Archive for the ‘raw food’ Category

The Colors of Health: Red, Gold, and Green

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, going raw has really opened up the world of vegetables to me – well, that and joining a local organic CSA.

Over the last three weeks, we’ve probably gone through four (if not six!) heads of cabbage – some of them green, some of them red (or, technically, purple).

Anyway, I started off using the larger, outer leafs as wraps for burritos and using the smaller, inner leaves for making small batches of slaw.

That was until I made a batch of raw hummus out of tahini and zucchini that was just begging for some chips – hence the habit of tearing red (or purple) cabbage leaves into chip sized chunks was born. Trust me, no one was more surprised than me about how good raw cabbage leaves taste when combined with a little hummus! Let’s just say that life was good.

But then the CSA cabbage started.

I had one head left over from the week before, had just bought a red one, and got two more!

At this point in my life I am committed to two things when it comes to food: don’t waste it and (obviously) don’t cook it!

So, racking my brain for an answer, I hit on a solution: slaw. And lots of it!

Now, if you’re like me and grew up anywhere remotely resembling the south, your idea of slaw probably involves a lot of mayonnaise and other sundry items – none of which resemble anything close to being raw (let alone good for you). But I was determined, and here’s what I came up with:

1 head of cabbage (green), shredded
3-4 carrots, finely grated
1/2 cup of parsley, finely minced (I’ve also used cilantro)
Braggs Liquid Aminos, to taste (at least 3 tablespoons, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Braggs)
2 limes, juiced
1/2 – 1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon of cinnamon (or more, to taste)
1 teaspoon of turmeric (or more, to taste)
1 teaspoon of cumin (or more, to taste)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Himalayan sea salt (pink), to taste

This stuff is seriously delicious. I’ve been eating it by the plate – sometimes alone, sometimes mixed with Shirataki noodles, which aren’t technically raw, but aren’t technically food, since they’re all fiber and are, by design, indigestible.

Since I was eating so much cabbage – as wraps, as chips, and as slaw, I found myself wondering what nutrients cabbage actually contained. I mean, it wasn’t like I didn’t know what cabbage was prior to my latest pro-cabbage phase, but I certainly hadn’t ever given it much thought. I mean, it’s cabbage. Not that interesting. Right?

Well, not really.

Cabbage, as it turns out, is a cruciferous vegetable – as are other well known superstar vegetables (a/k/a super food veggies) such as broccoli, kale, brussels, and bok choy. According to the Whole Foods website:

The phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables initiate an intricate dance inside our cells in which gene response elements direct and balance the steps among dozens of detoxification enzyme partners, each performing its own protective role in perfect balance with the other dancers. The natural synergy that results optimizes our cells’ ability to disarm and clear free radicals and toxins, including potential carcinogens, which may be why cruciferous vegetables appear to lower our risk of cancer more effectively than any other vegetables or fruits.

For more information about cabbage, go here. And to learn more about the health benefits of cruciferous veggies and how to get more of them into your diet, go here.

Now, some of you might be thinking: Well, that’s all well and good, but I thought cabbage gave people gas.

Well, yes and no.

Personally it doesn’t bother me, but I know it does some people. That’s where the turmeric comes in. And besides it’s wonderful flatulance reducing properties, turmeric is a superfood in it’s own right.

Trust me, if your not getting enough cruciferous vegetables or turmeric in your diet, you might want to consider adding more. Men in particular, should seriously consider increasing their intake of turmeric – especially to any recipe including cauliflower (which is, you guessed it, another cruciferous veggie)!

So, if you’re stuck in a rut on your vegetable consumption, branch out. And whatever else you do, eat your turmeric!

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Rawmazing Recipes to Keep

When I first started blogging, I said it was to remind me of that I know was true.

As I age, I’m finding that it’s really more and more about reminding of me that which I don’t want to lose!

Taking a quick break between student meetings, I found this wonderful list of recipes from Rawmazing that definitely fall in the category of that which I don’t want to lose!

