Monday, October 27, 2014

How To Make Magic Green Smoothie Art

Recently I fell into a way of making little designs on the surface of our green smoothies.

We aren't 100% raw right now.  We've been busy and we are more like 30 to 50% raw.  As a friend said so well recently, things go in cycles sometimes.  Right now I have so many other things going on that it's hard to be high-raw every day.  I'm sure we'll go back to being fully raw for a while sometime, but I like being flexible.  To each his own.

No matter how much raw food we eat, the green smoothie habit has stayed with us.

I've been filling 3 quart jars every morning.  It involves filling 2 Vitamix pitchers at least 3/4 full to make enough smoothie to fill 3 jars.
So I make one pitcher of smoothie of one color, (usually green or purple) and fill all 3 jars about half-full.  Then I make another pitcher of smoothie in a contrasting color and pour it into the center of each jar.  I find that if I get the smoothie just the right consistency, the first color rises up the sides of the jar, while the second color forms a blob in the middle.  If you want a purple smoothie with a green leaf on top, pour the purple first.  If you want a green smoothie with a purple heart on top, pour the green smoothie first.

By pulling the end of a spoon through the "blob" all sorts of interesting patterns can be made.  I've made hearts, leaves, apples, bunches of grapes, and yin-yang symbols.  Just use your imagination to try to see what the blob already sort of looks like, and then see what happens when you pull a table knife or spoon handle through it.
If you don't want your design messed up by bubbles in the smoothie, gently tap the bottom of the jar on a surface and be patient.  Most of the bubbles will dissipate in a minute or two.  Often, we are too thirsty to wait.

Here are the approximate proportions.  You can do it any way you like.  In order to make the designs, you want the right consistency, and two bright, contrasting colors of smoothie.  Basically you want about half of it fresh and half of it frozen, with a good balance of juicy and fleshy fruits.  If it's too thin and runny, it will just mix together when you pour it, and then it will turn out looking like a swirl in the glass, with no center blob to play with.  If it's too thick, which happens sometimes when too much frozen fruit is added in proportion to the fresh fruit, one layer will lay on top of the other, it won't form a "blob" in the center, and the texture will be more like a sorbet than a smoothie.

Green half:

about one half of a fresh pineapple, husk removed
about 3 oranges, peeled, with seeds and most of the pith removed
(or three large peaches, pits removed, or a cucumber)
about 3 cups of frozen baby kale or other greens, (such as spinach, chard, dandelion greens, etc.,) crushed
3 frozen bananas

Chop the fruit and blend it in a high speed blender until smooth and creamy. 

Purple half:

about a pint and a half of of strawberries,  or purple, red or black grapes, or plums with the pits removed.  (Basically you want about a half a blender of chopped purple fruit.)
about 3 cups of frozen baby kale or other greens, crushed
about 3 to 4 cups of frozen blue berries, cherries, and/or raspberries

Chop the fruit and blend in a high speed blender until smooth and creamy

German Chocolate Cake For My Husband's Birthday Dinner

My husband's favorite type of cake is German chocolate, so I made him a raw one for his birthday.  I found the recipe here. 

I didn't use the Irish moss paste, so it didn't come out light and fluffy, but my husband didn't mind.  It was necessary to make a double batch of date paste in order to finish the recipe, and then we had a good amount of date paste left over, which was excellent in oat and nut mylks.

Instead of spring-form, I used a silicone cake pan, which worked just as well for easy un-molding.  Possibly because I didn't use Irish moss, it was a dense cake.  What I found worked was to make the layers by dividing the "cake batter" into three portions, then making each one into a ball, flattening it into a thick, level cake, using the pan as a guide.  Once each layer has been made, it was gently placed in the pan and frosted.  Because the cake batter was so dense, it wouldn't be possible to smash it into a layer shape without pressing too hard on the frosted layer below.  The top layer rose above the lip of the pan, but it didn't matter, because it had been shaped before placing it on the cake.

It was a lot of work but everyone loved it.  I would definitely do it again. 

For his birthday dinner, he also chose this Raw Sesame Vegetable Stir Fry with Celeriac Garlic Rice.  Or you can find it published here.  I'm sorry we didn't take pictures.  We ate it before we could get the camera out.  Celeriac makes an unusual but extremely tasty "rice."  This one will also be a dinnertime staple.

My birthday is coming up, and I'm asking for a raw Indian meal and this cake.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cook These Vegetables if you have Hypothyroidism

In this article, Debbie Whitaker states that certain vegetables contain a group of chemicals  called goitrogens which may trigger hypothyroidism in certain people.  These chemicals are  partially deactivated by cooking the vegetable.  These vegetables are "Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cassava root, horseradish, kale, millet, mustard, mustard greens, peaches, pears, radishes, rutabagas, soybeans, spinach, and turnips."  Apparently raw peanuts are another culprit.

