Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What Raw Foods Have Taught Me About Cooked Foods

If you are here for 100% fully raw recipes, this might not be the post for you. If you are a person on a path, constantly changing, to find the best version of yourself this may be the post for you.

For the past two years I have been eating a 99% raw diet. Recently that has dropped to about 80%. Some people might find relevance in this, others may not. Some of the reasons for this shift relate to our adjustment to moving to Hawaii. While fruits and vegetables are plentiful year round, we also live in the northern portion of the Big Island, where in winter the selection at the farmer's market shifts a bit to greens, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins, as opposed to the mangoes and pineapples prevalent in the summers and more in the south. The truth is it is expensive to live here, and a $5 pumpkin can be enough to feed my family for 3 days. But this isn't a posting to excuse any behaviors. It is one to help people learn that cooked food doesn't have to be the root of all evil. A plant-based, whole foods diet is another healthy path to explore for those who don't feel that being 100% raw works for them.

While I recommend a raw foods diet for cleansing and detoxing, a whole foods diet can be nourishing and comforting. I would also argue that a raw diet is not always healthier than a whole foods diet. For example, in what way is a cashew agave pie a more healthful option than a plate of lightly steamed spinach? Each has its time and place, so I decide not to live my life by labels or absolutes, but do the best I can and continue to make better choices based off of experiences and obtained knowledge.

Here are some lessons that raw foods have taught me that I have now incorporated into my occasionally cooked diet. I hope you find them useful, no matter where you are on your path to wellness.

1. The only oil which is not harmful to the body when heated is coconut oil. There are countless studies scattered across the internet that all seem to agree on this point. While olive oil, hemp oil, avocado oil, and a few nut and seed oils can be digested properly raw the heating process makes them difficult for our body to take. For some reason coconut oil is one of the magic foods that goes against these rules. It is still a fat, so don't overdo it, but if you decide to cook with oil coconut is the only one I recommend.

2. Steaming is the best way to cook. Again, this is a matter of science. Compared to baking, grilling, broiling, or boiling the one cooking method which keeps food's nutrients most intact is steaming. After steaming you can always add sauces after the fact.

3. Some foods are better for you cooked. If you decide to cook food, look out for which foods might actually be healthier or more nutritious after being cooked. Cooking mushrooms removes carcinogens. Cooked spinach is higher in anti-oxidants. Certain foods like taro leaves (a new treat to me here in Hawaii) are inedible raw, as they have mild poisons which are only removed by the cooking process. Doing your research can help you make better choices as to what you should or should not cook.

4. If you can replace something with vegetables, do it. Just because you are eating cooked food means you dive into a diet of pizza and burgers. A plant-based, gluten-free, vegan diet can be healthy and rewarding. Mix cauliflower into your rice or quinoa to get more vegetables along with your grains. Add zucchini into your pizza crust. Use zoodles instead of wheat noodles. A few changes go a long way.

5. Raw and cooked are not mutually exclusive. The benefit for me of the raw foods diet was that I upped my intake of fruits and vegetables. Just because I am not 100% doesn't mean my plate has to look like it came from Kentucky Fried Chicken. I can have a large salad along with some steamed sweet potato and quinoa, and the next day go back to being raw. Balance is key.

6. Be kind to yourself. Is starving yourself kind? No. Is engorging yourself kind? No. Is guilt, restriction, inconsistency, stress, obsession, or binge eating kind? No. Respect and listen to your body. Not other people. Not society. Not parasites. Your body, telling you what you need. And you tell that body right back that it is beautiful and you love it, because it is the gift of a vessel which allows you to experience this glorious life.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fermented Kombucha Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce often gets overlooked at Thanksgiving. Overshadowed by both main and side dishes, cranberry sauce is like the ketchup of Thanksgiving. Many people opt for a gelatinous can-shaped glob instead of the real thing. What if I told you with a little time and consideration your cranberry sauce could be like a fine wine?

A lot of people are afraid of fermentation. It involves bacteria, and that sounds scary, but let me let you in on a little secret... fermenting is EASY! In two years of fermenting I have only had one case where something went off. Open your eyes and your nose. If something seems like it is really not right, toss it. But most of the time this stuff is actually hard to mess up!

You can also make this recipe with store-bought bottled kombucha, if you don't make your own. Just try to go for a less carbonated brand and one with flavors that would compliment the recipe, like ginger or orange. If you don't have two weeks to ferment you could also make this recipe immediately, but believe me, the two weeks are worth it!

2 cups fresh cranberries

1 inch cube of ginger  
4 tablespoons liquid sweetener (honey, agave, or maple syrup)  
1/2 cup kombucha

1 additional tablespoon liquid sweetener (for blending)

In a glass container combine cranberries, ginger, sweetener, and kombucha. Put a lid on loosely to cover top, but not screwed tight. (Fully screwing on top will lead to carbonation.) Allow to sit on the counter for one to two weeks. Pour mixture in a blender and blend to desired texture (chunky or smooth). Add remaining sweetener, stir, and serve.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Personalized Raw Vegan Holiday Recipes

Last minute holiday food prep time and no idea how to keep it on your new path to wellness? Look no further! Just click on the donate button on the right side of this site, donate $5, and I will design you a personalized raw vegan recipe from your favorite holiday dish! Mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing? I can raw veganize that! And I am up for the challenge! Just leave your desired dish and any specific dietary restraints and I will come up with a recipe just for you!

Happy holidays, save the turkeys!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Raw Vegan Sprouted Lentil Chipotle Chilli

Just like most of us in this country, I have times were financial struggles are real. Buying fresh, organic produce and superfoods can be expensive enough, but can become even more so in Hawaii. But even when preparing raw foods there are ways to keep costs down.

I made this chilli from a fridge that most people would have called empty. It can be tempting just to throw in the towel, say, "There is nothing to eat," and be done with it. A little forethought into keeping a good stock of dry goods and sprouting is an easy, affordable solution.

If you don't have the exact ingredients for this recipe, don't worry! Your fridge is likely full of half-eaten veggies. Throw them together to make your own delicious chilli!

2 cups of sprouted lentils (sprouted 2 to 4 days)
2 tomatoes
2 cups baby carrots
1/2 a red onion
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup corn
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
dash cayenne
1/2 lime, juiced
1 avocado
pink Himalayan salt to taste

In a food processor combine 1 tomato, carrots, raisins, apple cider vinegar, coconut aminos, olive oil, chipotle chili powder, paprika, cayenne, lime juice, and salt. Blend into a chunky stew-like texture. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in sprouted lentils and corn. Chop remaining tomato and onion and stir into bowl. Garnish with avocado and lime. Serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Raw Vegan Papaya- Pumpkin Pie with Macadamia Crust

I admittedly love Thanksgiving because I admittedly love food. I love spending time with family and thinking about reasons to be grateful, but yes, I love food. And I don't think there is anything wrong with that, as long as you are going about it in a healthy way!

This Thanksgiving will be our first on the Big Island, which has a very different feel than our Maryland holidays. I wanted to make a recipe that combined my old nostalgia for Thanksgivings past with new, local ingredients from Hawaii.