I am particularly psyched to try the Baba Ghanoush (something I’ve really been missing since having gone raw) and the Spinach Cashew “Cheese” Spread, which, at the drop of a hat, can double as the filling for a spinach quiche or the sauce for Spinach Cashew Zucchini Pasta! I mean, seriously, in addition to looking absolutely gorgeous, how convenient is that?!

Tip of the Day: Substitute Collard Greens for Tortilla Wraps

The thing that surprises me the most about having adopted a raw diet (28 days raw as of today), is just how many vegetables there are in the world that I just ignored. And I am someone who regularly filled up the basket at the Coop on fresh veggies!

When I was eating cooked food, I usually bought the fixings for a nice spinach salad, broccoli, brussels sprouts, green beans, beets, zucchini and kale. Now, in addition to all of these vegetables, I am routinely eating butternut squash, cabbage (green and red, especially red), turnips, and my most recent addiction, collard greens.

Prior to last week, I had never even seen a collard green (at least not one that wasn’t swimming in bacon grease)!

Now, not only do I put them (raw) in smoothies, I also use them to make burritos! Wide and sturdy, collard leaves are the perfect size for wraps or tortillas.

All you have to do is cut out (or scrape down the stiff stem in the center) and then fill it with your favorite topping. Lately I’ve been filling mine up with cashew cheez (nut butter) and a beet and carrot slaw. It’s delicious. It’s filling. And it’s aesthetically pleasing.

Tonight I am going to make up an Indian pate with walnuts and spices. I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t vouch for it, but you can check out the recipe here courtesy of The Raw Foods Witch, Nathalie Lussier.

Can Someone Help Me Deal With Well-Intentioned Skinny People?

Or, rather, my reaction to them.

I am really not bashing skinny people – after all, I want to be one of them, right?

But if another well-intentioned skinny person comments on the quantity of food that I eat, I may scream.

I sat down to a meal recently with a friend of mine and brought out three raw cabbage roles (made with beet and carrot slaw and cashew cheez). All total, that meal had 255 calories in it, max.

My companion exclaims: “Wow, that’s a lot of food!”

I immediately get offended.

I remind them of how it annoyed me when my other friend had made a similar comment about my (“Wow, that’s a lot of smoothie”) Green Smoothie. I then defensively (and this was probably my mistake) pointed out that it only had X many calories and was extremely healthy.

“Oh, I get that,” they responded. “I just couldn’t eat that much food. My stomach’s just not that big.”

Wow.

In less than 2 seconds I went from someone who was feeling pretty darned good about herself physically, to feeling like the 800 pound guy in the pie eating contest at the county fair.

I literally got sick to my stomach and pushed the food away. At that moment, you couldn’t have paid me to eat that food. I seriously thought I was going to throw up.

Luckily, my friend and I are very close and they are incredibly supportive of me. In fact, we were able to resolve it pretty quickly, even though my appetite never did come back.

Essentially, once I was able to breathe, I was able to tell them what was wrong (and why I wasn’t eating).

I first expressed my anger and annoyance.

I also mentioned how strange I think it is that people (and it happens a lot) comment on what I eat. And, because I do admittedly eat large portions of super low calorie food, the amount.

I also asked, quite pointedly, when’s the last time they heard me comment when they have McDonald’s fries or 1/2 a pint of Ben and Jerry’s (or both)?

I also expressed my hurt and even used the 800 lb. guy at the pie eating contest as an example.

Then I expressed my deepest and most irrational fear: is that what you (and everyone else) think of me when you see me sit down and eat a big plate of SALAD?

And then my other deepest fear, that is, granted, slightly less irrational: if I get judged for eating lots of healthy food (by volume, not calories) by my friends, then how am I supposed to feel good about adopting a lifestyle that (by definition) requires that you always have food – lots of food – with you, wherever you go?

Has anyone else come across this? And, if so, what’s the best way around it with everyone’s dignity in tact?

P.S. Now, admittedly, I did razz my father some over the holidays about eating bologna and white dinner rolls, though (at the time) I saw it more as a health issue than as a food issue! Note to self: call your father and apologize.

A good visual on why raw is easier on the digestion than cooked…

…though why taking plant-based enzymes will do in a pinch!

