Sunday, January 20, 2013

Fresh Mama

Fresh Mama is a great fresh raw food cafe located in the southwestern part of Las Vegas.  They offer fresh wraps, salads, and smoothies.  They are located on 5875 S. Rainbow, just north of the 215, next to a yoga studio.  It's a terrific place, with a good atmosphere, fresh delicious food at affordable prices, accessible hours, (they are open until 9:00 on weeknights and until 6:00 on weekends,) and my understanding is that they are also community minded, hosting events like guest speakers coming in to present on health topics.   I think Fresh Mama is another reason that Vegas is a great place to be raw!

John Kohler made a nice You Tube video about them.

When you walk in, the first thing you notice is that it's spacious with leather seats and a nice, relaxing  ambiance.  

Main dining area

There are rooms off to the side that seem like they would be nice to reserve for banquets.

The menu is simple and straightforward.  When I was taking pics of the menu boards, they said  that even though the menu board still says that one of the smoothies contains whey, they no longer carry whey or put it in the smoothies.  They just haven't changed the menu board.

One thing I really like about it is the price.  Everything - the wraps, the salads, and the smoothies, are around $8.00 each.  For lunch or dinner, that rivals just about any other place where you can stop in for a bite.

And now for the food.  Fresh and delicious!  Some of the wraps aren't 100% raw, but you can request a substitution of collard or romaine for your wrap, and they'll happily make it for you.

Mange Salad

Taco Salad
Verdi Florentine
Spicy Thai

Golden Eagle

They offer desserts which are kept in a little deli fridge off to one side.  We tried the Key Lime Pie, which was out of this world.
Key Lime Pie

While you are there, you can purchase bags of snacky things like eggplant bacon, kale chips and sweet nuts which I believe they make on site.  One time, they offered us a free sample of the eggplant bacon, which was better than homemade.

Eggplant Bacon

Fresh Mama is definitely a place we will visit on a regular basis.  Check it out - it's great!
They have a website.

Caulflower Apple Soup and the Three Week Wonder

The other morning, while deciding what to do with the head of cauliflower in the fridge for dinner, an email popped up from Rawmazing.  It was recipe for cauliflower apple soup!    I made it for dinner that night, and it was delicious.   There are so many raw foodies who regularly email new recipes to subscribers that we never need to run out of ideas.  Just a few of the better ones are:  Raw On $10 A Day (Or Less!), Gone Raw, Russell James, and Nouveau Raw.   And just now, Ronnie and Minh posted a new video demonstrating how to make raw "fried" rice.  Check out the cute part at the end, where Ronnie explains why he eats his raw vegan Asian "fried" rice with a touch of toasted sesame oil.

Life is good.

Some may feel these subscriptions are just more spam in the inbox, and many of these newsletters are intended to sell products.  But they can help those who are transitioning to raw food stay motivated and provide us with fresh new ideas.  I am grateful to those who provide this information, and would like to see them thrive and prosper.  My paltry budget for purchasing recipe books is not much, but purchase them when I can.  I can also spread the word.

On Wednesday, my family and I attended a raw food workshop called "Raw Foods Class with Chef Stacey Dougan and Raw Mixologist Shane Stuart."  It was organized through the local raw foods meetup group and it was fabulous.  Stacey Dougan taught us how to make "Raw Lime Infused Flax Seed Chips, Raw Pine Nut Con Queso, and Walnut Mock "Beef" Crumbles." She made samples for us, served on a lettuce leaf, while Shane Stuart taught us how to make his "Wellness Detox in a Blender."  The most rewarding part of going to the workshop for me was watching my 12 year old son take in all the information.  He watched and listened carefully as they prepared the food.  Hopefully he will take these experiences with him into adulthood and experience a lifetime of good health.  We made the recipe for the flax seed chips, and they are in the dehydrator now, smelling delicious.

Shane Stuart shared some good information about some things that are going on in our community.  He mentioned a new healing center called the LV Wellness Institute, which offers three-day healing retreats called the Las Vegas Integrative Health and Wellness Weekend.  It's nice to know that there are more opportunities available to people who want to learn how to get healthy.  He is coming out with a new recipe book, "How To Eat Your Veggies And Not Know It," and if you email him at his website, he'll send you four free sample recipes from the book.

Recently, Nomi Shannon from Raw Pleasure posted an interesting article, called  "14 Things To Be Aware Of In The Raw Food Arena."  She makes some excellent points.

