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, November 23, 2011

In Diane's Sunny Kitchen - Part I

Ok, it's official, my interest in food prep is back! Woo hoo! And oh the yummies that have been coming out of Diane's kitchen these past weeks!

When the idea of my visit to California started to take form, both Diane and I eagerly began to look forward to doing some uncooking together. Her diet had been less than ideal for the last few months and her body was paying the price. As for me, after this summer's miserable dry spell I was at last getting excited to be creative with food again. Yippee!

But first things first; we had to restock Diane's cupboards! I've already told you that we got lots of specialty raw products at The Raw Food World in Ojai. We also placed an order with Earth Shift Products, which is basically the buyer's club version of Ultimate Superfoods. They offer super high quality products at up to 70% market retail price. (By the way, you can now get a free membership. Simply use promotional code E511 while signing up!)

As for fresh produce, most of it comes from Diane's weekly CSA basket but we also like to go to one of the wonderful local Farmer's Markets. We are so blessed here as tons of fruits and veggies grow all year round. The Santa Barbara Markets are soooooo vibrant and abundant; it's always such a treat to wander through them!

Isn't this display just gorgeous?

A rainbow of flowers next to the sprout stand.

This has got to be the most beautiful heap of mixed greens I've ever laid eyes upon!

Let's Hit The Kitchie!
The kitchen is one place where Don's absence has been sorely felt. He's always so helpful with chopping, making fresh juice and smoothies, and not to forget doing the dishes! Every mama's dream, I tell ya! (You should have seen how mine fell in love with Don during our last visit! he he) In spite of Diane's attempts to will him to teleport over here a few times, we have had to resort to our own efforts. ;-)

We've almost instantly and comfortably fallen into the routine of Diane preparing our morning juice (carrot, apple, beet, ginger and a touch of lemon), while I whiz up a smoothie for our lunch. Beverages have never been my forte but a gal's gotta do what she's gotta do, and actually it hasn't been so bad at all. I just end up mostly throwing together the same blends over and over. That's all! *shrugs*

Ninety percent of the time I make a green smoothie, alternating between the Mango Spinach Smoothie from my Deliciously Raw book, and a pineapple, banana, apple, orange, lemon juice and fresh greens blend. But once in a while I whip up something special such as Heathy's Butterscotch Shake or my Strawberry Banana Shake, which I just adore!

The other day while looking for more scrumptious ways to use young coconut, I stumbled upon the recipe for the Coconutty served at Thrive - Seattle's awesome raw restaurant. No wonder it's their best selling drink; it is super simple and oh-so-luscious!

Thrive's Coconutty
Posted here

Serves 1 or 2

Meat from 1 young coconut
1 cup coconut water
1 cup ice
6 cashews (I used macadamias)
About 1 tbs of your sweetener of choice (dates, agave, maple syrup, etc)

Blend until smooth in a high power blender.

Close your eyes and pretend you're on a sun kissed beach somewhere tropical! ;-)

Depending on Diane's schedule, either me or the two of us work on dinner. When that happens it's always such a special and fun time! We usually do so with a glass of her home brewed kombucha - THE best I've ever tasted! At times we go all out and have an "aperitif". Ahhhhh, the good life! ;-)

We virtually always start off our evening meal with a raw soup, a habit that Don and I've had (and cherished!) for the last 10 years or so. What a wonderful and unsurpassed way to enjoy lots of fresh veggies with minimal fuss! There are soooo many outstanding recipes to choose from, several of which I have already posted on my blog. (Make sure to check out my Recipe Index here!)

I've been making some favorite lighter soups like Cream of Zucchini, Cucumber Avocado Dill and Popeye Gone Raw Cream of Spinach but also heartier comforting gems such as Corn Chowder, Cheezy Spinach Almond Soup and Cream of Celery.

Green Cucumber Soup from Delightfully Raw

As we found a huge watermelon at Costco, on the menu one evening was an exquisite and refreshing concoction I hadn't made in years: Alissa Cohen's Watermelon Soup. Sooooo good!

It's been such a delight to enjoy all kinds of different entrees, something I didn't have the energy to do all summer long. Here are some of the yummies we've treated ourselves to:

Broccoli in Hoisini Sauce with Parsnip "Rice"

I could hardly believe Diane had never tried the outstanding Raw Vegan Crab Cake recipe that's been floating around the web a while. Now we HAD to do something about that! We served them with a simple Tartar Sauce made from a Cashew Sour Cream (cashews, water, lemon juice, salt) in which we tossed some chopped Bubbie's Pickles and fresh dill.

My Hemp Burgers, which we served on Onion Bread with Cashew Cream, and a thick slice of tomato and lettuce.

I also initiated Diane to the art of making Spring Rolls with rice paper. This is yet another awesome dish that is easy to prepare, color-full and absolutely delicious. We served them with a simple dipping sauce made from tamari, olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic and finely grated ginger.

Zucchini Pasta with my variation of Basil Arugula Pesto. So very good! We sprinkled some Pine Nut Parmesan from my Spinach & Cream Pasta Casserole on top. To live for!

As you've seen most of the time we serve our entrees accompanied with a salad tossed in a dressing such as my House Dressing (always a winner!), my Caesar Dressing or Cafe Gratitude's Fig-Balsamic from their I Am Grateful book). I had tried the latter a while back and decided it would be a perfect use for Diane's dried Black Mission figs. The recipe calls for soaked figs, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, jalapeno pepper, salt, lemon juice and black pepper. I haven't found the recipe posted online but I have come upon a variation of it that looks mighty good.

Fig-Balsamic Dressing
Posted here

5 fresh figs, stems removed
6 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or Herbamare
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place the figs, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and salt in a blender and blend on medium until combined and the figs are lightly pureed. With the motor running on a low speed, slowly pour in the olive oil. Add black pepper if desired and blend on low speed, slightly, to incorporate.

Pour dressing over your favorite salad. Transfer remaining dressing to a glass jar. Will last 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator.

In the sweet department, we've been keeping it simple but that's not to say that our treats haven't been decadent!

Cafe Gratitude's Chocolate Mousse, one of Diane's absolute faves.

I am Magnificent Raw Chocolate Mousse
From Cafe Gratitude's I Am Grateful

Posted here

½ ounce Irish Moss
½ cup water
2 cups almond milk
¼ cup well packed, finely chopped dates
¼ cup agave nectar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons cacao powder
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lecithin
½ cup unscented coconut butter

Put Irish moss, cut into small pieces, into blender carafe with water and blend on high speed until dissolved and smooth and very thick.

Add milk, date, agave nectar, vanilla, salt, and cacao powder and blend until smooth.

Add lecithin and coconut butter until well incorporated.

Pour into cups and place in fridge/freezer until set.

We found some incredibly moist and sweet fresh honey dates sold by the DuVall Farm at the market. How could we resist such deliciousness!?! It gave me the idea of making Date Squares, an old family favorite, and something I had mysteriously forgotten about. I don't know what took me so long to recreate this recipe in the raw! I gave the traditional version an orange twist - wow! - but feel free to make the Date Squares with water instead of orange juice. We enjoyed ours warm right out of the dehydrator with a scoop of raw Vanilla Ice Cream. Beyond heavenly!

Orange Date Squares

Makes 6 large or 10 small squares

2 cups pitted soft dates
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (or you could use water if you prefer)
2 tsp vanilla extract or liquid vanilla*

* To make Liquid Vanilla: Blend 3 whole vanilla beans, roughly chopped, with 1 cup water in the blender until completely dissolved. Store in fridge for a month or so and use in place of vanilla extract.

Process dates, orange juice or water and vanilla in food processor until smooth.

1 cup almonds, ground
1 cup cashews, ground
1 1/2 cups oat flakes
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 - 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 or 3 tsp water to help the ingredients stick

Place dry ingredients in a bowl and mix by hand.

Fold in melted coconut oil. If desired add a little water, one tsp at a time, to help the mixture stick together.

Press half of the Crumble mixture in a glass dish.

Top with an even layer of Date Filling.

Finish with the rest of the Crumble mixture.

Place in the fridge to set.

Carmella's Note: For extra decadence, warm these up in the dehydrator for an hour or so and serve with your favorite Raw Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream. To live for!

I received this next recipe in one of Sunfood.com's newsletters and was immediately intrigued. Mulberry Lucuma Cookies? Sounded mighty good to me! I ended up having to tweak it a little to suit my taste buds but the result was quite tasty. Diane loves loves the flavor; she could have sworn that there were spices in there but really, the mixture of mulberry, lucuma, orange zest and almond extract do the trick all on their own!

Mulberry Lucuma Cookies
Posted on Sunfood.com here

2 cups mulberries
1 cup cashews or almonds, soaked for two hours
2 Tbsp lucuma powder
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted in dehydrator
1 tsp vanilla powder
1/2 cup shredded raw coconut
2 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp Kalahari Salt

Drain and rinse cashews or almonds well after soaking.

In food processor, add all ingredients. Process until well incorporated and sticks together.

Roll "dough" into 1 inch balls and set on a plate.

Get a dehydrator tray ready with a Paraflexx sheet on top. Place balls onto dehydrator sheet.

Press balls into flat cookies with a fork.

Dehydrate at 120 degrees overnight or to the consistency you would like.

Store in airtight container.

Will last for up to one month.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I found the batter quite dry and under-sweetened so I added an extra 1 tbs lucuma, 7 honey dates or 3 Medjhools and 1 tbs coconut nectar.

~ I didn't have coconut flakes so I used 1/4 cup coconut flour instead.

~ I also added 1 more tsp orange zest and 1/4 tsp almond extract for extra flavor.

~ Although the addition of dates did help to moisten the dough a little, it was still quite dry. Therefore I only dehydrated the cookies for about 4 hours total at 110 degrees.

Firing Up the D
As you've probably guessed by now, we've been giving Diane's dehydrator a good work out since I got here. We've dehydrated the above cookies as well as countless batches of persimmons (more about that coming up). We also had a savory D day during which we made the Hemp Burgers and Crab Cakes mentioned above. We were getting a little short on crackers so we each made one kind.

Diane usually likes to just throw things together when making crackers. With the help of yours truly we made sure to write the ingredients down this time.


Diane's Buckwheat Crackers
2 cups buckwheat, soaked and sprouted for a couple of days
1 cup carrot pulp
1 cup soaked sunflower seeds
1/4 cup apricot kernels (optional)
About 1 cup water or veggie juice, as needed
2/3 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tbs Nama Shoyu or tamari
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper

Pumpkin seeds, roughly ground
Chipotle powder

Process first set of ingredients in food processor. Add water or juice as needed in order for the mixture to to process smoothly.

Add the next 6 ingredients and process until well incorporated. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Spread batter evenly onto 3 non-stick dehydrator sheets.

Sprinkle with a mixture of ground pumpkin seeds, salt and chipotle powder.

Dehydrate at 120 degrees for 2 or 3 hours.

Flip onto mesh and turn temperature dial down to 110. Continue dehydrating until fully dry - about 8 hours total.

A ways back one of my readers, Nilgun, shared a Chia Cracker recipe that she particularly enjoys and I was glad to finally get an opportunity to try it out. It is indeed very good and super nutritious to boot! The recipe was created by Solla, a raw chef who comes from Iceland.

Chia Crackers
From Raw Solla's free ebook

1 c chia seeds, soaked in 10 c (?) water for 2 hrs
1 c flax seeds, soaked in 2 c water for 8 hrs
1 c sesame seeds
1 c hemp seeds
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes, soaked
2 Tbsp spices (1/2 Tbsp of each: red paprika powder + onion powder + curry powder + oregano)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp Himalayan crystal salt
Pinch of cayenne

Mix together in a large bowl:

Flax seeds + chia seeds + sesame seeds + hemp seeds + the soaking water from the chia and flax.

Blend in a food processor:

Celery + red onion + garlic + sun-dried tomatoes; when blended stir into the seed mixture, along with the rest of the recipe. If the resulting mixture is too thick, you can add some more water. It is especially magical to use the water leftover from soaking dates...

Place 3 c of the dough onto each Teflex sheet, spread it out evenly and dehydrate for 10-12 hrs at 105°. Then flip the crackers and remove the Teflex sheets, continue dehydrating for 6-8 hrs or until crispy.

Nilgun's Note: There seems to be a mistake in the cracker recipe. (I haven't seen any other mistakes in the booklet.) The water amount (for the chia) seems massive. I used one part seed to one part water for the soaking and then added water as needed to the batter.

Carmella's Notes:
~ On Nilgun's suggestion I used a lot less water with the chia seeds (more like 3 cups total).

~ I nearly doubled the amount of spices.

~ As I always do with most of my dehydrated goodies, I started off the D at 120 degrees for 2 or 3 hours, then turned it down to 110, flipping the crackers onto the mesh as soon as they feel dry to the touch and peel off relatively easily from the teflex sheet.

Persimmon Heaven
One of Diane's friends, Stan, has a persimmon tree growing in his yard. I was jumping up and down with excitement when I found out about it, as these are such a special (and expensive!) treat up in Canada. And so we ventured there one afternoon in order to relieve him of some of the tree's bounty. (Can't let all those lovely persimmons go to waste now, can we?) ;-)

We paused briefly on the way to admire sculptures that one of Stan's neighbors, an elderly gentleman, had in his garden. We discovered that they were in fact his work and he gladly gave us a colorful account of what they represent.

Look at those bright orange babies!

They were the biggest I'd ever seen!

We left with two bagfuls of persimmons that had already been picked. Definitely not as much fun as doing it yourself but I did get to actually pluck one or two.

Got one!

Our loot

We've been enjoying the persimmons on their own but found that dehydrating them was the best way to keep up, as they started ripening real fast.

They turn out such a gorgeous color and taste just like candy!

Persimmons  have a wonderful thick consistency; all you have to do is blend them up in a food processor or blender to obtain the most decadent pudding! One day I made a batch of Whipped Cream and assembled Persimmon & Cream Parfaits.

Alrighty, on that sweet note I think I'll take a little breather.

Diane and I have volunteered to help at the Organic Soup Kitchen for Thanksgiving on Thursday. This is something Diane has been meaning to do for a long time and as for me, it will be a first too. (In Canada Thanksgiving isn't such a big deal.)

There's certainly so much for me to be thankful about in my life! What about you, what are you grateful for?

Wishing you all a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Ode to Roses

Whenever the sun is out, I've gotten into the routine of walking or cycling to a green expanse and soak up that liquid gold for a couple of hours. Every time I mutter a silent "thank you" for this blessing, as I know that I could very well be in the cold and grey in Canada instead. (Sorry Donnie!) :-)

My favorite place to go for this little ritual is the Historical Park across from the Old Mission, a famous Santa Barbara landmark.

The view of the Mission from where I sunbathe.

To my sheer delight I discovered that a large section of the park is in fact a stunning rose garden. In fact I learned that the A. C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden was "recognized in the past as the #2 municipal rose garden in the nation for the excellence of its maintenance and the beauty of its location." I had noticed the beds when we used to come here with Kylo last spring, but the season being over then, these had been empty.

And to think I live so close by!!! Woo hoo! *doing the happy dance*

Before I settle down in the sun I usually like to stroll among the roses and take in their sublime beauty and scent. It's so wonderful to be able to come here on such a regular basis; every visit offering a slightly different perspective as the roses go through their ongoing process of birth and death.

I hadn't realized how many varieties of roses exist. They come in seemingly countless shapes, sizes and shades of colors, and have such charming names as French Lace, Moondance, New Day, Pink Promise, Sheer Bliss and Sweet Surrender. As you may have noticed, amateur as I may be, I just love love photography. What a delight it's been to capture some of those roses on camera! I haven't had the discipline to write all their names down in order to correctly identify the shots, but I have memorized a few.

As always with Nature, photos are a very poor representation of the actual beauty. Still, I hope that these will manage to evoke a fraction of the privileged spectacle that has become the source of such joy for me.


Perfect Moment

See the dew drop? Perfect moment indeed!

These are miniature rose bushes growing close to the ground.

This is one of my favorite pics!

Only just awakening...

I thought that all roses gave off perfume but while exploring the garden I've come to the conclusion that surprisingly few do. (Or perhaps is it just those hosted here?) All flowers are an unadulterated expression of beauty, still I couldn't help but be especially seduced by those that combine both lovely appearance and fragrance, such as these next two varieties.

Double Delight


Love that teeny cloud!

A mandala of rose petals...

Sisters ;-)

I hadn't noticed the tiny spider until I edited this pic.

Bright Pink Iceberg

And their close cousins, the white Iceberg.
 I lost myself for a while in that bed... Sooo lovely!

Ahhhh, I could just go on and on, but I'll leave you with a last few gorgeous shots taken by Diane.

Coming up next: Part I of my adventures in Diane's sunny kitchen!