Saturday, February 27, 2010

Just like your ol' Sweet Potato Pie

(please read that title with a Southern twang to get the full effect of my giddiness) Today's tremendous success: my new (of course not measured) recipe for sweet potato pie! But not to worry, since Andrew has already scarfed down about 1/3 of it, I plan to make it again and this time... with measurements! Just look at it, isn't this just saying: eat me! eat me!

For those willing to try the recipe sans measurements: The crust was ground spelt (soaked and dehydrated as always), ground cashews, soaked apricots and dates (in terms of ratio it was about 3/4 apricots 1/4 dates), a little bit of maple syrup, dash of salt, vanilla. The 'filling' was sweet potatoes, maple syrup, vanilla, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, salt, and a little melted coconut butter (to solidify it). All of the filling went into my Vitamix to be blended and since the mixture came out pretty liquidy, it first took a turn in the dehydrator (not more than a couple hours), then I put it in the freezer for 30 minutes-1 hour (that might have been totally unecessary), then it went in the fridge before getting devoured. I doubt it had to go through all the processes but I figured I'd do whatever I could do make to it stick. And it worked!

(I'm also sprouting wheat berries for Alissa Cohen's Wheat Berry Salad recipe, and I just really love sprouting things... it really makes my day to see the little tails of my different sprouts come out, it's really cute. Oh, and did you know that wild rice also sprouts tails? I recently made Alissa's Wild Rice Salad--which was really pretty and yummy--and got to watch them grow. P.S. If you don't already know, wild rice isn't actually rice, they're grasses that grow in marshes.)

Workout of the Day
25 minutes of 1 minute sprints on treadmill
100 crunches
5 minute stretch

Friday, February 26, 2010

Conscious Corner

Nestled in Clarksville, MD, is one of my state's havens for eco-conscious and healthy living: the Conscious Corner. Made up of an awesome vegan restaurant, Great Sage, a natural pet food store, Bark, an organic and fair trade home, clothing, and craft store, Nest, and huge local natural food store, Roots, these four businesses came together in 2000 to turn what could have been another boring corner of yet another strip mall into another little hub of green awesomeness... soon we'll take over the world!

While I forgot my camera, we started off with an wonderful raw vegan lunch at Great Sage, which we'd been to once before in our cooked vegan days. Their chef has been trying to incorporate more raw foods into their menu in part because of demand, and in part because the restaurant's manager and some of their waitstaff (including our awesome waitress Leah who gets a shout out if you checked out my blog :) ) have been trying to go raw over the last little while. We had their raw vietnamese spring rolls (veggies wrapped in lettuce with nama shoyu and peanut dipping sauces... I'm a sucker for peanut sauce), their spicy coconut curry soup, and their raw dessert, a chocolate mousse (which to me was pretty much my frosting recipe in a cup with added vanilla orgasmic goodness). If you're in the area and are vegan/vegetarian/raw/open-minded/hungry do check out their menu, because whatever your taste buds are into, they'll have it here!

We then went on a mad shopping spree at Roots, where we found a new (to us) raw cereal by Living Intention, their Superfood Cereal, which includes Acai, Blueberry, Camu Camu, and Amla. I couldn't help but crack the package open when we got home and it's REALLY good. I'm thrilled that so many grocery stores are increasingly catering to the raw crowd nowadays. In some natural food stores, we have entire shelves just for us! I feel so empowered, considering we make up less than 1% of the population or something... Baby steps! Tasty, tasty, baby steps...

Workout of the Day:
Digestion, from eating such amazing raw food, yet again

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Daily Superfoods

The beauty of a raw food diet is that you get to discover all sorts of fun new foods that people just don't ever think of looking into when on a SAD diet. While I know that I could thrive on a high raw diet on its own if I wanted to, superfoods are often way too tasty to pass up! So along with spirulina, maca, and mesquite powder, other favourite superfoods I have daily are a mix of:

Turkish Mulberries: Sweet and a little tart, these little suckers are packed with vitamin C, iron, calcium, fiber and have a significant amount of protein. They're considered to be a blood tonic, but also benefit the kidneys, help with stress, fatigue and sleep, help protect against cancer and anemia, and is anti-aging... as usual with superfoods, that's only the beginning of a long list of its benefits!

Goji Berries: My grandmother actually used to drink a tea with these in it when I was little and I already loved them then! Well enough, they've been used by the Chinese for centuries as a medicinal plant. As a superfood, they're 15% protein, have 18 amino acids, over twenty essential minerals, and super anti-oxidant properties. While mulberries help your kidney, these help your liver, and also have significant anti-aging effects (that's why my grandmother would drink the tea and she's hitting 90 and is still thriving!). They strengthen your immune system, promote cardiovascular health, and improve your vision (maybe that's why my eye doctor told me my eyesight actually improved this summer for the first time in my life, they have more beta carotene than carrots!), and helps maintain a healthy weight.