Believe it or not there are some beautiful pumpkins to be found on the Big Island. We picked our heirloom variety straight from the patch on top of the Kohala Mountains. I wish I could tell you what kind of pumpkin it is, but all I can tell you is that it was a greenish-bluish gray, and it tasted delicious!

For the crust:

2 cups macadamia nuts
2 1/2 cups raisins
pinch of pumpkin pie spice
pinch of pink Himalayan salt

Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend until you have a dough-like mixture. Place the mixture in a pan, preferably a spring-form pan, and press out carefully into a crust shape evenly with your fingers.

For the filling:

3 cups fresh pumpkin
2 papayas
seeds from 1 papaya
1 small banana (I used apple banana, 1/2 a banana if using conventional)
1 1/3 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or bean scrape if you can afford it)
2 tablespoons liquid sweetener of your choice (honey, coconut nectar, agave, or maple syrup)
dash of pink Himalayan salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into pie crust. Put into the freezer for 15 minutes to set, then transfer into the refrigerator for at least an additional 15 minutes. Slice with a careful hand and serve.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Raw Vegan Papaya Peppercorn Corn Chowder

I am hesitant to post this recipe, only because I posted a different corn chowder recipe back in January with my Red Pepper Corn Chowder. Reading the recipe from almost a year ago, I had a realization. It is important to post variations on the same recipes because it helps you learn about all the healthy possibilities that are out there!

If you dislike an ingredient or have an allergy, that is no reason to throw in the towel. Be creative and open to how different flavors and consistencies can work together. Maybe it is my art school background, but I have found the best way to think about raw food is in the same way you would approach a sculpture. No, I don't mean making mountains out of mashed potatoes (or even raw mashed potatoes). But texture makes all the difference when constructing a successful raw meal.

The thing I enjoy most about chowders is their creaminess, but of course I am not adding cream to my recipes. Previously I used hemp seeds to create this desired affect, but for this recipe I used avocado. To balance out the visual of color I added turmeric, yellow beet, and nutritional yeast.

I also introduced some new foods in this recipe, based on the practicality of what is readily available now that I live in Hawaii. Papaya seeds are a beneficial parasite killer and taste like cracked pepper. Tree tomatoes (which are actually not tomatoes) have an intensity similar to sun-dried tomatoes, but have a slight bitterness to them as well.

If you don't like an ingredient in this recipe, or with the recipe from January, combine them! Substitute as you like. As long as you are focusing on fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and ferments it is hard to go wrong! Remember with corn it is especially important to get organic, non-GMO.

1 avocado
1 cup corn
1 tree tomato (or 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes)
1/2 a medium-sized yellow beet
1/3 cup of papaya seeds
juice from 1 lime
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
2 cups water
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
dash of red pepper flakes
pink Himalayan salt to taste

1/2 cup of corn
1/4 cup red onion
small handful cilantro

Put all ingredients in a blender, excluding the additional corn, red onion, and cilantro. Blend to a thick, creamy consistency. If mixture appears too green still add some more turmeric or nutritional yeast. once desired color and texture are reached, chop onion and cilantro and stir in mixture. Add remaining corn to mixture. Serve at room temperature.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Raw Vegan Cinnamon Instant-Pie Sauce

The internet is full of raw dessert recipes, but how many of us have time in our daily routines to actually make a three layer cacao cake? And wasn't the point of getting into raw foods to eat more fruits and veggies? So the health gurus will tell you to stop making everything out of cashews, coconut oil, and agave and just eat a piece of fruit! While that may be great advise it is also, well, boring.

I find that compromise is the solution to most problems. In this recipe you can have the fruit and a bit of the dessert decadence as well! Plus you can make it in about 5 minutes. Feel free to get creative and use whatever fruits you like to be smothered in this deliciousness. I recommend apples or pears, but peaches or pineapple could make for interesting combinations as well. Sprinkle on nuts, seeds, or raisins to add a little extra flavor and texture. This sauce is also great for dipping and can be an easy treat for on-the-go snacking!

You life shouldn't be battling diet, just as your enjoyment shouldn't be battling your health. Balance is beautiful... and delicious.

6 dates, pitted
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons liquid sweetener (maple syrup, honey, agave, coconut nectar)
1 tablespoon tahini
1 1/4 cups water
dash of pink himalayan salt

Put all ingredients in a blender. Add additional water if needed. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Raw Vegan Salted Caramel Smoothie

When I was about 12 years old I had my first Starbucks experience. I was wandering the mall with another girl who seemed untouchably hip. We were bearing our souls, which likely meant complaining about family life and confessing our crushes. She suggested we get a coffee drink, which was kind of like a "good" girl's version of a cigarette. At the same time we could feign adulthood with a caffeine habit, we could also indulge in our childhood by getting a caramel frappacino, dripping in syrupy sweetness.

What I didn't care about then was the fact that this drink was packed full of preservatives, mainly made out of chemicals, and was highly acidic. Not to mention I was supporting a monster corporations and a nightmarish dairy industry.

I still often find myself longing for decadent sweet drinks to fill the reward cravings. So this morning I whipped up a healthy smoothie reminiscent of everything I loved about that gooey caramel drink... minus everything I want to avoid as an adult.

3 bananas
7 dates, pitted
4 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon liquid sweetener (maples syrup, honey, agave, or coconut nectar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean scraped, if you may be so lucky)
1 1/2 cups coconut water
1 1/2 cups water

*pink Himalayan salt and extra liquid sweetener for rim

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend well until smooth. (Dates can take away to break down.) Take a glass or mason jar and add a bit of sweetener around the rim. On a plate lay out the salt. Gently rub the rim of the glass into the salt. Pour in the smoothie and serve.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Virgin Bloody Mary Juice

In my twenties I used to spend a good amount of my Sunday mornings hunched over breakfast burritos nursing hangovers with my girlfriends. One of the key staples to these brunches was the Bloody Mary. For some reason nothing else seemed to perk me up as much as this spicy, savory drink. Until the alcohol would bring me back down again.

Instead of riding a rollercoaster of drunkenness, matched with greasy carb feasting, I decided to make a healthy, fresh version of the classic drink... sans alcohol. This recipe will wake you up in the morning better than coffee, only packing you full of nutrients and hydration instead of caffeine. The perfect brunch drink, your friends won't even miss the alcohol.

Part of the fun of Bloody Marys is getting creative with the garnishes, so feel free to pair this with some celery sticks, raw olives, lemon or lime wedges.

2 medium tomatoes
5 large carrots
1 mini cucumber
2 large collard leaves
2-inch cube of ginger
1 small lime
1/2 cup sauerkraut juice (optional)
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

Run the tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, collard leaves, ginger and lime through a juicer. Strain well and pour into ball jar. Add sauerkraut juice and cayenne pepper. Screw on lid of ball jar and shake well. Garnish as desired and serve.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Raw Vegan Tropical Dream Hummus

Some of the fun of moving to a new area is discovering new ingredients and what to do with them. For $12 I recently purchased a jar of raw macadamia nut butter. Only two ingredients were used to make this decadent concoction... macadamia nuts and sea salt. I have just ordered a juicer that makes nut butter as well, but it won't arrive until later this week and will probably take me a while to figure out how to use it. Hopefully I will be able to make my own nut butter at that point, but until then this was a yummy and welcome treat.

