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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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.

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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.

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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

Ingredients:

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

water

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

 

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Eating to Starve Cancer

This isn't about raw food specifically, but about avoiding and curing disease with diet.  There is a terrific YouTube video here:

It's a Ted Talk called, "Can We Eat To Starve Cancer?"

It's only 24 minutes long and well worth the time.

The speaker, William Li, talks about anti-angiogenic therapy, which is a method that inhibits the growth of the blood vessels which feed cancer cells.  He proposes that by eating certain healthy foods each day, we can inhibit the growth of cancer-feeding blood vessels while keeping healthy blood vessel growth in balance.  A healthy diet may prevent cancer cells from growing to a size where medical intervention is needed.  He doesn't go into this in detail, but lists other diseases that may also be affected by angiogenesis.  He shares a list of foods which contain angiogenesis inhibitors, such as:

strawberries
black berries
raspberries
blueberries
oranges
grapefruit
lemons
apples
pineapples
cherries
red grapes
bok choy
kale
ginseng
maitake mushroom
licorice
turmeric
artichokes
lavender
pumpkin
parsely
garlic
tomato
olive oil
grape seed oil
green tea
soybeans

Our family already eats many of the foods on this list on a daily basis, and we aren't even 100% raw.  This is a wonderful trend - every day, more information is shared about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Carrot Cake with Apricots



My husband had a birthday fairly recently, but we were on vacation and I didn't have a chance to make his favorite cake.  So last night, we broke up our nightly salad routine and had cake for dinner.  We had some apricots in the freezer from the harvest at the local "pick-your-own" farm, and these added a nice color and flavor.  My husband had juiced earlier, and when I promised him cake, he saved a bowl of carrot pulp that would have normally gone into the compost.  This cake is made with nuts, and a generous slice is equal to a good-sized handful of almonds, macadamias and walnuts.  We have cut back on our nut consumption and are no longer eating nuts as frequently as when we first discovered raw food.  So for us this was fine as an occasional treat.  I did use honey for the frosting, but if you are vegan and do not eat honey, substitute with your favorite sweetener.  This cake is not a diet food, but it's much better for you than the alternative.

Carrot Cake with Apricots (Raw and Plant Based)

 Cake:

1 cup dates
1 cup dried apricots
1 1/4 cups apricots with juice, frozen and thawed, or about 1 cup of fresh apricot puree
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger  (next time I want to try grated fresh ginger)
1/2 tsp sea salt
6-8 cups carrot pulp
1 cup almond flour


Frosting:

1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts, soaked and drained
Juice of one lemon
1/2 of one vanilla bean
2 tablespoons honey or sweetener of your choice
20 drops of orange flavored stevia (I used SweetLeaf)
pinch of sea salt
up to one cup of water

Garnish:

1/2 cup walnuts, (optional)

For the cake:  Pulse the first 7 ingredients in a food processor until well-combined.  If you do not have a food processor, chop the dates and dried apricots finely, then mix in the remaining ingredients, using a fork to mash and break the thawed apricots down.

Place the mixture in a large bowl and begin stirring in carrot pulp.  You want enough carrot pulp that the mixture is not too wet, but no so much that the mixture doesn't hold together.  The type of juicer you have may make a difference in the amount of carrot pulp you'll use.  Drier carrot pulp is less dense so you can use more of it.  Just keep stirring it in until it starts to remind you of carrot cake.  Next, stir in the almond flour until well combined.

(Notes:  If you don't have a juicer, you can substitute with grated carrot.  Grated carrot is more dense than carrot pulp, and you'll need about half as much.  You may need to increase the amount of almond flour to compensate for the moisture in the grated carrot.  You can buy almond flour, or you can make it.  I placed raw almonds in the dry container of a high speed blender and ground them finely.  It took about 20 seconds.  Alternately, you can dehydrate the leftover pulp from making nut milk.  Ideally, the nuts should be soaked for 8 hours, rinsed, and dehydrated prior to grinding.)

