Thursday, 27 August 2009

5 Tips for Raw Newbies

New to raw food? Well so was I four & half months ago. Here are some of my reflections on starting out raw ...
  1. The internet is your best resource for recipes, tips and raw info. My favourite site so far is gone raw. Why I like this site so much is that everyday people, like you and me, can post comments and rate all the recipes. A lot of people make the recipe and then go back and post a comment, good or bad, about the outcome. I'm also in love with Ani Phyo. I have tried several of her recipes and not one has disappointed me! She uses simple ingredients that are readily available and most of her recipes don't require a dehydrator. Her book, Ani's Raw Food Kitchen, was the first uncook book I bought and I have no regrets. Her website is also an invaluable resource for recipes as well as her videos on YouTube.

  2. One of the easiest and most versatile raw dishes I've found is raw zucchini noodles. It's inexpensive and by changing up the sauce, you won't feel like you're eating the same thing all the time. You can make a marinara with tomatoes, a creamy sauce with nuts and seeds, or a pesto with herbs. I bought an inexpensive julienne peeler to transform my zuc's into pasta.

  3. I've found that most raw foods freeze beautifully! I always make a little extra when I make soups, sauces and hummus and then freeze half. A few hours on the counter to thaw and voila! - an easy raw dinner.

  4. When you're starting out, go slow. I don't know many people that can go from S.A.D to 100% raw vegan overnight. Breakfast is an easy start for raw food newbies. Toss some veggies and fruits in a blender with a bit of water. The combinations are endless, so you're sure to find something that you like. Dessert is another easy transition to make.

  5. Lastly, don't be discouraged if you have some detox symptoms in the first few raw attempts - headache, stomach cramps, fatigue. This is totally normal and you'll probably feel fantastic the next day! Change isn't easy and your body might be going through withdrawal. As you continue adding more raw food to your diet, you'll find these symptoms will lessen and eventually disappear. You'll end up with more energy and a healthy glow. I'll never forget during my first few weeks of eating raw several of my friends and colleagues commented on how good I looked suddenly. That was all the motivation I needed to keep on rawkin'!!!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Stay Tuned Next Tuesday ...

Hello folks, no raw recipes today. I'm doing a short fast (just water). Raw Tuesday returns next week, so see you then ...

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Raw Pie Disaster

It's Tuesday again, and another day of raw recipes. Unfortunately the dessert didn't turn out as planned, but everything else was delish!

Breakfast: Raw cereal

See my previous post for recipe.
Lunch: Sun Marinated Raw Red Pepper Soup (recipe from G Living)
  • 4 large red peppers, deseeded & chopped
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 6 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil (I used cold pressed olive oil)
  • 8 strawberries
  • 4 tbsp of honey
  • sea salt & fresh black pepper to taste
  • water (as needed)

Mix the red pepper, white onion, garlic, rosemary, tomato, sunflower oil and sea salt together in a bowl (it's much better if you can mix all the ingredients with your hand, which will enable all the flavours to mix well). Cover and set aside in a warm area, or you can even leave it under the sun for about 1 hour to marinate.

Then blend all the marinated ingredients, strawberries and honey together in a blender for about 2 minutes until nice and smooth. Adjust the taste and consistency with more salt and/or water if needed. Garnish with fresh black pepper on top.

Snack: Raw Chocolate Shake

  • 1-2 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

Toss everything in the blender and mix well. Serve over ice if desired. This is becoming my favourite hot summer afternoon snack! I drank it so fast I forgot to take a photo.

Dinner: Raw Pasta with Sunny Dill Cheeze

Very similar to last week's dinner, except I used a mixture of cashews and sunflower seeds to make the dill sauce.

Dessert: Raw Strawberry Pie Do-Over Disaster
Remember my 1st raw pie that I thought wasn't strawberry-ish enough? Well I made another one ... this time with more flavourful strawberries! I also made the crust with a mix of almonds, cashews, dried coconut and cacao.

When I got my coconut oil out of the cupboard - it was liquid! I guess the heatwave got to it. But I used it anyway and continued making the filling. Well I guess I shouldn't have used the coconut oil in that melted state, because the pie won't firm up. It's the strangest thing. It's been in the fridge for over 12 hours now and it's hasn't changed consistency. I know some recipes call for the coconut oil to be melted, which this pie recipe did not, so that must have been what went wrong. I had no idea that melting the coconut oil would yield such different results.

Ah, well the coconut oil is in the fridge now ... at least until winter.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Organic Tip # 4: What is biodynamic farming?

I like to think of biodynamic farming as organic +. It encompasses the same principles as organic farming - no synthetic or artificial pesticides, no genetic modifying, no antibiotics and humane treatment of farm animals. However, biodynamic farms go one step further. It uses a holistic philosophy that believes everything is interconnected, plants, animals and the solar system. Makes sense right?

Founded in the 1920's by Rudolph Steiner, biodynamics (biology + dynamic) differ from other farms in the use of 9 homeopathic preparations that are applied to the soil, plants or compost. Some of these preparations include manure fermented in a cow's horn over the winter and then applied to the soil in the spring, Silica (often used in homeopathy) also fermented in a cow's horn over the summer months, or to control disease, a mixture made from horsetail is applied to the plants. Other common ingredients used are: chamomile, yarrow, stinging nettle, oak bark, dandelion or valerian flowers.

Importance is put on the quality of the soil, biodiversity (not mono-culture as seen on large factory farms. Thus you will never see a biodynamic farm that just grows one crop), and crop rotations to control pests and eliminate fertilizers. Biodynamics strives to create healthy plants by replenishing the soil, adding vitality to the plants and enlivening animals.

Astrology is also an important aspect of biodynamic farming. Steiner believed that nature's rhythms (such as the phases of the moon) affects planting, growing and harvesting. Calendula, for instance, according to biodynamics, must be harvested by hand in the early morning. This is when the energy of the plant is at its peak. Biodynamic farmers have complex astrological charts which indicate when is best to plant and harvest each crop.

Intrigued? I hope so. Biodynamic farming not only reduces environmental degradation, but also incorporates spirituality and the cosmos in farming and its products. The video above is a quick shot of my local biodynamic farm. Do an EcoSearch for a local biodynamic farm near you. If you're not fortunate enough to have a biodynamic farm near you, there are a few products available online (and maybe in your health food store) that follow biodynamic philosophies.

Weleda is probably the best known biodynamic product. It's widely available in Canada, and I really like their products. I use Weleda's calendula lotion (it's actually in their baby product line). It's great for healing wounds and it's gentle on my skin. My local biodynamic farm sells Weleda products.

Zhena's Gypsy Tea is also another certified biodynamic product I've seen popping up in health food stores. I haven't personally tried any of these teas yet, but I like the reusable tins they come in and the flavours sound delicious.

"But how will I know it's biodynamic?" I can hear you all asking. In Canada and the US Demeter is the only certifier of biodynamic products. Look for their logo!

To read more about biodynamic philosophy and farming visit the Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Association, a US-based non-profit organization that promotes and provides education on biodynamics.

My info source: Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Raw Organic Biodynamic Dill

This weekend I drove out to my local biodynamic farm and picked up some goodies. All the herbs were so green and fragrant, but the dill especially caught my eye (& my nose)! Check out my post on Thursday for more info on biodynamics and organics.

Breakfast: Raw Banana Cereal

Pretty much exactly the same as last week's cereal, except I used a banana cookie flavoured LĂ„RABAR . Check out this video of Ani Phyo assembling a similar raw cereal made with SmartMonkey bars.

Lunch: Avoco-Dill Raw Salad Palate (recipe from gone raw)

  • 1 whole avocado, sliced into bite size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon red onion, minced
  • 1/2 large cucumber, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon olive oil (cold pressed)
  • 1 small bunch of dill, coarsely chopped
  • pinch of sea salt

Toss everything in a large bowl. This is such a simple and delicious lunch.

Dinner: Raw Zucchini Noodles with Raw Sunny Dill Cheeze (cheeze recipe from Ani Phyo)

  • 2 cups sunflower seeds, soaked
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 1/2 cup water, as needed

Place sunflower seeds and garlic into food processor, and process into small pieces. Next, add remaining ingredients and mix well. You can vary the amount of dill you add to achieve a different taste. I loaded up on the dill, and the result was a mint green cheeze that tasted heavenly. Serve over a spirialized zucchini.

This recipe made a lot, so I know what I'm having for lunch for the next few days. ^_^

Dessert: Raw Chocolate Cherry Cobbler (recipe from gone raw)

I was planning on having this raw cobbler for dessert tonight, but the dill sauce with the raw noodles were so filling, that I ended up just eating a bowl of cherries for dessert tonight. This recipe looks good though, so I'll probably make it next week.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

My 1st Raw Pie

Yes, it's true. It only took me 16 weeks of only making the filling and skipping the crust to finally make an entire raw pie. The strawberries here are still abundant, so I opted for a strawberry pie recipe from gone raw. Everyone loved the pie, but I was hoping for a more strawberry-ish taste. Next time I make this dessert I will double the strawberries in the filling and halve the coconut oil. Overall, I'd say an excellent start to my pie uncooking adventures. Here's the recipe:

  • 2 cups almonds or pecans (I used pecans)
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla extract or half a vanilla bean
  • 4-5 medjool dates, pitted
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 cups cashews soaked 1-2 hours
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup agave (or to taste)
  • 3/4 cup fresh strawberries (I used 1 cup and still thought it wasn't strawberry-ish enough)
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 handfuls of strawberries, hulled and cut in half
To make the crust, place the almonds or pecans in food processor and process with the S blade until crumbled. Add the coconut oil, sea salt and vanilla and pulse a couple of times. Add the dates last, one at a time and pulse until the crust holds together when you squeeze it between your fingertips. If the crust does not hold, add more dates (again one at a time). Use a bit of coconut oil to grease a pie pan. Press the crust into the oiled pie pan. Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes before adding filling.
About 10 minutes before the crust is fully chilled begin making the filling. Blend all the filling ingredients until smooth. Pour 1/3 of the filling into the pie crust (just enough to cover the bottom). Take a handful of the strawberries you cut up for the topping and scatter them on top of the filling. Pour the rest of the filling on top and place in freezer for 1-2 hours until firm. When you're ready to serve, decorate the top with the rest of your cut up strawberries.

A strawberry topping would also be heavenly with this dessert. Simply toss a handful of strawberries in the blender and mix until smooth. Depending on the sweetness of your berries, you may want to add some raw sweetener as well. Drizzle the strawberry topping on the pie. I didn't have enough strawberries leftover, to do this myself :( but I thought it would have been a nice touch (especially since the pie wasn't as fruity as I would have liked).

Happy Summertime everyone!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

16th Week of Raw

It's my 16th week of eating raw for one full day each week. I've definitely found my raw groove. This week I decided to mix things up a bit and have a raw cereal for breakfast instead of a smoothie - the blender is still used though ;)

Breakfast: Raw Cinnamon Cereal
I'll admit that I first got this idea from Ani Phyo's SmartMonkey bar cereal, but I have adapted beyond recognition. I've never seen SmartMonkey bars sold in stores, so I used a LARAbar instead. I also don't have a dehydrator, so I can't make Ani's buckwheat crispies. My advise to you is: throw whatever raw food you have in a bowl, cover it with your favourite raw milk and voila, raw cereal.
  • 1 cinnamon roll LARAbar, cut into bite sized pieces
  • handful of strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • handful of blueberries
  • handful of raw pumpkin seeds

MYLK - (recipe from Ani Phyo)

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1 vanilla bean (or teaspoon alcohol free vanilla extract)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 5 cups filtered water

Toss everything in the blender and mix until smooth and frothy. Pour the mylk over the cereal and chow down.

Lunch: Raw Sweet Corn Chowder

Leftovers from last week.

Dinner: Raw Cauliflower Curry (recipe from gone raw)

  • 2 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 6 soaked sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 cm piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried coconut
  • 1 cup water (use the soak water from the sun-dried tomatoes)

Mix everything in a food processor until well combined. Don't over process - it shouldn't be liquefied. The curry doesn't really photograph well, but if you like cauliflower (like I do), you will love this recipe.

Dessert: Raw Cherry Pudding Supreme (recipe from Dr. Brantley found via In the Raw)

  • 20 cherries, pitted
  • 1⁄2 avocado
  • 3 dates, pitted

Combine everything in a food processor until smooth. This recipe will only make one serving, so multiply by the number of people you need to feed. I love how simple this recipe is, and it tastes great too!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Yoga Asana of the Month (August)

This month's yoga inspiration is fish pose (matsyasana). Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Okay I'll admit it, I'm partial to the animal poses! Fish pose is designed to stretch the belly muscles, the muscles between the ribs and stimulate the throat. If you can bend all the way back and touch your head to the floor, make sure the top of your head is resting on the floor. This will help you deepen into the posture. Advanced students can try padamasana matsyasana (lotus fish pose), a variation on fish pose that begins with the legs crossed in lotus pose, and then move into fish.

Note: The above video is provided by YouTube. I have no control over the ads within this video. I am not affiliated with these advertisers, and do not endorse their products.

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