I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Monday, January 29, 2007

In Sandy's Sunny Kitchen - Part 2

I Wanna Rawck!
You know how when you first wake up, your consciousness sort of lingers in Dreamland...Then it hits you all at once! You remember where you are, and your brain picks up the pieces from where you left off. Well, I gotta say that when I snapped back to reality on that morning, I WAS A HAPPY CAMPER! It dawned on me how thrilling and intense my life has been in the last little while. Not that it isn't always, just that the focus has become more external with this new dehydration phase of our raw journey.

But to get back to Sandy's, I was so looking forward to this new raw food prep day, I could hardly stay in bed. So I just HAD TO get up and go down to the kitchen to take a peek at the onion bread. The whole place was bathed in the aroma! Mmmmmmmmmm... Sandy said to me:"Too bad it isn't cinnamon rolls in there!" Sorry Sandy! That will have to wait until our next Rawkin' Revel! LOL

Onion Bread freshly out of the 'oven'...

... then stored into a glass jar.

Meet Sandy and her Family

Since I've been talking to you about Sandy a lot, (and I mean, you're already intimate since you've been in her kitchen, LOL), I thought it's perhaps time for me to more formally introduce you to her and some members of her awesome family (the lucky ones that were around!)

As I was saying in my previous post, her husband Bruce still feels he's 'gotta' have his meat every day. He was born on an Alberta farm, and as we all know, old habits die hard. However, he's always enjoyed salads and fruits, which is a definite plus. Even though he wasn't overly enthusiastic about the whole raw thing, he nevertheless showed an open mind and tried pretty much everything (except for the burgers which we were hoping would be a hit! Oh well... Can't win them all!)

Sandy has been interested in health foods for quite some time. In fact, Don told me how she got into vitamins and making her own yogurt way back when they were teenagers. Her path has naturally and gradually led her to feel like including more raw foods in her diet. She's been attending raw food classes and potlucks organized by Calgary's Raw Chef, Diana Stoevelaar. Sandy dreams of escaping the Canadian winter to spend part of the year 'Down South,' where she could pick her breakfast right off the trees. Ahhhhhhhh! Bliss! She'll be off to Australia in March to visit her older daughter, Julie, for a few months.

With Bruce and Sandy

Jaime is their youngest daughter. At 21, she's artistic, adventurous and full of projects. Like Sandy, she just loooooooves travelling! Last year, Jaime spent 3 months exploring Indonesia and is now in the process of applying to attend art school in New Zealand. Being an athlete, she was particularly interested in how a raw diet would affect her performances. I couldn't be of much help there, but Diana told her about Dr. Douglas Graham's new book "80-10-10". Dr. Graham is "a lifetime athlete and twenty-seven year raw fooder," who has advised world-class athletes and trainers from around the globe, including tennis legend Martina Navratilova.

Jaime and me

The Raw Blitz Begins

OK, now that you know who's who, let's get going! Day 2 is when our Raw blitz began in earnest. We started off our day with some energy fuel: a carrot, apple, beet, celery, ginger and lemon juice. Mmmmmmmmm... Liquid Ambrosia!

Next on our 'to make' list was Almond Milk. We blended almonds, (soaked overnight), with water, at a ratio of roughly 1 cup almonds to 3 cups water. We squeezed the pulp in a mesh bag (a lot of people use the Nut Milk Bag, but a simple cheesecloth or paint strainer will do as good a job for a fraction of the price!) You can then save the precious pulp to make all sorts of yummy recipes. You can use it in pretty much any recipe that calls for almonds, such as cookies or even almonnaise. Some recipes even call specifically for almond pulp, like Rawkinloc's Cinnamon Rolls and Almond Bread.

'The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread'
Russell James' Mediterranean Almond Bread was another obvious choice when it comes to 'winner' recipes. It's light and tasty and makes fantastic sandwiches. Russell, nicknamed 'The Bread Man', told me he has just perfected a new, simpler nut-free bread which he'll be posting as soon as he gets the time. BTW, if you haven't visited Russell's blog yet, I wouldn't walk, I'd run there if I were you, as it has many of his fantastic, mouth-watering creations.

Mediterranean Almond Bread
Makes 18 'slices'

1/2 c olive oil
1 c sun dried tomatoes, loosely packed
3 c almond flour*
1 c flax meal
3 medium courgettes (zucchinis), peeled & roughly chopped
2 apples, cored and roughly chopped
3 T lemon juice
1 t salt
3 T Herbs De Provence or herbs of your choice
2 T marjoram or herbs of your choice

*You can make almond flour a number of ways. My favorite is to save the pulp from any almond milk I make and dehydrate it so I can keep it in a glass jar until needed. You could also use the almond pulp wet. Another way would be just to grind some almonds into flour in a high powered blender or coffee mill.

- Process the olive oil, sun dried toms, courgettes, apples, lemon juice, salt and dried herbs until thoroughly mixed.

- Add the almond flour and process again until a batter is formed.

- In a bowl mix the batter with the flax meal by hand. The reason you do this separately (not in the processor) is that you are likely to have too much mixture for the size if the processor at this point, and when you add the flax meal it will become quite heavy and sticky and overwork your machine.

- When mixed, process the whole batter in the machine again in small batches to achieve a light fluffy texture.

- Divide the mixture in 2 and place on Paraflexx sheets, on dehydrator trays.

- Use an offset spatula (aka offset palette knife or cranked palette knife) to spread the mixture evenly to all 4 sides and corners of the Paraflexx sheet. If mixture is too sticky you can wet the spatula to make things easier. With a knife score the whole thing into 9 squares.

- Dehydrate for 2 hours and then remove the Paraflexx sheets by placing another dehydrator tray and mesh on top and invert so that your original sheet of bread is upside down. That will allow you to peel the Paraflexx sheet off and continue to dehydrate the underside of the bread.

- Dehydrate for approx 8 hours more (do this overnight so you're not tempted to eat it before it's ready) or until bread feels light in your hand. If the pieces don't fully come apart where you scored, use a knife to cut them.

As Russell James suggests on his blog, try the Almond Bread with some avocado, lettuce, tomato, cashew mayonnaise and a few slices of marinated Portobello mushrooms. Yummo! As the bread has a strong flavor though, we cut down a little on the herbs. We also made a plain version, without any herbs at all, just to give us the option.

Almond Bread about to go in the Excalibur:

Almond Bread ready to be enjoyed:

We then made Alissa Cohen's Calzone dough into pizza crust. Such a delicious and versatile recipe!

Alissa’s Calzone Dough
From "Living on Live Food"

4 Cups Sprouted Buckwheat
1 1/2 Cups Soaked Flax Seeds
3/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 1/2 Cups Carrots
2 Cloves Garlic
1 teaspoons Curry
1 teaspoons Rosemary
1 teaspoons Thyme
2 teaspoons Sea Salt

Form into thin pizza crusts and dehydrate for a couple of hours on teflex sheets. Flip onto mesh and dehydrate for another hour or two. You don't need for the crust to be completely dry since you will be popping it back in the dehydrator once it is dressed with your favorite toppings.

Next was RawGuru’s Veggie Burgers. These are awesome! I'd never had burdock root before and, quite frankly, was a little skeptical about his contention that it gives the burgers a 'meaty' flavor, but you know what? He was right! I wouldn't call it exactly 'meaty', but earthy for sure. We just love them anyhow!

Burgers on the way to the D:

RawGuru’s Veggie Burgers
Posted by RawGuru Alex on Sunfood Nutrition Raw Food Lifestyle Forum

3/4 cup burdock (puree, you can grate it on a very fine grater, or blend it with the water)*
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (soaked)
1/2 cup cashews or pine nuts
1 cup almonds (soaked)
1 cup walnuts (soaked)
3 tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup celery juice or water
1/2 carrot (finely minced)
1 celery stick (minced)
2 tbs. dried basil
1 tbs. dried sage
1 tsp. fresh ginger (minced)
2 tbs. fresh cilantro
pinch of turmeric (keeps the mixture from spoiling)
1 tsp. cayenne or 1 tsp. of fresh diced ripe jalapeno
pinch of freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1 tsp. sea salt

Blend the nuts with the oil and celery juice or water. Mix in everything else. Put this is the fridge to marinate for 1 hour. Lay a piece of parchment paper on the table, put your burger mixture on top, get another piece of parchment and put it on top of the mixture, using a rolling pin or the palms of your hand, roll the dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Then using a cookie cutter or a cup cut out patty shapes, and place the patties on teflex sheets, dehydrate for 2 hours at 145 degrees (only in the Excalibur at this temperature). Then bring the temp. down to 115 degrees and continue to dehydrate until desired consistency. You can make these into little meat balls and serve them with pasta, or make them even smaller and top your pizza. Yummy!

*The burdock root CAN NOT be substituted, this is what gives the burger its special flavor

Carmella's note: I usually just form the batter into patties... I like simple! Plus, it works just as great...

Our last task for the morning's uncooking was to make Alissa Cohen's Bean-less Falafels. Now, these are DEEEEEEElish! I was never a huge fan of SAD falafels, as they are made with chickpea powder and deep-fried (yuck!), but these.....Oh my! They are light and fluffy, and taste a thousand times better. Plus, they smell so good while in the dehydrator! An absolute 'must try'!

Bean-less Falafel
From Alissa Cohen's "Living on Live Food"

I’m not all that crazy about eating a lot of beans, they just don’t digest well for me. But, I love falafel, which is usually made with chickpeas. The solution: almonds! These are out of this world! Dehydrate them for only a few hours and they come out fluffy and soft.

2 cups almonds
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 cup parsley
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons tahini
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup water

In a food processor, blend the almonds until fine.

Add the remaining ingredients, and blend well.

Roll mixture into small balls and place on a mesh dehydrator screen.

Dehydrate at 105 degrees for 4-5 hours, longer if you desire a crispy falafel.

Serve with Cucumber Sauce.

Here they are before dehydration:

Your Raw Recipe Collection Just a Few Clicks Away...
We then took a break from the kitchen to work on their iMac computer. I showed Sandy about MacGourmet, an awesome program from Advenio. It's the most feature-full and intuitive recipe program that we've found. In fact, the newest version of MacGourmet just came out in December, so it's brand sparkling new with LOTS of great features, including a variety of display and printing templates. It makes importing recipes and photos sooooooo easy (all you have to do is drag and drop!) and you can find your recipes in a snap. With its blown up 'Chef View' feature, you can follow a recipe without leaving your counter. Best of all, it's not expensive, and Michael, the guy who created it, is just super! From within MacGourmet itself, you can send feedbacks directly to him and he's right on top of it, always ready to make improvements and help you out. MacGourmet is available for a free trial period so you can get a feel for it first. Oh, and in case you're wondering, I don't work for the guy, I just LOVE his program, which has made my exploration of raw foods soooooooo much easier!

Here's what the screen looks like:

Off to China...and Back!

We then went to Calgary's Chinatown to look for a Benriner Cook Help spiral slicer, as Sandy has the saladacco and, like many others, find the thing difficult to use. I had forgotten how walking into a Chinese grocery store can be a cultural shocker. Next to the dried octopus and countless dried mushrooms, I found some Nori sheets and other types of seaweed for at least half the price of what I pay back in Nelson.

Again, time just flewwwwww! So we got home and started working on tonite's feast.

The Art of Feasting in The Raw - Day 2
Soup is a staple in our diet, and so I couldn't help but show Sandy and Jaime my favorite recipes. We started our meal with Maraw's Spinach & Herb Soup. It's sublime! Back home, we have it about twice a week!

Maraw’s Spinach & Herb Soup

I make this almost daily. Yes, it's that good - and filling too!

3 C of fresh raw spinach
1 C frozen sweet peas
2 1/2-3 C almond milk
1 kiwi, peeled
2 celery stalks
1/2 C cilantro
4 basil leaves
2 green onions
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)

Place all ingredients in a Vitamix or high-powered blender and process until smooth. Serves 4-6

Here's our Full Dinner Menu:

RawGuru's Burgers and Alissa's Falafels

Oh yeah, we served the burgers with onion bread and whole Portobello mushroom caps that we brushed with a little olive oil and Braggs, and left to dehydrate for a couple of hours. You'll be amazed at how much they look like real buns!

Sandy's Charmoula
1 cup almonnaise (see recipe below)
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup cilantro

Blend together in food processor until smooth.

Adapted from the recipe in Marilyn Diamond's book "Fit For Life"

½ cup raw almonds
½ to ¾ cup water
1 tsp nutritional yeast
1 or 2 garlic cloves, crushed
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp herbal seasoning
1 to 1 ¼ cup oil (I like to use 1/2 an avocado instead)
3 tbs lemon juice
½ tsp apple cider vinegar

Grind almonds in coffee grinder to a fine powder. Transfer almonds to blender and add half the water along with yeast, garlic, salt and seasoning. Blend well, then add remaining water to form smooth cream.

With blender on low, remove insert in top and drizzle in the oil in a thin stream until mixture is thick.

Keep blender running and add lemon juice and vinegar. Blend on low for one more minute, to allow mixture to thicken.

Refrigerate tightly sealed.

Herbed variation:
At the end of blending the almonnaise, add: 2 tsp minced chive or green onion, 2 tsp dried basil, some tarragon and dill and a handful of fresh parsley and cilantro. Yum!

Zucchini Hummus
Ooops! I forget who's recipe this is...

Another recipe where the raw version tastes so much better than the cooked, at least, to my taste buds!

2 cups peeled zucchini, chopped
4 Tbs. olive oil
1 and 1/2 lemon, juice of
3/4 cup ground sesame seeds
3/4 tsp. sea salt
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp. paprika
1 t ground cumin
Cayenne to taste

Blend all of the ingredients in food processor.

Alissa's Cucumber Sauce:

Alissa Cohen's Cucumber Sauce
Posted by Alissa on VeggieBoards Forum
Light, refreshing, and delicious. Serve with the falafels.

1/2 large cucumber (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup raw tahini
1/4 cup fresh dill weed
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Blend all ingredients thoroughly in a food processor or blender.

OK, I know the following doesn't fit too well with the Middle-Eastern theme, but I just HAD to include it since Jaime wouldn't be able to join us for the next day's dinner party (when I had originally planned to make it.) It's really simple but fantastic! In fact, I'm glad I did 'cause Jaime just couldn't have enough of it... LOL

Baby Spinach Salad with Bosc Pear and Pecans by Renee Loux

And, finally, Tabouli from the Raw Pleasure Australia ebook

Mmmmmmmmmm! What a feast! We were pretty stuffed (and a little wiped) so we only had a few cookies for dessert (that I'd brought from home for them to taste.)

Did you say 'Cheesecake'?
We finished the day by making cheesecake for tomorrow's dinner party, as it needs to set in the freezer. Since Sandy didn't have a spring form pan, we lined a regular pie pan with saran wrap. We then simply pressed the pecan crust with our fingers and put the 'cheese' filling on top.

Enough for the day! I bet I'll be dreaming about raw foods...

Stay tuned for Day 3 and 4!

(If you'd like to be automatically notified by email of any new post, just fill out the form at the top of the page. Your email address won't be given or sold to third parties, no worries!)

Photo credits:
Almond Bread by Russell James

Saturday, January 27, 2007

In Sandy's Sunny Kitchen - Part 1

... or The Art of Feasting in the Raw!

A'right! I'm back to report! I needed some rest after all the intense uncooking in Sandy's Sunny Kitchen, but I started 'working' sooner than I thought. Between photo editing, contacting recipe authors for permission, and trying out some new recipes I just couldn't resist, this has been another busy week!

As you probably know from my previous posts, I recently spent a few days in Calgary rawk 'n reveling with Don's sister, Sandy, and her daughter, Jaime.

One thing I've learned along the way is that things never quite turn out as you expect them to. Actually, here's one of my favorite jokes: "How do you make God laugh? Make plans!" I love it because I find it to be so true. Life is so incredible and deep, and so many elements come into play that you just can't predict how things will unfold. This was the case for my trip to Calgary as well... only it went BEYOND anything I could have ever imagined! The setting was beautiful, the atmosphere was relaxed and fun, and Sandy and Jaime were fantastic assistants; enthusiastic and eager to learn more about raw food prep. Even the sun joined us, shining down on our working area. It truly was magical! Oh, and did I mention the food? I don't think it could have gone any better. And now, I get to share it all with you, so hang on to your seats and get ready for an intense, bliss-full raw adventure!

On Our Way...
The actual physical journey, as it turned out, was not at all indicative of what was awaiting us in the days to come. In fact, we nearly couldn't get going, as the gas tank wouldn't open. But some kind soul showed us how to defrost the lock and we were on our way. The going was slow and difficult however. The roads were icy and we even got some snow. But, thankfully, things improved as we got closer to Alberta. We finally made it to Calgary on Tuesday evening, after an almost 10 hour drive.

I hadn't seen Sandy and Jaime for quite a while, so we had some catching up to do. It felt so good to connect again and we were all excited about the upcoming time we were to have together. Before going to bed, we loaded the Excalibur with nuts and seeds that Sandy had put to soaking earlier that morning. This process allows for the release of the enzyme-inhibitors, thereby facilitating digestion.

On Your Mark, Get Set...GO!
Although I would have gladly slept a little longer, I woke up early to the sound of engines revving, as workers were getting ready for the day. As strange as this may sound, I had almost forgotten about that reality, as we live in the boonies, surrounded by Crown land, where the comings and goings of society are but a faint whisper.

We began Day 1 of our raw adventure by the fireplace, preparing our daily menus and coming up with an uncooking plan. Sandy was particularly interested in learning how to prepare raw dishes that would appeal to her husband, Bruce, who is a real 'meat and potato' guy. She was hoping that my stay would help ease him into the Raw Vegan Diet and, who knows, maybe even eventually 'win him over.' There was so much I wanted to show them! The 'must try' list was impressive and, quite frankly, I doubted that we'd manage to make it all in just four days. Yet somehow we nearly did, except for a couple of salads!

First thing was to go do some grocery shopping. Before leaving though, we prepared two batches of soaked pumpkin and sunflower seeds that we seasoned with some Braggs, garlic and herbs and curry spices. We then simply spread them on the mesh trays and left them to dry. They make such a wonderful snack and are certain to add a nice touch to any salad.

While shopping, I couldn't resist loading up on fresh young coconuts, as we virtually never get them where we live. By the time we got back and put all the food away, it was already mid-afternoon, so we got to work on our evening meal. We opted for relatively easy, quickly whipped-up dishes that don't require any dehydration.

Let's Get Noodling!
What better way to begin our class than by playing with a spiral slicer? So I got my Chef Help out and we had fun making pasta and slicing up turnips for Alissa Cohen's raviolis.

Raw Ravioli
From "Living on Live Food" by Alissa Cohen

This is one of my favorite raw recipes, I often make these at seminars and events and people go wild over them! There is always one person who continues to ask me through the whole event "What kind of pasta is this made from" even after I tell them numerous times that it's turnip not pasta. It's hard to believe these are raw!

4 turnips

Peal the turnips. Slice the turnips into very thin slices, by cutting them in half and then using a spiral slicer, mandolin or other vegetable slicer to make thin round disks.

These will be used as the wrapper which would normally be the pasta dough.

Cheese filling:
1 cup pine nuts
1 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup walnuts
6 t tamari
8 t lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 cup parsley

Blend the pine nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts in a food processor until ground. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well, until creamy.

Tomato Sauce:
2 large tomatoes
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
1/4 fresh basil
1 clove garlic
6 dates
dash of olive oil (optional)

Soak the sun dried tomatoes until soft. Blend in food processor, the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and garlic until well blended . Add the dates and olive oil and blend until smooth. This sauce should be thick.

Directions for assembling the ravioli:
Remove a single turnip slice from the batch. Place a tsp full of cheese filling in the turnip slice and fold the turnip over until all the sides meet. Squeeze the edges together. Some of the filling will ooze out, but this is what will hold the edges together. Just put the excess back into the bowl to reuse. If you don't have enough filling in them they will not stick together. Place them in a single layer on a large plate and drizzle the tomato sauce on top, allow to sit for a few hours. The turnip will become soft from the tomato sauce. Use a spatula to scoop the ravioli's up and serve.

Raviolis, all ready for assembly

We started our first raw feast with the Boutenko's wonderful Green Spinach Soup. On the Raw Food Society of BC's site, they described it as "Raw Family’s All New, Stupendously Magnificent, Outstandingly Exceptional" soup... and they weren't far from the truth!

Green Spinach Soup

3 Small avocados (or one extra large)
2 Red bell peppers
½ Bunch cilantro
½ Bunch Organic Spinach
2 Small lemons (without seeds)
3 Cups pure water
1 Small jalapeno pepper
½ Teaspoon celtic sea salt (optional)

Put all the ingredients in a Vita-Mix blender and blend well using the tamper.

Once the ingredients are well blended, pour the soup into a large bowl.

Add thinly sliced napa cabbage or red cabbage and dulse leaves or flakes.

Serves 6

Here's our full dinner menu: Caesar Salad, Carrot and Parsnip Pasta with Cilantro Pesto, Stir-Dried Broccoli and Portobello Mushrooms, and Alissa's Raviolis.

Crisp Caesar Salad
Posted on Woody Harrelson’s site

A classic Caesar salad with crisp romaine lettuce and a Pinenut Parmesan. Tamarind is a tangy, sweet compliment for an authentic Caesar Salad flavor and can be found in Indian and ethnic markets. Crumble in leftover onion bread as croutons to absorb flavor.

1-2 heads Romaine lettuce

Caesar Salad Dressing:
Makes 1 pint of thick dressing that will keep fresh for a week.

5 tablespoons raw tahini
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons tamarind paste (optional)
1 nice clove garlic
2 green onions, or 1/4 cup sweet onion
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup or 3 soft dates, pitted
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1-2 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
1-2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
2 tablespoons good olive oil (optional)
fresh water, 2 tablespoons at a time as necessary to blend

In a blender or Vita Mix: Blend tahini, pine nuts, tamarind, garlic, green onion or minced onion, lemon juice, vinegar, maple syrup or dates, nutritional yeast, black pepper and sea salt, adding oil and fresh water, 2 tablespoons at a time as necessary to blend until very smooth.

Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Pinenut parmesan:
1/4 cup pinenuts
1/4 cup whole cashews or macadamia nuts
1 teaspoon good oil or fresh water
2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
pinch dried garlic granules or powder
pinch Celtic or sea salt

In a food processor or blender: Chop pinenuts and cashews into a fine meal. Drizzle in a touch of oil or water. Chop in pulses until moist and ground. Add nutritional yeast, dried garlic and salt and chop in pulses until crumbly.

Separate Romaine lettuce leaves and break into pieces. Dollop dressing on, a few tablespoons at a time, and toss with lettuce until well coated, but not drenched. Serve and sprinkle with ‘Pinenut Parmesan’

Serves 4-6

Carmella's note: We only used the dressing, without the parmesan, and it was still fantastic! In fact, Jaime pronounced it her 'new favorite dressing'. It's partly because of that (and the fact that we made so much of it! LOL), that we ended up passing on the other salads I had planned on making.

Carrot and Parsnip Pasta with Cilantro-Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Inspired by Vanessa Sherwood's recipe posted on GreenChefs

I just love this dish! Even Don, who was never a parsnip fan, enjoys it. I find that the personality of the Cilantro pesto blends just beautifully with the root vegetables. Add some marinated or stir-dried veggies, such as broccoli and mushrooms (oysters work wonderfully!) for a special touch. Feel free to use whatever pesto recipe you prefer.

Vanessa's Pumpkin Seed Pesto
1/2 Cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds, soaked 1 hour or more
1/2 Bunch Cilantro
3 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tablespoon Lime Juice
1 Large Clove Garlic Minced
1/2 Teaspoon Himalayan Crystal Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Cumin

Blend in food processor until smooth.

Carrot & Parsnip Pasta
2 to 3 Large Carrots
2 Large Parsnips
Some Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Seeds for the garnish

Make angel hair pasta, using a spiral slicer! Alternatively, with a vegetable peeler, peel the carrot and parsnip into thin ribbons. Place into a large bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Stir-dried Portobello and Broccoli
1 or 2 Portobello mushrooms
2 cups of broccoli
a little olive oil
a little tamari, Nama Shoyu or salt
1 or 2 garlic cloves, crushed (garlic powder would also work)

Thinly slice the Portobello mushrooms, and chop the broccoli into small florets. Toss the mushrooms and broccoli with the oil, garlic, and tamari. Dehydrate the Portobellos on a teflex sheet for 1-2 hours until soft. Put the broccoli in a bowl covered with a plate and leave in the dehydrator for 1 or 2 hours as well. This is to get a 'stir-dried' effect and prevent the broccoli from getting all shriveled up and dry.

To Assemble:
Toss the carrot and parsnip pasta with the Cilantro-Pumpkin Pesto. Because the pesto will be quite thick, you may need to use your hands to make sure it is mixed in well. Top with stir-dried mushrooms and broccoli. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve.

A Taste of Heaven...
For dessert, we had Don and I's favorite: Rhio's Celestial Pecan Pie. So simple yet soooooo delish!

5 bananas
1 papaya (or mango, or a pint of strawberries, sliced)
1 cup pecans (soaked in water for 1 hour)
1 1/2 cups pecans (don't soak)
6 oz. filtered water
5-10 dates, soaked
1/2 vanilla bean, cut into tiny pieces
1 heaping tbsp. raw honey (or to taste)
dash of Nama Shoyu

1) Soak one cup of pecans in filtered water. Set aside.

2) In a 9-inch glass pie pan, arrange one layer of sliced bananas (2 1/2 bananas should do it). Lay the banana slices in a spiral pattern with one slice slightly overlapping the other until you have covered the entire pie pan. Also put a layer going up the sides of the pie pan. Next, cut the papaya into 1/4 inch thin slices and layer the papaya over the banana. Over the papaya, put another layer of slightly overlapping banana slices. Now with your hands, compress the fruit down evenly. Set aside.

3) In a blender, put 1 cup of soaked (drained) pecans, dates, 6 oz. filtered water and tiny pieces of vanilla bean and blend to a fine cream. Taste the cream, and if it is not sweet enough for your taste, add more dates.

4) Pour the cream over the fruit in the pie pan. Put the pie pan into the dehydrator and dehydrate at 95¡ F for 3 hours.

5) In a small bowl, blend the raw honey with just a little water and a dash of Nama Shoyu. Prepare the unsoaked pecans for the topping by tossing gently with the honeyed water to coat the pecans.

6) After 3 hours, take the pie out of the dehydrator and place one layer of the prepared pecans on top of the pie. Place them artistically radiating towards the center of the pie.

7) Chill the pie at least one hour before serving.

Serves 6-8. Keeps for a few days in the refrigerator.

I don't know if it's just me, but everything always seems to taste better when somebody else prepares it. Everything was fabulous! They were amazed at all the different colors, flavors, and textures of our raw food dishes. Even Bruce tried everything. He especially liked the Pecan Pie. In fact, he took some to work the next day!

Raw Snacks to LIVE For!
Our day's 'work' wasn't quite over yet, though, as there were a few things we wanted to put in the Excalibur overnite. First, we assembled the Zucchini Roll-ups from Nomi Shannon and Sheryl Duruz's Raw Food Holiday Celebration Guide. They are so tasty and make wonderful appetizers and snacks. I had already prepared the Pate du Soleil back home so as to give us a head start.

Oh, by the way, this mouth-watering photo is courtesy of Nomi and Sheryl...

Pate Du Soleil (Nope...no blood relationship here! he he)
3 cups hulled sunflower seeds, soaked 8-12 hours, sprouted 2-4 hours
1 cup lemon juice
2 red capsicums/peppers, roughly chopped
4 scallions (green onions), roughly chopped
½ small onion roughly chopped
½ cup raw tahini
2 tablespoons nama shoyu or other salty product
8 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
2-3 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Soak sunflower seeds overnight. Drain.

2. Allow to sit out on counter for 2-4 hours (but no longer, if you are not ready to continue with recipe, rinse, drain and refrigerate to slow the sprouting process).

3. Rinse and drain.

4. If you have a large enough food processor just put all the ingredients in it, and run until pate is quite smooth.

5. Taste, adjust seasonings. The garlic flavor will develop and become stronger in a few hours.

This pate can be made with nuts or a combination of seeds and nuts; when you make it with all sunflower seeds it will keep for a week or more in the refrigerator.

Zucchini Roll-ups
½ zucchini per person
Pate du Soleil (enough to lightly cover each slice)

1. Thinly slice room temperature zucchini the long way using a mandolin on the thinnest setting. It is difficult to slice this thinly using a knife, but if you don't have a mandolin or other type of slicer, be sure your knife is very sharp and slice as thinly as possible.

2. Spread a thin layer of pate on each zucchini slice and place on dehydrator mesh tray.

3. Run the dehydrator and when the zucchinis are soft and flexible (2-4 hours) take the trays out and roll up the zucchini. You may have to hold them together with a toothpick.

4. Remove enough trays so roll-ups will fit back in to the dehydrator and dry until zucchinis are hard.

5. This could take as long as 24 hours. These will keep for some time.

6. Serve on a tray. They are so delicious just try to keep your guests from eating too many! Before they know it they will have eaten two zucchinis and 1⁄4 cup of pate before the meal even begins!

Sheryl says: Nomi was amazed when she saw our photo of this recipe. She uses less than half the filling we did. Try it both ways and see how you enjoy it the most!

Carmella: If you're using a mandoline, I'd recommend slicing the zucchinis in half length-wise first. You'll get nicer and more uniform slices that way. If you happen to leave your slices a tad too long in the dehydrator and find them hard to roll up, simply spray them from underneath with a little water, allow to soften up and proceed.

Here are the Roll-ups after a couple of hours of dehydration. As you can see, we've just started to roll them up.

OK, I'm cheating a little... Here's a photo taken from the batch I made today, just before popping the Roll-ups back in the Excalibur. All nice and chubby... Mmmmmmmmmm!

We also made the Savory Nori Snacks from Raw Pleasure Australia's free ebook. These are sooooooo good! I always carry a few with me whenever I leave home.

Savory Nori Snacks

Finally, we prepared the Famous Onion Bread, posted by Pansy on Raw Food Talk Forum. It makes fabulous and tasty sandwiches or pizza crusts. Or enjoy it as crackers with some spread for a quick, no-brainer snack. We didn't find any sweet onions so we used red ones instead. The dough turned out much drier than usual as red onions don't seem to be quite as juicy. We just added a little water until we reached a spreadable consistency. Still, for some reason, spreading the batter didn't go as smoothly as when I make it at home. I was glad I was just teaching an informal class and not in front of a whole classroom! LOL

THE famous Onion bread
2 1/2 lbs sweet onions, peeled
1 cup ground sunflower seeds
1 cup ground golden flax seeds
1/2 cup olive oil
3 oz. Nama Shoyu

Put onions in food processor with 's' blade and process until small pieces, (but not mush). Put in mixing bowl with the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. The flax will absorb liquid. Smooth onto teflex sheets* about 1/4" thick and place in dehydrator for 5 hours, turning over for another 3-4 hours or until dry and crispy. Either break into pieces or cut with a pizza cutter, and store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

*If you don't have an Excalibur dehydrator, any type will do - just use natural unbleached parchment paper instead of the teflex sheets.

Carmella’s notes: I usually mix a little avocado, 1 or 2 tbs of olive oil and water in the food processor to make up the amount of oil called for in the recipe. I also tend to put a lot less Braggs as I don't like it too salty. I spread the batter with my hands which makes the process soooo much easier. Thanks Mel for the tip! I start dehydrating the bread at about 115 degrees for a couple of hours (this helps avoid fermentation), and then transfer it from the teflex sheets onto the mesh. I then turn the temp back down to 105 and leave it overnight.

Here's the bread after transferring it onto the mesh:

Not bad for the first day of our rawkin revel!

Off to get some well deserved rest...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Back from the Calgary Rawkin' Revel

Hello everyone!
I just got home yesterday, after a fantastic, mind-blowing rawkin time in Calgary. It was beyond our wildest expectations! As promised, I've taken LOTS of pics, which I'll be sharing with you as soon as I recover and get myself organized. I have tons of interesting material for upcoming posts which are sure to make you drool all over your keyboards. Amongst other things, I'll be giving you a day by day account of the wonderful raw food we prepared in Sandy's sunny kitchen, as well as detailed descriptions and pics of how to make my Luscious Lasagna and Tropical Cheesecake, not to mention a feature post on Fairygirl. But here's a little something to keep you patiently waiting...

Maraw's Spinach and Herb Soup

Sunny Sushi

Alissa Cohen's Raviolis

Cilantro Pesto Pizza

RP's Brownies with Rawkinlocs' Cinnamon Bun Frosting and Maraw's
Chocolate-Dipped Date Truffles

Tropical Cheesecake in the making

Carmella and Diana Stoevelaar
How's that for getting your attention?

Be back before you know it...

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Off to Rawk in Calgary!

I'm off to Calgary tomorrow morning (Tuesday) for a few days. I'm actually really excited at the prospect of seeing the Rockies again. The sun has been peeking out from his hide-away the last couple of days, so it promises to be a stunning visual experience. How I love BC in the winter! It's just so unbelievably beautiful!

I'll be staying with Don's sister Sandy, and her family. Sandy and Jaime, her younger daughter, have been interested in Raw for the last few years and we recently helped them purchase an Excalibur 9 tray. So we'll be doing some serious fun uncooking while I'm there. The idea is to have a little informal raw food prep workshop during which I'll be showing them some tips and recipes. You should see the list of raw goodies I'm planning on making! Pizza, rawviolis, lasagna, burgers, falafels, sushi, kale salad, tabouli, Borscht, onion bread, almond bread, zucchini roll ups... not to mention the desserts (including Fairygirl's already famous Chocolate Cream Stack!) Mmmmmmmmmm! I'm drooling just thinking about it all! LOL Anyway, it promises to be a blast!

I'm hoping to take LOTS of pics while making the recipes, as well as of the finished creations. So stay tuned for all the juicy details! On my return, I will also be publishing a feature post on the beautiful and talented Fairygirl of the Raw Food Talk family. She'll be sharing with you a little of her raw journey and her creative process, along with 2 of her delicious creations.

Remember that you can sign up if you'd like to be notified by email of any new post to The Sunny Raw Kitchen!

See you when I get back!


Friday, January 12, 2007

Luscious Lasagna

A lasagna is one of those recipes that looks pretty complicated but, trust me, is much easier than it seems. All it is, really, is several simple recipes combined into one. If you'd rather not do it all in one go, feel free to prepare some of the individual recipes a day ahead. The assembled result, however, is much greater than the sum of its parts, and is certain to thrill your taste buds!

Precisely because of the different recipes that make it up, a lasagna just begs for improvisation! There are countless possibilities to play with, so don't be shy to experiment. I don't think I've ever followed one particular lasagna recipe from beginning to end. I just like to look at several and come up with my own. The following Luscious Lasagna is my latest (and most delicious!) version. It was inspired by the creations of Nomi Shannon, Sarma Melngailis and Alissa Cohen.

Luscious Lasagna
Serves 4

All measurements are approximate so feel free to tweak to your liking!

Zucchini noodles
2 med. zucchinis
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs Braggs or Nama Shoyu
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano

Trim both ends of the zucchinis and cut on a mandolin into wide, paper-thin slices. Dip into the marinade then set aside on a plate. As you keep working, you'll notice some of the excess marinade will gather at the bottom of the plate so just drain it back into the marinade bowl.

Almond Ricotta
(This recipe was inspired by Fairygirl, a gifted raw chef on the Raw Food Talk forum.)

1 cup almonds, soaked overnight
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp sea salt
Lemon juice, to taste

Combine everything in a food processor and process until smooth. Add water until you reach a ricotta cheese consistency. Set aside.

Cheesy Nut Cream
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, soaked
1/2 cup cashews, soaked
2 tbs pine nuts, soaked
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
Lemon juice, to taste
1/2 cup water

Soak nuts for a couple of hours. Blend all ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate to help thicken.

Spinach Cream Layer
3 cups fresh spinach
3 fresh basil leaves or 1 tsp dried
4 tbs Almond Ricotta or Cheesy Nut Cream (I've tried both and the results are equally delicious!)

Pulse chop spinach and basil in food processor until finely minced. Fold into Ricotta or Cheesy Nut Cream and combine well. Set aside.

Tomato Sauce
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, soaked
2 or 3 med. tomatoes
2 tbs olive oil
2 pitted dates, soaked for a couple of hours
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic or more, to taste
Fresh or dried herbs, to taste

Drain sun dried tomatoes well. Blend everything together until smooth. You may add a little soak water to reach a smooth consistency, but remember that you want the sauce to be fairly thick. Adjust seasonings. Set aside.

Marinated Portobello Mushrooms
1 Portobello mushroom
2 tbs Braggs or Nama Shoyu
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp dried tarragon

Chop Portobello mushroom and let marinate for a few minutes. Drain and set aside.

Assembling the Lasagna:
- Line the bottom of a glass lasagna pan with a layer of zucchini slices, each one slightly overlapping another. (Mine filled about 3/4 of a 7 x 11 pan, which was perfect as it allowed me to tip it slightly and scoop out the excess liquid before popping the lasagna in the dehydrator.)

- Spread some Almond Ricotta, followed by a layer of Tomato Sauce.

- Add a layer of zucchini slices. Then the Spinach Cream Layer.

-One more zucchini layer, followed by some Cheesy Nut Cream and topped with Tomato Sauce.

-More zucchini slices. Then another layer of Almond Ricotta.

-A final layer of zucchini, topped with Tomato Sauce.

Let sit for a few minutes on the counter while the dehydrator is warming up.

Scoop out excess liquid and dehydrated for 2 to 3 hours at 105-110 degrees. This will allow some of the moisture to evaporate.

Cut into individual servings, and top with a nice big dollop of Cheesy Nut Cream and a few Portobello mushrooms.

- Some people like to serve lasagna cold, but I prefer to eat it slightly warm, out of the dehydrator.

- If you have left over sauce or cheese that's fine. It would make a wonderful pizza or topping for zucchini angel hair pasta.

- You could substitute (or add!) a layer of pesto, marinated veggies or tomato slices. Your imagination is the limit!


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Munch on This!

During our daily walk the other day, Don was telling me about a talented American artist who does painting reproductions. In fact, he is so good at it that some consider him to be one of the greatest painters of the century, having surpassed the original 'Masters’. This got me musing over how one defines creativity and how it applies to raw food preparation.

I’ve always found the whole creative process to be totally mysterious and fascinating. I mean, how do you even BEGIN to explain what creativity is and where it really comes from? A famous scientist said that "no one really understands quantum physics," and I think the same holds true for creativity. How deep can you go in your exploration of it? Perhaps it's unlimited.

From our point of view, the ultimate 'work of art' is one's own life, as we are constantly co-creating our reality from moment to moment (for good or ill!) The urge to create is therefore a powerful one, both psychologically as well as physically. And so our creativity manifests itself in all areas, and at all levels.

Your Raw Kitchen an Art Studio?
How does one define art? It’s easy to think of a painting or a play as artistic, but what about all the beautiful gourmet food that comes out of your own kitchen? According to the Encarta World English Dictionary on my computer, creativity is "the ability to use the imagination to develop new and original ideas or things, especially in an artistic context."

Alright! So you’ve been milling about your kitchen all day, perfecting your latest recipe from scratch. I'm sure there is no doubt in your mind that the result is a true work of art. What about those times, though, when you need a little inspiration and dig out someone else’s recipes to get your creative juices going? Here's what Wikipedia had to say about this: “Colloquial definitions of creativity are typically descriptive of activity that results in producing or bringing about something partly or wholly new; in investing an existing object with new properties or characteristics; in imagining new possibilities that were not conceived of before; and in seeing or performing something in a manner different from what was thought possible or normal previously.” So yes, however you come about it, whatever emerges from your kitchen is a creation in its own respect. Have you noticed how you can follow the exact same recipe several times, yet it will always come out slightly different and unique, depending on factors such as the ingredients you used or how you were feeling that day?

Creating in the Raw
As you get started on your raw adventure, the first step consists of learning the 'lay of the land'. You'll probably want to build a raw library, collecting recipes and food preparation tips which you can easily refer to along the way. If, like me, your budget is a little tight, you'll find a wealth of information on the internet, especially on forums. You may also want to consider checking out your local library. If it doesn't carry the raw books you're interested in, most libraries offer an interlibrary loan service through which you can order them. But if you want to invest in a great raw book, I'd strongly recommend buying Alissa Cohen's "Living on Live Food". It's humongous (almost 1 1/2" thick!) and filled with inspiring stories and recipes.

For me, a recipe is a sort of map, if you will, of a particular person's raw world. Strictly speaking, it is a set of directions to be followed, but this doesn't mean it has to be the end of the journey. To the contrary, it can be seen as the starting point for one's own creative exploration.

Raw Bliss!
I'm always amazed at how subjective taste can be. As Rawkinlocs of the Raw Food Talk Forums put it so well: "One person's "yum" can be someone else's "yuck"! But once in a while, you come upon a gem of a recipe where all the flavors are perfectly balanced (in your own humble opinion!) Ahhhh!!! What a blessing when you find that your taste buds are perfectly aligned with those of whoever created the recipe! For instance, this happens to me a lot with the recipes of Alissa Cohen, Frederic Patenaude and Maraw from TheRawTable.com.

Tweaking Away
Sometimes, you'll want to follow a recipe to the T so as to get a sense of the creator's taste buds and what he or she intended to achieve in this particular instance. If you like what you find, you may leave it at that, and fully enjoy this rare treat! More often than not, however, you'll need to tweak the recipe a little (or a LOT!) to suit your own taste. The result can vary from the slightest modification to the point of 'beyond recognition'.

Brainstorming or the Frankeinstein Method
There are also times when you'll feel like consulting as many versions of a recipe as you can possibly lay your hands on (and the more, the better!) After taking it all in and letting it simmer for a while, you'll come up with your own mutated rendition. The lasagna recipe, which I'll be posting in the coming days, is a good example of this creative process.

The Creative Leap
There comes a point on your exploration of raw foods, when the critical mass has been reached and you're ready to take the creative leap. (I'm just starting into this phase now!) You feel comfortable enough to start experimenting on your own. In order to take that important step, however, you gotta be prepared to make mistakes. In this respect, we have a lot to learn from children. They are constantly making mistakes, yet they don't give themselves a hard time about it. They are playful and curious, and when something doesn't work out, well, they simply move onto something else - no sweat! Yet children are incredibly fast learners.
So don't be too hard on yourself, expecting to 'get it right' the first time, EVERY time! It's a sure way to kill your delicate creative spark.

Finally, there will also be times when you find yourself on a roll! Whether you intend it or not, you'll spontaneously create something delightful and sublime (although you might not be too sure as to how you managed to do it!) Sometimes, the most astonishing recipes can emerge from a perceived 'mistake'. For instance, Raw Priestess' Brownies, which she generously shared on the Raw Food Talk board, were destined to be something else. Yet they are a wonder of simplicity and completely decadent!

The Quantum Factor
Related to creativity, whether in regards to food preparation or physics, is what I call 'The Quantum Factor'. This is where we are reminded of how magical and mysterious the whole creative process really is.

Krishnamurti said that "there is no such thing as an original thought." Quantum physics has shown that the same intellectual breakthroughs will occasionally occur simultaneously in more than one location. In other words, two virtually identical recipes might emerge from two different kitchens. A good example of this is the famous onion bread recipe that has been floating around RFT. In spite of being much the same as the one in Matt Amsdens' "Rawvolution", Pansy, who submitted the recipe, once wrote that, as far as she knew, the friend who came up with the recipe had no prior knowledge of Matt's version.

Simple is Best!
If you are new to Raw, here’s a bit of advice: start simple! Some recipes can be pretty intimidating; with a long list of ingredients (half of which you’ve never heard of, let alone know where to find them!) and endless steps. Start with simple recipes to help you build your confidence. As you feel more and more comfortable and sure of yourself, you’ll soon be able to tackle more intricate recipes. There is plenty of easy, and quickly whipped up recipes available. Take a look at raw food forums. RP's Brownies call for only 3 ingredients and can be prepared in minutes! There are also good raw recipe books such as Frederic Patenaude’s “Instant Raw Sensations” and “Raw Food Made Easy For 1 or 2 People” by Jennifer Cornbleet. I'm often surprised that, more often than not, the simplest recipes are even better than the complex.

But regardless of where you're at on your raw journey and in your creative process, experimenting with raw foods should above all be something fun! In my own experience, nothing comes out right when I'm stressed or, for some reason, don't really feel like being creative with food. And if something doesn't quite live up to your expectations, so what? You'll get many more opportunities to tweak it to perfection! Halleluuuuujah!

Before I'm off to create something yummy in my own raw kitchen, I'd like to give my heartfelt thanks to all the Raw Food Chefs (who are just too numerous to name!) whose creations have been, and continue to be, a tremendous source of inspiration on my Raw journey.

Happy Uncooking!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Fiery Raw Foods to Help Ward Off the Cold Fingers of Winter!

It’s easy to follow a Raw Diet in the summertime, when there’s an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies, and plenty of sun. It can be a different story, though, when the cold, dark days start gaining on us. Psychological as it may be, the draw towards warmer, comforting foods in the winter can be a powerful one. And so, in the past, we’ve found ourselves including a few alkaline cooked foods to our diet, such as quinoa and lightly steamed veggies.

After being mostly Raw since 2001, following a simple diet of fruit smoothies, raw soups and salads, Don and I started experimenting with more complex, dehydrated recipes last fall. We had a hunch that these would greatly help us in staying Raw this winter; and we were right.

We played with our neighbors’ old handmade dehydrator for a while and quickly determined that it would be worthwhile investing in an Excalibur 9 tray. And wow! What a difference! It has made “uncooking” so much easier and fun! Dehydrating has opened up a world of possibilities to explore: live breads, crackers, cookies, pizzas, burgers, stir-dries... Things we never thought were possible to eat while following a Raw Vegan Diet. We find that the dehydrated recipes have come to replace the cooked stuff we used to crave, and therefore haven't felt drawn towards cooked foods at all. At least so far...

Starting the New Year with a Bang!
Canadian well-known raw foodist Frederic Patenaude, played Santa Claus this Holiday Season by treating his readers with 2 free ebooks. Even though Fred himself promotes a simple Raw Vegan Diet based on the principles of natural hygiene, as outlined in his best-selling ebook "The Raw Secrets", he hired a talented Calgary-based raw chef, Diana Stoevelaar, to come up with two beautiful and delicious festive menus for the Holidays.

After making her Celebration loaf from the 'Christmas Day Menu' (the best turkey/stuffing type recipe I've eaten so far!), I just had to try a few recipes from the 'Mexican New Year's Day Dinner Menu.' Wow! Quite the fiesta we had... I can think of no better way to begin 2007 with a bang!

Here's what we had: Guacamole Supreme, Where's the Beef?, Sour 'Cream' and 'Refried Beans'.

Recipes posted, courtesy of Fred! The entire Mexican Menu is available for free download here.

Guacamole Supreme
2 ripe avocados
1⁄2 cup diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice
1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. finely chopped green onion, rinsed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1⁄4 tsp. cayenne (or mince in fresh, hot chilies with seeds removed)
1⁄2 tsp. celtic salt

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork or a potato masher.

Where is the Beef?
4 cups carrot, grated finely
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked one hour or more, drained and
pureed in a blender (reserve water for drinking, soup, or salad dressings)
1/3-1/2 red onion, finely minced
2. garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin powder
1⁄4 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. celtic sea salt

Using the food processor, finely chop the grated carrots in 2 separate batches, if necessary. Mix and puree the drained sun dried and the rest of the ingredients.

Using your hands, mix all ingredients together well in a large bowl. For best flavors, let the mixture sit for an hour or more.

Best served just after warming in the dehydrator at 105 degrees. Use as a topping for Tostadas or as a filling for Burritos or Tacos.

“Refried Beans”
4 cups soaked sunflower seeds (2 1⁄2 cups before soaking)
1⁄4 white or yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp. chili powder
21⁄2 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt
2 Tbsp. raw almond butter
3⁄4 cup pure water

In a food processor, puree all the ingredients until smooth. Pour into a serving dish and place it on a wire cooling rack set inside the bottom of the dehydrator.Warm at 105F for 20-30 minutes.

Carmella's notes: I found I had to tweak this recipe a little. I added a little oil, tahini, apple cider vinegar and amped up the spices to my taste.

Sour “Cream”
11⁄2 cup Cashews or macadamia or pine nuts, soaked
1⁄2 cup water
1⁄2 tsp. Celtic sea salt
1 Tbsp. Lemon juice

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy.

We served this delicious meal with Corn Tortillraws that I made into chips.

Corn Tortillraws
Posted by Alex (aka as RawGuru) on Sunfood Nutrition Raw Food Lifestyle Forum

2 1/2 cups golden flax seeds (soaked for 12 hrs)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/4 ripe avocado
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (soaked for 12 hrs)
2 tsp. black or white sesame seeds
2 tbs. minced spanish or red onion
2 tsp. fresh garlic minced or 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
1-2 pinches celtic sea salt or to taste
1 pinch of white pepper
celery juice or water

In an blender or a heavy duty food processor combine everything together till smooth. Add a little celery juice if mixture is dry. Check for seasonings. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Set aside in the fridge for at least 2 hrs.

Preheat the dehydrator for 110 degrees. Using a spatula or a large spoon, spread the mixture on a teflex sheet. Make it into thin round circles, (it's ok, if they are not perfect, it looks more home made and rustic.)

Dehydrate for about 4 hrs. or until you can pick them up and fold em. That's it!

Or you can cover a whole teflex sheet with the batter, dehydrate it for about 3 hrs. Get a large round cookie cutter, and cut out the tortillraw shapes, place them on the dehydrator tray and dehydrate for 1 more hour or until pliable.

Once you make a lot of them, you can stack them on top of each other, and keep them warm (in the dehydrator) until ready to eat.

If you want a taco shell effect, wrap them around a tube or fold them a little, keep them in the dehydrator for about 10 more hrs or until crisp.

You can also cut them into chip shapes and serve them with dip. Like a nice creamy guac, made out of avocado, some onion, lotta cilantro, some fresh lime juice, and salt, or a mango tomato salsa... Anyway you eat them, tortillraws are delish!

Carmella’s Notes:
I added a little lime juice, some cumin and fresh cilantro. Also ground ½ cup of the flax. I actually enjoyed this recipe more as dry chips than soft tortillas.


How do you say "Rawsome!" in Spanish?

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Welcome to The Sunny Raw Kitchen!

Oh hi! Come on in and welcome!

I named this blog, not so much after our kitchen per se, as for the beautiful, delicious, sun-filled creations that come out of it. In his book "Sunfood Cuisine", Frederic Patenaude refers to natural, raw and unprocessed foods as "sunfoods". To me, it perfectly captures the essence of raw: food which still retains its life force by remaining uncooked, and, therefore full of the Sun's energy, without which Life couldn't be sustained on earth.

I’d like for The Sunny Raw Kitchen to be an inspiring and cozy place to share and learn about raw foods. My intention is to approach the raw food diet, as everything else in my life, for that matter, with my heart, rather than my head. I eat raw because it makes me feel great, and I just LOVE its vibrant intensity. I have now come to the point where I find cooked foods bland and unappealing.

I intend mostly to share with you my favorite recipes and tips, along with some energetic facts around raw and, perhaps, a little musing too. But then again, who knows what it will develop into along the way…

You’ll notice that I won’t be getting much into the more technical aspects of how the raw vegan diet is good for you and why. I figure there’s plenty of info available on the Net already and, quite frankly, it’s a little too “heady” for me.

A few words about me…
My name is Carmella Soleil (which, in case you don’t already know, means 'sun' in French! lol). I live in beautiful British Columbia, Canada with Don, Kylo, DaPuss and the other residents of Ashinah.

Don’s sister (and good friend) Sandy, was telling me just yesterday how she feels 2007 will be a big year for her and her family. I'm starting to think along the same lines, as both Don and I are launching our blogs this year. We’re still very much newbies when it comes to the whole Internet phenomenon. Not so long ago, we didn’t even have a phone! Isolated as we are from the busy-ness of society, I find the prospects of sharing our different passions with the internet community exciting (and a little intimidating too!)

Tough Love
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved food. My mother told me the story of how I used to walk into the neighbors' house and help myself to my favorite cookies in their cupboards! lol But my relationship with food has been "tough love" at best! Ironically, I have a very delicate digestive system. In fact, I was conceived while my dad was dying of stomach cancer! Coincidence you think? Nah, not in my book… On top of my difficulties digesting certain foods, particularly meat, I also had food allergies; a fact I only came to realize at the end of my 20s! There was a time when I was afraid of eating altogether because of the almost inevitable stomach pains that were sure to come along.

Eventually, in 1995, inspired by my sister's own dabbling into the vegetarian diet, and no longer being able to "stomach" the way eating meat, poultry and fish used to make me feel, both physically and psychologically, I became a vegetarian. If my new diet did help in some ways, I was still far from thriving. I had a few extra pounds, and was plagued by a number of health issues.

The Leap into the Unknown
However, I came to realize that my still mostly unhealthy diet was only the tip of the iceberg. Deep down, I was unhappy and unfulfilled; my life was going in circles and I knew it. I was 29 and in my Saturn Return - a period of internal upheaval, during which one reconsiders what has been working so far and, most importantly, what hasn't. And so, I decided to walk away from what made up my world at the time, in order to jump into the Unknown. In the summer of 2000, I left Quebec, in the hopes of getting a fresh start on the other side of Canada. I didn’t have a clue where I’d live or what I’d do in BC. All I knew for certain was that I was long overdue for a radical change. Within a very short time though, three major things happened to take care of that:

- Landing on Don’s doorstep. Quite literally! I’d been in BC for a grand total of 3 days when I came upon an ad for a room to rent in Victoria. As I was due to leave the island the next day, I made arrangements to visit the house on the way to the ferry. After taking the tour, Don told me: “I think you’ll be happy here!” Boy, was he ever right! As it turned out, he was going to be instrumental in my new journey of self-discovery.

- The 14 day Master Cleanser. My body was in dire need of a fast after all the abuse I’d put it through over the years. It helped me see, with greater clarity, what bad shape my body was in and how I needed to start taking better care of it. Amongst other things, it prompted me to start doing 'The Five Tibetans'; a surprisingly simple, yet powerful and energizing set of exercises, which I still do daily.

- Vipassana Meditation. My mind needed a fast even more badly than my body did! 'Vipassana' means 'to see reality as it is'. Even though this technique was re-discovered by Buddha, it is nevertheless non-sectarian, which explains its tremendous appeal to people all over the world, regardless of religious background. On the Vipassana website, it is described as “a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind.” What I experienced and learned during those 10 days of silent meditation shook me to the core. In fact, I still use the Vipassana technique everyday, as I find it incredibly simple and effective.

I was on a roll! And so I embarked on a journey so profound that it was to completely change my vision of the world.

What About Raw?
Embracing a mostly raw vegan diet came along as part of this inner transformation I was undergoing. Don, for his part, had been experimenting with diet ever since he became a vegetarian in 1980. He even ate nothing but fruits and nuts for 7 months, which he still considers to be the time when he felt the greatest in his entire life! In 2001, both of us gradually started including more and more raw foods into our diets, while paying close attention to the issue of control. It is our experience that control is actually using force (willpower) against 'what is', and as such it is manipulating the natural energetics of things. This process is bound to give temporary results at best, and in the long run, becomes of its inherent repression, bring its unwelcome opposites: excess and obsession. We think this is one of the main reasons any form of imposed dieting can only work in the short term. Sooner or later, as we say in French, "Nature comes galloping back!"

If we refused to get caught in ideals of how we should eat, then how did we manage to change our diet? This will be difficult to explain, as it isn’t a linear thing. One way to describe it would be to say that it began with our unbending intent to lead more fulfilling, healthier lives. The improvement in our diets - which has been slow and gradual over the years - has only been a side effect of our process of personal growth. That’s not to say that our diets have been 'perfect' (if there's such a thing!) or that we haven't made 'mistakes'; but the OVERALL trend has been ever improving. Our main approach consists of honoring where we're at, and this connects to the quantum physics understanding that objectively observing 'what is' (or facing facts), will transform. We trust that we are doing what we have the energy to do at any given time. It really helps us avoid the traps of blame or guilt, which are even more debilitating.

When you don’t recognize who’s staring back at you in the mirror!
I’m fascinated by 'Before and After Raw' pictures. Just visit Shazzie’s website and you’ll know what I mean! Don reminds me, though, that everything is a reflection, and therefore it’s my own incredible transformation that I see represented in them.

Hang on a minute, let’s see if I can dig out some old pics somewhere…

This was taken in 1999, when I still lived in Quebec. I know that passport head shots are hardly ever flattering, but you get the picture anyway…

A good way to describe the person I was in those days would be to say that I was almost completely out of touch with my body, and therefore my feelings. A close and very intuitive friend of mine at the time, having picked up a slight change in my mood, once asked me how I felt. And you know what? I was unable to answer that! I had no idea how I truly felt inside. It later became apparent that the only way I managed to cope with living in a stressful, toxic environment was to cut myself off from feeling the physical and mental discomforts that were plaguing me.

By 1999 I was in the worst shape I'd ever been in my life. I was extremely unhappy, irritable and without a sense of purpose. I also suffered from depression, vicious mood swings, insomnia, migraine headaches, low energy, and my digestive problems hadn't let up. (Pfhew!) The last winter I spent in Quebec, I only got the flu 5 times! I'd barely recover from one that I was hit with another virus. Enough already! When a naturopath friend of mine offered me to do a reading of my condition with some new and complex computer device, I thought: "What the heck! What do I have to lose!" Even though I was relieved, at some level, to find out what was going on inside my body, the news was far from comforting. It was determined that all of my organs and meridians were totally out of balance (surprise, surprise!), except for my heart (thankfully!) According to the reading, I was also suffering from candida as well as several allergies, namely to foods such as corn, wheat and dairy. And, to top it all off, my immune system was completely shot to pieces. It's amazing I was still standing!

My friend basically told me that I might as well be throwing all the good organic foods I was buying straight down the toilet, as my system was too weak to even absorb the nutrients. As you can imagine, I walked out of there feeling pretty shaken up, not having a clue as to what to do with this newly found knowledge. Where do you even begin, when everything seems to be so wrong? As it turned out, I had to wait a few more months before I began to find the answers.

This is “me” 20 lbs lighter and 5 ½ years later, on a mostly raw food diet:

When I visited my family last summer, for the first time in nearly 6 years, they could hardly recognize me! It’s difficult for me not to think of who I used to be 'back then' as a different person altogether. As incredible as it may seem, most of the physical problems I used to experience have disappeared. At this point, I'm still allergic to certain foods, and occasionally get an upset stomach. I also experience carpal tunnel syndrome, which is probably genetic related. I've learned how to stay in touch with my body better, and how I'm feeling at any given moment. The constant lethargy that used to overcome me has been mostly replaced by a vitality I never knew was possible. Along with everything else, I walk and do the Tibetan Rites every day, as well as medicinal Qi-Gong a few times a week.

But let’s get back to why we're here!

To put it very simply, I love writing and I love LOVE creating raw food delights, but most of all, there's nothing I enjoy as much as sharing!

So don't just stand there by the door! Why don't you have a seat and make yourself at home in The Sunny Raw Kitchen!