Raw Thursdays! Jeudi Tout Cru!

This has been a most excellent Raw day…hurrah for Raw Thursdays!

I started the day off with some “Purple Porridge”, a slight twist on Shazzie’s “Pink Porridge” from The Complete Book of Raw Food. According to the recipe it serves two people, but I halved the recipe, and it still made a huge amount, about 2 servings I’d say easily. It’s just frozen blackberries, soaked almonds, and some briefly soaked dried apricots all mashed up in the food processor (now, the recipe says you can use a blender, but I ended up having to use both because my blender evidently doesn’t have enough testosterone or something…). I really liked this. I am always a bit leery of the “nut-heavy” recipes because they tend to be so heavy, but I did change the proportions and added more frozen fruit and less almonds which lightened it up… either way – super yum!

For lunch I dined on “Italian Rawzania” with “Sun-Dried Marinara” and “Ricotta Cheeze” from Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen. I believe that “Rawzania” is supposed to be a cute, raw-friendly way of saying lasagna, but it just seems awkward to pronounce, frankly.

Luckily, it was not difficult to make, or eat, for that matter. This was really a delicious meal, and I am sure that I’ll make it again. I knew I was a fan of the marinara sauce, but I haven’t yet found a raw faux-cheese that I really like. I’m learning how to play with the recipes to my own tastes, which helps, but I still found the “Ricotta Cheeze” to be, well, weird – and don’t get me wrong, I like weird, but it’s just too something. Not sure what. It did really marry quite nicely with the raw veggies and the marinara, though, and all together it was great. I made this the night before to allow for the flavors to combine nicely, and am very glad I did. It was good at lunch, but it was even better at dinner! The veggies had softened even more and the flavors were really harmonious! (That’s not something I say every day!). Since I’m the only one dining Raw, I will have one piece left over for lunch tomorrow – yippee for me!

My dessert-cum-snack is also from Ani’s Raw, the “Coconut Snow Cake”. The recipe called for a cake base, then a frosting layer, and then a lovely coating of coconut (I just love the coconut!). After tasting the cake I decided that it did not need frosting because it was already über sweet, so I just gave a generous dusting of coconut and voila!

This was the first raw dessert that the Guppy actually liked. She has such a sweet tooth (I have NO IDEA where that comes from, at all…) and loves raw fruits, I thought she’d really like them, but she usually takes a tiny taste and spits it right back out. So, when she asked me for a bite I of course obliged, but was ready for the typical “No, it’s yucky!” which generally follows anything new that isn’t to her liking. She surprised me when she confiscated my fork and smiled, “This isn’t yucky, it’s yummy! I think I would like this now, ok?”, and slyly pulled my plate towards her side of the table. Go figure!

Raw Tuesdays! Mardi tout cru!

I am still your Raw Connection for Tuesdays…but I didn’t manage to post last night, so let’s just pretend that it’s Tuesday, shall we? Merci!

No surprise here! (Liz, stop drooling! I know how these babies affect you!). This was my almost last one…I might have one more left…that I brought back from my still-not-properly-posted about North American vacation. I’ll probably be making more of these soon to fill in the void. I also think it’s time for me to try to make some other raw bars. I mean, the ingredients list on the Lärabar package is usually like two to three things long : cashews, dates. I must be able to figure this out. And look at my wound! I nearly cut a hunk of my thumb off in a bizarre onion chopping incident. Horrible. Gruesome. I wanted a Dora bandage, but I couldn’t find them in the medicine cabinet…

For lunch I re-visited the Japanese Mushroom soup I posted about here, because I had such great memories of it being delish about two weeks ago. It was delish last time, but this time it left something to be desired. I think my disappointment came from some slight changes I had to make to the recipe – only used one kind of mushroom, you can’t get Braggs here so I fudged my marinade, and while I used sweet white miso the first time, this time I used the darker, evil cousin, brown rice miso. I did manage to eat two big bowls (of mostly mushrooms), but am ashamed to say the broth went down the toilet the next day. I hate the waste, but did figure out what I liked about that particular recipe!

Now for the very cool “new favorite thing” discovery of this installment of Raw Tuesdays :

These delicious little gems are called “Carob Confections” and they are from a raw food book I picked up while in the U.S. called The Raw Gourmet by Nomi Shannon. Nomi rocks. Hard. This is a slim volume but packed with full-color glossy punch. It’s so great to have pictures of the food, and not of the author! (Nomi has a tasteful little pic next to her bio, and that’s it. Congrats on having your priorities straight Ms. Shannon). These were made in like 5 minutes, rolled in almond meal, and devoured! They became my favorite snackie-poo, dessert, and post-run breakfast today. They reminded me more of truffles than anything I’ve ever had, besides truffles I mean.

For dinner, I made some of the Spicy Pecans from Ani’s Raw :

These were simple and delicious, a nice addition to my big, huge dinner salad :

The sweet glaze on the pecans eliminated any need for a dressing, so this is just tons of shredded carrots (I love shredded carrots), corn cut from the cob, batavia lettuce, diced green onion, raw sesame seeds, and yes, you’re not hallucinating, avocado! As most of you know I tend to avoid avocados because though I LOVE them, they aren’t so very local. When I went to the marché (the outdoor market for you kids playing at home) my usual vendor who never, ever has avocados had a huge bin of them and they were 3 for 2E! Let me tell you folks, that’s muy cheap here in France. I caved and loved every luscious bite!

My Raw Summary for this Tuesday : eating raw once a week has really helped me to be more mindful about all the other crap I eat all week long. I like to pride myself in being a healthy vegan, but let’s face it, cupcakes are not healthy. I also like that it reminds my body what true hunger feels like, as it is not to be confused with “being in the mood” for a cookie or some of that warm baguette I just bought.

Raw Tuesdays & Blogroll Updates

I was more diligent about maintaining my “Raw Tuesdays” commitment than blogging during the last leg of my U.S. visit. I’ve done a few raw meals & snacks before, I must say, I found it to be much easier – and more fun – to organize a day’s worth of raw food with another willing and motivated participant – in this case my younger brother. We had fun looking through recipes the day before, dividing up the prep-work, and our schedules worked out in such a way that we could share our meals.

This is actually a two Tuesdays worth of food, hope you’re hungry!

The pre-run snack : sometimes just a glass of almond milk, or maybe half a Lärabar. I really liked the Key Lime Pie variety, though I didn’t really think it actually tasted like Key Lime Pie!

Post-run breakfast on Raw Tuesdays has been the other half of the Lärabar and fruit or a green smoothie. Here it’s just a simple fruit bowl with a fresh peach, a cup of blueberries, fresh almond milk, and a small handfull of gogi berries (which I’d never had until this trip. I’d never been able to find them where I live). Love them!

The Sun-Dried Tomato Marinara from Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen became one of our favourites, and we found ourselves making on non-raw days, too! We served it over zucchini or summer squash “pasta” which we made with a simple vegetable peeler, and it was really impressive. It had a lot of character and dimension, which was a happy surprise since I was concerned it would just taste like tomato juice! The only thing to watch for with this sort of dish is the “pasta” begins to lose water, so it can get a little sloppy! The weather was running into the 90sF pretty much every day I was in Southern MI and this was a very refreshing dish.

This is the Japanese Miso Soup, also from Ani’s Raw, and it is seriously da bomb! We just devoured this stuff, it was that good. I was more than a little sceptical about what looked like water and mushroom soup, and as we were tasting the broth it pretty much tasted like water and mushrooms. We were trying to figure out a way to amp the flavour, and we added a cucumber which we blended with the broth and voila! It brought things together in a most excellent way! That said, it was, as is often the case with raw dishes, very sort of intense after a while…

This raw Veggie Chili from Gone Raw was a fun sort of experiment. It was good, but really, really rich. I think that if I were try it again I would really finely chop everything, and probably add a little more liquid. We didn’t have any avocados on hand when we made it, and I think that they would have lightened it up. I would also add some fresh corn from the cob, too.

Here is a close-up of one delicious frozen dessert! It was supposed to be made with blackberries, but we only had blueberries and raspberries, so this Walnut Cream Cake with Raspberry Jam is only slightly adapted from Gone Raw. We were using desserts more as our 4 o’clock snack (ou notre quatre heures pour nos amis francophones) and for a post-dinner snack (which I never, ever do, but on these raw days I find that I’m rather starving before going to bed).

My general feeling about my Raw Tuesdays so far is that it takes a huge amount of planning (because of soaking, maranades, etc.) and that’s a little bit of a downer (this is coming from someone who makes  & bakes most everything from scratch, and is accostomed to planning balanced meals). I find that I’m pretty hungry at random times, but that’s pretty normal since I’m eating a little less in calories, but the big downer is hitting around 5pmish when I feel very fatigued and am starving. I don’t generally eat dinner until 7 or 8pm, so I have been trying to have a larger snack at 4pm to fight this. Either way, it’s a great experience, an exercise in discipline, and it’s fun!

As for my blogroll goes, it is desperately in need of an update, and I know that there are many blogs which I visit regularly that aren’t rubbing elbows with the others on the list. Please feel free to drop me an email or a comment if you don’t see yours up there and I’ll add it post haste!

Raw Tuesdays…on Thursday & a question for my dear Vegan friends…

Raw Tuesday went down as planned, though not blogged, but I *am* on vacation and I needed to get that Daring Bakers post up yesterday, so here is this week’s installment of Raw Tuesdays on, well, Thursday!

Breakfast was yet another post-run green smoothie. I will take a picture of one of those things eventually (I should be able to since I drink one pretty much every morning!). My two most popular choices are 1) almond milk, a banana, a large, cored apple added to a blender of loosely-packed spinach or 2) a banana, a cup of fresh blueberries or strawberries, and apple juice or almond milk with spinach. Yum! Depending on how hard my morning run was or how busy I am, I sometimes find myself needing a snack mid-morning. I caved to my inner-consumer and did buy a few of these:

In my defense, I don’t have a food processor here, so I can’t make these, which are a billion times less expensive and just as yum! Often what I’ll do is have about a half a bar before a run and the other half as a 10ish snacky-poo.

For lunch we had the “Baja Cheeze Burrito with Taco Nut Meat and Red Pepper Corn Salsa” from Ani’s Raw Kitchen. We were “supposed” to eat them wrapped in cabbage leaves, but we used collards, because we’re punk rock like that. While I didn’t manage to remember to snap a pic at lunch, I did remember to take a picture of our dinner, which was our left-overs served over salad rather than as wrap :

This is a crappy picture, and I’m sorry, but if you look carefully you can see the globs of green Baja Cheeze, Nut Taco Meat Romaine boats sitting on the spinach, and the Red Pepper Corn Salsa piled on in the middle. We mostly liked this trio. The salsa was fun because corn cut fresh from the cob is always a good thing, and the Baja Cheeze was very yummy, but a little rich. We really liked the Taco Nut Meat, but found ourselves mixing it with extra tomatoes and spinach to lighten it up a little. There is a very similar taco meat recipe to the one we used here over at Jen’s Fuel section (and while you’re there, check out her many other offerings!).

After lunch we made up a batch of “Cashew Coconut Pudding” to snack on with some fruit :

We made up a big fruit salad with watermelon, blueberries, bananas and gogi berries and served it up with the pudding. The pudding recipe made a huge amount, and we were able to snack on it for a few days, which is always a good thing. It’s really just cashews, water, dates & shredded coconut all whirled together, but it’s yummy!

What we’ve noticed as we’re trying to eat more and more raw meals and snacks is that it does require a bit of planning, but also how expensive the nuts and dried fruits are. I know that we’re in the midst of a global food crisis and that food prices have gone up as much as 85% on certain items, but I was surprised to see foods here in the U.S. nearly as expensive as in Europe!

Now for a little question : What is your favourite Raw Foods book? I am hoping to buy one more Raw foods book before I leave for home, and would love some suggestions! The only thing is I don’t have a dehydrator, so a book that’s reliant on dehydrators won’t really work for me. I would love some feedback, so feel free to leave a comment or email me!

Raw Tuesdays!

I think it would be really great if I could manage one raw day a week, don’t you? Like most health-minded kids, I try to incorporate as much raw food into my diet, but I would like to take it to the next level : beyond that of an almost daily smoothie, crudités before dinner, and fruit for snack. The heat and humidity certainly make eating fresh raw fruits and veggies only for an entire day rather appealing, and since my dashing & witty younger vegetarian brother who I am visiting was game for this little challenge, soit! (So be it). Let’s have Raw Tuesdays kids!

Not having a huge amount of experience with Raw Cuisine (I’d qualify myself as “raw curious”), and not having access to libraries or bookstores with Raw recipe books aplenty, I asked two ultra-lovely Raw Cuisine enthusiasts Veggie Girl and Jen the Veg*Triathlete of Fuled By Plants if they had any suggestions for a future book purchase. They both kindly provided a few titles and a little commentary on their suggestions (Thanks ladies! you are super-cool!). While I did mention that I was looking for a Raw book that wasn’t dehydrator-dependant, I didn’t give any other criteria.

Both of these beautiful bloggers mentioned Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen as a good place to start (they did mention others, which I hope someday to acquire). I was in a bookstore 24 hours after getting off the plane (no, I don’t have a book problem) and was ready to get raw with Ani (in a rated G kinda way you dirty freaks). I won’t go into a long review of this book as they are all over the vegosphere, but I will say that if you can get past the photos of Phyo jaunting about on nearly every freaking page, this is a great book. You can make the majority of the recipes with little or no special equipment (assuming you have a powerful blender and/or food processor). I get a little peeved when food authors have a budget for photos but in lieu of showing us food, we’re forced to look at some sort of photo shoot gone wrong.

For our first Raw Tuesday we began the day with these:

Comprised mostly of ground flax seeds, both Brotherfish & I found them to be really yummy, for like four bites, then they seemed really intense. Thick. We decided that the serving sizes were maybe a little askew and had our leftovers the next day for breakfast, but halved, and coupled with lots of fresh fruit was very good.

For lunch we had the Spanish Scramble. I have no picture of this because I totally forgot to take one. But if you want, you can watch Phyo making Spanish Scramble :

Rather than serving it on a bed of spinach leaves, we ate it rolled up in fresh collard greens. It was pretty yummy, though I think next time I will serve it with lots of fresh tomato and cucumber slices to lighten it up a little.

We also made the Fresh Mango Cobbler and it was freaking amazing! Loved it! Even the not even a little health-conscious members of my family loved it. Like most raw desserts it reminded me of “dough”, but in a really good way.

Our first Raw Tuesday was lots of fun! I do speed work on Tuesday mornings (running, not race car driving), and I run first thing in the morning. I drank a big glass of almond milk before I went, and I felt fine.