfuls)
1 clove garlic, minced
sea salt to taste

Roughly chop parsnips and carrot and place them in the food processor. Pulse them them until they’re the consistency of cooked rice. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse to blend. That’s it!

I found this and a green salad to be a satisfying, tasty dinner. I included some wild lamb’s quarters in tonight’s salad. I’m going to be including more edible weeds in my meals. I enjoy foraging. It provides me with free, nutritious vegetables, and it helps keep me connected to nature.

You can learn to identify lambs quarters and other wild edible greens in this excellent video by Sergei Boutenko.

One more thing: this morning when I woke up I knew immediately there was something different about the way I felt. It took a few minutes to realize that my sinuses were clear! I'd forgotten what that felt like. I’ve been back on the raw food for less than a week, so I’m impressed.

Today's Chow:
Breakfast: smoothie with one banana, cherries, spinach, cucumber, ground flax seed. I wanted something lighter--apples or pears rather than bananas--but this was what I had in the house.
Morning snack: celery sticks topped with peanut butter (not raw) and alfalfa sprouts.
Lunch: the kale/carrot/sun dried tomato salad I made yesterday, flax onion bread and leftover guacamole spread
Drink: cilantro, lime, mint and a date blended with water.
Dinner: parsnip rice, green salad

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Brown bagging it: bringing a raw lunch to work

It's ironic that I have a tough time eating well on Sundays. I say ironic because on Sundays I waitress at Mangetout, an organic cafe with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. I'm surrounded by good food, but can't usually afford to eat it. Too often I start the day with a breakfast sandwich at a local coffee shop, go without lunch, then come home starving and willing to eat anything, especially ice cream.

Well, not today. I started out with a tropical smoothie: a mango, a big handful of spinach, 1/3 of a large cucumber, a tablespoon or so of organic coconut oil, blended with water. I was surprised that I didn't feel hungry again for about four hours.

Then I made a raw lunch to bring in to work. Actually, I started making it last night. (Yeah, I planned ahead. A miracle.)  Knowing I would want something like a sandwich today, I made a raw flax seed onion bread in the dehydrator before I went to bed. It took less then ten minutes prep time.  (You can make it in the oven, too. I recognize that few people in the real world own dehydrators.)

Raw Flax Seed Onion Bread

3 smallish Vidalia onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup flax seeds, ground
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, ground
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water

I used the food processor to finely chop the onions; I ground the flax and sunflower seeds in a coffee grinder I reserve for spices and nuts, then mixed everything together. I spread it thinly onto parchment paper-covered dehydrator trays, and dehydrated overnight at 108 degrees. You could bake it in an oven on a low, low temperature keeping the oven door slightly open and it would cook faster.  

In the morning I thickened the leftover tomato concoction by mashing it with some avocado, slathered it on some flax onion bread, topped it with sprouts and some greens from the garden. I also made a kale/grated carrot/sun dried tomato salad. Kale salad sounds gross, but if you massage your dressing into the kale it softens right up. I eat kale salad frequently, at least three times a week.

None of this took long: maybe fifteen minutes. I was done making and packing everything by 8:00 a.m.
As it turned out, the sandwich filled me up enough so that I decided to save the salad for later.

I didn't do such a good job of planning ahead for dinner. I had soaked a tablespoon of pecans and sunflower seeds to make them more digestible, thinking I'd use them in a parsnip puree. But when I got home, Jake had made me a big green salad (yay Jake). I was unambitious after a busy day at work, and I used them to top the salad. I had a little more flax onion bread, too.

About work: it was one of the busiest days I've ever worked, and although my legs were tired as I walked home, I never felt overwhelmed or stressed. People tipped well, too. I'm starting to notice one of the best benefits of a raw diet: a level, good mood.

Today's Chow:
breakfast smoothie with mango, spinach, cucumber, coconut oil
sandwich on raw flax onion bread with a guacamole-ish spread, greens, sprouts
big green salad, a little more bread
no snacking during the day (very rare for me). But remember the nut/cocoa/date/coconut dessert I was thinking of making last night? I didn't make it then, but I made it tonight.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Raw Food in the Real World: First Post

For several summers I ate a primarily raw vegan diet. And I loved it. Or, I mostly loved it. I certainly loved how I felt: no migraines, no jaw pain, no crushing energy dips. I loved being trim and looking less puffy. I even loved the  food.

On the other hand, I didn't love spending a lot of time learning a new way to prepare meals. I didn't love being the weirdo with the impossible diet when I went out with friends. I really, really didn't love how much everything cost.

So I fell off the diet. For close to a year I've been eating standard American fare. Sure, I eat a big salad most nights. But I've also been eating plenty of wheat, cheese, something meaty if Jake is kind enough to cook dinner. And my headaches are back. And I can grab my belly. And my allergies are kicking my butt.

So I'm going back to raw. Mostly raw. I'm not planning on giving up coffee, or my weekly black bean soup outing at the local Dutch Tavern. I'm not planning on being a giant pain in the ass if I visit someone's house. And because I'm running my soap business, working at a salon and working at a restaurant, I'm not going to be making labor-intensive meals or searching for hard-to-find ingredients.  I'm also probably not going to be posting lots of food porn photos (sorry), because most days that takes more time than I have.

But I am going to talk about what I eat, both for myself and for my friends who sometimes ask how they could go raw without restricting themselves to salads.  And I'm going to talk about how I work raw into my schedule.  And I'm going to be honest about when I eat junk, or make boring, plain survival food, or even terrible-tasting food. I hope, though, that I'll also be posting simple recipes that taste good.

This time around, I've only been back to a mainly raw vegan diet for four or five days. I'm already feeling better: good energy, less brain fog. But having been away for it for so long, I've forgotten some of my raw food techniques. I'm relearning how to do this. I hope this blog will help me stay motivated, and also help other people who are interested in raw, but--like me--aren't experts. 

Today's Chow:
Breakfast smoothie with one banana, handful of cherries, big handful of spinach (half a bunch), and a tablespoon or so of ground flax seeds.  My basic recipe for smoothies is one third fruit, one third leafy greens, one third water, some kind of fat like coconut oil, avocado, nut butter, ground flax seeds. If I don't use a fat, I'm starving long before lunch.

Salad with a whole avocado, one big tomato, a couple stalks of celery, garlic, lime, olive oil, salt, apple cider vinegar.

Snack of a few almonds and golden raisins.

A whole pint of blueberries!

Dinner: A sauce made from fresh tomato, soaked sun dried tomato, parsley, cilantro, garlic, pecans, salt, olive oil, ground red pepper, nutritional yeast, salt buzzed up in the food processor served over raw shredded zucchini noodles; a big green salad. 

An hour after dinner, I'm a little hungry. I have the fixings to make a little chocolate treat: coconut oil, dates, cacao powder. We'll see. Yeah, I think I'm going to need a little something.