Friday, December 4, 2009

Raw Crackers - HELP

I have been making a lot of flax crackers recently in an effort to save $$$$ (see previous post). They're really not too challenging. My only problem is getting them spread out smoothly on the dehydrator pan. The "dough" is just too sticky and resists flattening out like a pancake. Instead, my crackers look like a rocky road.

The only trick that has remotely helped me is to first just get them into the dehydrator, even if they're not smooth yet. Once the tops have dehydrated for an hour or so it becomes easier to use an offset spatula (or clean fingertips) to spread out all the lumps and bumps. I tried this today when making the Pinot Noir Crisps for the Black Trumpet Mushroom Napoleon in Sarma's new book. Yes, I'm going ultra gourmet in my raw kitchen today. Although, I'm frustrated that I can't get the crackers nice and smooth like they do at Pure.

Any help would be appreciated....

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What Would Suze Orman Do?

I am a huge fan of the financial guru (Ms. Orman) and I pride myself on all that I have learned from her over the years. In order to save money I forgo the latest tech gadgets, I don't see movies in the theater (netflix all the way), and I buy all of my clothes from discount retailers (Filene's Basement, I heart you!). Instead, I save my money for the 2 things I treasure most in this world - travel and quality food.

When I transitioned to a mostly raw lifestyle, I didn't worry too much about the price of food I was buying. I saw every $2.50 avocado or every $14 jar of organic almond butter as an investment into my health. Moreover, I felt validated in knowing that I was supporting an industry of plant-based vegan food culture that is eco-friendly and will hopefully grow larger and less expensive as more and more people support it. By and large, I still feel this way.

What changed? Reviewing my bank statements over the past 5 months of raw food living indicates that my way of eating, shopping, and meal planning is not financially sustainable. Therefore, I'm adopting an early New Year's resolution to overhaul my way of spending without changing my way of eating. I will periodically update my blog any time I learn a new money saving technique for raw food living. But, first I have 3 big tips that I have discovered over the past month.

1. Raw on $10 a Day (or Less!) - This is a fabulous new addition to the raw blogosphere. Lisa, we'll call her the "Suze" of the raw food world, creates incredible meal plans that are as easy to prepare as they are delicious. Best of all, it takes less than $10 per person to un-cook her menus. I eagerly await her next updates and will vow to follow them more precisely in the coming months as I try to trim my food budget.

2. One Lucky Duck. I don't know why I haven't tried to buy stock in this company because I have literally poured thousands of dollars into Sarma's empire. As a matter of fact, it's actually kind of embarassing how much money i've spent at the juicebar alone this fall. I feel that this is somewhat of an anomally this year because I have been immensely busy the past couple of months, relying on takeout roughly 4 days per week - EEK! Well, my bank account may get a reprive now that One Lucky Duck is offering a special holiday promotion for gift cards. You should check out the website for the exact details, but essentially you get an extra 20% for every gift card you purchase. So, if you get a $500 gift card, you get an extra $100 gift card free. I'm planning ahead and getting a lot of gift cards - it just makes sense with the way I spend money there.

3. ValPack! This might only apply to New Yorkers, but perhaps your community offers something similar. In those ValPack coupon envelopes that all New Yorkers get in their mailboxes each month (and generally throw straight into recycling), there is a $5 off coupon for every $50 spent at Westerly Market, one of NYC's premier health food stores. I happen to live close to Westerly, so this makes a lot of sense for me. But, if you work in midtown or happen to be in the area once per month, it might make sense to do some shopping there for items that you would be buying anyway. $5 a month over a year is $60 in free groceries.

Let me know if you have any tips too!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Restaurant Tips

I just got down to West Palm Beach a couple of days ago. Since becoming a raw vegan 4 or 5 months ago, I've experienced looming dread about my impending holiday travel. In NYC it's rather easy to stay the raw course - one, because i'm in my everyday routine of cooking, and two, because there are a handful of raw food restaurants/juicebars/health food stores to support me on this journey. Middle America....well, I feel for you. It is truly much more challenging to remain a raw vegan in the land of Applebee's and Chilli's.

I knew that once I got down to West Palm I was going to have to go out to restaurants with family and friends. With some creativity I have been able to stay 90% raw at each of my restaurant dining experiences (without resorting to a "chef's salad").

