Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Response To "Don't Throw The Baby Out With The Bathwater"

This article on the Daily Raw Inspiration had me vigorously nodding YES!

You don't have to give up being raw just because you got a little derailed!  More and more raw food personalities are stepping up and saying it's okay if you aren't 100% raw and vegan, 100% of the time.  Some are even admitting that they occasionally eat cooked food.

I feel rather impassioned about this because when I first discovered raw food, I was under the impression that being raw meant being at least "high raw" all the time.  Every day.  Forever. Sort of like a life sentence.  I encounter non-raw people all the time who think that being raw means I eat a weird diet and can't eat with them without the experience being awkward for everyone.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

There are people in the world of raw food who feel that you can't really call yourself a raw food enthusiast unless you live the raw lifestyle 100% of the time, every day.  I disagree with that.  It makes me sad when people who enjoy raw food feel like they have to completely "leave" the movement because they've found they have to make some adjustments to their diet.

For foodies, the obstacle to being 100% raw might be about experiences.  If a new restaurant, recipe, cuisine or food trend  looks intriguing, it might be hard to think that we will never have that experience because it isn't raw or vegan.  Never eat a freshly baked croissant while in a Paris cafe?  Never eat beignets in New Orleans?  For some, this is unthinkable.  True, there are raw adaptations of every type of food, and true, many raw food enthusiasts think that raw gourmet foods rival that of gourmet cooked foods.  Some of us think that raw food tastes far better than cooked food.  Generally speaking, I tend to agree.  Still, for some, the very thought of a food being "off-limits" will make it more appealing.  So, go ahead.  Eat some cooked food if you want to.  You can go back to raw, again and again. 

There is a saying, "When in Rome. . . "  Some raw foodists think it's fine to make an occasional exception and eat the local cuisine while traveling, avoiding only specific foods.  Other raw foodists cannot eat anything that isn't on their diet without severe health consequences.  Each person should decide this for himself.

For some people, family and social occasions can be tricky.  John Kohler, whom I admire, posted a video a while back about how he goes to wedding receptions.  He eats raw, participates in the occasion, and does all this without anyone noticing that he isn't eating exactly the same thing as everyone else.  However, I think most raw people understand that this isn't for everyone.  In my case, it's often not doable.  Sometimes, it's all I can do to make sure my sons leave the house with clean shirts and tied shoes, without packing a cooler of raw food too.  Despite the rumors, I do not have superpowers.  So when I go to wedding receptions, parties and the like, my family and I often eat what is being served, unless we know that the food will cause distress.  Recently, a friend who happens to be an amazing cook said, "I would invite you over and cook for you, but I don't do raw food."  I replied, "That's why we aren't 100% raw!"  Because, seriously, I love my friends and I won't let a little thing like food come between us. 

Time is another thing that can derail raw foodists.  If a person is on a crazily busy schedule, and isn't in circumstances where raw food is easily accessible, it can seem practical to just grab what everyone else is eating.  It's called convenience food for a reason.  Of course, convenience food is usually not healthy, unless it's a piece of fruit or a carrot.

For some it might be challenging to maintain a raw lifestyle for very long without becoming deficient in some type of nutrient.  If they take the time to carefully analyze their nutrition intake and research which foods contain the nutrients they need, they can learn to maintain a raw lifestyle indefinitely.  Being 100% raw and healthy definitely takes time and commitment.  Sorry if this is controversial, but I don't agree with the folks who claim that as long as you eat plenty of fruits and veggies with a small amount of nuts and seeds, you'll naturally get everything you need without having to think about it.  In my opinion, this is true of a short-term raw food lifestyle such as a two or three week cleanse, but in the long term, some nutritional analysis is a safer bet.  And no, the potential concern is not from insufficient protein, but from vitamins B12 and D, minerals zinc, selenium, and iron, and the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

During those times when time is tight, if you can, I recommend taking advantage of the support and assistance available from the raw food community.  Eat at your local raw restaurant.  Hire a raw chef.  Sign up for a healthy meal plan, so that all you have to do is shop and prepare, with all of the nutritional research done for you.

Another thing that can derail a raw lifestyle is cost.  Not all of us can afford a raw meal service from a local raw chef.  But there are many things that we can do.  We can join fresh produce co-ops, we can buy certain conventional produce rather than organic when we have to, we can grow some of our own food, and we can skip highly priced gourmet super foods.  It is possible to be raw without eating goji berries and pine nuts.

