Friday, December 4, 2009
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
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.
THANKSGIVING TAKEAWAY MENU
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
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.
Friday, October 30, 2009
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
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
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
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
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
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
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.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
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.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
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.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
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
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.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
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.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
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!).
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
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.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
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.