For the frosting:  Place all of the ingredients except the water in a high speed blender. Blend, gradually adding enough water to achieve a frosting-like consistency.  Taste and adjust for sweetness.

To put it together:  I formed the cake mixture into a large ball, then placed the ball on a plate.  Using my hands, I formed the cake into a traditional round cake shape.  It was kind of fun, like making mud pies as a kid. 

Frost, sprinkle with walnuts, and serve!



We had some leftover frosting.  No worries.  I stirred in a capsule of pro-biotic and set it aside to make a delicious cream cheese-like spread for the raw bagels planned for a breakfast in a the near future!


Yes, this was dinner!

Many thanks to the following amazing bloggers for their carrot cake recipes that were the inspiration for this one.  They make life just a little sweeter.  In no particular order:

Chef Amber Shea's Enlightened Carrot Cake 

Emily von Euw's Raw Carrot Cake With Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting

Laura-Jane The Rawtarian's Raw Carrot Refrigerator Cake

Karen Knowler's Raw Carrot Cake

Russel James's Carrot & Orange Cake

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Black Forest Torte

Black Forest Torte







In July, I attended another of Chef Areeya's wonderful raw food prep classes.  The menu included Cucumber Melon Herbed Chiller, (soup), Sliced Tomato and Belgian Endive Salad with Basil Vinaigrette, Baby Swedish Neatballs for the appetizer, and Pasta Primavera with Spinach and Asparagus Alfredo for the main course.  The dessert was Black Forest Torte.

I took pictures, but unfortunately the camera malfunctioned and they were lost.  You'll have to trust me on this one.  It was delicious and raw, putting big smiles on all of our faces, like always.

I went home and made the Black Forest Torte.  Chef Areeya has given permission to share the recipe, so here it is:

Black Forest Torte

Cake/Crumble: 

1 cup pecans soaked and ground to medium-small pearl
1 cup almond flour or soaked almond puree
 1/2 cup cacao powder
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 tsp ground vanilla
pinch of salt

Massage nuts/flour with chocolate, sweetener, pinch of salt and vanilla beans then press into pie tin or individual containers.

Filling:

1 large bag of fresh or frozen organic black cherries
1/4 cup of desired sweetener (agave, honey or coconut crystals are all great)


Topping:

1 cup coconut cream (1 cup young Thai coconut flesh blended into a cream)

Press your crust mix into desired plan, layer with sweetened cherries and drizzle with coconut cream.  Simple, sweet and decadent.  Delish!

Notes:  This is also nice if some of the crumble is reserved and placed between two layers of cherries.  The Black Forest Torte in the photo was made by blending half of the cherries with chia seeds and allowing it to thicken, then stirring the remaining cherries in. I replaced the agave nectar in the crust with date paste, and used honey to sweeten the cherries.  I also added a bit of vanilla powder to the coconut cream, because that's how we like it.



Friday, July 19, 2013

A response to "The undeniable facts about the safety of Diet Coke"

Recently a friend shared this article on Facebook, and I found that I wanted to join the discussion, but comments were closed.  So I'll comment here.


Here's how the article strikes me:  Julie Neidlinger, the author of the blog post, was criticized by her friends for drinking Diet Coke, and it stung.  She pushed back with a blog post which went viral because it stirred up the food controversy.


I sat down at the table with friends, enjoying our get-together at the diner. The waitress took my order for a Diet Coke. She left. A friend spoke up.
“They say that Diet Coke increases your chance of getting diabetes by a factor of seven.”
“I heard people were getting seizures from the aspartame in it.”
“Today the news said a lady died after drinking 10 liters of Coke.”
“That’s nice. Enjoy your glass of city water filled with chemicals like fluoride,” I replied.
Are you kidding me?

First issue in the blog post that I would like to address:  Friends who tell friends what to eat and drink.  That's a tough one. Sometimes people are just uncouth.  Maybe they are socially inept and don't realize that they are uncouth.  We all have choices about what to eat, and we all also have choices about how we interact with people.

