Sunday, February 28, 2010

From Desperate Housewives to My Kitchen Table

I'll be honest, I just took the culinary advice of a Desperate Housewife, and it was delicious. This month's Bon Apetit magazine featured an article about celebrity restaurateurs. In the article, Eva Longoria, who owns BESO in Los Angeles, states that she grew up on guacamole being made with fresh squeezed lemons rather than limes. She recommends that others try making it with lemons, as she can't have it any other way. So, that's exactly what I did today. I made guac with lemon juice, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, bean sprouts, red onion, garlic, salt, and a dash of hot sauce (not raw, I know). It turns out that guacamole tastes quite different this way - much lighter and fruitier. I have to say that I really like it and will probably continue to make it this way in the future. Thanks Eva!

I made some onion bread from RAWvolution and used it as a crust for Guacamole Pizzas. They were both hearty and refreshing....a nice combination, right?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Avocado Soup with Blood Orange and Mango Salsa

I've been having a major case of the winter doldrums (probably why I haven't posted in a while). I'm sick of kale, sweet potatoes, turnips, and celeriac - ditto for cold wind, slush, and air that has been robbed of any moisture by my heater. My body has been craving foods that are more vibrant, if that makes sense. I was, therefore, SO excited to see that blood oranges are in season. When I saw them at the market I knew I had to buy some, as I was confident they would cure my winter ills.

I remembered seeing a recipe in Sarma's newest, Living Raw Food, for Avocado Soup with Blood Orange and Mango Salsa. The fact that it incorporates some tropical fruits really sold me (sorry locavores). I honestly don't make soup too often because my sweetheart doesn't really understand the point of soup as an entity, and because they're often too cumbersome to make only for myself. But, this one is actually quite simple. It's just like making a smoothie and a fruit salad at the same time.

This recipe made a lot of soup. Luckily, my sweetheart devoured a bowl - afterward he looked at me with concern and asked "is this all we're having?", but I digress. I asked Sarma if it can be stored in the fridge, and she thinks it can for up to 2 days. This makes sense because the recipe calls for some lemon juice, which should stave off oxidization for a bit. I'll be having some for lunch tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Just returned from a whirlwind trip to London (I was there only 72 hours). I had a great time, but deviated majorly from the raw vegan path of righteousness. Dim Sum and Lebanese food were just too tempting.

I did, however, have one raw meal. On Saturday I met up with the lovely and talented Antony Heaven, of Antony In London ( We ventured north to grab lunch at Dragonfly, a stunning (at least by the looks of their website) raw food restaurant that we learned went out of business when we approached the vacant storefront. It was very disappointing. But, we then headed over to Camden to eat at inSpiral Lounge. It's a vegan cafe with some raw options. It was satifying enough, but just know, should you ever dine there, that you can select THREE side orders and ONE main. Aparently I didn't get this through my American head fast enough, much to the chagrin of the icy sales associate. Still, it's worth the trip if you're in the area.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wild Rice, Take 2

Just wanted to put up a better picture of my friend Debra's amazing wild rice recipe. The onions are lightly sauteed in coconut oil, but the wild rice has not been cooked. The cranberries are dehydrated and sprayed with apple juice to make them sweet. You must try this's fantastic!

Tonight we ate the wild rice with oven-roasted root veggies (sweet potatoes, red beets, golden beets, turnips, fennel, and onions) that were tossed in coconut oil, salt, and pepper. We also had an arugula salad with avocados, grape tomatoes, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spaghetti Squash - Vegan, but not Raw.

During these cold winter months I have been craving warm, heartier fare. And, while I don't want my cravings to pull me away from plant-based food, I'm open to some of it being cooked every now and then. Back in October I put together this baked spaghetti squash with a creamy mushroom marinara. I've honestly made it about once per week ever since. It's so simple and requires literally 3 ingredients: 1) the squash, 2) a jar of vegan organic mushroom marinara sauce, 3) Veganaise. Here's what you do:

-Take a whole spaghetti squash and prick holes in it all over (so that it doesn't explode in the oven), I use a small paring knife.
-Place on baking sheet and bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees.
-Allow to cool enough to handle it, then slice open lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and discard. Meanwhile, pour roughly 1.5 cups of marinara sauce into an oven-proof bowl and place in the oven to warm through residual heat (your oven should be off).
-Using the tines of a fork, pull 'spaghetti' strands away from the skin and transfer to a serving platter.
-Mix 2 tbsp of Veganaise into the sauce to make it rich and creamy. Pour sauce over spaghetti squash and serve.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Wild Rice Recipe That's MOSTLY Raw.