Cacao Nibs: There's a reason the Aztecs used to eat raw chocolate before going off to battle. Based on current scientific studies, cacao nibs have more anti-oxidant flavanoids than any other food. Raw cacao also helps dilate blood vessels to promote cardiovascular health by helping with circulation and cholesterol levels. It also repairs damages caused by free radicals, and also helps fight cancer. Who knew chocolate could get rid of toxins! It also makes us feel happy and positive by raising levels of serotonin and stimulating endorphin secretion, and other unpronounceable chemicals. They're also high in about a dozen essential minerals including magnesium and sulfur (which is good for you hair, nails and skin). Finally, it's full of good fats which raises your good cholesterol level.

Workout of the Day
5 minute warmup on stairclimber
3x12 bicycle crunches
3x12 captain's chair leg raises
3x12 stability ball back extension
3x12 crunches on stability ball
3x12 incline press
3x12 lateral raise
3x12 tricep kickbacks
3x12 dumbbell flyes
3x12 cable rotations
3x12 overhead tricep extension
5 minute sprints
5 minute stretch

Yesterday's Workout
20 minutes of HIIT on the stairclimber
60 crunches
5 minutes of stretching

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yummy in my tummy

Slowly but surely, I've been working my way through Alissa Cohen's 300+ recipes (from her book, Living on Live Food). This week's yumminess was her recipe for raw calzones topped with marinara sauce. While I still like her pizza best, and her burger second, these filled a craving for denser and warmer foods that's I've had recently. (Also, the picture in the book is just really appealing).

I've come to the point in my culinary life where I can now read a recipe book and realize whether or not I'm going to like the taste of the recipes of not. I don't believe in denigrating anyone's taste buds, and I realize that we all have difference preferences, so we have to find the recipes that resonate with ours. What one person might like is what another person might detest. Some people like sweet, some like sour, some like more 'exotic' tastes, while others like their food more basic and sensible, and that's all great! So when looking for the perfect recipe book or when taking recommendations from someone before heading to a restaurant, make sure that they have similar tastes to yours!

For example, when in NY recently, we talked a girl who suggested we get a couple things at Grezzo when we would be up in Boston. She also suggested a couple things we shouldn't get because they weren't so great (including one of the dishes I had been most excited to try). As super sweet a person she was for gabbing on about raw food with us like I love to do, I could tell right off that she and I did not have similar food preferences, so I took her advice with a grain of salt. In the end, I'm glad I did because the one thing she had been disappointed by ended up being my all time favourite dish; and the things she recommended, I'd just found kind of 'eh'.

Funny how some people have an intuitive feel for the attitudes and personalities for others, and I have developed the foodie sensibility of whether or not someone will share the same taste preferences as I... Alissa Cohen's tastes for example are extremely similar to mine. In contrast, the recipes in Safron's the Raw Truth' that I've been trying recently too also look super yummy, but they're just not for me. To each his own, and let everyone find out what 'their own' is in the great process of uncooking and tasting :) Happy eating!

Workout of the Day
10 minutes of cardio on treadmill
4 cycles of the following in **:
*Crunches on Stability Ball x 15
Stability Ball Roll Outs x15
30 second planks + 30 seconds for each side
1 minute jump rope*
3x12 torso rotation machine
2 cycles of the following in **:
*1 x 30 Lat Pulldown
1x30 French Curl
1 x 20 Bent Over Row
1 x 20 Hammer Curl*
5 minute stretch

Monday, February 22, 2010

The ultimate superfood

If I were stuck on a deserted island and could only bring one superfood what would it be? Spirulina for sure! (Though that might seem a dumb idea since there would probably be seaweed all around my deserted island...) Mesquite would probably be my second. But spirulina, the world's tastiest blue-green algae, is truly an amazing product! By being a superfood, it obviously contains all your essential amino acids, as well as every other non-essential amino acid, phytonutrient, minerals, and vitamin you could ever think of (and many that you probably didn't even know existed... for more detail, you can find the info here). So yep, that includes the elusive B12, so feared and honored by vegans and raw foodists. Spirulina's breakdown is about 55-77% protein, about 20% carb, 5% healthy fat, and is super rich in minerals, and fiber! Who could ask for more?

If all of that wasn't enough, spirulina helps support the immune system, cardiovascular health, is a powerful anti-oxidant, and protects against certain toxic free radicals! It was even apparently called "the best food for the future" at a United Nations World Food Conference in 1974! This went as far as to create an intergovernmental organization called the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition... Now there's an organization I could work for!

My love for spirulina goes deep, and actually goes way back! I first discovered it aeons ago when I wasn't even vegan yet, when my cousin would leave unfinished jugs of Odwalla Superfood Juice in my grandmother's fridge after her visits. No one else in my family would ever drink them because of its strange spirulina-influenced color (yes, this is also the side of my family that eats duck feet and tripe, but hey, to each their own), so it was always relegated to me when I came over, being the only local hippie in the family. I gotta say, I loved it instantly but little did I know it was because of the spirulina. It serendipitously came back to me later in life, in the form of a yummy snack bar from our neighborhood health food store, Tara's, in Kingston, Ontario.

I don't think you need to hear about my on-again off-again love affair with spirulina, so long story short, I love it and we're lucky enough that we can find a trustworthy bulk source at our favourite grocery store on earth, MOM's. I use it whenever I can, in smoothies, in my chocolate, in my soups, and my favourite: in my recipe for raw granola (the non-spirulina version is pretty damn good too, just add other spices like nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice and/or cardamom!).

Raw Spirulina Granola
2-3 C sprouted buckwheat
1/2 C sunflower seeds, soaked overnight
1/2 C pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight
1/2 C raisins, soaked for a couple hours
1/2 C dried cranberries, soaked for a couple hours
1/2 C maple syrup (add more if it seems to dry, the more sweetener, the more it'll stick together during dehydration, agave nectar works too) or 1 C pureed dates
1 heaping tablespoon of spirulina
1 teaspoon of vanilla
cinnamon to taste
salt to taste

1. Mix everything.
2. Spread out on dehydrator trays at 115 for 8-14 hours (depending on desired crunchiness). The granola will stick together as it cools down.

Other options include adding sesame seeds, hemp seeds, or other dried and soaked fruits. Just add more sweetener accordingly!

Workout of the Day
1.5 hours of Bikram

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Positive Reinforcement & Layers of Goodness

I know some people find it distracting or sub-optimal to listen to music or read magazines while working out because it takes your attention away from your body and your workout. For the most part, I can understand that, one should be focused on their workout not watching a TV screen, reading about the new shoes they want to buy, or cramming for an exam. However, I also kind of disagree with music part of it mainly because I use music as a trigger to get my workout going. Music has always really helped me get in the mood for a good run or a good weight lifting session. In this case, it's positive reinforcement, not a distraction or a negative contributor.

I do want to stress though that by creating distractions for themselves in the gym, a lot of people are actually choosing to surround themselves with negativity, and by that I basically mean by reading trashy tabloid and/or lifestyle magazines, which you see more than half of women do at the gym. Not only does this make you lose focus, the major downside I noticed is that I think it reinforces negative thoughts and behaviors epitomized in the subjects covered in most women's magazines: that there's something wrong with you. I can't imagine it being a good idea to be reading the words 'fat', or 'worst dressed', or 'how to hide this or that flaw by doing X or buying X product'. All of these types of attitudes imply that there is something wrong with you in the first place, and this is not healthy input. You're at the gym to feel great, to focus on your body, to create greater self-awareness, not to give in to a female pop culture of self-doubt and negativity! Workouts are suppose to be about self-love, health, and wellness not about criticism of oneself or of others, so two thumbs down to all of that! (Check out the en dof Angela's post today to see that I'm not alone on this one!)

However, I have found that aside from upbeat music, listening to raw food/raw lifestyle podcasts like Rawkin Radio or Raw Vegan Radio provide serious positive reinforcement to my workout. Their shows are so full of happiness, fulfillment, empowerment, and health that I actually get such an emotional and physical boost just by listening to them. They are always filled with interviews with beautiful, healthy, and happy people, with such wonderful success stories. Everything about them is educational, positive, and upbeat. I feel that listening to something positive definitely adds to my workout experience. In the end, what I'm doing is totally imbuing myself and my environment with health and positivity: through what I'm thinking, what I'm physically doing, what I'm listening to, and who and what I'm choosing to look at (remember, like I've said, when at the gym focus on all the fit people and their health will imprint on you too both physically and emotionally!)

On a food related note, my sister came over for dessert last night so I made a raw version of Ashley's awesome Chocolate-Peanut Butter Fudge Tart. (The only differences were that I used ground raw oat groats/spelt berries instead of the oat flakes, and a blend of melted raw chocolate and vegan chocolate for the filling). It was amazing. Because I had some left over peanut-butter crust, I topped it with some of my favourite fruit jams (along with vegan chocolate, it's one of two non-raw exceptions in my life) to make PB&Js, except the PB is actually the bread too... I'm so clever.

