Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Raw Vegan Pan de Muerto and Cacao Carob Cookies

Each year around Halloween and Dia de los Muertos one of my favorite traditions is to visit a Mexican bakery and bring home warm, fresh Pan de Muerto.  Sometimes I'll even make it from scratch.

This year I set about finding a raw recipe to keep up the tradition.  Pan de Muerto is normally a sweet yeast bread made with white flour.  Many of the recipes include orange zest and anise seed, and some contain orange flower water.  Next year, I'll experiment with raw bread recipes that include these ingredients, but this year I simply used a raw pumpkin bread recipe found here.

Here's my adaptation: 

2 cups nut pulp
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp golden flax meal
2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups packed dates
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp.cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp salt

The nut pulp was made by making various nut milks and then adding the pulp to a storage container in the freezer.  It was thawed for the recipe. 

The pumpkin puree was made by placing fresh shredded pumpkin flesh in a high speed blender.  Add the dates to the pumpkin puree in the blender and blend again until smooth.

Place the pureed pumpkin and dates in a bowl and add the additional ingredients, stirring by hand.

The dough will have a very thick, batter-like texture, close to the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Because of the flax meal, it will continue to thicken if you let it sit for a bit.  Form it into the desired shape on a Teflex sheet placed on a dehydrator screen.  Basically I laid spoonfuls of the batter on the screen to form an outline of a man, then built it up until it was 1/1/2 inches thick.  I used my hands to smooth the top and edges the best I could, then used the last of the batter to built up the features of a face on the head.

Dehydrate for at least 8 hours at 105 degrees, or until it's firm enough to peel off the Teflex and flip over onto the screen.  After 8 hours I flipped him over again, used the handle of a spoon to deepen the man's "eyesockets," and pushed in raisins.  After 8 hours, I flipped him over again, and continue to dehydrate him for a total of 2 days.

We had it for breakfast, slathered with this Quick Raw Apple Butter: 

3 apples, cored
about 28 deglet noor dates
1 tbsp cinammon

Blend in a high speed blender and serve.

Cacao Carob Cookies

Original recipe found here.  My adaptation:

2 cups mixed carrot and beet pulp
1 cup raisins
1 medium zucchini, peeled
2 tbsp coconut oil
2/3 cup flax meal 
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/3 cup carob powder
2 tbsp raw honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
organic chocolate chunks for garnish, (raw if you can find it)

In a food processor, blend all the ingredients together except the flax meal.  Turn out into a bowl, and stir in the flax meal until the mixture thickens into a dough like consistency.

Roll the dough into balls and flatten slightly, making an indentation in the top center.  Fill each center with garnish.  Place on a dehydrator screen, and dehydrate at 105 degrees for 24 hours.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Raw Fatigue and Mock Tuna with Hemp Mayo

After being high-to-100% raw for four over months, last week I hit a wall.  Raw veganism was starting to seem dull and was no longer appealing, attractive, or fun.  I started munching on roasted peanuts, cooked vegetarian Indian food, telling myself, "at least it's not KFC or GMO corn chips."  A new repertoire of easy fall recipes is in order, one that uses the produce that arrives in the CSA each week. 

Of course with the cooked food the inflammation returned, and with it the achy joints and fatigue, and it seemed like I started to gain a lb a day.  I still weigh considerably less than when we started this, but lost a little ground.

I feel fine about it emotionally.  Not like a failure, or a loser or anything bad like that.  Rather than giving up, I just took a little detour.  Even while eating this wonderful fresh authentic Indian food, I was thinking how much better it would be if it were raw.

I'm back on track now.  Recently, we did make some really awesome meals, like a pumpkin pesto and a cauliflower "couscous."  The pumpkin pesto was made by using a vegetable peeler to make long pieces pf pumpkin "pasta," and using the raw seeds and stringy bits with basil, pine nuts, olive oil and nutritional yeast to make a pesto.  Not only was the pesto excellent, but we had leftovers, and on the second day they had somehow thickened into a savory pate.  Sorry I can't provide an exact recipe, but if you know how to make raw squash noodles and raw pesto, you are halfway there.  Next time I might soften the pumpkin pasta a bit by tossing it in a smidgeon of olive oil and sea salt, and putting it the dehydrator for a while.  Raw pumpkin can be a bit crunchy.

The couscous was made by processing a head of cauliflower in the food processor until it was broken down into pieces the size of cooked couscous.  The same was done with a head of broccoli. The recipe link is at the bottom of this paragraph, but I didn't follow it religiously.  I just used what I had on hand, ommitting the mushrooms, corn and fava beans, and adding broccoli and chopped red pepper.

