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!