Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thinking of me

Now that title is definitely not in the holiday spirit (even if the holidays are just about over). I sound totally self-absorbed.

But, I didn't mean to ask you to think of me (I love that song, by the way). I was just so happy to share the fact that one of my raw foodie friends thought of me anyway.

You may already know to whom I'm referring; why of course it's Jenny, a.k.a. Wylde Girl. She turns everything into a work of art.

Anyway, she mailed me these raw nut-free (you'll never miss them; just check out this recipe) truffles as a surprise, and boy was I. They made it safely to my doorstep and into my tummy. Yummy!

Don't worry about me; I'll have time to polish them off before the new year. That's when I'll sample some juice recipes from April's new e-book. She was nice enough to send me a copy, which I can't wait to review for you.

Thanks for thinking of me, girls :-)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Don't forget the Chex party mix

As you know, 2008 is nearly over, and it's almost time to ring in the new year. What better way to celebrate than with some good old fashioned Chex party mix? That is, unless you're a raw foodie.

Growing up, I always made sure my mom made a batch of the stuff for all our holiday celebrations, especially New Year's Eve. Therefore, I just had to find a way to recreate the experience in raw form, of course.

It was fairly simple. I soaked some raw mixed nuts (always the best part of the party mix); marinated them in some olive oil in place of the traditional butter, Bragg's (my substitute for the Worcestershire sauce in the original) and a variety of seasonings (I used many of the same ones listed on the seasoned salt, but without all the unnecessary additives); and dehydrated them until "toasty."

Now, for the Chex part, you can use your favorite raw bread, cracker or crust recipe. I used a variation of the flatbread pizza crust in "Raw Food Real World," minus the hemp seeds and with the addition of the seasonings/marinade I whipped up for the nuts. I made sure to cut the flatbread into tiny squares, which were dehydrated until crisp.

For the last step, I tossed together the "baked" squares and "toasted" nuts with a little extra marinade and left the combination in the dehydrator for a while longer. The result was a snack mix worth the wait.

Hope you have a fun and safe new year :-)

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Pajama Game

I remember my mom had the soundtrack from that musical on vinyl when I was little. I used to sing along to it, as I danced around the house.

I have many fond memories of hanging out in my p.j.s on Christmas day, while we exchanged gifts, played with our presents and spun holiday tunes on the old school record player or 8-track.

Nowadays, we still go to my parents' house, where we open packages from each other, eat yummy food and burn off all those calories by running around like kids again.

Yesterday, we tested out the new air hockey table in their basement, chased each other around with toy guns (they shoot soft foam balls) and learned a few moves with the Wii Fit. I think we need to work a little more on our balance.

Today, Matthew, Jacob and I are having a pajama day at home. Still in our sleepwear, we're testing out Jacob's new toys, as well as pulling out some of the favorites from Christmas past.

Jacob even got some Mario props to help him get into character for playing Mario Kart. He looks like he's ready for some competition. Gotta go :-)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's a Christmas miracle

After taking Martha Stewart's Christmas cookie style quiz, I discovered I'm a little fruity and nutty. I don't know how I should take that, but I guess it makes sense being that I am a raw foodie. Fruits and nuts are the main ingredients in many of my raw treats.

For instance, I came up with this raw fruitcake the other day while watching America Eats on the History Channel. There was a segment about fruitcake on the episode about the history of holiday foods.

You may be thinking, "why would I decide to make a cake with such a bad reputation?" Well, I figured if I made it raw, it couldn't be that bad.

And, I was right. This raw version tastes good to me. It's a miracle. Merry Christmas :-)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

In the Nick of time

If you haven't gotten around to making those raw holiday cookies, you still have time, especially if you make some no-bake (no dehydrator required) cookies from this year's batch.

Although I did hold onto a few "baked" (dehydrated) gingerbread men from these decked out Gingercakes, the other three cookies (Cinnamon Mocha Crinkles, Raw Nog Creams and Hawaiian Wedding Surprises) can all be whipped up at the last minute (or check out last year's cookies; they can be made almost as fast).

Don't forget to leave some out for St. Nicholas, a.k.a. Santa Claus. You know he's coming tonight.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Survey says ...

It's time for a Christmas questionnaire, courtesy of Nicole Brenny from her Nicole Raw & Awake blog. Here are my answers. Feel free to share some of yours.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I prefer gift bags, because they are quick, easy and a good way to recycle. In our family, we hang on to all the bags we receive and reuse them to wrap other gifts. We have a Star Wars bag that's been making the rounds for about 8 years.

2. Real tree or artificial tree?
I hate to admit it, but although I love real trees, ours is artificial. Again, we continue to get use out of it every year. It's about as old as that gift bag.

