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, April 11, 2011

Delightfully Raw in Santa Barbara: Part 2

I'm back with the last details of our adventures in Santa Barbara. Now let's see, how about some food talk?

In Diane's Sunny Kitchen
One of Diane and I's intentions was to play together in her kitchen, as we hadn't had a chance to whip up much at all during the 3 days we stayed with her in 2010. Her kitchen is quite small but the three of us danced around each other harmoniously and effortlessly. Don put on his usual hat of Master Juice and Smoothie Maker.

A simple smoothie made with whole oranges (peeled and seeded), lemon juice, gogi berries and water.

We were also initiated to yet another amazing fruit: cherimoya. On a friend's high recommendation (more about that later) we had picked up a few at the farmer's market. We learned that Santa Barbara is actually the mecca of cherimoyas in the US so we had to take advantage of all that abundance. The fruit's texture is soft and smooth, very much like another exotic fruit called sapote, and its flavor can change greatly depending on the variety; it sometimes has a hint of citrus or is more banana-ey. Exquisite! In this next photo I was getting ready to try it. Gotta take a sniff first, right?

As for dinner, we whipped up a different soup every day to start off our meal. We so love our raw soups and enjoy showing how simple they are to make and oh-so-delicious! Don would often let himself be inspired with whatever veggies were on hand, but we also had some of our favorite concoctions, such as the Spinach Almond Soup, the Sweet Pea Soup and the Curried Corn Chowder shown below.

Some of the entrees we enjoyed...

For our arrival Diane had prepared one of my older recipe creations: Spicy Noodles and Veggies in Szechuan 'Peanut' Sauce. Mmmmm... I'd forgotten how yummy it was!

Russell James' Broccoli in Hoisini Sauce that we served on kelp noodles instead of 'rice'. One of the most palatable ways we've had broccoli in the raw!

I never really got into sprouted quinoa, not caring much for its slightly bitter flavor. However we've learned to like it in tabouli. One night we made a slightly modified version of Elaina Love's recipe.

Quinoa Tabouli

Adapted from a recipe by Elaine Love posted here 

Serves 6
3 cups sprouted quinoa (about 1 1/2 cups before sprouting)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves, minced
1 large tomato, seeded and finely diced
1 medium cucumber, peeled in strips, seeded and finely diced
1 cup parsley, minced
4 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 to 5 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1 to 2 tablespoons tamari or 1-2 teaspoons Celtic sea salt, to taste

Mix everything together in a large bowl. Let sit 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld before serving.

Note: To sprout the quinoa, soak for 4-8 hours. Drain water and rinse. Sprout in a jar for another 18 hrs. or more, rinsing the quinoa every 8 hrs. To test whether the sprouts are ready, chew one. It should be firm, yet soft – and not too crunchy.

Last year Diane had made a fantastic kimchi so we decided to prep a large batch together. We looked at a bunch of different recipes online (such as these and this one) and quickly concluded that there's lots of room to play with. We ended up creating our own concoction which we had a bit of a hard time keeping track of, especially since we had to add more veggies at the last minute when we discovered that the gallon jar was only 3/4 full when we packed it in.

Here's a very loose rendition of what we did.

Kitchen Sink Kimchi

We basically used whatever veggies we had on hand (read: we were desperate to make space in Diane's fridge! lol)

A couple of small green cabbages, shredded
6 medium carrots, thinly sliced on the mandoline
2 large daikons, thinly sliced on the mandoline
1 large head of mature bok choy, thinly sliced
2 small baby bok choys, thinly sliced
1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
4 cups broccoli florets
1 leek, thinly sliced
Several garlic cloves, crushed
1 generous chunk of ginger, finely grated
A couple of dried red chilis, thinly sliced

First we washed the veggies very well then massaged them with 4 or 5 tbs of sea salt and the content of 4 probiotic caps. I let them sit for a few hours to allow some of the juices to be released, folded in 1/2 cup sesame seeds and 1 tbs sesame oil, then packed everything tightly into the gallon jar.

We used the Sauerkraut and Kimchi Maker system which we find works wonders. The hardest part is to wait for a few days (I think it took 3 or 4) before the kimchi is ready. It turned out absolutely delicious! Yay!

As for the sweet side there was always some kind of dessert around the house. On the day that we arrived in Santa Barbara Diane had made my Chocolate Caramel Trifle; one of my more elaborate but very scrumptious creations from my second recipe book, The Best of Raw Freedom Community.

Cheesecake from my new Delightfully Raw topped with cherries. Very decadent!

Diane has a new Cuisinart ice cream maker but was complaining that it didn't really do a good job. I explained to her that the secret to ultra smooth ice creams is to use enough fat content, such as nuts, nut milk, young coconut or coconut oil. We made Heathy's Maple Ginger Ice Cream; she liked it so much that she made another batch a few days later. And yep, her ice cream maker works like a charm!

My Dazzling Chocolate Hazelnut Pie. Once again she did wonders with the decoration.

She served it with more Maple Ginger Ice Cream. The latter was a little under sweetened so we drizzled it with some extra maple syrup. Heavenly!

Playing With Colors
But our kitchen experiments didn't stop at food. We also tried our hands at tie dyeing, since Diane already had all the equipment from her silk hand painting. One of my favorite skirts had a pretty bad blue stain (long story) so I thought it would be the perfect canvas to play with. In hindsight we should have done a bit of research online on how to go about tie dyeing, but you know how it is; you gotta learn from your mistakes, right?

I bunched up bits of fabric and tied them with rubber bands, then used a couple of different techniques: dipping the fabric directly into bowls of dye...

... and using a paint brush.

We then wrapped the skirt in a plastic bag and left it for 24 hours to allow the colors to sink into the fabric. We could hardly wait to see the result! It looked really cool but sadly most of the dye washed off during the rinsing process. Boo hoo! I gave it another try but the same thing happened. I decided to leave it at that for the time being; the skirt still looks cool with its soft pastel tones, but you can't really make up the designs. Ah well, good thing I had so much fun in the process!

We later discovered that the dye would have held better if we had first soaked the fabric in soda ash for 15 minutes to an hour prior, and that the dye would have been easier to apply if it had been thicker. Diane tackled a couple of shirts with that new knowledge and they turned out fabulous! (They're the ones that Don and Diane were wearing in a picture in my previous post.)

Rawkin Farmer's Market
On Saturdays we always checked out the farmer's market in order to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. It's definitely one of the better ones we've been to, offering lots of produce, with many organics all year round.

One time this young guy came up to me and asked if my name was Carmella. I almost cried out loud in surprise. I don't think you can ever get used to being recognized in public; at least I can't. Now get this! It turns out that he used to hang around Raw Food Talk and later Raw Freedom Community some years back under the username 'rawsurfer'. It's nothing short of amazing that he was able to recognize me from the minuscule avatar pics I posted on these forums!

Back then I actually even bought a carob bag from Taylor that he was wanting to sell in order to simplify his diet. When he mailed it he also included a CD compilation of his favorite songs in the envelope which I thought was a nice touch. In fact we listened to it during last year's trip! lol

At that time he was living near Miami but he has recently moved to Santa Barbara where he's going to school. And here we were bumping into each other! What a very small world we live in, eh? The timing of our meeting couldn't have been better either, as we had a potluck planned for that very evening.

Raw Munching at Aliki's
Several of us got together at Aliki's home later that day in order to share some rawlicious food. It was going to be a new experience for many of the attendees so Diane went a little crazy in the kitchie, keen to show how varied and delicious raw and living foods can be. I started the gathering by doing a little demo of my Curried Corn Chowder and an avo based Chocolate Mousse, also from Delightfully Raw. The latter was the perfect excuse to inaugurate the awesome new Cuisinart food processor Aliki got for her birthday.

