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!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bonjour From Quebec! (With a Mouth Full of Strawberries)

Hi folks!

Hope you're all enjoying a sun-filled and fruit-full summer!

For my part, well, I've got some pretty big news.

As you may know, this past year has been super eventful for Don and I. After six years of leading a quiet lifestyle at a retreat center in the magical Slocan Valley, we've had to change location three times in 11 months. As it has turned out, we'd seen nothin' yet! Sometime in May, it started to become clear that, in certain ways, things were starting to close down on us in BC, and that it would be best not to resist it. It was more of a feeling than anything else, but whenever we've had a similar situation in the past, it's proven to be right. The obvious question was of course "where to go?" Quebec was the only place that sorta made sense, mostly since my family is still there. I must say that up 'til then, I never thought I'd be going back East to live, but once again, Life is full of surprises. Actually, when I announced the news to my mom, she said she'd been thinking it was time for me to come back.

So we gave away pretty much all of our stuff (except for my raw equipment of course!) and packed the rest. In spite of how little time we had to get ready, it all went really smoothly. Thankfully, I managed to go to a Vipassana retreat at the last minute, which was such a blessing. After it, I felt much more centered and prepared to meet the challenges of this new adventure.

Before heading off, we went to spend 2 days in Kelowna with our dear friends, Mosaica and Pontifex, with whom we shared a house in Rossland over the winter. Since our going separate ways in April, our relationship has grown considerably over the months. We were sad that we'd be living so far apart, but we trust our paths will cross again at some point.

And so we embarked on our journey East with everything we owned packed in the car, as well as our furry friends, Kylo and DaPuss. The trip went amazingly well given the circumstances, although it felt a LOT longer than when I made it 9 years ago, almost to the day! I've already started to work on a series of posts documenting the actual journey. (Coming up real soon!)

This shift is huge for us in so many ways. One aspect is the 'cultural' shock, Quebec being predominantly French speaking. We will also be 'homeless' for the next few months, until we get a better sense of where we're meant to reside. For the moment, we're at my sister Josee's place in Abitibi near Rouyn-Noranda. She has a quiet property by a lake, so we couldn't have dreamed of a better landing spot.

I thought you guys might want to see some photos of our new 'home for now'...

The view of beautiful Beauchastel Lake seen from the deck.

... And a little closer.

Here's the path below Josee's house going down to our spot by the water, among the wildflowers.

I must say it's awesome to fall asleep listening to the lake's gentle waves. Almost feels like being on a ship. ;-)

We'll be setting up a gazebo in the space behind the tent that will serve as a kinda dining room and living room.

Actually, last night as I was heading down to bed, the lake was so still that you could see the near-full moon reflected in it.

So peaceful...

As you'll see in my posts about the actual journey, it's been quite a challenging experience for our furry friends, especially DaPuss (cats are notorious for not traveling well). She's a trooper though, and made it to our destination. (I couldn't help but think of Don's story who lost one cat along the way when he moved from Quebec to BC back in the '80s! EEK) After all that moving around, she was glad to finally settle in one spot for more than a night or two. In fact, now she seems to feel comfortable and to really enjoy her new environment.

She likes to go ninja and hide amongst the shore bushes, particularly on the rock slabs warmed up by the sun.

Can you see her?

A pleasant surprise we've had traveling East was to find lilacs in bloom everywhere we went. (Lilac season was already over by the time we left the Okanagan.)

Don didn't waste time introducing Ti-Nours, my nephew's golden retriever, to raw foods by adding some chopped apples to his usual dog food. He wasn't too sure at first, but after glancing over at Kylo, he saw that it was okay. lol Now, he enthusiastically wolfs down his meal consisting of pulp from our morning juice, various veggie scraps, olive oil and some dog food.

Here's Don accompanying Ti-Nours to the lake. He just loves to go for a dip after his daily walk.

As for my favorite subject, food, Don and I have scouted the grocery stores in town in the past week, and overall the produce available is not as varied and is considerably more expensive than in BC. Being so close to the Okanagan - the fruit haven of Canada - we were spoiled in terms of freshness and prices. It will be a different story now that we're on the other side of the country. You can find a few organic items in the produce section of regular supermarkets, but definitely not for cheap. How I wish I had a garden to grow my own greens! *sigh* But it looks like there's hope! At the Saturday market, I met a local organic farmer who delivers weekly boxes of organic veggies to the community. We had a really great connection and it looks like we'll be doing some kind of barter in exchange for fresh yummy veggies and herbs. Yippee! What a relief! It will also be fun to play in a farmer's garden and learn a few growing tips.

The biggest shocker was in regards to nuts, seeds, dried fruits and other similar items I used to purchase in bulk. The only place you can find those in town are at the health food store where they are all pre-packaged, sometimes for double what we use to buy them for. Ouch! Thankfully, we've hauled 3 boxes full of various supplies, such as nuts, seeds, cacao products and superfoods so we should be okay for a while.

My sister Josee has always been very interested in health and open to trying new things. In fact, she's the one who turned me onto vegetarian cooking in the early '90s. When I came to her home 3 years ago to guide a raw retreat, she absolutely loved everything I prepared. She told me that she's been making herself fresh juices, fruit smoothies and raw soups on a regular basis since. (Yay raw!) She's a close friend of Chantale, who started the first raw restaurant in Quebec, 'Tout Cru Dans Le Bec', right here in Rouyn. No small feat considering how it's really in the boondocks! Chantale's resto closed down shortly after she moved to Nelson to start 'Rawfreshing' - her second raw deli, so Josee is thrilled to have an opportunity to discover more of the amazing possibilities that raw food prep has to offer.

This was taken during our first meal together.

Her friend, Fernand, is also really impressed with the recipes I've shared with them so far. In fact, they've asked Don and I to cater for perhaps as many as 30 people for 2 or 3 days during a pilgrimage walk (a bit like a mini-Compostelle) they're organizing next month between Rouyn and Ville-Marie. As strange as it may sound, over the last few years, my focus has been exclusively to share my passion for raw foods with the 'virtual world'. However, I'm feeling that something might be shifting in that area as well with this new phase. I'll definitely keep you posted...

On a different note, I'm turning 38 today.

I woke up to the best b-day gift ever: sunshine! What a treat as it's been raining virtually every day since we got here. We made the most of it: washed some clothes, went for a walk and, of course, did some sun worshipping. ;-)

Although Don and I don't really celebrate such occasions per se, thanks to Josee, we had a really special dinner and evening. The table was all set on the deck (we LOVE picnics!) but a huge rainstorm took us by surprise. The wind was so strong that for a moment we were even concerned the tent would be blown away! So we had a quick change of plan and moved everything inside.

We started off the meal with a raw Cream of Zucchini Soup. The main course was a mixed green salad with my new chia dressing and zucchini pasta with 2 different sauces: alfredo and an arugula almond pesto. The others also had Pacific wild salmon and potatoes grilled on the bonfire.

Josee treated us to a lovely sparkling apple juice made by a Quebec producer from Rougemont.

Mmmmmmm... Good stuff!

And the best part... Dessert!

You know me... I'll jump on every opportunity to whip up something rawesome and yummy. I usually make my decadent raw version of Strawberry Shortcake since my birthday is during strawberry season, but this time I decided to try a creation Joyce shared with us last week on RFC. I still had one young coconut left that I'd picked up in Ontario so it perfectly fit!

Strawberry Crumble Cake
Posted by Joyce on her Beautiful Living Food in Vermont blog

Use an 8 inch spring form pan

Crumble bottom and & topping
* 2 cups of pecans, not soaked
* 1 cup of dates, not soaked
* 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt or a bit less

Use a food processor with the S blade to process the pecans and sea salt until broken down into a very rough flour. Then add the dates and process until the mixture becomes crumbly. Don’t over process it.

“Grease” the pan lightly with coconut oil. Then add about 50 to 60% of the crumble mixture into the bottom of the pan. Set aside while you make the cake.

* 1 cup of young Thai coconut meat (I had mostly firm meat)
* 1 cup of unsoaked cashew pieces
* 1/2 cup of strawberries, chopped into small pieces
* 1/2 cup of thick coconut milk (blend meat and water from one small young Thai coconut with firm meat)
* 6 good sized dates, soaked for 20 minutes
* 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
* 1 1/2 scraped vanilla beans
* 2 teaspoons of psyllium powder
* 1 tablespoon and 1 1/4 teaspoons of agave syrup
* 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
* 2 cups of strawberries, chopped into small pieces

Use a food processor with the S blade to blend all the above ingredients except for the 2 cups of strawberries. Blend until well combined but not completely pureed. Transfer cake mixture to a big bowl and stir in the 2 cups of strawberries.

Add the cake mixture to the pan. With the crumble left, add about 1/2 of it onto the top of cake and press gently. Cut up a few more strawberries and place on top of crumble. Sprinkle the final bit of crumble on top, still letting the strawberries peak through.

Freeze cake until frozen solid. (about 6 hours or so). Then take cake out of freezer and remove sides of the spring pan. Put cake into the fridge and eat when thawed.

Strawberry sauce
* leftover coconut milk from above
* big handful of fresh strawberries or more
* agave syrup to taste

Blend everything up in the Vitamix until smooth.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I made a little less crumble mixture since I used my 7" pan.

~ I only had whole cashews so I ground them in the Vitamix before adding them to the food processor.

~ I didn't have quite enough young coconut meat for the cake batter so I replaced the amount missing with cashews which I also ground finely.

~ As my coconut milk was on the thin side, I added 1 tbs of melted coconut butter to the mixture.

~ I used 12 small dates (not Medjhool) and the batter wasn't quite sweet enough to my taste so I added a bit of agave.

~ Oh, and I had to skip the Sauce altogether for lack of young coconut.

Perhaps because of my subbing, the piece's tips collapsed a bit once thawed, but the flavor was awesome! Joyce's got a winner with this one.

Isn't it gorgeous?

Josee gave me a little pink plastic necklace and a yellow flower to wear. Made me feel like a little girl again! ;-)

We finished the evening listening to music and even dancing a bit in her living room.

Ah! What an amazing day! I feel so blessed as I really couldn't have hoped for a more perfect birthday!

Phfew, this has turned into a much longer post than I envisioned. I didn't expect dinner to turn into such a feast!

OK, time to hit the hay, but I promise to be back soon with all the details of our trip.

Bye for now!


  1. Hooray! You're back! Best of luck with all the resettling.

  2. Happy b-day to you! I'm glad to hear from you guys.... always an inspiration for me! :)

  3. Oh wow, it's so cool that you're in Quebec. I'm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec if ever you come close to there. :)

    I know what you mean about buying bulk nuts in Quebec, I usually try to get them in Vermont because of better prices, selection, and organics.

    I had no clue that Tout Cru Dans le Bec was started by a friend of a friend. So cool. Too bad it closed down, but I'm glad there is a new one in its place.

    Welcome back to Quebec! :)

  4. Lovely post! Thank-you for sharing:)


  5. Hi Carmella!

    Happy Birthday! And all my best wishes for you and Dan in this new adventure.

    Yesterday I made the strawberry crumble cake too!! and it was a winner! love the flavors and the color.

    Have a wonderful week.

    Mango and strawberry hugs from Mexico,

    Lau-raw ;)

  6. How nice you are back and what big news you have!

    Happy Birthday! Your birthday cake looks so luscious! And those pictures of the birch trees and the lake look just like we have it here in Finland!

  7. Moving, shifting, growth. How exciting and inspiring! I'm so happy for you and Don.

  8. what an adventure.
    happy birthday.
    you guys look lovely.
    that strawberry cake is amazingly beautiful!
    wishing you wonderfulness!!

  9. HAPPY Birthday!

    Enjoy the journey!

  10. "raw " cahsews are not really raw, you have to buy "truly raw" or " Hand shelled ones. GlaserOrganicfarms.com sells them , also they sell truly raw cashew butter. Truly raw cashews are speckled.

  11. Welcome back in Quebec! Like Nathalie Lussier from another comment, I'm from the Eastern Township in Quebec. Good to see inspiring people around!