Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pizza, unpopcorn & a movie

Friday nights are usually pizza night around here. Most of the time, the boys have their pizza, while I make my own version or perhaps something with an Italian flavor. In the cooler months, I'll make a heavier "baked" (in this case, dehydrated) slice, but this time of year, I prefer a lighter veggie base.

When I say veggie-based (literally), I often mean with a zucchini or other vegetable base. For instance, last night I made a French (zucchini) bread-style slice, using a squash I got from the farmers market.

I cut it lengthwise, seasoned it with sea salt and pepper, and topped it all off with two types of tomato rounds (also from the local market; too bad my lighting didn't allow the zebra-stripe's color to shine), fresh basil (again, purchased that evening), diced onion (from you know where), garlic, oregano, more salt and pepper, and a drizzle of EVOO.

On the side, I served spiral cut yellow squash (also local), sliced with the larger blade to look like curly fries. I tossed them lightly in olive oil, sprinkled them with sea salt and pepper, and absorbed the excess moisture off with a towel (I don't like my "fries" to be too greasy). I probably could have warmed them in the dehydrator, but their fresh from the market state was perfect for me.

At the farmers market, I ran into my friend Rawbin, who came back to the house for a quick visit. We chit-chatted for a while on the front porch, and then she left me with a gift: Jason Mraz's chocomole. Yum! I would've taken a picture, but I ate it too fast :-)

Later in the evening, the boys and I decided to settle down with a flick (Jacob insisted on "Racing Stripes," which was on Cartoon Network at the time). If I wasn't so full, I would've eaten some unpopcorn.

Just as the name suggests, it's just unpopped (raw) corn kernels cut fresh off the cob. When the corn is in season (I also got these tasty morsels locally that evening), they don't need much seasoning. Eat them plain or sprinkle them with sea salt, pepper and a little cayenne for a kick.

You can also add cumin, cilantro and a squeeze of lime for a Mexican flare, or keep it closer to the original popped stuff with some flax oil, sea salt and maybe a little nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.

This goes to show that you don't always need an exact copy of traditional cooked fare. Have a little fun with your food and play with the presentation (like when I made this). You might find you actually prefer these raw basics.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stackable fruit snacks

This is probably one of the simplest snacks ever. If you look a little closer, you can see. Instead of purchasing these Stackerz, I stacked my own fresh local fruit (apricots, cherries and blueberries).

Now, if you want something that resembles the processed product in texture, you can make your own real fruit roll-ups/fruit leather, using the recipe from the latest Raw Food Right Now e-newsletter. To subscribe, just enter your e-mail address in the top left corner of Heidi and Justin's website (, if you didn't catch it the first time).

Using real fruit to make raw fruit roll-ups is easy, like in this recipe. You can even get a little crazy trying out your own favorite flavor combinations. This would be a great way to get your kids involved in the process. I wonder if we can recreate blue raspberry?

As much as I enjoy pureeing and mixing fruits, I actually prefer dehydrating them just as they are. My hubby is a big apple chip fan, while I love Juliano's Swirled Bubble Gum (dehydrated strawberries, kiwis and/or mangoes swirled between your palms to check for doneness; according to Juliano, "if they hold their shape when rolled up, they're ready. Share!").

This time of year, I'm lucky if I can part with any of the fresh stuff long enough to prepare these chewy treats. But, if you find yourself with a little extra, these are excellent ways to preserve your local bounty.

By the way, is anyone else still sticking to the local challenge?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rachael Raw

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that I still occasionally watch Rachael Ray. This may seem odd, since she rarely makes anything vegan or raw. I guess I'm just waiting for her to explore this lifestyle (maybe I should write to her about it).

I also still get her e-newsletter, packed with tons of recipes for SAD-eaters. However, if you are willing to read through these supermarket suppers, you can sometimes find something suitable for those following a raw diet.

For instance, today's e-mail led me to a section of her website dedicated to no-bake recipes. Although most of them weren't really raw, there was one for cantaloupe soup, made from cantaloupe (duh), orange juice (please use fresh squeezed), lime juice and honey (you could also use agave, but if your cantaloupe is flavorful enough, you could eliminate it altogether).

Speaking of cantaloupe, they are in season right now, so if you are following a local diet, here's another recipe from the e-mail you might like. It's a cantaloupe and cucumber (also local) salad. I had to adjust the ingredients a bit (I got rid of the Greek yogurt, which I didn't miss at all, and used agave instead of the honey), but the end result was still very refreshing on this hot, humid day.

As for a refreshment, Rachael also gave me this idea, which I tweaked a bit again. I used agave in place of the refined sugar and added some lime and lemon slices (not from the farmers market, but I did purchase them from a little mom and pop kind of grocery store). Delish!

On a side note, I had hoped to make it to the NaturalZing potluck over the weekend, but opted to go out to dinner with my hubby instead (I wonder why I did that? Could it have been our anniversary?) There was going to be a Sproutman demonstration, so not to feel left out, I picked these up at Whole Foods. Yum-O!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Purple nurples

I know; that's a crazy name for a post. I guess I'm back with the "Chowder" theme (this lovable character's first recipe was called, "Purple Nurples"), as I've been spending my time uncooking with local ingredients.

For instance, yesterday I mentioned a dish I made for lunch out of a lilac pepper, Japanese eggplant and a cucumber. I didn't have a plan when I bought these; I was just drawn to the colors, which worked well together (when was the last time you saw a purple pepper in the grocery store?).

Not to let anything go to waste, I quickly came up with a recipe including all three ingredients. Here's what ended up on my plate:

Lilac Salad
1 Japanese eggplant, cubed
1/2 cucumber, cubed
1 lilac pepper, cut off top and bottom for garnish, then cube
2 Tbsp. raw tahini
1-2 Tbsp. umeboshi plum vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
generous squeeze of lemon
sea salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste

Add the eggplant, cucumber and pepper to a bowl, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Set aside while you make the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, vinegar, oil, agave, salt, fresh ground pepper and cayenne pepper. Add a generous squeeze of lemon juice, and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust ingredients to suit your palate (I'm not sure of the exact measurements, since I just made it up as I went).

Pour the dressing over the eggplant, cucumber and pepper mixture, and toss to coat. Garnish with the pepper top and bottom, as well as some cucumber spears.

*It's best to let this dish sit and absorb the flavors a little before serving.


Later in the day, I dressed up some more cucumber slices with the local blackberries I had been eyeing. This is probably the simplest and purest local recipe yet (Do you think I can pass them off to my son as purple nurples?).

Blackberry "Caviar"
on Cucumber Rounds

cucumbers, sliced into rounds
blackberries, with center removed
sea salt (optional)

Arrange the cucumber slices on a plate, and top with separated blackberries. Add a touch of sea salt, although not necessary (especially if you have good quality ingredients).


Wow, that really was simple. It's even easier than the peachmato salad from last weekend.

So, I decided to treat myself with a dessert that is also a breeze to make. Keeping with the purple theme, I whipped up another appliance-free recipe.

Chiaberry Breeze
About 1 cup blackberries, centers removed
1-2 Tbsp. chia seeds
drizzle of agave nectar
touch of vanilla
dash of sea salt
1-2 Tbsp. water, as needed

Place the separated blackberries in a small glass. Using a spoon, muddle the berries to remove some of the juice, while still leaving many of the berries intact.

Add the chia seeds, agave, vanilla and sea salt. Stir to combine. This mixture should still be a little runny, so add a little water, if needed.

Refrigerate for about an hour, so it can gel. Garnish with a few whole berries. And, as usual, enjoy!

By the way, Matthew and I will be celebrating 7 years of marriage tomorrow. Happy anniversary, honey :-)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Are you up for the challenge?

Yeah me! I did make it down to the farmers market last night, where I was handed this flier about the "Buy Local Challenge."

Here's how it works:

Who? Every family in Maryland is encouraged to take the "Buy Local Challenge!"

What? The "Buy Local Challenge" is a voluntary pledge to include locally-grown products in your meals for one week (July 19-27, 2008).

Where? Stock up at your local farms, farm stands and markets that offer genuine local products, and dine at restaurants featuring local farm food and wine.

Why? When you get a taste of fresh, delicious, farm-grown products, you'll want to buy from your local farmers all year!

How? You'll find directories of farms and markets, plus recipes, tips and much more at

You don't have to be in Maryland to participate. All you have to do is aim to eat at least one item from a local farm every day.

I made sure to stock up this week on local fruits and veggies. Here is some of my Maryland-grown produce (the blackberries were actually from one of the ladies at church. They're so good).

I'm off to a good start with a cantaloupe (including the seeds), spinach, cinnamon and vanilla bean green smoothie, although I was tempted to make a soup. One of the stands was actually selling cold cantaloupe and peach soup. Yum. Too bad it contained yogurt (now was that really necessary?).

I continued the challenge with a dish I made up using the lovely lilac pepper, Japanese eggplant and cucumber pictured at the top of this post. I'll tell you more about it soon ;-)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Peachmato Salad?

Sounds like a recipe from "Chowder," one of the cartoons my son likes to watch on Cartoon Network (okay, so maybe I enjoy viewing it, too. I guess that's how I know Chowder would have made his out of slomatoes). It's actually a lunch I tossed together over the weekend out of items I purchased at the local farmers market.

To make this silly sounding dish, I sliced some peach and tomato wedges (I was surprised at how much I loved this combination after trying it in this beverage), and tossed them together with some balsamic vinegar, EVOO, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and torn mint leaves. It doesn't get any easier than that.

Due to the simplicity of this dish, it's very important to get the best tasting ingredients possible, and what better way to do that than to buy local. My peaches were picked that very day, and the farmer who sold me the tomatoes (pesticide-free, of course) was able to tell me about all the varieties he had for sale (I was allowed to pick and chose a mix of my favorites, one of them being a peach tomato, which was perfect for this salad).

I've been doing my best to support the local farmers lately. Now, I haven't gone as far as to try a local diet (I could never give up my bananas), but I make an effort to go to the market near my house every week. I even plan to base most of my meals around what is available around here. It's a little difficult, since you never know what you're going to get. It just makes meal planning more interesting.

I hope to make it to the farmers market again tomorrow. I wonder what I'll get? Maybe I'll treat myself with a pesticide-free bouquet of flowers.

Last week, I got this all natural bug repellent. It might not sound like anything special to most people, but take it from someone who gets bit a lot, this spray really is nice.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

There's no crying in bowling

That is, unless you're a member of my family. It's just not a trip to the bowling alley without someone breaking down into tears, and this time was no exception.

Last weekend was my nephew Colin's 4th birthday, and what did he want to do the most? Go bowling, of course (every time I have him in the car with me, he asks if he can go).

So yesterday, my dad took the boys (my son Jacob, Colin and his brother Cameron), my sister, yours truly and my grandfather to the local bowling alley for a day of fun (Jacob, Colin, my dad and I were the only ones actually in the game, although Cameron bowled a few of the boys' frames in the end).

Now you would think Colin, who is the youngest of the group, would have been the crier this time, but unfortunately for me, it was actually my son.

Jacob had never been bowling, unlike his 4-year-old cousin, who had been dozens of times. His only experience with the sport was either on the Wii or with lightweight toy pins (sometimes we've even used old tennis ball containers). So, you can understand how nervous I was about his first time rolling a real bowling ball down a long lane at pins that required a little more than a slight tap to fall down.

I was concerned. Would he be able to pick up a weighted ball? Could he figure out how to roll it down the lane? Would it make it to the end of the lane? How would he deal with not getting strikes and spares like he does so well in the video game version?

To my surprise, he picked up the ball like a pro and rolled it as if he had done it many times. He even pulled out some spares and gave me a run for my money at the end of the first game. He nearly beat me, if it wasn't for the fact that I somehow managed to get a strike and a spare in the last frame.

Okay, so maybe he had some help from the bumpers, but they sure didn't benefit my final score. It's been years since I had been bowling, and it showed. I also had the challenge of transitioning my skills back into the real world after my time spent virtual bowling with a Wii remote. Nothing beats the real deal.

That reminds me; we saw the movie, "WALL-E" this week. It took place in the future, where people were out of shape, spending their days transported in levitating recliners and drinking all their meals from disposable cups (and I'm pretty sure they weren't green smoothies). It goes to show that if you don't move it, you lose it.

At the end of our first game, Jacob was the first to ask about playing a second round. However, not used to lifting that much weight, he was also the first to get tired, causing his melt-down in the fifth frame.

Luckily, it didn't last long, and after a couple frames filled in by designated bowler Cameron, Jacob dusted himself off and finished out the game.

After all that weight-lifting, it was time to refuel. There wasn't much for the raw foodie amongst the hotdogs, burgers, subs, fries, popcorn, ice cream (Cameron thought I should take a picture of the "split" on the score board screen), etc., but somehow I managed to find a garden salad on the menu.

It was a few handfuls of iceberg lettuce, some green pepper strips, chunks of tomato and sliced cucumber and radishes served on a Styrofoam plate (I am totally not a fan of this material) with some plastic ware (sounds like we are well on our way to the garbage-covered Earth portrayed in the "WALL-E" movie. I really wish I had remembered to bring my To-Go Ware).

When I got home, I couldn't wait to have a frozen treat like the ones served up at the bowling alley snack bar. I had my mind set on a float (makes me think of this song my sister and her husband used as the soundtrack to one of our vacation videos), probably since my mom has talked about making them lately.

Now, I wasn't about to make a traditional float out of bottled root beer and milk/cream/sugar-based ice cream. Instead, I made my own cherry chocolate version out of my chocolate cherry n'ice cream and fresh cherry soda (sparkling water, cherries, agave and vanilla). Just like the original, mine also floats.

You can do the same thing with your favorite raw n'ice cream flavor and "soda" (check this root beer out on Gone Raw) or other raw beverage (Charissa makes hers extra thick with a milkshake base. Yum!). Enjoy :-)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Red, ripe & blueberry

I just love fireworks. They are my favorite part of the Fourth of July holiday.

Last night, we (Jacob, Paw Paw and myself) were lucky to get a sneak preview, since the beach where we live shoots them off on July 3rd. We're able to enjoy the sights and sounds without having to camp out early to ensure a good spot.

You would think I'd outgrown my fondness for the bright bursts of color in the night sky, accompanied by the explosive background noises and cheers from the kids (as well as the young at heart). But, my youthful spirit and the joy I see on my son's face keep me coming back for more (I still step outside our house when the nearby marina sets theirs off during the warm weather weekends).

My excitement was still present today, as I tossed together this quick confetti coleslaw. The sprinkling of hues reminded me of our view last night.

It's so simple to make (I didn't want anything too complex for my day off). I just grabbed a few handfuls of coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrot), broccoli slaw, spiral sliced yellow squash and some more carrot shreds, and dressed it all in a combination of apple cider vinegar, EVOO (I apologize for the Rachael Ray abbreviation), garlic, sea salt, pepper, mustard and agave.

I don't know why, but I always crave coleslaw on the Fourth of July.

On the other side of the spectrum, I also find that this holiday is not complete without a frozen treat. So, today, I whipped up a quick banana-based split, I'd like to call my Red, Ripe & Blueberry Split.

Quite some time ago, I posted my easy banana split recipe on the Gone Raw site. This patriotic version consists of the same banilla and strawberry flavors, as well as a blueberry enhanced scoop of chocolate. I also skipped the sauce toppings in favor of fresh fruit.

I was inspired to make this dessert this morning after drinking my red, white and blue in disguise green smoothie. The greens conceal the true colors of the strawberries, banana and blueberries inside (I'm sensing a fruit theme). I also added some raw cocoa butter for richness.

Tonight, I'll be breaking away from tradition by taking part in a lasagna dinner at my parent's house (I'll be bringing my spiral slicer for those who would rather have zucchini pasta). We'll be celebrating my dad's birthday (it was July 2nd), and since he does the grilling, we opted for something besides the usual cookout. Happy birthday, dad!