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:

black berries
red grapes
bok choy
maitake mushroom
olive oil
grape seed oil
green tea

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)


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


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


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


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.


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


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.