This is a short video from Holistic Nutritionist Rose Cole. Check it out! It’s pretty amazing. It sort of reminded me of being back in my high school chemistry class! Ah, the nostalgia of it.

And, even if you’re not interested in better digestion (or weight loss or having more energy), it will answer that question that you’ve always had – but were too polite to ask – about what really happens to corn after you eat it! I’ll just stop there in order to preserve the sensibilities of my readers, but I’m sure that you know what I’m talking about!

Note: depending on your bandwidth, you might want to let the video load up completely before watching it! Enjoy!

Radical (Yet Under the Radar) Shift in Identity

Last fall, I lived to write in my blog. Not only did I post pretty much daily, I was addicted to the stats feature, which I checked multiple times a day.

Lately, however, I haven’t been writing in my blog regularly. If I’m lucky, I might get to it once a week. And even then, it tends to be a recipe or something like that; a post of value, but of little substance.

At first I thought that it was because I was too busy. I’m back on the teaching merry-go-round. I have daily papers to grade. I’m also learning a new way to cook as I’ve made the decision to go raw.

And I’m sure that while all of those are valid reasons (if offered by someone else), I’ve come to realize that those aren’t my reasons.

Last year, from March until December, all I wanted to do was release (forever) that last ten pounds.

This year (including the last week of last year), all I wanted to do (and continue to do) is eat raw food.

I no longer see myself as a busy woman who wants to lose the last ten pounds and keep it off forever. I see myself as a busy raw foods enthusiast.

And since that’s happened, I literally have not thought once about those “last ten pounds.”

Now, it is true that I was back up after Christmas – in fact, I was back up by eight pounds! So, in one sense, I needed to lose eight of those last ten all over again.

But since I’ve started living a raw lifestyle – not only do I feel a thousand times better and have way more energy – five of those eight pounds pretty much just disappeared.

You heard me – without me stressing about it or killing myself at the gym, I lost five pounds – give or take a few ounces – in a little less than three weeks.

And that was with me eating ice cream (granted, raw ice cream) once – sometimes twice – a day!

There is a book called “The Power of Now,” in which the author (whose name I cannot recall) argues that sometimes people get so identified with their struggle that they become their struggle. In other words, being in that struggle becomes part of their identity.

Let me just fess up now: No doubt about it, I was identified with my struggle to lose that last ten pounds and to keep it off. Heck, that’s the tag-line of my blog.

According to this book, if you are identified with your struggle, then there is some part of you that will do anything necessary to keep the conditions in place so that your identity can survive.

As a social psychologist, I know this. Heck, I teach it to dozens of undergraduates each year. Had a applied it myself? Absolutely not.

Somehow, in the process of learning to “cook” meals in a blender, I forgot about the struggle to release the last ten pounds and simply became a raw food enthusiast. And, perhaps far more important and sustaining, for the first time in my life, I’ve felt comfortable in my body. In fact, I feel light. I feel healthy.

Instead of getting hung up on what I’ve done wrong (which used to be the pattern when I was trying to lose weight), I feel thrilled and happy every time I choose something raw over something cooked and not once – not a single day nor even a single meal – have I felt like I was missing out.

So, I think I may be changing the tag-line of my blog, as it no longer reflects my primary focus or my view of myself. I’ll be sure to let you know what I come up with and hope, for those of you following along, that I won’t lose any of you in the transition.

Nice Introduction to Living Raw

This article was forwarded to me by my sister who has also recently gone raw and is loving it! It’s a great introduction to the lifestyle and just plain commonsense for those that aren’t.

“The biggest problem with the average American diet is not just how much we eat, it’s the percentage of our diet that’s made up of cooked and over-processed foods. Find out how eating “live” can help you live healthier, happier and longer.” – Steven Lang

Thanks for the recommendation; keep them coming!

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for…Zucchini and Bananas?!

I made banana ice cream tonight, because I wanted something a little sweet. It was 99% fruit and vegetable and 1% all natural sweetener and spice.

The recipe (in case you’re interested):

1 cup of sliced frozen bananas
1/2 cup of sliced frozen zucchini
Some chocolate stevia (to taste, though dates would have worked as well)
and a dash (or two) of cinnamon
Enough water to blend (Add 1 tablespoon at a time)

Throw it all in the blender (scraping down the sides when necessary) and voila! It was to die for. And as the die-hard calorie counter in me thought: “Wow, this whole thing is only 139 calories and has absolutely no fat!”

