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.