The first point, "Be aware of what I call 'three week wonders'," led to some personal reflection.  Who do I think I am, blogging about raw vegan food after only six months of living the lifestyle with varying levels of success?  Obviously I can hardly call myself expert.  I can't even really call myself a success, if success is defined by being 100% raw, or losing all unwanted weight and keeping it off for a prescribed period of time.  I am still in transition, eating raw plant-based foods prepared with condiments that have been exposed to heat, occasionally eating cooked vegan or vegetarian meals, and on very rare occasions possibly a paleo or even a SAD meal, although I think eventually I'll phase that out completely.  I'm still overweight, and I need to to continue to repair my health.

At the workshop, Shane Stuart asked, "How many of you are raw?"  I tentatively raised my hand.  I was "high-raw" that day, and by that I mean that everything I ate was vegan and over 90% of it was raw.  Today, breakfast was green juice and raw blueberry oats, and lunch will be raw bread with seed cheese but recently I made cooked rice with lentils for dinner.  My current, most accurate description is, "Mostly plant based, mostly raw foodie."

It's not easy to be successful at something when you haven't yet defined personal success for yourself.  I have no idea if I will ever want to be 100% raw, 100% of the time.  It seems that my opinions on the subject change frequently.  Since each person's definition of success is personal, no one can define it for me.

For me the ultimate goal is to be healthy, whole and happy.  Food choices are absolutely critical in achieving this goal.  Raw food makes me feel happy, peaceful, serene, loving, detached, aware, balanced, and joyful.  There is even something about the raw food lifestyle that I find liberating.  I may not know what my diet will look like ten or twenty years from now, but I believe that raw vegan food will always be at least part of it.

So, since I'm not a a raw food guru, why should anyone read my blog at all?  I'd like to think that I can make a contribution just by sharing the best of the wealth of information and ideas that I come across on my quest. 

A lot of the raw food gurus write things like, "Too much conflicting or confusing information about raw food on the net?  Forget the rest, buy MY material!" Obviously the competition is strong in the raw food market.  I'm not looking for the one shining example of raw food perfection to follow on a quest for glory.  Instead, I prefer to take in all the information I can find, try techniques and strategies that seem harmonious the goals and ideals of myself and my family, surround myself and my family with good people and good things, grow as much as I can, and draw my own conclusions, and write about it.  Why not?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Exactly as they are.

Recently I was having tea with a friend, and out of the blue she said, "I can't be raw vegan because I have to have meat for protein."

I was concerned.  Does she think I'm judging her for eating meat?  Or does she feel she needs to make it clear that our friendship is not based on a common food lifestyle?

I was a little worried.  I strongly value my friendship with her.  Food can be such an integral part of social life that having a different food lifestyle can make it a challenge to maintain old friendships.  I don't want her to feel uncomfortable because we eat differently, and I certainly do not want her to feel like she is being proselytized to by me.

What I support  for her is to have choices, to exercise those choices, and to thrive in those choices.

Being in the minority in the raw food lifestyle can be a little lonely at times.  However my health is important enough to me that I will do what I must to maintain it, even if it makes socializing a bit challenging.  I do feel passionate about it, but I want to work on making it clear that my passion for what I am doing does not negate my respect for my friends and the choices they make.

This is really no different than being friends with people who also home school their children but practice a different faith, and having friends who practice a similar faith but have very different political views.  I cherish all of my friends, with all of our differences.  Our differences add strength and resilience to the web of life.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Getting Remotivated After The Post-Holiday Doldrums

Maybe you were raw before the holidays, and even during the holidays, but maybe you also celebrated a little.  Or a lot.  Maybe you decided to "go with the flow" at family gatherings or, like me, decided to revisit old holiday traditions "in moderation."


In any case, maybe you slid of course a little.  Fell off the wagon.  You want to get back on course but you aren't quite sure where to start.  Maybe after the holiday decorations came down, everything started to seem a little drab.  Maybe it's hard to get motivated.

Here are a couple of ideas that may help you get back on track:

1.   Start over.  Remember the free ebooks you downloaded about going raw for a day?  Whatever you did to get started, whatever materials you used, pull those out and do them again!  What?  You never tried the free "go raw for a day" ebooks?  Go to my post, Raw Vegan Freebies, (which is constantly being updated,) where you'll find at your fingertips oodles and oodles of links to free stuff by raw lifestyle gurus.  And no, as of the time of this writing, I have not requested or received payment for these recommendations. 

2.  Get inspired.  Go over to Youtube and find a raw food channel.  Watch a short motivational clip.  Some of them run a bit long, and in that case, watch it until you feel motivated, or as much as you have time for.  Watch or read a little something inspirational each day.  Some of my favorites are: John Kohler of Okraw, Dara Dubinet, Fully Raw Kristina, Dan McDonald, Ka Sundance, and Matt and Angela Monarch of Raw Food World.