Believe it or not, this blog post is not about the ice cream.

It’s about the fact that I’m just weeks away from forty and I never knew that you could make ice cream without dairy, without sugar, and without fat.

Seriously, what’s wrong with this picture?

How could I have gotten to forty – given all of the years I have struggled with my weight – and not known that you could eat this way?

Seriously, it boggles the mind.

Perhaps it has something to do that there’s no big business money to be made in selling raw food. Maybe it’s because the “food” industry – and I use the quotations meaningfully are more interested in creating “fat-free” and “low carb” options that can stay on the shelf for years than they are in educating people on how to eat!

I mean, for all of the years that I either ate ice cream (and felt bad about it) or didn’t eat it (and resented it) there was nothing stopping me from tossing a couple of bananas and some, er, squash, into a blender and making my own.

Nothing, that is, but knowledge and an unhealthy dose of cultural conditioning.

One of the things that I like about going raw is that it forces you to rethink just about everything that you’ve ever thought about cooking or food. It forces creativity, because if you don’t get creative – fast – you’re not going to succeed.

Today, I am going to make hummus, tabouli, and Pad Thai (all raw). Given that I use zucchini in my ice cream, I’ll let you just think on what today will bring.

By the way, if you’re more of a chocolate ice cream sort of person than a banana ice cream sort of person, you can add raw cacao (2 Tbs) and raw chocolate nibs (1 Tbs) to the base described above for a truly decadent treat! You might also want to change the banana:zucchini ratio to 1 cup of banana and 2 cups of zucchini.

If you try it, drop me a note and let me know what you think! Or better yet, if you make up your own version, let me know! One can never have enough healthy ice cream options!

So For How Long?

I ran into a friend at the grocery store today. She was there to pick up wine, cheese, veggies, and a number of other delicacies. I was there to get cat food, raw cashews, raw peanuts, mango, bean sprouts, and, well, cat food.

“Hey,” she called out when she saw me. “It’s the raw girl! How’s it going?”

We chatted a few minutes about life in general and work before turning the conversation back to diet – in particular, my diet.

“So where do you get your protein?” she asked as she handed her kale to the woman behind the register.

“Same place you get yours, ” I quipped as I nodded at the huge bunch of leafy greens. “You’d be surprised. My kale smoothie this morning had 18 grams of protein in it, which is almost half of the daily recommendation for women.”

She nodded in sober agreement: “Kale is an amazing vegetable.”

We talked a little more.

Essentially, I told her some about what MJ and I have been eating and how much better I’ve felt. I told her about the medication that I’d been able to stop taking, and how much more time I had now that I didn’t have to work out three hours a day just to keep the shape that I had bought in exchange for months of calorie counting.

“That’s amazing,” she said, but then added: “So, how long are you doing this for?”

Huh?

“I don’t know,” I responded, somewhat hurriedly and a little more defensively than I wanted to. “I’ve signed up for this eleven week thing. We’ll see how it goes.” (I am pretty sure at this point I also mentioned that my personal standard was 80% raw, though for three out of the last four days I’d managed to hit 100%, just in case she ever wanted to invite us out for dinner!)

“Eleven weeks, huh? That’s a long time.”

What was interesting to me about this whole exchange is that I hadn’t even crossed my mind that going raw (that is incorporating more raw food into my diet) had a stop date.

To me, choosing to eat uncooked food is just like the choice to go gluten-free: If gluten-makes you sick, you don’t eat it.

If eating raw food makes you feel better and helps you maintain your weight without having to spend three hours working out every single day, then you continue to eat it.

I also realized that in that brief exchange, that I have already adopted the identity of “raw foodist.”

It’s not really a label, per se, because I probably wouldn’t describe myself that way to anyone else. But it is how I’ve been thinking about myself. God knows I’ve spent enough time in the last four weeks obsessing over it! And I’ve spent more than enough money on information products and cookbooks to make the thought of exiting anytime soon down right painful.

