Friday, July 31, 2009

Little light bulbs

I can't believe I've never had these before. Don't they look like little light bulbs? My son and I think so.

They're actually pear tomatoes, named for their pear-like shape and color. One of my co-workers was nice enough to bring some of her surplus to work the other day to share.

Of course, I just had to take a photo to show all of you. They're just too cute :-)


By the way, don't forgot to vote for your favorite raw nominees in the 2009 VeggieAwards. Polls close at midnight tonight.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A raw baby shower?

Wouldn't that be wonderful? Mine wasn't all raw, but I was happy to find that my mom and sisters took it into consideration when planning the menu.

There were lots of raw veggies with fresh guacamole, tomato salsa and mango salsa, as well as bowls of summery fruits. They even remembered to get cherries, my biggest craving while pregnant with my son.

As for the cake and cookies, they were truly baked, but still a joy to see. Knowing my love of anything cupcake (I actually had a tier of cupcakes, as part of my wedding cake, prior to the trend), there were raspberry-filled vanilla cupcakes beautifully displayed on a tiered cake stand, which was topped with a mini chocolate cake (my mom made the cakes) and surrounded in a sea of onesie-shaped cookies.

I was so impressed with the cookies that I posted a pic of one in my last post and even challenged myself to make a raw version. As you can see, I think I succeeded (although I could've done better if I took my time).

Since the baked cookies were thick and soft, like cake, I opted to make my raw version similar to my raw cupcakes. I quickly made a flour out of a combination of raw nuts I had onhand and whipped up a simple cupcake batter.

I divided the batter in half, using the first portion to form a onsie-shaped cookie. Then, I put the cookie in the dehydrator to crisp a bit, while I shaped the other half into a cupcake.

Rather than filling the cake with a raspberry jelly (like the one I made for these jelly-filled donuts), I decided to keep it fresh with just a single strawberry. I figured it would be a nice surprise to find inside.

I iced the finished cupcake with a pink-tinted raw whipped icing (the same one I use for the majority of my cupcakes) and sprinkled it with some coconut flakes. Then, I topped it all off with the baby decoration used on the cake at my shower. Jacob just had to bring it home with us.

Once the cookie had "baked" a bit on the outside (I felt it important to keep it soft in the middle, like the original), I gave it a smooth coat of raw icing and decorated to look similar to the cookie from my shower. The results were so cute, I just had to share it with you.

Speaking of sharing, here is the recipe I used for the cake/cookie. Have fun trying it at home, whether it be for a truly raw shower or perhaps just to satisfy a sweet craving.

Raw Vanilla Cookie/Cupcake
1/2 cup almonds, ground into flour
1/4 cup cashews, ground into flour
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, ground into flour
1/4 cup coconut flakes, ground into flour
1/8 cup date paste
dash of vanilla
pinch of sea salt
*raw whipped icing for decorating
*more coconut flakes for sprinkling on top

*fresh strawberry or other surprise filling

In a small bowl, combine the nut flours and sea salt. Stir with a whisk or use an electric mixer.

Next, add the date paste and a touch of vanilla. Whisk/mix to combine. The batter should be moist, but not so damp that it requires "baking" in a dehydrator (although you could if you desire).

Divide the batter in half to make two cupcakes, two cookies or a cupcake and a cookie (you could also make more mini versions instead). Form them into the appropriate shapes, and decorate to your hearts content.


So, on a side note, I was wondering if anyone out there has had an entirely raw shower (I bet Helen from NaturalZing did, complete with some yummy raw pies for dessert). If so, what was on your menu?

Also, in case you forgot, make sure you vote for your favorite raw nominees in the 2009 VeggieAwards. Polls close at midnight on July 31.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hayden wants Raw Food Right Now

Ever since I received Heidi and Justin's latest Raw Food Right Now e-newsletter, I'd been craving their Strawberry Spinach Salad. And, when I visited their blog post with the strawberry spinach smoothie, Hayden made it very clear she wanted to try their "raw food right now."