3.  Make some simple raw food.  After all that fancy food, maybe all that's needed is a simple raw comfort food dish.  You could try making a simple raw tomato soup in your blender.  Start the day with raw oat shakes.  Make a yummy kale salad.  Keep it down to under five ingredients per dish.  Three is better.  Keep the prep time under 20 minutes, unless you warm it in the dehydrator.

4.  Use the holiday gifts you received!  Maybe your uber-supportive family and friends gave you gifts to support your lifestyle goals.  Maybe you received a new workout outfit, or a new juicer.  Use it!  What?  You didn't receive any gifts like that?  Buy yourself a healthy lifestyle gift!  You bought gifts for everyone else last month, now it's your turn!

5.  Hang out with like minded-people.  Go to a raw food meetup, or visit a raw food cafe.  Feel the good!

6.  Go on a cleanse, or a juice fast.  Or go back on that awesome diet plan.  The Garden Diet is a really great one!  Do it for a day, or three days, or even a week or longer.

7.  Don't forget to exercise.   If it's been a few weeks, take it a bit easy at first.

Here's the good news:  If you were raw for a while, and you fell out of it for the holidays, you may find that getting back into it is much easier than starting out for the first time.  So go for it!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Yummy Raw Breakfast!

Just a quick share of what we had for breakfast the other day:

Cinnamon Raisin Rawtillas with Coc-Mac Spread

A friend gave us a lovely holiday gift of treats from the Raw Makery, which are made locally right here in Las Vegas.  They are so delicious!

We had our Cinnamon Raisin Rawtillas with Coco-Mac spread.  Here's how it's made:

1 cup of macadamia nuts, soaked and rinsed
1 cup of young Thai coconut flesh
2 dates, pit and flower removed
2 tbsps extra virgin coconut oil
just enough coconut water to make a smooth spread
1 tsp vanilla powder

Blend it and spread it like butter!  Yummy!

Ringing in the New Year

Over the weekend, we attended a terrific workshop by John Kohler called "Juicing For The New Year To Look Amazing, Lose Weight And Get Healthy," and went home with a new Omega juicer!  We still love our Breville, but it doesn't juice greens very well, and we want to go on a daily wheat grass regimen.  We had been talking about getting a better juicer for greens, and John had some juicers with him for some good prices.  If you have an opportunity to attend one of his workshops, go!  They are informative and entertaining, inexpensive and often free, and sometimes he has a few good deals to offer.

Yesterday we purchased a flat of wheat grass at Sprouts, which cost $9.00 and yielded six ounces of juice.  That's a slight savings over what it costs to buy wheat grass shots at Whole Foods, but we want to do better than that.  So we stayed up late brainstorming and drawing up plans for a contraption for growing wheat grass in our home.  We came up with a beginnings of a plan for a sprouting/growing center for wheat grass and herbs.  It will be a potting shelf with grow lights and chicken wire to keep the cats out.  As we fell asleep last evening, I remarked to my husband that we might attribute our burst of creative inspiration to the wheat grass.  Imagine what may happen when we drink it every day?  It's going to be wonderful!

Brainstorming on a white board

To follow is a description for how we handled our first New Year's Eve since going "raw."  Years ago, when our middle child was still an infant in precarious health, we decided that it wasn't an option to go out for New Year's Eve.  We certainly weren't in a position to give a party, so I arranged a small celebration at home for our little family, complete with cocktails and hors d'oeuvre.  I even put on a nice dress and high heels for the occasion. 

As the children grew, we started having slumber parties downstairs for our boys on New Year's Eve.  The cocktails and hors d'oeuvre were exchanged for special indulgences that we didn't serve often, like potato chips and sour cream onion dip, guacamole with tortilla chips, spinach dip with crackers, brie and other cheeses, cured meats, and buffalo wings with ranch dipping sauce.  We would bring piles of pillows, blankets and sleeping bags into the family room and camp out on the floor.  The boys usually fell asleep long before midnight.  My husband and I watched the ball drop in Time's Square on the television, sipping sparkling wine, sometimes turning off the sound so we could hear the joyous revelry in the city all around us.

They are older now, and this year the plan was to allow them to stay up until we turned in at about 12:30 or so.  One took us up on the offer, and the other simply went to bed when he grew tired. Of course I felt that it was important that we maintain our usual custom of drinks and special finger foods.  The dress and high heels were traded in for more comfortable attire many years ago.

It was a challenge to plan the food.  Obviously we wanted it to be as raw as possible for us.  My son wanted Buffalo wings, and so we compromised with Buffalo Cauliflower.  We made a dipping sauce for the cauliflower, and some delicious spinach dip.

We started with a recipe by Kevin Gianni, and modified it according to our taste:

Buffalo Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower
2 cups whole grape tomatoes
1/2 small brown onion
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup almond flour
3 cloves garlic
2 pasilla chilies, stem and seeds removed
1 date, pitted and flower end removed
1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne

 Wash the cauliflower and break it into bite-sized pieces.  Keep in mind that the cauliflower will shrink to about half its size in the deyhdrator, so don't make the pieces too small.  Dry the pieces well in a salad spinner. 

