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, June 24, 2007

Wild Harvest

We may not be blessed with a veggie garden here on the land, but you know what? We've found something even better! It's abundant, it's free and doesn't require any effort on our part! Well, other than harvesting...

You'll have guessed it, I'm talking about Nature's very own wild garden!

It's a Wild, Wild World
Funny how seemingly small and insignificant events can trigger a domino effect. For me, it all started earlier this spring when I purchased some wild Salmon Seal shoots at our community's awesome little whole food store.

I was so thrilled at the prospect of trying my first wild greens, I was barely out of there before I was already munching on my new find. The shoots were tender and their taste reminiscent of asparagus. Delish!

Seeing my interest, John told me about a woman living around here, Shanoon, who is very knowledgeable in local edible and medicinal plants. In fact, she even conducts herb walks in the Crown land surrounding the Retreat Center, as it is such a wild treasure chest!

That's it! I was hooked! Suddenly I felt like Alice, on the verge of discovering a whole new world I was vaguely aware of, but had never dared exploring before. Sure, I'd heard that you could harvest wild edibles, but my knowledge pretty much ended at berries and good ol' dandelion.

I called Shanoon as soon as I got home and lured her into giving me a little private wilderness tour with the promise of a raw feast. (Always a nice card to play! he he)

Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Armed with my camera and notebook, I finally entered the fascinating world of wild plants, with Shanoon guiding the way. The woman is a walking encyclopedia! I was enthralled by the information she was revealing to me and was reminded, once again, of Life's endless mysteries.

"There is always more to learn!", she told me with sparkling eyes. Her passion for Nature and its secrets just jumps at you and, what more, it is totally contagious!

Meet Nature's Incr'edible' Weeds
During our short walk, she pointed out some 30 different plants along the way! But for the purpose of this post, I thought I'd focus on the edible varieties.

Let's begin with one you are most likely familiar with already...

The young leaves of plantain are edible raw and very rich in vitamin B1 and riboflavin. This herb is famous for bringing relief in cases of insect stings and burns, and to help stop the bleeding of minor wounds.

Self-Heal aka Prunella Vulgaris

As its name suggests, this 'weed' is better known for its many healing properties. However, the leaves of the self-heal plant are edible and can be enjoyed in smoothies, salads, soups, etc.


I'm in loooove with these little heart shaped leaves! Shanoon told me that 2 of these contain the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C! Violets are also high in vitamin A. They are delicate and make a perfect addition to salads. Both the violet leaves and flowers are edible, can be used as thickeners, or made into tea.

False Salmon Seal, aka Suzy Cue or Wild Spinach

These are quite a ways from the tender shoots we had just last month, but still make awesome edibles. Another new favorite! The leaves are a bit too tough and stringy to be enjoyed in salads, so we've been adding them to our soups, green smoothies and even quiches! Pretty much anywhere that calls for spinach, really.

The fruit of Solomon Seal is also edible raw and is a good source of vitamin C. In the old days, it was used to prevent scurvy. As I was mentioning earlier, the young shoots can be picked in the spring and make an excellent substitute for asparagus.

Additionally, Solomon Seal can be used as a poultice in cases of strains, wounds or to reduce swelling.

Twisted-Stalk aka Wild Cucumber

As its name indicates, the leaves of Twisted-Stalk taste a little like cucumber. These aren't as tough and fibrous as Solomon Seal, and can be eaten in salads as well as all the other usual ways.

Oxeye Daisy

Recognize these little guys? Sorta look naked without their flower, I must say. Let me give you a hint: "She loves me, she loves me not..." Got it? The leaves of the Oxeye Daisy have a very interesting, yet not unpleasant taste. Another delicious addition to salads!

And finally, the beautiful Tiger Lilies aka Woodland Lilies

Besides being a pleasure to behold, the Tiger Lily flowers are truly delectable. We've been decorating our salads with them, as you can see...

Not pictured here are Clovers, but I figured you already know what these look like. Both leaves and young flowering heads of red and white clover are edible. The young leaves are harvested before the plant comes into flower, and are used in smoothies, salads, soups, etc

Oh, and let's not forget dandelion! According to Alternative- Healthzine.com, dandelion "is a source of potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorus and iron. The leaves are a richer source of Vitamin A than carrots and contain some amounts of Vitamins B, C and D."