So, back to the original question – which I thought was a good one – for how long? How long am I planning to do this?

Well, for as long as it takes – whatever that means.

The good news about being 80% raw (as opposed to 100%) is that you can still choose to be 100% most days. And on the days that you’re not? No one – including me – has to feel bad about it.

Year End and Looking Forward

I had a big year last year when it came to my body and, more importantly, to my relationship with it!

I lost that last ten stubborn pounds (some of which have come back as muscle).

I threw my scale away, which was both liberating and scary.

I bought my first pair of size fours in June (and I’m still wearing them)!

I joined an on-line support community for women who want to transform their relationship with their body and their ideas about food. There I learned to love yoga and began thinking seriously about the old adage: “You are what you eat.”

I went gluten-free and convinced my sister to do the same.

I am happy to say that since I stopped eating gluten almost 6 months ago, I was able to get off of two prescription medications that I had been taking for over a year! Note that one of those medications was prescribed to deal with the side effects of the other!

I’ve also had no sign of arthritis in my hands (which routinely reared its ugly head during the winter months).

I am also thrilled to report that my sister no longer has weekly migraines and a number of her digestive problems (which I won’t share with you, here, as they are not my own) have completely disappeared. Congratulations sis!

Although I was eating better and feeling better, I realized that I still had a lot of emotional issues around food that I had been carrying around since I was 16 and weighed a whopping 232.5 pounds.

In other words, I still had no sense of portion control and I still ate my emotions.

When I was bored, I ate. When I was nervous, I ate. When I was stressed, I ate. When I was angry – you guessed it.

And when I ate, I didn’t just eat until I was 80% full, which is what all of the nutritionists tell you. I usually ate until I was at least 120% full, which often turns into 140% full once your brain gets the message from your stomach that you should have stopped at least 15 minutes sooner!

About five weeks ago, I was at a conference where it turns out a number of participants were “raw.” That is, 80% of the food they eat has not been cooked (or heated above 105 degrees).

These women – and they were mostly women – were thin, gorgeous, and literally had this glow about them.

They were confident and charming.

They were totally comfortable in their skin, which was absolutely flawless, by the way.

And, more to the point, they were not obsessed with food. Whereas everyone else were checking their watches and grumbling about what time the presenter was going to let us go to lunch, these beautiful, thin, and centered women were fully present with the material.

They weren’t proselytizing either.

In fact, it wasn’t until the second day of the conference, when I offered the woman next to me something that I was eating, that she even mentioned that she was a raw foodist.

Really?!

Because I love food – all types of food – and I had recently gone gluten-free, I was fascinated and soon she and I would start talking about raw food whenever presenter broke – for lunch or whatever.

Compared to mine (which has improved dramatically over the years), her approach towards eating seemed so sane. So balanced.

And she definitely wasn’t someone who sounded all deprived. She wasn’t saying: I only get to eat raw food (poor pitiful me). She was more like: I only eat raw food (and I frickin’ love it)!

Well, in my search for gluten-free dessert recipes that I could make at Christmas to share with my family, I had actually come across a cookbook online: “28 Desserts You Can Eat Everyday.” It was a raw foods cookbook – again, meaning that most of the recipes used raw nuts, seeds, cacao, fruits, vegetables, natural sweeteners, spices, etc.

Although I didn’t buy it immediately, I did sign up for author’s weekly newsletter.

However, after meeting my new friend, who shall be known as M, the next time one of the cookbook lady’s emails showed up in my in box, I pushed the button.

As it turns out, raw desserts are delicious (and they are way easier and faster to make than cooked desserts). As yet another new raw friend pointed out: I don’t have to wait for them to heat up and I don’t have to wait for them to cool down – they’re perfect!

And then another coincidence occurred: my friend M (the one I met at the conference) just happened to also be going to Tulsa for the holidays! Small world since I live on the East Coast and we originally met in Los Angeles!

M and I (and her mother and my sister) went to the local raw food restaurant that I had blogged about earlier.

Well, as it turns out, M was just as cool as I remembered (as was her mother) and the food was better than I had ever imagined possible.