Japanese Cuisine -
Nearly every city in the US has a Japanese restaurant nowdays. True, most guests are eating spicy tuna rolls with the mysterious "crunch" topping. But, it is also quite easy to order two dishes that will accomodate a raw lifestyle:

1) A "naruto" roll. "Naruto" simply means "without rice." If you ask the sushi chef to prepare you a naruto roll, he will thinly slice a cucumber and use it in place of the nori and rice to wrap up vegetables with. I generally ask for carrots and avocado rolled up. (note: this picture was pulled from Google images and obviously has some tuna in it).

2) Seaweed salad. This salad is almost like pomme frites at a French bistro. In Japan nearly all sushi comes with a side of seaweed salad tossed with sesame oil, sesame seeds, a scant toss of chilis, and some lemon juice. It's incredibly delicious and easy to come by.

Latin Cuisine-
In many parts of the country (Florida certainly), Latin or "mexican" food is very easy to come by. Although it might initially appear to be a vegan's worst nightmare, one of my favorite foods is cherished by nearly all Latin American cultures - avocadoes!!!! I generally ask for the freshest guacamole and eat it plain, or with corn chips (not raw, obviously). I've even been known to make a burrito with just guacamole. There's one restaurant in West Palm that I can't wait to check out called Roccos Tacos where they make the guacamole tableside with a mortar and pestle. Several of my favorite restaurants in NYC do the same and it's delicious.

In sum, don't be afriad to go out to conventional restaurants with family and friends. Just be creative with the menu and don't hesitate to ask for substitutions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Skin Care

Whenever there's a cold weather snap in NYC, the first place I feel it is my skin. I suffer from the Anglo-Saxon curse of dry, itchy, flaky skin in Fall and Winter. For 6 months out of the year, body lotion and my humidifier are my saviors.

I needed some new body lotion and, in keeping with the raw food lifestyle I wanted to make sure that I bought a clean and healthy product. The biggest bottle of discounted Jergens was not going to cut it. After all, my body is a temple, not a bargain basement. We know that skin is the largest organ in the body, and what touches the skin gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream, hence the reason pharmaceutical companies are putting medication into patch form now. With this information I now subscribe to the philosophy of keeping products off my skin that I'm unwilling to eat.

The most obvious choice for many raw foodists with this philosophy is to slather themselves in coconut oil or another natural oil that's used as food. This admittedly feels nice, but leaves me too oily to get suited up for the day and ready to head out to work. I needed a light-weight everyday lotion that absorbs the same way a cheap old bottle of Jergens does. So, I took a little trip to Organic Avenue and found 2 different products.

One is called MSM Lotion for Face & Body and is made by Sunfood Nutrition. MSM is a naturally occurring sulfur found in all living organisms. It is said to promote healthy skin, joints, bones, as well as optimum cell nutrition. I have seen it in many raw/organic/vegan skincare products. I must say that this product is EXACTLY What I was looking for. It is moisturizing, absorbs well, and doesn't have an offensive odor. In fact, the "Pure and Natural" scent actually smells pleasant.

The friendly sales associate at Organic Avenue also directed me to TATE'S Miracle Conditioner. Yes, it's a hair conditioner that can double as body lotion. As a matter of fact, there are nearly 100 uses for the product including everything from make-up removal to posion ivy treatment. It is also vegan and raw, made mostly of plant based material. When I tested the product by rubbing a dollop into my dry hands, it felt greasy for a few seconds, then it practically disappeared into my hands, leaving them feeling soft and moisturized. I bought this product and have used it at home for this purpose and also an after-shower "leave in" conditioner. I will note that it does not retain moisture in the skin as well as the MSM lotion. I find that I need to reapply it more frequently. Still, it's a fascinating product that I recommend.