Sprouting your own chickpeas is easy, but on their own they can have a bit of a yeasty taste. In all my experiments blending and mixing with citrus is the best way to balance out this flavor. If you can't make or can't find macadamia butter you can still use tahini, but believe me, the macadamia butter makes this!

2 1/2 cups sprouted chickpeas (sprouted roughly 2 days)
1 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons macadamia nut butter
2 teaspoons coconut aminos
1 teaspoon water
sea salt to taste
drizzle of melted coconut oil
dash of cayenne pepper

In a food processor combine the chickpeas, lime juice, macadamia nut butter, coconut aminos, water, and salt. Blend until smooth. If too thick add a bit more water or lime juice. Dish out into a bowl and smooth over. Drizzle with coconut oil and sprinkle with cayenne. Serve with your favorite veggies or flax crackers.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Raw Vegan BBQ Carrot Sloppy Joes

Have I mentioned that living in Hawaii is expensive? Unless you have your own land which produces enough that you can live off of, it is. Hopefully one day my family will be able to afford a small plot of our own land, but until then we are living in a condo. Soon we will likely begin container gardening on our small lanai, but even then we will need to buy a lot of food. Farmer's markets are great source of inexpensive organic produce, but they also fall on very specific days. But this recipe is made from organic ingredients bought from one very affordable store... Costco.

I have never been a huge fan of Costco in the past. It usually conjures up images of someone purchasing 15 large buckets of cheese puffs. But with prices as high as they are out here I joined starting for the cheaper gas, and took a look into the food section. While most stuff there is not anything I would eat, I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of organic products they offer. I now regularly buy baby carrots, romaine, mixed greens, coconut oil, frozen peas, frozen corn, and chia seeds- all organic!

The only problem is you are buying in bulk, so it is a LOT of lettuce and a LOT of carrots. Luckily, we eat a lot of produce in this family. I hope you enjoy this recipe. It is a good one to share with anyone who claims going raw is "too expensive". These sloppy joes also a fast week night dinner solution.

3 heads of romaine (for leaf boats)
3 cups baby carrots
3/4 cup dates, pitted
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon coconut aminos
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
dash of cayenne
pink Himalayan salt to taste

Excluding the romaine, add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until you have your desired sloppy texture. If necessary, drain excess fluid. Pull off large romaine leaves, fill with sloppy mixture and serve!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Raw Breakfast Foods... More Than Just Smoothies!

Good questions deserve good answers. Especially when you realize they are questions you have asked yourself several times. Someone in a group I manage on raw foods just asked what people ate for breakfast other than smoothies. Now don't get me wrong, I love smoothies and have them Monday through Friday to start my day, but on the weekends I usually crave a bit more. Maybe it is because going to brunch was such a social event in my twenties. The girls would gather around nursing hangovers eating tons of bread and eggs and bloody marys... it was fun, but my body didn't thank me. So here are some of my previous recipes compiled together to help out all of us that want more than a smoothie in the morning!

Raw Scrambled "Eggs" 

Cacao Orange Breakfast Pudding

No Cereal Cereal Bowl

Triple Chocolate Doughnuts

Banana Apple Nut Muffin

Apple Flax Cinnamon Buns

Monday, August 24, 2015

Raw Vegan Coconut Carrot Cake Bites

I may live in Hawaii now, but I am still a working stiff just like a lot of you... I just have a really beautiful commute! At the end of the day, and that 45-minute long commute, I can get low on energy for food prep. Once my dinner is done I want some dessert. I almost always want dessert. Heck, I had dessert already and I wouldn't mind some more right now! I digress...

Unfortunately I am not the raw Martha Stewart who has the whole day to work in kitchen to create a seven layer raw cake. I am also not the perfect health guru who can be satisfied with just fruit all the time. Sometimes I want a bit more!

I made these coconut carrot cake bites in 5 minutes. I dehydrated them for about an hour since I used soaked deglet dates, but if you used mejool dates dehydrating wouldn't be necessary. I used sunflower seed butter, but feel free to use whichever seed or nut butter you prefer!

2 cups carrots
1 cup dates, pitted
1 tablespoon raw seed or nut butter
1/3 cup coconut flakes
2 teaspoons cinnamon
dash of sea salt
extra cinnamon and coconut flakes for rolling

Put all ingredients in a food processor and mix, stopping to stir the edges every so often. Stop when mixture has an even, but not completely smooth texture. Scoop mixture and roll into balls roughly 1 1/2 inch in diameter. If balls are too wet (stop snickering children) you can dehydrate for up to 2 hours at 110 degrees or roll on a paper towel to remove excess water. Roll the balls in extra cinnamon and coconut flakes. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Papaya Peppercorn Salad Dressing

So I moved to paradise, but maintaining my raw diet hasn't been easy. Hawaii may be beautiful, and the fruit may be plentiful, but certain elements have presented themselves as a challenge.

Firstly, to move out here I got rid of most of my possessions. This included kitchen items. Even what we had saved may still be in the mail. I finally just received my dehydrator again. I have my Ninja Blender and mini-food processor, but I am missing my large food processor, my spice grinder, my spiralizer, and my juicer. I also forgot to mention, the move has taken its toll on my pocketbook.

Which leads in to my second challenge. While fruit is everywhere on the island, prepackaged foods are expensive. I know, you think, "That's fine I don't eat prepackaged foods," but anything you can't pick is prepackaged. Do you need coconut or hemp oil? Maybe apple cider vinegar or spices? Even salt... you are gonna pay about a third more in price for all of these things. Thank goodness Costco has a few organic items.

My third big challenge with my diet since moving to the Big Island is that all the local produce is (obviously) different. While there are benefits of now having greater access to pineapple, mango, avocado, lychee, lillikoi, and coconut (not young thai ones mind you, the ones with harder meat), there are certain foods which were part of my daily diet before which are now both more scarce and more expensive. Sometimes too they flat out don't taste as good. Apples, peaches, plums, broccoli, and cauliflower have been main ones to fit in this category.

Moving to a new place is about embracing new changes, however, and learning from the differences of others. One fruit that is plentiful out here and has become a staple in our new diet is papaya. At the farmer's market we can buy these for 3 for $1, which in Hawaii is about as affordable as you can get! Papaya fruit is sweet and the perfect texture for smoothies. Most people throw out the seeds, but what isn't commonly known is that the seeds are parasite killers and the healthiest part of the papaya to eat! The seeds taste exactly like peppercorns and I have been using them in recipes the same way I would use black pepper.