This recipe comes from my good friend, Debra, who is a fantastic holistic health counselor. We made this last month and ate it by the fireplace of her phenomenal Harlem apartment. In addition to the fabulous recipe, Debra taught me that wild rice is not actually a rice, but a grass that grows in marshes (FYI).

(Again, I'm a terrible photographer)

So, here's how you do it:
Fill a bowl with 3/4 cup wild rice. Cover the rice with water and place in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, changing the water daily.
Saute 1/2 onion (chopped) in 2 Tbsp of extra virgin coconut oil over a low flame. I add a pinch of salt. When the onions become translucent and soft, add a handful of dried cranberries*. Saute for one minute more and turn off heat. Drain wild rice and add to the onions, tossing everything together with a wooden spoon. Adding the rice off the heat will simply warm the grain, rather than cook it. Serve and say "Bon Appetite" in your best Julia Childs voice.

I served mine with beet ravioli, topped with store-bought pesto.
(better here with the camerawork, eh?)

*I like Eden Organics brand because the cranberries are sweetened with pure apple juice, rather than sugar.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Raw Hair - Shampoo and Conditioner

Just purchased a few Morrocco Method products at the recommendation of the talented and vivacious Kristen Suzanne. Morrocco Method is a company that makes hair care products which are organic, vegan, AND raw! Their ingredient lists read more like an Audobon Society forest manual than that of a typical cosmetic company. The way their system works is that you're supposed to alternate their 5 shampoos daily and finish with their Heavenly Chi Conditioner. I purchased 2 of their shampoos, the Sea Elements and the Heavenly Chi Shampoo, as well as one bottle of the Heavenly Chi Conditioner. The friendly reps at Morroco Method gave me generous sized samples of the shampoos that I didn't purchase, and I can't wait to try them out.

Let me just say that since I began using their products 3 days ago I can't stop touching my hair because it feels so nice. Seriously, I'm not exaggerating. They are phenomal products! But, before I get ahead of myself, let me just walk you through the whole Morrocco Method experience:
First, there's nothing hippy-dippy about the packaging. The bottles they come in look like any professional hair care product that you'd pick up at your favorite salon. However, what's inside the bottle is drastically different. As soon as you open the cap you get a waft of the scent, which is strong and "herby." Seriously, I don't know any other way to describe it. It certainly doesn't smell bad. In fact, I quite like the smell, but it's very different from the "detergenty" smell of most shampoos. Another important factor to note is that the texture is like grainy mustard and it doesn't lather. As a matter of fact, it doesn't rub into your hair and scalp very easily - it takes some effort. The conditioner is pretty much the same overall experience, although I must say that I could feel the olive oil in it and I actually worried that it would leave my hair looking greasy even after I washed it out, but that didn't turn out to be the case.

What I'm saying is that Morrocco Method makes highly unusual products that are not deleterious to your health or the health of the planet. They will leave your hair looking luminous, perhaps better than with traditional haircare products. However, remember to keep an open mind initially.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Vaute Couture Tees

I have to confess my love for Vaute Couture's current line of T-shirts. Vaute Couture is a vegan clothing line (the "V" in Vaute stands for "vegan" and is a clever substitution for "H"). They are the first apparel label to not just use existing vegan fabrics, but to focus on developing vegan alternatives to animal derived clothing.

Vaute's newest line of T-shirts just rocks! If anyone out there is looking to give me a gift, this is it. They are all brilliant, but these are my favorites:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Travel Essential - Outer Body Experience

Home from Brazil after 10 wonderful days. I wholeheartedly believe that travel is the best education money can buy. With every country I visit, I become more adept at the art of living, and I am incredibly grateful for my travel opportunities.

One thing I refuse to do, while traveling, is to use the cheap (and toxic) grooming products that are provided by hotels. I firmly adhere to the principle of only putting on my skin products that I am willing to eat. So, in an effort to pack light, I brought just one bottle of Simply Divine Botanical's "pink grapefruit" scented all-in-one product called Outer Body Experience. It can be used as shampoo, face wash, and body wash. It's, quite honestly, all you really need in the shower. And, after using it alone for 10 days straight, I can vouch that it's a fantastic product.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Brazil IV - Restaurants

While there is no shortage of steakhouses in the city of Rio de Janeiro, vegan restaurants are far and few between. Luckily, thanks to Happy Cow, I was able to find one vegan/organic restaurant and even one raw restaurant.

Vegetariano Social Clube - Culinaria Organica is a fantastic vegan restaurant in the exquisite neighborhood of Leblon. Their menu is quite diverse and they have a fantastic selection of sweets. Quite honestly, I have had a salad both times I've dined there. Salads are very hard to come by in Brazil, as is any green vegetable. On this tangent, it's worth mentioning that garlic sprouts, locally called Nira, are one of the most common green vegetables I have seen at all different types of restaurants. Luckily, Vegetariano Social Clube offers more diversity.

(why did I take the picture from this angle?)

Universo Organico is a raw restaurant that is worthy of accolades by any standards. If they had a location in New York I would dine here more frequently than any other raw restaurant we already have here. The flavor combinations are sensational and they use very good quality ingredients. They even have a zucchini lasagna. Universo Organico is just a few doors down from Vegetariano Social Clube, but it's tucked inside the plaza of a theater, so it can be difficult to find.

Go to Rio!!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Brazil III - Caldo de Cana

There are wonderful farmer's markets in Rio. Each neighborhood has its own market on a certain day of the week. Although, it is relatively simple to go to a market in another neighborhood on a different day of the week because everything in Rio is so close. I encourage all tourists to go to a farmer's market on a visit to Rio. It's a completely different experience than going to a market in the States. First of all vendors approach customers far away from their stands and try to lure them over by offering a sample of the freshest and tastiest from their harvest that day. "Try my mango," one will shout, and the next thing you know there's a ripe piece of mango in your hand. Another vendor slips a strawberry into your hand, all in an effort to coax you to their stand. I always appreciate people who value flavor and quality of agriculture over size or cheap cost.

Anyway, we came across a truck that was loaded up with, what looked like, bamboo stalks. It turns out that they are sugar cane sticks.

Vendors take out the sticks and put them through a huge juicer that looks like a cross between a wood chipper and a pasta maker.

The result is a delicious treat of pure sugarcane juice that is mixed with a squeeze of fresh lime. Not nearly as sweet as one would think. But, I had a bout 3 glasses right then and there.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Brazil II - Agua de Coco

Another one of nature's magical gifts from the palm tree is coconut water. Brazilians take full advantage of the bounty of fresh coconuts, and there are 'Agua de Coco' stands on every corner of Rio de Janeiro. It's common to see joggers finish their run at one of these stands where they rehydrate the natural way. Some people even ask the vendor to split the coconut in half, after drinking the water, so that they can scoop the meat out for a snack.

So far, I have had at least one cocunut per day. What I like most about the coconuts in Rio, as opposed to the young thai coconuts we get in the states, is that the Brazilians leave them in their green husk. It bothers me so much that, in America, they come stripped of the husk and then dipped in formaldehyde so that the white fibers don't turn brown. Why can't we keep them in their natural state? And, since I'm asking, why aren't there coconut kiosks in Central Park and along the Hudson river promenade?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Brazil I - açaí

For the past few days I have been spending the holidays in beautiful (and sunny and warm, hahaha) Rio de Janeiro. That's right, home of samba, Copacabana beach, and the future site of the 2016 Olympics . I'll admit, I was initially concerned about what I would be able to eat in the land of steakhouses and fried shrimp on the beach. I wanted to have fun, obviously, so I mentally prepared myself to be flexible, and to accept the fact that I was not going to be 100% raw vegan on my vacation. While this has certainly been the case, I have also found that Rio has an abundance of delicious, healthy, and fresh food that will satisfy anyone who is lucky enough to spend time in this magical city.

One of my favorite Brazilian treats is açaí. Açaí is a small, round, black-purple fruit that grows on a palm tree of the same name. This superfood has a rich history in South America, especially Brazil. In the traditional Caboclo populations in the Amazon region of Brazil, açaí palm is described as the most important plant species because the fruit makes up a major component of their diet, up to 42% of the total food intake by weight. In northern state of Pará Brazil, açaí pulp is traditionally served in gourds called "cuias" with tapioca and, depending on the local preference, can be consumed either salty or sweet - sugar, rapadura, and honey are known to be used in the mix.

In southern Brazil, especially Rio, açaí is consumed cold in a bowl. Many cariocas (citizens of Rio de Janeiro) eat açaí for breakfast or before a workout, as it boosts energy and has a lot of protein. Juice bars are everywhere in the Zona Sul and açaí is one of the most popular menu items. Each morning for breakfast we've gone to a different juice bar where we get açaí blended with coconut meat and we top it with sliced banana and granola. It's a great way to start the day.