Thursday, June 28, 2012

In love with oat shakes

Every night before going to bed, I try to remember to think about what we'll be eating the next day, in case it's necessary to soak some nuts or whip something up to place in the dehydrator overnight.  It doesn't always work that way, and that's okay because it's easy to come up with a "plan B."  Now, I pretty much know to put the oats in water for next morning's breakfast.

Yesterday, while making our morning oatmeal, I accidentally used too much water and turned it into a shake.  As it turns out, "oat shakes" are a popular drink in South America and among health enthusiasts here in the USA.  It's thick and creamy, and it's one more alternative next time one of us is craving a milkshake.

This morning I made oat shakes again - on purpose this time - and it's so tasty and satisfying that I can't believe I hadn't heard of them before - or that they aren't a staple in the standard American diet.

Here's this morning's delicious recipe:

Banana Cacao Oat Shake for growing kids

2 cups oats,  soaked overnight in 3 cups of water  (240 calories)
4 medjool dates, soaked with the oats  (265 calories)
2 ripe bananas  (210 calories for two 7 inch ripe bananas)
1 tsp vanilla  (11 calories)
2 tbsp almond butter  (180 calories total)
2 tsp maca powder (40 calories)
2 tbsp lucuma powder (120 calories)
2 tbsp cacao powder  (48 calories)

water and ice

If this is for two servings,  this is approximately 377.5 calories each, (a full meal) for three servings it's 251.6 calories each. 

Note:  If using whole, raw oats, wash and drain them before soaking them overnight.  Portion size of raw whole oats for one person is 1/3 - 2/3 cups.  Blending with fruit and water to make a 12 oz. shake.  I prefer to puree the oats (and dates or soaked and rinsed nuts if using them)  with a minimum of water at first to get them very smooth before adding additional ingredients and water.

Place all ingredients in the blender, including the water the oats were soaked in.  Puree, then add a bit more water to make a very thick shake.  Keep blending until smooth and creamy.  At the end, blend in some ice or refrigerate until very cold.

Notes:  Depending on how much water you add, this recipe will serve two generously as a full meal, or three to four as a side beverage.  In two tall thick servings, it's a lot of food.  But it will stave off hunger for a while.  This one turned out rather sweet - I made it to the taste of an 11 year old,  and plan to gradually reduce the quantity of dates so that he doesn't notice the reduced sweetness.  For adults, try using half the dates or less.  You can always start with less, taste it while it's still in the blender and add more sweetener to taste if needed.  Soaked and rinsed almonds can be used to replace the almond butter, or almond milk to replace some of the water.  If you don't soak rolled oats, it's not a problem, but I think it turns out creamier when the oats are soaked.  I haven't tried whole raw or steel cut oats without soaking them first so I don't know how that would turn out.  The maca and lucuma powders can be omitted if you don't have it on hand.  Optimally, all ingredients should be fresh and raw.

Update from January 2013:  Since posting this in June 2012, oat shakes continue to be a regular part of our diet.  We no longer worry about soaking or sprouting the oat groats.  We simply wash them and use the Vita Mix blender to blend them in a small amount of liquid until they are smooth, then we add additional liquid until it reaches a thick shake consistency.  Sometimes we use the water and flesh from a young Thai coconut.  Often we use dates.  Sometimes we add blueberries or whatever fruit is in season.  We often add cinnamon.  I find that adding a small amount of rinsed and soaked nuts, or coconut flesh, or even avocado, helps give the meal longer staying power.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Oatmeal for breakfast

One day, I'll try this recipe for raw oatmeal.  It looks amazing.  In the meantime we have a gargantuan box of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats in the pantry.  Since our original agreement was to not do a full pantry purge, we are using up what is on hand and replacing it with better alternatives as needed.

Last night, my son put about a cup of oats in water and placed in the fridge.  This morning, I realized I forgot to soak the almonds for milk.  Normally I would just skip the soaking, but this morning we tried something new just for the heck of it.

We used almond butter instead of almonds.  It wasn't raw,  but we aren't going for 100% raw.  If you don't like the taste of flax meal, (we do,) you can reduce it by at least half or eliminate it.  Both almonds and flax meal are rich in calcium, so this is a great breakfast staple.  This makes more than enough for our family for a day or two.