3. When do you put up the tree?
The day after Thanksgiving, of course. Jacob makes sure of it.

4. When do you take down the tree?
When we get around to it. I just hate to admit that the holiday is over. But don't worry; I do take it down before the end of January.

5. Do you like eggnog?
I like the raw kind, especially in cookie form.

6. Do you have a stocking? What does it look like?
Jacob, Matthew and I all have stockings. They are knit like sweaters. Mine is red with a white cuff at the top and green buttons down the side. Matthew's looks just like mine, but the cuff is green. Jacob's is green with a red cuff and red buttons.

When I was little, my mom sewed all of our stockings out of red felt with our names down the side in bold white letters. Always with a good sense of humor, she made sure she cut the fabric to include toes at the end.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
My husband is so particular. He also doesn't understand the concept of not buying things for yourself leading up to Christmas.

8. Easiest person to buy for?
My mom loves anything I give her, or at least she lets me think she does.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes. It is a Fisher Price Little People set my mom gave to Jacob for his first Christmas. My sister just told me yesterday that she recently came across one of our missing figures.

10. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?
Mail is so much more personal, but it's also nice to receive e-mail wishes from those who do not know your physical address.

11. Most memorable gift you ever received?
My son was born not long before Christmas 2002. He is the best gift ever.

12. Favorite Christmas movie?
"It's a Wonderful Life"

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I start shopping a couple months ahead of time. I hate to leave anything until the last minute.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Actually, I think I have.

Every year, my mom's side of the family gets together and participates in a game. We each bring a present and set it in the center of the room. Then, we all draw numbers and, based on the number drawn, select gifts from the pile in that order. When it's your turn, you can either decide to keep the gift, or swap it with someone else in the room.

This year, my grandmother had the idea of having us all bring items from our homes instead of purchasing new gifts. I think what I brought was something I received as a Christmas present a while back. It was a leather purse (I don't carry/wear leather), which I hid a $10 bill inside.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

16. Lights on the tree?
Of course :-)

17. Favorite Christmas song?
"We Wish You a Merry Christmas" has been my favorite, since Jacob first learned to sing it. Now he won't stop. Ha ha :-)

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
We don't go far, but we don't get to stay home either. I work Christmas Eve day, and then we go to Matthew's grandmother's house that evening. Christmas day is spent at my parent's house.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
You betcha. I was determined to know them all as a kid, and I still do thanks to this song:

"You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen,
But do you recall,
the most famous reindeer of all?"

You can't forget Rudolph

20. Angel on top of the tree or a star?
It varies from year to year. Right now we have an angel Jacob made out of paper plates in school.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Presents are opened on Matthew's side of the family on Christmas Eve. Then, Santa brings toys on Christmas, followed by more gift unwrapping at my parent's house.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Having too much to do with not enough time to do it. I think I need some more days in December.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
Little white Christmas lights

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?


25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

Time with friends and family

26. Who is the most likely to respond to this?

Someone who cares :-)

27. Favorite Christmas tradition?
I like relaxing at home with my hubby and son the day after Christmas.

So you may be wondering why there is a pic of broccoli salad at the top of this post. Well, it just wouldn't be like me to blog without a photo. Therefore, I snapped a quick pic of these little trees I dressed up to share with my family. Happy holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I can have my cake and eat it, too

If you've been following my blog all along, you are already aware of the fact that I'm the only raw foodie in my family. And, I'm not just referring to my household (although my hubby and my son will try a few things every once and a while). Neither side is raw, much less vegan.

So, how do I handle these family gatherings?

Well, my side of the family is usually willing to experiment, so I tend to bring a dish or two to share (last year, I brought a whole mini buffet). They also make sure to have raw fruits and veggies, and my aunt has been known to bring a good vegan salad every once and a while.

On my hubby's side, they like to stick with their traditional fare, although his dad and sister-in-law have been brave enough to try a bite of whatever I'm eating (I tote along my own raw plate). His mom always provides a veggie tray, and sometimes his uncle will set aside some green beans before he cooks the rest (occasionally he also bakes me a sweet potato, since it is one of the only items I'll eat cooked in the colder months).

Last night, we gathered at Matthew's brother's house to recognize Jacob's (yes, he's still celebrating) and Jason's birthdays. Of course, there was cake, so I needed to bring something for dessert.

Usually, I'd take some raw cake (I did have a few cupcakes in the freezer) or n'ice cream. Since I heard they were having ice cream cake, I decided to combine the two.

At the last minute, I opted to make an individual slice of raw n'ice cream cake for yours truly. It was easy; I just whipped up some banana-based chocolate n'ice cream in my food processor, shaped it into a square, added a layer of raw chocolate cookie crumbles, and topped it off with more n'ice cream, some leftover raw whipped icing (I always have some on hand these days) and chocolate rock shavings. Now that's a n'ice cake :-)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hawaiian Wedding Surprise

Don't jumped to conclusions after reading that title. I didn't run away to Hawaii to get married. I'm already married, but I'd love to go to Hawaii with my hubby one day.

In the meantime, I'll just celebrate the holidays with the last unbaked good in my trio of cookie swap offerings. It is a festive spin on last year's Russian Raw Cake, which is a rawified Russian Tea Cake/Mexican Wedding Cake cookie (I've heard it referred to by both names).

I got this idea while flipping through a magazine recently. There was a recipe for a Hawaiian Wedding Cake cookie, much like the traditional Mexican Wedding Cake version, but with the addition of macadamia nuts, coconut flakes and lime.

I opted to add those same ingredients to my original recipe, as well as a surprise inside. Read further to find out what it is.

Hawaiian Wedding Surprises
3/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup date paste
1 Tbsp. lucuma powder
zest of one lime
dash of sea salt
*finely ground coconut and more zest for rolling
*eight whole raw macadamia nuts for filling

Grind cashews, mac nuts, oats and coconut into flour and add to a bowl. Whisk together the flours, lucuma, lime zest and sea salt. Add the date paste, and mix to combine. The mixture should be damp enough to mold, yet still crumbly like a cake.

Divide the mixture into 8 equal sections. Shape each section into a ball, while enclosing a whole mac nut inside (that's the surprise). Roll the balls in coconut and lime zest. Enjoy :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

All dressed up with some place to go

To the annual family cookie exchange, of course. I just had to make sure at least one of my raw creations sparked some interest from my nonraw family members.

By adding a decorative touch to an otherwise ordinary raw cookie, this unbaked good garners the attention it deserves. So, Little Bird, this one is for you.

It's a raw version of an eggnog cookie, which reminds me of the raw ginger creams I made last year. It has a soft base and a creamy icing, just like the ginger creams, but nutmeg is its star ingredient (rather than ginger). I'd like to call them Raw Nog Creams

Raw Nog Creams
1 cup cashew flour (ground cashews)
1/2 cup almond flour (ground almonds)
1/4 cup date paste
freshly ground nutmeg, to taste
pinch of sea salt
*raw whipped icing for frosting
*dried cherry pieces and pumpkin seeds for decorating

In a bowl, whisk together the cashew flour, almond flour, nutmeg and sea salt. Add the date paste, and mix to combine. The mixture should be damp enough to mold, yet still crumbly like a cake.

Divide the mixture into 6-8 equal sections. Shape each section into a ball and flatten into cookie shapes. Frost with raw whipped icing and decorate with dried cherry pieces and pumpkin seeds.

*These are similar to many of my raw cupcake recipes. Feel free to make them a little larger and serve them as such.

**If you really want to kick these up a notch, add some rum or rum extract to the icing, but I prefer mine rum-free.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mocha and spice, and everything nice

That's what these cookies are made of.

For those of you who missed yesterday's post, I'd promised to provide more info about the unbaked goods I made for the annual family swap. It looks as though Charissa got her wish (I'm glad to hear you're alright), as I've decided to post the chocolate cookie recipe today.

Inspired by the traditionally baked chocolate crinkle cookies, as well as my Rawchachino Cupcakes, I came up with these unbaked (no dehydrator necessary) Cinnamon Mocha Crinkles. They are easy to make in a pinch, and the results are delish :-)

Cinnamon Mocha Crinkles
1 cup almonds flour (finely ground almonds and/or pulp)
1/2 cup hazelnut flour (finely ground hazelnuts)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 Tbsp. Java Teeccino grounds
1/4 cup date paste
sprinkling of cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
*finely ground coconut for rolling

In a bowl, whisk together the almond flour, hazelnut flour, cocoa powder, Teeccino, cinnamon and sea salt. Add the date paste, and mix to combine. The mixture should be damp enough to mold, yet still crumbly like a cake.

Divide the mixture into 8 equal sections. Shape each section into a ball, roll them in coconut flour and flatten into cookie shapes. Don't worry if there are imperfection in your cookies; it's only the crinkle effect.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Cookie Swap 2008

Doesn't that sound official? Too bad I'm not talking about an all-raw cookie swapping event. Someone needs to organize one of these. Anyone having one in their neck of the woods?

Hey Jeff and Helen; the two of you need to consider hosting a NaturalZing sponsored raw cookie swap sometime in the future. Maybe next year. Hint, hint. And, don't forget to make some of those rawlicious recipes you've posted for us (especially the Rosemary Shortbread Cookies).

In the meantime, I'll just keep bringing my raw creations to our annual family cookie swap in exchange for the traditional baked varieties (my hubby and son will eat them). I get some new taste-testers each year; my grandmother tried one of each flavor.

To find out more about this year's unbaked offerings (I didn't even use a dehydrator to make these), stop by my blog later in the week.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jacob's Rawzilla Birthday Cupcake

I wish I could persuade my little boy and his friends to eat Rawzilla cupcakes today, but they've opted for the traditional baked kind instead. At least, I can still join in the fun with my raw version.

If you haven't guessed it, we'll be celebrating Jacob's 6th birthday very soon (in just a matter of hours), and I still have a lot to do to get ready.

He's having a Godzilla/amusement park party, complete with a Godzilla stomp game, the Not-So-Giant Claw machine (inspired by the old black and white Giant Claw film, we opted to replace the usual pinata with a claw machine), mini golf, 3-D pin the tail on the donkey and Carnival game on the Wii.

Jacob is also big into crafts. He requested that we make finger puppets at the party out of felt. Something tells me this could get messy. Wish me luck.

Happy Birthday Jacob :-)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Martha's rawliday makeover

Okay, so maybe Martha didn't actually get a makeover. But, her holiday cupcakes sure did, courtesy of yours truly.

Now, you probably already know that I receive Martha Stewart's e-newsletter in my inbox from time to time. One of the latest issues included some fun ways to decorate holiday cupcakes.

Of course, I couldn't wait to turn them into raw versions, starting with this white Christmas tree cupcake. It is surrounded in coconut snow.

While recreating this cupcake, I realized one of the advantages to raw baking; you can make your cakes in any shape you like without a special pan or the tedious process of trimming and icing pieces together. I was able to mold the tree out of raw cake, while Martha's site recommended using a sugar cone as the base.

The tree is covered in piped icing pine needles and coconut snow. It actually looks a lot like Martha's handiwork, despite the rush (it was a last minute project before heading up to my son's school to volunteer).

Although I was in a hurry, I also managed to find time to rawify her holly cupcake. Instead of using candy, I took a more natural approach. I made my holly berries out of dried cherries and leaves out of pumpkin seeds.

It doesn't exactly look like the original, but I think I prefer mine. Maybe I'm a little biased. What do you think? (Mine is chocolate, by the way.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sweet Shannon's

While snapping a few shots down at the boardwalk the other day, I made sure to take a few of my favorite display. Sweet Sue's Bake Shop & Coffee Bar was all decked out for the holidays with a gingerbread and cupcake theme. Someone sure knew how to get my attention.

Rawified gingerbread and cupcakes have brought most of my readers to my site. In fact, it was my raw gingerbread house and cookies for Santa that prompted Dhrumil Purohit to invite me to join his We Like It Raw Squad.

This year, I opted not to make another gingerbread structure (been there, done that). Instead, I decided to combine my raw cupcake craze with this gingerlicious (I just made that word up) tradition.

The result was the cutest raw gingerbread cupcakes, iced with white frosting (gingerbread just has to be highlighted in white piping) and decorated with little raw ginger men, dried fruit pieces and a fresh cranberry on top. They look like they'd be right at home at the corner bakery.

Unfortunately, this is a traditional bakery where everything is actually baked (no dehydrators here). Wouldn't it be nice if it were an unbakery? It would be even nicer if my name was on it.

Okay, now I'm being naughty (as opposed to nice). I definitely don't have the time and money to make it happen, much less have the customer base around here to support it. I guess I'll just have to pretend in my kitchen at home (seriously, I sometimes pretend I'm running my own unbakery, while creating raw treats in my kitchen. It's probably a lot less stressful than the real deal).

And, you can, too. Here's another cupcake recipe, as my holiday gift to you.

A Trio of Gingercakes
1 cup pecans,
ground into flour
1 cup almonds,
ground into flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup date paste
1/2 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses
1-2 Tbsp. agave nectar
ginger, to taste
pinch of sea salt

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

Next, add the date paste and molasses (I like to mix the two together before adding them to the flour). Whisk/mix, paying close attention to the consistency of the batter. Add agave, to taste. Whisk/mix to combine. The batter should be moist enough to hold its shape, but dry enough to still have a crumb-like texture.

Divide the batter in thirds to make a trio of cupcakes. Form them into cupcake shapes, and decorate to your hearts content. I used this whipped icing, raw gingerbread men, dried fruit and fresh cranberries. Happy holidays :-)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I already knew Matthew and I were made for each other, but it's always reinforced when we're able to read each other thoughts.

For instance, the other day I had that familiar holiday tune stuck in my head, and then suddenly, my hubby came walking down the hallway singing, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas." This was a big deal considering the fact that he rarely sings.

On the other hand, I guess it wasn't a surprise, since holiday decorations are popping up everywhere. My son made sure we put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving, and he instructed Paw Paw as to where to put the outside lights, garland, decorative bows and the two reindeer.

Jacob also loves to point out the displays on the side of the road. Secretly, I light up when I see them, too, although I think Matthew is well aware of my childhood fascination (especially since we rarely had them on my house when I was little. That's why Paw Paw hung them up to greet us the day I arrived home with my baby from the hospital almost 6 years ago. Now it's a tradition.).

Last week, I made my way down to the beach to get a glimpse of the preparations for yesterday's celebration (there was a parade, a visit from Santa and more). Wreaths and banners were already displayed on the light posts aligning the boardwalk, and with my camera, I captured a beautiful scene of a man dressing up the community Christmas tree.

I guess it really is looking a lot like Christmas. We even had some snow last night. I wonder if we'll get more for our holiday. I'm dreaming of it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Get your own copy

I know; how rude of me, right? I sound like such a Scrooge. What happened to my holiday spirit?

Well, I still had it during Thanksgiving, as I remembered to be grateful for the book I received and the opportunity to review it. However, my selfishness took over, and I decided to keep this gift for myself.

As part of "The Green Beauty Guide" virtual book tour, I've been blessed with a complimentary copy of this jam-packed guide to greening your beauty routine. It is overflowing with so much useful information that instead of passing it along to a friend, I opted to save it as a reference for cleaning out my not-so-green products, selecting safer versions and even whipping up natural beauty recipes in my own kitchen.

Lucky for me, I discovered that many of my favorite products were one-, two- or three-leaf approved by author, Julie Gabriel. In addition to explaining what to and not to look for in a truly green beauty treatment, she also recommends more than a few of her faves using this ranking system.

For instance, my Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash with Organic Tea Tree Oil and Awapuhi received a modest one-leaf, while my John Masters Organic Zinc & Sage Shampoo with Conditioner got top honors with three leaves.

But she doesn't stop at your face and hair. She gives options from head to toe, with a chapter devoted to each and every step in your beauty routine. There's a section on cleansers, toners, home facials and scrubs; moisturizers, eye treatments and zit zappers; sun protection; body care, including baths, sugar waxing, cellulite solutions, manicures and pedicures; hair care; baby care; mineral makeup and natural fragrances.

Each chapter addresses the reasons why you may or may not want to include a particular step (such as "Do You Really Need a Toner?" and "How Many Moisturizers Do We Need?"), an explanation of how the particular product works and a brief review of what ingredients should be avoided (the first few chapters are devoted to why it is so important to chose green beauty products, what makes the majority of offerings so toxic and how to "Become an Ingredient Expert"/"Do-It-Yourself Green Beauty"). Then, she lists some green-worthy options in each category.

The best part is what follows. She gives multiple recipes for homemade formulas of just about every beauty treatment imaginable. Ms. Gabriel definitely isn't stingy either, as she gives up her simplified take on "Klosterqu Melissen Geise" unisex cologne (first made by Carmelite monks in Paris in 1611, it is also known as Eau de Carmes) and her modernized version of an ancient perfume referred to as "Queen of Hungary Water." She even teaches you how to wax with items from your kitchen and get a safe faux glow with a walnut-hued concoction, while keeping your skin as soft as a baby bum (she's got recipes for taking care of that, too).

Many of the recipes involve purchasing essential oils, which can be costly. I recommend picking and choosing a few basic ones first, before dropping a wad of dough on all of them listed in the book. You can always add more as you get more comfortable with your creations. I even eliminated some of the oils in the recipes to keep from being overwhelmed.

But don't fret just yet. Many of the ingredients can be found in your kitchen, like the water, oats and onion in the "Kinky Oatmeal Mask" I mentioned in my last post. I just wish all of the recipes were vegan, although many of the nonvegan ones can be altered to suit your needs. For example, I found that some of the milk baths can be reproduced using coconut milk.

Speaking of baths, the bath salts, scrubs and body oils would make great gifts this time of year, along with this book. You can even make these "Green Feet Fizzies" (and you thought it was another cupcake; I added dried mint leaves to mine) for the whole family quite economically, which are comparable to Lush Bath Bombs, minus the preservatives and synthetic perfumes (it looks as though they "green-washed" me - another term for the book - with their cute lack of packaging and grocery-style displays; they weren't as natural as I thought).

The end of the book has a very valuable tool, worth more than the book's $16.95 price tag. There is a listing of the "100 toxic cosmetic ingredients you don't want in your beauty products." I used this to weed out some of the bad guys in my bathroom and have taken it on more than one shopping excursion to prevent buyer's remorse.

Now you can see why I can't part with my copy. You'll just have to pick up one of your own. I'm anxious to hear your reviews, too :-)

In the meantime, the author was nice enough to participate in the following Q&A. Read further to see if she's answered any of your questions. Thanks Julie!

Which beauty products are the ones you can't live without?

It’s a completely vegan selection: Dr. Bronner’s liquid and bar soaps in Baby Mild and Tea Tree Oil; chamomile and sandalwood steam distillates from Mountain Rose Herbs that I buy every month despite custom charges (I am in the UK) and my husband’s protests (he’s an avid greenie, but he wants me to buy local, and I cannot find organic sandalwood local. Hmm. May need to reconsider my priorities.

For moisturizing, the only store-bought product I own is Skin Food by Weleda; the rest that I use is homemade. Right now it’s a moisturizer I made of green tea, wheat germ oil, organic olive oil, organic grape seed oil, hyaluronic acid, palmitoyl pentapeptide, and green tea catechins. It’s completely green but it’s very scientific. And it keeps my skin youthful and acne-free.

What carrier lotion, cleanser, etc. do you use?

I make my own base cream to play with various active ingredients such as peptides, idebenone, gold, silver, GABA. I am really brave because I work from home, and if something gives me breakouts, my daughter will be the only person to know. My husband is very fond of my complexion, so I always wear shimmery makeup by the time he’s back from work.

My base cream consists of olive and wheat germ oil in the base of emulsifying wax and green tea infusion. If anything happens, green tea will soothe my skin until I take the offending ingredient off. So far, nothing happened but I keep green tea as a skin insurance.

Back to cleansers. I use my own Petite Marie Organics cleanser which has a natural non-detergent base of Castille soap and decyl glucoside. I enrich it for my own use with green tea, sweet fenner, chamomile, calendula, and my family loves it. In fact, my daughter refused to let us shampoo her hair with any soap or shampoo until we tried this cleanser. From now on, I use it to remove makeup, my husband shaves with it, and we bathe our 20-month-old petite Marie in it. I don’t use any animal-derived ingredients in any of my products.

Where do you buy most of your ingredients for making homemade beauty products? Is there a site where they can be bought online?

I buy ingredients from and I also buy ingredients from small family manufacturers around the world. I usually find them on eBay. It's very ethical since you don't waste money on dealers.

How would someone modify your nonvegan recipes? For instance, do you have any substitutions for the ones that call for powdered milk, eggs, etc.?

Emulsifying wax is even better than beeswax, and it’s completely unscented. You can replace eggs with thickening products such as guar gum, acacia gum, or organically produced xanthan gum. Soy, almond and oats milk are wonderful replacements for cow's milk in recipes, and you may even find condensed versions that work really well for masks and cleansers.

Can you provide a raw vegan beauty recipe for my readers?

Not one but three:

For oily, acne prone skin nothing works better than onion puree. Make the puree in a food processor and apply at least weekly. You can also process onions with raw oats and garlic for maximum impact against acne.

For dry skin, mash one banana with six strawberries. Apply all over your face, including eye area. Strawberries will exfoliate while banana will supply minerals and vitamins.

For darks spots, apply raw potato puree anywhere you’d like to lighten things up a little bit - including eye areas! If there’s no time to make raw potato puree, apply raw potato wedges under your eyes to lighten undereye circles.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Now that's kinky

Did that get your attention? Well, don't get your panties in a bunch about the topic at hand, for it may not be as inappropriate as the title suggests.

According to Merriam-Webster, kinky is defined as either "closely twisted or curled," or "relating to, having, or appealing to unconventional tastes." So, get your mind out of the gutter and continue reading this post to find out how innocent it can be.

What I'm actually referring to is one of the natural beauty recipes from the book I am reviewing. This simple combination of purified water and plain organic oatmeal is a traditional kitchen spa treatment used by many. What makes this version unconventional is the addition of pureed onion, hence the "Kinky Oatmeal Mask" name.

"Onion acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and inhibits the overproduction of collagen in acne scars, while oatmeal penetrates deeply into pores, cleansing the excessive cell buildup and clogged pores," Julie Gabriel, author of "The Green Beauty Guide," explains.

This time of year, schedules are hectic, leading to stress and breakouts. Face it; not all of us are immune to the occasional blemish no matter how clean our diet or skin care regime. Even Ms. Gabriel found an opportunity to blog about homemade acne solutions, since her recent book promotion efforts have left their marks on her skin (hard to believe after seeing her flawless skin in her photo).

Therefore, this was the perfect time for me to test drive this kinky facial. It really does work wonders on stressed-out skin, but beware of its teary eye effects. If cutting onions makes you cry, be careful not to get this too close to your eyes. I kept mine closed during the application process and covered my peepers with cucumbers while it set. Looks like I'm not the only one sporting these specs (just pan down to the Crazy Cucumber Gang pic).

For more homemade beauty recipes, check out "The Green Beauty Guide" website for a sampling of what's inside its pages, and stop by my blog on Wednesday for my full review.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Jacob's Turkfruity

It's like Tofurky, but with fruit. You know; a veganized, rawified turkey stand-in. My sister helped the boys (hers and mine) make these rawdorable creatures as centerpieces for the meal yesterday. Now that's my kind of turkey :-)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Brunch, dinner and dessert =

A very full raw foodie.

Even living the raw lifestyle can lead to overindulgence today, and I definitely don't feel deprived with this Thanksgiving feast.

Last year, I stuck to the traditional fare: mock mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, Maraw's fabulous Southern Corn Nut Dressing (you really must try this recipe), cranberries, and marinated/"cooked" (in the dehydrator, of course) green beans and carrots. For dessert, I made a raw version of my mom's apple crisp.

I remember rushing around, trying to get everything ready to visit both sides of the family for dinner. That's right; we were scheduled for back-to-back meals, consisting of the same menu items x 2. No wonder I felt so stuffed.

This year, I skipped the stuffing altogether (although I highly recommend trying that dressing recipe when you get a chance), in favor of a simple veggie pot pie I rawified from an old copy of Vegetarian Times.

Inspire by the one in the magazine, I made the base out of butternut squash, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, miso, olive oil, white wine, curry powder, poultry seasoning, fresh thyme, sea salt, cayenne and fresh ground pepper. I pureed all these ingredients in my blender. For texture, I added chunks of zucchini, mushrooms and green beans, along with some more carrot, celery and onion. Then, I topped off the pot pie with a crust made out of ground mixed nuts.

Alongside the savory pie, I'm serving a kale salad with raw "caramelized" red onions and almonds. It's dressed in EVOO and balsamic vinegar, like the kale featured in the same issue. I also added some agave and dry mustard for a sweet and spicy twist.

For dessert, I made a raw mini version of the chocolate pie my mom makes every year. She's quite the pie maker, usually baking (in an oven; she's not raw) a variety of flavors to suit everyone's tastes (there has to be pumpkin, my one sister loves chocolate, the other one likes apple, my dad requests lemon meringue, etc.).

Today, we won't be around for the pie, since we already dropped in for brunch instead. Pumpkin muffins and fresh fruit were part of the spread. Therefore, I decided to bring along some of my raw pumpkin cupcakes/muffins. Yum.

I hope your Thanksgiving is just as tasty. I know I'm thankful for all that's on my plate :-)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Matthew's pumpkin trifle

Who's Matthew? Well, my husband's name is Matthew, which is why this recipe caught my eye. However, he's not the Matthew that inspired the name of this trifle.

I came across this layered dessert, while flipping through the pages of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine at work. It was simple to make, perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday and it had my hubby's name in the title. I just had to rawify it.

The original recipe calls for pumpkin bread, whipped topping, pudding, pumpkin butter and a sprinkling of walnuts. All of these ingredients are piled up in a tiny cup for portion control.

It's no surprise that I whipped up one of my raw pumpkin spice cupcakes in place of the pumpkin bread. I sliced off the cap, filled it with raw cream and pumpkin butter (pumpkin puree combined with date paste, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice), and put more of cream and pumpkin butter on top. Then, I garnished it with some chopped walnuts (I used these maple ones).

So, how did it taste? Was it good? You bet your home and garden it was :-)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Feeling hot, hot, hot

Hot as in spicy, that is. After having so much fun with my mock meatloaf and faux mash potato cupcake, I decided to add a little spice to the recipe to create this festive version.

My fiesta cupcake uses the same "meaty" base with the addition of some taco seasonings, like cumin, coriander and chili powder (as you can see in this naked cupcake pic to your right. Quick, cover the eyes of your little ones).

Then, I swapped out the tater top icing and green pea polka dots for a creamy guacamole, shredded carrot flakes and jalapeno pepper sprinkles. I kept the cherry tomato on top, because it was just too cute to pass up.

To really take this savory cupcake to the next level, you could also fill the inside with some cashew-based sour cream or mock refried beans (like how the cream is hidden inside my rawtess cupcakes). Then, add some salsa, chopped olives and/or your other favorite taco toppings to make this decked out meal your own. It's like a party on a plate, or in this case, in a cup :-)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Who says savory can't be fun?

Oops; I guess I did. If you recall my vampire breath post, you may remember me mentioning the fact that I don't post as many savory recipes, because "they're just not as fun to write about."

But tonight I'm posting an exception. Not yet ready to give up the cupcake theme, I decided to whip up a mini mock meatloaf and top it with some faux mashed potato icing (I wonder where I got that idea). It's accented with some green peas and a cherry (or in this case cherry tomato) on top. Now that's home uncook'n at its cutest.

The mock meatloaf is my own personal recipe, which I hid beneath a layer of Matt Amsden's Rawvolutionary Mashed "Potatoes." I won't be providing Mr. Amsden's recipe; for that, you'll have to pick up his book.

But, I can share the secret to making my meatless loaf. Embellish it however you like or construct your own savory masterpiece using another raw meatloaf recipe as the foundation. Have fun :-)

Two Mini Mock Meatloaves
1/2 cup walnuts
3 or 4 baby bella mushroom caps, diced
drizzle of Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1/2 Tbsp. miso
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup finely ground almonds or almond pulp
1/4 cup grated zucchini
2 Tbsp. grated carrot
2 Tbsp. finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced onion
fresh ground pepper
cayenne pepper
poultry seasoning
*Your favorite raw ketchup or barbecue sauce (optional)

In a food processor, combine walnuts and diced mushrooms. Add a drizzle of Bragg's, along with the miso, garlic and all of the seasonings (pepper, cayenne, poultry seasoning and parsley), to taste. Process into a blended, yet chunky consistency.

Remove the "meat" from the food processor and put it in a bowl. Add the almond flour, zucchini, carrot, celery, onion and more of the parsley. Mix to combine and divide between two ramekins.

Top both mini loaves with your favorite raw ketchup or barbecue sauce recipe (I like the one from Juliano's book). "Bake" them in your dehydrator for a couple hours until warm and they appear "cooked" on top.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Greening my reading

... and my beauty routine, too. That's what I've been busy with lately.

Swimming in a sea of raw cupcakes, you may not have noticed my little needle-in-a-haystack comment about participating in a virtual book tour. Therefore, I thought I'd share this opportunity with you now.

My blog has been selected as one of the stops on "The Green Beauty Guide" tour. As a result, I've been soaking in the information from Julie Gabriel's book on the subject and applying it from head to toe.

Now, I've always been a fan of natural beauty, so I absorbed this guide like a sponge, even testing out some of the recipes and recommended products. Every girl deserves some pampering.

If you want to find out more about my thoughts on the book, drop by my blog for the full review on Wednesday, Dec. 3rd. Feel free to purchase your own copy and read it before the big day. You're welcome to post your own comments about the book and start a discussion. I'm anxious to hear what you think, too.

In the meantime, for all you cupcake fans, I didn't want to disappoint. After hearing that Kristen (hey girlie girl, I think this book is right up your alley) started greening her home literally with a Christmas tree, I decided to dig up this photo of some of my rawified cupcakes displayed like a tree. Just ignore the birthday-themed background, as I made this for my blog's 1-year anniversary.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A hazy shade of yet another cupcake

And what a hazy photo it is. This was obviously a last minute shoot of my final cupcake in the collection (at least for a little while; I figured you needed a break).

If you look rather closely, you may be able to make out the creamy chocolate filling (it's the same as the topping from the rawchachinos in my last post, except with more cocoa added) in the center of these hazelnut cupcakes. Just like the one in "Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World," this rawified version is iced with a chocolate glaze and garnished with some chopped hazelnuts.

This was a lovely way to calm my cupcake cravings long enough to get to work on my next assignment. I have a book to finish reading, so I can be ready to review it soon. I'll give you more details in my next post.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wake me up before you cocoa

Like mochachino, chocochino. You know; something to wake you up before you go go (that's a Wham reference for those of you who are too young to remember).

Anyway, nearing the end of my cupcake kick, I decided to make one with a kick of its own in a slightly nontraditional fashion. This raw cake is actually served in a cup.

Now, I gave up coffee years ago, but still make room for a substitute every once in a blue moon (what color is the moon now? That reminds me of the line from the "Great Muppet Caper," when Kermit says they're gonna catch the thieves red-handed and one of the muppets responds with, "what color are their hands now?") Sometimes I perk myself up with raw cocoa, maca or yerba mate, but other times I just opt for the similar aroma and taste of Teeccino.

This time, I awakened all of my senses with a combination of raw cocoa powder, Java Teeccino, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. I added these ingredients into the following raw cake recipe and topped it off with some leftover raw whipped icing/cream flavored with a tad more cocoa. A sprinkling of cinnamon, and you guessed it, more cocoa powder make this treat reminiscent of those found at your local coffee shop, minus the coffee. Here's how to make your own:

Rawchachino Cupcakes for Two
1/2 cup almonds, ground into flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 Tbsp. Java Teeccino grounds
1 Tbsp. coconut milk or other nut milk
generous drizzles of agave nectar, to taste
sprinkling of cinnamon
dash of cayenne pepper
pinch of sea salt
*raw whipped icing mixed with a hint of cocoa powder
*more cocoa powder and cinnamon for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder, Teeccino, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and sea salt. Add the coconut milk and agave, and mix to combine. Adjust the amounts for both flavor and texture. The mixture should be damp, yet still crumbly like a cake.

Divide the mixture between two small espresso mugs and gently pat down the surface. Top off both mugs with some raw whipped icing tinted/flavored with a touch of cocoa powder. Garnish both mugs with a sprinkling of cinnamon and more cocoa powder.