The author is not saying that eating raw vegetables will cause hypothyroidism.  She's saying that if you have it or are at risk of having it, a specific diet can help.

I wonder if fermenting or pickling would deactivate the goitrogens in these foods?  It seems that while 100% raw  is wonderful for those who benefit from it, each person should customize their optimal diet according to their unique needs.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Energy Soup, Chili Style

A little while ago, I shared a recipe for an Italian-style energy soup.

Recently I was striving to stay 100% raw on juice, smoothies and energy soup, and one of my teenagers was into chili.  I wanted something that tasted like chili without going off my diet, so I made a chili-flavored energy soup, using the aforementioned Italian energy soup as a starting place.  It hit the spot.

Here's the recipe:

12 roma tomatoes
4 cups spinach
1  apple
8 oz sunflower sprouts
1 lb mushrooms
juice of one lemon
1/2 sweet onion,
4 small cloves garlic
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 tbsp cumin2 tsp oregano
2 avocado1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp kelp flakes
4 tbsp lecithin granules

1-2 quarts green juice
made from celery, mixed greens, (spinach, kale, chard) cucumbers, beets with tops, cilantro, parsley, lime, ginger, carrots, apples

Blend all ingredients, adding just enough green juice to reach the desired consistency.  Adjust the seasoning to your taste.

If more texture is wanted,it might be a good idea to stir in some chia seeds and chopped tomato after blending.

Next, how about a curry-flavored energy soup?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Italian Energy Soup

There are several versions of Energy Soup to be found.  The main idea is that it is like a green smoothie, with the exception that it is creamy and savory and eaten like a soup.  Once you know how to make energy soup, it's simple to put together and can be adjusted to suit your individual tastes and needs.

What do you do if you've been cleansing on green juice and smoothies, and you are dying for something savory and satisfying with an Italian flavor?  One option is to blend up a version of Energy Soup with tomatoes, basil and garlic!   It's as flavorful and satisfying as a plate spaghetti, without the pasta.  Note:  Since not everyone can have garlic and onions while on a cleanse, it might be a good idea to ask before serving this.

8 roma tomatoes
1 small shallot
4 small cloves garlic
4 ribs bok choy
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 small apple
4 oz alfalfa sprouts
1 red pepper
1/2 lb button mushrooms
juice of one lemon
2 avocado
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp kelp flakes
4 tbsp lecithin granules

1-2 quarts green juice
made from celery, mixed greens, (spinach, kale, chard) cucumbers, beets with tops, cilantro, parsley, lime, ginger, carrots, apples

Rough chop the first 8 ingredients.  Puree a few of the tomatoes, then add the shallot, sprouts and garlic.  Blend until very smooth.  Next, alternate the tomatoes with the remaining veggies, and continue to liquify.  If more liquid is needed, add some of green juice.  Be careful not to add too many tomatoes or too much liquid all at once, in order to give the blender a chance to liquify the small bits of vegetable matter.  It must be as smooth as possible. 

Next add the lemon, avocado, nutritional yeast, kelp flakes and lecithin granules.  Blend.

Transfer to a large bowl, (I use a two gallon Anchor Hocking jar, which I lovingly refer to as the family juice vat,) then stir in the desired amount of green juice.  Adjust for taste.

I find that if the flavor isn't right, it's easy to pour a few cups of the mixture back into the blender, add additional ingredients, blend, and stir it back into the bowl or container.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Response To "Don't Throw The Baby Out With The Bathwater"

This article on the Daily Raw Inspiration had me vigorously nodding YES!

You don't have to give up being raw just because you got a little derailed!  More and more raw food personalities are stepping up and saying it's okay if you aren't 100% raw and vegan, 100% of the time.  Some are even admitting that they occasionally eat cooked food.

I feel rather impassioned about this because when I first discovered raw food, I was under the impression that being raw meant being at least "high raw" all the time.  Every day.  Forever. Sort of like a life sentence.  I encounter non-raw people all the time who think that being raw means I eat a weird diet and can't eat with them without the experience being awkward for everyone.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

There are people in the world of raw food who feel that you can't really call yourself a raw food enthusiast unless you live the raw lifestyle 100% of the time, every day.  I disagree with that.  It makes me sad when people who enjoy raw food feel like they have to completely "leave" the movement because they've found they have to make some adjustments to their diet.

For foodies, the obstacle to being 100% raw might be about experiences.  If a new restaurant, recipe, cuisine or food trend  looks intriguing, it might be hard to think that we will never have that experience because it isn't raw or vegan.  Never eat a freshly baked croissant while in a Paris cafe?  Never eat beignets in New Orleans?  For some, this is unthinkable.  True, there are raw adaptations of every type of food, and true, many raw food enthusiasts think that raw gourmet foods rival that of gourmet cooked foods.  Some of us think that raw food tastes far better than cooked food.  Generally speaking, I tend to agree.  Still, for some, the very thought of a food being "off-limits" will make it more appealing.  So, go ahead.  Eat some cooked food if you want to.  You can go back to raw, again and again. 