Here's the recipe:

Quick Almond Milk

2-4 cups water according to preference
ice if you want to drink it cold right away
1/2 cup almond butter
3 pitted medjool dates
2 tbsp flax meal
1/2 tsp vanilla
salt to taste if needed

Start with one cup of water and the almond butter, dates, flax and vanilla in a blender.  Blend for at least one minute.  Taste and make adjustments as needed.  The flavors should be more intense because you'll be adding more water.  You may find it needs salt, (there was salt in the almond butter and we don't use a lot of salt to begin with,) or more dates or vanilla.  Then add additional water, blend, and taste again.  If your mixture is getting warm in the blender, you can add ice, or if you want it warm just add more water.

Now for the breakfast.  We simply strained the soaked rolled oats, (probably not necessary to strain it, but we did this time,) top with blueberries, cover with almond milk, and sprinkle with cinnamon.

It was delicious.  One cup of soaked oats with six ounces of blueberries will feed two adults, or one adult and two little ones.  For a heartier meal, increase the oats, and add chopped walnuts.  For optimal digestion, soak the walnuts for 6 -8 hours and rinse.

All these years, I thought we "had to" cook our oatmeal, and it's really not necessary to turn on the stove!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ree's Go Raw Prep Class

Yesterday I took one of Ree's classes at the Go Raw Cafe.  It was such a treat!  I had no idea what to expect.  As always, Ree was charming and charismatic, which made the class even more fun.

We took our seats in the dining area.  Ree was in the corner of the dining room, with her ingredients chopped and measured, and her equipment ready to go.  The first course in our Mexicali Feast was "Happy To Be Hip Horchata".  Made with cashews, fresh young coconut, cinnamon and ground vanilla beans, it had all the flavors one might expect from horchata yet felt substantial and healthy going down.  It was like nectar, pleasantly sweet but without the blood sugar spike from processed sugar.

Next she showed us how to prep her Cooky Cucumber, Mango and Pineapple Pico de Gallo.  As she made it, she talked about alternatives for those who want to make salsa but need to avoid tomatoes, (we don't, but it was interesting.)

The Bean-tastic Dip and Chips was tasty, but made completely raw without beans.  With almonds, avocado and plenty of flavor, I wouldn't have believed it didn't contain pinto beans if I didn't see her make it myself.

Next was Empanada Goodness.  One of the things that people think about going raw is that you might miss crispy baked and fried foods.  This dish, made with raw tortillas prepared in a dehydrator, provided that satisfied feeling one gets from eating that type of food.  In this case it was satisfying without the bloated feeling.  The empanada dough was mostly made with almond flour, pureed veggies, flax and spices.  The filling was more veggies, and she showed how massaging the veggies with olive oil makes them more digestible and gives them a "cooked" appearance, without heating them and destroying the valuable plant enzymes.  As an alternative, she also gave us one with a lettuce wrap instead of the tortilla.  I preferred the tortilla, but others said they liked the lettuce.

For dessert, we finished with lovely little Dulce de Leche Iced Pops.  Again, it had the creaminess of a dairy ice cream, but completely raw and vegan, made with fresh coconut and cashews.

The class was fun and entertaining, the meal was filling.  After Miss Ree demonstrated a course, a wait person would serve it to us from the kitchen.  I showed up hungry, which was almost a mistake - I was dying for them to bring the first course!

At first as each course came out, the portions seemed small.  But I realized that I've been conditioned to expect to eat big, hearty meals of largely empty calories, and as a result I am overweight.  After the last course was served, Ree told us that in total, the meal contains all the protein a person needs in one meal, and I realized she was right.  The meal, while a bit smaller than we are accustomed to eating in my family, was delectable and loaded with concentrated nutrition.  I ate slowly, savoring each bite of pure nutrition and flavor.  There were no fillers, nothing added that the body can't use, and by the end of the meal I felt satisfied without being stuffed.  I was a little hungry again three hours later, but hungry feelings are not a big deal and are easily dealt with by eating a snack of crudites or fruit.   Rather than hunger, the feeling to avoid at all costs is that feeling of being stuffed full rather than merely satisfied.  Now for me, a meal is about the size of what was once a snack - except a little snack contains a lot of nutrition.  Dinner last night was dehydrated eggplant dipped in spicy hummus.  The hummus was not raw but it was so good!

The only thing I regret about taking this class is that I've missed all the previous ones.  Ree has  been presenting this monthly for more than a year.  A nice woman at the class showed me her notes and recipes from all the previous classes.  I'm looking forward to Ree's prep book which is coming out in the fall.

