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!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

SRK Tour Adventures: Texas Part I

Since its beginning two years ago, this blog has gone through a number of phases: from long articles featuring various themes to the Recipes of the Week, to my What's Uncookin' Good Lookin'? series in which I told you all about my latest kitchen experiments, and the uncooking blitzes with Raw Goddess Heathy in person. More recently, there's been the recounting of our trip across Canada last summer in which were intertwined our adventures along with a detailed description of how we managed to stay raw on the road.

The beginning of our Sunny Raw Kitchen Tour has marked yet another phase in which the emphasis is mostly on our travels and all the beautiful people and places that we're encountering along the way. I don't get to play with and talk about food as much as I'd like, but I guess that's what happens when you trade in your kitchen for life on the road! ;-)

Having said all that, a good chunk of this post is dedicated to food since we had the pleasure of brushing shoulders with other raw foodies in Houston. (Yay!)

Texas Here We Come
We left Louisiana just before a rain spell and headed towards Texas, the Lone Star State. Being some 773 miles wide, we were most likely going to spend a few weeks exploring its vast territory and hopefully some of its many parks. I read on the Texas Almanac site that Texas is as large as all of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina combined!!!

This entire trip has been such an amazing lesson on trust, but the way our Houston stop has come together is especially neat. Although I'd been communicating for some time with Alicia, the organizer of a local raw group, the details were taking a while to shape up. So pretty much until the last minute we weren't even sure whether it was going to happen or not.

A Warm Bed With Warm Folks
As two potential accommodations had fallen through for different reasons, the plan was to camp in Alicia's backyard in spite of the predicted temperatures in the low 20s at night. (Eeek!) What we didn't know, though, is that she'd been desperately trying to find us another place to stay, not wanting us to sleep in the cold. When we pulled up in her driveway, getting ready to pitch the tent, we learned that we were going to have a roof over our head after all! Unbeknown to us (Alicia herself only found out a few hours before! lol), her mother Linda had offered to host us. Yay!

We knew as we set off for this trip that traveling with the furries would be a limiting factor in various ways, but at the same time it appeared like the right thing to do. As always, it was going to be a matter of trust that we'd all be looked after along the journey. Once again The Mystery came through as Linda and Dan welcomed our little family with such opened arms. They are such kind and genuine folks and they love animals. They used to have some furry companions of their own so they were glad to have our two beasties around for a few days. Kylo and Puss sure appreciated the extra luv and attention. ;-)

Linda is a glass artist whose expertise lies in Celtic cross symbolism. I don't know whether I've already mentioned it to you guys but I have a very deep connection with Ireland. As a teenager, I felt inexplicably drawn to it, and so when I was 19 I put on a backpack and traveled there alone. I fell utterly in love with its landscape, its people, its music and artwork, even its beer! lol In the years that followed, my entire world seemed to revolve around all things Irish. It eventually led to my specializing in early Irish church at university and my visiting Ireland 5 times. Anyhoo, I just thought it was interesting that Linda and I shared a similar interest.

Dan's own passion is music. He even worked at a local radio station in Atlanta and did radio theater which sounded like a hoot. Somehow it came up that I played the didgeridoo. Dan's face lit right up: "I've never heard a live didge before!" So Don went to fetch my instruments and I played a little for Dan. He was so thrilled, he looked like a gleeful kid. "You've earned your keep right there!" he declared. ;-)

Even though we were prepared to camp out, we were mighty glad to have a warm and cozy bed to sleep in. We thought it was chilly in Louisiana but we'd seen nothing yet! During most of our stay, the temp went down to the high 20s - low 30s during the day but it felt much much colder due to all the wind. It was a trip trying to get all the stuff organized for the class. While digging for what we needed in the van, my fingers were so numb I had to rush back inside the house a couple of times.

Spreading the Raw Love
We all know how support is key when it comes to making healthier choices, and it's especially so when 'going raw'. In fact it's one of the main reasons that we started our forum, Raw Freedom Community. It's also what motivated Alicia to take over the Spring Woodlands Raw Vegan Group a few years ago. There's a much bigger raw group that meets in the downtown area but the folks living in the northern part of the city and nearby towns needed something closer. (If you've ever been to Houston, then you know how spread out it is and how crazy some of the drivers can be!) Alicia has been putting sooooo much attention and energy into keeping this meet up active. (You rawk girl!) Linda told me that at the beginning she gave Alicia a hand with raw classes and organizing potlucks to help get the group going. Their dedication and efforts paid off, as the ever growing members now meet at least once a month for a potluck and various raw related events. Matt and Angela and the Giannis actually gave talks at Alicia's home shortly before the Holidays.