One final note that I feel I MUST mention is that is that my skin is not nearly as parched this year as in years past. My entire body feels immeasurably more hydrated on a raw living foods diet and the effects are felt as outwardly as my top layer of skin, which is much less flakey - actually it hasn't flaked or itched at all yet this year. My eyes aren't as dry, I crave lip balm less, and my cuticles aren't red and torn. I take this as insurmountable evidence that a raw lifestyle is essential for healthy living. Still, it's nice to have a few skin care products that won't detract from this goal.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Massaged Kale Salad

I just made my first "massaged" kale salad - a basic raw food preparation technique, for those of you who are new to raw foods. The aim is to wilt the kale leaves without destroying all of the nutrients by applying heat. So, the technique is to "massage" dressing into it and manually break down the hardiness of the leaves. It totally worked!

I followed a recipe from one of my new favorite sites, Raw on $10 a Day (Or Less!). It was a delicious recipe and it motivated me to juice some carrots.

Definitely try making a massaged kale salad. They're SO good and SO healthful.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I'll admit that leftovers have me really confused when it comes to raw foods - they obviously can't remain in the refrigerator for days on end, just to be warmed up again in the microwave. After years of preparing conventional food, I had nearly mastered the art of using up leftovers. As a matter of fact, I often planned my meals with leftovers in mind. But, raw foods have me a bit more perplexed....

You'll recall that on Saturday I made the Thanksgiving dinner from Sarma's book Living Raw Food. It was delicious and I LOVE coming up with leftovers the day after Thanksgiving. Well, as usual, I had a ton of stuffing left over from our meal. As I scooped it into a storage bowl and tucked it neatly into the refrigerator, I honestly had no clue what I was going to do with it...that is until I started making Kale Chips on Sunday morning.

As you might remember from a previous post, I top my kale chips with a nut cheese sauce. Well, I happened to have a good deal of sauce left over once the chips were already in the dehydrator. Coincidentally, I had two avocados that were at their peak. The stuffing is very meaty (think ground beef), so I had the idea to turn them into tacos. To do this I simply topped romaine leaves with stuffing, cheese sauce and guacamole (that I made with my 2 avocadoes). I folded up the romaine leaves like a taco and savored every bite.

Who knew that raw food leftovers could be so good?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Autumn Vegetables

For the past 3 years I have focused on eating as seasonally as possible. After some time cooking this way I quickly began to relish the changes in seasons for the unique gastronomical pleasures that each time of year supplied. When I transitioned to a more raw diet this summer, I worried about how seasonal eating would play out. In particular, I wondered whether root vegetables, which become so sweet and delicious when roasted at high temperatures, would be at all palatable in the raw.

I noticed that Sarma's Thanksgiving menu has a Celeriac Mash. Of course everything she makes is delicious, so I was confident that this would be no different, even without being roasted at a high temperature. I just had to try it.

As a matter of fact, I've been so disappointed about missing One Lucky Duck's Thanksgiving dinner, that I got inspired to make every menu item myself for dinner last night. All the recipes are featured in Living Raw Food, Sarma's latest book. Fun fact: it's actually easier to make the entire Thanksgiving dinner than it is many other recipes in this book.

The recipes were created to serve 10 to 12, so I halved most of them. Here's what I did for the Celeriac Mash - titled Mashed Root Vegetables in Living Raw Food:

2 cups pine nuts (soaked for at least an hour)
Puree the pine nuts in high-speed blender with 1 cup filtered water until smooth. Pour into large bowl.
Then dice (cube):
2 cups celery root
2.5 cups jicama
3/4 cup parsnips
Add all vegetables to the bowl of pine nut puree. Then add to the bowl:
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp truffle oil
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
Stir all ingredients to combine. Add to a food processor to process in batches. Let sit for at least 2 hours to allow excess liquid to pool at the top. Pour off excess liquid before serving.

Everything was scrumptious (as my grandmother says). The brussels sprouts coated in olive oil, maple syrup, salt & pepper were particularly outstanding. I also added cranberry sauce to my stuffing, just like I've done since I was 8 years old.

Of course I always forget to snap a picture until I'm already mid-way through my meal. My apologies in advance for my future postings.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

If You're Going To Be in NYC for Thanksgiving.....

Thanksgiving Takeaway Dinner (photo credit Tara Donne)

Thanksgiving Takeaway Dinner (photo credit Tara Donne)

One Lucky Duck is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and we are offering a special Thanksgiving Takeaway Menu featuring our raw, vegan, and organic Thanksgiving classics. Now you can enjoy a healthy and festive raw holiday meal in the comfort of your own home without having to lift a finger (we’ll even deliver it to you!) To ensure you don’t miss out on these holiday treats, order ahead of time – dates, deadlines, and details below. To pre-order your Thanksgiving feast just visit One Lucky Duck and place your order in person or call 212-477-7151 to place your order over the phone.