For example, when reacting to unsolicited dietary advice, we could choose to write what we really think in a blog and hope the offender reads it.  Or, we could say, "I appreciate your concern about my welfare, and I'll take your advice under consideration," then smile, look them directly in the eye, and take another big swig of Diet Coke followed by an exaggerated sigh of pleasure.  Or, we could call our friend on the phone and say, "Hey, can we talk?  Remember the other day when you told me that Diet Coke will give me cancer?  Well, it made me feel like I was being judged for my personal habits.  It made me feel pretty awful actually, so next time we go out to eat, can you please not lecture me about what I order?  Thanks!"

This last response might give the friend a chance to respond.  They might say, "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to offend you.  It's just that I care about my friends, and I don't want them to get sick.  And I just started finding out about the toxins in our food, and I've become very passionate and vocal about it.  Next time we eat out, I'll try harder to be considerate of your feelings."

Personally I am thankful for the people who have "lectured" me about what I eat.  No, it didn't always feel good, and some of my friends have better social graces than others.  Sometimes I felt defensive.  I felt like saying that my health habits really aren't so bad.  Sometimes I resisted the urge to point out their flaws and see how they liked it.  I'm human.

Many of my friends, however, have such a high level of respect and grace, that rather than feeling demeaned when we talked about food choices, I felt enlightened and loved.  I wish I knew how they did that.  

Those little conversations rattled around in the back of my head, sometimes for years.  Then one day when I tried raw food and felt energized, nourished, and more alive than I had felt in a long time, I remembered all those comments.  Life experience has led me to the lifestyle choices I make today, but I couldn't have made those choices if I didn't know they existed in the first place.  So yeah, you "granola pushers" or whatever the heck we are calling you these days, bring it on!  I welcome you!  I embrace you!  If it wasn't for you, I'd still be eating Oscar Myer Wieners on Wonderbread and washing it down with red Kool-Aid and a Twinkie.  Okay, I'm exaggerating.  More likely, it would be a microwaved Lean Cuisine with a V-8 and a Centrum tablet, with me thinking I'm all healthy and wondering why it hurts to walk when I  get out of bed in the morning.

Recently, while waiting as my son participated in an event, another parent mentioned that he's a raw foodist.  I was ecstatic.  He was the first real-life raw foodist I've met outside of a raw food meetup or some type of transformational gathering.  What began as a enthusiastic conversation turned into a minefield as he began to tell me that I'm doing it wrong.  Apparently, green smoothies are bad for you because you can't eat fruits and vegetables at the same time.  I said I've been studying nutrition and trying to figure out the best way to get enough nutrition on raw food.  He said that's completely unnecessary - our ancestors didn't worry about what was in the wild foods they ate.  They just ate whatever was available.  I said something like, "How long did those people live?  How did they fight infection and disease?"  My impression is that they lived just long enough to reproduce, and generally not a whole lot longer.   Striving to find a happy note before changing the subject, I smiled and said something like, "There are lots of ways to be raw."  I'm convinced that the gentleman is a nice guy who is simply speaking his truth.  He was not trying to shame me into eating like he does.  I don't know whether he knows or cares how his comments make other people feel.  I'm sure that his approach alienates some people, and I chose to not take it personally.

Of course, it's natural to talk about food when people are eating.  And sometimes, when people are excited about something, like what they've recently learned about food and diet, it's hard to not share.  Trust me, I've made this mistake several times.  We can try to share thoughtfully or apologetically, but what do we do?  Talk about shoes?  Yes, changing the subject is always an option.  My point is that it can be very difficult to not talk about whatever we feel passionate about.  And there's a real risk that we might start talking about vegan shoes, and off we go again!

I am repulsed by the idolatry that my body is so precious that I must find something more healthy and pure, that these non-organic fruits lack enough nutritional value for the little god that is me.