Today, I'm happily reading Rawsome! by Brigitte Mars.  It's very informative and filled with ingredient and nutritional information, with plenty of recipes.

Yesterday's class was so inspiring that I attempted a raw vegan Mexican rice  for tonight's dinner.  It was made with cauliflower instead of rice, chopped extra fine in the food processor until it had a rice-like texture.  To that we added chopped zucchini, onion and tomato,  and finely minced Anaheim chili.  Two avocados were pureed in the food processor with almond butter, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, cilantro, garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, turmeric and salt.   The whole thing was stirred together, and that was dinner.  It was fresh, light, and lovely.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Rarely do I discuss our decision to take up a raw vegan lifestyle with anyone but my beloved husband.  On the occasion that I do, people mainly ask, "Why?"

One thing is certain.  It's not because I care about what people think.

This wasn't always true.  The first time I was vegetarian and mostly vegan, which was over 15 years ago, I found out that behind my back, some people were saying I looked anorexic or anemic.  The implication was that rather than following a healthy lifestyle, I had an eating disorder.  I felt wounded by the comments and as a result I second-guessed myself, but it seems silly now.  I had never felt better in my life.  My body type is ectomorph; I'm supposed to be thin.  When I changed my eating habits, I gained weight.  Gradually I began to feel increasingly unwell.  What's more important, approval from people who don't really care about you when it gets right down to it, or one's health?

Looking back over my life, some of the things I did that I regret now had to do with placing approval from others above my own highest vision.

Recently I saw a comment that a non organic person made.  He said that people choose an organic lifestyle because they want to look like they are better than other people.  The problem with that statement is that people who live an organic lifestyle are not necessarily more highly regarded than those who do not.    Perhaps some people choose organic because it makes them feel better about themselves, but hopefully most are not silly enough to believe it will make others think more highly of them.  Regardless, approval is not a good reason to choose any given lifestyle.

It comes down to a person's individual core values.  What do you stand for?  How do you wish to be the change you wish to see in the world?  Do you want to place your health in the hands of major multinational food, agricultural and pharmaceutical  conglomerates who will place shareholder profits above your personal welfare?  Do you think it's okay to pollute the environment?   There are heroes and role models for any value set.  We can each choose our own.

Today while shopping at the grocery store, it seemed that everywhere I looked, I saw obese people, painfully and tiredly walking the aisles buy more food that contains sugar, salt and fat with far too few nutrients.    I know that walk and that feeling of being undernourished and overfed.  I no longer choose that, irregardless of how weird others may think my choices are.

I am 8.5 lbs. lighter today than I was almost a month ago, and I have more energy.  That's reason enough for me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Raw Vegan Lasagne; Cool On A Hot Day

For Father's Day, I made a raw vegan lasagne, courtesy of a recipe by Russell James.

It turned out amazingly delicious, with the flavors and textures of a Standard American Diet Lasagne, and it didn't heat up the kitchen.  The picture below doesn't do it justice.  Compare it to the pic taken by the food stylist at Russell James - the difference is amusing but it's still a great recipe.

My beloved husband enjoyed it, and after eating he said he felt satisfied and not at all bloated.  Success!

One thing that I liked best about it was that each layer was made in the food processor.  It wasn't necessary to wash the food processor between layers - just scrape it out with a spatula, because the flavors are all going to mingle in the end anyway.  So there was very little cleanup between layers.  Like many raw food recipes, it's necessary to soak nuts and marinate some of the vegetables.  It's necessary to plan ahead to make this one, but it's well worth the effort.

Next time maybe, we'll increase the ingredients for the walnut meat and the tomato sauce layers.  Because they were chunky, they were dotted on with a spoon and then spread out flat, but I would have liked to make those layers just a little thicker.  Another option would be to not try to repeat the meat and tomato layers, or add some portobellos .  The cheese and pesto layers were perfect because they were thinner and easier to spread. We did deviate a little from the original recipe.  We topped it with vegan "Parmesan cheese," which was really walnuts ground with nutritional yeast, herbs, and Panko bread crumbs.  Yes, I know Panko is not raw but it made up a very small portion of the recipe.

Because this dish contains such concentrated nutrients, it was enough for two or three of our meals, so we are having it again tonight. Perhaps that's one reason we used to overeat - the foods weren't as nutrient dense.