Blend the remaining ingredients in a high speed blender.  Dip each cauliflower piece in the dipping sauce, and place stem side up on a dehydrator tray on a paraflex sheet.  After placing each piece on the sheet, drop a teaspoon or so of the sauce over each piece, covering each piece in sauce.  Dehydrate on low until desired texture is reached.

Note: The second time we tried this, we blended the small cauliflower pieces into the coating mixture.  This did not help the flavor and texture of the coating mixture at all.  Next time, we'll save the too-small pieces for something else.  We dried our Buffalo cauliflower overnight, making crispy little bites.  I think next time we might try a shorter dehydration time to see if we prefer a softer texture.  We may try placing the cauliflower pieces in the dehydrator for an hour before coating, to see if that improves the outcome.  I'd also like to adding a bit of cold pressed roasted sesame oil to the coating mixture, for a meatier flavor.

You may choose to make a raw ranch dressing to use as a dipping sauce.

Here is the sauce we made:

Dipping Sauce

1 cup macadamia nuts, soaked and rinsed
1 avocado
1 small cored apple
1 stalk celery
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp agave nectar
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp dried onion
1 tsp dried celery
1 tsp sea salt

Blend in a high speed blender, and season to taste.

Our New Year's Eve is not complete without spinach dip.  Here is how we ended up making it:

Raw Vegan Spinach Dip

1 cup macadamia nuts, soaked and rinsed
1 young Thai coconut, water and flesh
juice of one lemon
1 clove garlic
1 tsp sea salt
about 4 cups baby spinach, finely chopped
1/4 cup shredded jicama
1/4 cup shredded and minced carrot
1 tbsp finely minced celery leaves
about 2 scallions, minced
1/2 of one small red pepper, minced

Place mac nuts and coconut flesh in a high speed blender with the juice of one lemon and just enough coconut water to puree into a smooth, creamy texture similar to the texture of mayonnaise.  Add garlic and sea salt and blend until incorporated.

Place the mixture in a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.  Taste and season accordingly.

That evening, not all of our food was raw, and it wasn't even all vegan.  We did choose a few small pieces of good cheese, and we made an artichoke dip using good parmesan and organic mayonnaise.  It was almost nine dollars for a small jar of that mayonnaise - we won't be doing that very often!  Here's the weird thing - the brie, which used to be one of my most favorite treats - the last meal I might request before standing in front of a firing squad - was not that good.  It seems almost heretical to write that, since it used to be my sacred cow of cheeses.  When planning our little party, I could not imagine celebrating without the brie.  Not only did we not get it out until a few days later because there was too much food, but when we did serve it, it seemed as if I had programmed myself into believing that I was supposed to love it.  The buildup did not meet the expectation of the experience.  I hesitate to write this, but I may never bother with it again.  So what is my new favorite food, the amazing special gourmet delight that I would order for a last meal?  Who knows? 

Once again, I find myself in the position of anticipating a non plant-based food, thinking that I am making an exception for a special occasion, expecting it to be deliriously delicious, only to find that my taste buds have changed and it's not everything it was cracked up to be.  This is usually true of fast food, junk food and non-vegan food.  It's not true of chocolate, as long as it's decent chocolate.  I also have no problem enjoying cooked vegan food, although high-raw food is best.

I remain convinced that this is part of the transition process, at least for us.  A few years ago, I was make standard American sloppy joes, with hamburger and "Manwich," and as I was getting ready to serve it, a weird precognitive thought popped into my head.  "This is the last time you will make this."  I was astonished, but somehow I knew it was true.  When we decided to go raw for the summer, I wasn't thinking that we might end up giving up turkey for Thanksgiving and brie for New Year's eve.   Sometimes as I prepare the old standbys, and then realize that they aren't everything they were cracked up to be, I feel as if I am saying "goodbye" to them.  Simultaneously, I am saying"hello" to new and wonderful things!

New Year's Eve was a week ago, and perhaps for a lot of people, New Year's resolutions have been already made and forgotten.  On New Year's Eve, we did stand up and declare our resolutions, but we are already in a continuous state of evolution that builds with each day.  Over the weekend, we cleaned out the fridge, polished off the last of our holiday treats and feast leftovers, and started fresh. During the holidays, I slacked off on exercise, ate too much, drank a little wine, and probably gained a few pounds.  It's all good though, because this is the time for new beginnings, and we are ready to start again.  I can't say we will never eat cooked or non-plant based food again, but eating raw will definitely continue to be a big part of our future plans.