It must have been the spinach for iron (those greens really have kept my iron levels in tip-top shape) or the strawberries for the folic acid and vitamin C (actually, I read somewhere that strawberries are one of the best foods to eat in the last trimester), or perhaps the yummy dressing (much better than the bottled stuff). But whatever it was, we (Hayden and I) had to have it asap.

Can you blame us? Just look at the results close up, although I did make a few modifications. Traditional strawberry spinach salad for me always had mushrooms, so I added a few, as well as some fresh-from-the-garden blackberries for color and flavor (they're in season around here, so a lady from my church was nice enough to share hers).

This would have been the perfect dish to have brought to the potluck last weekend (except for the fact that I ate the entire thing myself in one sitting). I'll have to keep it in mind for the next one.

I hope Heidi and Justin don't mind if I share the recipe, since it was free in their newsletter. I highly recommend signing up for future additions, if you haven't already. So, here it is:

Heidi & Justin's Strawberry Spinach Salad
Salad Ingredients:
1 lb. of strawberries
4 cups baby spinach
2 cups other leafy greens (arugula, romaine, red leaf, mache')
1/2 red onion, diced
1 Tbsp bee pollen (for garnish - optional)
black pepper

Dressing (this makes a lot, but lasts 2-3 days in the fridge):
This dressing was inspired by our friend, the lovely Tanja Andrews.
1 cup soaked cashews (I used a mix of cashews and macadamia nuts)
1/2 cup spring water or the highest quality water you can find
1/4 cup honey, agave nectar, or sweetener of your choice
1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
2 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp mustard powder
1Tbsp poppy seeds
Dash of himalayan salt

Blend all dressing ingredients except poppy seeds in a blender on high until creamy. Add poppy seeds, and blend on low just to mix them up.

Pour dressing over salad and serve immediately. This salad is perfect for picnics, or just sitting outside with someone you love.

Speaking of those you love, I just adore this baby onesie cookie my mom's neighbor/family friend made for my baby shower last weekend. She is amazingly talented. I wonder if I could make a raw version. Maybe if I feel up to the challenge, I'll give it a try :-)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Getting ready for baby

It won't be long and I'll be able to hold my sweet bundle of joy in my arms. In the meantime, it seems as though I have a million things left to do to get ready. But, thanks to some loving friends and family, I've had some help.

For instance, I had my baby shower last weekend, where I received many of the items I still needed to care for my little one (thanks everyone). And, to make it extra special, some of the attendees also personalized a few of these necessities (specifically onesies and burp cloths/blankets) for Hayden.

As you can see in these pics, she is going to look very artistic, like a little work of art.

Jacob is especially proud of his creations, like the very colorful "Baby" onesie and the one with the giraffe on the front (he had purchased her a stuffed giraffe a couple months ago on his school field trip to the Smithsonian). He just had to share them with all of you.

During the week, he also insisted we paint a couple more onesies for his sister. He came up with the "This is my heart" design, and added another surprise heart on her bottom.

He inspired me to paint a vine-like pattern across the back of the onesie I was working on, as well. Hoping that she'll take after me, I decided to write "Natural Born Veggie Connoisseur" across the front.

I feel like I've already given her a good start. We'll just have to wait and see if she still craves her veggies once she's out.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The social scene

Since becoming pregnant again, I've kind of withdrawn from the raw social scene. I started to wonder if I'd ever make it to any raw events ever again.

Luckily, my good buddy Rawbin invited me to a raw food potluck over the weekend, where I got a chance to hang out with other like-minded individuals and visit with some raw friends.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay long, but for good reason. I had to make sure I left on time to make it to my baby shower. That's right; the big day is quickly approaching.

I had only planned on dropping by for about an hour, so I didn't bring anything with me. To my surprise, I ended up sticking around for nearly three times that (don't worry; I was only about 15 minutes late to my sioree).

During that time, I did start to get a bit hungry. I mean, hey, a pregnant girl has got to eat, right?

But, it didn't feel right to go through the line when I had not properly contributed to the bounty. So, I opted to instead take some photos to visually remember the event.

Lucky for me, there were a few individuals who weren't about to let me refuse a bite or two of their creations. For instance, I had to try the cabbage salad Rawbin's sister made with fresh cabbage from her garden (you can't beat the homegrown stuff, like Jacob's green beans). I also couldn't pass up a small serving of the kale salad (my biggest pregnancy craving), as well as a taste of the raw sweet potato salad everyone was raving about.

And, don't forget about dessert. There is no excuse good enough to pass up a slice of one of Jeff's (a.k.a. Chef Bliss) pies. This one was strawberry, which reminded me of Hayden (the little girl in my belly, just waiting to come out). It must have been the pretty pink color.

I also made sure to save room for a slice of Arianna's "piano pie," recognizable by the treble clef on top. I was flattered to find out that she has been inspired by my dessert recipes, and I was even more impressed by hers. I'm so glad I got the last slice, even if I had to share it.

Now, as much as I'd love to fill you in more on the event, I decided to give you a photo summary instead. I've been busy writing thank you cards to all the guests at my shower, so now my brain is a little fried. At least I'm happy to report that they're all done. I just need to address/mail or hand deliver them.

So, here are some pics from the potluck. Enjoy!

It is tradition for Rawbin and I to get a pic together, as well as with Jeff from NaturalZing. Remember this one and that one?

Here are some shots of the yummy spread and those enjoying it:

Here's what I ate:

Now that's a happy ending :-)

By the way, it's my wedding anniversary today. I'm celebrating 8 years of wedded bliss. Happy anniversary, sweetie!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jacob and the Bean Stalk

I don't know how it happened, but Jacob has become quite the little nature boy. He loves to be outside, go camping on Paw Paw's back porch (he and his cousins are planning to camp out with Nana in her gazebo tomorrow night) and has even redesigned his bedroom with an outdoor theme.

His new room is painted blue like the sky, with stars and a moon that light up at night. He even has a wooden bunk bed, covered in organic cotton critter bedding (he refers to the little forest animals on it as critters) and a bed tent.

Jacob just loves climbing up and down the ladder, practicing getting in and out of his top bunk. As his mommy, it sometimes makes me nervous, but I'm still proud to see him growing up.

Speaking of growing, he even managed to grow some green beans on our front porch, with a bit of help from Paw Paw. Here's a picture of what we picked yesterday. His thumb is definitely greener than mine :-)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mix and match recipes

The simplest and most economical way to conquer a variety of recipes from a new uncookbook at once is to mix and match. Select the flavors that appeal to you the most and serve them up to suit your tastes and needs.

For instance, I mentioned in my last post that I recently picked up a copy of Sarma's "Living Raw Food." Rather than being overwhelmed with the more complicated dishes in the second half of the book, I selected one that was easier than it looked and used elements from it to plan more menus.

For some reason, I found myself drawn to the King Oyster Mushroom "Calamari," which reminded me of the "fried" zucchini and onion rings I have made in the past. Although impressive looking, they are really quite easy.

The ingredients are found in most grocery stores, such as the EVOO, lemon juice, sea salt, flaxseed, herbs and spices. And, if you can't find the oyster mushrooms, you can always substitute with another mushroom.

The recipe only appears to be difficult due to its three parts. Once you've made the "calamari," you'll need to make the two dipping sauces, as well. They include tarter sauce and cocktail sauce, but I'm sure they'd be great with just the your favorite of the two.

If you have to pick just one, cocktail sauce is probably the way to go, since it, too, contains basic grocery store finds. Also, if you make more than you need, it can be transformed into a yummy salsa or marinara. Just make sure you add the horseradish last and only to the amount you've designated as cocktail sauce.

I hope to use my extra sauce to top some zucchini noodles (yes, I've dusted off my spiral slicer again), or perhaps, if I'm feeling rather adventurous, I might try making the ravioli pasta from the book's Chanterelle and Kalamata Olive Ravioli recipe. I'd probably stuff them with a mix of pesto and leftover mushroom pieces (from making the "calamari," of course) and serve them with a tomato-based sauce (the extra cocktail sauce based, sweetened with a little agave and Italianized with some added garlic, basil and oregano). Yum!