Marinated Portabella and Wild Mushrooms (pint) $16

Pecan and Herb Stuffing (pint) $12

Cranberry Sauce (half pint) $10

Sauteed Brussel Sprouts (pint) $12

Celariac Mash (pint) $15


Whole Pumpkin Pie (9 inch) $95

Apple Crisp (9 inch) $95

Vanilla Cream (pint) $20

Vanilla Ice Cream (pint) $16

How delicious does this menu sound? Their restaurant, Pure Food And Wine, is also having a 4 course Thanksgiving Dinner. I go to Pure at least twice per month and each experience is more satisfying than the last. I can't imagine this special dinner will be any different.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sweet Potatoes and Coconut Butter (NOT high raw)

Let me just start by introducing my favorite raw food product ever - Artisana's Coconut Butter. This is not to be confused with Coconut Oil. Coconut butter is a mixture of the oil and meat from coconuts. The result is a delicious and creamy treat that tastes like the tropics. It's wonderful to blend into smoothies or to spread onto Manna Bread. Yesterday, I spread it on baked sweet potatoes.

My craving for sweet potatoes started on Wednesday. I was strolling through the greenmarket at Union Square and came across beautiful sweet potatoes. Usually I prepare baked sweet potatoes by slathering them with butter and brown sugar. While the flavor of this preparation method is heavenly, the nutritional content is disastrous. Then I remembered stumbling across a blog that was created by a student of the lovely and talented Gena (of Choosing Raw fame). Apparently, Gena taught her student how to top baked sweet potatoes with coconut butter instead of dairy butter - and that's exactly what I did.

First scrub the skin of sweet potatoes. Allow to dry for a few minutes.
Gently rub some olive oil into the skin and place on a baking sheet.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, turning half way through cooking time. Potatoes should be completely tender when pierced with a knife.
Allow to cool for a few minutes.
Cut potatoes in half.
Lightly salt potatoes.
Dollop 2 heaping teaspoons of Artisana coconut butter on each half.
Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon on each half.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of maple syrup on each half.

Devour and feel no regrets!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Green Smoothie Update

As many of you know, I have been desperately trying to incorporate green smoothies into my daily life. I have really struggled to accomplish this, often finding the smoothies to be unpalatable. This is so surprising to me, given that I love salads, sauteed greens, and even green juices. I was frustrated for a long time. Then I came across Sarma's cilantro pineapple shake (see previous post). It consists of a huge bunch of cilantro, cucumbers and pineapple. I thought it must be the cilantro that made the smoothie so delicious. Turns out, it is the pineapple!!!! Seriously, I have experimented with dozens of combinations of green smoothies and, if I add pineapple, ANY of them are tasty. I use fresh pineapple, because it's cheaper and tastes better, but frozen works too.
Here's my latest favorite:
1/2 fresh pineapple
1 0r 2 bananas
4 cups baby spinach leaves
3/4 cup coconut water
1/2 vanilla bean
pinch of salt
1 tsp agave (you really don't need it with the pineapple, but if you're just getting used to green smoothies, add a bit).

For further reading about why greens are so important, I highly recommend Victoria Boutenko's Green For Life, which I am currently in the middle of reading right now. It's really illuminating. She and her family are inspirational.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Coconut Goji Tarts

Antony Heaven never ceases to inspire me. The food he prepares is simple, elegant, and delicious. Whenever he presents one of his creations on his blog, I immediately have to try it. I used to be this way with Ina Garten (of Barefoot Contessa fame) before I went raw. Antony is my raw Ina.

His latest creation is a "Chocolate-Coconut-Goji Tart" which I adapted to be less chocolatey and more coconutty, since i'm not a huge chocolate fan. Here's what I did:
3/4 cup of walnuts
3/4 cup of cashews
3/4 cup of dates
1/4 tsp powdered stevia
1/4 tsp salt
Process all the ingredients until crumbly.
Scoop a heaping tablespoon of into a paper-lined muffin tin. Use your fingers to press the filling down into the bottom of muffin cup.
Sprinkle a few goji berries on top of the crust.