 The savory spread

Diane had made a double batch of my Warm me Up' Chili which turned out really really good.

She had also prepared two kinds of cultured Cashew Cheezes, my Garlic & Dill and Herb & Green Onion, for which Aliki had dehydrated some very tasty crackers.

The sweet spread

As for desserts Diane had made my Dark Chocolate Cookies (I'd forgotten how yummy these are!) and homemade raw vegan Vanilla Ice Cream.

Apple pie that Dawn had prepared.

Taylor eats mostly fruit but he came anyway so that we would have a chance to connect. He says he has gourmet type raw foods perhaps twice or three times a year so it was a special treat for him. I thought it was mighty cool (and healthy too in a deeper sense) that he was willing to be fluid and diverge from his usual fare in order to partake of the feast.

Meet The Cherimoya Man
Over the course of our stay in SB we actually bumped into Taylor another time while at the farmer's market. It's where he buys the bulk of what he'll be munching on that week. As I was just saying he eats mostly fruit and boy, does he ever eat lots too! Back in Florida he used to run a small tropical fruit business. He'd buy wonderful fresh and exotic fruits from local farmers then sell them at the market. Sounds like a dream job to me! Taylor has posted short videos showcasing his weekly fruit loot here (you first have to select a newsletter). I was drooling just watching them!

Taylor usually buys fruit by the case as he goes through so much. He is particularly fond of cherimoyas which grow marvelously well around here. He confided that he goes through about 100 lbs a week! Eeek! That's a LOT of cherimoyas! It was such a hoot to listen to him tell his fruit tales to the captivated audience at the potluck; everyone's eyes were just about ready to pop out of their heads, including mine! lol "After the second or third month of eating pretty much just cherimoyas, I still find myself craving them!" he shared candidly.

And so I suppose it wasn't so surprising that we should have crossed paths again at his favorite shopping place. This time he invited us over to dinner at his home. I was secretly hoping that he would give us a glimpse of his fruity diet and he did! Yippee!

That night we enjoyed an 'epic' four course meal, to borrow one of Taylor's favorite expressions. We started off with an appetizer of succulent and juicy locally picked lime tangellos and pixie mandarins.

Then continued with a lovely fruit soup that was out of this world! Taylor made it with local kiwi, Peruvian mangoes, fuji apples and orange juice blended into a smooth mixture, to which he added chopped mango and strawberries for texture. Divine!

The third course consisted of "enough cherimoya to give us a proper taste of what it's like." They were gigantic and utterly scrumptious! "If they don't make you close your eyes and moan in delight, then they're not real cherimoyas" he declared. And, well, these were the real deal for sure! No wonder he virtually lives on this stuff!

Going bananas over cherimoyas! ;-)

As we were feasting on all these beautiful fruitty delights, Taylor told us how he went from just-your- regular-18-year-old-party-animal-dude to a raw vegan and soon afterward fruitarian 4 years ago. Wow, it's no small feat he has managed to accomplish! Way to go my man!

We finished off our meal with a ginormous salad made with romaine lettuce, spiralized cucumber and cherry tomatoes. It was drizzled with a dressing that Taylor whipped up, with orange juice, the cucumber cores, celery and dates.

The Chef at work.

Oh, and did I mention that Taylor is a big time surfer? He got into it 11 years ago when he lived in Florida and is still passionate about it. He certainly has a few to choose from for his ocean excursions.


Alright, after spending some three weeks on and off in the city, we were overdue for some time in Nature, far away from civilization.

Coming up next, the details of our camping adventures in southern California!


  1. cherimoya... i think that's what we had when you came to visit... mmm!

    love how the skirt turned out!


  2. Love your website! Especially the stories that go with all the great recipes.

    I just wrote an article on my website about raw salad recipes, and included a link to your quinoa tabouli - which I had for lunch today - yumm!