We had an absolutely fabulous meal and – even better – I didn’t feel at all sick or bloated like I sometimes do after eating out.

In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I felt clean, vibrant, and alive!

When’s the last time you felt that way after eating pizza and a brownie with “fudge” sauce?

So, the holidays continued. Every day I made raw smoothies and experimented with raw desserts. Eventually, I even managed to recruit my poor sister onto the bandwagon. She now owns not one high speed blender – but two!

Since December 28th, I have been 70-75% raw.

Starting December 29, I went what some refer to as “high raw” – or raw until dinner.

Yesterday I had my first 100% raw day.

I have also signed up on yet another virtual on-line community (Raw Food Rehab) – this one dedicated to helping people get more raw foods into their lifestyle. I even went so far as to apply to join their 11 week initiative. Here, you get additional support (should you need it) to stay at least 80% raw for 11 weeks.

If you’re interested at all in raw food, this website has an insane number of raw food recipes and forums to get you started and to keep you going.

That’s actually where I’ve been the last few days instead of posting here!

So, if you’re still reading this, you might be thinking: but why? Why would you want to cut most – if not all – cooked food out of your diet? Why would you willingly give up pancakes and eggs for breakfast (or even oatmeal and maple syrup) in exchange for a green smoothie?

The whys are complicated, but I’ll try to give it my best shot.

It’s fun.

It’s easy.

It’s delicious.

Raw is naturally gluten-free, so I don’t have to worry about eating something inadvertently that’s going to make me sick.

Raw is also naturally alkaline, something that I’ve been trying to attain for almost three years.

And, more importantly, it’s broken all of my pre-existing addictions to food.

I eat when I want to eat and I stop eating when I’m 80% full.

My emotions are not tied up with raw food the way they are with cooked food.

The only way I can think to say it is that I am finally eating for nutrition instead of comfort.

My calorie intake is so much lower (even though my nutrient intake is about the same [or even higher!]) – trust me, I keep track of everything using LoseIt – that I’m no longer going to have to spend three hours a day doing cardio just to maintain my current weight.

But, all that aside (and I am sure there are others) I think Michael J summed it up best: You’re so much lighter and joyous in the kitchen and around food than you used to be! It’s been a real pleasure to just be around and watch you play.

So, that’s where I am. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ll be sure to keep you posted and share all of my new, fun, and easy recipes!

I hope you have a wonderful new year! I certainly intend to!

Happy New Year! Live from the Raw Food Rehab Online Community

It had been my intention to write a big year end blog and something motivating and meaningful about looking forward, but, to tell you the truth, I have spent almost the entire day over at some other woman’s site! Another Tulsan, mind you, but that’s beside the point.

If you’ve been following me at all these last few weeks, you’ll have noticed a new tag popping up on my entries: raw food.

After having recently gone gluten-free, my diet has taken yet another left turn. I think the correct term is “high raw,” which means raw until dinner. All that means is that I’m too big of a chicken to give up cooked food all together. I think that this topic deserves some thought, so hopefully I will be back online tomorrow with something meaningful and motivating.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in what’s going on in Oklahoma (other than the two amazing raw food restaurants that I mentioned in my last post), go check out Penni Shelton’s blog. And if you’re interested in all things raw, you should check out her ning site: Raw Food Rehab. Or better yet, check out the video. Though be forewarned, it starts in the middle.

Or for the lower resolution clip in its entirely, see below:

I’ll have more to say on my own reasons for joining this year’s 11 week initiative next time!

May you all have a healthy and happy New Year!

Toto, I don’t think we’re in Oklahoma anymore

As someone who grew up in Oklahoma, it’s amazing to me that 105 degrees – a state of the art culinary institution “dedicated to live food” – exists within driving distance, let alone in the capital city!

The next time I go home, I may spend one whole day – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – in Oklahoma City! Namely on North Classen Boulevard. I’ll have to see if my friend Kim, who lives in a nearby suburb, will join me for at least one of those meals so that I don’t look like quite the junkie.

And if the presence of a raw culinary institute (complete with cafe and gift shop) in Oklahoma wasn’t amazing enough, I also had a very delicious raw meal out in Tulsa while I was home for the holidays at the Pure Raw Cafe (just blocks up the road from my parents’ house)!