1/2 cup of shredded coconut
1 banana
1 avocado
3 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp cocount butter (I like Artisana brand)
2 tbsp cacao powder
1/2 cup agave
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 tsp salt
Process all ingredients until smooth. Divide equally among the 12 muffin liners. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours so that coconut oil can solidify.

I'm having mine for breakfast!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Movie Recommendation

Just watched Food Matters last night. It is a documentary that examines the current food system and its impact on our health. The filmmakers interview several scientists and health practitioners who discuss empirical validation of using food and vitamins as medicine. They also expose the deleterious role the pharmaceutical industry (and capitalism, really) has played in our nation's abysmal state of health.

It's honestly not a cinematic masterpiece, but the information it contains is priceless and, quite possibly, lifesaving.

It's not currently playing in theaters, but is available on Netflix and Amazon.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What has been getting me through the day?

Growing up I was a spoon-in-the-peanut butter jar type of snacker. My brother was known to drink maple syrup directly out of the bottle as a child. Now, as an adult eating mostly raw foods, I came up with a new version of these classic pastimes. I simply dip half of a spoon into a jar of raw organic almond butter and fill up the other half with pure organic maple syrup. It's SO delicious! You'll have to reserve one jar of almond butter for double-dipping. This little trick has really been getting me through my insanely busy work load the past week.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sweet Potato Rolls

It has been a very busy week in my professional life and in times like these I do what any good New Yorker would do - call for delivery! However, I want to make sure that I eat healthy especially when I'm stressed and busy, so it's important for me that I stay raw. All week I have stopped by One Lucky Duck for a delicious carry-out. Tonight I called Cafe Blossom and ordered their Autumn Sweet Potato Rolls. Essentially, they wrap up organic veggies (and coconut meat) in a thinly sliced piece of sweet potato. It is served with an almond ginger dipping sauce. They are just what I need to be nourished enough to put my nose back to the grindstone.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday smoothie!!!

After just having mentioned how important coconut water is to my morning smoothie, I ran out of it. Rather than making a smoothie with filtered water, which I find very bland tasting, I decided to take a different course with breakfast - a heartier one.

This morning we pulled a loaf of banana-hemp-walnut Manna Bread out of the freezer, spread it with raw almond butter and drizzled maple syrup on top. Manna Bread is a sprouted grain bread that is cooked at a very low temperature. It is certainly not considered raw by all, but it is perfectly acceptable in my book. It's a great transition food for times that you want to sink your teeth into something bread-like. You can generally find Manna Bread in the frozen section of your local health food store or Whole Foods Market.

After giving our Manna Bread some time to digest, I juiced some apples, spinach, and a 1/2 inch knob of ginger. The green juice was SO refreshing!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Smoothie Tips

1. Salt:
Salt has a remarkable capacity for bringing flavors together. This is true both in savory foods as well as sweet. I always add a pinch of salt to each smoothie I make. When I forget to add salt, the difference in flavor is quite noticeable. Make sure that you're using a good quality sea salt that will contribute to your overall health, rather than deplete it.

2. Vanilla:
I always add a half of a vanilla bean to every smoothie I make. It really adds to the flavor of fruit smoothies and green smoothies alike. I use the whole vanilla pod which gets pulverized in the VitaMix. If you don't have a high-speed blender you can split the vanilla pod down the middle and scrape out the seeds with the back of your knife. I think this is better than using vanilla extract, which always leaves an alcoholic taste to me.

Some feel that vanilla is cost prohibitive. I generally buy my vanilla beans from Fairway here in NYC where it costs $2.99 for two beans (that's 4 smoothies). For those of you outside of New York, i've heard that Costco now carries vanilla beans. There might be less expensive resources online. If you find any, please let me know.

Update: Antony Heaven of just emailed me a fantastic site where he buys his vanilla beans from. Their prices are FAR better than anything i've seen AND they're organic. Just placed an order of 30 beans for $10. Thanks Antony!

