real raw kitchen: July 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday: july 31, 2013

This past week has been so busy in our household. I've been eating a lot of the same ... mostly salads ... but I thought I'd show you some of the more exciting things I've had this past week, as well. The neat thing about the foods I've been eating it a lot of them are so easy and approachable. No fancy kitchen equipment, just the right (and simple) ingredients.

Green Smoothie. I killed it with this one and you can too. It's so easy. I made some nut mylk and then blended it with a lot of kale, frozen bananas, fresh figs, and then spirulina and maca. If you don't have some of those ingredients, that's also fine. The key ingredients here are the green and the frozen banana. Play with the ingredients and the ratios until it's ahh-worthy!

 Coconut Smoothie. At the in-laws I noticed a whole, unopened coconut in the garbage. I grabbed it immediately, rinsed it off, and then opened it up for the precious meat. I blended it with some cinnamon, blueberries, and a banana for a simple and delicious meal. If you ever get your hands on coconut meat do NOT waste it. It is delicious.

 Simple Almond Butter Sauce. I mixed raw almond butter with coconut water and cinnamon for an easy sauce to pour over my fruit. It gave an extra sumtin' sumtin' to an otherwise simple combination.

 Coconut cream with fig compote. I think this sounds fancy but it really isn't. You can make the coconut cream however you'd like (I usually just blend the meat from one coconut with a couple tablespoons of coconut water, add some vanilla bean and sweetener) and then make the compote. The compote is just a little bit of maple syrup, cinnamon and chopped figs, mashed together. YUM!

 Fruit. I apologize, I'm still on this whole cherry kick. I love 'em.

Chocolate. I've been playing with my food and I'm trying to make a chocolate that will last. This is my first installment of recipe testing for chocolate bars ... and I have to say: I'm so glad that this is a fun recipe to test ...

Nothing too special this week but I think that's okay. Eating healthy isn't hard or fancy. Sometimes it really is as simple as eating fruits and veggies all day long. Just make sure you enjoy what you're eating!!

xo




Tuesday, July 30, 2013

RECIPE: Red Pepper Dressing

I've been on a red pepper kick lately and I'm happy to embrace it. I've been throwing red pepper into my smoothies, dressings, salads, and other various meals. It's so yummy and so chock full of nutrients so I can't say I'm disappointed. It's an excellent source of Vitamin A, which is excellent for energy levels and glowing skin, so it's a great beauty food.

and we all love beauty foods

So, of course, I had to make a dressing out of it. For fear of boredom, I decided to use it as the shining ingredient in this salad. I loved it. So crisp, refreshing, and light. It was perfect for the humidity we've been having here in Miami and paired well with tropical mango and spicy arugula. 

It's also a low-fat dressing, naturally, that can be made fat free if you omit the oil. I dressed a salad made of arugula, red bell pepper slices, mango slices, avocado slices, carrot ribbons and some sesame seeds for my seed cycling.

Red Pepper Dressing:
a recipe
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 T oil
1/4 cup water
1 T paprika
sea salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything except the oil in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the oil and blend until combined (if you continue it will emulsify, which is also nice). Done!

Use over anything you'd like, but I find that it pairs well with light flavors and avocado.

xo


Monday, July 29, 2013

weekend wanderer: stormy clouds

The weekend is always such a great thing for me. I treat it like my own personal, mini vacation where I retreat to a pseudo-oasis in my own home. My bathroom turns into a homemade spa and my outings turn into little adventures. I love the weekends and most weekends I feel so replenished at the end.

This weekend was a little different for me, mostly because I made the biggest mistake a person can make on the weekend: I used it to catch up on things I hadn't accomplished during the week.

My #1 rule for the weekend, always, is to use it to play. If you don't have some serious me-time over the weekend, then when will you have it?? I purposefully leave work at work so all I have to do at home is have fun. However, this weekend consisted of certain duties and obligations and so what resulted was a very uneventful and forgettable weekend for me.

This weekend was so promising, too. It started out wonderfully at a 5 star spa in Miami, thanks to Miami Spa Month ... the only month where I ever do 5 star anything.  


The spa overlooked the city, which is always a magnificent view, and had such a tranquil atmosphere. Incense burned throughout the halls and natural essential oils were used for the massage. The steam room and sauna room were to-die-for and I, admittedly, spent most of my time bouncing back and forth between the two.


Then the adventures began with my excursion to the farmer's market. I enjoy this weekend ritual, immensely, and I still think this was such a fun and unforgettable trip. But it sucked up a lot of my day and left me feeling rushed the rest of the weekend since I couldn't get much else done.

I became trapped under the tents of the market by the absolute downpour that rolled in. As I was walking into the market a friendly man from the neighborhood said to me, "I notice you forgot your umbrella". I laughed, glanced up at the big, black cloud that lingered above us, and said "well I'll have to hurry!". He laughed too, probably because he knew no amount of "hurry" would get me out in time.


Before I knew it I was trapped. The thunder, lightening, and rain trapped all of us shoppers under the tent and all of the hopeful shoppers in their cars. I chose to wait for it to pass, since it usually does, and stood off to the side to watch the few brave people dart out into the darkness (at 11 a.m., nonetheless).

After about 30 minutes the tents started to cave in from the water. The floors became flooded and I had to hike up my dress so I could stand in the puddles. People started to get grumpy as we all got more and more wet. Finally, after evaluating my body and realizing that I was already pretty wet even though I was tucked away under the tent I thought I might as well make my way back to my car ... if I'd be wet, anyway, then what's the use in waiting around?

I tied my dress up by my thighs, rolled my paper bag of market goodies as tightly as I could, and then darted out into the rain. I made it no more than 2 feet and I could feel that every inch of me was already drenched.

I got trapped in the parking lot by the enormous puddle (pond??) that made me slowly wade through to the other side. I finally made it out of the lot and onto the street where I parked. At this point I stopped running because it was no use anymore and instead just looked around. From what I could see from the droplets dripping off of my eyelashes I was the only person brave (dumb?) enough to be out in the storm at that time. 

The entire experience suddenly became so liberating.

I started laughing at the absurdity of it all; at the fact that I had even tried to move quickly to avoid getting more wet, and the fact that I was in the middle of the flooded street, alone, laughing. I walked to my car in complete surrender, letting the rain just pound on my every inch of my body. When I got to my car I plopped into the seat, shut the door, and just laughed some more. I turned on the engine and began to drive and within minutes the rain had completely stopped, the dark cloud almost evaporated, and I was met with sunshine as if that entire scene had never happened.


We made our way to the beach last night and I spent some time in the calm waters, hoping to salvage the weekend with one last "ahhh" moment. The weather in Miami is crazily temperamental and I was able to experience many, many sides to it in the course of one 24 hour cycle.

If you live in a tropical climate then you know exactly the rain I'm talking about. If not, or you're like me and grew up in a temperate climate, then this kinda of weather is really astounding. It is one of the most impressive acts of Mother Nature I can fathom and I'm usually in awe by it more than annoyed (except for when I have to walk through the rain at work ... then I'm less in awe)

How was YOUR weekend? Were you able to relax?? I hope so :)

xo



Friday, July 26, 2013

the case for organic food

After a long and busy day at work my SO and I finally made our way home. We had been away from our haven for more than 13 hours and we were ready to get home, unwind, and collapse into our plush bed. We parked the car and climbed the back stairs that lead to our kitchen door. This door allows for an easy exit in the mornings and an even easier return after a long day. We put the key in the door and pushed the door, awaiting our oasis.

When we pushed, the door didn't budge.


We tried again, but again the door didn't budge. Someone had locked the deadbolt, which you can only do from the inside. We were a little confused but assumed that someone had been in our apartment for maintenance purposes ... about twice a year we get random things replaced that mostly leave our apartment in more of a disarray than in help. We are usually uninformed of these changes until we come home with a dusty hole where the water heater used to be.


Last night, when we finally opened the door, what we found was unsettling. Every single cabinet door was open. Every single drawer was hanging on its hinges. Every closet door was wide open. Our stovetop appliances had been moved to the kitchen counter and our stovetop light was "on". We slowly walked through the kitchen until we met in the living room where we found an enormous cardboard piece with a tiny canister sitting on top of it. The smell in the apartment was nauseating, a clearly poisonous smell that was reminiscent of "Raid". We looked at each other and then kept walking through the apartment, back to our bedroom. Another cardboard piece with a canister was in the doorway of the apartment. The smell was even stronger there.


Finally, after what seemed like hours but was only minutes, we pieced together what had happened. The maintenance for our apartment complex had "fogged" our apartment ... as a routine pest control operation, I'm guessing. Though it's not that routine because this has never happened before.


We read the back of the canister and in bold letters the warning read, "Cover any and all food utensils and dishware that may be used after application. Keep away from food. Wash everything thoroughly if you may use it before eating. Cover furniture and anything you may be in direct contact with."



My home had been fogged with poison and against my will, without any kind of preparation. All of our food (remember me? The fruit loving, veggie eating, raw foodie??) had been contaminated and our chic wire rack that held all of our vintage dishware had a sticky film of poison on it.


All I could think was: of course, the girl that washes her hair with vinegar to avoid the parabens would have her apartment fogged.

The irony in this is not lost on me. But then all I could think was that all of this was just to rid the apartment of ants. Ants!! What have they ever even done, except raid my countertop when I'm too lazy to wipe it down??


Then I realized, this is exactly what they do to food crops in order to rid them of pesky little bugs. And then they ship those foods off to the grocery stores and then I happily pluck them off the shelves and gobble them up like a good, little raw foodie.

 "Organic? Psh. Who needs organic?! Fruits and vegetables--with or without pesticides--are still better than canned mush."


I used to make that argument on the daily, arguing that the extra price was just a way for poshy people to prove that they were still better than us poor folks that can only afford conventional fruits and vegetables. But here I was, nearing a panic attack because everything was covered in poison, realizing the same goes for my food.



And pesticides are no joke, either. The NRDC recommends that we choose wisely when we are purchasing foods because there are serious neurological and reproductive consequences to consuming pesticides. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit their child's overall exposure to pesticides due to decreased cognitive functioning, behavioral problems, and pediatric cancer.


And we wonder how ADHD has just skyrocketed over the years?!


What's even more is that scientists are deeming a lot of these pesticides as "obesogenics", meaning that they program stem cells to develop into fat cells, essentially increasing your fat storage more than is necessary. Which is how obesity works.

As a rule of thumb, when shopping, follow the "Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen" rule ...



Kimberly Snyder has done a great introduction on the importance of organic foods and I'll leave you with that (for now) as I've just begun my obsessive research on this topic. Consider this a "part I" in the series of health benefits of organic foods.


And, by the way, those studies that made a big deal about organic food not being more nutritious than inorganic food make me let out a major eye roll. Who said it was ever about nutrients?? What about the poison-potential??

What do you think about all of this??

xo


Thursday, July 25, 2013

this is yoga


RECIPE: easy chocolate pudding

I love chocolate. It runs in my family. (Is that a genetically inherited trait??) One of my favorite things about raw food is that it is so easy to enjoy chocolate in a relatively healthy way. Cacao is an incredible food source. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants ... and also a tiny bit of caffeine. If you are avoiding caffeine and of the belief that cacao is not for you, then rock on and swap it out for something else, like carob, here. I, however, love cacao and use it every once in awhile when I want something decadent.


This is a very common dish in the raw food world and you will see it on almost any blog that has raw foods. In fact, my first attempt/recipe is here and while I'm a fan I have to admit that my taste testers thought it was strange. It was good but it was clearly "healthy."

I've adjusted it so that now it is clearly good and then also healthy. My SO is not a fan of avocado puddings and in fact thinks they are quite absurd. It's one of those why-are-you-faking-something-you-can't-replicate beliefs (that I agree with, for the most part, in a lot of raw and vegan dishes ... i.e. fake meat..??) But when I served this up he ate it happily, claiming it's the best raw avocado pudding he's ever had. I also caught him sneaking seconds and thirds!


I use maple syrup in this pudding ... and I use a lot. It is not raw and it is a lot of sugar but I still love maple syrup and I also get about 8 servings from this recipe so that's about 2 tablespoons per serving ... which is much more approachable than an entire cup.

Still not a fan?? Then cut it down, to your liking!

Chocolate Pudding:
a recipe
2 1/2 ripe avocados
1 cup cacao powder
1 cup maple syrup (non raw)
1 T cinnamon
1 t vanilla (seeds scraped from bean)
2-4 T nut mylk, as needed

Combine everything in a food processor and process until you reach the desired consistency. Add the nut mylk, as needed, in order to get the consistency you like. Scrape down the sides as you go until it is perfectly smooth. 

Taste and adjust as needed. I like mine a tad bitter but you can add more cacao/sweetener/whatever until it's just right for you!

I serve this with raspberries or strawberries and it is just divine. Mmmmm maybe I'll go make more ...

Let me know what you think!!

xo



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday: july 24, 2013

This past week I visited home, in California, so my eats were just a bit different than usual (though totally delicious, still). The first thing I did when I went home was stocked up on fresh fruits at Trader Joe's ... we do not have one (yet!) in Miami so I was beyond excited.

Also, California oranges are amazing. You can buy a 10 pound bag for about $6 and they are perfectly juicy, sweet, soft and fresh. I missed them so much and could not wait to get my hands on some of those beauties.

I also ate out for a few meals at the raw and vegan restaurants around town, making a point to stop by Cafe Gratitude and Crossroads, a new vegan restaurant in Los Angeles. So this What I Ate Wednesday is mostly travel foods, which is great, so you can see that travelling in the raw is very doable.


Fruit. Fruit never fails and it is almost always available. I stocked up on California oranges and strawberries and munched happily every morning on bowls of fresh fruit.


Bananas. Nature's original powerbars. I always stock up on these because they are easy to travel with and provide lots of calories and energy. My friends maaayyy have looked at me a bit strange when I brought home so many, but hey, a girl's gotta eat ...


Chlorella Tablets. Travelling can drain your body and your immune system so I always take some chlorella tablets with me to make sure I'm getting the extra boost that sea veggies offer.



Kale Chips. Before I left I made a tray of kale chips so I could take them with me on the plane. I am SO glad I did. They are so easy to make, provide such a nice and savory snack for the plane, and leave me feeling good rather than tired and bloated (like usual airport snacks).


Salad. My first day back I loaded up on greens to keep things moving. Travelling can make your body do weird things and suck the energy out of you. I included greens in every meal to ensure that my system was able to flush anything out and to restock my energy level. This salad was delicious and low in fat with a simple basil dressing.

---

Travelling doesn't have to be a pain and when you begin to incorporate healthy foods into your life it can actually be exciting. I love bringing snacks with me, and I love that my snacks are undoubtedly more delicious than the snacks available at the airport. 

Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you need to trash your body! I wasn't 100% raw on this vacation but I was 100% happy with my choices in food. And that is important because I was able to be active and happy, and that is really what matters!

xo





Tuesday, July 23, 2013

RECIPE: mango tomato cold soup

I love summer and since I've moved to Miami I've sort of lost track of the seasons. We really only have two seasons here, and they're mostly identified as the "wet" season and the "windy" season. It's always hot and when it's not raining it's sunny. So for the past few months I've been referring to summer as if it were already here, only to realize it hadn't begun yet!

Now that it's officially here I can claim: hooray for summer! The main reason I love summer is because of all the fruit that comes out. I love eating fruit (as if you didn't already know this) but I also love playing with it and incorporating it into my meals in different, savory ways.


The easiest way to do this is by using an 801010 approach. This diet usually relies heavily on fruits and then incorporates different veggies to compliment the fruit. Think: romaine, cucumbers, zucchini, celery and loads of bananas, dates, mangos, etc.

Which works for me because I love all of these things.

One thing I've noticed is that mango works exceptionally well in the place of savory items like dressings and soups. It is a sticky sweet that is undeniably good but also holds together well, providing a nice and thick consistency. It carries other flavors well, also, like various spices and herbs. Cilantro and cumin come to mind when I'm thinking about mango.


So it's not uncommon for 801010ers to use mango as the base of something spectacular. This entire line of thought is really what inspired this dish. It's meant to be a savory dish but the mango carries the flavor to a whole new level. It pairs beautifully with the tomato and zucchini, here.

And did I mention this soup only has 3 ingredients??

If ever there were an excuse that being raw is too hard, too expensive, or too time consuming then meals like this will quickly dispel those excuses. This takes about 10 minutes to make, depending on how efficient you are at peeling and chopping ... ;)


Though this is my own variation of a mango-tomato soup, I got the idea from Ellen Fisher. She is the cutest raw foodie with the most adorable family. Yes, I gathered all of this information from her Instagram but, no, I'm not (entirely) a creeper. 

I used fewer mangos and skipped the cilantro. I also added zucchini to the base. And then this magnificent meal was born.

It is perfect for this unbearable tropical heat we have now that it is "summer" here, it digests quickly and easily, and gives such a boost in my energy levels since it's a pure source of carbohydrates and natural sugar. Mango is also known as a "cooling" food in Ayurveda so as someone that "overheats" easily (a Pitta dosha) and also living in a very hot and tropical climate ... this is just perfect!! 

 Mango Tomato Cold Soup:
a recipe
1 mango, cubed
1 tomato, cubed
1 zucchini

Put the mango and about 3/4 of the tomato into the blender. Use half the zucchini for garnish and the other half (cubed) into the blender. Add just a splash of water to facilitate blending and the blend until smooth. Shred the zucchini and use as garnish. That's it!!

If you're like my SO then you may want to double (or triple) the amount you use. It's not uncommon for people to use 3-4 large mangoes at a time, or 8-10 small mangoes. Use what works for you!

It is just perfect. Mmm. I enjoyed it here for an afternoon lunch. 

Give it a try and let me know what you think!!

xo



Friday, July 19, 2013

RECIPE: Strawberry Watermelon Summer Salad

Sometimes a girl's just gotta have salad. I crave greens and I usually have them throughout the day. At least one meal a day includes an enormous bowl of greens. My SO swears I'm part rabbit ...

However, just because I love lettuce it doesn't mean I am always excited to eat salad. I get bored of it just like anyone else and I mention this here on the blog quite often. I am a firm believer in good food and a salad that isn't good is a salad you won't eat. 

and then what's the point?

So I'm constantly playing with my foods, finding delicious combinations and dressings to make salad something I look forward to everyday. It's all about the little ingredients, the special somethin' that makes a salad more than just a salad

My favorite additions are:
  • fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, mint, parsley, oregano, dill)
  • fresh green onions
  • nuts/seeds (flax, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, pine)
  • different dressing combinations (miso, orange, lemon, tahini, balsamic, maple syrup, spices)
  • fresh fruit (strawberries, watermelon, mango, avocado)
  • dried fruit (figs and dates)
  • grains (quinoa, rice)
  • superfoods (chlorella, spirulina, dulse flakes)
  • squash (butternut, kabocha, zucchini)
  • sweet potato
You get the idea ... I mix and match until I find something good. I hardly get bored with salad and if I (God-forbid) do get bored of salad then I honor my body. Salad is NOT a punishment and so I never treat it that way. When I am just-not-feelin'-it then I make something else, like raw pizza, raw noodles, a simple avocado toast with Ezekiel sprouted bread, nori wraps ... it's all practically salad anyway!

This salad is one that my friend made at a backyard picnic. I fell in love, immediately, and recreated it later that week. For those of you looking for something fresh and tasty, serve this. Everyone will fall in love.


Strawberry Watermelon Summer Salad:
a recipe
1 cup watermelon, cubed
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1/8 red onion, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
2-4 cups greens (I used arugula)

Combine in a bowl and toss to mix. Dress with mixture (below) and serve.

Spicy Balsamic Dressing:
a recipe
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 t mustard powder
1 t maple syrup (non raw)

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and then pour over your salad and toss.

So refreshing and delicious! Give it a try. July is the perfect month to have a salad like this!

xo



Thursday, July 18, 2013

travel: caifornia, my heart

Very few places on the Earth really capture me, fully, like Los Angeles. The minute I step out of the airport I can feel my chest rise, my heart beat faster, and a smile that I didn't know I was missing creep across my face. The cool, crisp California air floats around me as the sunshine kisses my cheeks. It's really not anything special, especially for someone that grew up in this temperate weather, but now that I've been removed from such a place I find that every time I return I am in awe with every bit of it.



If you don't know my story, let me quickly recap it for you: I love California. But I love my fiancé. And so I moved from California to Miami to be with him. End of story.

The day I packed my bags was one of the hardest days of my life. There was so much certainty in my love for this place that it was hard to turn my back on it for a big, fat unknown. I'm happy I did because my relationship has rocked my world and I've developed into a woman that I can easily say I'm proud of as a result. At the same time it is always so incredibly hard to return home because I always fear I may never board the return flight to Miami.

I find myself enjoying the dirty streets of Hollywood because only in Hollywood can you appreciate the story behind the dirty streets. I don't mind traffic quite as much because I find that it gives me an excuse to look around and have my windows rolled down. The poshy people in Brentwood don't bother me quite as much as one would think only because I think it's so funny that the residents of Brentwood (one of the most isolated and wealthy areas of Los Angeles) would have anything to be concerned about, in the first place. The homeless people that ask for money and the drug addicts that bark at me only make me curious. I have no hate in my heart for any of it, only love and curiosity.

Somehow, this city has captured my soul, rendered me completely useless in the realm of discernment as I shrug off the shortcomings and the smog as "a part of the experience". 

So here I am, finding myself smile as I exit a crowded store simply because the sun is gently lapping on my skin as the cool, marine breeze touches my hair. It's an experience that can only be described as one of California.

Also, Los Angeles and Santa Monica are like the raw food mecca and for someone that is giddy over coconut and goji berries it seems unreal that I could ever leave a place like this. The Co-Op in Santa Monica is like my personal treasure trove and the different raw food restaurants that are sprinkled precariously throughout the city make this place a very special wonderland for me.

Sometimes it's good to just get away, take a trip that is good for the soul. What do you think?? Do you have anywhere that does this for you?

xo




RECIPE: Lemon Neiman Marcus Bars and Irish Moss

This recipe is one of the most exciting recipes I have created ... and that is a pretty huge statement (especially considering these). This was more of an experiment, but when I peeked into them after a night in the fridge I basically squealed in excitement!


What the heck is Irish Moss?

It's actually not Irish and it's really not moss. Instead, it is a seaweed that works as a gelling agent and emulsifier when used for food purposes. It also has incredible beauty benefits and can be used topically on the skin, hair and nails (um, next DIY project, for sure)


Just like any seaweed, this little creature has tons of nutrients:
  • Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, F, and K
  • Amino acids
  • Beta-carotene
  • Calcium
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Protein
  • Sulfur
  • Zinc
The most impressive of these is Iodine as Iodine is often difficult to get for many people (raw foodies, vegans, omnivores, carnivores, potato-chip-ivores ...) Iodine is found mostly in things coming from the sea, so fish and seaweed alike.

Iodine is a great detoxifier but is also a great help in balancing your thyroid and your hormones. And as a young woman in the birth-control-as-a-multivitamin era, I can really appreciate the extra little help in balancing my hormones. 

As a beauty agent, you can eat your iodine in order to promote healthy hair, skin and nail growth. You can also create a nice little gel from the Irish Moss and use in your hair like a conditioner or on your skin like a salve.

 It's really pretty fabulous.


Now, the bad side: Irish Moss has been getting a bad reputation as of late because of its carrageenan content. Carrageenen is an additive that is first extracted from sea vegetables and used in products in order to bind the ingredients in such a way that they do not separate while sitting on the shelf. When the carrageenan is extracted and used by itself it can cause inflammation in the body. Any all-natural-medium-crunchy hippy (like myself) knows that inflammation is the root of all evil sickness and disease.

Irish Moss in its whole form, however, has a less potent effect on the body because the carrageenan is used, wholly. Now, a lot of people would argue that it is still bad and still causes inflammation, which on some level is true: carrageenan is an inflammatory food. I, however, am of the position that it is a fun ingredient to use, I don't use it often (or consume often, for that matter) and so I'm not really afraid to play with it. But YOU can feel differently and make your choice, accordingly.

The important lesson, here, is to know that carrageenan is actually used often and is probably in a lot of your packaged foods. Just look for it on the ingredient list and avoid it. How simple is that?? As always, I hate the restrictive side of eating healthy and while I feel that I do a great job of eating things in their whole and complete form I also understand that I can drive myself crazy if I try to maintain this purity!

Don't go crazy. Just do what you can.


Crust:
2 cups macadamia nuts

  • Process in a food processor until it is broken down and the oil is released. Do not process too much or it will turn into a butter! You want enough of the oil released so it all holds together.
  • Press down into a baking dish lined with parchment paper or plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate.


Lemon Filling:
a recipe
1/2 cup irish moss, dry
4 lemons, juiced
3/4 cup maple syrup (non raw)
pinch of turmeric (for color)

  • Rinse your irish moss thoroughly to remove dirt and debris. 
  • Soak in water for a minimum of 4 hours, no more than overnight (it gets waterlogged after that, in my experience.)
  • The irish moss will triple in size so be sure to keep it covered in water in a large enough bowl.
  • Blend the drained irish moss with the lemon juice, turmeric, and maple syrup until well incorporate with no bits left.
  • Pour the mix over your crust and let it set in the fridge overnight.


Coconut Meringue:
a recipe
2 coconuts, meat scraped out and water reserved
(OR 1 can full fat coconut milk)
1/2 cup coconut butter
1 t vanilla (bean scraped, or extract)
1/4 cup coconut nectar or maple syrup (non raw)

  • Add the coconut meat and 1 cup of the water to a blender and blend until smooth. (just dump the can of coconut milk into a blender if you choose to use this)
  • Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
  • Pour into a bowl and cover. 
  • Place in the fridge overnight so it can firm up. When it is ready, spoon in onto your lemon bars.
These were a major hit at the work place and are a major hit with my taste buds. They are so light and mild that it doesn't feel quite like a dessert, but also is so yummy that it satisfies that dessert-shaped-hole in your heart.




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday: july 17, 2013

This past week has been a very eventful one in the Real Raw household. With important business trips, heavy decisions to be made, and the unforgiving rain and storms outside I was mostly emotionally exhausted at the end of each day. It seems like the kitchen is my own therapeutic space and luckily I have a pretty fun pantry to work with.

So at the end of each day I would get out all my notes and "idea" lists and get to work thinking about what I could create and do differently for the next day. This proved to be the perfect distraction for myself and also the coolest way to explore new recipes. None of them are really all that fancy and are actually very approachable so this week of brainstorming was more about using simple ingredients to make new dishes.

Which is perfect because I don't like complicated.


Kale Salad. I actually do not like kale. I know, it's weird. It seems to be all the rage right now but I really just cannot stand the thought of it. And then every once in awhile, for reasons unbeknownst to me (and usually having to do with perfectly justifiable feminine reasons) I crave a big kale salad. This salad was massaged with lemon juice and tahini and then tossed with micro kale, cherry tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds. Simple and delicious.


Chocolate Pudding. There are two ingredients we always have on hand: bananas and avocados. Instead of using the avocados in a savory dish, like I usually do, I used some of them to make this pudding. It was so good and hit the spot, perfectly. My SO and I have had many variations of avocado pudding and he and I both agreed that this is the best version either of us has ever had.


Cinnamon Banana Crepes. These crepes were actually very simple to make and easy to work with. The ingredients are also staples in my kitchen so nothing fancy was needed (except a dehydrator). I mixed flax meal, bananas, cinnamon and water and then dehydrated them for a few hours. I paired mine with leftover chocolate pudding and the SO paired his with about a cup of maple syrup.


Raw Plantains. Plantains are like starchy bananas that are used in very traditional Caribbean dishes. They are mostly fried and never eaten raw because it is like very bitter chalk if they aren't ripe. I left mine out until the entire peel was black ... and then I left it out a few more days. Finally, I peeled it open to discover a perfectly soft and mildly sweet, ripe plantain. I squeezed some lime on it and added chopped cilantro and dulse flakes. So, so good.


Banana Cream Pies. The hubby was away on a business trip and when he returned our anxiety levels were high. So obviously I made him his favorite dessert so we could indulge in the sweet, creamy heaven that is coconut. I blended the coconut meat with a little bit of water, a little bit of coconut butter, and vanilla and maple syrup to make the cream.


Banana Fig Maca Smoothie. One of my favorite indulgences is so simple: banana smoothies. I blended bananas with fresh figs and added some maca and just a tablespoon of almond butter. I sipped on this one morning and felt satisfied and got a nice boost of energy, as well. Maca is great for balancing the hormones.


 Fruit and Chocolate Granola. I had my typical bowl of fruit this week but then topped it off with a scoop of chocolate granola and a splash of fresh nut mylk. It's so simple and really not that much but it made this bowl of fruit seem like a special treat.


Red Pepper Dressing. I have been really into red bell peppers as of late, even more than usual. I've been adding them to my breakfast smoothies (try a cucumber-orange juice-frozen strawberry-red bell pepper smoothie ... you won't regret it) and also to my dressings. I tossed this dressing with arugula, mango, avocado, carrot ribbons and sesame seeds. It was light and sweet and a refreshing salad for the intense humidity we have here.

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A week of indulgences and I'm ready to get back to my salad-for-breakfast grind. I love these dishes and they served their purpose but boy do I miss my fresh greens!

I hope YOU had a fabulous week with fabulous eats!! Stay tuned for the recipes of some of these dishes!

xo



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

RECIPE: Coconut Cream Cake with Chocolate Ganache

 I owe you all an enormous apology. Huge. It is almost unforgivable, what I've done: I've forgotten to post the recipe to this epic cake.

Yes, I just said 'epic'.

I made this delicious cake for my parents when they were visiting in June. I was so excited to share this with them that I completely forgot to then write everything down and share it with YOU! I posted these pictures on my Instagram and after quite a few requests for the recipe I finally realized ... oh-my-God-I-haven't-even-posted-it-yet.

Well here it is, in all its fabulousness ...


I'm not a fan of relying heavily on nuts in desserts and I really try not to be too decadent in most of my desserts. I love a dense chocolate cake just like the next girl but what ends up happening is I make myself sick from eating so much dessert. 

Then, every once in awhile, I can't take it any longer and I just throw caution to the wind and make a dessert that satisfies my every desire. And this was one such time. Every single person that had a piece raved about it. So, needless to say, this was a major win in the Real Raw Kitchen camp.

Are you ready for this?

Basic Chocolate Crust:
a recipe
2 cups walnuts
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup dates, soaked
1 t sea salt
sliced strawberries

the method
  • Place everything into a food processor and process until sticky, but not pastey.
  • Dump the contents into a springform pan and press down until flat and even.
  • I used a 6" springform pan, you can adjust the ingredients according to the size of your pan.
  • Next, place your sliced strawberries standing along the edge of the crust to create a border (see picture above)
  • Use any remaining sliced strawberries to line the top of the crust, to be covered by the coconut cream.


Coconut Cream Center:
a recipe
2-3 coconuts, meat scraped out & water reserved
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup dates, soaked
1/4 cup coconut butter
1 t vanilla, bean scraped (or extract)

the method
  • Place all of the ingredients in a high speed blender.
  • Use about a cup of the reserved coconut water and add to the blender.
  • Blend until completely incorporated, using the tamper to press down the ingredients toward the blade. (a Vitamix rocks in a recipe like this)
  • Add water only if needed. The thicker it is the easier it sets in the fridge, though liquid may be needed to facilitate blending.
  • Pour the contents into your springform pan lined with the crust and strawberries.
  • Use a spatula to spread the cream until the sides are filled and the contents are even.
  • Place in the fridge to set while you work on the chocolate.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
a recipe
1/2 cup maple syrup (non raw)
3/4 cup cacao powder
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup water

the method
  • Place all of the ingredients, save the water, in a food processor and process until a sauce is formed.
  • Scrape down the sides as needed.
  • Add the water a tablespoon at a time until a thick and spreadable consistency is achieved.
  • Pour over the top of the coconut cream layer.
  • Refrigerate to set, overnight.

I found that a full 24 hours in the refrigerator allowed the best set time. It was still soft but firm enough to display and cut easily. This is no joke and is a very rich dessert, you could easily share this with 12 people!

Enjoy!!

xo





Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekend Wanderer: local tourist

One of my favorite things to do in this city is act like a tourist, exploring the hidden gems and boutiques this city has to offer. One of the drawbacks of being a transplant into a city that I hardly can call home is that I really don't understand the history or the culture behind the city I see before me. Every city has a rich story behind it that makes its inhabitants deeply committed and proud of it that transplants, like myself, miss out on.

So what I like to do is behave like a tourist (minus the fanny-pack and map) and explore the little things in the city on the weekends. This weekend I enjoyed the two things Miami has to offer: water and boutiques.


A walk through our neighborhood always has me marveling over the canals. There is so much water here and in some areas of the city it is padded with beautiful properties. Pair that with the notorious cloud coverage in this "sunshine state" and it makes for a beautiful and scenic walk.



My friends recently purchased a boat and were so, so kind to invite me to join them. One of my favorite things about this city is the skyline. It's hard to adapt to such a flat city after having lived in a state surrounded by hills, so any time I get a new vantage point of the city I am in awe. City bridges and freeways always provide me with the most beautiful vantage point of the cityscape, but so does a boat in the middle of the water.

I think I'm romanticizing the heck out of an otherwise very boring detail when I say that a city skyline is one of the most beautiful things to me. It reminds me of humanity and the way that, at the end of the day, we all work together to make this city grow and thrive. I know very few people here in comparison to how many of us there are, but all of us, every single one, help contribute to the successes, the failures, the newsworthy stories, and the mundane details of this city. And to me, that is such a beautiful thing.



The hubby and I went walking through the cute little area called Coconut Grove. It's a really trendy area that a lot of poshy people like to go in order to be seen. The best part about this area is that it is surrounded by a perpetual enchanted forest that looks and feels a lot like a rain forest you might find in Costa Rica. If you ignore the honking from the angry drivers and the houses that clutter the jungle then you can forget, for just a minute, that you are in Miami.


We snuck back into The Barnacle, a teeny tiny Florida State Park, that sits in between the poshy shops and the bay just south of downtown Miami. The sidewalk is covered with snails and banana spiders and the infamous coral rock lines the walkways. The roots from the trees grow deep into the otherwise impenetrable stone (used in this city mostly for its ability to withstand the horrendous weather).

South Florida has taken a beating these past few weeks as hurricane season has begun. This "season" lasts most of the year, though locals will tell you it is July through October. The rain here is something that one can only marvel at as Mother Nature reminds us that we are just tiny little pieces in her plan.

What city are you exploring right now? And when is the last time you connected with Mother Nature??

xo