If you have a weak moment and eat the nachos at a party, or if you just can't bear to say "no" and resist the offer of freshly baked cookies in church, it's okay.  You can be raw one meal a week, or one meal a day, or every day but Saturday, or raw in summer and cooked in winter, or 99% raw with occasional exceptions, or mostly cooked with periodic raw cleanses, or 100% raw with no exceptions for the rest of your life.  Bottom line:  If you want, you can have the best of both worlds, raw and cooked. Whatever works for you.  Go for it!

Remember, it's not healthy to feel guilty and dwell on those non-raw moments.  Just take in the nutrition you need, do your best to avoid the foods that are harmful to your body, love yourself wherever you are in your process, and above all:  BE HEALTHY! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Raw Tapas!

Raw appetizers can be healthy, appealing and delicious.  The last Raw Food Prep Class at the Go Raw Cafe was all about creating mock versions of well-loved finger foods.  Oranges, mushrooms, zucchini and dates were hollowed and filled.  The oranges were filled with a fruity gazpacho- like cold soup.  The mushrooms were piled high with a savory almond pate.  The zucchini was hollowed and filled with a creamy cashew and tomato cheese sauce.  Dates were stuffed with young Thai coconut flesh which was seasoned with smoked paprika and Bragg's Liquid Aminos, reminiscent of bacon.

clockwise from bottom left:  Cheezy Pate Zucchini Cups,  Chilled Orange Cranberry Zester, Po-Bakinz Stuffed Dates, and Stuffed Bellas
The only thing that wasn't stuffed was dessert.  It was a base of raw chocolate, layered with a delicious vanilla cashew cream and topped with a sweet black cherry.  It might not have been stuffed, but it was so delicious that it literally made my eyes roll back in my head.

Dessert:Dark Chocolate Cherry Cordials
The moral of the story:  If you'd like to make your raw food a bit more festive, stuff it!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How To Be Well-Nourished Without Eating Meat

This raw vegan meal by Chef Areeya at the Go Raw Café contains plenty of protein.
Note:  This contains an edit to the original post.  I had said that there are 12 conditionally essential amino acids.  That was an error.  I meant to say that there are 12 nonessential amino acids that we normally produce in our bodies, 8 of which are conditionally essential, meaning that we don't produce them under certain circumstances such as stress or illness.  I'll write more on that in a future post, because it's important.

People who have been vegan or raw vegan for many years may not be able to relate to this.  But for some people who are striving to live a raw vegan lifestyle, every so often it may be tempting to walk on over to the paleo side and take a bite of flesh.

I don't believe in judging people for their food choices. If it works for you, great.  Each of us make a choice with every bite.  If you recently switched from a meat-centered diet to a mostly high-raw plant based diet, and now you only eat meat once a month when the moon is full, that's still a huge improvement, right?  I think so.   Going from eating meat one to three times daily to eating it rarely, IS an improvement.

But what if you want to be 100% meat-free?  And what if, despite your best efforts, you are struggling?  What if you are genuinely concerned about consuming adequate nutrition on a plant-based diet?

Please keep in mind that I am not an expert, a scientist, a doctor, a nutritionist, or a raw vegan guru, and nothing I write here should be construed as medical advice. But in the interest of improving my own diet, I have looked into this, and I'd like to share what I have found.

First off, why on earth would you want to be meat-free?  If you are reading this blog you probably already know, but let's run over a quick summary of the reasons:

Health benefits:  People who go meat-free live longer and experience fewer incidents of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Environmental benefits:  The production of meat for food is an inefficient use of resources.    Instead of growing food to feed humans, the meat industry has to grow food to feed cows to feed humans.  By eliminating or even decreasing meat consumption, we can decrease our carbon footprint, reduce carbon emissions, reduce water consumption and reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Kindness and compassion:  In the majority of cases, animals which are raised to be sold for food are thought of as property and inventory, and are not thought of as sentient beings with feelings. It would cost a great deal of money to consider their quality of life as they are fattened and their comfort as they die, and this would directly impact profit margins.  For these reasons, animals which are raised for food tend to suffer.  This is a fact.  You don't have to be an animal rights activist to care whether your diet results in suffering, especially when it's unnecessary and high-quality nutrition can come from other sources.

I believe that sometimes when we have a craving for a certain type of food, it's because we need the nutrients found in that food.  This is disputed and many people disagree with this, but in my personal experience this is true.  It could also be a nostalgic or comfort feeling for a type of food, or the feeling of satiation associated with the food.  However, I find that when I consume the necessary nutrition, the craving goes away.  So first, let's take a closer look at the nutrients found in red meat, and which vegan sources contain the same nutrition.

