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!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Hi guys! I'm back with our big news!

We've recorded a short video in which I tell you about the unexpected possibility that we were presented with and our resulting change of plans for the winter months.

I thought I'd go into greater detail in writing about this major decision and how it came about...

Becoming Nomads
As most of you probably know, about 2 1/2 years ago we gave away most of our possessions in order to become nomadic. It clearly felt like everything pointed in this direction and in hindsight we can totally see how that was the right thing to do. I must admit that I was surprised by how quickly I adjusted to this new life 'on the road'. It felt sooooo darn good to lighten up and shed some of our accumulated stuff and become fluid. I also loved not having to worry about all the expenses related to a sedentary lifestyle.

In the last 26 months this adventure has taken us across Canada and all around the periphery of the US. It was thrilling to have wheels for the first time in several years, allowing us to explore some of the wondrous North American wilderness and meet beautiful fellow health and personal growth seekers as we went. More than ever, it seemed, we felt surrendered to Life, letting ourselves be guided and making as few fixed plans as possible. We learned how to feel our way along and have gotten pretty good at it.

We had no reason to believe that this nomadic lifestyle should change in the near future, and so this summer we worked towards setting into place the next stage of our winter travels. It was becoming apparent that life on the road in a small van, especially with our two furry friends, was beginning to seriously take its toll, so we undertook the project of upgrading to a used RV. After consideration we decided that while a camper might be more fun, a trailer or fifth wheel would be far more practical, allowing us to leave it behind when we needed to go shopping. Also we wouldn't be left on the street in the event of a mechanical breakdown.

We almost immediately found a buyer for our lovely van, although we were all sad to see it go. In spite of the starting troubles we had last year, it was such a sweet ride and had come to feel like our home for the past year and a half. In keeping with our plan we then purchased a used truck in order to pull our new RV. Not being a 4x4 or diesel it wasn't exactly what we had in mind, but we figured it would do just fine. After that the search for a suitable trailer began in earnest. We quickly realized that with the budget we had at our disposal the options were rather limited. To complicate matters even more we also discovered that the RV would have to be under a certain weight to avoid taxing the truck too much. The last thing we'd want is a blown transmission in the middle of nowhere! Keeping these criterias in mind, in spite of our combing ads daily in local papers and online for months, no trailer felt quite right for us.

When Life Throws a Curved One at Ya
Then around mid-September, as the pressure to find a trailer became increasingly palpable with the first signs of Autumn, a friend who was visiting the property where we were staying happened to mention that she'd be looking for renters for her family's cabin. Although I wasn't particularly keen on the idea of staying in Canada for the winter, I knew better than to ignore this piece of information thrown my way, and so I mentioned it to Don. Over the years we've learned to pay very close attention to what Life is trying to tell us. Remembering how difficult finding a place to rent for the four of us has sometimes been in the past, we had no choice but to acknowledge how this opportunity had been literally dropped in our laps. Don later confided the great sense of relief he felt as soon as he heard of the possibility. While he was prepared to meet whatever challenges Life presented on our path, he couldn't shake off a sense of apprehension at the idea of getting back on the road, with all the stress and energy demand that it implies, given all our circumstances.

We've witnessed over and over how when something is meant to happen it does so almost effortlessly, falling into place with only the slightest of interventions on our part. And so it was with the prospect of staying here for the winter at the cabin. Still, I felt torn for days, wanting to make sure that we were doing the right thing, what was for the highest good. I sensed a strong pull to go to the States in order to connect with some of the wonderful friends we've made during our past travels, our 'fammunity'. What if we were meant to cross paths with yet more people who needed to hear our message about health and how to prepare for the financial crisis?

Flight of the Single Snowbird
An idea occurred to me which I almost discarded at first: how about if I was to fly down there on my own and spend a few months? This still looked far from ideal, being away from Don and the furries for such a long stretch of time. While talking over the unexpected possibility of remaining in Canada with our friend Diane, pieces suddenly began to fall into place. Like us she could see that Life seemed to be pointing to our becoming sedentary for a while AND she was absolutely overjoyed at the idea of my visiting her. At last it felt like an ideal solution, one that we could both feel good about, was taking shape; we could go with the Flow and rent the cabin here for the cold months while I traveled south on my own for part of it.