My sister and I split a gorgeous green chili soup and a raw pizza that was to die for. We then shared a chocolate brownie with fudge sauce that truly defies description! Seriously, it was one of the best meals that I’ve ever had out in Tulsa.

Who knew that Oklahoma would end up being one of the raw food meccas of the nation?

And don’t forget to check out 105 degrees’ academy if you’re looking to become fully certified! If I could figure out how to move there for three months, don’t think I wouldn’t consider it.

Who said you can’t go home?

Quick and Healthy Snack Options III – Cashew & Cherry Cheese Spread

Can anyone tell that I am getting ready to go back to work and am in a desperate race against time to figure out what kinds of snacks I can pack now that I am gluten-free and going for at least 75% raw?

Well, today, I whipped this up in my high speed blender, which – trust me – is getting more and more use as the days slide by. To tell you the truth, I’m thinking about getting one for my office!

Cashew & Cherry Cheese Spread

2 cups of raw organic cashews
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons water
1 lemon
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cherries (I found these in the bulk section at Whole Foods).

Soak the cashews for 1 to 2 hours, drain, then toss into a high speed blender (such as Blendtec or Vitamix)

Add agave nectar and the water.

Grate all of the peel off the lemon and add it to the cashew mix. You may want to do this directly over the blender container to avoid making a mess!

Juice the lemon directly into the blender, seeds and all.

Blend until relatively smooth.

[On my Blendtec, I used the dip/sauce/fondue setting. I think I scraped it down and hit for a couple of pulses just for good measure].

Add the 1/2 cup of dried cherries.

Blend enough until the cherries start to break up.

[At this point, the blender didn’t sound happy, so I just used the pulse feature a couple of times and let the cherries do what they wanted!]

This yielded about two cups of a lightly sweet, yet zingy spread. It’s about 120 calories per 2 Tbs, so it’s just a little more caloric than other more common nut butters.

I took two tablespoons and filled up four stalks of celery (which was plenty filling as a morning and afternoon snack)!

Note, the original recipe (which did not call for water and did call for a touch of sea salt) was much, much thicker and quite a bit more cheese-like.

I found this gem (along with several others) at Choosing Raw. If you have any curiosity whatsoever about how to eat well, raw, you’ll get your answers there!

Quick and Healthy Snack Options II – Crustless Pecan Pie Bites

Again, another super quick and easy snack option!

Dates
Raw Pecan Halves

Slice the dates open on one side, then insert the pecan!

If you’re craving pecan pie but you want to avoid all of the sugary, buttery, and glutenous goodness that goes with it, this might be just the thing you’re looking for.

I made these at Christmas and they practically flew off the platter!

Enjoy

Quick and Healthy Snack Options – Raw Chocolate Almonds

Particularly during the holiday season (not to mention just during the cold winter months) it’s important to have healthy snack options around. When you have healthy options around, you’re less likely to reach for the unhealthy crap that seems to just materialize out of thin air. So instead of reaching for a piece of left over fudge or the Christmas cookies that seem to linger until Valentines Day, try these on for size.

Raw almonds (only make as many as you think you’ll eat in the day).
5 or 6 drops of liquid Chocolate Stevia
1/2 cup of water.

Put the almonds – I usually make about 24 at a time to last for the day – in a small Zip lock baggie. I tend to use the snack size, because they’re perfect for making (and storing and packing) this particular treat!

Cover the almonds with water (purified water if you have it) and then add 5 or 6 drops of the liquid Stevia. You can use any flavor, but I’m loving the chocolate these days. You can get liquid Stevia in a variety of flavors, including Cinnamon, Vanilla, Creme Brule, etc.

Zip up the bag and let sit overnight.

In the morning, drain off the water and enjoy!

I originally came across this recipe via a woman named Rose Cole. Check out the video of her making these, below!

If you need a little more encouragement to toss these puppies into your dietary rotation, check out all of the health benefits of almonds!

Enjoy!

KJ’s Favorite Green Smoothie (a/k/a Slime-ade)

For the last two weeks, I have been drinking green smoothies. That is, RAW green smoothies.

