Monday, January 7, 2013

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

So what do you think? Have you tried raw vegan food?