Let's talk about the first obvious nutrient found in meat:  protein.  Here's the truth about protein:  It isn't necessary.  A lot of people dispute this, but it's true.  People think they NEED protein, but the truth is, they do not.  Before you decide I'm completely full of it, let me explain:  Technically, we need amino acids.  To be exact, we need exactly 9 essential amino acids, which are deemed essential because they cannot be manufactured by the body.  We also sometimes need 8 additional conditionally essential amino acids, meaning normally you produce them in your body with the foods you eat, and you only need to consume them in food if you are sick, under stress, or if you are a young person who is still developing.  You may remember learning in school that amino acids are the building blocks of protein.  Here is a fact:  ALL of these essential and conditionally essential amino acids are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts! 

In infants and toddlers, arginine, glutamine, glycine, proline, taurine and tyrosine are essential because they do not yet make them in their bodies.    Fortunately, an infant can obtain all necessary nutrients from breast milk.  The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age and breastfeeding with appropriate complimentary foods up to age two and beyond.

When we eat animal protein, it is broken down by the body and turned into amino acids, which is a great deal of extra work.  It is much easier to assimilate the amino acids found in plant based foods.  The trick is to eat them in the right combinations, to get the full range.

One of the amino acids found in meat protein is called creatine.  Muscles are made partly of creatine, which is why it's a popular supplement with body builders.  It's not considered essential or conditionally essential because our bodies manufacture muscle with amino acids.  Seriously, if our body could not manufacture muscle tissue we would be in serious trouble, right?  We make creatine in our bodies, out of glycine, arginine, and methionine.  Glycine and arginine are conditionally essential, and L-methionine is essential.  Avocados, oats, and wheat germ contain glycine.  All nuts, seeds, berries and whole grains contain arginine, as well as all vegetables except celery and turnips.  Eggplant, strawberries, tomatoes, pineapple and coconut also contain this amino acid.  Methionine is found in a wide range of fruits and vegetables, and it is found in all nuts except Brazil nuts and in all grains, especially corn.

Another popular component found in meat, carnosine, is found in muscle tissue.  It's a dipeptide, which means it's a compound made of two linked amino acids, histidine and alanine. Alananine is found in nuts, seeds and whole grains, and histidine is found in beans, nuts and seeds, and in a wide range of  vegetables.  Histidine is essential, and alanine is nonessential.

So, the point is, you don't need protein.  You need amino acids.  Your body is unique, so depending on your lifestyle, stress levels, and other factors your needs may differ.  However, most people can take in adequate amino acids if they simply consume a wide range of fruits and vegetables each day, and a small quantity, perhaps a handful, of nuts and seeds.

Another nutrient we absolutely must have for our bodies to function normally are the Omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid,) and Omega 6 fatty acids, (linoleic acid.)  We make cholesterol and fat in our bodies, but not these.  To be healthy, we need them to be in balance.  Because Omega 6 tends to be more common in most diets, the one that normally needs supplementation is Omega 3.  Walnuts, hemp, spirulina,  chia seeds, flaxseeds, collards and cabbage  contain alpha-linolenic acid, (ALA) which is an Omega 3 fatty acid that the body can convert to the other Omega 3s, which are also known as EPA and DHA.  EPA and DHA are found in marine life, but our body also makes it from ALA.  If one wishes to maintain a plant based diet, it's important to consume a small quantity of spirulina, hemp, walnuts, flaxseeds, flax oil, chia seeds, or some other food containing ALA each day.  Keep in mind that whole flaxseeds will pass through the body undigested.  Grind them in a high speed blender or coffee grinder before eating them.  Freshly ground flaxseed is delicious on salads, blended into smoothies or nut milks, and it makes delicious crackers, cookies and breads.  Nuts and seeds are a good source of omega 6, but many nuts and seeds tend to contain many times more omega 6 than omega 3.  This is why it's a good idea to eat foods that are higher in Omega 3 than Omega 6, to balance it out. 

In order to convert ALA into EPA and DHA, your body needs to put the ALA through a chemical reaction using the enzyme delta-6 desaturase.  In order for this enzyme to work optimally, your body needs vitamins B6, (pyridoxine) B3, (niacin) C, and the minerals magnesium and zinc.

Vitamin B6 is found in many vegetables, nuts and seeds.  Sunflower seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, spinach, bell peppers, peas and broccoli are especially rich in B6.

Beets, mushrooms, peas, avocado and sunflower seeds are rich in B3, otherwise known as niacin.  Not only do we need niacin to convert ALA into omegas, but it's a nutrient found in red meat, so it's important to get it from other sources if one is on a meat-free diet.

The other vitamins and minerals needed in the body for processing AlA are vitamin C, Magnesium, and zinc.  If you are deficient in these nutrients, your body may not be able to process the ALA from the flax seeds into Omega 3.  Vitamin C, of course is found in citrus fruits, but it's also found in bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries and kale.  Magnesium is in dark green leafy vegetables, cacao, avocado, banana, and nuts and seeds.   Zinc is in cacao, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms and spinach.