Here is a salad dressing I came up with. It is a bit unexpected, but mouth-watering non-the-less!

seeds from 1 papaya
1/3 cup of papaya meat
1 tablespoon stoneground mustard
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon hemp oil
1 tablespoon almond milk
1 teaspoon liquid sweetener of your choice (coconut nectar, raw honey, or agave)
dash of paprika
sea salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender or small food processor and mix to desired texture. Pour on top of your favorite salad and enjoy!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Raw Vegan Macadamia Mac and Cheese

As I have been exploring and adjusting to my new environment here in Hawaii one thing is apparent... prepackaged foods are expensive! Luckily locally grown fruits and vegetables are not. My morning smoothie routine is back on track thanks to a $45 Ninja blender I picked up at Target. I have been eating a lot of salads for lunch, but dinner has been hard for me. I don't have a family to cook for and I don't have much of a kitchen set-up yet to cook in. So I have been falling off the raw path and eating some cooked vegan food, which isn't the end of the world, but I don't feel healthy. I feel bloated and heavy from eating that way. Fruit, smoothies, raw soups, and salads can hold me till 4:00 pm, but then I start getting hungry for something more.

I came up with this recipe as a compromise. The raw kelp noodles were reasonably affordable and the macadamia nuts, being local, were a fair price as well. The sauce is delicious and could easily go on zucchini noodles, or even cooked quinoa pasta, if you prefer.

Hopefully nest week I will have my own kitchen again and get back on track with creating more delicious raw recipes for your enjoyment!

1 package kelp noodles
3/4 cup macadamia nuts
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
dash of paprika
dash of cayenne pepper
Sea salt to taste

Rinse kelp noodles and drain. Massage noodles gently and cover in water to soak while the sauce is prepared. Combine all other ingredients in a small food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Add additional water only if necessary. Drain the kelp noodles, cover in sauce mixture, and stir to evenly cover. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Where Have I Been?

I haven't written a blog in a few weeks now, but I promise you I have a good excuse! I quit my job, left Maryland, and started a job in Kailua Kona, Hawaii out here on the Big Island! It has been a bit of a risk, and definitely a struggle, but I feel like eventually it will be worth it.

I left my husband and son back in Maryland so that they could sell almost all of our possessions (it is funny how little objects actually matter) and our house. For the past two weeks I have been living out of a small ohana house, which is basically a converted 1 car garage that has a very tiny kitchen, shower, and toilet.

Although I am in paradise, it hasn't quite felt like it yet. I have missed my husband and son terribly. I have had the stress of learning a new job. I have been living out of a suitcase and having very little luck finding  place to rent. So with all that stress mounting, raw foods have gone out the window. And now I have had to suffer the consequences of diarrhea and vomiting.

I am not saying all cooked food would hit me this way, and possible it was even the hotel ferments I have been toting around in a new climate that actually too their toll, but either way I think I need to get back on the straight and narrow.

Luckily Hawaii is the land of year round farmers' markets and fruit. I look forward to writing more of my journey on here, and am sure I will have a ton of new ingredients to share. Once I get settled (cross your fingers I am not living in a hotel forever) I will write my first Big Island recipe! Mahalo and aloha!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Raw Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

I start just about every morning with a juice and a smoothie. I usually have a salad about once a day. I eat a fair amount of fruit. But I'll be darned if I don't need a dessert treat every once in a while to keep me balanced.

Cookie dough ice cream used to be one of my favorites, of course, as it is essentially fat on fat. But not all fats are created equal. This recipe gets all it's fat from coconuts, and is nut-free for those of you who suffer from allergies. If you want to take this recipe to the next level and make cookie dough ice cream, just freeze some bananas and run them through the food processor and add the dough bites!

I would also like to take this opportunity to honor my husband, who is going through a fruit fast and sat next to me with great discipline and patience as I downed an entire plate of these, gushing over how decadent they were.

3/4 cup dried mulberries
1/3 cup dried coconut flakes
2 tablespoons coconut butter
5 dates, pitted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of pink Himalayan salt
1/4 cup cacao nibs

Combine mulberries, coconut flakes, coconut butter, dates, vanilla extract, and salt in a food processor and blend until you get a dough-like texture. Pour in cacao nibs and stir evenly. Roll into small 1-inch balls. Balls may have some excess oil, which you can pat off with a paper towel or dish cloth, if you prefer. Serve at room temperature or chill in the fridge for a slightly harder consistency. Enjoy!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Raw Vegan-Friendly Family Dinners

One of the challenges of adopting a raw vegan diet is that it is very unlikely that everyone is embracing your diet in exactly the same way. When making family meals we want everyone to be healthy and happy, but also know they are accepted for their diet choices. When everyone has different tastes though, it can be easy to want to give up entirely and get carry-out.

Over the weekend I visited my sister, her husband, and their adorable newborn son. Along with my husband and son we were all vegan, but even so it can be difficult planning meals. My son is a fussy eater and only my husband and I try to eat raw. With so many different appetites to satiate I decided the best course of action was to set up build-your-own bars. While this does mean a lot of chopping, it also means that everyone can have their food exactly the way they want it!

Here are some meal ideas for big families where everyone should be able to find something to be happy about!

-Noodles. Zucchini noodles are a great raw replacement for pasta, but what if your kids won't touch them? Spiralizers are also great for making noodles from carrots, cucumbers, and beets. Set up stations for each kind of "noodle". Give sauce options like raw marinara, nut-based alfredo, or pesto. Have add-ins available like peas, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, olives, spinach, or basil. Another raw option is kelp noodles. Have some quinoa pasta set off to the side for the kids, if you want to ave something cooked.

-Tacos. Set up some large romaine leaves to use for taco shells. Make fresh salsa and guacamole. Chop bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and olives. If you are feeling adventurous make a nut-based nacho cheese or sour cream. Make "re-fried beans" out of black sesame seeds. Another raw option is dehydrated coconut wraps. If anyone wants cooked food along with this meal it is easy to warm some beans or throw some tortillas on the side. 

-Pitas. Set up dehydrated coconut wraps or large collard leaves. Make carrot falafel balls and marinated portobello mushrooms. Chop up cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and olives. Tahini or a nut-based dill sauce are great for topping. Easy non-raw additions are pita bread (explore the healthier brands available) or baked falafels.

-Salad. It is SO EASY to set up a great salad bar, and also a great way to use up scrap produce. Chop up lettuce and kale. Set up all the leftover veggies in your fridge. Make a few different raw dressings, such as hemp ranch, lemon tahini, spicy mango, or just oil and vinegar.

-Breakfast bowls. Sometimes I am even a fan of these for dinner! You can use sprouted buckwheat, chia seeds, or bananas for a base. Pour in your favorite nut milk. Add-in foods like raisins, apples, goji berries, blue berries, strawberries, cacao nibs, coconut flakes, mulberries, or golden berries. If your kids don't like these raw cereal options, help them pick a healthy packaged cereal to go along with your choices.

-Pizza. Everyone loves pizza, but let's be honest. Not everyone loves raw pizza. Dehydrate some raw crusts (made from flax, zucchini, apples, buckwheat, etc.), but if the kids won't go for that set aside a sprouted frozen crust or some pita bread. Top with raw marina. Have a selection of bell peppers, mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, and pineapple chunks to top with. Make a nut cheese or sprinkle with nutritional yeast. If the kids won't go for that there are still good vegan options like Chao cheese or Daiya they could add. If you choose, they could even warm these up in the oven.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Go Raw

I've reached the year mark of eating a high raw diet. I use the term high raw for the 1% of the time when I have decided to eat a bit of cooked vegan for when there has been a special occasion (a wedding, a co-worker bringing in a home-cooked vegan treat, or getting a Thai curry in cases of extreme fatigue). While I feel raw food is best for my physical health, I do take these periodic breaks for my emotional and mental health. I am happy with my diet in how it tastes and in terms of my improving health. Over the past year of eating this way I have made a lot of mistakes. I am still making mistakes today, but I make a point to learn from these.

