Friday, January 29, 2010

Getting Personal

For a second I debated writing this post because it's quite different that all my others, but for some reason feel compelled to share ... a step into my personal side...

I'm on Day 4 of a short juice fast/cleanse. Seems like I fasted recently - oh wait, it was only a matter of weeks ago. So why am I doing it again? For a number of reasons:

One of my goals for 2010 is to do a 20-30 fast. All around me (or rather around me on the web), people are gaining exceptional benefits from fasting, either in the form of a series of shorter fasts, or really long ones. I have such admiration for these people, as I know it takes a huge commitment to stop eating, and start feeling the deep emotions that arise when we fast, in addition to doing something that goes against what is accepted by mainstream society.

I'm not a complete beginner to fasting - for years I've fasted a day or two here and there and gone through periods of juice fasting one day a week as a "rebalancer". I've always felt great doing it - more energy the next day, better digestion, more confidence, and an overall feeling of peace with a better mental outlook. Last summer I also experimented with water fasting for short periods of 24-30 hours at a time. I really liked not having to think about making juice, or even walk into the kitchen. It amazes me how one day without food can make such a difference!

I feel as though I am slowly preparing for my big cleanse. My first "long" fast was 7 days last October with Adam. I felt confident about having the support of another person around the clock, without having to go to an actual fasting center. It was an easy and pleasant experience - probably due to various factors: 1. Adam's support, 2. I was in a totally new environment which is always exciting, 3. I was in a warm place, on the beach (Florida), 4. I had absolutely no commitments other than drinking juice, 5. I got plenty of rest - whenever I needed it, 6. I eat a high raw diet so wasn't doing any heavy detoxing from crazy processed foods or cigarettes. Besides some fatigue, the only other "blip" was vomiting after my wheatgrass juice/green juice one afternoon, and even that was the most pleasant "getting sick experience" I've ever had.

I did my second fast (rather a modified fast) with Adam during the first week of January, combined with a liver/gallbladder flush, for 7 days total. Again some fatigue the first few days, but then high energy and the feeling of lightness that I love so much.

I decided I want to do more fasting on my own, without relying on someone else to help me along - support is always great, but I want to feel self sufficient too. So, on my own I started this little fast a few days ago. These 4 days have been surprisingly easy - I definitely attribute my success to my recent fasting experiences - it's like they strengthened me. It makes all the difference to have someone by your side when starting out. I'll be breaking the fast today with some grapefruit and tomorrow will add green smoothies to the plan, for a few days.

Another reason for the fast is to cleanse my body, particularly my liver. I've learned that by eating a high amount of overt fats (chocolate, coconut oil, nuts), I have been pushing the limits of my precious organ. "But aren't these foods good for a person?" you may ask.... yes, they are indeed - great sources of natural fat and nutrition, but not when you eat them like I do (there is no such thing as one piece of chocolate). I've also discovered, through work with the most excellent therapist, Ria Caro, that my liver has been holding onto some anger (you might be familiar with Lousie Hay if you need a reference point).
I am currently releasing that, but it can take a bit of time for the cells to catch up to the positive changes. Actually, the unhappiness of my liver was letting itself be known in the form of spots (sounds better than zits) on my upper back/shoulders - yuck. I was pretty mortified, but at least those toxins are coming up to the surface to be released and while my skin is not perfectly clear, I see improvement since doing these recent fasts. My digestion improves even after a one day fast and
I find that it also creates a deeper appreciation for food, plus a desire to feed my body the best food ever!

And finally, the most important point of all for me is that I'm fasting in order to deal with certain emotional issues that are easy for me to suppress with food, particularly sugar (surprise surprise - isn't it interesting that my weakness happens to be the same thing I'm gifted at). Some people have addictions to food, shopping, drugs, alcohol, or sex... well mine is sugar, which represents the sweetness of life, and love. Two big things. When I'm not truly being ME and fulfilling my hearts desires, I want sugar's sweetness. When I am not loving and accepting myself, I search out love - again, often in the form of sugar. Funny how it works - when I eat to satisfy my emotions, there is no amount of food that can satisfy me. I feel that fasting allows me to stay more present to what I'm doing and how I'm feeling.