I don't normally care for fishy flavors, so I'm not a big fan of most seaweed.  But I'd like to get seaweed in our diet at least once a week, for the iodine.  Yesterday I filled large tomatoes with raw mock tuna salad, and it turned out terrific.  I'll try to recreate the recipe down below.  It's one of those you really can't mess up.

A note on ingredients:  This time I used roasted seaweed and prepared mustard, because it was on hand.  A person who is 100% raw would probably skip these or find 100% raw replacements.  We are "high raw," meaning we strive for at least 75% raw overall, and I find that using some non-raw condiments and flavorings helps to prevent cravings for familiar cooked comfort foods.  Besides, if someone wants me to give up my smoked paprika, they'll have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers!

Mock Tuna

This made a HUGE bowl of mock tuna salad. 

2 cups raw sunflower seeds, soaked 2 hours, rinsed and drained
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, soaked 2 hours, rinsed and drained
1 .23 oz package roasted seaweed (raw dried seaweed would have been better)
3 cups fresh raw carrot juice pulp
1/4 cup fresh raw beet juice pulp (for color)
1 red onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, slice thinly
1/2 English cucumber, chopped finely
dulce flakes to taste
1 tsp prepared mustard (mustard powder would be better)
1 tsp smoked paprika
hemp mayonnaise, (recipe below)

Pulse the seeds in one cup batches, until they start to resemble the texture of flaked tuna. Place in a large bowl.  Pulse the carrot and beet pulp with the roasted seaweed, and combine with the seeds.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir.

 Hemp Mayonaise

1 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup young Thai coconut water and flesh, blended
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey or to taste
1 cup olive oil
sea salt to tast

I didn't include the salt when I made this, because in the mock tuna recipe there is salt in the seaweed.  Start by grinding the hemp seeds in the coconut water.  If you don't have a young coconut, you could substitute with coconut milk, coconut water, or plain water.  When the hemp is smooth, add the remaining ingredients except the olive oil, and blend until smooth.  Last, add the olive oil in a thin stream, while running the blender.
On Saturday, we put in some plants from the nursery:  some arugula and chard, and one each of dill, sage, purple basil, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas, peppers, and a producing tomato.  All this went into some self-watering planters and a smallish planter box.  Yes, it's October, but winters tend to be mild here, and the hope is that we'll have a bit of fresh produce until January.  Unfortunately, the chard is already fading, but everything else is holding up okay.  We are learning about square foot gardening, edible landscaping and companion planting.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Our Current Raw Strategy

Here's our current way of doing things. It's in a constant state of evolution, and what is working for us to day might not be what we are doing tomorrow.

Every Saturday, we pick up produce from Bountiful Baskets, then we go to the local "pick your own" farm and pick whatever is in season.  (This weekend will be pumpkins, yay.)  Then we go pick up produce from a community supported agriculture program we are signed up with.  On the way home, we pick up extra supplies from Costco and Winco. 

So on Saturdays, with the kitchen overflowing with fresh produce, I try to figure out how we are going to use it all up by the following Saturday.  It's a good day to wash everything so that it will keep longer, and start making decisions about what should be consumed first.  I may start hunting for recipes, and making a list of additional items that will be needed.  Most meals are high-raw vegan, and what I mean by that is that we sparingly use non-raw flavorings and condiments like maple syrup, agave nectar, smoked paprika, tamari, etc. 

Thanks to what we learned on The Garden Diet, my husband and I are attempting a three day mini cleanse nearly every week until the rest of our excess weight comes off.  The three day cleanse mostly consists of juices and smoothies on Thursday, mostly water or herbal tea with lemon on Friday, and more juices and smoothies on Saturday.  The idea will be to rest our digestive systems during that time.  On water fast day, we can add a bit of fruit to the water and blend it if it gets too difficult.  We avoid spices and non raw condiments during the three days.  However, this is not a succeed or fail type thing.  Each week we try it, and if it doesn't work out that's okay.  If it conflicts with a special occasion or an event with food, we won't stress if we break the fast.  Of course, the kids will eat as usual while the grownups are on their mini-cleanse.  After my husband and I reach our ideal weight, we will fast less often, and increase our overall caloric intake.

While most of our meals are as simple as possible, once a week or so I may try to do something a bit more fancy.  That is, if I feel like it and have time.  For example, I keep thinking that one day I'm going to attempt a raw vegan Indian meal, complete with samosas.

My 12 year old still enjoys making pizza and other cooked foods, so perhaps once a week or so we enjoy a cooked vegan or vegetarian meal.  However, I find that the more adept we are at prepping raw meals, the less I enjoy cooked food.  When we do eat cooked vegan food, I can feel the difference in my body as well.  I have less energy and more soreness and stiffness in my body the next morning.  The feeling is similar to that of a hangover.

