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:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Why does a raw lifestyle make so much sense?

Dr. Alejandro Junger, M.D. made a guest posting on Kris Carr's website that I encourage all to read.
Dr. Junger is the director of Integrative Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC.  He is also the author of Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself.

Also, be sure to check out the rest of Kris Carr's informative and inspirational blog, crazysexylife

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Autumnal Coziness

Fall really hit yesterday in NYC.  As soon as I stepped outside and felt the autumn chill brush my cheeks, I began craving warm soup.  I thought about going down to the Greenmarket at Union Sq. to pick up some butternut squash and onions for a roasted squash soup (with heavy cream, of course).

Instead, I wondered if some of my favorite raw foodists might have something to offer that's just as delicious and comforting.  I poked around one of my favorite blogs by the talented and vivacious Kristen Suzanne and came across her Harvest Soup recipe.  This is JUST what I had in mind.  The preparation was incredibly simple and I had most of the ingredients on hand already.

The thing about autumn and winter is that when cold weather hits, I crave warm foods.  Many raw cook books suggest that soups be heated by leaving the blender running a bit longer when pureeing the ingredients.  The residual heat from the motor warms the liquid.  The problem is that I really like to control the texture of my soups and sometimes like the chunkiness.  To solve this problem I simply blended the soup to my desired consistency and then transfered it to a saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer.  This way I was able to monitor the temperature and keep it under (approximately) 118 degrees.

The soup was delicious and oh so satisfying.  Kristen suggests adding 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.....and really, how could I turn that down?