As a result of working on the "inner me", I am changing my belief system and thought patterns in order to bring a greater sense of self love and acceptance into my life. I believe that by doing so, I am helping others (indirectly), because as I clean up my inner self, I'm more conscious about what I project onto others and the world.

In case you're wondering what exactly I've fasting on, here's a daily breakdown. Each juice is a 12- 16 oz glass, plus I drink water, and the teas are often more like 20-30 oz.
I find it really helpful to incorporate the hot miso broth into a winter fast when it's sooo cold, especially up here when it drops to -30C (-22F) at times. Actually, I had a minor challenge due to the cold. I had a hard time getting to sleep because I was chilled to the bone despite being under a pile of duvets, fleece pants, and heat turned on. It was easier to fast in Florida in that regard.

Day 1
  • Hot lemon water (upon rising)
  • Grapefruit juice (something I've been craving lately)
  • Chaga Mushroom tea with vanilla stevia
  • Green Juice: cucumber, celery, kale, parsley, ginger, garlic
  • Miso broth: miso, hot water, apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger
Day 2
  • Hot lemon water
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Green juice: cucumber, celery, kale, ginger
  • Tea: chaga, reishi mushroom, oatstraw blend with stevia & vanilla water
  • Juice: apple, celery, lime
  • Miso broth x 2: with ginger, acv
Day 3
  • Water with colosan (bowel cleanser) & lemon
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Juice: celery, cucumber, beet, apple, ginger
  • Tea: Reishi mushroom, oatstraw, cat's claw blend with stevia & vanilla water
  • Miso broth w ginger/acv
Day 4
  • Water with lemon
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Peppermint tea
  • Juice: celery, cucumber, green chard, ginger
  • As soon as I finish this post I'll sink my teeth into a grapefruit
It's been surprisingly easy to fast on my own, and I feel really great physically/ mentally/ emotionally. As I move into smoothies and fruit meals over the next few days, I'll be sure to share recipes with you!

Overall, I feel that I can use fasting as a tool to get to the essence of myself, so that I can live in complete inner freedom... and at the end of the day, it's inner peace/freedom that I desire more than anything else..

I'd love to hear about your fasting experiences - why do you do it, what helps you stick to it?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Desserts in Review

I recently tried a few dessert recipes from the e-book, Raw Food Fast Food, by my dear friend Philip McCluskey. This book is great for people with any level of skill in food preparation, and is especially perfect for the beginner to raw food or the busy person who wants gourmet, yet quick and easy recipes. What I know is that most folks want simplicity when it comes to raw, in addition to something tasty they can feed their non-raw friends/family.

While the book is packed full of all kinds of goodies, I scrolled to the dessert section first, as I do with every book (you can see why I'm the Dessert Diva). The Dreamy Layer Cake jumped out at me right away (the pic will have you drooling), but I settled on two other recipes first: chocolate ice cream and magical macaroons. They're easy peasy and super delish! Each recipe incorporates two highly nutritious ingredients I love – hemp butter, which I don't use often enough, and lucuma powder, which I consume on a daily basis. They add a fun new twist to the original versions. I hope you'll enjoy these recipes as much as I do! Try crumbling the macaroons over the ice cream for an extra special treat.

Magical Vanilla Macaroons

2 cups shredded coconut
2 Tbs agave or honey
2 Tbs hemp butter
2 Tbs lucuma powder
1 Tbs maca powder
1 Tbs pure vanilla extract or powder
Generous pinch of sea salt

Mix together by hand or with a wooden spoon in a bowl, until it sticks together, adding more sweetener or water to make it stick.
Scoop onto a cookie sheet or spread into a tupperware container, and chill or freeze (this sets them a little more). Or eat these immediately - they're perfectly chewy and delicious without dehydration.

There's also a great chocolate variation in the book!

Click here for the chocolate ice cream recipe. It's really great - I topped mine with bananas, cacao nibs, and hemp seeds. It would be great with berry or vanilla sauces too!
On my list to make next is the spinach bisque, "forget about it" pasta, cheese spread, and superfood drink, among other things!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Delicious Dinner

Here are a few recent dishes I've enjoyed - all eaten on separate occasions, but together they make an excellent dinner!

