Friday, December 17, 2010

Warming Winter Smoothie

I was really in the mood for something fruity, but still toasty tonight. I also wanted some density. I have to say, it's totally improvised deliciousness:

Ginger-Banana "Nog"

Serves 1-2

1 frozen banana
1 frozen pear
1/4 cup tahini
1.5 cups nut milk
pumpkin pie spice to taste
vanilla stevia to taste (or just plain vanilla)

Blend. Pour. Try not to drink it so fast your brain freezes.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Easy Stock and a Soup Tutorial

Slurping on vegetable based soups is a wonderful way to stay warm and cozy as winter sets in (I'm actually slurping on a soup right now), so I thought I'd share a favorite simple soup recipes with you as well as a simple veggie stock that is worlds better than anything you'll buy in a store.

Veggie Stock (Makes 2 quarts)

1-2 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter or Olive Oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 sprigs thyme
2 quarts water
Salt to taste

Saute the onions, shallots, celery, garlic and thyme in melted butter over medium-high heat until everything is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the water and salt, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and let simmer between 30-60 minutes. Strain and refrigerate for up to a week (or freeze).

Soup Tutorial

A good veggie soup consists of a fat, mire poix, seasoning, a stock and a "star" vegetable. All you have to do to make a great soup is saute any or all of the following: an allium (onion, leek or shallot) with garlic and/or carrots in your choice of fat. I personally prefer unsalted butter, but coconut oil or olive oil will also work. Then you add your "star vegetable(s)." I LOVE cauliflower, asparagus, or even a starchy vegetable like butternut squash. You also want to add seasonings. A squash soup calls out for sage, cinnamon, nutmeg and other fall flavors. You could add a curry for a more international flavor or you could stick with sea salt and pepper. You saute the veggies so that everything is coated in the fat. The fat is important because it carries the flavor of the vegetables through the soup. Even if you add just a smidge of butter, it will elevate your soup, so don't skimp out entirely. Next, you add your stock, enough to cover the veggies. (If you're out of stock, use water. You'll have to add some salt to compensate, but it will work.) Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat, then simmer until the veggies are tender. This time will vary, depending on the veggie. (Butternut squash will take longer than a non-starchy vegetable).

Once the veggies are tender, I like to blend my soup. I transfer the soup into my blender in small batches, cover the top of the blender with a towel (very important if you want to avoid hot soup in the face), and blend the soup until it's completely smooth. Enjoy what you want and store the soup for a few days in the fridge for easy reheating. Veggie soup makes a great addition to an office lunch if you're into cooked foods during the day. Here is one of the soups that I'm loving right now.

Cauliflower Leek Soup

Unsalted Butter, Olive Oil or Coconut Oil, to taste
1 leek, chopped (wash and drain)
2 cloves of garlic
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes
enough veggie stock to cover the veggies
garnish with a bit of lemon juice and some sliced leeks or parsley

Follow the procedure above, or get creative. Really, the sky is the limit and you don't ever need to get bored.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Bottle of Wine is Not a Single Serving (Natural Hangover Cures)

Okay, so alcohol is not an ideal substance. Not one single bit, but when you clean up your diet in a big-picture sort of way, a couple of glasses of wine is not going to set you back. Especially when you're sharing a bottle of wine and some laughs with friends. Drinking a bottle alone on the couch (even when chatting on the phone) is just not a good idea. Trust me. I'm feeling the effects of that bad decision as I type. Nonetheless, sometimes it happens (though a lot less often than it used to). Fortunately for you, that gave me an idea to write about some super healthy, supernatural hangover cures. Yes, you can cure a hangover without Advil, high fructose corn syrup or greasy eggs. Read on to find out how.

1. Water: Alcohol is completely dehydrating. That's why your face looks like a hot mess the morning after a few too many. Slamming a bunch of water is one of the quickest ways to beat the bloat and stop your mouth from feeling like the Mojave.

2. Green Juice: Alcohol is acidic in the body. Green juice is alkaline and hydrating. The green juice will support your eliminative systems in purging your body of the demon drink.

3. Coconut Water: It's nature's Gatorade. You may have seen the packages and cans because they are oh so trendy right now, but if you hack open the white coconuts yourself, you get the real deal (sometimes with little pieces of coconut). It's uber-hydrating and it contains a modest amount of sugar and electrolytes. (And no HFCS). Anyone who knew me in college knows that if they saw me with blue Powerade in the dining hall, I had probably been to the Boat Club (just thinking about that place and sticky muck on the floor gives me the shivers) the night before. Now, if you see me sipping on coconut water from a mason jar, it means I had more than two glasses of wine the night before. (Oh, how times have changed).