Lucky for me, I had some raw macadamia nuts for the base of the tarter sauce, which is similar to the dill mayo used in the book's cole slaw. The slaw is usually served alongside the BBQ Skewers, but since I had some shredded cabbage and carrot, I opted to make some anyway. I thought it would go well with the "calamari," and boy, was I right :-)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Back to basics

From time to time, the Barefoot Contessa will do a "Back to Basics" show, where she makes classic recipes with a subtle tweak. For instance, she once made a traditional French potato leek soup by roasting the potatoes and the leeks first to make it extra special.

So, why am I posting about roasting on a raw site? Although you can mock "roast" raw veggies in a dehydrator, this post has nothing to do with roasting after all. In fact, this basic recipe is about as simple as it gets.

There's just something comforting about getting back to the basics. They never get old, like the classic kale salad most raw foodies know all too well. It's usually one of the first recipes to perfect, is included on most raw menus (Java Green has a really yummy one; I think it has mango in it) and can be found at just about any raw potluck.

The best part about kale salad is its simplicity. Just fill a bowl with some kale, avocado, tomato, lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and a bit of cayenne to taste. Then, use your hands to massage it into an almost cooked-like consistency. It's the original scrunch and munch.

The other day I had a craving for this basic bowl of greens, but decided to jazz it up a bit with a little carrot, some kalamata olives, a hint of garlic and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. That really hit the spot.

While preparing for the baby to arrive (as well as once she gets here), I'm definitely focusing on making easier meals that require less time in the kitchen, so this one truly fit the bill.

And, lucky for me, Sarma looks to be simplifying some dishes, as well.

You see, I came across her new book, "Living Raw Food," at the store this past weekend and decided to salivate over all the dishes I wouldn't have time to be making myself (the food photos in this and her previous book are amazing). To my surprise, the first half of the book is dedicated to quick and easy recipes, while still leaving the second half for more elaborate cuisine.

My favorite raw food books have always been the ones that provide recipes from restaurants and places I'd love to go. I can flip through the pages and let the photos/text whisk me away to these locations without ever really leaving my house.

It is especially nice when I can take the time to recreate these tastes in my own kitchen, like when I attempted to make Pure Food and Wine's Mallomars (thanks to my buddy Rawbin, I actually got to try a real one). Even better is when I actually have the recipe.

Obviously, with the baby on the way, I won't be going to Pure Food and Wine any time soon, so hopefully I can satisfy my cravings with the pages from this book. Don't worry; I won't eat the pages, but perhaps the food inspired by them.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

For July 4 and a whole lot more

Happy Fourth of July everyone. Hope you're having a good one.

So far, I started out my morning with a breakfast smoothie inspired by my raw friend, Blaq Berry, who recently posted her Morning Spice Smoothie on her website. Although she blogged about it on June 30th, I haven't had an opportunity to try it until now.

As you'll notice, hers is much more photogenic than mine, especially since I added greens (a pregnant girl has to have her greens; my doctor says my consumption of them has helped keep my iron level in check). Also, her sprinkling of cinnamon is definitely better incorporated than the little ant hill-like piles on top of my sludgy version (hey, at least it still tasted good; that's what really counts).

In the end, I was lucky enough to get a photo at all. I've been having some camera issues, which made it almost impossible to get any shots while on our mini beach vacation this past week (that's what took me so long to blog again and test out Blaq Berry's creation). I guess it's time for a new one.

For now, here are some more blast from the past photos to give you some raw food ideas for today or any day this summer.

Just because you're raw, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy a good veggie burger. I like to make Cafe Gratitude's "I Am Cheerful" Sun Burgers and serve them on sesame-topped portobello mushroom buns.

You can also opt for a raw hot dog. In the past, I opted to coat them in a raw corn bread mixture (sorry, I can't remember what I used in the recipe) to make these mock corn dogs.

If you don't have time to dehydrate burgers and hot dogs, there's always a banana dog on a romaine bun, paired with my son's favorite pear fries.

If curly is more your style, use a spiral slicer to form these yellow squash fries to go with a zucchini "quick bread" pizza.

Also, you can never go wrong with a festive slaw recipe, followed by a red, white and blue banana-based sundae. When you use these three colors, you can't help but feel like a part of the celebration :-)