Keep your vision clear. Do not be swayed by fads and trends. Do not succumb to what is convenient or readily available. Even though we have three meals a day and they all seem to be a blur, separate each of these and ask, "What is best for me?"

Here is a list I came up with of some mistakes I have learned from over the past year. I hope they are helpful to you during your journey towards self-improvement!

1. Wasting food. Juicing is great, but you know what doesn't feel great? Throwing tons of leftover vegetable pulp in the trash. Separate your fruits and vegetables when you juice, and save the pulps for future recipes. Apple and carrot pulp make great crackers. Green pulp makes a great pesto or soup base. Nut pulps make a great cheeses.

2. Trying to make raw food exactly like cooked food. Sure, with 48 hours of soaking time, 24 hours worth of dehydrating time, and countless ingredients you can make something that resembles a raw vegan bacon double cheeseburger, but you know what? That salad you made the other day with that simple yet amazing dressing actually tastes better. Go figure.

3. Not eating ripe fruits. The number one fruit which constantly goes eaten when unripe is bananas. Everyone seems to love their green bananas, maybe because they think those brown spots mean they are rotting. The truth is those brown spots mean they are READY. Not only are ripe bananas better for you, but they will make your smoothies creamier and your treats less starchy.

4. Buying oily dried fruits. This one really gets me mad. Here you are trying to get healthy, buying some dried fruit to blend into healthy raw treats, but you forgot to read the label. Why would you need to read the label? It is just dried fruit. But the average raisin is coated in canola oil, sun-dried tomatoes can have sulfites, and dried cherries can have added sugar. Aren't bad oils, sulfites, and sugar what you are trying to avoid with this whole process? No worries, this is an easy fix. Just read your labels, even when you assume it is just fruit.

5. Overdoing the nuts. Firstly, the majority of nuts are not raw. Cashews are hardly ever truly raw. All almonds from the United States have been pasteurized, due to regulations. The term "raw" is not held to the same standardization that the term "organic" is. So even if the nuts claim to be raw, chances are they are not. I am not trying to be a downer here, but these are the facts. If it is essential that you have 100% guaranteed raw nuts I would recommend purchasing them online for a specifically raw supplier. In any case your nut intake should be limited. If you are trying to recreate meats and baked goods all the time, you may be going heavy on the nuts. Try thinking of what else you may use instead, such as seeds, sprouted legumes, vegetables, or fruit. Mix it up.

6. Relying too much on prepackaged raw foods. It says it is raw on the box, therefore it must be good! Right? Prepackaged raw foods should be viewed as treats, not as something to really on constantly for sustenance. For one thing, packaged raw foods are expensive. You could easily go broke spending $15 on a raw truffle 3-pack. Secondly, most of those raw treats are heavy on nuts, oils, and sweeteners. While they are a more healthy alternative, they should still be viewed as treats.

7. Okra. I used to love deep-fried okra. I used to love gumbos. But okra contains mucilage which, in most simple terms, is slime. Cooking can reduce the slime, but there isn't much you can do with it raw. If you don't believe me just ask my husband about the Snot Soup Disaster of 2014. Yikes.

8. Not making your own milks. So you have given up dairy. Congrats! The stores are stocked with a million options for people who don't consume dairy. But most of those nut milks are packed with preservatives and additives. Making your own milk is easy! All you need is a nut milk bag, a blender, and a glass bottle. Keep the ratio 1 cup nuts to 4 cups of water. Blend, strain, and you are done! Not only is there no junk in there, but you haven't wasted all that lovely pulp! Feel free to get creative with your blends. My favorites are hemp, coconut (use the flakes), and almond.

9. Forgetting the magic of fruit. Nature was pretty kind to us. Fruit is just healthy fast food! Most fruit is pretty convenient to eat and the healthiest choice you can make! Don't over-think things, just grab an apple! Or 10!

10. Giving up. You tried going raw and something went wrong, so it obviously isn't the right diet for you. Or is something in your diet not right for you? Maybe going 100% raw isn't your style, but surely your health would benefit from incorporating more raw foods into your diet? Maybe your dehydrated pizza was gross, but that doesn't mean you should order that new Pizza Hut atrocity with the mini pigs-in-a-blanket crust. (Don't even get me started on the nasty...) Instead think about how you can conjure up the pizza flavors with a few key ingredients like tomatoes, oregano, and basil, and build a new recipe using that inspiration! Also, don't be afraid to eliminate ingredients that don't agree with you. As much as I enjoy the taste of garlic, my bowels don't seem to enjoy it. Making adjustments for what will benefit your body is the heart of the raw food movement. Take ownership of your own well-being. You deserve to be healthy!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Herbalist's Pesto

I love pesto. It is delicious and versatile, and can be used in countless recipes. Since I have transferred to a high raw diet I have become found of putting it on spiralized noodles, or in zucchini layered "lasagna".  Pesto makes a great spread on veggies or raw crackers. It works in soups or wraps. And a little pesto drizzle over top of almost any dish elevates it to a higher culinary level.

The beauty of pesto is that you can take almost any green, add a few seeds or nuts, dash with a bit of oil, and presto! Deliciousness awaits! My goal in this recipe was to up the health factor a bit. Many of the herbs in this recipe were foraged. If you decide to go that route PLEASE know what you are doing. If you are unsure when identifying a plant, don't use it. I also used dried nettles which can be purchased in huge bags inexpensively online. (We have used Vitacost and Amazon.)

Let me go into the herbs a bit further and discuss some of their benefits. The two foraged herbs I used in this pesto are dandelion and plantain. Both are considered weeds and many people in America spend a lot of money to cover their yards in chemicals to kill these off. However, they are both edible and healthier for you than many lettuces stocked on supermarket shelves.

Plantain is good for cleaning the blood. It is a diuretic and helps with kidney or bladder problems. Externally plantain can also be used to treat wounds, so if you get a scratch out on a hike just chew a bit into a wad and place it on the scar.

Dandelion is also a diuretic. Rich in antioxidants, as well as anti inflammatory, dandelions are a great green for people with skin problems. Another benefit to dandelions is that they are high in calcium. Nowadays you can even buy dandelion greens at some grocery stores, but they grow everywhere! Just be sure you are picking them from a clean area that isn't chemically treated.

The final herb I used which you may not be familiar with is stinging nettles. Nettles are safe for everyone to take, even small children. They are high in iron, which makes them a great benefit for vegetarians (also, as a woman, I find them beneficial certain times of the month). Nettles are recommended for people who suffer from allergies. They are a great digestive aid and, along with plantain and dandelion, help with kidney and bladder functioning. While I purchased my nettles they can also be foraged, though aren't quite as easy to find as dandelion and plantain.

 Plantain, nettle, and dandelion. 