Okay, on to the second point of the blog post that I'd like to address:  precious perfect purity princes and princesses.  These are the people who feel they must eat superior food because they are superior people.  I'm sure they must exist.  I have never met one that I am aware of, though.  Most of the people I know who try to eat better do so because they want to feel better.  Some eat organic food because they want to vote with their paycheck.  They believe, like I do, that everyone, rich and poor alike, has a right to enough high-quality organic food to eat.  And everyone could eat better food, if things were being run a bit differently.  They simply put their hard earned money toward what they wish to support.  It's not fair to accuse all of these people of narcissism.

If everyone decided to boycott Coca-Cola, the Coca Cola Corporation would have to figure out what they need to do to stay alive.  Like, perhaps, bottling a more healthful beverage.  Even the poor would benefit.

I can't always afford organic produce, but when I do buy it, I like to think that maybe someday it will be the norm instead of the exception, and everyone will be able to eat it regardless of income level.  However, that will never happen if local organic farmers aren't supported.  So thank you, all you buyers and growers of organic food.  Maybe you eat better than I do, but thank you, all the same.

When you donate food to the food pantry, do you donate the expensive organic carefully-sourced food that you insist is the only acceptable thing to put in your body and that you feed yourself and your family, or do you get the cheapest canned and boxed food at the store?

I would like to comment on the criticism of organic people donating non-organic food to food banks.  Applying Maslow's Hierarchy of Need to food insecurity, it makes sense that a person suffering from hunger will set aside concerns about things like pesticides and GMOs in food until they are in a better position.  I am grateful to those organic food eaters who donate non-organic food to food pantries.  They are doing what they can, and no one can judge their effort.  I am even more grateful to those who organize community gardens for people with food insecurity so that they can grow their own organic food.  And I have witnessed people donating organic food to food pantries. For all those who help the hungry and the food insecure in large ways and small, bless you.


Here's the thing that makes me angry:  Food insecurity isn't necessary.  There are enough resources to go around.  Here in Las Vegas, everywhere I look in the city I see landscaping.  What if the plants we cultivated for our walkways, schools and parks were fruit-bearing?  What if we created more community gardens?  What if it became a trend in Las Vegas to cultivate an edible landscape in one's front yard?  What if instead of a handful of local farms, we had ten times as many?

Someone might say that edible landscaping requires more water than desert landscaping, and that farms use a lot of water.  My response is that there are ways to garden which are more water-smart, and we already waste a lot of water here that can be better used for helping people.


I believe that it is a myth that we need the food processing industry to make low quality, highly preserved foods with a long shelf life, and the giant agricultural industry to create genetically modified seed and bathe livestock in antibiotics in order to "feed the world."  The myth is perpetuated by the industries to protect their interests.

Out of the fear industry, many things have developed. Like being afraid of our food.

Okay, on to the next point that grabbed my attention.  Fear and fear-mongering.  Fear that if one's child touches corn syrup, all is lost.  Yes, I know what you mean.  I agree, it's a problem.   There are fear mongers spreading nonsense about politics, religion, and civil rights.  Fear mongers say that legalizing marriage between gay people will threaten the institution of marriage.  Some fear mongers said that the price of food would go up with mandatory GMO labeling, which caused California citizens to vote against their interests (in my opinion,) and defeat Prop 37.  There are fear-mongers spreading exaggerations about the Standard American Diet, too.  However, I wouldn't characterize every person who is interested in avoiding processed, convenience and junk foods as a fear monger.   

Then there are people who are almost religious about what is in their food.  However, that's their right.  Instead of eating kosher, they eat "pure."  Are they motivated by fear?  Not necessarily. I believe that many of them are motivated by strong core beliefs.  Let's leave them alone.  After all it's a free country. 