4. Healthy Fat: It's no wonder that people tend to gravitate towards fatty food when they are hung over. Ingesting fat slows the release of toxins from the liver because the liver has to process both the fat and the alcohol. (This is why alcohol inhibits fat metabolism, and many weight loss professionals tell their clients not to drink....ever.) Well, when you're hung-over, that bell has already been rung. I liken a dose of healthy fat the day after a party to a homeopathic remedy. In homeopathy, like treats like. So something that needs to be metabolized by the liver will mute the hangover symptoms. My favorite ways to get healthy fat are avocados and raw goat's cheese. With that, I give you the "Perfect Hangover Soup."

Hangover Fruit Soup

1 avocado (healthy fat)
16 oz coconut water (for aforementioned hydration)
A couple of handfuls of spinach for chlorophyll
A couple of cups of blueberries (for sweetness)

Blend in a high speed blender and sip while on the couch.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Suck-it Pinkberry!

I have to admit that I was never a fan of the California phenomenon known as Pinkberry and its progeny. For one thing, cow dairy has never agreed with my digestive system. For another thing, I just didn't like the flavor. That said, I was craving a sweet, frozen treat on Sunday. I had some leftover Coco-gurt which I thought might make a nice sweet treat. I blended it up with a little bit of almond milk, and some vanilla stevia, and came up with my new favorite dessert! Coconuts are full of healthy fat, despite of the bad rap they got during the low-fat diet craze. Coconuts contain a high level of lauric acid, which has anti-viral properties. Combined with the probiotics in the yogurt, my Coconut Fro-yo will actually enhance your health rather than cause bloating, like the dairy version. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Juicing or Blending?

I received a note from a friend and reader this week that many people have when they first become interested in raw foods:

Hey Andrea,

So I read a book that you recommended and have a quick the book, the author includes a number of recipes for juices that she makes using a juicer. I make various fruit and vegetable smoothies everyday (usually for breakfast) but I use a blender. Is there a difference? Do I need to buy a juicer?

Also, at first pass, it looks like there are bunch of different juicers out there, at a wide range of there a particular model or brand you'd recommend or any certain features I should be looking for? Will a basic, small model suffice or is there anything I should consider that might lean me toward saving up for something bigger?

Thanks & hope you're well!

Hey K,

That is such a great question! In fact, I'm going to turn my answer into a blog post this afternoon. While juicing and blending both have an important place in a high-raw diet, juicing is by far the best way to alkalinize the body and deliver high quality nutrients and enzymes to the system. There are several reasons for this.

First, juices require absolutely no digestion, lengthening the amount of time the body has to repair, cleanse and restore itself before expending energy digesting food. In fact, consuming juices on an empty stomach delivers plant nutrition straight to your cells.

Second, the volume of vegetables that you consume through juice is much higher than the volume of vegetables in a green shake. Since vegetables are the one food where the motto "more is better" does apply, juicing wins on volume as well.

Third, blending damages the plant enzymes ever so slightly, whereas juicing does less damages to the enzymes.

Blending still has its place in a raw diet though. Most people really don't chew very well, and this makes even high quality plant foods difficult to digest. Blending takes care of the chewing, giving the digestive system a hand. Raw food counselors dealing with complicated health issues often "prescribe" juicing and blending so that the body can devote most of its attention to healing while still offering some of the emotional/psychological satisfaction of eating. Also, smoothies are just plain tasty and hydrating.

I would definitely suggest buying a juicer, but it's awesome that you're getting smoothies in your diet!

As for what juicer to buy, for the first few months I juiced, I used a small, Waring Pro juicer that runs about $70, and worked fine. It was, however, a pain to clean and I dropped the filter basket down my trash chute. Now, I use a Breville that costs about $149 (but you can usually get 20% off at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It is really, really easy to clean, and handles everything that I juice. Anything fancier or more expensive than that really depends on how much you like juicing. If you want to juice for a few days at once, a masticating juicer like the Omega or Greenstar is a good investment. If you are okay with juicing in the morning and keeping the juice cold in a stainless steel bottle, the Breville is more than adequate.

I hope this helped answer your questions!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Salad in the Hand....

I love me some salads , but sometimes my usual trough of salad (pictured above) can get a little boring. Still, the best way to detox is to make sure you consume a salad before every meal. When you just can't bear the thought of your tried and true or your same old, same old, it's time to shake things up. Sometimes just eating similar components in a novel way can turn into a whole new salad experience.

