Monday, December 31, 2007

One lucky me ;-)

I'm so excited because my order from One Lucky Duck just arrived today; I only ordered it on Friday. They never let me down.

I got the basics like some MSM, a probiotic and the usual raw organic coconut butter (love the stuff), as well as Irish moss (an ingredient used frequently in the "I Am Grateful" book I received as a gift for Christmas; I'll probably be posting about what I make from it next year, as if that were so far away).

But, my favorite item is the hoodie I mentioned in a previous post. Made out of organic cotton and hemp, this sweatshirt (which is from HTnaturals, one of my favorite clothing sites) is cute and comfy; I can see why Sarma has been rumored to have been wearing it around lately.

I know I'll be wearing it tonight, as I celebrate the new year at home with my boys (husband and son for those of you who are new to my blog). We plan on playing games, watching movies and snacking on raw foods, as we wait for the ball to drop (my 5-year-old keeps us updated on the amount of time left until the main event; Nickelodeon has a countdown at the top of its screen).

Now, my evening may not seem like as entertaining as NaturalZing's chocolate new year, but I think I can come very close, if not better. I have prepared my own chocolate-themed menu, which my husband promised to sample (all except for the chili; he's never been a fan, cooked or raw) if we stayed in tonight (he gets up before 4 a.m. for work and is quite tired; poor baby).

This is a big deal; my husband is not into the raw thing, although he has tried and liked a raw brownie sundae I made in the past. He also will eat plain raw fruits and veggies, and drink berry (not green) smoothies.

But, tonight, he will be a little more adventurous, tasting the warm corn cakes (from Penni Shelton's site) I'll be serving alongside my raw cacao chili (a recipe I made up tonight that incorporates raw chocolate as a flavor enhancer), orange spiced chocolate macaroons (a recipe modified slightly from Jenny) with and without cherries inside (also Jenny's idea; I thought I'd make finding the surprise cherries inside like a treasure hunt), raw chocolates with cashew coconut cream inside (leftover icing) and mint chocolate brownies. We'll be washing it all down with mint chocolate Teeccino.

If all goes well, I hope this is a step in the right direction to incorporating more raw foods into my family's diet. As part of my new year's resolutions, I'd like to start making one family meal a week entirely raw, like Raw Food Wednesday (but mine would probably be Thursday).

My other resolutions include, increasing my green smoothie consumption (at the moment I'm only at once a day, usually in the a.m.), getting more organized (funny how that one ends up on my list every year), decreasing my use of paper towels (Kristen knows about me and that one) and completing my first raw book (that is, if anyone is still interested). Wish me luck sticking to them. See you next year :-)

I wonder which one has the cherry inside ...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Elvis lives: a wedding recap

The rumors were true. They were married by Elvis, and then he gave us all a show. He even serenaded me (not the best picture ever, but hey, he was on the move). I don't think we ever had this much fun at a wedding.

And, to top it all of, I didn't starve. In fact, I actually ate pretty well. They had a ton of salad (iceberg lettuce, but still a raw veggie), and lucky for me, the guests barely touched the fruit trays at cocktail time. I filled up on both, and my family took extra for me (in exchange, they ate off of my main meal, which was far from raw or vegan).

I also tapped into my secret stash (yes, I did stock my purse, just in case). I had raw veggies and some leftover Santa cookies (which freeze well if you make more than you can eat in a particular time frame; mine are officially gone now). I ate the veggies alongside my salad, and tried to save the cookies for dessert (obviously that didn't happen; not a crumb was left by the time they cut the cake).

It was easy to be discrete about feasting on my own food, since I was seated with my family (who all knew about my eating habits). I didn't have to answer so many questions about my diet, and I don't think anyone outside of them even noticed.

The dim lighting really helped the situation. The room looked like Christmas all over again with decorated trees and other holiday lights.

Unfortunately, it made picture taking a little more difficult. Somehow, I actually got a fairly decent photo of my husband and I, courtesy of my mom. I tried my best to fix the red eye, but gave up in the end. I guess we'll just look like vampires.

Which reminds me. I also have a photo of my family (I won't post it, because they probably wouldn't like it if I did) at the event, where everyone looks like creatures of the night ... well, everyone except me, the "golden child."

My family is always pointing out my unusually tan coloring, but I never really noticed it myself until last night when I was going through the wedding pics. I almost look like I am glowing. I thought about posting the family photo as a "Where's Waldo"-like can you spot the raw foodie in the group thing, but instead, decided to keep this one for personal viewing.

I was just mentioning this (my veggie-based "tan") to Phillip the other day. You really should check out his blog. He is a true inspiration, not to mention a really nice guy. You can also find him on Give It To Me Raw.

Another friend of mine on the site is Jenny (she has a blog, too), who shared her recipe for chocolate macaroons with a surprise cherry on the inside. I plan on making them for my raw chocolate new year.

I got the idea from NaturalZing, which is having a New Year's Eve Chocolate Bash. Here are the details if you're interested:

Date: New Years Eve, Dec. 31, 2007
Time: 7 p.m.-1 a.m.
Location: Spirit Bliss Farm, 1851 Florence Road, Mount Airy, Md. 21771
Donations: $10-30, or bring an organic raw vegan dish to share and should serve 7
Music: one or more acts are scheduled, including a deejay
Drum Circle: weather permitting
Menu: much more than chocolate! veggie tempura, veggie casserole, broccoli slaw, kim chi, tacos, nori rolls ... ice cream pie, smoothies, treats, and more

Call 301-703-4116 ext. 112 for more information.

Since I won't be able to make it, I decided to recreate the experience with my own chocolate celebration. I plan on starting off with some raw chili, enhanced with a little raw cacao, and snacking the rest of the evening on the macaroons and some mint chocolate brownies, a recipe I "rawified" using more leftover raw icing (I make this icing a lot; I also used it to make some candies). I even have some chocolate mint Teeccino to wash it all down.

I'll post more about my chocolate plans, along with my raw resolutions, tomorrow. What are your plans, and what have you resolved for the new year?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Wedding bell blues

Now, I don't want to give you the wrong idea from the title, so I guess I'll have to explain.

Today, my husband and I will be attending the wedding of one of my sister's closest and dearest friends, Kellee. She's been around since her middle school days; she's practically like family. In addition, the bride has been with her husband-to-be (Matt) for a decade (today is also their 10-year anniversary together), so we've all been anxiously awaiting this day for a long time.

There's no doubt in my mind that we'll have a good time. The couple's playful and energetic personalities will definitely shine through in the ceremony and reception. It's also been rumored that an Elvis impersonator will be officiating, as well as providing entertainment following the main event. But, I think he is refraining from getting into character until after the ceremony.

The only concern I have is about the food. Now, most raw foodies have found themselves in this situation on one or more occasions. What do you do? Will they have something you can eat? Should you fill up your belly ahead of time? Bring your own snacks? And, if you do, how do you discretely consume them alongside the rest of the guests?

In the past, I've been lucky to have either found foods on the buffet to suit my diet, ate everyone's salad at my table (they didn't want them, can you believe that?), had more than my share of the fruit and veggie trays (again, these are not very popular with the rest of the crowd), or even had a special plate made for me (when I was actually in the wedding).

Hopefully, one or more of these possibilities will present itself. But, don't expect anything; the bride has enough on her plate to think about what everyone else is going to have on their's ( literally). So, be prepared and pack a raw emergency kit.

Whenever I am going to an event and I'm unsure of the menu, I pack some raw veggies in my purse with some heavier nut-based treats or a raw energy bar. Fortunately, I am a girl and have no problems toting them along in my purse. They are in there just in case I need to resort to them, but if I don't, no one has to know.

Speaking of purses, my hubby got me two for Christmas this year. One is made from recycled billboards and the other is from refurbished tires. I plan to carry the tire one today (the wedding is semi-casual, and most of the guests will be wearing black and other dark colors).

So, did you all miss me yesterday? You can't expect me to blog all the time; you might start taking me for granted. Ha ha. But seriously, every girl needs a day off once in a while, and I spent my evening with my boys (husband and son).

Thanks to everyone who struck up a friendship with me on Give It To Me Raw. I think I have more to respond to, but I had to take care of my blog first (my other baby; it must be the mom in me). I'm off to visit my raw community next ...

But, not until I offer my congrats to the newlyweds and a shout out to my grandmother, whose birthday is today. Best wishes, Kellee and Matt! Happy birthday, Granny!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ask and you shall receive

Since you asked so nicely, I thought I would share these "rough draft" recipes for the cookies I left for Santa. I use the term "rough draft," since I made them up as I went along and never actually wrote them down. I apologize if my memory has failed me and the cookies do not live up to your expectations. But enough excuses, here they are:

I started with a raw version of ginger creams, a recipe that reminds me of my late great-grandmother. My recipe was a mix between this Raw Inspiration cookie and Karen Knowler's gingerbread. Just like how my family makes them, I topped the cookies off with a creamy vanilla icing.

Raw Ginger Creams
1 cup pecans
1 cup dried coconut, ground into flour
1/2 cup flaxseed, ground
1 cup dates, soaked briefly
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. ground ginger (I didn't have any fresh)
dash of sea salt
pumpkin pie spice, to taste (also has ginger in it, but I still added it)
*1/2 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses (optional, but really makes it taste like the real deal)
*raw icing

Put pecans, coconut flour and ground flax in a food processor, and process until combined and pecans are finely ground. Add dates, vanilla, ginger, sea salt, pumpkin pie spice and molasses, and process until a ball of dough forms.

Mold dough into cookie shapes, like little mounds. Dehydrate for a couple hours to firm up the outsides, and then chill in the fridge. Top with raw icing (the one I talked about in this post).


Next up was raw snickerdoodles, a fairly simple recipe my mom makes to satisfy cookie cravings in a hurry. Hers actually contain cake mix. They've become a favorite in the household, as well as with my youngest sister's dance company (she's its president).

Raw Snickerdoodles
2 cups cashews
1 cup dates, soaked briefly
1-2 Tbsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash of sea salt
sprinkling of cinnamon
*a little cream of tartar (optional, but in the baked version)
*lucuma powder and more cinnamon for rolling

Grind cashews finely in a food processor. Add dates, agave, vanilla, sea salt, cinnamon and cream of tartar, and process until a smooth dough forms.

Shape dough into balls, roll them in a mixture of lucuma powder and cinnamon (the original recipe uses cinnamon sugar), and flatten them into round cookie shapes.

Dehydrate just long enough to absorb some of the powder on the outside (like when the sugar granules melt in the oven). Eat fresh from the dehydrator (sometimes I can't wait) or chill them in the refrigerator.


When I was done with the Snickerdoodles, I still lacked confidence in my Russian Tea Cake (my favorite holiday cookie) idea, so I kept my creative juices flowing with a not-so-traditional (although we seem to make something similar every year) chocolate with white chocolate chunk cookie.

Now I learned some lessons with this one. For instance, I first poured the cocoa butter chunks directly into the dough after removing it from the food processor and before forming the dough into cookies. Do not try this at home; the heat from your hands combined with the warm dough will melt the "chips" into odd shapes, which explains the "moldy-looking" effect.

Also, do not try to dehydrate these once the chunks are in the cookies; it will just make the situation worse.

Next time, I'll add the chunks to the cookies after they are formed, and I'll make sure to send them straight into the refrigerator.

Chocolate with White Chocolate Chunks
1 cup mixed raw nuts (I had a bag of mixed ones; use whatever you want)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup prunes and dates, soaked briefly (the prunes seem to produce a richer chocolate)
1-2 Tbsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
dash of sea salt
cayenne pepper and cinnamon, to taste (sounds weird, but it enhances the chocolate flavor)
chopped raw cocoa butter

Grind nuts finely with cocoa powder in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the cocoa butter, and process until a dough forms.

Shape dough into round cookies and press cocoa butter chunks into the tops. Chill until firm.


Last, but not least, I tackled my favorite cookie, the Russian Tea Cake (also known as Mexican Wedding Cakes). I haven't perfected it yet (this was only my first unplanned attempt), but it worked for me this year.

The traditional cookies could be compared to a dense wedding cake, a little donut-like, but nowhere near similar to the usual chewy raw bars/cookies. So, the basic raw cookie recipe would not do.

Instead, I tried to lighten the cashew base (I wanted a light color and subtle flavor) with coconut flour, oats and powdered sweeteners like mesquite and lucuma (the originals are sweetened with powdered sugar). Feel free to play around with the measurements since I am not positive as to what I used in mine.

Russian Raw Cakes
1 cup cashews
1/4 cup coconut, ground into flour
1/4 cup oats, ground into flour (not raw, but nobody's perfect)
1 Tbsp. lucuma powder
1 Tbsp. mesquite powder
1/2 cup dates, soaked briefly
agave nectar, to taste (I'm not really sure if I added it or not)
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of sea salt
*chopped walnuts
*a mixture of lucuma powder and coconut flour for rolling

Put cashews, coconut flour, ground oats, lucuma and mesquite in a food processor, and process until combined and cashews are finely ground. Add dates, agave, vanilla and sea salt, and process until dough forms.

Shape dough into balls, while placing a few chopped walnuts on the inside of each ball (the traditional ones always had some walnut chunks). Roll in lucuma/coconut mixture (instead of powdered sugar; next time I'll use just lucuma and/or mesquite) and chill in the fridge.

All these recipes are made out of what I had in my kitchen at the time. Have fun experimenting with your own ingredients :-)


*On another note, I just joined Give It To Me Raw last night (it's about time; I'm #685). If you haven't become a member yet, you should definitely consider signing up. At the moment, I am still the new girl on the block. Just like in school, I have a small window to increase my popularity. I currently have one friend on the site (thanks Raw B, not to be confused with Rawbin). Anyone else want to be my friend?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday hangover

Does anyone else out there feel like they have a holiday hangover? I'm not talking about the kind caused by too much alcohol-laden eggnog; I mean the feeling you wake up with after all this celebrating, eating heavier foods (not to mention improper food combining) and lack of sleep. Thank goodness I took off from work today.

But, I am not going to complain. I've had a lot of fun leading up to the homestretch, experimenting with raw recipes in my kitchen, sampling my creations, sharing them with others, and spending time with my friends and family. To top it all off, I get to relax at home today with my two boys (husband and son).

My plan is to stick to lighter meals, like green smoothies, fresh fruits and veggies, maybe a kale salad and some soup. I need to give my digestion a brief hiatus before bringing out the new year's treats (I had hoped to go to NaturalZing's raw chocolate event, but instead will be recreating it here).

Don't worry; I won't let these next few blog posts bore you. For instance, today I'll tell you about the Banana Nut Donut Holes (another version of these raw donut holes) I made for Christmas brunch yesterday. Ani Phyo (love her) included them in her latest contribution to VegNews magazine (she actually provided nine recipes in her food feature, and there was an entire article about the raw food movement entitled, "Raw Revolution").

Here is the recipe for these tasty morsels:

Ani Phyo's Banana Nut Donut Holes
"These 'donut holes' are amazingly delicious and totally guilt-free, providing protein, calcium, potassium and plenty of B vitamins. They double as dessert and breakfast treat."

Serves 6

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw pecans
5 dehydrated bananas, chopped
2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1/4 cup shredded coconut

In a food processor, chop almonds and pecans into small bits. Slowly add bananas, dates and vanilla bean, and process until dough is mixed well.

Using an ice cream scooper, form dough into donut-hole-size rounds. Roll in shredded coconut.

In the spirit of the holiday, I stacked mine up like a tree (similar to the monkey bread my mom makes on Christmas morning, yet another recipe I plan on "rawifying" soon). I also gave them a sprinkling of goji berries for color and served them with some Teeccino, an excellent coffee alternative.

The donut holes were a hit with the women in the family. My grandmother even asked for the recipe.

Speaking of recipes, I'll be posting the ones for my Christmas cookies tomorrow. Be sure to stop by.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Again, I'll have to make this brief (I am a mom, who wants to spend the day celebrating with her family).

I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I hope you are all spending time with your loved ones, as well.

Sorry that I haven't had an opportunity to post the recipes for the Christmas cookies. I'll try to get them on here by the end of the week (in time for your New Year's celebrations).

My taste-tester, Rawbin, enjoyed all four recipes (I gave her a sampling yesterday), and by the looks of this picture, Santa did, too.

He ate both the raw and baked ones. Which did he prefer? The world may never know (sounds like that "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop" commercial). But, my money is on the raw ones :-)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa likes it raw

Not much time to post today, but I wanted to remind folks that Santa likes it raw, too. Don't forget to leave out some raw goodies for the jolly one.

I made these cookies for him; they are raw versions of my family's holiday favs: Ginger Creams, Snickerdoodles, Chocolate with White Chocolate Chunks and Russian Tea Cakes (also called Mexican Wedding Cookies).

Jacob also baked (for real, these are not raw) some "place and bake" cookies for Santa Claus. He was so proud that he took this pic, too.

I guess I need to work on the true meaning of Christmas with him; his sign says he made them for himself. Don't worry; I'll get him to share.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Raw premiere garners rave reviews

Well the premiere of my raw Christmas feast was a blockbuster hit at my family gathering yesterday. I took Rawbin's advice and brought a spread to share with willing participants, some who actually gave it a thumbs up.

When I arrived at my mom's house with raw versions of our usual holiday fare, there were a lot of double takes. It took a moment for some to realize that what I put out was raw; I even heard someone ask why I had meatballs on my plate (they must have been pretty convincing).

I was greeted with a slue of questions: What's in it? How did you make that? What does it taste like?

I answered the ingredient and process inquiries, and then I offered them a taste. After a little hesitation, a few of the more adventurous family members dished up samples on their plates. Reactions were mixed, but mostly positive.

My cousin Holly and my sister Lori didn't notice much of a difference in my broccoli salad versus the original. All of the deviled "eggs" disappeared rather quickly (my grandmother was lucky to get the last one ... except for the one I saved for the plate of leftovers pictured above).

But, my cousin's wife Samantha (the most enthusiastic taste-tester of them all), was not a fan of the raw version of my mom's macaroni and cheese (she puts Italian spices and tomatoes in hers), although she did like the other offerings. She just didn't like the miso in it, which was far from noticeable in the Swedish Neatballs.

Everyone was impressed by the faux meatballs. There were dares to try them, which surprisingly resulted in satisfied customers, some who came back for more.

Now, I didn't have time to make a raw dessert (my son was ill this week, and I caught a touch of it on Friday; it's amazing that I was able to complete this raw production at all). But, as usual, my mom had plenty of raw fruit on hand and my grandmother made a cranberry relish that wasn't cooked.

Today, I hope to make some cookies, mostly raw, for Santa (he likes it raw, too). But, before I get started, here's a quick rundown of how I created this raw feast.

Deviled "Eggs": If you haven't figured it out already, I used ordinary white mushroom caps as the "egg white." Then, I filled them with some eggless salad, minus the chopped celery, onion and pickles. It had a cashew base with tumeric for color, dry mustard, garlic and sea salt for a familiar flavor, and lemon juice and apple cider vinegar (ACV) for a egg-like taste.

Actually, that was my plan until I found myself with extra "cheese" from the rawcaroni and "cheese," which I added the ACV to, put into the mushroom caps and topped with a little paprika.

Swedish Neatballs: This was yet another recipe from "The Raw Food Gourmet." It's made out of raw almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds, processed together with carrots, onion, ACV, EVOO, ground flax and seasonings (I used poultry seasoning, pepper, cayenne, salt and extra sage). This mixture is rolled into balls and dehydrated until crispy on the inside and soft and warm on the inside.

In the meantime, I made the sweet and sour sauce out of more ACV, Bragg's liquid aminos, EVOO, agave, garlic, dried tomatoes and apple. I also added some miso, a little bit of blackstrap molasses (I know, not raw, but it was just a little), and adjusted the seasonings until it tasted like how I remember the original.

When the sauce was the way I wanted it, I dipped the nutballs (my family had fun with this one) into it and warmed them and the sauce slightly in the dehydrator. I later packed them up together for transport.

Mom's Rawcaroni & "Cheese": My first task to tackle was cutting the zucchini into elbow pasta shapes. Rather than showing you, I'll link you to Vegannosaurus Rex and his step-by-step photo instructions.

Then, I made a "cheesy" sauce out of soaked cashews, water, lemon juice, garlic, agave, sea salt, miso, nutritional yeast, tumeric, oregano, basil ... I think that is everything; I just started tossing things into the blender and hoping for the best.

I poured the finished sauce over the "pasta," added some sliced cherry tomatoes and herbs, and topped it off with some raw Parmesan. I popped it into the dehydrator to warm through and get that melted or "broiled" top similar to the one my mom makes.

The rest of the sauce went into the creation of the deviled "eggs," which saved me some time (I was still fashionably late for the event, drawing more attention to my raw offerings) and kept it from going to waste (although I did consider dehydrating it into "cheese" slices for Christmas Eve sandwich night - I'll explain later).

Broccoli Salad: I could have used this recipe, but I was in too much of a hurry (I was making a whole spread). Now it is mostly raw to begin with, so I started with the usual broccoli florets (and some chopped stems; you know me, never wasteful when it comes to food), diced red onion, raisins and sunflower seeds.

For the mayo, I put some raw almond butter (good in a fix; also works great to make a quick nutmilk), lemon juice, EVOO, agave, ACV, dry mustard, lemon pepper and sea salt in a small bowl and whisked it together. I also added a couple drops of liquid smoke to mimic the traditional bacon flavor. I tossed my "rawified" mayo with the already raw salad, and voila! A salad fit for any gathering.

I had also hoped to make some mock baked beans out of soaked seeds and a raw BBQ sauce, but I ran out of time and the menu was already very nut and seed heavy. So, instead I came up with the following dish at the last minute.

Corn Pudding: Another family celebration staple (just like everything else I made, there was a cooked counterpart for comparisons there), I found a fast way to whip one up. My first instinct would be to use yet another cashew base, but instead, opted for a sweet banana concoction.

I processed a banana and corn kernels together with some agave, sea salt, lemon pepper and cayenne. Then, I added some lecithin to thicken it and some more chunks of corn for texture. It sounds weird but it worked.

I hope I've inspired anyone reading this to create their own raw holiday memories and share them with their families. Yes, Kathy and everyone else who ever wondered, there is a raw Christmas.

P.S. Congrats to Kristen for getting her website in VegNews (I finally got my copy in the mail; there are some awesome raw features in this one. Kudos to the mag, too) and for celebrating 2 years with her boyfriend; so cute :-)

Also, congrats to Jess Michael's a.k.a. The Raw Lifestyle Coach on her engagement. Best wishes!

And last, but not least (I saved the best for last; good things happen in threes), my cousin's wife, Lara, just announced that she is pregnant and due in July. I am so excited :-)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Photo preview of a holiday food feature

I am busy in production mode of what I'll be featuring at my family Christmas gathering today. Unfortunately, I do not have time to do a full scripted post, so here are the promotional pics of my work in progress. Stay tuned for the premiere of my traditional holiday feast in the raw.

Deviled "Eggs"

Swedish Neatballs

Mom's Rawcaroni and "Cheese"

Broccoli Salad

Corn Pudding

Thursday, December 20, 2007

If you build it, they will come

I can't believe I've only had this blog for a month and a half, and already have been featured on We Like It Raw's main page, as well as twice on its Quickies. I've even more than doubled the number of votes on my current poll in just a matter of days.

Obviously, all this attention is due to my gingerbread structure and Dhru's influence in the raw community; I couldn't have garnered all this publicity without him. Thanks again.

When I was constructing my "house of raw," I found that it wasn't going to be easy to get everything to hold together, much less stay together.

But, I didn't let that stop my progress. I had already posted my plans, and there was no way I was going to let myself fail. Even if I only had a small audience, I was not about to admit my defeat. And, if I succeeded, I would be a rock star, at least in my mind.

I do feel like a rock star, because of all the traffic I have received on my blog in the past few days and all your kind comments. So, thanks to all of you, too.

The holiday season is the perfect time to show one's gratitude and spread the love around. That's why I like to highlight my fellow raw food bloggers, as well, like Raw Food Grrl, who has the most artistic mascot (I think she has them on t-shirts, too).

In today's post, she directs attention to this raw vegetable Christmas tree ... did you click on it? See, another example of "if you build it, they will come" (sounds like "Field of Dreams." I never was a Kevin Costner fan, but it makes a good reference). It wasn't my initial intention, but somehow it works.

*On another note, I just wanted to wish Courtney good luck breaking her juice feast. She is an inspiration to us all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Let's make whoopie

A whoopie pie, of course. You must have just read Kristen's most recent post, too.

I was looking back at the pics I took yesterday while making my cake and realized that the pre-iced dessert resembled a whoopie pie.

According to What's Cooking America, "A whoopie pie is like a sandwich, but made with two soft cookies with a fluffy white filling. Traditional whoopie pies are made with vegetable shortening, not butter. The original and most commonly made whoopie pie is chocolate. But cooks like to experiment, and today pumpkin whoopie pies are a seasonal variation."