Julie Neidlinger didn't mention outright paranoia, but it seems that exists too, right alongside fear mongering.  There exists out there somewhere a person who believes that the big chemical corporations put red dye in our food because they are in cahoots with the pharmaceutical industry.  They think we are deliberately being fed cancer-causing food so that we will be forced to take drugs to treat cancer. Or that we are being fed the SAD (Standard American Diet) to shorten our lifespans so the government doesn't have to pay out as much Social Security.  Before the memos from the tobacco corporations went public, I would have said that this was baloney.  Now, I don't know.  Honestly, I don't.  Maybe sometime in the future, memos from the agricultural, processed food, and pharmaceutical  industries will come out proving they've been intentionally creating food addictions and health problems.  In the meantime, I'll continue to try to do my best to eat for health, and try to educate people around me without making them feel badly.

I don’t know if you’ve ever bothered to talk to someone who’s really old and had to do some of that live-off-the-land stuff, but you ask them if they want to go back to doing things by hand and they, like my grandma told me once when I asked if she missed the “good old days”, are probably going to come out in favor of automatic dishwashers, cake mixes, and Crisco. It wasn’t an alt-lifestyle option, but the only option, and given modernity, they leapt for it.
It’s called progress, because it is.

Next point:  "Typhus wasn't much fun."  When I read that, I thought, "Huh?"  How can someone connect people who are trying to eat closer to the way our ancestors ate to a complete rejection of modern science?  The blogger writes,  "It’s easy to decry technology and its evils from your comfortable perch in the midst of it."

I think that may be where people started thinking the blogger was referring to GMOs.  She did say in the comments that she was not talking about GMOs, but  a common argument used in favor of GMOS is that a rejection of GMO produce equals a rejection of modern science.  Which of course is a completely fallacious argument.

Perhaps the blogger meant that a  rejection of modern food processing techniques and a rejection of the use of chemical flavoring and preservatives equals a rejection of modern science.  She mentioned people who want to go back to the land.  Here's my impression:  Generally speaking, people who are interested in simplifying their lives, eating whole food, and "going back to the land" are not interested in giving up wi-fi, cell phones, internet access, and trauma centers.  I've never met a raw foodist, whole foodist, or even a wild-food forager who demonizes science, but I have seen them protest some of the ways that science is used or has been used to harm people and the environment.  There are things like saccharin and Agent Orange. 

I think that eating closer to the way we evolved on this planet is actually a useful way to use science to improve human health.  After all, without science it would be more difficult to know for certain what and how our ancestors actually ate, or to measure the effects of diet on our health.

A movement toward environmentally friendly, natural foods and a review of what our ancestors ate and how they grew their food is not a rejection of progress.  It is progress.

Science could, in my opinion be used in better ways.  For example, what if we used science to help subsistence farmers in famine-stricken regions to improve their yields, reduce their labor,  improve sanitation and healthcare, without polluting the land, turning the population into a consumer base for large corporations, or creating an artificial dependence on aid?   To those scientists who are already doing this, a heartfelt thank you.


Finally, the blogger commented that what we put in our heads is just as important as what we put in our bodies.  Well yes, I tend to agree with that, except that I don't think that information about healthier food choices is the culprit here.

It seems to me that there is a general tendency within certain industries to try to keep consumers in the dark about certain things that they buy.  Or even to keep them in the dark about certain things they buy into.  Otherwise, journalists would be allowed to bring cameras into slaughterhouses.  The fact that consumers are sharing information amongst themselves tells me that some people want to know the truth so that they can make informed decisions.  Yes, there is plenty of half truth and misinformation going around, but it isn't just coming from one stereotypical group.

I think that there is much at stake for the giant food processing industries and agribusiness conglomerates.  They benefit from articles that tell people that there is nothing wrong with the SAD (Standard American Diet.)  I think we need to think about the agenda of the authors of the pro-SAD media.  Further, it's important to be responsible about what one puts in other people's heads.  It's important to write according to one's conscience.  It's also important to discuss it.  So, next time someone tells me that something that I'm eating is bad for me, rather than object, I plan to welcome the dialogue and thank them for sharing their thoughts.