Alicia had put the word out to the Spring Woodlands Raw Vegan Group about us giving a class in Houston. In spite of the relatively short notice a surprising number of people turned up, even more than expected. Thankfully, our Vitamix part had arrived and Don installed it the day before the class. Phfew! That was a close call! lol Don't know what I'd have done without my precious assistant Mr. V!

It's always so much fun to pass on some of my favorite recipes to other raw enthusiasts. The people who attended seemed to enjoy the food and were inspired to try them at home. Yay! Alicia wrote a really sweet blogpost about the class here.

In Linda's Sunny Kitchen
When Linda offered to have us stay with them, my first thought was that she was just being a mom, you know, wanting to come to her daughter's rescue. I found out that she herself is into raw and has even been following my blog for some time! Linda has suffered from all sorts of allergies most of her life. After years of not knowing what exactly she had, five years ago she had some major testing done and was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. As Alicia had been dabbling into raw foods for health reasons of her own, she suggested that Linda look into the Hallelujah Diet, which advocates eating 85% raw with 15% cooked plant-based foods. She decided to give it a shot and as a result her health has dramatically improved.

Most places we've visited we've been the ones preparing the meals. As I'm sure you've noticed, we love uncooking and since we gotta make something for ourselves anyways, it's not that much extra work. One evening, Linda announced that since I'd be doing dessert, she was going to be making dinner. Alrighty, sounded like a good deal to me! ;-) We had a lovely salad that consisted of various fresh greens, cabbage, cucumber, radish and avocado, and zucchini pasta with Jennifer Cornbleet's Marinara Sauce. I had some Brazil Nut Parmesan which complemented the dish really well. Yum!!!

Marinara Sauce

From Jennifer Cornbleet's "Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People"
Posted by eecho on Gone Raw here
Serves 2 people

1 ripe tomato
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked or oil-packed
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic (1 clove)
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Dash black pepper (optional)
Dash cayenne

Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until smooth. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Keeps for three days in the fridge.

- For puttanesca sauce, increase the cayenne to 1/8 teaspoon. Stir 2 tablespoons thinly sliced black olives into the finished sauce.
- For Middle Eastern Marinara Sauce, Adda dash of black pepper, ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, and ground cumin

Since I'd learned that Linda hadn't made anything with Irish moss yet, I gave her a little demo about how to work with it. We opted for a simple Chocolate Mousse from Sweet Gratitude.

They were both really impressed with how light the mousse turned out. Dan, who's quite the chocolate lover, said the only problem was that he couldn't dig in with his whole face. hehe

After the class, when Don and I came home, dinner was already on the table! Wow! How thoughtful it was of Linda to prepare our meal! As she'd guessed, by then we're usually rather 'kitchened out' on such days. ;-)

She had made Jennifer Cornbleet's Cucumber Soup which she spiked up a little with more garlic and some lovely curry powder from Penzeys Spices. You guys just ought to check that company out! They have several curry spice blends that are deliciously aromatic and all so unique.

There was also a simple lettuce, cucumber and tomato salad served with a superb Orange Dressing. The latter was an attempt to recreate one they'd tried at Little Aussie - a cool gluten free resto in San Antonio. I'm not usually a big fan of oil based dressings, however this one was so light and with such a subtle orange flavor. Delish!

Orange Dressing
1 part extra virgin olive oil
1 part lemon juice
Dash maple syrup
Drop orange oil/flavor

Blend ingredients together.

Linda had pulled out from the freezer a couple of cashew cheezes that she'd made some time ago. One was a Cheeze Sauce recipe she'd found in a newsletter (shown in the right bowl). She had also made a variation in which she omitted the pimientos. We all agreed that we liked the second one better. Delicious with veggie sticks!

Cheeze Sauce
Posted in McDougall Newsletter of November 2009

I have been making versions of this “cheese” sauce for over 20 years. This is still my favorite because it is easy, fast and tastes great.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Servings: makes about 2 cups

1 cup raw cashews (see hints below)
¾ to 1 cup water (approximately)
1 4 ounce jar pimientos
2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt (optional)

Place the cashews in a blender jar (a high-speed blender like the VitaMix makes this much smoother and creamier) and add just enough of the water to cover the cashews. Process until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and process again until very smooth and creamy. Add more water if necessary to get the consistency that you want. Using less water will make this more spreadable, using more water will make it more sauce-like.