3. Coconut Water:
Nothing tastes better to me than when I use coconut water as the liquid in my smoothies. It's always strange to me because coconut water isn't that distinct from filtered tap water to me. But using filtered tap water in my smoothies always makes them taste quite bland. Also, coconut water has copious amounts of electrolytes, which is why it is often referred to as "nature's Gatorade."

4. Cleaning the Blender:
Many have told me that the task of cleaning their blender is SO daunting that it puts them off of making smoothies. They are generally quite excited to learn my method for cleaning (I honestly have no clue where I learned it). Simply fill the pitcher 3/4 of the way up with warm water. Add 4 to 5 drops of dish detergent (phosphate free, naturally) and give it a whir. The power of the blender should remove any schmutz that accumulated on the sides. Give it a rinse and turn it upside down on a dish cloth to dry. It's honestly one of the easiest things to clean in the entire kitchen.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rumbling Tummy

Anyone who has even dabbled in eating raw living foods can tell you that there are a plethora of new bodily sensations and functions that occur, especially in the beginning and especially in the intestines. I remember when I first began making morning smoothies each day my stomach would gurgle and rumble quite loudly. I should emphasize that these sensations have never been painful - more amusing than anything. Sometimes I've felt like shouting, "IT'S ALIIIIIIIIVE!!!!" Then I realize that's precisely what's going on. I am eating living foods that have active enzymes which are doing their work.

Natalia Rose penned an animated tale of why we hear those noises and feel the rumbling in our tummies. The essay is titled "A Salad in Motion Remains in Motion" and was written for Kris Carr's blog, crazysexylife. It's definitely worth reading.

Also, if you haven't heard of Kris Carr, I recommend not only her fabulous blog, but also her amazing documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer. Kris is full of wisdom and vitality - a sage in her 30s. Even Oprah thinks so:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Onion Bread

I came home this evening to a nice warm batch of onion bread that was finishing its run in the dehydrator since yesterday. The smell of this wonderful bread greeted me at the front door to my apartment. Perfect for a cool and blustery fall day.

The recipe I used was inspired by Matt Amsden's Rawvolution. The ingredients are quite simple, just onions, flax meal, sunflower seeds, olive oil, and nama shoyu. Amsden's recipe called for 3 large onions and I used half that amount. Next time I'll keep the 3 onions and just double the rest of the recipe so that I can have 2 batches.
The funny thing about cooking raw food is that the hands-on time is often not too extensive. True this bread had to dehydrate for 24 hours, but I spent about 10 minutes prepping it. The dehydrator did all the work.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tratoria Dinner

It was a busy day in the kitchen today here at Intrepidly Raw headquarters. I prepared a batch of raw onion bread, which I'll write more about tomorrow or the next day. I put a fresh batch of kale chips into the dehydrator (those should be ready momentarily). And, I made a fantastic raw manicotti for dinner that is inspired from my new favorite (favourite) blogger from across the pond, Anthony Heaven. It was an Italian tratoria dinner of a fresh salad and warm manicotti. Too bad I didn't have a laminated red checkered tablecloth.

This meal was actually quite simple - I only had to make 2 things: a nut based ricotta, and a raw marinara sauce.
1 garlic clove
1 cup pine nuts (soaked)
1 cup walnuts (soaked)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/3 cup sweet white miso
1 lemon (juiced)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Give garlic a few pulses in the food processor. Next add all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Thin out with water, if desired.

3 large tomatoes diced (roughly 2 cups)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup basil leaves
2 pitted dates
1.5 tsp dried oregano
1/2 lemon (juiced)
1.25 tsp sea salt
4 sundried tomatoes (dry)
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Next, I sliced 2 zucchini lengthwise on a mandoline (try not to use the seedy and very wet core). I then scooped a little dollop of ricotta onto each strip and rolled it up.

I then spooned some marinara sauce into the bottoms of 2 individual gratin dishes and placed each mini-manicotti seam-side down into the sauce. When the bottom of the dish was filled with little manicotti, I spooned some sauce over the top and stuck them into the dehydrator to warm for an hour.