I think we need to keep the conversation going.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Go Raw Café and Juice Bar

Here in Las Vegas, Nevada, we are fortunate to have a handful of options for dining out on delicious raw food.  The Go Raw Café and Juice Bar Eastside and Westside are two of these.  The Go Raw Café and Juice Bar restaurants are happy, laid back, positive places to dine and meet up with friends. There are other raw food establishments in Las Vegas, they are terrific and we love all of them, but in my opinion the two Go Raw locations are the best places around for a total raw food experience.  My husband and I like to eat there with the kids, and I like to enjoy the classes and events that they offer.

A few weeks ago, Chef Areeya gave another one of her wonderful Go Raw Prep Classes at the Go Raw Café Westside.  At each class, Chef Areeya spices up her food prep tricks and secrets with entertaining stories and anecdotes. I always leave uplifted, inspired and ready to create a new raw meal for my family.


Chef Areeya shares some raw food wisdom

Those attending the class try each dish as Chef Areeya demonstrates how it's made.

A platter of the salad from the raw food prep class

Served at the raw food prep class, clockwise from bottom center:  Crisp Cucumber Bruschetta Salad,"Dang Dude" Dolmas, Kale and Spinach "Star" Falafel with Green Goddess Dressing
From the Raw Food Prep Class:  Sticky Spiced Orange Yumcups

As always, Chef Areeya's Go Raw Prep Class was fun, entertaining, and informative.  Her next class is on July 21, 2013 at Go Raw Cafe Westside Location.  I highly recommend it!

The Go Raw Café also stocks all sorts off goodies for the raw foodist, including snacks, supplements and books.  You will not be disappointed by the selection. 

Take a few minutes to enjoy the art on display at the Go Raw Café and Juice Bar Westside.

They carry a large selection of locally-made raw snacks.


One of the things that sets The Go Raw Café Westside and The Go Raw Café Eastside apart  is the menu.  If you are in the mood for pizza or a burger you can find a delicious raw version.  More than a feast for your body, it's a feast for the eyes as well. 


Over time, my family and I have tried everything on the menu, and everything is fresh, flavorful and fabulous.  My favorites are the "Salmon" Cakes w/ "Fries" & Veggies, and the Purple Burrito.  Our kids are completely nuts about the smoothies and the raw pizzas, and everyone in our family loves the Gimme The Beet Burger.  For people who are newcomers to raw food, I recommend that you ask your server to help you make a selection.
A gorgeous view of the lake just outside the Go Raw Café and Juice Bar Westside.

The small outdoor seating area at Go Raw Café  and Juice Bar Westside is a soothing place to sip a smoothie and relax.

More information about the Go Raw Café and Juice Bar can be found here

Thursday, June 27, 2013

FRawpachicareeno Take II


Superfood For The Ladies Version (And Good For The Guys Too)


1 cup raw hulless oats, sprouted and rinsed (It's okay to use toasted oat groats if you aren't 100% raw, but they won't sprout)
3 tbsp organic black strap molasses  (Omit if you are 100% raw)
3 tbsp Cafix or other chicory coffee substitute (For 100% raw, try using raw chicory)
4 tbs raw mequite powder
3 tsps raw maca powder
3 tbsp raw lucuma powder
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
3 tbsp ground flax seed
3 cups fresh raw spinach
3 frozen ripe bananas, (make sure there are brown spots on the peel) chopped

water and ice


Start with the oats.  Add just enough filtered water to cover the oats, (about one cup,) and blend in a high-speed blender until creamy.  This step is important.  If you add too much water at first, it may be more difficult to get the oats to a creamy consistency, especially if they are dried or if haven't been soaked or sprouted.  Gradually add about another cup of filtered water and the molasses.  I like to slowly add the additional water and molasses while the machine is on.


Turn off the machine and add the rest of the dry ingredients to the blender.  (I prefer to combine and mix them in a small bowl first, but it's not critical.)  Place the bananas and spinach on top of the dry ingredients.  This helps keep them from flying up and sticking to the inside of the blender when you turn the motor on.  Add another cup of water.  Fill the blender to the top with ice.  Blend until creamy.

