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