Italian Spinach Soup

2 cups packed spinach
1 stalk celery
1 roma tomato
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 avocado
1 small clove garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp dry oregano
Sea salt, to taste

Blend all ingredients until completely smooth, using hot water to thin.

Onto the main course, a few weeks ago Adam and I made the calamari from Sarma Melngailis', Living Raw Food. The recipe uses king oyster mushrooms, but unfortunately in my little town, I don't have access to them so I decided to use eggplant
instead and was thrilled with the result, although I'd still love to try the oyster mushroom version.
The mushies/eggplant gets cut into rings, (we salted the eggplant and squeezed out the moisture to make them super pliable) and dipped in a flax/herb coating before dehydrating for a few hours. Traditional tartar and cocktail sauces are served along side the rings. I had to make a number of modifications because I didn't have fresh horseradish, so I used some wasabi, added a bunch of apple cider vinegar to make it tangy, and a few other changes which I don't remember now. But it was zingy and tasty! We opted not to make the tartar sauce because we already had some cheddar cheeze dip on hand which we thinned with water and lemon juice.

Chopsticks are the perfect utensil to dip the eggplant into the coating.

Onto the teflex sheet to dehydrate
Crispy on the outside, chewy and moist on the inside... with sauces to complement!

Time for dessert! I loved the lemon meringue pie so much the first time around that I decided to make it again, especially because my friend Denyse was visiting last week and she loves lemon. Here I dolloped the coconut meringue over the pie since it hadn't quite firmed up enough.
Full effect
Naked tart

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blend Blend Blend...

I love blending... come to think of it, doesn't anyone who eats raw? Do you find that your blender is constantly running? I do! Sometimes I'll have it going 5 times or more in a day. I might do a smoothie for breaky, soup for lunch, whip up an ice cream mixture which will be for the next day's dessert, a batch of salad dressing to have on hand for a few days, pudding or other item for dessert (which often requires multiple blended parts) ... that's already 5 times and doesn't include dips or sauces for a dish.
I would rather use my blender (vita-mix) than any other piece of kitchen equipment I own. It makes food preparation easy and most of the time only requires a good rinse to clean it.

It seems that most of my latest creations have been easy, blended ones... I've got a few of these to share today.

A few weeks ago, Adam and I collaborated on a parfait type dessert. He made a pudding using hemp butter and maple butter among other things (I'm not entirely sure what else, but I think banana was in there too). I made a pudding using strawberries, frozen banana, lucuma, cashews, and maple syrup.... and we already had a frosty chocolate creation on hand, consisting of frozen banana, cacao, vanilla, and almond butter. Totally decadent, right?

Crunchy things to complement the smooth and creamy stuff: sprouted, dehydrated buckwheat, goji berries, shredded coconut, maple glazed walnuts, and cacao nibs.
I started with a layer of hemp pudding in the glass with cacao, buckwheat, and gojis...

Followed by a layer of cacao pudding with walnuts and cacao nibs... which was topped off with the strawberry layer and more crunchies... (didn't get a pic of that - was ready to eat it already!)

Now, for an actual recipe - we came up with a really great maple pudding. Adam was loving the abundance of maple syrup up here, using it as his sweetener of choice while visiting. I would describe this dessert as thick, rich, smooth, and flavorful.

Maple Pudding

1/2 cup raw almond butter
1/4-1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs agave powder*
1 Tbs lecithin
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 pinches sea salt
3 Tbs coconut oil

Blend all ingredients until smooth, adding the melted coconut oil last.
Chill in the fridge or freezer for a few hours.
Garnish with goodies of your choice! I like a bit of crunch when I'm eating something creamy. We topped ours with maple walnuts, buckwheat, and raw dark choccie.

*not for sweetness, but for a creamy/fluffy texture

This stuff was damn good - too bad we made such a small amount, I could have eaten it for days. It would be good spread into a cacao pie crust!

What are your favourite blended creations??

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Catch Up... with Something Sweet & Savory

This is a bit of a random post of old stuff from the holidays... but what the hell, better late than never...

Around Christmas, my best friend Lauren (we've been friends for 21 years, if you can imagine) and I had a kitchie playdate- she is terribly allergic to nuts, so hasn't been able to try much of my raw food over the years. I came up with a nut free menu for us - Cucumber Cilantro Soup, Zucchini Hummus with veggies, and Chocolate with dried fruit/coconut. What a feast we had! She loved the soupie - I like to make it with dill, but she especially loves cilantro.

Cucumber Cilantro Soup

2 cups chopped cucumber
1 stalk celery
1/2 avocado
1/2 cup cilantro
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp honey
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic
Himalayan salt, to taste

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Adjust seasonings.

Kale salad - A mix of massaged kale, yellow & red peppers, tomato, chili sunflower seeds, lemon juice, avocado, chipotle, and sea salt.

Delish! Zucchini Alfredo one evening - the noodles went on for ever and ever!
Adam and I made this pizza for dinner last week using the leftover crusts from the dinner party. Topped with buckwheat "refried" beans, marinated portobello mushies, tomato, seed cheese, and cilantro.
We had a bon fire one cold winter's night at my parent's house with a group of people.
I really love this pic of the fire
My mom and I
Choccie pudding for dessert one evening, topped with my sweet coconut nuts.
Super Cacao Pudding
1 medium avocado
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup agave
1/3 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup cacao powder
2 tsp lucuma
1 tsp maca
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 pinches sea salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy in either a blender or food processor.
There's some of my catching up... many more things still to come! :) Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Easy Blender Recipes

This past weekend Adam and I taught 2 classes- The basics of juice fasting, and then a hands on raw food prep class featuring easy blended recipes. They're all quick to prepare, packed with nutrition, easy to digest yet filling, and are perfect someone who is new to raw food. Also, the ingredients can commonly be found in the grocery stores around here (which means any store in North America since I'm in a small town in the middle of nowhere). Most of the less common items we've chose to use are grown here in Canada, providing easy access - what a great reminder of the abundance of this country. This makes it cost effective all the way around.

Green Smoothie
A staple in every raw vegan's life... I love getting folks to taste how great it can be to drink your greens!

1 banana
1 orange
1 large handful spinach, kale, or chard
Optional: 1/2 cup frozen berries
Blend ingredients until smooth and creamy, adding enough water and/or ice for desired consistency.

Hemp Milk
I love hemp! Its an excellent source of essential fatty acids and easily digestible protein, in addition to being high in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Even better, hemp is the ideal base for a seed milk because it doesn't require straining! Blend into a smooth, creamy milk in a matter of seconds and voila!

1/3 cup hemp seeds
1 cup water

In a blender, mix ingredients until smooth. Will keep up to 5 days in the fridge.

Chia Energy Porridge

It should be dubbed "the wonder seed" - chia is packed with quality protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and is the richest known plant source of omega-3. In addition it is easy to digest and can be stored for long periods of time without going rancid (unlike other nuts/seeds, particularly flax). Throw some chia into liquid overnight and you've got the base for an excellent breakfast in the morning.
I enjoy it but definitely don't consume enough on a regular basis. Adam is the chia king - he puts it in everything and has inspired me to do the same. We came up with this yummy dish that has me wanting more. I love adding cacao nibs and dates to it... feel free to play around!

1/2 cup hemp milk
1 1/2 tbs chia seed
1/2 apple, shredded
1 tbs raisins
1 tbs maple syrup
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Stir together chia and milk. Set aside for 15 mins, or as long as overnight for the chia to swell. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Garnish with anything you wish...

The chia after sitting in the hemp milk for a few hours.

All the fixins' on top, ready to be mixed in....
Finished product, a delicious breaky (or meal for any time of day) that takes only minutes to prepare.

Banana Almond Milk

1/2 cup almonds
1 1/2 cups water
1 banana (optional)

Soak the almonds in water for 8-12 hours. Drain and rinse well, until the water runs clear.
Blend the almonds with water until smooth. Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag (save the pulp in the fridge or freezer for future use).
For banana milk, blend the milk with the banana.

Maple Walnut Porridge
I've always loved oatmeal, but haven't eaten it in years. This is the closest to what I remember enjoying as a child - drowned in maple syrup.