Alternative method:  If your oats are dry and have the Vitamix blender container with the dry blade, you can also try grinding the oats first until they are a fine flour.  Mix them with the rest of your dry ingredients, then place the mixture in your wet container with an equal amount of water.  Gradually increase the blender speed and blend until the mixture is smooth.  Then proceed with the remaining ingredients.

Note:  If you don't have a high speed blender, you may be able to do this with a kitchen blender if you start with oat flour or instant oats rather than whole oats.  You may also need to start with a higher ratio of water to dry ingredients.

Makes three generous servings.

The good news:  This drink is packed with nutrition!  According to my calculations one serving contains at least 11 grams of protein.  It will keep you full all morning.  The oats are a great source of soluble fiber and protein, a source of B vitamins and minerals and is a great blood sugar stabilizer.  The blackstrap molasses is a source of potassium, iron and calcium.  Mesquite powder contains protein, potassium, iron, calcium and dietary fiber.  Maca root has been traditionally used used by Andean societies and is believed to be good for the endocrine system.  It is used to combat stress, fatigue and to improve the libido.  It contains some protein, calcium and iron.  Lucuma is an alternative sweetener that contains some fiber and protein, some B3 and antioxidants.  Raw cacao powder contains calcium, iron, and protein.  Ground flax seed is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and is high in phytochemicals, particularly lignans, which are believed to help balance female hormones and may help prevent Type 2 diabetes.   Raw spinach is packed with vitamins, minerals and protein.  Bananas are a rich source of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber.  According to a Japanese study, bananas with brown spots on the peel help fight cancer. 

The bad news:  This version made 3 tall servings - at over 550 calories each!  However, it made a terrific breakfast with some good staying power.   And no, you can't taste the spinach at all.

Yes, I know, I promised a lower calorie version of the original.  It's tough because all of the ingredients contain nutrients.  I might try eliminating the mesquite and lucuma, reduce the banana to half, reduce the black strap molasses by 2/3 and then substitute with some stevia.  Or not.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bless Me Father, for I Have Sinned. . .

Dear Reader:

Sorry if the following is in poor taste.  But aren't you glad raw food isn't a religion?

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned.  It has been 3 weeks since my last confession.

I found some fish oil capsules in my kitchen that I bought before I saw the light, and they don't expire until next year, and I didn't want them to go to waste.  So I took them for the omega 3s..

And then we went to a social gathering, and the host said the vegetarian food was on platter "A" and the food with meat was on platter "B," but the platters got switched and I didn't know it until it was too late so I ate something with meat in it."

"My child, for your penance you must watch "Earthlings" again, and this time do not look away or cover your eyes.  And then for consuming the fish oil, you must watch "End of the Line."  Then go on a three day juice fast."

"Please forgive me for my transgressions."

"Now go and sin no more."


Thursday, June 6, 2013

FRawpachicareeno





FRawpachicoreeno.  Okay, so the name is kind of corny, but this thick, rich beverage reminds me of the drinks that people will wait in line to order - except in my opinion this is much better for your health. It's made with raw almond milk, roasted chicory, raw cacao, frozen bananas, dates, ground flax and black strap molasses.  It's every bit as decadent and delicious as the Standard American Diet (SAD) version.

Warning:  This is NOT a diet food!  It's not a weight loss food!  This is an example of the kind of high-raw food you can eat if you are NOT trying to lose weight!  But if you must indulge, compare this dairy and caffeine-free, whole-foods version to the fat and sugar load of the SAD version.  You'll find that in a side by side comparison with the SAD version, while it's higher in fat and calories per ounce, it's the "healthy" type fat, plus it has fiber, less sugar, and no cholesterol.  The bottled SAD version comes in a 9.5 oz. serving and contains 31 grams of sugar, fewer grams of protein, and no fiber.  This version is a much more generous serving size, and as an added bonus, it has some potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and additional vitamins and minerals.  In fact in my opinion, one 15 oz. glass of this beverage is a complete breakfast if it's part of an overall healthy diet.  If you wish to boost the nutrition even more, toss in a couple of handfuls of spinach.