Hints: If you soak the cashews for at least an hour or two before processing the mixture, it will be smoother. Soak them in water to cover and then drain before using in the recipe. Start out with 2 tablespoons of the nutritional yeast and add more for a “cheesier” flavor. The flavors are more intense if you make this at least a day before you want to use it. This will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 week. Use to top vegetables, drizzle on pizza, or spread on a sandwich.

Since we hadn't really had a chance to spend much time with Alicia, she joined us for dinner the evening after the class. We had quite a feast! We started the meal with Snowdrop's Corn Chowder which is always a hit. It's such an awesome winter warmer. Alicia couldn't get over how much it tasted just like a cooked corn soup she used to love. Actually, Don forgot to add the nutritional yeast in (ooopsie!) which took away the usual cheezy flavor but they all thought it was great even without. That's certainly good to know, in case we're ever out of yeast when we feel like having it.

The main course was Jozzie's Fajitas on Soft Veggie Wraps, Corn Tortillas and/or collard greens with Sour Cream. Alicia had brought a color-full salad which fitted right in with the Mexican theme; a mixture of lettuce, pineapple, avocado, spiralized carrot and beet, red and yellow bell peppers and topped with a tomato salsa.

La Fiesta!

I had soaked waaaaaaay more Irish moss than I needed which was the perfect excuse to whip up another dessert. Plus, Alicia was bummed that she wasn't around to try the Chocolate Mousse. (Who wouldn't be, eh?) As I knew that Dan loves coffee, I thought they'd appreciate Cafe Gratitude's Cappucino Pie. I used coffee extract instead of real coffee which did seem to help in terms of the caffeine, but I still had a hard time sleeping afterward. It was well worth it, though! ;-) Alicia had picked up some young coconut at the Asian market in order to make the meringue topping.

Alicia popped by the next day just as I was getting ready to whip up Heathy's yummilicious Butterscotch Shake with some of the left over young coconut. She said she couldn't believe that she loved every single dish that I've prepared! lol

Butterscotch Shake

For our last meal together, I made my new Cheezy Spinach Almond Soup and Jeanne's Asian Spinach Salad. There was also left over fajitas and salad with my House Dressing.

Don pouring the soup. In case you're wondering what's those dark things are sticking out of one of the bowls, they're broken up nori pieces. We always like to add those to our soups as we prefer using seaweed rather than salt.

After a much needed couple of days to rest and catch up on my internet work, we said goodbye to our new friends. Later, Linda wrote to me: "What started out as a Mitzvah turned into a Blessing". I actually had to look up what Mitzvah means. hehe On Wikipedia, I learned that in Judaism this term has come to express "an act of human kindness." Awwwww, thank you Linda! We feel so blessed that the Mystery brought us together!

Raw Brunch Extraordinaire
During our stay in Houston we were hoping to have a chance to connect with Gittel, a member of our Raw Freedom fammunity. Since she couldn't make it to the class, she invited us to join her and her husband Mordechai for brunch on our way out of town. You guys should have seen the feast that Gittel had prepared!

On her menu was a beautiful salad that consisted of red and yellow bell peppers, mango and a little parsley (the color was stunning!), 'sparlic' (a mixture of parsley, garlic and olive oil) and Picco de Gallo: chopped tomatoes and onions (which she did in no time at all with a really nifty gadget called a progressive chopper), chopped cilantro and sea salt. It reminded me of tabouli minus the bulgur which I used to love. So simple but soooooo yummy!

Last but not least, there was Juliano's Meat Loaf which Gittel told me she's made several times. Believe it or not it was the first of Juliano's recipes that I ever got to try! I had browsed through his book 'RAW' early on but the recipes seemed so complex and the ingredients difficult to find that I was a little turned off. Once again I was glad for this opportunity to venture into new culinary territory, as the Meat Loaf was really tasty and moist. It was topped with a Barbecue Sauce which I thought complemented it very well.

Meat Loaf

From Juliano's RAW the Uncook Book
Posted by Linda on Vermont Fiddle Heads' weekly raw newsletter here

This says it serves 2 but there is NO WAY that it serves 2 - more like 5-8.

1 1/3 cups walnuts, soaked & drained
1 1/3 cups sunflower seeds, soaked & drained
1 1/3 cups almonds, soaked & drained
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon Celtic sea salt
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
11/2 cup chopped celery
2 cups Marinated Portobello, chopped (recipe below)
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, de-stemmed and minced
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
1 1/2 teaspons cumin seeds (not powder)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 recipe Barbeque Sauce (recipe below)

Process nuts in a food process, vitamix or juicer with the blank screen on. Process until a dough-like consistency. If using the food processor, add rest of ingredients except for the barbeque sauce and process until smooth. On a solid dehydrating sheet, shape the mixture into a loaf about 1 1/2 inches high. Dehydrate for 1 hour at 105º. Remove the loaf and baste it with the barbeque sauce. Dehydrate for 2-3 more hours at 105º and serve immediately.