There is a saying, "When in Rome. . . "  Some raw foodists think it's fine to make an occasional exception and eat the local cuisine while traveling, avoiding only specific foods.  Other raw foodists cannot eat anything that isn't on their diet without severe health consequences.  Each person should decide this for himself.

For some people, family and social occasions can be tricky.  John Kohler, whom I admire, posted a video a while back about how he goes to wedding receptions.  He eats raw, participates in the occasion, and does all this without anyone noticing that he isn't eating exactly the same thing as everyone else.  However, I think most raw people understand that this isn't for everyone.  In my case, it's often not doable.  Sometimes, it's all I can do to make sure my sons leave the house with clean shirts and tied shoes, without packing a cooler of raw food too.  Despite the rumors, I do not have superpowers.  So when I go to wedding receptions, parties and the like, my family and I often eat what is being served, unless we know that the food will cause distress.  Recently, a friend who happens to be an amazing cook said, "I would invite you over and cook for you, but I don't do raw food."  I replied, "That's why we aren't 100% raw!"  Because, seriously, I love my friends and I won't let a little thing like food come between us. 

Time is another thing that can derail raw foodists.  If a person is on a crazily busy schedule, and isn't in circumstances where raw food is easily accessible, it can seem practical to just grab what everyone else is eating.  It's called convenience food for a reason.  Of course, convenience food is usually not healthy, unless it's a piece of fruit or a carrot.

For some it might be challenging to maintain a raw lifestyle for very long without becoming deficient in some type of nutrient.  If they take the time to carefully analyze their nutrition intake and research which foods contain the nutrients they need, they can learn to maintain a raw lifestyle indefinitely.  Being 100% raw and healthy definitely takes time and commitment.  Sorry if this is controversial, but I don't agree with the folks who claim that as long as you eat plenty of fruits and veggies with a small amount of nuts and seeds, you'll naturally get everything you need without having to think about it.  In my opinion, this is true of a short-term raw food lifestyle such as a two or three week cleanse, but in the long term, some nutritional analysis is a safer bet.  And no, the potential concern is not from insufficient protein, but from vitamins B12 and D, minerals zinc, selenium, and iron, and the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

During those times when time is tight, if you can, I recommend taking advantage of the support and assistance available from the raw food community.  Eat at your local raw restaurant.  Hire a raw chef.  Sign up for a healthy meal plan, so that all you have to do is shop and prepare, with all of the nutritional research done for you.

Another thing that can derail a raw lifestyle is cost.  Not all of us can afford a raw meal service from a local raw chef.  But there are many things that we can do.  We can join fresh produce co-ops, we can buy certain conventional produce rather than organic when we have to, we can grow some of our own food, and we can skip highly priced gourmet super foods.  It is possible to be raw without eating goji berries and pine nuts.

If you have a weak moment and eat the nachos at a party, or if you just can't bear to say "no" and resist the offer of freshly baked cookies in church, it's okay.  You can be raw one meal a week, or one meal a day, or every day but Saturday, or raw in summer and cooked in winter, or 99% raw with occasional exceptions, or mostly cooked with periodic raw cleanses, or 100% raw with no exceptions for the rest of your life.  Bottom line:  If you want, you can have the best of both worlds, raw and cooked. Whatever works for you.  Go for it!

Remember, it's not healthy to feel guilty and dwell on those non-raw moments.  Just take in the nutrition you need, do your best to avoid the foods that are harmful to your body, love yourself wherever you are in your process, and above all:  BE HEALTHY! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Raw Tapas!

Raw appetizers can be healthy, appealing and delicious.  The last Raw Food Prep Class at the Go Raw Cafe was all about creating mock versions of well-loved finger foods.  Oranges, mushrooms, zucchini and dates were hollowed and filled.  The oranges were filled with a fruity gazpacho- like cold soup.  The mushrooms were piled high with a savory almond pate.  The zucchini was hollowed and filled with a creamy cashew and tomato cheese sauce.  Dates were stuffed with young Thai coconut flesh which was seasoned with smoked paprika and Bragg's Liquid Aminos, reminiscent of bacon.

clockwise from bottom left:  Cheezy Pate Zucchini Cups,  Chilled Orange Cranberry Zester, Po-Bakinz Stuffed Dates, and Stuffed Bellas
The only thing that wasn't stuffed was dessert.  It was a base of raw chocolate, layered with a delicious vanilla cashew cream and topped with a sweet black cherry.  It might not have been stuffed, but it was so delicious that it literally made my eyes roll back in my head.

Dessert:Dark Chocolate Cherry Cordials
The moral of the story:  If you'd like to make your raw food a bit more festive, stuff it!