"What about Raw Vee," you ask? This new development is not to say that we feel called to give up on our nomadic lifestyle altogether. We're looking at this as a short break from our travels and an opportunity to save more energy and money so that we can be better prepared for the next chapter of our life on the road. It will also undoubtedly open the possibility of acquiring a much nicer home on wheels than we could at this stage.

Living in a Palace
The move to our new home for now couldn't have gone smoother, with our truck certainly coming in handy. We don't have any furniture but thankfully there already were a few pieces at the cabin, and friends lent us the rest. The house is an old centurian home and is a bit funky but is suits us perfectly. All we really need, after all, is a roof over our heads. Old as it is the cabin has never been properly insulated, but we've done what we could to make it more comfortable, closing off the whole upstairs to save heat and covering the windows with plastic.

I can't tell you how strange it is to be in a house again after almost 2 1/2 years of near constant travels and camping! We are in awe at all the little comforts that can be so taken for granted: running water, hot water, shower, electricity, an indoor kitchen complete with counters and fridge, having so much space to live in, being able to do the Tibetan Rites indoors when it's cold and rainy outside, and having everything right here under a single roof. It all feels like such sheer luxury! It's also so nice to be able to be together with the animals for most of the day, something we haven't been able to do in months.

Speaking of the furries, they felt immediately at home. Sure didn't take long for them to lay claim to our bed. We have to keep reminding Kylo to wait at least until the wee hours of the morning before joining us or else he'd stretch and take over the entire thing! hehe

I remembered how much Puss loved to lie on our computer chairs, still warm from our presence.

As wonderful as it feels to be given a house of our own to live in for a few months, the real treat is its location. The cabin is on a super quiet road, yet still within walking distance from the small town. The area is breathtakingly beautiful!

The view from the cabin.

Snow has recently come to decorate the mountaintops.

We are just a few meters away from the entrance to a provincial park where we can enjoy our daily walks. Does it get any better than this? The trail goes along the lake and is in almost fairytale like surroundings.

These photos really don't do justice to how lush and bright the flora is - almost fluorescent green.

A lonely mini mushroom growing on a rock among the moss.

These remind us of miniature trees.

The furry boys enjoying their new walk.

Kyky, look at me!

One afternoon, the cloud formations were stunningly beautiful.

Back in the Kitchie!
I was surprised at the surge of energy and uplifting of spirit that took place within me almost as soon as we settled into our new residence. I hadn't realized how much energy was required in living out of doors, making the smallest of tasks more complicated. I was particularly delighted to observe how my interest in food prep came back virtually right away; suddenly inspired to whip up different dishes and, at last, some raw desserts! Woo hoo! Nothing too complicated and fancy but nonetheless a much welcomed digression from our usual fare. We've enjoyed some old favorites: Tostadas, Tuna Salad, Hemp Burgers and Kelp Noodles and Marinated Veggies with Satay Sauce.

And on the sweet side I was excited to work with Irish moss again. I made a simple but delightful Chocolate Mousse from Sweet Gratitude, and the Pecan Pie from the same book. I'd made the latter a couple of times before, and while it is real yummy it is also super sweet, so I tweaked it a little.

Pecan Pie
Adapted from a recipe from Sweet Gratitude
Posted on Amyitis Gardens here

2 3/4 cup of macadamia nuts
1/8 teaspoon of salt

Process the macadamia nuts and salt to a dough-like consistency. (Do not over-process or the macadamias will release too much oil.) Press into a 9-inch pie pan.

1 1/2 ounces of soaked Irish Moss*
1/2 cup of water
3/4 cup agave nectar
1 1/2 cups of pecans
9 ounces well-packed finely chopped dates
2 tablespoons yacon syrup
2 tablespoons liquid vanilla** (or vanilla extract)
1/8 teaspoon of salt

*For tips on how to work with Irish moss, see this post.
** To make liquid vanilla, blend 3 whole vanilla beans with 1 cup of water until completely dissolved. Will keep refrigerated for at least 1 month.

1 cup of pecans

Blend Irish moss with water and agave until smooth. Set aside. Food process pecans until a paste-like consistency is achieved. To this add your blended ingredients, as well as vanilla, yacon syrup, and salt; process again until smooth. While processing add the chopped dates in small amounts until smooth. Spoon mixture into crust. Top with pecans. Chill in fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I didn't have macadamias so I made a simple walnut crust instead: 2 cups walnuts, 1/4 cup dates, 2 tsps liquid vanilla, pinch of salt. I food processed the ingredients until crumbly. (If the crust doesn't stick when pressed between your fingers, add a little water - 1 tsp at a time - and process again.)

~ From having made this pie in the past I knew that it is way too sweet for my taste. This time I used 1/4 cup + 2 tbs coconut nectar and 2 tbs agave instead of the 3/4 cup agave called for, 7 ounces soft dates and I kept the 2 tbs yacon syrup for the deeper color.

~ I couldn't bring myself to pay $32/kg for pecans at my local HFS so I used a mixture of wild pecans I still had around the kitchen and walnuts.

~ Chilling time for the pie is more like an hour or so.

I decorated the pie with lovely wild pecans that were given to us by a farmer in Arizona. Sure was a meditation to crack those little guys open but definitely worth it. To help further cut down on the sweetness I served it drizzled with a Cashew Cream. Mmmmm!

Still in dessert mode - no doubt wanting to make up for the summer's long dry stretch - next I tackled the Spiced Pineapple Cake from Matthew Kenney's Everyday Raw Desserts.

It's one of those giant size cakes like in Cafe Gratitude's books, calling for something crazy like 8 cups of nut flour (Eeek!), so I halved the recipe. I didn't have enough Brazil nut flour so I substituted with part almond flour that I already had dehydrated. Otherwise I pretty much followed the recipe to the T. For the cake batter I don't have a standing mixer so I just used a food processor, being careful just to pulse the mixture, as suggested, so that it stays on the light side rather than heavy and dense. That seemed to work quite well.

I opted to make only 1/4 of the Banana Cream for the middle layer and to frost the top of the cake with Elaina Love's mucho yummy and light Whipped Topping. For the finishing touch I sprinkled on a blend of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

Spiced Pineapple Cake with Banana Cream
From Matthew Kenney's Everyday Raw Desserts
Posted on Living Rawesome here

Makes one 9 inch cake

Wet Ingredients
Mashed bananas
Chopped pineapple
Date paste- Which is 1 cup dates, 1/2 cup water, 1 tsp lemon juice
Almond milk

Dry Ingredients
Brazil nut flour
Coconut flakes (powdered in vita-mix)
Vanilla bean
Sea salt

*¼ C Irish Moss Paste can be used with wet ingredients or ¼ C flax meal with the dry. This is optional and creates a fluffier mixture.

Wet Ingredients
In a vita mix thoroughly blend all the wet ingredients except for the coconut oil until smooth. Then add the coconut oil and continue to blend until well combined.

To make Cake Batter
In a mixer or food processor mix the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Slowly add the wet ingredients. It is better to use a standing mixture as this will keep the mixture lighter and more fluffy, but if you do not have a standing mixer it can be done in the food processor if you lightly pulse the wet ingredients in. You do not want a dense heavily blended mixture.

Divide cake batter into two. Press one layer of batter in a 9 inch spring form pan and alternate with 1/3 of frosting. Add second cake layer. Refrigerate just before serving, remove from spring form, and frost with remaining frosting.

Veggiegirl's Note: I made the dry mixture and the wet mixture separately and placed them in bowls. I do not have a mixer and my food processor was too small to fit all of the mixture. I think the mixture turned out fine, just by adding the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.

Carmella's Final Thoughts:
I thought that the overall texture was good, very much along the lines of Cafe Gratitude cakes I've tried. Unfortunately I was somewhat disappointed by its lack of flavor. I had used fresh pineapple in cakes before and had found that the flavor was almost completely lost. It proved to be the case again in this particular cake. If I was to make it again I would use dried pineapple that has been rehydrated or perhaps fold by hand whole pieces of pineapple, fresh or dried, into the batter. I would also add extra spices.

Now the countdown is on! Woo hoo! I'm leaving for Southern California in less than a week and there's all these things I have to do: greens and parsley to dehydrate, root veggies to store, and whip up at least one more decadent raw dessert! ;-)

Wishing you all a wonderful Autumn! I promise to keep in touch!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Our Summer at a Glance

My gosh, it feels like forever since I last blogged! (Bad, bad Carmi!)

With hardly anything exciting going on in our lives or in our kitchen for weeks, I've resorted to remaining silent, hence my being MIA from the blogosphere for so long. 

Things have recently taken a sudden and unexpected turn for us, though, which is now encouraging me to resurface and write at last. But before I share this new development with you all I figured I better first tell you a little about our summer, as uneventful as it was.

My Internal Battle
It's certainly been a strange and difficult last few months for me; my internal landscape being one of almost constant psychological discomfort and disheartedness. For one thing, the warm weather and sunshine didn't arrive until the very end of July. The pleasant summer season being already short as it is here in Canada, it was hard not to lose morale after a while. (Especially when you're a sun lovin' girl like me!)

When we settled on some friends' property in June, the initial thrill of "having nowhere to go" and "nothing to do" - compared to our busy months on the road - soon gave way to a painful lethargic limbo. I felt miserable and depressed, every day blending into the next in a sort of dull blur. At first I blamed the inclement weather but later had to acknowledge that the cause had to be much deeper than that, as my foul mood prevailed even after the sun showed up in earnest.

There was nothing particularly challenging going on to account for my funk, yet I knew that my energy had to be going SOMEwhere. I eventually came to conclude that it had to be connected to what's happening in the collective unconscious during these stressful times of economic upheaval, when the very fabric of society and life as we know it is being alarmingly threatened. In time I discovered that I wasn't alone in my plight; several others seemed to be experiencing something very similar; the tiredness, the lack of energy and purpose. One friend was told by his M.D. that his symptoms were attributable to 'environment stress', which points out towards the same general direction.

Not that this knowing made my discomfort any more bearable, but it helped me remember that this was something outside myself and beyond my control. All I could do was continue to watch it unfold and feel it, without judgment or condemnation.

And so the months went by while I waged my inner battle, going about the quiet motions of the days, sunning, walking, exercising... I hardly spent any time on the internet, preferring instead to enjoy the precious sunshine and read novels.

Super Raw Puss
On a positive note, the furries have been doing really well, no doubt happy to enjoy the same surroundings for more than a few days. While Kylo is gradually turning into an ol' man, Miss DaPuss, who is years younger, has never been better! She's absolutely thriving on her raw diet; her fur is silky soft, her eyes clear, she's got heaps of energy and is also very calm and affectionate. And as a bonus she's lost 2 whole pounds which has been a much welcome side effect of her new eating habits and increased level of exercise, busy as she's been exploring every corner of the property.

 Which isn't to say she didn't still value her rest, as you can see.

The Corn Craze
While preparing food has been my favorite creative outlet for the last 5 years, I helplessly watched myself losing interest. The fact that this was one of the worst mosquito years in at least a decade certainly didn't help motivate me to spend time in our outdoor kitchen. We were mostly keen to get something ready asap before we got eaten alive. And so Don and I virtually ate the same things every day; our usual morning juice and smoothie, nice and juicy watermelon, followed later by a raw soup, salad and corn on the cob for dinner. I know, sounds kinda boring, but strangely I came to feel quite content with our simple fare and not to mention grateful not to have to orchestrate anything more complicated.

Actually the whole family ended up on a major corn kick! Kylo and his sweetheart Angel anxiously awaited for us to finish our meal before getting their turn at the cobs.

Kylo methodically and expertly cleaning up every row.

Angel thinking "To heck with it!" and wolfing down the whole darn thing! lol She's such a funny girl!

After a while, even Puss started to develop a keen interest in corn. Being small and agile as she is, she was able to get real close and pester us while we ate (much to the dogs' dismay, of course!)

Pu' patiently waiting for us to finish our soup before the 'corn action' began.

 Alright, there she comes...