There is a delicate balance between making recipes with optimal  health benefits and making something that tastes good. Medicinal herbs should be thought of a bit differently than many culinary herbs. Both dandelion and plantain have a slightly bitter taste, so I paired them with basil, which is a sweeter herb. Using lemon and high quality oils also make for a more appealing treat. So follow this recipe, or go out yourself to find some greens and get creative!

Herbalist's Pesto:

large handful of basil
medium handful of dandelion
small handful of plantain
small handful of arugula
1/4 cup of dried nettles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon hemp oil
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup of brazil nuts
sprinkle of nutritional yeast
pink Himalayan salt to taste

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend. Put it on whatever your heart desires. Enjoy!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Raw Vegan Black Forest Brownies

I've got a lot of German in me, in case having the last name of Otto didn't tip you off to that! And what German girl doesn't love a nice slice of black forest cake? Cherries are one of my favorite fruits and I am ecstatic that they are finally in season. They are great on their own of course, but finishing a dessert with them is just, well, the cherry on top! Had enough of my horrid puns for the day? Okay then, on to the recipe!

Side note: Be careful with the pits... I almost took out my mother-in-law's tooth by forgetting one!

Brownie Layer

1 cup brazil nuts
12 dates, pitted
1 tablespoon coconut butter
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup carob powder
dash of salt

Cream Frosting Layer

meat from 1 young coconut
1/2 cup coconut water
1/2 cup coconut butter
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon liquid sweetener (coconut nectar, honey, agave or maple syrup)

Fruit Layer

1 cup cherries
1 teaspoon liquid sweetener (coconut nectar, honey, agave or maple syrup)
1 tablespoon cacao nibs

In a food processor combine all brownie layer ingredients and blend until evenly tacky. Scoop out mixture and pat down into a pan to make an even layer. Next combine all frosting layer ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Scoop out frosting and evenly coat brownie layer. (Frosting layer may rise slightly.) Slice and pit cherries and place evenly on top of frosting. Sprinkle with cacao nibs and coat with a drizzle of your favorite sweetener. Slice carefully and enjoy!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Raw Vegan "Beer and Cheddar" Kale Chips

Okay, okay. I am pushing the envelope here. There is no beer. There is no cheddar. And technically I don't think dehydrated kale even qualifies as a chip. But that isn't the point. The point is that you can give yourself healthy, pure, live ingredients in a way where you will not miss out on the flavors you crave.

I guess some may consider this a "man's kale chip", but I think I craved this one much more than my husband. The sharp, cheesy flavors are enough to make you forget you are eating your greens. You will  be warmly welcomed to any party with this treat, whether you are socializing with raw foodists, vegans, or meat eaters. Simply speaking, this recipe is the pub food of raw foods.

I am drooling just remembering these chips. Man, this is the hard part about food blogging...

1 bag of kale
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup hemp seeds
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons hemp or almond milk
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup sauerkraut juice
1/2 a red onion
1 1/2 tablespoons stoneground mustard
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
dash of smoked paprika
pink Himalayan salt to taste

Put kale in large bowl. Pour on olive oil and massage evenly until tender. Put all other ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour sauce mixture over kale and stir to evenly cover. Evenly place kale chips on dehydrator sheets and dehydrate for roughly 6 hours at 105 degrees. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Raw Vegan Jicama and Parsnip "No-tato" Salad

It is officially cook-out season, which is one of the hardest times of year for those of us trying to eat a healthy diet. Sure, you may be able to turn down the double cheeseburgers and even the potato chips, but what about the veggie burgers and veggie dogs some other non-meat eater kindly brought? Well, sorry to tell you, but they are most likely heavily processed, glutenous, soy-packed downers. But there is salad... and a pickle... a pickle that you aren't even sure about. You wanted to eat healthy, but you still wanted to EAT!

Just like the holidays, planning ahead and making enough to share can save you from caving in to other people's diets. Being self-sufficient means you get exactly what you want. All the taste and none of the junk. Over the Memorial Day weekend I was craving some potato salad, so I whipped up a mock recipe of my own! If you eat cooked potatoes or even sweet potatoes you can still use the rest of this recipe for an awesome vegan macadamia mayonnaise-type dressing!

1 cup jicama, peeled and chopped
1 cup parsnips, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
 handful of fresh herbs (I used dill, parsley, and oregano), finely chopped
1 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup hemp or almond milk
1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon truffle oil 
pink Himalayan salt to taste

Place chopped jicama, parsnips, onion, and herbs in a large bowl. In a small food processor or blender combine all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour dressing mix in bowl and stir well. Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Raw Spicy Mango Thai Kelp Noodles

Kelp noodles are one of those foods which are on the fence for a lot of raw vegans. Many people question whether kelp noodles are actually raw, as they are processed to get into noodle form. From my research it seems some kelp noodles are raw, some are not, depending on the brand you choose. Either way they can be eaten without additional cooking and seem a much better option than cooked pasta. I would recommend kelp noodles as an occasional addition to your diet, for times when you just don't feel like spiralizing.

Many people ask and easy, fast raw meals that I make. This is one of the easiest. In fact, I almost feel as though this post is a non-recipe, because it is so basic! But sometimes we need reminders of those, right?

1 package of kelp noodles (12 ounces)
1 mango, peeled and pitted
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon coconut vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
dash cayenne pepper (as to your desired spiciness)
dash hot pepper flakes (as to your desired spiciness)
pink Himalayan salt
1 teaspoon dulse flakes
small handful Thai basil

Open package of kelp noodles and rinse. Place noodles in a large bowl of salt water and massage. Set aside. In a blender combine the mango, tomatoes, vinegar, coconut aminos, cayenne, hot pepper flakes, and salt. Blend until smooth. Drain the kelp noodles and return to large bowl. Pour the blended mixture on the noodles. Sprinkle with dulse and stir. Top with basil and serve.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Distinguishing Between a Healthy Diet and an Eating Disorder

Bodies, especially female bodies, constantly are critiqued by outside sources. It can be difficult as a person, particularly a woman, to be able to look past these outside sources and discover what is right for yourself. Sometimes these outside forces are so pressing that they make their way within our own minds.

I recently had someone tell me I was not allowed to lose any more weight and that I was becoming too skinny. In the past I was told by someone who poked my stomach that it looked like I had been drinking too many beers. Honestly, these two comments are not very different. It is difficult to have an exact pinning of the motivations between the commentators, but both comments could either be genuine concern or personal biases. Either way, the only opinion that matters is my own.

Eating disorders are diseases. They are in no way related to health. Any eating disorder, be it anorexia or binge eating, is the exact opposite of health. Health is nourishing and caring for your body; celebrating it as a temple. A person with an eating disorder views their own body as the enemy.

There can be criticism of the raw diet, from those who do not understand it or have been approaching it incorrectly. I have found many cases where a raw food or whole food diet has actually been a recovery mechanism for people with eating disorders. The truth of the matter is that people are going to talk, and formulate critical opinions about anything you do which is different from what they believe. The important thing to stay focused on is your health, be it physical, emotional, or mental.

I have composed a list to help break down the differences between a healthy diet and an eating disorder. Please be honest with yourself about your responses. Please love and care for yourself. Your body is a gift.