Speaking of Russell James, I signed up for his free mini series of video classes on raw vegan cooking.  After watching the classes, I bought downloads of his series of cookbooks.  Funds are tight, and I've been determined to do this by finding information for free online and at the library.  I made an exception in this case because what he has offered so far has helped us crack the code of raw food preparation. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Labeling Ourselves

Once I told a friend that I was vegan for a while in the 1990s.  She asked me, "Did you eat honey?"  I told her yes.  She said, "Then you weren't really vegan."

I still remember the flood of color rising to my cheeks.  I said, "Well, I was vegan except for honey."

Another time, a vegetarian friend told me she never eats anything with a face.  Later she said she would make an exception at Thanksgiving, if the turkey was organic, free range, and raised humanely.

I felt confused.  Does that mean she's still a vegetarian?

Does it matter?

Kevin Gianni, author of "High Raw," defines high raw as a diet of 75% -95 % raw, ripe, uncooked whole foods.  The remaining percentage is whole cooked foods.  He doesn't necessarily recommend supplements or super foods.  His main point is to eliminate processed foods.  We are definitely meeting the definition of high raw most days.

So my question is, can you still call yourself a vegan if a small percentage of your diet is animal based?  Can you still call yourself a vegetarian if a small percentage of your diet is flesh?

I've seen this debate rage online.  Some people flat out say "No!"  One person wrote, "If you call yourself a vegetarian and you occasionally eat flesh, then you are not a vegetarian.  You are a fraud."

I snorted when I read that.  Just like we can choose what we wish to eat, we can each choose to call ourselves whatever we want, and it's nobody's business but our own.

Last night my family and I visited a long time friend.  She served us a delicious cheese and prosciutto tortellini in won ton wrappers.  We enjoyed the meal and her company.  I don't know what gives me more pleasure - her cooking or watching her transform over the years from teenager to an accomplished woman with the world at her feet.

But we ate that tortellini, and savored every bite.  So maybe I can't "really" call myself a vegan.  It doesn't matter.  I can definitely call myself seven pounds lighter, as of this morning.  Woohoo!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Low Glycemic Raw

I recently read a blog where someone said they can't go raw because raw vegans eat mostly fruit and she can't handle a high carb diet.  Here's the thing - not all raw vegans are fruitarians.  Some might be better described as sproutarians.  Personally, my body doesn't seem to do that well on a high fruit and nut diet either - but leafy greens and sprouts are wonderful for me.  Here's a list of low glycemic veggies for my future reference.

While I'm posting links, here's a recipe for a smoothie I'm dying to try.  It's a dessert smoothie and trust me, you can definitely gain weight on a raw vegan diet, but who can resist butterscotch?

Update:  We tried the smoothie, but replacing the young coconut for macadamia nuts because one of the kids is allergic.  It was pretty good but I didn't quite get the butterscotch flavor.  Maybe without the coconut it needs one more date.  I would definitely make it again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Homemade Almond Milk

Almond milk has been a staple in our home for years.  We usually go through at least one 1/2 gallon carton each week.  Recently we ran out, and rather than go to the store for more, we made it in the blender from scratch with ingredients on hand.  It was so good, and I liked knowing exactly what was in it so much, that we made it again.  Now I really don't see the need to buy commercial almond milk.  It's so easy to make a child can do it, and only takes a couple of minutes.  This recipe makes 8 cups.


1/2 cup almonds, soaked overnight in water and rinsed (if you didn't soak the almonds first it will still turn out great)
2 pitted dates (or to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla (omit if you prefer plain)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground flax meal
filtered or purified water

Place the first four ingredients in the blender with about two cups or less of water.  The amount of water you start with may depend on your blender.  You want to use less water at first because that way it will turn out less grainy.  Blend until thick and creamy.  This will take a couple of minutes.  Then fill the blender with more water, and blend well.

At this point it is usually recommended to strain the milk - we don't bother.  If we did strain the milk, we would probably blend the almonds separately, strain, then blend the additional ingredients in the strained milk.  It does turn out a teensy bit grainy this way but it doesn't bother us.

Leftovers should be placed in a shaker container so that it can be shaken before each pour.  Obviously, this can be flavored any way you can think of - with cocoa powder, fresh fruit or berries in season, or for a soothing, healing drink:  a dash of turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, saffron and manuka honey, served slightly warm.