A few weeks ago, I decided to combine the beautiful, purple carrots I had in my fridge, roasted red peppers, raw orange peppers and seedless cucumber in a blanched (boiled for 5 seconds then put into an ice bath) collard greens. I prepped the veggies by julienning them. I prepped the collards by dividing them in half and discarding the tough spine.

As a dipping sauce/dressing, I adapted a recipe for Avocado "Mayo" from Living Raw Foods by Sarma Melngailis as follows:

Avocado "Mayo"

1 large avocado
1 tsp dry mustard
1 splash white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 lemons juice and zest
sea salt to taste
water to assist with blending

Blend all ingredients in a high powered blender. The flavor is not really like mayo, but it has a good tangy, creamy vibe going.

Pictures of the yumminess below:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Recipe: Celery Root Remoulade

I am really excited to share this original recipe. It is inspired by the recipe by the same name in Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food. This is one of my favorite cookbooks for inspiration. Ms. Waters takes the simplest, cleanest, most seasonal foods and elevates them to a sublime level. I took out the olive oil and creme fraiche from the original recipe and replaced them with diced zucchini and a little bit of stevia to offset the acid. I left the white wine vinegar in (not an ideal food because it's fermented) because it lends brightness and bit that would be lacking without it. Feel free to leave it out. I should also mention that I'm having a love affair with mustard right now. In fact, I'm munching on parsnip and sweet potato slices (raw) with my own honey mustard (raw wildflower honey with mustard mixed in, to taste).

Celery Root Remoulade

1 celery root, peeled and sliced to 1/4" in the mandoline and sliced into matchstick pieces
1 tsp white wine vinegar
sea salt, to taste
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 of zucchini, peeled and diced
1 tsp mustard
stevia, to taste
ground pepper, to taste

Toss the julienned celery root with the white wine vinegar and sea salt to taste. Toss the rest of the ingredients in the blender and blend until liquefied. You may want to add a little water or lemon juice to thin the sauce. Throw the sauce on the marinating celery root and marinate. This will keep in the fridge for a few days (if it lasts that long).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Getting Back on Track and Get Thee to Stanley's....

This past weekend was not what it could have been nutritionally. In fact, it was completely off the wagon. Sometimes weddings, bachelorette getaways, funerals and family holidays do that to us. While I'm getting myself back on track, I thought I would take this opportunity to write a post about getting back on track when you meander through the valley of the shadow of brioche french toast and tequila. This leaves me feeling tired, blotchy and depressed. Since I know what having clean cells feels like, I want to get back to there as quickly as possible without pulling the rug from under myself.

The key to getting back on track is to return to the simplest, most satisfying food on your chosen plan and making it tasty. For me, that is lots of water, herbal tea, green juices (Green Lemonade is my favorite), salads and steamed or baked vegetables. In order to temper the cleanse, I keep dark chocolate, butter and raw goat cheese in the repertoire. This keeps detoxing tasty and pleasurable and ensures that aforementioned brioche french toast is not missed at all. One could even include a daily glass of wine in a get back on track cleanse. This time, I am also cutting out the wine. I feel especially toxic this week and want to avoid adding in any straight up intoxicants like alcohol.

Physical activity is also key. Rebounding, jogging, brisk walks, yoga or pilates are awesome work outs. It will pump sweat, lymph and toxins out of the system. Exercise also improves the quality of your sleep, which is a powerful detoxification tool in and of itself.

For someone just beginning their whole foods journey, getting back on track could be as simple as a daily walk or run and cutting out the white stuff. Someone macro or ayurvedic might return to the simple, clean grain/bean/veg combo.

Stanley's: I just want to recommend that any Chicago readers head over to Stanley's Fruits and Vegetables immediately. It's the opposite of a regular market in that fruits and veggies dominate, and the fresh food is reasonably priced. They also have spices for less than three dollars, which is totally unheard of at Whole Foods and the like. Get thee to Stanley's immediately!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Welcome to my blog!

Hello and welcome,
In this blog, I will be sharing my experiences, knowledge and recipes of living a high-raw (mostly) vegetarian lifestyle. More importantly, I will be demonstrating how much fun living a high-raw lifestyle can be. Hopefully by reading and using some of my tips, pointers and suggestions, you will see how easy and pleasurable moving away from a S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) to a diet comprised completely of whole food and very high in plant foods can be!

Disclaimer: I’m definitely not a medical doctor. The information contained herein should be taken with a big grain of salt, and should not be considered prescriptive advice. If you’re looking for a formal medical diagnosis or prescription, you should definitely seek out an actual doctor (preferably one who is open to both eastern and western medical practices, but hey, don’t listen to me).