A tricky nutrient that omnivores obtain from meat is vitamin B12.  Before people understood B12 deficiency, some people grew very sick and died from it.  Some people claim that indigenous and early people probably got some of their B12 from the bacteria in soil getting into their food, and modern food preparation techniques have changed that.  We don't need much B12, but deficiency can cause serious nervous system damage.  I have seen some claims by people who have been 100% vegan for several years without supplementing this nutrient and without ill effects, but most nutritionists would not recommend it.  There is some speculation that some people may have bacteria in the gut that produces B12, however this bacteria is produced in the ileum and is not absorbed by the body.  Therefore, it's very important that vegans take a B12 supplement.  One terrific source of B12 is nutritional yeast.  Nutritional yeast has a flavor reminiscent of cheese, and is delicious sprinkled on salads, pizzas and casseroles, and adds a delicious flavor to salad dressings, sauces and dips.  About 2 tablespoons per day of fortified nutritional yeast provides an adequate source of B12.  Also, it's an inactive yeast, so those on a yeast-free diet should be able to enjoy it.  Make sure that you check the label when purchasing nutritional yeast to ensure that it contains B12.

Another source of B12 is supplementation in tablet form.   The best type of tablet is said to be sublingual, meaning that it dissolves under the tongue and is more readily absorbed by the body.  Vegans use B12 supplements made from methylcobalamin, which comes from bacteria rather than animal flesh.

My thinking on this is that B12 deficiency can be such a problem that it shouldn't be taken lightly.  I suggest incorporating nutritional yeast in the diet AND supplementing.  A person can't overdose on B12 since the excess is simply flushed out of the body.  It is possible for a vegan to become deficient however, and it's also possible to miss the signs of deficiency until after health consequences are experienced.

I recommend not only supplementing but make sure that your supplement is made by a reputable vitamin manufacturer that regularly has it's product tested for quality and efficacy by a third party testing lab.  Vitamins that are tested by a third party lab will typically have a seal on the label that can be verified by the testing lab.  In other words, don't just buy the lowest priced vitamin B12 supplement you can find, but one made by a company that places a high value on quality.  Because supplements are not regulated by the FDA, as many as 25% of the supplements tested may not actually contain the amount of nutrient stated on the label, and may be adulterated with additional ingredients that you do not want.  For this reason it's important to purchase a reliable, tested brand of vitamin.

While we are on the subject of supplementation, another vitamin to consider is D. The only unprocessed, raw, plant food source of vitamin D that I am aware of is mushrooms, if they are treated with UVB rays.  We do manufacture vitamin D with our bodies when we are exposed to the sun, but you need at least ten minutes a day of strong exposure on the arms and legs.  As everyone knows, too much sunlight can cause skin cancer.  A diet rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients will provide some limited protection to the skin from sun exposure.  However for many raw vegans, it might seem easier to simply take a supplement.  Again, it's a good idea to research the product to ensure that it has been independently lab tested and certified that it contains the ingredients advertized.

Two additional B vitamins which are found in meat are thiamin, which is B1,  and riboflavin which is B2.  Thiamin is found in sesame seeds and tahini, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, pecans, and macadamias.  Riboflavin is found in almonds, spinach, peas and crimini mushrooms.

Another chemical found in meat is called alpha-lipoic acid.  Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant which is produced in the body.  Vegan sources of this nutrient include spinach and broccoli.

The last three nutrients which are found in meat that I would like to mention are iron, zinc, and phosphorus.  Spinach, broccoli, and bok choy are rich in iron.  In a vegan diet, iron absorption is increased by eating iron rich foods with foods containing vitamin C.  Zinc is found in almonds, cashews, pecans and sunflower seeds.  Phosphorus is found in broccoli, sunflower seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews and garlic.

In conclusion, if you are trying to reduce or eliminate your consumption of animal proteins, whatever the reason,  include the following foods in your diet:  a wide range of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, (especially flax, walnuts, chia seeds and hemp,) berries, a wide range of greens, including collards, bok choy,and spinach, spirulina, cacao, pineapple, coconut, eggplant, broccoli, avocado, beets, bell peppers, peas, mushrooms, and corn.  Make sure to include nutritional yeast and/or B12 supplementation and consider taking vitamin D.  Oats are an excellent source of nourishment, and they can be found organic, whole and raw.  If you are gluten intolerant, oats can be found that are certified gluten-free.