Healthy Diet: Your eating habits strengthen your muscles, organs, and nerves.
Eating Disorder: Your eating habits deteriorate your muscles, organs, and nerves.

Healthy Diet: You feel comfortable in your own skin, and feel good about your appearance and abilities.
Eating Disorder: You hate the way you look, and nothing you do is ever enough to make you feel good about yourself.

Healthy Diet: Your pantry is abundant, and you love it that way!
Eating Disorder: You avoid being around food.

Healthy Diet: You have a regular menstrual cycle.
Eating Disorder: You have stopped having a menstrual cycle.

Healthy Diet: You eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.
Eating Disorder: You allow yourself to be hungry for long periods of time or else constantly over-eat to the point of severe discomfort.

Healthy Diet: You listen to your body for how much and what to eat.
Eating Disorder: You listen to your emotions for how much and what to eat.

Healthy Diet: You decide what is right for your own body.
Eating Disorder: You compare your body to other people and media images.

Obviously, this is a loaded topic to fit into a short blog. I am not a psychologist, and would encourage anyone who thinks they may have an eating disorder to seek out professional help. Be supportive of people who make good choices for themselves. Encouragement is a powerful tool. I want this blog to be a source of information to help women take ownership of their own bodies in a positive way. This is not a place for body-shaming, it is a place for body-celebrating.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Raw Vegan Sprouted Chickpea Salad Wraps

A raw, sprouted chickpea isn't exactly the same as a cooked chickpea. It isn't as soft, and therefore needs to be broken down a bit to make it more appealing. Blending sprouted chickpeas into a hummus is a great option, but sometimes hummus can get a bit boring. If you have been vegetarian as long as I have, you are probably used to it being your main meatless party option. I wanted to explore what else could be down with the raw, sprouted chickpeas, so I came up with these wraps!

If you don't have any collard leafs handy you can also use lettuce, dehydrated coconut wraps, or simply eat it as-is! If young coconuts are hard for you to come by, replace the coconut meat with your favorite nuts or seeds and use regular water instead of coconut water.

meat from 1 young coconut
1 cup coconut water
2 tablespoons stoneground mustard
juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
dash of black pepper
2 cups of sprouted chickpeas (2-3 days to sprout)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup red onion
small handful of dill
5 large collard leaves
pink Himalayan salt to taste

In a blender combine coconut meat, coconut water, mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, curry powder, turmeric, black pepper, and salt. Blend until smooth. Add in the sprouted chickpeas and pulse a few times to get a choppy texture. Hand chop the tomatoes, onion, and dill. Add to mixture and stir. Add extra salt as needed. Spoon mixture evenly onto collard wraps. fold in edges, roll, and slice down the middle. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Eat What You Deserve

Unfortunately sometimes people in the raw food community think they are being helpful and motivational when actually they are being just the opposite. If you take someone who is eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) and introduce them to these new ideas about food it can be a shock to the system. The average person is trying to free themselves from fast food and microwave meals and looking for help. To have a raw food guru gushing on about how they only are eating banana mono-meals and going on extensive water fasts doesn't relate to your average working man who needs to make it through the day with enough energy to do grueling physical labor in an urban environment. While immediate extremism may work for some, I feel that most people do best with gradual changes of everyday habits. I think this is more beneficial for our bodies, as well.

I wanted to take a moment on this blog to say this: There is no guilt, there is no shame. It is not your fault. You may be obese, you may have severe health problems. Your body may be swollen and skin may be horrific. You are not to blame. Your body is responding to what have become cultural norms for food, medications, daily chemical interactions, and environment. It is amazing that everyone is not obese and knocking on death's door. It is a miracle that our teeth are not falling out from excess sugar. These things aren't happening to you because you did something wrong. They are happening because our culture hasn't been doing what is right. Sit down in any average restaurant across the country and you are consuming massive amounts of sugar, bad oils, and GMOs. There is nothing in your office's vending machine that is good for you, and nothing at the local mini-mart that you can feel good snacking on. It is a set-up, trying to make it seem as though you are predestined to fail.

But you are not predestined to fail, because you have free will. And you can choose right this moment to take active steps to make improvements and seek out the answers. No one is going to be perfect, and I don't think health is really about perfection. It should be about improvement. I have seen too many people give up, thinking they simply are the way they are when they didn't see a change they were looking for. I also assumed that I was just going to keep getting a little heavier every year of my life. I assumed I would be taking anti-biotics to suppress my boils forever. I assumed nothing would ever improve my skin, though I would continue to put on chemical product after product in vain. But I have lost 40 pounds and my skin is improving, and I haven't had a boil in years.

Make changes. Listen to your body. Do your research. Take things out of your diet (meat, gluten, dairy, soy, canola and vegetable oils) and replace them with better ingredients. Make your own pace. Make your own meals. Do not let anyone tell you what you are. YOU are not FAT. YOU are not WEAK. You can be in control, and let no corporation, bully, or negative influence let you think otherwise.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Raw Vegan Cacao-Orange Breakfast Pudding

During the week I have a pretty strict regiment of smoothies and juice for breakfast, and it works well for me. It is part of my schedule and I know what to expect. On the weekends, when my child and cat have decided that it is time to get up although my husband has not, those are some of my indulgence times. Not heavy, greasy, syrupy indulgences, just sweet treats to give me enough energy to be able to handle some of the exciting tasks like laundry or dishes from the night before.

The reason I consider this recipe a breakfast pudding instead of dessert is that it almost resembles a smoothie bowl, but has just a touch more decadence. Breakfast, dessert, you decide. Anytime you have it, it is delicious.


1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/3 cup raisins
1 tablespoon cacao
dash pink Himalayan salt


3 bananas (the riper, the better)
juice from 1 orange
1 tablespoon hemp milk
1 tablespoon cacao
1 tablespoon carob
1/2 tablespoon coconut butter
1 tablespoon liquid sweetener (coconut nectar, honey, maple syrup, agave, or honey substitute)

In a small food processor combine all topping ingredients and pulse into a crumble texture. In a blender combine all pudding ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour pudding in a bowl and top with crumble. Add an orange slice to garnish, in you so desire.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Raw Vegan Black Cumin Seed "Caviar"

Having a husband who is interested in herbalism and improving himself means sometimes I am given unknown mysterious ingredients to cook with. This week I was introduced to black cumin seed. I read up on the product, and it has am impressive resume. Black cumin seed oil was found in King Tut's tomb. Cleopatra reportedly used it as part of her beauty regiment. And the Prophet Mohammad is quoted as saying that black cumin seed could cure everything but death itself.

I wasn't exactly sure what to do with it, but after all I had read, it seemed deserving of the royal treatment. What is more royal than caviar? If this little seed can do everything people claim of it, it only deserves the best. Health benefits of black cumin seed include strengthening of the hair and nails, increasing breast milk flow, calming the nervous system, improving skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, boosting bone marrow production, and some studies even link it to treating pancreatic cancer.

If you have trouble locating black cumin seeds you can use black sesame seeds instead. Either way, it is decadently delicious.