"Why wait when you can just lean over and go for it?" has been her motto. hehe

It speaks to the sad state of affairs that I could hardly muster the energy to whip up raw desserts which are normally such a source of joy for both of us. Thankfully Donnie didn't complain too much about his plight in spite of his obvious DDD (Dessert Deficit Disorder) as we've come to call it. ;-)

Playing House (Almost) By Myself
The quiet summer routine was broken twice as I left the boys behind and house sat for friends. I've already told you about the time I looked after Camille and George's lovely home by the river for most of July in this post. They asked me to do the same again in September for a few days. This time I wasn't alone, as they left their wonderful furry girls with me. Calla and Daisy are two of the loveliest dogs I have ever encountered! They are so sweet, affectionate and playful; it was such a joy to get to spend time with them and know them better.

The girls having their meal. I couldn't help having a huge grin cross my face as I watched Calla flop on the floor next to her bowl and contentedly dine.

For all the cool temperatures and rain we had this spring and summer, August and September scarcely saw a spot of cloud. (Yay!) And so I took advantage of the bliss-full weather and the house's ideal location to go tubing down the river every day.

The serene Slocan River 

The girls accompanied me, not wanting to miss out on the adventure, and excitedly explored the river banks.

Cute little Daisy.

 Her mother Calla.

No doubt smelling something VERY interesting in the air.

I thought Calla looks as though she's winking at me in this next pic. hehe

The Magical Bear Encounter
One day, as I leisurely allowed myself to be carried down the river, I caught sight of a blur of black fur in the water at the exact spot where I'd been just a couple of minutes earlier. It turned out to be a great big black bear happily splashing in the river! I held in place for a few minutes so as to better look at him, then continued to drift on while the bear made its way along the bank. At some point I stood up from the other side of the water to watch him snacking at something in a bush. He also noticed me, then stood on his hind legs and watched me for a few seconds. What a powerful and thrilling moment that was! I was highly aware of how quickly he could cover the mere dozen meters separating us if he decided that I was a threat, yet I did not move, willing my mind to remain quiet and still. Then, just like that, the moment was gone... He fell forward on his paws and proceeded to climb up the gully and cross the road.

I was filled with such gratitude and awe for this close encounter with one of Nature's wild inhabitants. In spite of us living in the boonies, surrounded by mountains and forest, it's so easy to forget that they are so nearby.

Garden of Eden
For all my lethargy at least I did muster the energy to get involved for the second year with the local community garden. Of that I am so very grateful!!! The location is amazing, overlooking mountains in the distance, and the soil is fantastic. It was such a joy to spend a few hours each week in the healing company of veggies and plants.

The sheer abundance coming out of this garden was incredible! You can tell that plants are so loving it there and desperately wanting to grow. There were several kinds of peas, onions, carrots, beets, different types of kale, Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, bok choy, collards, tomatoes, beans, parsley, cilantro, Jerusalem artichokes, celery, cabbage, cauliflower, zucchinis, cucumber, potatoes, corn and squashes. And I'm sure my list must be incomplete!

Several people were involved in this communal venture this season. Here you can see Shanoon and Tyson thinning carrot beds.

Camille and Livina happily showing off their loot of onions and beets.

Even Don came a few times to give us a hand with the harvest. Being the potato lover that he is, he certainly got to pick them to his heart's content among the some 15 different varieties growing in the garden.

And actually I learned that I also love digging 'tatoes... It brings up the child in me. Something about discovering buried treasures I guess.

Selecting beautiful red leaf kale.

One of my favorite crops, Swiss chard, which we use generously in our daily green smoothies. I also dehydrated lots of greens which I then blended into a powder. I'm sure this will come in handy in the future, especially as the price of greens (and produce in general) keeps rising.

The bed of Italian parsley - seen in the front - was so prolific and full! The stems were fat and oh-so-juicy! What a treat to munch on these as I played in the dirt.

There were several varieties of squashes, including two kinds of pumpkins specially prized for their seeds. We were forced to pick them sooner than we expected due to an early frost.


Some wheat managed to sneak in among the potato beds. A beautiful golden sight!

Part of the space had been set aside for little piggies. They are such a joyous bunch; rolling in the dirt and chasing each other around. Sadly, a gloomy future is lying in wait for them. Last time I went there were only four of them left. ;-(