For the most part, green smoothies are very forgiving – some of them aren’t even green! In fact, my first one literally looked like a vat of figgie pudding. Well, I assume that that’s what it looked like. Too many blueberries.

Essentially, you put in a lot of leafy greens (spinach, cilantro, kale, romaine lettuce, etc) and whatever else strikes your fancy.

Some people put in a lot of fruit, because they like them sweeter.

I started there, but quickly moved to the less sweet variety.

My favorite to date, is sort of Mexican-y and smells a little bit like a summer garden. Check out the details here.

Over the holidays, I made one every day and split it with my sister. She, who has recently gone gluten-free, actually got a little zing of energy with her first slug. Talk about an instant convert. In fact, before the holidays were over, she had ordered her own high speed blender and packed a smoothie to go for her long drive ahead.

Not everyone in the house, however, was a convert. My parents were not sold – at all. And every time my father saw me with one, he’d just laugh and shake his head (not necessarily in that order).

My father’s snarky asides eventually got so bad that I eventually made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: you stop ragging on me because of my slime-ade and I’ll stop bitching at you about your Vienna Sausages (otherwise known as Viennie Weinies).

Personally, I think he got a pretty good deal. Because there’s a lot more that I could say about the wonders of potted meat than he could about the hazards or fresh, organic spinach.

KJ’s Slime-ade Recipe

Delicious and refreshing. And, according to my sister, gives you an energetic little pick-me-up!

4 cups raw baby spinach
1 medium tomato, quartered
1 yellow (or red) bell pepper, quartered
1 pear (seeds and all), quartered
1/2 bunch cilantro
1/2 tsp cumin
1 cup of water, to blend
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Green Tabasco Sauce, to taste

Freshly squeezed lemon (optional)

Using a high-speed blender, add the high-water foods in first: the tomato, the pepper, the pear, and the water.

Blend until relatively smooth.

Add the rest of the ingredients: the spinach, the cilantro, the cumin, the pepper, and the Tabasco.

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, add some lemon – or better yet, some lime!

Blend until smooth.

This may require that you stop the blender and push things down and start again.

This makes about a quart of yummy green nutrition. Bottoms up!

The Easiest, Healthiest (and some of the most delicious) Fudge You’ll Ever Make

A few weeks ago, I made the decision to add more raw food into my diet. In fact, I just made the pledge (on twitter @KJLively) that no baked desserts shall pass these lips over the holidays. Somehow, it seems like making a higher pledge (like no gluten, no baked goods) and sticking to it will be easier than making tons of decisions on a dessert-by-dessert basis.

But, not to be a dessert killjoy during the holidays, I have sat up the raw food lab in the kitchen. I have a ton of raw almonds, cashews, walnuts, as well as dates, raisins, bananas, raw cacao powder, cacao nibs, coconut oil, zucchini, and (don’t ask) avocado. For those of you who don’t do raw, you’ll be relieved to know that all this does not go into the same recipe. 🙂

I decided to start simple, with Mint Chocolate Fudge balls, recipe courtesy of the Raw Foods Witch, Nathalie Lussier. You can also download her free cookbook: “28 Desserts You Can Eat Everyday,” in exchange for your name and email. Not a bad deal, if you think about it.

I am definitely making these this year at my parents’ house!

Mint Chocolate Fudge Balls

• 1/2 cup raw nut butter of choice (almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter, etc.)
• 1/2 cup soft dates
• 1/4 cup raw cacao powder or carob powder
• Drop of mint or peppermint oils

Blend the dates separately first, to ensure that they will be smooth in the final product.
Then add the remaining ingredients and blend until the entire mixture forms into a ball of
dough.

Take pieces of dough and roll in your hands to form balls.

Store in freezer or fridge.

Makes 16 small balls

Per 2: 127 calories, 7.8 g fat, 0.7 saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 mg sodium, 12.3 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g fiber, 6.9 g sugar, 4.4 g protein

These are super easy – and rich enough that the two (or even one) just might do you!

Note: I put these in the freezer and it dried them out enough that they’re more like cookies – think Newman’s Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip!