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!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

SRK Tour Adventures: Texas Part III

We left Palmetto State Park early, as we had a long drive ahead of us all the way to Del Rio. It was interesting to watch the landscape gradually change once we passed San Antonio. Fields were replaced by ranches and the trees got smaller and smaller as we went. Cacti, low brush and dried up river and creek beds... unmistakable signs that we were easing our way into desert country. We also saw border patrol stations, since the 90 West hugs the Mexican border, as well as plenty of prisons and detention centers, no doubt because of the isolation. "Do not pick up hitchhikers - Prison Area" said a sign. Even if we wanted to, we couldn't fit anyone in as the van is jammed packed! lol Unfortunately it was raining a good chunk of the way, but the closer we got to our destination the more the sky cleared up. Yay!

Rough Canyon, Amistad National Recreation Area
Once again, we decided to follow Angel's advice and stopped at Amistad National Recreation Area located just passed Del Rio. Amistad consists of the American portion of International Amistad Reservoir which lies on the US-Mexico border. It comprises the reservoir's 540 miles of shoreline in Texas as well as several miles along many of its tributaries including the Rio Grande, Devils River and Pecos River.

Amistad NRA offers five campground locations by the water. All of these (except for Governor's Landing) are primitive sites however, and don't have electric, water or shower facilities. At the Visitor Information Center at the entrance of the Amistad, the ranger pointed out the various campsites but then drew special attention to a new one called Rough Canyon, situated a little out of the way along the Devils River. Our initial idea was to just stay overnight and continue west towards Big Bend National Park where we were wanting to spend a few days, so we weren't sure about going that far from the main highway. Back in the parking lot I found Don talking with a couple of French Canadians. We learned that they've been coming to Texas for years in the winter and were camped at Rough Canyon, which they warmly recommended as it is both super quiet and very scenic.

And so we paid attention to what Life was pointing out to us and drove the 20 some miles to Rough Canyon. It's a popular boat ramp (no wonder as the location was fabulous!) to which they added a very small camping area (it has a grand total of four sites!) right on the waterfront. Oh and you know what the best part was? It only cost us $4/night!!! Wow, you could stay here for 4 or 5 nights for the price of what most other campgrounds charge. Granted that we had to rough it since it didn't have any amenities, but still... What a deal! We had the campground all to ourselves as we learned that our fellow traveling friends were staying at a different place just down the road.

From the campground you could see Rough Canyon Cliffs across the water.

As usual, I prepped dinner while Don pitched the tent. Since I had already made ‘Refried’ Beans, Nacho Cheeze and Sour Cream at Palmetto State Park (more details later), all I had to do was whip up a guacamole and a green salad. He was expecting a simple cracker n’ spread type of meal as we normally have no brainer food when changing location. “Carmi, you’re a food magician!” Don goes to me when he saw the spread. ;-)

We enjoyed the various components on large romaine lettuce leaves. Ah man, was it ever yummy!

As you might have figured out by now, I love love sunsets! After our Mexican feast we were treated to yet another stunning display of colors. Makes you feel so blessed to be able to witness such beauty! It dawned on me that we didn't see sunrises or sunsets for the entire time we lived in the Kootenays in British Columbia. No wonder I can't get enough of them now!

We slept like logs amid the quiet tranquility occasionally disturbed by the sound of fish jumping, owls hooting and sheep baaing in the distance. A rather unusual combination, eh?

The next morning Carole, the French Canadian lady, stopped by to give us directions to a really scenic road that she'd discovered just a few minutes from the campground. We swapped stories for a while and one thing led to another, I mentioned that we were eating mostly raw. It turns out that she was into health foods and had been experimenting with raw on her daughter's recommendation. No way! Here we were in the middle of nowhere, in this teeny weeny campground off the beaten track talking about raw food prep! *shaking her head* I mean, what are the chances of that!?! lol Being on the road Carole was finding it challenging to whip herself up something healthy and raw, especially as her hubby isn't into it and she hadn't taken a lot of equipment along. Since I'm becoming somewhat of an expert on the matter, I gave her a few simple tips.

The weather was fabulous; so warm and without a single cloud in the sky! We learned that this was actually the first day of nice weather in quite some time. They'd had pretty much everything but snow so our timing couldn't have been better! Early afternoon we headed off to explore the surrounding area. As Carole suggested, we drove up El Diablo Parkway, a little winding and dipping dirt road that took us deep into desert.

We saw lots of nopal cacti along the way. I found out that they are actually bigger versions of the prickly pears we encountered in Florida. I didn't recognize them at first as they didn't have any red fruits on them.

Carole had told us about a couple of paths branching off the road that brought you closer to Devils River. In the distance we could see the steep limestone cliffs that were carved by the river over millennia.

It was breathtakingly beautiful!

These next shots were taken along the second path that we walked on.

We sat in silence for a while, admiring the unobstructed view of the river. A power spot for sure!

Hard to fathom how such scenery and alcohol can go together but we found some beer cans as we walked. One of them was still full so Don decided to do humanity a favor. ;-)

I woke up early the next morning, just in time to see the sun rising on the Devils River.

Gone With The Wind

We were really starting to like this place. No wonder Carole and her hubby decided to make it their headquarter. We thought we might stay for an extra day or two, but once again our tentative plans were changed and we were led to move on. Not long after taking the above photo the wind gradually started to pick up. I joked that the tent might blow off if we weren't inside, but as it turned out I wasn't far from the truth. When we got up we saw that the sky had clouded over and a storm was brewing. Oh-oh, not good! Forget about staying, we had no choice but to hit the road. Sure was a trip taking down the tent, as the wind was getting fiercer almost by the minute.

Seminole Canyon State Park
We had everything packed up in record time and continued our travels along the 90. As the day was still young, we decided to stop at Seminole Canyon State Park a few miles further West. The park is renowned for its jagged canyons cut through the Chihuahan Desert wilderness. Thousands of years ago, native people left behind dozens of ancient painted symbols on the canyon walls carved by the Rio Grande. As we couldn't undertake the long hike that led to the famous Panther Cave, we opted instead for a shorter walk to Seminole Canyon after which the park is named. It took us a while to locate the trail, which we even lost all together at some point, but we still found a way to get to the canyon anyway. Yay!

Wow, those gusts of wind were somethin'! Sure didn't want to stand too close to the edge, I tell ya! Don had to literally hold my shoulders in order to steady me while I took photos. lol When we first reached the canyon a buck was frightened by our presence and it proceeded to effortlessly hop from one rock to another all the way to the top. What a magical moment that was!

Desert Storm
The ride through the desert that followed was a bitter sweet one. With our rushed departure from Rough Canyon that morning, we hadn't paid attention to the gas in the tank which was only a quarter full. We had spotted a few towns on the map so we figured we could just fill up along the way. Bad idea! These were the sort of towns that you'd easily miss if you blinked!

Along with the stress of possibly running out of gas in the middle of the desert (Yeah, yeah, I know it's a terrible cliché, but what can I say? It was really happening! Eeek), our engine started to overheat. Oh - oh! Not good either! We had noticed that the antifreeze had begun to leak a bit in San Antonio, but figured it wasn't a big deal as we've encountered a similar issue in the past. Thankfully, we had some water with us so Don fed it to the van which eagerly drank it up. It seemed to do the trick but as we had no more water we had better find a town real soon!!! As we approached Sanderson, we were bracing ourselves for yet another one horse town. It was a small community alright, but at least it did have a couple of gas stations. Woo hoo! We were so happy and relieved! Man, that was a close call!

While all this was going on, the scenery passing in front of our eyes was fantastic! There are times when I'm too caught up in my internal mini drama to be able to appreciate Nature's beauty, but that day it was simply too spectacular to ignore.

Our challenges weren't over just yet but I'll leave that aside for now.

How about I tell you a little about all the yummy stuff we've been eating lately?

Our Sunny Raw Outdoor Kitchen
Since going on the road, most of our time and energy has necessarily been devoted to the various tasks required by our trip. I must admit that I sometimes miss putting on my creative culinary hat and trying new recipes. We tend to mostly eat the same simple stuff all the time. (I told you a little about our menu here.) However during our stays at Brazos Bend and Palmetto State Parks, I did get to be more adventurous with our food.

Jicama is so much fresher and cheaper down here than back home! Since we’d bought a couple in Houston, I decided to whip up a few different things with it.

A light twist on one of our favorite meals: Asian Veggies in Ginger Marinade on Jicama Rice

I also made Matthew Kenney's Rosemary Mashed which I served with Raw Food Right Now's Raw Gravy from their Thanksgiving ebook. I gotta say this is my all time favorite version of gravy as it isn't as intense as others that are mainly made with mushrooms. It also calls for cashews, celery, onion (I used green onions as we have trouble digesting the raw yellow or white kind), garlic, lemon juice and salt.

The tatoes and gravy combo was even approved by Don, the potato lover! ;-)

And how could I not make our dear Jozzie’s famous Lemon Poppy Seed Cake? We completely forgot to buy some poppy seeds but I thought black sesame seeds would work well too. They did! It was yet another perfect cake for the road as it doesn't require any setting in the fridge.

Not long before we left for our trip I received a couple of Russell James’ new ebooks, but I hadn’t even managed to browse through them yet. (I know, I know, how could I resist?) I finally got a chance to pull up the ebooks again and try some of his recipes. Yippee!

A couple of mornings we munched on Chia Seed Porridge from his No Dehydrator Recipes ebook. A true breakfast of champions! We enjoyed it topped with banana slices, chopped apple, a little maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Really very good and filling too. One day for the life of me I couldn't locate the oat groats! I was momentarily bummed but then decided to improvise with what I had. That turned out to be a good thing after all as I came up with this yummy and lighter grainless variation. You'll need to plan a little ahead as it requires that you soak a few ingredients overnight.

Hearty Breakfast Cereal
Inspired by Russell James' Chia Seed Porridge in his No Dehydrator Recipes ebook

The night before soak in a bowl:

1 ⁄2 cup sunflower seeds
1 ⁄4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dry coconut
1/4 cup almonds (although you could also use 1/2 cup of almond pulp left over from making almond milk instead!)

In a second bowl, soak:
1 ⁄2 cup raisins
6 small dates or 3 Medjhools

In a third bowl, soak:
1/4 cup chia seeds in 1/2 cup water

You will also need 1 1/4 cups of almond milk for this recipe, so if you don't already have some handy, you'll want to soak your almonds overnight as well.

The next morning:

1 - If necessary make your almond milk first. (I usually use 1 cup almonds to 5 or 6 cups water)

2- Drain and rinse your seeds/nuts from the first bowl. Then place in the blender.

3- Drain the dates/raisins soak water (don't throw it away!!!). Then place dates along with half of the raisins in the blender.

4- Add the chia seeds to the carafe of the blender, along with 1 1/4 cups almond milk, 1/4 cup dried fruit soak water and 1/4 tsp cinnamon (or more!)

5- Blend briefly so as to retain some texture.

6- Transfer to bowls and fold in remaining 1/4 cup raisins.

7- Top with fresh fruit of choice (I've used banana slices and chopped apple) and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon.

Carmella's Notes:
~ If the mixture isn't quite sweet enough to your taste, add extra fruit soak water, agave nectar, honey or maple syrup.

~ If it's too the cereal's too thick to your liking, simply add more almond milk or fruit soak water.

~ On a cold winter morning, for a warm cereal you could gently heat up the almond milk on the stove before adding it to the blender. Just make sure that the burner is on medium and stir the mixture constantly to avoid destroying the enzymes.

Don had picked the biggest durian he could find at an Asian market in Houston, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite ripe. Boo hoo What a bummer as we were so looking forward to this special treat. While looking through various recipe ebooks, I stumbled upon the perfect way to use it! Soooooo good!

Durian Vanilla Smoothie
From Raw Pleasure Australia’s new free ebook, The Simple Guide to Eating Raw

1 whole durian
Flesh of ½ young coconut
Water of 2 young coconuts
2 vanilla beans

Put all of the ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.

Note: If you don't have a high speed blender such as a Vitamix, you might wish to split your vanilla pods and scrape the seeds, instead of using the entire pod.

Jenni's Note:
The first time I had this smoothie I was aghast that someone would mix durian with something else. 'What a waste' was my miserable thoughts as I watched the durian flesh being blended with the coconut and vanilla. Fortunately for me my friends have very open minds and I am in love.

Carmella's Notes:
~ Funny as my first thought was also that if it wasn't that the durian wasn't ripe I wouldn't normally want to mix it with anything else, since it is so yummy on its own.

~ I used a different ratio as I went with what we had on hand. I'd say I used 1 durian (although that's not saying much as the size can vary greatly), the meat and water of 1/2 a young coconut and about 1 tbs vanilla powder. The result was more like a pudding consistency.

We had a mega uncooking day at Palmetto Park in preparation for the next leg of our journey, as we were expecting to stay at campgrounds that don't have electricity. That turned out to be quite a trip as we had to work in a cloud of wasps!!! I have reacted very strongly to their sting in the past so it was a real meditation. Not that I was afraid that they would attack me but rather that I might accidentally crush one while picking something up and therefore get stung. Thanks to our being extra careful though, the uncooking went without any incident.

Time for the taste test!

Since we were going to be traveling through the heart of Tex Mex country, I decided to whip up all the fixings for a gourmet Mexican style meal.

I've tried a few raw renditions of refried beans in the past but I hadn't found one that really wowed me. Here's a cross between a recipe from Kristen Suzanne's Easy Raw Entrees ebook and Russell James' Spicey Beans from his Mexican Style Raw Food Recipes ebook. It was a winner! Definitely the best we've had yet!

Not 'Refried' Beans

1 1/2 cups sunflower seeds, soaked 2 hours or more
3/4 cups sun-dried tomatoes, soaked at least 1 hour
2 tbs lime juice
1 tbs olive oil
2 tsp dark miso
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
2 garlic cloves
1 green onion, chopped
Handful fresh cilantro (about 1/4 cup), chopped
Tomato soak water

Process all ingredients except cilantro in food processor until smooth. Add a little soak water if needed. Transfer to a bowl.

Fold in the cilantro by hand.

The following recipe was inspired by Kristen Suzanne's Cheezy Nacho Sauce. The famous Rich Cheddar Sauce that we all love so much with a spicey twist. Seriously yummy stuff!

Nacho Cheeze
Adapted from Kristen Suzanne's Cheezy Nacho Sauce in her Easy Raw Entrees ebook

1 1/4 cup cashews, soaked
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup red bell pepper
1/4 cup water
1 medium carrot
2 garlic cloves
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp lime juice
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp chipotle powder or cayenne (use less if you prefer it not too spicy)
2 tsp taco seasoning (I threw in a bit of onion powder, chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, and chili flakes)

Blend all ingredients in high speed blender until smooth.

Lastly, I decided to make Russell's Sour Cream also from his Mexican ebook. It is slightly different than most versions I've encountered as it calls for apple cider vinegar as well as the usual cashews, lemon juice, water and salt. I really liked it a lot.

That day, since we had all the ingredients for it, we enjoyed Russell's Avocado Lime Soup from the same ebook. Very good and oh-so-creamy!

And now on a sweet note...

We had almond pulp left over from making milk that I just couldn't bare throwing away. After much pondering and browsing through recipes I decided to make two kinds of treats. I shaped one of the batters into cookies and the other into balls, but you could take your pick, depending on what form appeals to you the most.

This first recipe is a slight variation on Jennifer Cornbleet's Almond Cookies. The result reminded me a lot of the cake layer of Heathy's wonderful Chocolate Orange Cake which is one of my all time faves, except with a touch of almond extract.

Almond Balls or Cookies
Adapted from a recipe in Jennifer Cornbleet's "Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People"

2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1 cup almond pulp
1 cup Medjhool dates
1/2 tsp almond extract
Dash salt

¼ cup ground almonds

Process walnuts and whole almonds first in food processor until coarse.

Add rest of the ingredients except ground almonds and process some more. (Do not over process; you should still see chunks.)

Form batter into balls or cookies.

Toss in ground almonds for coating.

Chill 2 hrs before serving.

This next recipe started out as Russell James' Chocolate Chip Cookies from his Chocolate Recipes ebook, but then evolved into something a little different. Actually, these are very similar to my Double Chocolate Cookies in The Best of Raw Freedom Community ebook.

Chocolate Balls or Cookies
1 1/2 cups almond pulp
1 cup oat flour (obtained by grinding up oat groats)
1/2 cup walnuts, ground in a food processor
1 /4 cup maple syrup
3 tbs agave nectar
3 tbs cacao powder
1 tbs carob powder
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 /4 tsp teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cacao nibs (optional)

Dried coconut
Mesquite and carob powder

Process all ingredients except cacao nibs until smooth in food processor. If desired, add cacao nibs and process briefly just to incorporate.

Roll batter into small balls or cookies.

Toss in dried coconut or a mixture of mesquite and carob powder to coat.

Store in refrigerator.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I added nibs only to half of the chocolate mixture.

~ I then coated the plain balls with coconut and the ones with the nibs with mesquite and carob.

Mmmmmm... All this talk of food is making me hungry. Time to go fuel up on smoothie! ;-)

P.S. If you want to find out where we're off to next, you can take a peak at our updated itinerary here!


  1. Fun! And the scenery is beautiful! Food looks really good.

  2. I think that Texas has the most beautiful sunsets in the whole world. Have you ever seen the sunsets around the Amarillo area? They are some of the most stunning I have ever heard of. The recipes look great too! Thanks!

  3. you're amazing! you totally wow me...you truly are a food magician...


    beautiful photos...

  4. Thank you so much for the excellent blog posts! I love reading about your travels and the photos are outstanding. So cute how you were eating the Mexican dinner while gazing at the Rio Grande... Blessings on you both and safe travels!

  5. Hi girls! Thanks for dropping by!

    I completely fell in love with Texas! No, we didn't make it to that part of the state. Perhaps next time?

  6. wonderfu email today! And..love those sunsets!
    Please, please, please: write us an ebook on camping raw! Maybe "KOA Kooking"??? (My kids & I spent a lot of good times KOA!_

    Can't wait to open yer emails, Carmi and you ARE a FOOD MAGICIAN!

    lOVE, sUE

  7. Well, I think you could easily begin a new career as a travel writer! Interesting that many travel writers also write about food. You just put a bit of a different twist on the food part. Perhaps one of these raw magazine publications would hire you to post travel logs. A worthy addition I would think. Next stop, the world!

  8. Carmella, you are the busiet raw camping cook I have ever seen! must try some of these!

  9. Wow girlie!

    You've been a busy bee in your outdoor kitchie, love it!

    Amazing country you are getting to see. It's beautiful.

    Much love and huggies


  10. We are planning a camping trip this summer and your blog is such an inspiration! We are big on yummy food no matter where we are, and that includes camping too.
    Looking forward to more beautiful pics!

  11. Hi Carmella!

    I just had to post a comment. I've been juice feasting since the New Year... And looking at your Raw-ventures is just pure torture! Man this food looks gooooood!

    Can't wait to try some of these yummylicous recipes!

    Have fun and keep us informed, we just love this!

    Sheryl-Anne xx

  12. Hi..thank you so much for these wonderful ideas!Regarding the delicious recipe for chia porridge- about how many servings is it supposed to make?? Thank you!!