3/4 cup black cumin seeds (soaked roughly 8 hours, then drained)
3/4 cup botija olives
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon paprika
pink Himalayan salt to taste

Put all ingredients in small food processor. Blend, stopping periodically to scrape the sides, until desired texture is reach. Pair with your favorite raw crackers or sliced veggies. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Poverty Consciousness and Raw Food

One of the main responses I have gotten to my diet is, "I would like to eat more raw food, but it is so expensive." I know many of us, myself included, struggle with our finances. I am aware that certain deemed super-foods are overpriced, and that organic produce is always more expensive than conventional. But I also feel this sort of thinking falls into poverty consciousness.

If you take your thinking from, "I can't do this because I don't have money" and replace it with, "How can I do this, despite not having a lot of money?", you would be surprised with the results. If you do not try, you have a 100% chance of not succeeding. If you try, you have at least a chance at success. Here are a few tips to keep in mind next time you think your finances are holding you back from adding more raw foods to your diet.

- Fast food may be cheap, but healthcare isn't. Every medical professional will admit that obesity leads to more health problems. More health problems lead to more bills. Opting for drive-thru options or heavily processed meals may save you money in the short-term, but consuming greater amounts of fruits and vegetables is a lifetime investment.

- If you can't buy top of the line culinary equipment, don't. I have been using a $50 dehydrator and a $50 blender through a year of eating primarily raw foods. I would love to have a Vitamix, if it weren't $500. I would love to have an Excalibur, if it weren't $250. But spending $100 instead of $750 doesn't change my food being exactly what I want! If $100 still seems like too much, keep in mind you can get secondhand kitchen equipment at a very affordable price. Try eBay, Craiglist, yard sales, or the thrift store. Or just stick to recipes which don't require special equipment!

- If organic gets too expensive, pay attention to which organic foods you should buy. When it comes to produce, not all veggies are created equal. While I like to avoid chemicals as much as possible both for my personal use and in terms of environmental impact, there are some fruits and vegetables which are not as directly impacted by pesticides. Generally anything with a hard rind is safe to eat. For a more specific list, check out this link.

- Think before you buy. A quick internet search just showed that one pound of raw walnuts costs $8.99, but one pound of raw sunflower seeds only costs $3.49. The good news is that in most raw recipes any seed or nut will work! Don't spend tons on money on prepackaged raw foods if you can make them yourself. I love a kale chip treat, but I also know the mark up on those is insanely high. Buy things to sprout so you have a back-up plan for times you are low on produce money. Buy lots of bananas to fill up on as cheap snacks.

- Stop wasting money on getting wasted. Booze, cigarettes, and other recreational substances destroy your body, mind, and pocketbook. If it is that important to your socializing, re-evaluate your social circles. If you need it to relax, remind yourself that meditating in the woods is free. You will likely also save money on wrecked cars, headache medicine, and late-night greasy diner meals.

Keep in mind that these are my tips to avoid allowing a lack of funds to keep you from your personal raw health goal. If this isn't your goal, be honest with yourself and admit that this might not be the path you want to take for yourself. Even the food pantry around the corner from me gives out fresh produce to those in need, so have some faith that with some clear-headed planning you can take control of your health and your life.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Super Protein Raw Sloppy Joes

A friend of mine requested some high protein raw vegan recipes the other day. Anyone who has chosen a raw vegan or cooked vegan diet is familiar with the question, "But where do you get your protein?" There are a lot of different ways to answer this question, but as a challenge I thought I would make one meal that meets your daily recommended protein requirement, yes raw vegan style!

The daily recommended protein intake for women is 46 grams and for men is 56 grams. Now, I know many people take the words of doctors and scientists to be untouchable truths, but there have been a lot of people in the nutritional community that feel these numbers are too high.

On the other hand there are people with specific needs where high protein diets are recommended, my son being one of them. When his challenges with ADHD first started becoming apparent I originally wanted to switch him from a vegetarian diet to a meat diet. I had been vegetarian since the age of 7 myself, but watching my son struggle was painful. He fought the chicken tenders we gave him and we didn't see much improvement. Now we have switched the game up entirely, and he is vegan. I make sure he has a high protein plant-based diet including peas, hemp milk, almond milk, quinoa, spirulina, moringa, and edamame. And you know what? Next year he will be going to his local school instead of being bused away for his special needs. So I would say we are doing something right.

Enjoy this high protein punch. The recipe makes 4 sloppy joes, to be shared by 2 people. The wraps can be used with any sandwich fillings, and you can stay on the high protein kick by switching the filling with sprouted chickpea salad or sunflower seed "tuna" salad. If you don't have a dehydrator you can use the sloppy joe filling (without dehydrating the mushrooms) and use a collard wrap instead, though you will loose some protein points. The pumpkin seeds can also be replaced with nuts of your choice!

For the wrap:

1 1/2 cup peas - 12 g
1/2 cup flax seeds - 15 g
meat from 1 young coconut - 13 g
1 cup coconut water - 2 g
1/2 cup of apple pulp (leftover from juicing)
1 cup spinach - 1 g
1/2 teaspoon spirulina - 1 g
1/2 teaspoon moringa - .5 g
pink Himalayan salt to taste

For the filling:

1 1/2 cup mushrooms - 3g
1 teaspoon coconut aminos
3/4 cup raisins - 1.5 g
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds - 21 g
2 medium tomatoes - 2 g
1 cup carrots - 1 g
1/2 cup red onion  - .5 g
2 dates, pitted - 1 g
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast - 8 g
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper
1/2 cup sauerkraut - .5 g
2 avocados - 8 g
1 cup spinach - 1 g
pink Himalayan salt to taste

Total protein: 92 g
Total protein per person (feeds 2 people): 46 g
Total protein per sloppy joe (recipe makes 4 total): 23 g

Open coconut, drain and save water, and scrape meat from inside being sure to dispose of any wood chips. Put flax seeds into a spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Put all wrap ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. This may require stopping to scrape the sides of the blender with a spatula and blending again. Pour mixture into wrap sheets, smooth down evenly with a spatula, and place in dehydrator. (There should be enough for two trays.) Dehydrate for 1 hour at 115 degrees, then bring temperature down to 95 degrees and dehydrate for 10 hours. Peel off sheets, flip over, and dehydrate for an addition hour at 115 degrees. Slice each wrap in half so you have a total of 4 equal pieces.

Marinate mushrooms in coconut aminos for at least 15 minutes. Place mushrooms on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 115 for 1 hour. (It is best to plan this along with the flipping of the wrap if you have time restraints). In a food processor combine the raisins, tomatoes, onion, carrots, apple cider vinegar, chili pepper, cumin, chipotle pepper, nutritional yeast, and salt. Blend into a thick sauce. Add pumpkin seeds to blender and pulse a few times to reach desired texture. Take mushrooms out of dehydrator and add to blender. Give a few quick pulses until you have a meaty texture.

Slice avocados. Fold wraps into a cone shape and fill bottom of each with a few spinach leaves. Scoop in even amounts of sloppy joe mixture. Top each with equal amounts sliced avocado and sauerkraut. (Make sure to drain to avoid excess liquid.) If desired for a less sloppy experience, wrap in wax paper for more convenient eating and less clean up. Enjoy!