For more information regarding which plant foods contain essential amino acids and other nutrients, the book, "Rawsome!" by Brigitte Mars, contains a section in the back that lists the important nutrients and which foods contain them.  The front of the book contains an encyclopedia of plants foods commonly found in a raw diet, and the benefits of each food along with the nutrients each food contains.

For more information on getting enough nutrition as a bodybuilder on a raw vegan diet, look into "How To Build Muscle On A Raw Food Diet" by Peter Ragnar.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

Menu from Chef Areeya's Go Raw Holiday Prep Class at the Go Raw Cafe, clockwise from bottom left: Spiced Pumpkin Bisque, Gramm's Pecan Dressing, Cashew Gravy, Green Bean Casserole, Split Vanilla Cheesecake Pumpkin Torte, Savory Sage Drumettes, Cranberries with Pineapple 
In the past, I was a maniac at Thanksgiving.  In my view, a Thanksgiving feast was not a success unless it was spectacular.  One of my rules was that there had to be at least two kinds of everything:  two kinds of roast meat, (like turkey AND ham,) two kinds of potatoes, bread, vegetables, salad, pie, etc.  Each year, there was so much food that the table was arranged carefully to use every square inch of space.  I often did most of work myself.  After the meal, the kitchen cleanup job was huge, and for many years I didn't ask for help with that, either.

Of course, everyone ate until they couldn't eat another bite, and then they spent the rest of the day resting.

Last year, we did things differently.  For the first time, I tried spreading out the feast over several days.  Much of what I served was raw, with a few cooked items to please certain family members.  It seemed to work out pretty well.

This year, we did it that way again.  I recruited family members to help with most of the food prep and cleanup.  We broke up our typical meal routine with more festive holiday dishes.  I asked my son which cooked dishes were essential to making it a "real Thanksgiving" for him, and only cooked those.

Many raw food recipes are best served right away.  Depending on ingredients, often the leftovers will not keep longer than two or three days.  For this reason, we aren't following the pattern of serving one huge meal and then eating the leftovers for the next week.  Instead, we are trying several different seasonal recipes over the four-day family holiday.  For example, for lunch today, we had a raw pumpkin-coconut nog smoothie, made with organic sugar pie pumpkin, young Thai coconuts, dates and pumpkin pie spice.

Another thing I did differently this year was that I didn't start planning several weeks in advance, and I didn't create an ironclad menu.  I just made sure that we had plenty of the ingredients we would need, and a general idea of which recipes we would make.  At one point, when we ran out of a staple ingredient, I considered going out to find a store that was open on Thanksgiving but decided against it.  Instead, we made something that didn't require that ingredient.  It was rather liberating.

So for us, Thanksgiving holiday was simple and easy, and yet, it's lasting the entire four days instead of one.  For some reason, it's easier for me to be thankful when the meal is smaller, lighter and simpler,  and I have more time to enjoy it.  Thanksgiving is really about spending time with family.

It does help to have some raw snacks on hand for Thanksgiving Day.  Clockwise from bottom left:  Pumpkin Pie Cookies, Magical Kale Chips, and Sprouted Buckwheat Bars

I hope that everyone who reads this had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you have a wonderful holiday season.  I'm heading back into the kitchen to whip up some more raw holiday deliciousness.  Raw Green Bean Casserole, anyone?

Here are a few links to some of my favorite holiday recipes:

Marinated Mushrooms and Mashed Rosemary Cauliflower over at Rawmazing

A whole selection of raw holiday recipes at Pretty Smart Raw Food ideas

My husband really loves the poultry seasoning flavor of the Save The Turkey Portobello Mushroom recipe over at Mimi Kirk's Young On Raw Food.

Fully Raw Kristina offers a delicious recipe for Pumpkin Pie Brownies

To keep people happy while the dehydrator is running, some terrific snacks are:  No Bake Pumpkin Pie Cookies, Magical Kale Chips, and Raw Sprouted Buckwheat Bars.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Guts Smoothie and Two Soups

Yesterday, I found myself contemplating a pile of dinner veggies on the kitchen counter.  The goal was to get the veggies into my family in a way that they might enjoy.

Lately when people ask me to explain raw food, I tend to say something like:  Imagine a big bowl or basket of all the healthy veggies, greens, herbs, fruits, seeds and nuts that you know are good for you.  Nothing processed or packaged is in that bowl.  And then imagine eating it - the whole great big bowl of it.  Now, imagine different ways of prepping it, everything from fancy and gourmet to quick and simple.  Imagine sometimes using small amounts of selected enhancements, like spices, healthier sweeteners, fermented flavorings, minimally processed olive or coconut oils and other additives to help pop the flavors and make it taste a bit more like cooked food.  But the mainstay of your diet is fresh, raw, unprocessed plant foods.

