Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Conquering 5 in 5

Today I faced my fears head on: 1. overcoming stage fright (or in this case, camera shyness), 2. my clumsiness in the kitchen, 3. lack of demonstration experience (you couldn't pay me to do this in the past), 4. less than adequate video/editing knowledge and 5. the challenge to whip up 5 ingredients into a delicious raw recipe in 5 minutes or less. Well, sort of ...

In my last post, I mentioned the thought of entering the Hot Raw Chef 5 in 5 contest and how I feared the idea of video taping myself. Since then, I decided to conquer that fear and give it a shot. You never know what you're capable of until you try.

Anyway, my attempt happened quite spontaneously when I discovered that my trusty camera had a video function. Was it a sign? I don't know, but I quickly set up all my ingredients on the kitchen table (for my old school favorite quick and easy raw banana split), moved it closer to the electric socket (so I could use the food processor there), positioned my camera on the adjacent counter, hit record and just went for it. The only thing scripted was the required lines at the end that I ended up flubbing anyway. Oops, must have been my nerves.

The final video is slightly longer than intended (it should be 5 minutes or less, but mine is 5 minutes 55 seconds, although I think the actual recipe took 5 minutes). I have no plans of trying it again, so we'll see if it's accepted.

In the end, I mainly was doing this for me (and Hayden, who happily shared the finished recipe with me. Yum!). It's nice to challenge yourself from time to time, as well as those around you. With that in mind, I think my blogging friend Samantha "Rawkin Mom" should also tape her entry. I know she can do it, too :-)

BTW, here are some extra pics of our photo session today. We had fun goofing around for our photographer, who just happened to be my son, Jacob.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Any way you split it

I really must apologize to my readers who primarily visit this blog for the recipes, as I've been focusing on my personal life lately. My food choices have also been a tad bit boring, so I didn't feel the need to post much about them.

But, sometimes when I'm inspired, you can still find a hidden gem here and there, hence today's post. I've been meaning to show you the "rawified" version of this Parent's Magazine banana split pop for quite some time. Finally, I have a reason to share it.

Everything just came together perfectly. A Hot Raw Chef contest had me thinking about my favorite raw 5 in 5 (as in five ingredients in five minutes) recipe I've been whipping up for years.

As a longtime fan of banana-based n'ice cream, I like to make quick and easy raw banana splits in no time flat. I start with the "banilla" (banana-based vanilla n'ice cream, which is my term for nondairy ice cream), then use it as the base for my strawberry, add some cocoa powder, and voila, I have my chocolate. It would be the perfect recipe for the contest, if only I was brave enough to video tape myself making it.

Anyway, this technique also works for "rawifying" the aforementioned Banana Split Pop. Inside a popsicle mold of classic strawberry puree, strawberry n'ice cream, pineapple topping, "banilla" n'ice cream, chocolate sauce and chocolate n'ice cream, hides a frozen banana on a stick. I also added a cherry on top, nestled within the strawberry puree.

In the midst of "rawifying" the Parent's Magazine recipe, I also thought about the Raw Ice Cream Sandwich Challenge going on right now. The neapolitan ice cream slabs are delicious sandwiched between two traditional ice cream sandwich cookies, but they would be even better with the same banana split toppings within the layers. And, instead of hiding the banana (which is already the base of the n'ice creams), I decided to hide the cherry inside the "banilla" layer.

Here's how I made it:

Banilla N'ice Cream: Blend 1 and a half or 2 frozen bananas sliced, a touch of vanilla and some sea salt (there was always salt involved in making the old crank ice cream method) in a food processor until creamy like soft-serve ice cream. Remove a portion of the n'ice cream and put it in a container in the freezer to set.

Strawberry N'ice Cream: To the remaining "banilla," add a handful of chopped frozen strawberries. Process to resemble strawberry ice cream. Remove another portion and allow to set in the freezer while you make the chocolate n'ice cream.

Chocolate N'ice Cream: To the remaining strawberry n'ice cream, add a spoonful of cocoa powder and some more chopped frozen banana slices, if needed. Process into a creamy chocolate soft serve. Allow to set in the freezer while you prep the toppings.

Strawberry Puree: Blend some frozen strawberries in a small personal blender.

Chopped Frozen Pineapple: Duh, need I say more?

Chocolate Sauce: Either combine your favorite liquid sweetener with cocoa powder or make the "ganache" from this "rawified" cupcake recipe (I had some of this in my freezer already, which was easy to slice like fudge).

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies: See my "rawified" Girl Scout Thin Mint recipe, minus the mint and the chocolate coating. I've been known to form the naked (sans the dip in chocolate) dough into traditional rectangular ice cream sandwich cookie shapes, like I did with this raw "n'ice scream sammie" (yup, you read that right) I posted in the past, but today, I took the slacker route. I had both my kids at home (it's officially summer), plus two more I was babysitting. Therefore, I had to improvise in a pinch.

A raw bar always does the trick. Simply cut it in half lengthwise and press it into the desired shape. Due to my use of this product for this post, I guess I don't qualify for the Raw Ice Cream Sandwich Challenge either. Oh well.

Now, for the assembly. I used parchment-lined rectangular containers I had leftover from when Hayden was eating baby food (although I made most of her baby food from scratch, I have to admit to having a few premade containers of organic baby food on hand for emergencies) to act as ice cream molds (you could also use a large ice cube tray). I set them on their sides, stacking the berry puree, followed by the strawberry n'ice cream, pineapple, banilla n'ice cream, chocolate sauce and chocolate n'ice cream. Then, I placed a frozen cherry half in the center of the banilla before allowing it to set in the freezer.

After an hour or so, I removed the n'ice cream from one of the molds and adhered it to the sandwich cookies with some chocolate sauce. Yum! Hayden couldn't wait to sample it.

What's in the wrapper?

It's a frozen treat!

I can't wait to pick that up.

Mmmm ... is that chocolate in there?

Mommy, help me take a bite.

Yup, that's chocolate.


Here, you try some.

I'd continue with the play by play, but it really got messy after that. She likes to eat the middle first, kinda like her mama. Ha ha :-)

Oops. I gotta cut this post short. It's storming outside. Hope it's sunny tomorrow. Good night.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

More girl time

I'm loving all these birthday girls lately; most recently, my cousin's daughter Alyssa (she just turned 1 year old) and my sister Lori. Happy birthday girls!

Hayden wore her cupcake dress to Alyssa's party on Saturday (here's a pic I snapped of Hayden and I in the buffet line mirror. We ended up snacking on veggies, fruit and dark chocolate-dipped berries. Hayden also had pb&j), where we gave her an identical handmade garment (Alyssa was getting worn out by that point, so this is the best shot I could get of her receiving the dress).

Then, we kept the fun going the next day with another girls shopping trip (the girls included my sisters Lori and April, my mom, Hayden and yours truly) in honor of Lori's special day. This time, we had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen, a restaurant I mentioned being veg-friendly in my last post.

Not knowing where and when we were going to eat, I had a huge portion of chocolate avocado pudding with a ton of greens blended in right before I left the house. As a result, I wasn't starving like the others when we got there (thank goodness for the coloring pages and crayons there; Lori enjoyed entertaining Hayden with them), so I kept my order fairly light.

I got the Asparagus & Arugula Salad off the small cravings menu, minus the cheese, please (always make sure to be polite when asking for subtractions, substitutions, etc.), along with the Chocolate Banana Smoothie sans the cream (I must have been on a real chocolate kick, because I kept the chocolate syrup in it, despite the fact that it contained corn syrup; at least I don't do that at home). The server quickly and accurately guessed that I was vegan. Very cool :-)

Hayden had a salad off the kids menu that all of us thought would easily satisfy an adult. I helped her finish some of the extra romaine leaves, so none of them would go to waste. However, she still did a good job of devouring most of it herself. Too cute.

As usual, I made sure they brought out her fruit bowl first. I found it impossible to snap a pic of the grapes and pineapple without her tiny hand in it. Love it!

Anyway, once our bellies were full, we helped Lori pick out some new additions to her summer wardrobe (she got an amazing deal on a Vera Bradley wallet to go with the purses my mom and I gave to her for her birthday; it was already discounted as part of a sale, but then she was able to use a $20 gift card she received as a birthday gift from the company just for being on their mailing list. Can you believe she only paid $9.00 for it?).

She even got two new pairs of shoes, one pair being pink and gray cross trainers to support her feet in a couple of weeks at the annual Relay for Life event. I am so proud of all she does for the cause.

Then, she was surprised when her hubby crashed our event for a bit (he was wasting time while waiting to pick up their son from yet another birthday party). He and Hayden had a good time in the shoe department, too.

I tried my best not to make any frivolous purchases on the trip, but I couldn't help myself when I saw "the dress." It's one of those items you see hanging there in the store and you just know you have to have it. That's what I thought the first time I saw it, although I didn't try it on then. I told myself that, if it went on sale and the store still had my size (and I liked how it fit when I finally tried it on), that the dress would be mine. If not, then it wasn't meant to be.

Looks like it was, because here's a pic of me wearing it, utilizing my mom's bathroom mirror to get the shot. It was the only one left in my size and it was on sale for 40 percent off. So glad I didn't snatch it up impulsively when I first saw it. It was worth the wait. It'll be perfect for a date night next month, when my hubby and I will be celebrating our 10-year wedding anniversary. He likes the dress, too ... on me, of course :-)


Raw, vegan diets
get high rankings

On another note, did anyone see U.S. News & World Report's rankings of 20 popular diets? Check it out; the raw food diet ranks at #3 and the vegan diet is #5.