Once in a great while, we may partake in a typical SAD meal, either because of social circumstances or because of family traditions.  It's not something that I necessarily think is a great idea for myself, but for us I feel this lifestyle should not be too rigid or difficult.  So at times we may decide to "go with the flow."

One thing that does complicate things a bit is that one of our children was born with a disabling medical condition which caused a problem called oral praxis, and is in ongoing occupational therapy to work on his ability to process food in his mouth.  He is progressing nicely, but has difficulty eating sufficient quantities of food to grow and sustain life.  The process of chewing and swallowing causes fatigue for him.  At one meal, he can only manage about half the amount of food a young man his age should eat.  As a result, he is fed a supplemental liquid nutritional formula via gastrostomy tube.  The formula is dairy based.  Because learning to eat food is critical to his long term health, anything that we can get him to eat is better than nothing.  For years, one of our goals was for him to be able to chew and swallow meat, and he began to approach this goal just as my husband and switched to the raw vegan lifestyle.  Also, because of his feeding difficulties, he needs to eat high fat, calorie dense food so that he can consume as many calories in as few bites as possible.  In his case, processed foods are better than nothing at all.  He doesn't have a problem with weight, and he is in public school where he is exposed every day to the Standard American Diet.  Of course we encourage him to eat as much raw food with us as he can, but we also allow him to choose foods from the Standard American diet, including animal products.  As a result of this, our home is not 100% raw or even vegan.  But it's okay, and I suspect that many raw foodists share their kitchens with family members or roommates with different diets.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

John Kohler lecture at Pure Healh Foods

The other night I attended a lecture by John Kohler at a shop called Pure Health Foods.  It's a friendly store with great deals on health products and a helpful staff.  It was advertized by the local Las Vegas Raw Food Meetup, and he spoke to a full room of raw food enthusiasts.

John Kohler is a raw food coach who has two great channels on Youtube and is probably one of the busiest guys in the raw food world. 

He started the lecture by telling his story.  Here's a place where he tells it.  The cleanse he mentions, "Arise and Shine," can be found here.  We haven't tried it yet, but perhaps one day we will.

He made a couple of really great points.  One point was that a lot of the raw recipe books include too much oil and salt in their recipes.  I have to admit that many of the recipes I've tried and posted here included oil and salt, and the meals with more oil and salt felt heavy.  We aren't ready to cut all oil and salt from our diet, but each week we try to set aside three days where we do not consume anything but fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds with no salt, oil, or cooked condiments such as tamari, agave or maple syrup.  However, I do occasionally enjoy making a "gourmet" raw meal with these ingredients.

Another point he made was that we only really need one or maybe two handfuls of nuts per day.  I have experienced the truth in this.  When we consumed more nuts than that, it did affect my energy.

He gave some great tips on where to find certain raw foods here in Las Vegas.  He mentioned Mariana's as a great place to find coconut because their turnover is high.  Vons is a good place to find decent organic produce.  Cowboy Trails Farm is a great local organic farm that offers a variety of fresh heirloom produce.  One big surprise was the 99 Cents Only stores, which he said sells bags of organic spring mix for 99 cents.  I can't wait to look into that!

He also said we should chew our food 200 times!  He's right when you think about it.  The nutrition in raw veggies, particularly greens, is contained within the cell walls of the plant.  Most people probably just chew long enough to turn the food into a bolus that can be swallowed, trusting stomach digestion to do the rest.  Unfortunately any nutrition still locked in the insoluble plant fibers will pass out of the body undigested.  Victoria Boutenko, in her book, "Green For Life," says that we should chew our greens until they are of a creamy consistency in our mouths.  John Kohler said that it can take him up to two hours to finish a meal. 

One of the most useful tips he mentioned was about vitamin K2.   K1 is found in leafy vegetables, so as raw vegans we are getting plenty of that.  K2 however, is different.  It's a bit harder to get that on a vegan diet.  We produce it in our gut from bacteria, but the problem is that if you've taken antibiotics or if you are older, you might be at risk of deficiency. He mentioned natto as a good source of vitamin K2.  He said that fresh organic natto is best, but if that's unavailable, then the next best thing would be in supplement form.

He also demo'd a great tool for getting coconut meat out of mature coconuts.  He called it a coconut demeater. 

He had a few copies of his recipe book available, but I didn't get one because there weren't enough there for all the interested people to get one.  When I asked if they were available online, he said yes but he it can take a while for him to fill the order because he travels so much.

A shout out to John Kohler:  It was a great lecture!  Thank you!  Maybe someday you'll have time to make your recipes available in a PDF download with a Paypal transaction?  Please?