For me, that's basically raw food in a nutshell.  And that's how I found myself staring at a pile of veggies on the counter, trying to figure out what to do with them. 

I've been loading TONS of raw food recipes into my Pepperplate account, and going to Chef Areeya's wonderful raw food prep classes every month.  I've started to internalize a few things, because I just put this raw chowder together without a recipe.  Was it inspired by Chef Areeya's "Orleans-style Dirty (cauliflower) Rice," and her "New England style Chowder?"  Probably.  My family loved it.  My husband suggested that it's a keeper, so I wrote it down.

This recipe is very quick.  If you have a food processor, the veggies can be prepped in minutes, not counting dehydrator time.  The cream base is quick, too.  It's one of those rare instances when it took us longer to eat it than it took me to make it.

As always, if you don't like the additives used for flavor, (like the miso or Braggs,) you can probably get by without it or find a substitution that works better for you.

This recipe can be made without any of the recommended equipment such as the dehydrator.  Your veggies just won't be wilted.  Alternately, if you place the veggies in a glass casserole dish with a clear glass lid, and place it in direct sunlight for several hours, that will do the trick.  The cream base can be made with a regular blender.  It just might not be as creamy.  It's also possible to prep all the veggies by hand with a box grater and a good knife, rather than using the food processor. 

Raw Veggie Chowder
6 - 8 generous servings


1/2 head red cabbage 
4 carrots  
1 red bell pepper 
3 cloves garlic 
1 head cauliflower 
3 Roma tomatoes
1/2 tsp marjoram 
1/2 tsp thyme 
2 tbsp Bragg's liquid Aminos 
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 tsp miso paste 
juice of 1/2 lime 
1 cup hemp hearts 
1/3 cup Brazil nuts 
1/3 cup nutritional yeast 
2 tsp smoked paprika 
freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups water, almost boiling 

Equipment:  Food processor, dehydrator, Vitamix, knife, cutting board, shallow casserole or baking dish, soup pot or tureen


Shred the carrots and cabbage. Use the S blend on the food processor to mince the cauliflower with the garlic until it reaches a rice-like texture. Mince the red pepper. Mix the veggies together and massage with a drizzle of olive oil and Braggs Liquid Aminos and 1 teaspoon of miso paste until wilted. It should be moist but not dripping wet.  If the mixture seems too dry, the recommended amount of Bragg and olive oil can be increased slightly.  Chop the tomatoes and fold in. Add thyme and marjoram to taste and stir.

Place veggies in a shallow casserole dish and spread out in an even layer. Dehydrate at 105 degrees for several hours, until just before serving.  You can do this in in the morning and have dinner waiting when you get home in the evening.

Blend the hemp hearts and Brazil nuts with about a cup of water until smooth and creamy. Blend in the nutritional yeast and smoked paprika with another cup of water and another squirt of Bragg's Liquid Aminos.  Taste and adjust.

Bring the remaining water almost to a boil. Remove the vegetables from the casserole dish and place in a large pot, serving bowl or soup tureen. Stir in the cream sauce, then add some almost-boiling water, stirring, until desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust flavors.  Garnish with fresh black pepper.   The soup will be warmed-through, but not cooked.

Note: Many other veggies can be used for this. Zucchini, carrot and parsnip can be made into pasta. Corn can be added, and squash. For newcomers to raw food, the texture of the cauliflower might be accepted more easily if it is blended into the nut mixture.


Our morning routine is fairly simple.  I prep some type of fruit, maybe pineapple, grapes, or apples and oranges, toss it in the Vita Mix, throw in some freshly washed greens, add a few cups of frozen berries and some bananas, and blend until creamy.  No recipe is needed.  But there's been a pumpkin taking up residence on the kitchen counter, and I've been trying to decide what to do with it. 

In years past, when we made Jack O'lanterns at Halloween, after cutting the top off the pumpkin, the next step was to scoop out the seeds and strings, otherwise known as "pumpkin guts," and toss all that into the trash.  Now of course we know better.  Pumpkin seeds are very nutritious, rich in protein, healthy fat, vitamins and minerals. 

The only thing important to know about this recipe is that when you are grinding up things like pumpkin seeds or dates, use just enough water to get the blender going and barely cover what you are blending.  Start on "slow" and gradually increase the speed.  This helps ensure that the ingredients are broken down as finely as possible.  After it's finely ground, increase the liquid.

The flavor of this smoothie came out rather interesting.  It was like a cross between apple and pumpkin pie with a bit of tangy orange.  To pump up the pumpkin flavor, toss in a few chunks of raw pumpkin when puréeing the apple.