A note about soaking the almonds:  This has to do with removing an enzyme inhibitor from the skins.  In our home, if we know ahead of time we are going to make something out of almonds we soak them.  Otherwise we haven't been worrying about it.
It would also be possible to use flax seeds rather than flax meal.  We haven't tried this yet, but we would probably start with two tablespoons.  Soak them separately from the almonds in a cup of water overnight.  Use the seeds with the flax soaking water in the blender with the almonds. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

This is the new bacon

Last time I attempted to make raw vegan eggplant bacon, I didn't have a deyhdrator.  Our lowest oven setting is 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which basically ruined it.  It was awful.  Since then I have found recipes that involve baking the eggplant at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time, but we prefer to avoid using our oven and in my opinion the raw vegan method tastes amazing and has a bacon-like texture.  Leave the skin on to give it a nice bite.

One thing I love about this recipe is that it's easy for the family to slice up the eggplant and place it in the marinade while preparing the evening meal, and then place it in the dehydrator during cleanup after the meal.  The next morning, you have "bacon" for breakfast!

Some folks advocate salting the eggplant, pressing out the excess moisture, then placing it in the marinade, but we skipped that step and it turned out fine.

This recipe can be found in several places online.  Next time we'll omit the chili powder to make it more kid-friendly.

Here's how we did it:

Two regular eggplant, sliced thinly with a mandolin
1 tablespoon Spike salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons tamari
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Whisk the marinade ingredients until blended, and place the eggplant in the marinade for two hours.  Dehydrate at a low temperature, (105 degrees Fahrenheit) for twelve hours. 

This recipe filled four dehydrator trays.  While this was drying, we also made some fruit rollups.  This were made with three baskets of strawberries, the juice of one lime, and two pitted dates.  Process until smooth and dehydrate at a low temperature for about twelve hours.

Fruit rollups, of course, are a hit.

We also dehydrated some "cauliflower popcorn" but that recipe is still being perfected.

And now, off to make the kale chips!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Transitioning in phases

Change is essential to life.  We change anyway whether we like it or not.  Every day we are growing, degrading, becoming weaker, becoming stronger.  Our thoughts can harden into intractable attitudes, our actions become habits which can eventually be seen in our bodies.  When we stop changing we die - except that even after death, our physical bodies continue to change until dust.

But change doesn't have to mean erosion and degradation.  It can also mean adding to, building up.  It seems to me that the effort of building up, adding to, staying positive and productive is far greater than the simple act of surrendering to natural decline.  But the effort is very worthwhile and sometimes it's just a matter of making simple choices.

I never would have tried to change to raw veganism if someone hadn't served it to me, on a plate, a gift of love, a burst of flavor in my mouth, a feeling of wellness surging through my body.  At another gathering, a dear heart said to me, "Open your mouth, this is too messy to pick up with your hands," and she fed me.  Once again I felt that love, tasted that amazing fresh flavor, and felt the good from top to toes.

That was the first phase.   It was an uplifting experience.  But it made me curious, and that led to some time online, a couple of visits to a restaurant and the library, watching documentaries, buying a book.  That was the second phase.  We opened our minds and our eyes.

The third phase was finding products and materials for the things we want to do.  Where do you buy sprouting jars?  What's the best dehydrator?  Do we need a juicer?  Which are the best nutritional supplements?  Which books are worthwhile to read?  Who's who in the world of raw veganism?

The fourth phase involves developing skills and deepening research.  We are learning how to grow sprouts.  We are trying new recipes.  We are figuring out how to make sure that our growing 12 year old son really does get enough B12, vitamin D, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and protein.

The fifth phase involves changing habits and retraining our tastebuds.  The morning routine is evolving - the sprouts are rinsed right after letting the dog out.  The morning meal is a fruit and vegetable smoothie instead of cereal.  As I bring new raw vegan cookbooks into my home, the familiar old cookbooks are pushed to the back.  As we munch on flavorful raw dehydrated cauliflower "popcorn," the SAD (standard American diet) snack chips are forgotten.  We aren't deprived of anything, we are simply making room for what is better.  As we continue, the SAD is less appealing and we crave the fresh, raw and fabulous.

The sixth phase is sharing.  One day I will have the privilege of feeding delicious raw vegan food to someone, perhaps even someone who has never tried it before.