1/2 cup raw oat groats
water for soaking
3/4 cup walnuts
2-3 tbs maple syrup
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Sea salt, to taste

Soak the oats in enough water to cover, for 6-12 hours. Drain and rinse well.
In a blender, combine the oats and hot water, keeping a bit of texture. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to desired consistency. Garnish with fruit/nuts of choice.

Frosty Banana Pudding
2 peeled frozen bananas, roughly chopped
1/4 cup almond milk

Combine ingredients in a food processor until creamy and smooth.

Coconut Spice Porridge
This is a great creamy, nutty porridge that can be spiced to your liking.
1/2 cup almonds, soaked
1 apple, chopped
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2-3/4 cup almond milk
2 tbs maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
Cardamom, Nutmeg, Ginger, to taste

In a food processor, pulse the soaked almonds with the other ingredients, leaving some texture.

Avocado Gadget
Gadgets are Adam's creations: a bunch of healthy yummy stuff mashed together... he also makes a great one with banana and almond butter... try it!

1 avocado, diced
1 apple, diced
Juice from 1 orange
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup goji berries
1-2 tsp cinnamon
Sea salt, to taste

Squeeze the juice of the orange into a bowl. Add the raisins/gojis in the juice to soak. Add the remaining ingredients and stir or mash.

Creamy Spinach Soup
Great way to get your spinach intake! Add various fresh herbs to kick up the taste.

4 cups spinach, packed
1/2 cucumber, peeled
1 tomato
1/2 avocado
1/2-1 cup hot water
1/2 clove garlic
1 tbs lemon juice
sea salt, to taste

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Adjust seasonings and amount of water.

Herbed Tomato Soup
My favourite raw soup!

1 medium tomato
1 large stalk celery
1/2 red pepper
1/4 avocado
1 handful fresh basil
1 handful fresh parsley
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 clove garlic
Sea salt, to taste

Blend all ingredients until smooth, adding hot water for consistency. Adjusting seasonings

So there you have it. Super easy blended recipes!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sipping on Soup n' Pudding

Time for something savory. Raw soup makes the perfect light meal - mostly water, full of nutrients, and low in calories, yet filling. Here are a few yummy ones I've enjoyed lately.

Green Herb Soup

1 cup spinach
1 large stalk celery
1 handful fresh cilantro
1 handful fresh parsley
1 handful fresh dill
1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 avocado
1/2 clove garlic
Pinch cayenne
Salt, to taste
Hot water

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Adjust seasonings. I usually omit the salt and rip nori into my soups.

Tomato Basil Soup

1 large tomato
1/2 red bell pepper
1/4 avocado
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 clove garlic
1/4 tsp paprika
Himalayan salt, to taste
Handful fresh basil
Hot water

Blend all but the basil, until smooth and cr
eamy, starting with a bit of water and adding enough to achieve desired consistency. Pulse in the basil. Serve.

Keeping in the savory realm for another second, I'm excited to report that two of my recipes have made it onto the Crazy Sexy Life website this week, Here and Here! If you haven't already checked out their site, it's full of inspiration and great ideas!

I've been enjoying lots of puddings/ice cream lately too!

Rewinding a bit, I made this Chaga Superfood Ice Cream before Christmas. It's fun to eat medicinal treats like this!

1 3/4 cup chilled chaga tea
2 cups cashews
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vanilla liquid
1 tablespoon hemp seed
1 tablespoon lucuma
2 teaspoons maca
1 teaspoon mesquite
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Chill.
Process through an ice cream maker.
Stir in mulberries/goji berries.

Banana Superfood Pudding

This soft treat was supposed to be ice cream, but it didn't have the proper time to re-freeze before we wanted to dive in.
It's a delicious blend of: frozen bananas, cashews, vanilla bean, lucuma, maca, and mesquite... sprinkled with cacao nibs, sprouted, dehydrated buckwheat and pecans.

Goji Chia Pudding

Here's a yummy chia pudding that Adam whipped up last week.
It's a combo of chia seed and goji berries soaked in water. Half of the mixture was then blended (giving it the orange colour) and combined with the addition of maple syrup, cacao nibs, hemp seeds, and more goji berries.

More blends coming up soon - as a matter of fact, I'll be teaching a class tomorrow on easy blender recipes.

Have a great weekend!