If you choose to avoid roasted chicory, here is a source for raw chicory root.    I don't know how using raw chicory would change the taste, but according to my sources it's a better source of prebiotics than roasted chicory.

For chicory, I used Cafix Instant Beverage, which contains roasted barley, chicory, malt, figs, and red beet concentrate.  If you are gluten intolerant and would like to try the coffee-like flavor of roasted chicory without the barley, you can find it here.  Mountain Rose Herbs also carries dried beetroot powder, a pinch of which would be an excellent healthy addition to this beverage.  Or, simply add a small piece of fresh beet.

If you don't use cacao, you can probably substitute with carob.  In fact, you can probably omit cacao and carob altogether for a completely different flavor.   However some of the calcium, iron and antioxidants in this beverage are found in the cacao. For me personally, the cacao is the whole point of the drink!

For the almond milk, soak 1 cup of raw almonds overnight, rinse them and blend them with an equal amount of water in a high speed blender until creamy.  Add about 16 oz. of water and blend again.  Filter the mixture through a nut milk bag.  The milk is then used to make this beverage.  The pulp can be composted or reserved to make other recipes such as raw breads and crackers.  This might sound like a lot of work, but it only takes about five minutes tops to turn soaked almonds into almond milk, including cleanup.

The organic blackstrap molasses is not raw, and no raw version is available.  However, as a dietary supplement, it will enhance the coffee-like flavor of this beverage and add additional calcium, magnesium and iron, nutrients often needed in a vegan diet.

Note on the blackstrap molasses:   In my opinion, this should be organic.  The problem with non-organic black strap molasses is that most of the non-organic sugar found in the markets in the U.S. is likely to be GMO.  I'm willing to compromise and buy non-organic food when non-organic is not available or unaffordable, but this is not one of those times.  If it's not available in an organic form, I will not use it.

The ground flax seed adds creaminess and balances the omega 6 fatty acids in the almonds with additional omega 3 fatty acids.  Keep in mind that one serving of this beverage will not meet your requirement for omega 3 fatty acids for a day.  According to Dr. Michael Greger M.D., vegans need two tablespoons of ground flax seed each day in order to obtain enough Omega 3.

Currently I'm working on a more nutrient-dense version of this drink that is lower in calories and fat. I'll try to post it next week.  In the meantime, indulge a little!


FRawpachicoreeno

Four generous, creamy, sweet servings, of 15 oz. each, (the bottled serving size of a comparative beverage is 9.5 oz.) enough to satisfy even the strongest craving for a decadent beverage - and it's a bit better for you.

3-4 cups of almond milk made from 1 cup of soaked and rinsed raw almonds
4 tablespoons instant coffee substitute beverage (I used Cafix, see comments above for alternatives)
1/2 cup raw cacao powder  (substitute with raw carob if you don't use cacao)
1 tsp raw ground vanilla powder
3-4  pitted deglet noor dates, depending on preference
3-4 frozen bananas (about 2 cups)
4 tablespoons organic blackstrap molasses
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
 ice

Blend everything but the ice and bananas into the almond milk.  A high speed blender like a VitaMix is best.  Chop the frozen bananas into small pieces and add to the blended mixture, then blend just until creamy.   Add ice to fill the blender and blend just until cold and smooth.  A few minutes or so after blending, the ground flax will be begin to thicken the drink.  Serve immediately.  




Serving Size 15 oz

Nutrition per serving

Calories 315
Total Fat   14 g
Saturated Fat  2 g
Monounsaturated fat 8 g
Polyunsaturated fat 3 g  
Trans Fat 0g
Omega 3 fatty acids  416 mg
Omega 6 fatty acids  2995 mg
Cholesterol  0 mg
Sodium  1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 40 g
Dietary Fiber 10 g
Sugars 28 g
Protein 8 g