Well, this "uncook" likes to experiment, too. My cake, which happens to look like a whoopie pie, may be chocolate, but it doesn't contain butter or shortening. The cake itself is made of almonds, walnuts, dates, prunes, cocoa powder, vanilla, sea salt, cinnamon and cayenne (I need to spice things up a bit, it is a "whoopie" pie ... sort of).

The fluffy white filling in the middle was the whipped cream frosting leftover from my gingerbread house (still no sign of butter or shortening). It was a blend of raw cashews, coconut milk (2 parts water to 1 part coconut), agave, vanilla, sea salt, raw coconut butter, raw cocoa butter (I adore this stuff) and lecithin.

I also sprinkled in some dried cherries as a surprise in the center (I like surprises). I even added some to the top after I took this finished cake photo (it looks like a Friendly's ice cream cake), which does have raw cacao nibs on it (chocolate really does make the heart grow fonder).

I guess I can make smaller versions of this naked (I meant to say, non-iced) cake in the future to eat like the original whoopie pie. It would make a great snack on the go.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What to do with left over icing?

Celebrate all over again :-)

I've just returned home from yet another birthday celebration for my son, but this time it was for his cousin, too. We had a combined party at my in-laws house.

Here is what is left of my raw cake. I actually had a curious taste-tester, who really liked the icing. It was leftover from my gingerbread house; I wasn't going to just let it go to waste.

So, I opted to make another "15-minute" (give or take) cake, enabling me to partake in the festivities. My mother-in-law hates it when I don't eat cake and ice cream with everyone else (despite this comment, we happen to get along rather well). She thinks I'm depriving myself or something.

But, there was no deprivation tonight; I helped myself to a more than sufficient slice. I am so full; good thing I just had raw soup again for dinner.

The rest of the crew had pizza, which I originally planned to make and eat alongside them. There have been a lot of recipes floating around lately, so it would have been easy to come up with a raw version.

On Gone Raw alone, you can find Sausage and Pepper Pizza (I am dying to try this one), Shazzies Pizza (it actually has banana in it), Mini Pizzas (to satisfy small cravings), Cashew Pesto Pizza (this one contains curry powder) and Tricia's Outrageous Raw Pizza (you'll need Tricia's Outrageous Raw Pizza Crust and Tricia's Outrageous Raw Pizza Sauce). There is also a recipe for BBQ "Chicken" Pizza, which caught my eye, but unfortunately it uses raw dairy. I would have to come up with my own "cheese."

My fellow raw bloggers also have posted their pizzas. Check out Derek and Sara's (this site has beautiful photography; it makes me want to take a class), Heidi and Justin's (if you haven't already seen their pizza post) and Jess Michael's (hers was published in a magazine). There are even forum topics dedicated to finding the best crusts and showing off photo-worthy results.

But, alas, I did not make any of these recipes for tonight. Since I made such a "heavy" cake for dessert, I decided to forgo the dense crust and nut-based cheese topped Italian treat and quickly whip up my lighter standby soup (which did have Italian seasonings, by the way).

It wasn't until after the fact that I recalled how I have thrown together a veggie-based (literally) "french bread"-style version in a hurry. In the future, I'll remember to use a long slice of zucchini or eggplant as my "crust" and replace the nut cheese with some raw Parmesan (ground sesame seeds and nutritional yeast). You should try it sometime.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Building a house of raw

That sounds like something from "The Three Little Pigs." In that case, I should have taken a cue from the story and built my house of bricks; just kidding.

I just wanted to fill you in on the gingerbread house construction. I brought all of the pieces to my mom's house to build my masterpiece with my family (mom, son, two nephews, sister, grandmother, aunts, cousins and a cousin's fiance).

But before I got started on my own house, I put together the framework for my son's work of art, which he decorated himself. It's not raw, but I've posted it anyway in his honor :-)

Then, I went right to work on my raw version. I set up my work station, covered a box with silver paper, filled a pastry bag with raw icing and began "gluing" the pieces together.

Unfortunately, I ran into some technical difficulties. The icing would begin to warm in my hands and start flowing too fast out of the tip. I overcame this obstacle by taking several breaks to re-chill the bag.

As you can see, patience pays off; I managed to build a house that exceeded my expectations (I was just hoping to end up with something that resembled a house in one way or another). I was happy with the first picture, but then I took it a step further and added a walkway and some trees.

I also took some time to decorate the extra cookies I cut out the night before with the leftover dough. In addition to the trees, I made a snowman and a gingerbread boy and girl. I even sampled them for quality control.

Satisfied with my success (and relieved to be finished), I sat down with my family to enjoy a warm bowl of soup; mine was raw, of course. Just look how alive it looks next to their cooked version (my mom made sure to make it vegan just in case I wanted some; she's always thinking of me). Maybe I'll make a larger batch to share next time. Do you think they would eat it? If not, more for me.

P.S. Mom, the house made it home in one piece :-)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A wonderful way to start the day

I have a new favorite green smoothie for the holidays; I'm drinking it right now (I also had it yesterday; I rarely have the same green smoothie two days in a row).

It's a white chocolate mint green smoothie. It's basically a banana and greens based beverage with the addition of some mint and raw cacao butter. You must try this one. It's very refreshing.

What a wonderful way to start the day; I spent the night dreaming about the raw gingerbread house I am going to attempt to make today (all the women in my family are getting together to make the traditional ones at my mom's house; I've gotta represent with the raw version), and awoke to the smell of ginger and spice permeating throughout the house.

I prepped for this ambitious project (but don't expect anything too spectacular) last night by making the dough, cutting out the shapes and "baking" them overnight in my dehydrator. I also whipped up some icing for decorating so it could chill and thicken for today.

Liz, since you inquired about the icing recipe, I usually use Carmella's recipe for whipped cream icing on her Sunny Raw Kitchen blog. Make sure you let it set in the fridge before trying to pipe it onto the gingerbread (glad to hear you were successful), it is a little runny straight out of the blender.

I used the same recipe last night except I adjusted some of the measurements, eliminated the lemon juice (I was out of lemon) and substituted raw cacao butter for half of the coconut butter (I am running low at the moment). Sometimes you just have to "make it work" (Tim Gunn of Project Runway would be so proud; that's his catch phrase for those of you who are unfamiliar).

For the gingerbread, I made Karen Knowler's Raw Gingerbread Treats. It wasn't my original plan to use this recipe, but I was sucked in by all the buzz. It showed up on Gone Raw, the Raw Food Talk forum and Liz mentioned it in a comment. I was beginning to think I was meant to chose this recipe.

I agree with Liz; texturally they came out great, but something was off in the flavor. I think it lacks some sweetness (I'd probably use dates next time) and spice (I actually added some pumpkin pie spice and cayenne pepper, but it still wasn't enough).

I the future, I'll probably pick one of these two ginger-flavored recipes (Gingerjacks and Gingerbread Cookies), which inspired my house idea in the first place.

Here are the pieces I cut out last night. All I need to do is pack them up with the icing from the fridge and some decorations, like goji berries, pumpkin seeds, golden raisins, raw cocoa nibs and coconut flakes. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cake for breakfast?

I don't know why, but I'm craving some cake for breakfast. That's the beauty of the raw diet; you can eat dessert whenever you want.

In Gabrielle Chavez's book, "The Raw Food Gourmet," she writes, "A dearly held birthday tradition from my childhood (which I may have initiated) was that the birthday girl could eat leftover cake for breakfast the next morning. On my lucky day, I would gleefully immerse the dry-ish layers of Duncan Hines, glued together with my mother's own butter cream frosting in a bowl of chocolate ice milk "soup" - one of my early culinary creations."

"... But, today I have learned how to have my cake for breakfast - rich, lovely, mouthwatering cake - without incurring guilt or inflicting self damage. Raw cakes are not only good tasting but also good for you."

There is leftover cake from the one I made on my son's birthday calling my name, and I'll probably have a bite before starting today's cake for his party. Wish me luck getting everything finished on time.

So, I'll make this post quick. I wanted to thank One Lucky Duck, if anyone representing them is reading this. I had ordered a bunch of stuff a while back, which was not all in stock at the time (usually everything arrives at my house in just a matter of a couple days). In two separate shipments, I received everything except a small sample-size bottle of shampoo.

I had forgotten all about it until a packaged arrived at my house yesterday. Inside was the shampoo, which costs less than the shipping (I was never charged additional shipping even though the items were shipped separately). That's so awesome; I never contact them about it, but they still remembered to send it. Thanks so much for staying on top of things. I love that company.

I also received an e-mail from "The Duck" announcing its free shipping on orders in excess of $100 through the holidays. If I hadn't made a rule to not buy anything for myself until after Christmas, I would have totally jumped on that one. I really want one of their new hemp/organic cotton hoodies (please save a small for me), a bamboo t-shirt and I'd like to try some of the new soaps mentioned in the e-mail, which I can't seem to find on the site.

Speaking of t-shirts, I also want to get one from We Like It Raw. They're "officially bringing sexy back."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Miso happy!

I thought I was going to go crazy without my precious miso, but Rawbin came to my rescue this week with a new container.

Miso has been my not-so-secret ingredient in my raw soups that really makes them taste like soup (maybe it's all the salt or the fact that miso is a type of soup). I've been experimenting with so many new soup combinations lately, (due to the cold weather/season) that I was scraping the bottom of the one I had in the fridge.

Now that I have more on-hand, I'll be cranking out a lot more recipes with this ingredient, like my pumato goldfish pasta soup, inspired (I hate to say it) by the Campbell's tomato version (but I bet mine tastes better and is definitely better for you). Basically, it was my way of finishing off the end of the pumpkin I posted about earlier in the week.

I blended up the end of the pumpkin with some soaked sun-dried tomatoes, hence the "pumato" name, and their soaking liquid. I also added some olive oil, garlic, agave, basil (goes hand in hand with tomatoes), oregano, sage (a perfect pairing for pumpkin), cayenne pepper (for heat), freshly ground black pepper, and of course, some miso.

Lastly, I cut up some yellow squash to look like the goldfish noodles (kind of like Vegannosaurus Rex's zucchini elbows in his Rawcaroni Salad) or crackers. They give a little texture to this creamy concoction.

Adding pumpkin to this soup reminds me of how I used to put pumpkin in my pizza and spaghetti sauces for a nutritional boast. No one ever noticed it was there. I also used to add carrot juice to my pizza dough, which, although not hidden, freshened the flavor and lent a beautiful color to the usual drab crust.

Now I'm starting to sound like Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry's wife), who recently put out a book called "Deceptively Delicious," where she makes typical family meals and desserts with the added benefit of a concealed veggie puree. Her recipes may be cooked, but the concept still translates well into the raw world. I'll probably experiment with "rawifying" some of hers in the future.

Back to what I've already made this week with my miso, I also had some no-chicken soup, which I mentioned to Rawbin when she handed me a new tub of the stuff. I gave her a quick explanation of how to whip one up in a hurry.

You just cut some zucchini or use a spiral slicer (I still need to get one of those) to create noodles, thinly slice some carrots and celery, add them all to a bowl with some chopped parsley and other herbs, and pour some raw broth (warm water, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, olive oil, miso, cayenne pepper and poultry seasonings blended in high-powered blender) over the top. It's wonderful for this time of year.

Another favorite quick recipe of mine that uses miso is the Sun-Dried Tomato and Cashew Romesco recipe from "Raw Food Real World" ( is selling signed copies on its website at the moment). When I'm in a hurry, I just use it as a dip with cut up veggies, but I also like to put it in raw lasagna; it tastes a little like the cheesy/tomato filling. Yummy!

I'm so glad to have miso back in my kitchen. Thanks again, Rawbin :-)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A piece of cake

(Before you get too excited; the above cake is not raw)

Today is my son's 5th birthday. Happy birthday Jacob :-)

We started out the morning with a birthday breakfast; I had my usual green smoothie, and since it was his special day, I surprised my son with his favorite double chocolate chip muffins (unfortunately not raw, but he loves them).

While eating his bounty, he inquired about the birthday cake he would be having at snack today with his class. He was so excited to celebrate with his friends.

Sirens began to go off in my head as I realized how I had forgotten all about the cake for school. I felt like the worst mom in the world. Although I had remembered to get the ingredients for the cupcakes on Saturday (the day of his party), as well as planning everything out for today and the weekend, the classroom recognition of his birthday somehow slipped my mind.

So, since I had no time to make a cake myself, I rushed to the grocery store in hopes of finding something chocolate and without pink or yellow roses (the typical grocery store offering).

Lucky me, I found a chocolate cake with penguins on top (he is really fond of penguins). I even got "Happy Birthday Jacob" written on it.

Times like these make me wish he and all his friends would be more willing to experiment with the raw diet. If it were mainstream, I could've whipped up a cake in less time than it took for me to run out and get one.

For example, I made this "15 Years or Minutes Cake" today from "The Raw Food Gourmet" by Gabrielle Chavez." Now, it didn't take me 15 minutes to make it (probably due to all the photo snapping), but I came pretty close.

I don't, however, have time to post about all the steps (it is my son's birthday), so here's what I did in the photos.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cookies & nog

Well, my pumpkin chocolate chip cookies didn't turn out the way I envisioned them, but I'll share my experiment with you anyway.

When I left you last, I headed for the kitchen to recreate the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that led me astray from the raw track last year. I needed to bake some for my son's class at the time, and since they were easy to make as a vegan version, I didn't hesitate to try one or two ... maybe a few. Oops, at least I didn't end up totally cooked (but my raw percentage dropped a little into the holiday season).

I resisted the temptation to make any baked recipes with my pumpkin this time, and set off to make a raw version of these tasty treats.

I originally decided to use the Butternut Squash Cookies (substituting pumpkin in place of the butternut squash) recipe from the "Eating Without Heating" book as a base, since it didn't any use nuts or seeds. However, I changed my mind once I actually started making them.

I opted to use my blender instead of the food processor to obtain a creamier consistency, but found myself adding some flax and almond meal to bulk the batter up a bit. I also switched the honey to agave and put in a little vanilla for that home-baked flavor.

Lastly, I mixed in some raw cacao nibs, used a mini ice cream scoop to drop the batter onto parchment-lined dehydrator trays (I have two old-school round dehydrators, but I really need an Excalibur), flattened the scooped batter into round cookie shapes and dehydrated them (flipping once and removing the parchment).

The "baked" cookies reminded me of the original version's flavor with a texture like a cross between a piece of fruit leather and a Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookie (as if that is even possible). I savored every yummy morsel.

But what about the disastrous conclusion I alluded to? It was a much happier ending from a flavor perspective; the downfall came in a visual form. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but as I have said many times (on this blog a couple times already, too), you eat with your eyes first.

Once dehydrated, the cookies became darker with less definition between the chips and the cookie itself. To maintain their traditional pumpkin color, I'll probably use golden flax and golden raisins in my next batch.

In the meantime, I'll just enjoy them with some more pumpkin nog (pictured at the top of this post), while I reflect on what I've learned from this experience.