The phases overlap, and we are going at our own pace.  Certainly every experience is different.  The important thing is that we are taking charge of the natural flow of change in our lives, and working with nature to bring about the results we want.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day 13

It's been almost two weeks and I'm still excited about this lifestyle change.  I have lost 3 1/2 lbs. without exercising or changing anything but the types of foods we eat.  I'm eating a lot - the equivalent of about four massive salads each day - but most of the time there are no animal products in the food.  I'm usually full, and if I get hungry between meals it's simple to grab a piece of fruit and go.

My beloved husband reports that his blood pressure is already lower and soon he will speak to his doctor about a timetable for getting off his medications.  I'm finding my anxiety far easier to manage, and I'm sleeping better at night with fewer aches and pains in the morning.  My fatigue is subsiding and I'm feeling more cheerful.  I'm thankful for these improvements and can hardly wait to see how much better we will feel in a few months. 

We still have animal based foods in the freezer and pantry, and according to our agreement we will consume these instead of throwing them away.  However as we adjust to the new diet, animal based foods are less appealing.  If and when we do eat them, it will be in small quantities.

I have some cauliflower marinating to go in the dehydrator, and one jar of sprouts that will be ready in a few days.  A day may come when the dehydrator is always humming and there is a different jar of sprouts for each day of the week, but for now we are still taking things slow.

When we made that huge Mexican-style meal on Monday, it occurred to me that each course was basically a different kind of salad.  Wrap leafy greens around chopped veggies and it's a salad dressed up as a burrito.  Before we starting eating raw vegan, I thought a diet of nothing but salads sounded dull.  These dishes were anything but dull.  It was the creative and appealing cuisine of raw veganism at the Go Raw Cafe that drew me in, but it's the wonderful feeling of well-being in my body that makes me want to stay with it.

I watched a Youtube video of a raw vegan woman who said that she only eats two smoothies and one large salad each day.  As the summer heat increases, I can see the appeal in that.  Smoothies are quick.  They are basically a salad in a blender.  Toss in some spinach, carrots, cucumber, a banana and some berries and the meal is ready.  This morning we finished the last of our Amazing Meal, which I mentioned here.  The pomegranate mango flavor was my favorite.  This product for us was like the "training wheels" of raw veganism.  Until we had time to do more research into the nutritional requirements it was nice to be able to rely on a product to simplify things.  It's a great product and I'm sure we'll use it again in the future, especially when we travel.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Raw Mexican Fiesta

Last night we had a filling, satisfying raw vegan Mexican meal.   It was delicious!

Over the weekend we used our brand new Excalibur food dehydrator to make Raw Classic Corn Chips.  We served the resulting tortilla chips as "raw nachos" as an appetizer for tonight's dinner.  This recipe came out of the Excalibur cookbook, Preserve it Naturally.  Here's our take on it:

Raw Corn Chips

10 ears of corn
1 onion
1 orange bell pepper
2 carrots
1 cup alfalfa sprouts

Place in a food processor and process until chunky.  Place in a strainer and press out any extra liquid.  The liquid is drinkable and tastes a bit like milk.  Spread into two large rounds on a dehydrator tray lined with a Paraflexxs sheet.  Dry 12 hours, then dry on the other side for 17 hours.  To flip the tortilla over without breaking, place a Paraflexx sheet on top of the tortilla, then a tray over that.  Flip both trays over, and peel the Paraflexx sheet off of the top of the tortilla.  The resulting tortilla can be broken into tortilla chips or used for raw tostadas, Mexican pizzas, etc.

Note:  It stuck to the Paraflexx and might have released more easily if it had been lightly brushed with some olive oil.  The resulting tortilla might have looked more appealing if the mixture had been processed until smooth.  The flavor was intense with a hint of bitterness.  My husband liked it.  It wasn't completely dry after 29 hours, but we refrigerated it and then warmed it again in the dehydrator before serving, and by then it was perfect.  I enjoyed it more with the Raw Vegan Nacho Cheese sauce.

Raw Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

Here's our version:

1 cup raw pine nuts (pine nuts do not require soaking)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper  (about 1/2 pepper)
2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (then adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon low salt white miso
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Blend all ingredients together in a high powered blender.

Note:  Next time, intensify flavor by adding paprika and slightly increasing the nutritional yeast.  This recipe originally used cashews but a family member is allergic.  Try using different nuts or blends of nuts.  The pine nuts were reminiscent of pesto.

We attended a picnic on Friday, and someone brought this beautiful, delicious salad.  I went online and found a recipe for Mexican Fruit Salad and then we made our own version.

Chili Fruit

Chop and slice the following fruit into large bite sized pieces:

1 mango
2 small pineapple
1/2 a large seedless watermelon
1 small honeydew melon
3 kiwi
1 English cucumber
1 medium jicama

juice and zest of three limes
chili powder (we used a mixture of Anaheim chili powder and regular chili powder)
salt, to taste

Gently stir the lime juice and zest into the fruit, and then sprinkle on the chili powder.  Stir and tasted, adding chili and salt until it reaches the desired flavor.  Serve chilled.

Looking for the perfect raw vegan burrito recipe, once again we searched the net.  Rachael Renee Gerk was a great help on Youtube, and we made the burritos pretty much like she demonstrated. 

Rachel Renee Gerk's Raw Vegan Burritos

1 bunch collard greens

3 Brussels sprouts, coarsely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
baby spinach
1 medium yellow squash, chopped

Blend the ingredients and place in a bowl.

Use the largest leaves of the collard greens to wrap the burritos.  The stem can be pounded flat so that it's flexible.  Layer with guacamole, the filling, and the salsa, and roll.

Simple Guacamole

3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 ripe avocados
cumin to taste

Process until smooth.

Normally we'd add tomatoes, onion, cilantro and chili powder etc. to our guacamole but these burritos are loaded enough!

Raw Salsa

4 vine ripened tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 cup cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded.

Process until smooth.

Next we had desert.  Strawberries are widely available, and we found this recipe on Me Amoeba for amazing Frosty Berry Squares.

As always, since our son is allergic to cashews we replaced them, this time with macadamias.  Otherwise this is the exact recipe on Me Amoeba.  This recipe makes four enormous servings, with leftover filling that we made into pops.  It could easily serve eight.

Frosty Berry Squares from Me Amoeba


1/4 cup raw almonds
15 dates, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Grind the almonds in a food processor until they are fine, then add the rest of the ingredients and process until it begins to clump together.  Divide into four equal portions and press into the bottoms of individual serving molds.  We used little silicone cake molds in star shapes.


1 cup macadamia nuts, soaked  2 hours.  (macadamia nuts do not have to be soaked but I did it anyway because it might help with the moisture content of the mixture.)
20 large strawberries
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Process in a food processor until creamy, then divide in equal portions over the crust.

Place in the freezer until set.

Topping  (make while the desserts are starting to thaw slightly)

6 strawberries
Agave nectar

extra strawberries for garnish

Process the six strawberries with about a tablespoon of agave nectar.  Unmold the desserts and top with the strawberry puree.  Garnish.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Two Salads

Yesterday we shopped at Costco.  There are plenty of great choices of vegan ingredients there, like organic peanut butter, hemp hearts, raw nuts, washed spinach, peeled carrots and ground flax seed.

Abiding by the agreement we established from the beginning, we allowed ourselves to sample from the many free offerings handed out by employees at Costco.  Often as we tasted things, we wrinkled our noses and made faces.  The food was too sweet, too salty, or too greasy.  At one point we shared a sample of Starbucks Frappuccino.  I said to my husband, "I can't believe we used to drink that stuff!"  It tasted like the flavored, sweetened coffee creamers that people add to the coffee, not something to drink straight.  That's the result of training our taste buds to real, whole food.

We did pick up a couple of salads at Costco, and they were pretty good.  I'm going to list the ingredients on the label here, and will be attempting to make my own version in the future.  They are vegan but not raw. 

Quinoa Salad
(Costco Wholesale Deli Case)

Cucumber, Tomatoes, Red Quinoa, Red Bell Pepper, Mung Beans, White Quinoa, Bulgar Wheat,
Red Lentil, Parsley, Soybean Oil, Cilantro, Salt, Lemon Juice, Vinegar, Water, Spices

Texas Caviar Salad
(Pita Pal)

Blackeye Peas, Bell Pepper, Jicama, Corn, Onion, Parsely, Red Pepper, Orange Juice, Canola Oil, Spices, Citric Acid, Sea Salt, Potassium Sorbate and a Lot of Love

We enjoyed both of the salads although we thought the Texas Caviar tasted oily.  We can remedy that by using olive or grapeseed oil and using less of it.

Texas Caviar

1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 (4 ounce) can ripe olives, chopped and drained
1/2 cup diced jicama
one ear of corn kernels
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate  (or use the zest and juice of one orange)
1 tablespoon chopped parsely
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon pepper

 Serves 12