Other common edible 'weeds' include:
  • Borage leaves and flowers
  • Chicory greens and flowers
  • Chickweed
  • Fiddlehead ferns
  • Lambsquarters
  • Malva
  • Miner’s lettuce
  • Purslane
  • Sorrel
  • Stinging nettles

A'right, let's recap and see what all goodies I've been gathering lately...

Why Eat Wild?
In a previous post on greens, I was telling you how green vegetables are essential for optimal health. It is also important to consume a variety of them in order to get a wide range of nutrients.

In her article "How To Go More Green In YOUR Diet", Karen Knowler points out that "it's vital for all of us to eat wild greens. These greens are (for the most part) as natural and potent as you’re going to get because they're (typically) untouched by man and have not been treated in any way... AND you really feel the difference when you eat wild foods - they're electric!"

Not surprisingly, the Boutenko family is also into eating wild edibles. According to Victoria, these "often contain more vitamins and minerals than commercially marketed plants."

Why is that you ask? "Weeds have not been “spoiled” with farmers’ care in contrast to the “good” plants of the garden," she explains in the article "Are There Enough Greens in Our Stores?". "In order to survive in spite of constant weeding, pulling, and spraying, weeds had to develop strong survival properties. For example, in order to stay alive without being watered, most weeds have developed unbelievably long roots... As a result, all wild plants possess more nutrients than commercially grown plants."

The Wild Table
The art of preparing food with wild edibles is known as 'wild-crafting'. As I've been suggesting, 'weeds' can be used pretty much in the same manner as store-bought greens: in smoothies, soups, salads, or other savory dishes.

Here are a few recipes that can be prepared with wild plants...

It is said that Lambsquarters is a close cousin of spinach, only it contains a lot more goodies. You can therefore use it in any recipe that calls for spinach, including this next one.

Greek Salad
Adapted from mariquita.com

This salad is hearty and delicious!!! Super-nutritious too!

2 cups Lambsquarters greens
2 Cucumbers
2 Tomatoes
2 green onions or 2 heaping Tbsp red onion, minced
4 oz feta cheese (see recipes below)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup olives, chopped
2 tsp oregano (fresh if possible!)

Try to use the young, tender Lambsquarter leaves from plants about 1 foot tall or so for this salad.

1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh herbs or 1 Tbsp dried (your choice, try dill, parsley, or oregano)
1/4 tsp coarse ground black pepper

Blend dressing ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Coat the salad just before serving.

No worries, ingenius raw chefs have also managed to come up with awesome vegan renditions of feta cheese. Take your pick!

Almond Feta Cheese
By Karen Parker

1 1/2 cups almonds, soaked for 12 hours
1 cup cashews, soaked for 12 hours
1/4 cup light miso (such as chickpea or 'golden' miso)
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup basil
3 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
4 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
3 tablespoons fresh white sage, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons Celtic sea salt
1/4 cup leeks, minced

Homogenize almonds in Green Life or Champion juicer (if you don't have a juicer, mix 2 cups water with almonds in high-speed blender until creamy. Then strain through fine-mesh bag. Keep almond pulp in mesh bag.

In blender, combine miso, water, herbs, oil, salt, white pepper and leeks until very creamy. It should taste too salty. Pour miso mixture into mesh bag, catching all liquid that comes out. Continue to squeeze liquid out of bag until no more will come out.

Spoon almond pulp onto a Paraflexx sheet on a dehydrator tray. Keep pulp in crumbled form; do not break chunks up. Dehydrate at 90 degrees for 8 hours or until completely dry. Keeps in sealed glass jar in cooler for up to 4 weeks.

By Melissa Davison

1 cup almond pulp from almond milk
4 Tbsp thyme chopped fine
Pinch of celtic sea salt
1 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tsp sundried tomato powder

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, fluff with a fork. Better if left to marinate a few minutes. Add to favorite salad. Refrigerate in a sealed container up to one week.

The entire edition of the Raw Family June 2006 Newsletter was dedicated to Lambsquarters. Included was the following recipe:

Lambsquarters and Tomato Salad
By The Raw Family

This delicious salad has a unique taste and is only available in the summer.

Blend well:
4 cups lambsquarters
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 bunch dill weed, chopped
I lemon juiced
1 avocado, mashed
Add sea salt if desired

Serves: 2-3

Raw Family's June Newsletter only just came out and talks about the benefit of Stinging Nettle. Sergei is particularly into wild edibles. In fact, he has been conducting hikes in the Oregon woods, teaching people about Nature's 'superfoods'. To find out more about what he's been up to, visit his website:

In the meantime, here is one of Sergei's wild-crafted recipe:

Stinging Nettle Pesto
By Sergei at www.rawfamily.com

½ cup of stinging nettle leaves
½ cup of pine nuts
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup of sun dried tomatoes (optional)

Blend nettles in blender to destroy spines. Add remaining ingredients and blend thoroughly. Add more oil or lemon juice if necessary. Serve like regular pesto on crackers, bread, pasta, etc.

Serves 3

You can sign up for their awesome newsletter on Raw Family's site.

Here are some of the ways we've been enjoying our wild harvest...

Wild Gogi Green Smoothie
1/2 avocado
2 oranges
3 bananas
3 cups spinach
1 cup Salmon Seal
1/4 cup soaked gogi berries (about 1/8 cup dry)
1 mango
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
2 cups apple juice
2 cups water

Blend until smooth.

Yields 7 to 8 cups

This next recipe may not be the prettiest (sorta looks like 'swamp goo' as my friend Fairygirl would say), but don't be fooled! It is nutritious, filling, and yes, yummy too!

Blended Salad Gone Wild
1 cup tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup yellow or red peppers, roughly chopped
1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 cup lettuce
1 cup spinach
1 cup wild greens of choice
2 small green onions
1/4 cup parsley
3 stalks of celery
1 small avocado
1 teaspoon agave nectar (optional)
1 sheet of nori, shredded
2 tablespoons dulse flakes or wakame
1 tablespoon paprika (optional)
Water (as needed)

Blend the tomato, pepper and cucumber first, until they turn liquid. Then add in the lemon juice, greens, avocado, and broken up nori, pushing with the celery stalks, until the entire mixture is blended. Add some water if you find the mixture too thick or difficult to blend. Flavor with dulse flakes and/or paprika, if desired.

Serves 2-3

Carmella's Note: Blended salads are meant to be on the thick side.

Cultivated Beauty

OK, I'm gonna go off topic for a minute here to share these little gems...

As you can guess, I didn't find these two during one of my wild excursions; they were cozily nested in our small flower garden. Aren't they just gorgeous? And their aroma is unbelievable! According to Don, this first one smells what the color 'purple' should smell like! Sounds strange, but actually, I'd have to agree! he he

Hum... I wonder if we could eat these too!?! (Oh, oh... I think I've become obsessed about eating anything that grows! lol)

When I look at the surrounding wilderness, I now see a whole new world, waiting to be explored and enjoyed; a 'wild produce' section right outside my door! How cool is that!?!

No need to tell you I cannot wait for berry season to hit! We have lovely thimbleberries, blackberries and saskatoons. And, if we're lucky, the bears might just leave us a few huckleberries too!

What about you? What wild harvest is growing in your backyard?

For more information on wild edibles, here are two excellent websites:


  1. what a wonderful post! Fab pictures and information on wild greens....i enjoyed the tour ;)

  2. Carmella, you are a wild green momma genius! This post was GREAT!! Totally inspiring and the photos, as Shell says, are terrific...it seems so hard to find good clear photos of wild edibles sometimes. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I feel excited:)

  3. Thanks gals! ;)

    I am so thrilled about this post, really. Discovering wild greens truly is one of those things you just want to share with the world! Such a fantastic and FREE resource out there, and most people don't realize it for lack of info.

    Enjoy your wild harvesting!

  4. Great information and a lovely bunch of amazing wild greens. However, what is Salmon Seal? In the goji berry smoothie.

  5. Thanks! Actually, it should really read: "False Solomon Seal" not "Salmon Seal" (lol). You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maianthemum_racemosum