Marinated Portobello 
2 cups portobello mushrooms
1 cup nama shoyu
1/4 cup olive oil

In a bowl, soak the mushrooms in nama shoyu and olive oil for at least 10 minutes, up to 6 hours. Note: if you don't have nama shoyu, substitute 1/4 cup miso and 1 1/2 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice. Discard marinade (LINDA'S NOTE: USE FOR A SALAD DRESSING! I DON'T LIKE WASTING/DISCARDING FOOD.) Makes 2 cups.

Barbeque Sauce
1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon minced jalapeno
4 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted
olive oil or fresh tomato juice for blending
1/4 cup nama shoyu or 1 teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Combine the above ingredients in a food processor and blend. Add a little tomato juice or olive oil if the sauce is too thick to blend. Stir in the nama shoyu or celtic sea salt and olive oil. Keeps for 2 days in the fridge. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

This was serving #1 for me. ;-)

But wait til you see what was for dessert!

Gittel had a gathering at her home some time ago for which she undertook to prep raw foods for 150 people!!! (None of which were really into raw!) Wowsers girl, what a feat! Thankfully for us, she had heaps of dessert left over from the event. You should have seen my face when I joined her in the kitchen to give her a hand. I'd heard her say something about taking dessert out of the freezer, but I certainly didn't expect such an array of yummies! There was a platter with mini thumbprint cookies and two kinds of little balls (Ani Phyo's Lemon Coconut Bars and one of Eva's creations made with nuts and raisins).

But that wasn't all, there was another platter with chocolate-coconut squares and four different kinds of cheesecakes! "Good gracious, it must have taken you weeks to prepare all of this!", I exclaimed to her. "Not weeks, months!" she replied. Wow! Gittel, you're my he-raw-ine! ;-)

The cheesecakes were small and nearly bite size yet tall. Soooooo cute!!! She used Norpro mini cheesecake pans with little removable bottoms. Me want some too!!!!!! There were Just Like Cheesecakes, Vanessa Sherwood's White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecakes and Black Forest Cheesecakes (favorites of ours when we first started playing with cacao butter), and my very own Bliss-full Blueberry Cheesecakes.

Seriously, I thought I'd died and gone to raw heaven!

Not for lack of wanting, I didn't have enough room in my tummy to try everything. (If I'd know about this raw dessert extravangaza I wouldn't have gone for seconds and even thirds of the other dishes! lol) But Gittel, bless her heart, gave us some cheesecakes to take along with us.

It was such a pleasure (and I'm not just talking taste buds here! ;-)) to have this opportunity to spend time with Gittel and Mordechai.

The ironic thing is that when we left their home, we did some grocery shopping. "Hard to imagine that I'll ever be hungry again!" I told Don. (I had eaten so much I thought I was going to explode!) But wouldn't you know it, four hours later we were huddled in the tent, eating dinner. lol It was a very light one, mind you; cucumber soup and durian dipped in chocolate sauce for dessert. Ahhhhh, Life is good!

Hum, I better take a breather here before I dive into our campfire stories. Be right back!


  1. fun foodie adventures! i'm so glad you were treated to some yummy food. you deserve it.

  2. Fun! Funny how things just kind of
    "work", isn't it?! I love it. Good to see your adventures continue, Carmi!

    :-) xxo Eva

  3. If you head out West, you should go to Big Bend National Park! Amazing. Visit Alpine on the way... and you can camp for free at a bar in Terlingua.

    Also, you should check out Austin!

  4. those desserts all look delicious! yummmy. thanks for enjoying my recipes. my next book, Ani's Raw Food Essentials, will be out April 1st. invite me to your next raw party will you? grin....

  5. Wow, I love your adventure posts. My itch to hit the road hasn't been bugging me lately, until now. Must plan big adventure soon! And aside from all of the amazing food, the people you've met seem so interesting and kind. Thanks for keeping us updated :)

  6. Looks like great fun!!!
    Can't wait to meet you in PHX!!!

  7. Thanks everyone for leaving comments!

    Ani, nice to have you drop by!

    Sadly, we couldn't make Big Bend but maybe another time...

  8. You're back! You're back!

    I've missed your food :)

    All of this looks great. I've made Jenny's marinara pasta, and it's a winner. And oh my, the meatloaf looks terrific. I've also been meaning to make the butterscotch shake forever -- I just need to get me some lucuma!

    Thanks for the round up of your travels, Heathy!