Pumpkin Guts Smoothie 
4 Generous Servings 

Seeds and strings from a fresh pumpkin
About 4 cups pure water
3 Macintosh apples
3 navel oranges
9 pitted dates or to taste
1 /12 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Equipment:  High speed blender, knife, nut milk bag

Pre-prep:  If you want you can soak the dates 20 minutes to overnight in just enough water to cover.  This is a good idea if your dates aren't very soft.

Scoop out the "pumpkin guts"  and toss them in a Vitamix.  I found that a coconut demeater also makes an excellent pumpkin scooper because it cuts the strings from the pumpkin flesh, and the curved blade fits the inside of a pumpkin.  Add just enough water to the blender to cover the pumpkin seeds.  Blend on low speed, gradually increasing speed as the seeds grind, until it's on full speed and the mixture is finely ground.  Add another 2 cups or so of water as the machine runs, until you have a milk-like texture.  Pour the "pumpkin milk" through a fine mesh milk bag, to eliminate the grit from the ground pumpkin shells.  This step is optional but in my opinion makes a nicer smoothie.

Place the dates in the bottom of the blender and pour a bit of the milk over it, again just to cover.  If you soaked the dates, use the soaking water.  Blend until fine. Add the pumpkin pie spice.

Peel the oranges, break them into segments and add them to the blender.  Chop the apples and add them to the blender.  Start the blender on low to break down the apples and the orange, then purée.  

Now add the rest of the pumpkin milk to the top of the blender.  If there is room, you can add water or ice, depending on how thick you want the smoothie and how many people you are serving.

For tonight's dinner, we used the other half of the purple cabbage.  Again, I had some veggies and needed to figure out what to do with them.  This time, I decided to make a sort of a broth with noodles.  To make this soup, some of the veggies are divided.  Half are processed and used for mouth feel, and half are juiced to help make the broth.  According to my husband, this one is another keeper. 

Sweet Asian- Inspired Noodle Soup
4 servings


1- 12 oz bag frozen white organic shoepeg corn, thawed
8 carrots, reserved
1/2 head of purple cabbage, reserved
1 large bunch celery, reserved
5 smallish or 3 medium zucchini, spiralized into noodles or cut into thin fettucine strips
3 tbsp olive oil
 3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp honey, agave nectar, or sweetener of choice


optional:  minced ginger, dried pepper flakes 

Equipment:  Food processor, Spiralizer or other spiral tool, juicer, dehydrator

Drain the corn and discard any liquid.  Place the corn in a shallow casserole dish.  Grate half the carrots and purple cabbage, and set the other half of the carrots and purple cabbage aside.   Add the grated carrots and purple cabbage to the corn.  Thinly slice half the celery, and set the other half aside.  Add the sliced celery to the rest of the veggies in the casserole dish, drizzle with the olive oil and massage, mixing together and softening.  Stir in the spiralized zucchini.  At this point you may wish to stir in a bit of minced ginger and some dried red pepper flakes.

Juice the garlic with the reserved carrots, cabbage and celery.  You may decide at this point to juice additional veggies for more broth.  It might be nice to juice a small piece of ginger to add to it.

Add the tamari and sweetener of your choice to the juice and pour it over the veggies in the casserole dish.

Place the casserole dish in the dehydrator on low until warmed through and flavors are intensified, or about 6-8 hours.  Just before serving, add some almost-boiling water until you like the ratio of veggies to broth, and stir.  Taste and adjust.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Arugula Kale Salad with Sweet Tart Banana Vinaigrette by Chef Areeya

clockwise from bottom left:  Herbed Crème of Celery Soup, Parmazan Zucchini Boat with Neat Bruschetta, Arugula Kale Salad with Sweet Tart Banana Vinaigrette, Vanilla Iced Banana Splits, Savory Garlic Cheez Pate with Sweet Crackers

I went home and prepared all of the dishes from the September prep class at the Go Raw Cafe.  The family enjoyed everything but they REALLY approved of the Banana Vinaigrette, and they went crazy over the Vanilla Iced Banana Splits, which were made with a coconut and cashew iced crème base, and toppings made with real fruit, raw cacao, and a coconut whipped crème.   We had the dessert after a salad one evening, and had the leftovers for breakfast several days later.  Banana splits for breakfast, YUM! 
The Vanilla Iced Banana Splits went well with algebra homework

Arugula Kale Salad with Sweet Tart Banana Vinaigrette by Chef Areeya



  • For Salad

    • 8 oz. arugula
    • 15 oz. chopped kale, massaged
    • 1 cup walnuts, crushed
    • 1/2 cup onion, diced small
  • For Dressing

    • 2 small ripe bananas with small brown spots, (add more to taste)
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/4 cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos (more to taste)
    • 1 to 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 tsp. ground vanilla bean
    • sea salt
    • fresh black pepper


  • For Salad

    1. To massage kale, pick it up by the handfuls and squeeze it gently using the pads of your fingertips, letting it drop as you squeeze.  Repeat until it is reduced in volume and has a somewhat wilted appearance.  Toss salad ingredients together and set aside.

For Dressing

  1. Blend dressing ingredients until smooth. A high-speed blender is recommended. Taste and adjust for a balance of banana flavor with the salty/savory flavor of the Liquid Aminos.

Chef Areeya

Monday, September 23, 2013

Nothing Cures the "Blah" Like the "Raw"

Chef Areeya's amazing feast at the Go Raw Cafe
Yesterday, I attended Chef Areeya's Go Raw Prep Class, and learned to make Herbed Cream of Celery Soup, Arugula Kale Salad with Sweet Tart Banana Vinaigrette, Savory Garlic Cheez Pate with Sweet Crackers, Parmazan Zucchini Boat with Neat Bruschetta, and Vanilla Ice Banana Split.

It was amazing, yet again.  Chef Areeya has a real talent for raw flavor.  Her next class will be October 27, at the Go Raw Cafe Westside location.  If you are a raw foodist and are in Las Vegas, I highly recommend it.   Eat lightly the morning of the class, because the raw food that Chef Areeya serves is very satisfying.  You will not leave hungry.

Recently, I've been "going off the rails" a bit with my eating habits.  It's not that we haven't been eating raw food, because we've never stopped our morning habit of green smoothies and huge fresh salads.  It's just that life is complicated, and other priorities have led to some relaxing of standards.  Also, my raw diet was a bit off-balance, as I'll describe later, and that made it harder to resist certain temptations.

As a result, I was feeling a bit "blah" and a bit disconnected when I walked into the Go Raw Cafe yesterday.  But I walked out feeling so much better!  Nothing cures the "blah" like the "raw."

Sorry.  Couldn't help it.

Anyway, it's still amazing how eating raw makes you feel better, inside and out, top to toes.

After arriving home, I saw this YouTube video of John Kohler interviewing Dr. Douglas Graham.  Dr. Graham is the author of the book, "The 80/10/10 Diet."  The video contains some very valuable advice.  The biggest thing that I took away from the video is that if half of what you eat in volume is vegetables, you will be healthier.  The video doesn't address the other half, but honestly no matter what a person's eating habits are - raw or cooked, paleo or vegan, whole or  SAD, if half of the diet is vegetables, the person will be more healthy.

As a person who came from years of eating an evening meal that consisted of a main course, a vegetable and a starch, I found this useful.   When trying very hard to transition to a plant based diet, and especially trying to be as raw as possible, that old paradigm doesn't quite work as well.  Lately I've been off-balance, eating way too much fruit in ratio to vegetables, which helped lead to the "going off the rails" problem I described above.  But I can visualize a plate that is half filled with vegetables.  That's easy.

I haven't read Dr. Graham's book yet, but after seeing this video I'd like to.  In the past I've thought that the 80/10/10 diet didn't seem right for me partly because I like to eat sprouted grains, and I read that this diet excludes those foods. However, even if I disagree with some of the opinions in the book, it's worthwhile if some of the information is useful.

Inspired by yesterday's terrific raw experiences, I've decided to set some raw goals for this week.  I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't achieve them, but will do my best.  Here they are, in no particular order:

1.   Stay on budget.

2.  Use everything before it spoils (that will help with #1)

3.  Drink LOTS of water.  (The water bottle will never be empty)

4.  Strive for 50% vegetables by volume in our meals.

5.  Make at least one healthy raw treat for the kids.  Even if it's fudge or cookies and loaded with dates, if it's healthier and they'll eat it, that's a step.

6.  Strive for at least 80% raw and 100% plant based except for local honey.

7.  Include the following dishes in a balanced menu this week:  The creative recipes in the September prep class by Chef Areeya, the Blueberry Ice Cream with Coconut Macaroon Crunch by Heather Pace of Sweetly Raw, the Peach Salsa with Veggie Crackers by Susan at Rawmazing, the Chia Porridge, Chard Pockets, Barbeque, and Froodles and Meatballs, (no meat) by Lisa Viger at Raw on $10 A Day, and the Black Pepper Honey Ginger Chewy Granola by Amie Sue at Nouveau Raw.

8.  Include in the diet all of the healthy components such as:  Lots of fresh leafy greens, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, citrus, brassicas, and smaller amounts of nuts and seeds rich in fatty acids.