As a side, I prepared what we fondly refer to in this house as a "Refrigerator Salad." Essentially, this means that the contents of our fridge get chopped up and put into a salad bowl with a simple dressing. Today I had delicious watermellon radishes that I got at the farmer's market last week and still haven't used. If you live in NYC I implore you to seek out these beautiful specimens. White on the outside, a deep watermellon pink on the inside with a green ring around the outer layer, almost like a watermellon skin.

I diced this up and tossed it with some mesclun mix, a red pepper, some sprouts, chopped pistachios, and hemp seeds. I made a simple dressing out of balsamic, honey, and macadamia nut oil.
The best part about the entire dining experience was that I didn't feel groggy or need a nap afterword.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Green Smoothie

GREENS!!!!!!! I love leafy greens - ALL of them. Salads make me giddy and I crave green juices. Interestingly, I have really struck out when it comes to green smoothies. Quite honestly, I haven't liked most that I've tried. I have made numerous attempts, each time thinking "this is going to be the one that sticks." No such luck! Inevitably, I end up throwing most green smoothies down the hatch with my nose pinched between my thumb and index finger.

Then, one day after reading about the many health benefits of cilantro, I decided to try the Cilantro Pineapple Shake from Sarma's new book Living Raw Food. It's delicious! It is now my go-to green smoothie and I make it at least once per week. I love the limey taste of the cilantro. As a matter of fact, I have thought about adding some fresh squeezed lime time!
Here's my variation:
1/2 fresh pineapple (frozen is OK too)
1 large cucumber (or 2 small) peeled
1 bunch of cilantro - I only use the upper parts of the stems and leaves
2 tbsp agave
1/2 vanilla bean
1 pinch of sea salt
1 cup coconut water - you may not need as much because the pineapples and cukes have so much water.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Papaya Pineapple Smoothie

I've heard that people who drink a lot of alcoholic beverages often have morning-after rituals that involve drinking strange concoctions, such as milk and honey, coca-cola (more poison), or even sauerkraut juice. Well, I have one for the morning after I've succumbed to the temptation (or convenience) of food that is neither raw nor vegan. This weekend I thoroughly enjoyed a lobster roll and a slice of pizza. What I find after I've eaten foods like these is that they take a bit longer to digest, making me feel heavy and "irregular." In times like these I need to do penance for my digestive system and I offer it in the form of extra enzymes.

This Papaya Pineapple smoothie is inspired by the Papaya Enzyme smoothie from Raw Food, Real World. Papaya and pineapple are both loaded with enzymes that help break down whatever they come into contact with. You can even spread mashed up papaya on your face to eat away dead skin cells.
My smoothie starts with a half of a papaya, which I buy at Whole Foods already wrapped with a wedge of lime in it. I scoop out and discard the seeds, then scoop the papaya meat into the blender. Next, I add the remainder of the ingredients:
1 small bag of frozen pineapple
1/2 a vanilla bean
2 heaping tsp of coconut butter
1/2 lime juiced
1 tbsp agave
1 pinch of sea salt
1.5 cups coconut water

Give it a whir in the blender on a high speed.
I particularly enjoy seeing the flecks of black seeds from the vanilla pod.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Snack Food - Part Deux!

There's one raw food snack that has been a particular lifesaver for me on this journey - Blonde Macaroons from One Lucky Duck. These tasty treats are unbelievably satisfying to bite into and I have been known to carry them around with me everywhere I go. The ingredient list is quite simple: organic dried coconut, organic almonds, maple syrup, coconut oil, agave, vanilla, and salt. I'm sure they're fairly easy to make, though I haven't tried yet. When I do, i'll make a posting (of course!).

What I really like about One Lucky Duck's products is their freshness. Ani Phyo (one of my favorite raw food gurus) is notorious for pointing out that one sign of freshness in food is non-uniformity. In nature, every apple will taste slightly different, have a slightly different texture, and a slightly different appearance. In our world of industrialized food non-uniformity is often seen as inappropriate and unappetizing. It's something that definitely made me uneasy in the beginning of my raw journey, but I have now come to appreciate as a sign of freshness and vitality. One Lucky Duck's products are handmade using the freshest ingredients and this is evident even in their snack food. Sometimes the macaroons are slightly salty, sometimes more coconutty - the batch I noshed on today were extra maple-syrupy. It's easy to tell that these little mounds of heaven are fresh.

Pick yourself up a bag and every time you're tempted to head to the vending machine for some Entemann's, grab one of these instead.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Snack Food - Cheezy Kale Chips

For me, having raw snack foods within arms reach is central to being able to maintain a mostly raw diet.  I have accepted the fact that I like to nosh.  What happens is that I get cravings to bite into something at various points throughout the day - though I must admit that the cravings are far less frequent and intense than before I began eating mostly nutrient-rich raw foods.  Still, when my tummy starts growling I lose all focus on whatever it is I'm doing and I begin a food-seeking mission that I have to believe is somewhat primitive evolutionarily.  The problem is that healthful food is generally not within arms reach.  To obviate the temptation for junk food, I try to cary an arsenal of healthful raw snacks with me wherever I go.

On Sunday, while at Blooming Hill Farm, I bought a gigantic bag of kale so that I could make one of my favorite snack foods - Cheezy Kale Chips.  This recipe comes from my friend Chela Crane, who is an incredibly talented raw food home cook.  Making kale chips in the raw requires a dehydrator, which I don't have.  Luckily, the oven that came with my apartment has a "dehydrate" function with the lowest setting at 120 degrees.  For those of you who don't have a dehydrator (or a fancy oven like mine), you can set your oven at the lowest temperature it will go, crack the door, and monitor the heat with an oven thermometer.  Just make sure the thermometer goes below 150 degrees - some don't!

2-3 bunches of kale (depending on size)
2 cups raw cashews - soaked 2 hours
1 lemon - juiced
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1.5 tsp salt
1 small red bell pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Wash and dry Kale.  Cut along the rib of kale to remove the stem.  Cut or tear remainder of kale into "chip" sized pieces.  Place kale on a baking sheet lined with parchment (or a teflex sheet in your dehydrator).  Because the kale is so fluffy, you may need 2 or more sheets to keep kale in a single layer.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender.  You may need to use a bit of filtered tap water to thin out the cheese sauce.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Pour over kale chips and toss with hands to coat evenly.  Spread into a single layer and sprinkle with fine sea salt (optional)

Place in the dehydrator for 7 to 10 hours (I put them in before I went to work today and came home to a finished product).

I put some of the chips into a large gallon-sized ziploc bag for home and the rest into a small bag to take to work tomorrow. 
I'm completely prepared for a new day of healthy raw living.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Blooming Hill Farm

This weekend I went with three wonderful friends on a day-trip to Blooming Hill Farm, an hour drive north of NYC.  Blooming Hill supplies amazing organic produce to some of the top restaurants in the city and they have a CSA available for residents in their area.  What's better, for city dwellers like me, is that they have a market and cafe that's open on Saturdays and Sundays year-round (I can't wait to make a trip in the dead of winter).  It really makes for an ideal quick getaway. 

The market is stocked with an abundance of organic produce grown right on the farm.  They also sell farm fresh eggs, goat's milk yogurt, Balthazar's bread, and a limited selection of organic produce that doesn't grow in the Northeast (bananas, lemons, avocados, etc.).  The quality and prices are unbeatable.

Besides being able to buy amazing organic produce at Blooming Hill, owner/farmer Guy Jones runs a cafe that serves brunch/lunch on the weekends and specializes in farm-to-table cooking.  Guy's motto is "don't buy food from strangers", and he sources all ingredients used in his cafe right from his own farm or from other farmer friends of his.  Each day he creates a menu of four or five options utilizing whatever is fresh.  One option is always a homemade pizza that is made in an outdoor wood-fired oven behind the barn.  I had a (not raw, but very healthful) tostada that had a toasted flatbread base topped with black beans, scrambled eggs, shredded raw cabbage, cilantro-pesto drizzled on top, and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds.  It was heavenly!  Sipping lemonade and herbal sun tea from mason jars outside on a picnic table while enjoying the bucolic vista, it was impossible not to relax and feel somewhat rejuvenated after a busy week in the city.

I was so enchanted by the multi-sensory experience of being on the farm, I didn't want to pull myself out of it to take pictures.  Luckily, my friend Mike Di Tota did the honors and he did a brilliant job.  

My Tostada:

Wood-Fired Pizza with eggplant, sage, and local organic goat's cheese: