Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Raw Avocado and Nectarine Pizza

How have you been? What have you been up to? Things have felt a little crazy around here. I haven't been taking the best care of myself lately. Working long days. Worrying late into the night. Walking too much on my still-sore ankle. And forgetting the importance of deep breaths and down time.

The one thing I have been doing right this week is... this pizza. This pizza reminded me of the power of good food and how a good lunch is always made better by chewing slowly, eating with others, and laughter. This pizza is absolutely beautiful and delicious. I happened to have an abundance of nectarines (never a bad thing) and have been experimenting with new ways to use 'em.

I'm sure someone out there is thinking that fruit on pizza is weird. But, it's all about perspective. And maybe it's time we got a new perspective, at least, on pizza. Who knows where it might take us.


I'm not going to lie... this can be a labor-intensive pizza. But, once you've invested the time into making the crusts, sauce, and chopping the toppings, it's easy from there. Besides, we all could use a little more time in the kitchen and a little less at our computer.

Pesto:
1 cup de-stemmed basil
1/4 cup walnuts
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

Combine the basil, nuts, and garlic in a food processor and process until it forms a course paste. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady drizzle and continue to process until it becomes a smooth texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This makes roughly 1/2 cup of pesto, which is more than enough for the 8 pizzas.

Marinated onions:
Cut 1 red onion into thin slices. Place in a glass jar or container. Then fill with the apple cider vinegar marinade: 1 part apple cider vinegar to 1 part water. Let them marinate overnight. They will keep for about a week or so in the fridge.

Raw Flax Crust: From The Raw 50 by Carol Alt, this makes 8 crusts

1 cup golden flax seeds
1 cup water
2 cups raw almonds, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Grind the flax seeds finely in a spice or coffee grinder. Soak the ground seeds in the water until it is completely absorbed, stirring occasionally (this should take about 2 hours). Place the soaked flax seeds in a food processor and add the almonds, onion, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Process until the mixture is finely ground and well mixed.

Roll the dough in your hands to form 8 balls of equal size. Once the balls are rolled, flatten them evenly with the palm of your hand.

Place the pizza breads on a Teflex-lined dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 115 degrees F for 4 hours. Then flip the breads over onto the dehydrator trays and remove the Teflex liners. Continue to dehydrate for another 4 hours, or until done. You can make bigger pizza breads, which will take longer to dehydrate.

Other ingredients:
a couple of nectarines
a couple of avocados
fresh herbs for garnish (basil or dill are nice)

Assembly:
Take your pizza crust and top with a layer of pesto. Slice up your avocado and nectarines and assemble on top. I used about a 1/4 of avocado and 1/2 a nectarine per pizza. Garnish with a few marinated onions and a pinch of fresh herbs.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Raw Caramel and Fudge Brownies


Yes, hi... I'm sorry, I'm that lady next door. You know, the one that uses her food processor at 10 pm at night to make raw desserts? The one that wakes you up every morning with the sound of a Vitamix blender? The one that you see with bags of greens and always you wonder how a person can eat all that in a week? Oh, and yes, the one that takes all those weird pictures of food on her porch? Yep, it's me. My apologies.

If you could only know what I am over here making then I'm sure the processor wouldn't bother you. In fact, feel free to stop on by sometime for a raw brownie. I plan to have a lot more of these hanging around nowadays. :)

These brownies are very rich so a small portion is more than enough for dessert. If you know that you can't be trusted to have these sitting around the house, make a plan for dinner guests or, better yet, give them away to your neighbors. With these, you are bound to make some new friends.

The fudge layer was inspired by a recipe for chocolate oil in Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis. If you haven't seen this book, I highly recommend it. The recipes come from her restaurant, Pure Food and Wine, in New York. This book is one of my favorites because it is filled with full-page colorful photos. I guarantee it will inspire you to make some raw food of your own. (Especially some dessert!)


Serves 4.

Caramel:
1 cup pitted soft dates
1 cup cashews, soaked (for about an hour)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Fudge:
2 Tbs coconut butter/oil
1 heaping Tbs raw cocoa powder (carob may be used instead)
1 Tbs raw agave syrup
4 pitted soft dates
Pinch of sea salt

Chopped walnuts (optional)

Add the dates, cashews, and vanilla extract to a food processor. Using the S blade, process until smooth. You will need a small glass bakeware pan. Add the caramel mixture to the pan and make a flat layer about 1/2 inch thick.

Next, add the coconut butter/oil, cocoa powder, agave, dates, and salt to the food processor. Process until smooth. Add this on top of the caramel and make a flat layer. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts (if using) over the top. Put in the fridge for several hours to firm up. Remove from fridge and slice into squares just before serving. (If they are sitting out and start to soften up, just place them back in the fridge.) These can be stored in the fridge for several days.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Raw Zucchini Pasta with Pesto


I received two pounds of basil in my CSA box last week. Logically, there was only one thing to do with it: make pesto. It took forever to de-stem that much basil, but the prepwork is one of those repetitive kitchen tasks that I don't mind doing. And I always love the end result... that sweet basil smell that lingers in the kitchen for a few hours afterward. It smells like home.

Maybe your home doesn't smell like basil at the moment, but it could. Regardless of whether you actually make pesto or not, you can look forward to a lot more pesto on this blog in the coming months. And if you're not a big pesto fan? Ironically, I'm not either. Don't worry, we're in this together. We'll figure something out.

Zucchini pasta is such an easy raw dish that there's no reason to be intimidated by it. If you don't have a spiralizer to make the long pasta noodles from the zucchini, throw it in the food processor for shorter strips - similar to a raw penne. Then, just toss with the sauce and go. Once you prep the sauce and the noodles, the assembly is minimal, making it a great dish for a dinner party or easy leftovers for packing a lunch.

If the tomatoes don't do it for you, you can easily throw in any other summer fruit or vegetable - fresh peas, carrots, sliced beets, avocado, or fresh peaches are all delicious with this. I love fresh tomatoes so I've been looking for any excuse to use 'em, but feel free to mix and match to suit your tastes!

Serves 4

4 zucchini (another summer squash may be substituted as well)
1 pound cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Pesto:
2 cups de-stemmed basil
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

Combine the basil, nuts, and garlic in a food processor and process until it forms a course paste. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady drizzle and continue to process until it becomes a smooth texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This makes roughly 1 cup of pesto.

Make the zucchini pasta with a spiralizer or process into julienne strips using your food processor. Mix with about a half cup of the pesto - you can add more or less to suit your tastes. Top with the cherry tomatoes and finish off with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fava Bean and Tomato Salad


Fava beans, huh? What the heck are fava beans? A few weeks ago I had never even heard of fava beans. That all changed when these little beauties showed up in my CSA box.

Fava beans are the craziest things. If you've never seen one, I have to say that they are amazing. These beans are around 7 inches long. And the inside of the pod is soft and smooth to the touch. It's not what I expected to find in there. Even weirder, it doesn't stop at the inside of the pod. The actual bean has another layer of skin that has to be removed. It's very well-designed.


You can find fava beans at the local farmer's market or at PCC. They are a bit of a process to cook so don't say that I didn't warn you on that one. And, they have a very distinctive fava bean-like taste. There's no way for me to really describe it to you -- you just have to try one.

If you're ready to embark on the adventure of cooking your own, I suggest you check out this video: How to Cook Fava Beans It's a great h0w-to and it shows you step-by-step. Even though they are a bit of work, that beautiful green bean is worth it in the end. And, once you've cooked the beans, this salad can be thrown together in a matter of minutes.


Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked fresh fava beans (I found that it takes about 1 pound of fava beans to get 1 cup of the actual bean/seed inside.)
1/2 onion, diced
2 Tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium radish, minced
Salt to taste

Once your fava beans have been cooked and cooled, gently mix them with the onion, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, and radish. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and add salt to taste.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summertime Classic Potato Salad

It's just not a summer without potato salad. There are a million recipes out there for potato salad too - ones with tempeh, soy bacon, apple cider vinegar, and lots of other fun additions. I decided to make the "classic" version. Ok, I admit, it's not the healthiest thing for you with the vegan mayo and all, but, it's also not the worst. It is summer after all. Let's live it up.

The first time I made this was a few months ago on the morning of Ashley's graduation ceremony. I thought it might be fun to have for lunch when we came home. I have to tell you that this was so good that I stood there at the counter eating it, which a) left only a little bit for later and b) made me a little late to the ceremony (eek!). Oh well, now you have the recipe to make your own excuses for being late.

Serves 2

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 1/2 cups of red potatoes cut into quarters
2 Tbs dijon mustard
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup chopped celery
1 tsp dry dill
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt, pepper, and paprika to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil and place the potatoes in the water. Cook them until they are soft, but not mushy (about 10 minutes or so). Check on them frequently so they do not overcook. When they are done, drain them in a colander and run them under cool water to stop the cooking process.

While the potatoes are cooking, chop your celery and onion. Mix the mayo, mustard, dill, and garlic powder together. Mix this with the celery and onion. Once the potatoes have cooled, mix them with the rest of the ingredients. Top with salt, pepper, and paprika to taste.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Raw Zucchini Pasta with Carrot-Cashew Creme Sauce


I thought it might be fun to make a raw Italian-inspired dish this weekend to celebrate the opening of Eat Pray Love. Of course, I know this is nothing like what Elizabeth Gilbert ate during her stay in Rome, but it is a delicious, creamy dish with all the comfort-food feeling of a bowl of pasta. I have to say (as a true Eat Pray Love fan) that the movie is worth seeing, but the book is way better. What I love most about Liz's story is how much she has inspired others to dream big, take risks, and follow their own path of what is right. I think sometimes we get so caught up in everything we think we should do that we forget what we want to do and are too afraid to try.

One of my friends is moving to Tokyo for the next year. Wow. I can't imagine moving to a country where I don't speak the language and have no experience with the culture. April, you are such an inspiration to us all. May you always keep your adventurous spirit and remind the rest of us that we can do whatever we set out to.

So, whether you are traveling around the world this year or choosing to stay home and cherish time with friends and family, I hope you always take the time to enjoy some delicious food and hopefully this dish as well. Zucchini noodles are an easy place to start if you are new to raw foods or still learning. A spiralizer is great for making long strands of zucchini pasta, but you can easily use a food processor to slice the zucchini into julienne ("matchstick") strips.

If you don't like zucchini, feel free to use this sauce over other items -- raw kelp noodles, whole-wheat or brown rice pasta, quinoa, or rice. You can even lightly heat the sauce in a pan for a few minutes and serve warm. Either way, the cashews make it a very creamy, non-dairy alternative to typical "cream" sauces.


Serves 2.

Sauce:
1/2 cup fresh carrot juice
1 cup raw cashews
1 garlic clove
1 Tablespoon white or yellow miso
2 sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
1 fresh roma tomato (optional)

4 medium zucchini
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
2 green onions, chopped
fresh basil

Make the zucchini pasta (if using) with a spiralizer or cut into julienne strips.

Juice your carrots to make 1/2 cup of fresh carrot juice. Add carrot juice, cashews, garlic, miso, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh tomato to a blender or food processor. Blend on high until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Plate the zucchini and top with the peas. Pour the sauce over and garnish with green onions and fresh basil.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Carrot, Cabbage, and Beet Slaw


It's August. The sun is out and the weather is only going to get warmer this weekend. This can only mean one thing: it's picnic season. Get out there people.

Here's my little contribution to your picnic. I adapted this recipe from Cherie Calbom's class and added in some beets. The result is a beautiful rainbow-colored salad that tastes just like summer. Enjoy!


Salad:
3 medium carrots, grated
3 cups coarsely shredded green cabbage
3 cups coarsely shredded purple cabbage
1 beet, fined sliced into strips
1 cup minced purple onion
2 teaspoons dill weed

Dressing:
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 cups vegenaise (I was pretty stringy in my batch and only added about half this amount.)
1 tablespoon agave

Mix the carrots, cabbage, beet, onion, and dill. Next make the dressing: mix the lemon, vegenaise, and agave. Add the dressing to the salad and mix. Chill until ready to serve. Top with a sprinkle of extra dill, salt, and pepper.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Strawberry and Basil Ice Cream

Ah, strawberries and basil. Two beautiful summer tastes blended together in a dessert. Can it get any better than this? There are a lot of things in your life that could use a little basil. And yes, your ice cream is one of them.

It's okay if you have doubts. You can even mock me if you want. What will she make next... parsley sorbet?!

The secret ingredient in this is the cashew cream infused with basil. I have to admit Ashley was downright disgusted when she saw me blending the soaked cashews with water. It only made things worse when she saw the mixture sitting in the fridge with a giant clump of basil in the middle. I believe I even heard "ewww" escape her mouth more than once. Of course, she quickly changed her mind when she tried a spoonful of the ice cream later on. She even came back begging for more.

I found this recipe on Rawmazing and instantly knew it would be a winner. You can choose to make this raw and use a raw milk of your choice or you can use soy milk like I did in this batch. The beauty of this is that you don't need an ice cream maker! A standard food processor works just fine.

Basil Cream:
  • 2 cups cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • handful fresh basil (1/4 cup packed tightly)
1. Soak the cashews for at least 3 hours (in about 4 cups of water.)
2. Drain cashews and place them in a high-speed blender.
3. Add the 2 cups of water and process until very smooth.
4. Bruise the basil (crush it in your hand to start releasing the oils).
5. Stir into cream, place in container and refrigerate for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
6. Strain (a colander works the best as this is quite thick.)

Ice Cream
  • 2 cups basil cream
  • 1/2 cup milk of your choice (you can use soy or a raw nut milk)
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 2 cup chopped strawberries
1. Blend basil cream, milk, 1 cup of strawberries and agave until smooth.
2. Freeze in a freezer-safe container over night.
3. Cut the frozen mixture into chunks and process in a food processor until smooth. Add the second cup of strawberries at the last minute to give your ice cream a chunky texture.
4. You can then choose to freeze it again for a couple of hours to harden up a bit more or you can serve immediately.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Spelt Berry & Bean Salad


Being on crutches for the last couple of days has been an interesting experience. At first, I felt awkward being out in public. Slowing people down on the sidewalk. Strangers constantly rushing to open doors for me. But, the beauty of this experience is that I got to have many conversations with different people that I would not have normally talked to. I had the opportunity to hear stories of others' injuries, crutches advice (if you wrap a towel around the top it keeps your armpits from getting sore), and answer the casual question of "what happened to your foot?"

Maybe all we need to form true community is an icebreaker - a sprained ankle to ask about, a water cooler to gather around, or a big bowl of spelt berry and bean salad to share at a picnic. I hope this recipe will spark a new conversation for you.


This is perfect as a side dish with another salad, a cold sandwich, or maybe some tempeh. Serves 4.

1/2 cup uncooked spelt berries
1 cup water

1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup cooked black beans
1/2 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 carrot, shredded

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried dill
salt and pepper to taste

First, cook the beans (unless you are using canned). I usually cook mine the night before and let them sit in the fridge so they're already cold.

Next, cook the spelt berries. Add the spelt berries and water to a small pot. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook them until they are tender (but not mushy). If necessary, add a little more water during the cooking process. They usually take about 30-45 minutes. Ideally for a salad, you want them to be soft, but still chewy. When they are finished, drain out any excess water (if necessary), and set aside to cool.

Mix the vegetables and beans together in a bowl. When the spelt berries have cooled, add them in. Next, mix the apple cider vingear, olive oil, basil, dill, and salt and pepper together. Pour this dressing in the bowl and mix everything together. Garnish with some more dried dill or fresh herbs.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Popsicles!

Do you ever have a moment when you are amazed at the Universe's plan for you? A few days ago while reading my favorite new book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I began to realize how much I love lying around the house reading. Of course, who has time for this? There are too many things to clean, too many places to go, and too many foods to cook to be sitting around the house reading. Yesterday morning on the bus I thought to myself how much I enjoy reading and promised myself I would make more time for it. Lo, and behold, the Universe then unfolded its master plan.

Stepping off the bus, I stumbled onto an uneven sidewalk and sprained my ankle. Hel-lo. Several hours later my body made it perfectly clear to me that I would not be cleaning, cooking, or going anywhere. At first, I grumbled to myself. Then, I decided to take on my new attitude. This is an opportunity. A chance to try out crutches and an excuse to sit around more... reading, scrapbooking, ordering take-out. How lucky am I? And, even better, it's a great excuse to eat a popsicle.

Popsicles are the kinds of things that you keep in your freezer for moments just like this. Ideally, it would be warmer outside, but it doesn't have to be. Popsicles can be eaten independent of the weather. Trust me.

The first step to making these tasty little creations? I bought a popsicle mold, but I know that you can make 'em without one. Orangette makes her popsicles in tall shot glasses and those look amazing. Anything can work as a mold. Be creative.

Here are some of my favorite popsicle combinations. You do need a juicer and blender to make these. Each of these should yield approximately 2 popsicles, but it depends on the size of your mold. I encourage you to try a few with the natural sweetness of the fruits, but if this is not sweet enough for your taste, add 1-2 tablespoons of agave.
  • Juice 2 apples + 1 lemon (without the peel) = 2 pink lemonade pops
  • Blend 1 cup fresh carrot juice + 1 cup watermelon chunks = 2 sweet melon pops
  • Juice 2 apples + 1 small piece of red beet (for color) and blend with 1 cup fresh strawberries = 2 red berry pops
  • Juice 2 apples + 4 carrots + 1 small piece of ginger (pinky size) = 2 sweet ginger pops
  • Juice 1 apple + 2 oranges and blend with 1 banana = 2 orange julius pops
And, while I still (hopefully!) have your attention, I have to do a shout-out for The Happiness Project. For anyone looking to change their attitude, increase the fun in their life, or just wanting to read a good book, this one is for you!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Eating Raw in Las Vegas

International Sampler

You'll never guess where I just returned from. Sin City herself... Las Vegas. Okay, it's not what you think. I didn't go there to gamble, elope, or party into the night. I went to visit my grandfather and spend some time with family. My plan was to spend some time by the pool; reading, relaxing, and thinking about food.

What I didn't expect was to come back with such an appreciation for my life. There's nothing like standing in a smoky, chaotic casino to make one appreciate their home in a beautiful, green city. As much as I try, I know that I take things for granted. My next meal. My partner. My job. My apartment. My health. I just assume that those things are going to be there tomorrow. I am very lucky that so far I have been able to count on these things. But, every day brings changes and who knows what will happen later.

the Beet “Cheese” Burger

I share my immense gratitude with you in hopes that it might inspire you to take a vacation and get some distance from your own life for a bit. Of course I wish that I had taken a vacation somewhere so wonderful that I never wanted to leave the place. But, how lucky I am to have wanted so desperately to come back home. For me, that tells me that I am doing everything right in my life. I couldn't have asked for anything more from a trip.

Now, let's talk about food. Being a healthy vegan in Vegas is hard, but doable. I was lucky to have had a full kitchen at my fingertips (and a suitcase large enough to fit my juicer!). Nonetheless, I still ventured out a bit. I was intrigued by the only raw cafe in the state of Nevada: Go Raw Cafe & Juice Bar. There are two locations and I went to the one on the Eastside. They have an entire raw foods menu and salad bar. They also carry packaged raw items (e.g. kale chips & raw bars) as well as a large selection of books and supplements. The next time you find yourself in Vegas, I hope you end up eating as well as I did.

“Salmon” Sushi