I also made a half-batch version of Jeremy Safron's six-layered carob cake (you can find it in The Raw Truth). Differences here were that I added strawberry slices in between every layer of cake. Because it's so narrow and so tall, it's going to be fun to try to eat this... but it's awfully pretty!

By the way, if you're interested, Joanna Steven's is currently having a giveaway for a free subscription to an awesome raw magazine!

Workout of the Day
5 minute warmup on stairclimber
3x12 stability ball squats
3x12 stability ball crunches w/ feet against the wall
1 minute of jump rope
3x12 forward lunges
3x12 stability ball oblique crunches w/ feet against the wall
1 minute jump rope
3x12 lying adduction
3x10 leg raises
1 minute jump rope
3x12 lying abduction
3x12 calf raises
1 minute jump rope
5 minutes of hills + 3 minutes of cool down on the elliptical
5 minutes of stretching

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daily Skin Care: 5 minutes lasts a lifetime!

As I mentioned before, yet another one of the reasons I love my mom is because of the discipline she gave my sister and I to take care of our skin. Even better, she's always been very adamant that we use high quality and natural products, which is especially important given the amount of 'stuff' they now put in personal care products (here's a pretty straightforward guide for what to avoid written up by the Organic Consumers Association and the Green Patriot Working Group).

Having struggled with acne during my teenage years, I've been amazed by what a vegan and especially a raw diet has done to clear up any remnants of damage. However, putting body lotion on every day for as long I can remember has kept the rest of my skin silky soft for years (and I really believe in doing this because my mom's skin looks about 20 years younger than anyone else's her age)! My skin is one thing I feel like I can have bragging rights about (it's good to acknowledge your strengths sometimes!), especially given that random people who have just met me or hugged me have spontaneously told me "wow! you're skin it's so soft!" upon doing so. It is kind of weird, but it's a compliment like any other!

For some reasons, ever since going raw, I've become even more conscious about what I do with and for my skin. So if you want tips, here's a rough breakdown of what I do:

Daily: I try to be pretty religious about my cleanser-toner-moisturizer routine every morning and just soap and moisturizer before I go to bed. Every 3-4 days, I also use a gentle scrub/exfoliater. For all of those steps, I used Pangea Organic products (the line designed for my skin type). They often have really good deals online! Obviously my routine changes based on the time of the month/how my skin is feeling. For example, if it's feeling too dry, I'll skip the exfoliation for that day. Also, I was told to use a different moisturizer during the day (something more toning or with SPF) and something more gentle, relaxing, or healing at night (I use Jurilique's calendula cream). You only ever need a pearl sized amount of these products for them to work their little miracles.

For the rest of me, I put lotion on after my shower and before going to bed. For that, I use Alba Botanica's cocoa butter body lotion (it smells like you're wearing cookies!). And shea butter or a thicker cream if I have drier spots (like your feet or elbows in the winter).

Bi-Weekly: I've recently been putting our giant aloe vera plant to use by taking off one stem a week and cutting it up into pieces and using its gel as a replacement for my moisturizer before going to bed. In just a week, I already noticed positive changes to my skin. As a test, and because I have some stretch marks from weight-loss, I've also been putting aloe vera on them to see if it helps!

I've also begun dry brushing twice a week (which you can get instructions for here). It has a whole bunch of internal and external benefits. It's a mini-detox that energizes and cleanses your lymph nodes and your organs, serves as gentle exfoliation, helps with circulation and to deal with old scars/stretch-marks/cellulite, and can even help with digestion and your immune system!

Weekly: Yet another Pangea product, and this one is really the one that made me go WOW the first time I used it. It's their Japanese Matcha Tea with Acai & Goji Berry Mask. You can actually physically see the difference in your skin quality before and after you use it. And it's fun to put it on and look like a green monster!

Whenever I can (but with a 3 minimum months apart): A facial at an all-natural (or optimally organic!) spa (usually courtesy of my wonderful parents). I'm lucky enough to live near a Natural Body Spa, so that's where I can go. I love that their products are so natural I can eat them (they use Jurilique products from Australia, and I often do lick bits of their pineapple facial mask that touches my lips when I'm there)!

And the obvious: Drink lots of water and try to eat as much raw food as possible! I drink more than 3L of water a day so I don't even count anymore, but that too has made a notable difference on my skin quality. Try to incorporate fruits and veggies into your diet as much as possible, they contain tons of water and are extra good for you for reasons I don't think I have to get into!

Something new: I've decided to give MSM powder (methyl sulfonyl methane) a shot, despite my huge reluctance towards taking supplements. I'm still trying to get rid of old and minor acne scarring which it supposedly helps with. MSM is a compound found naturally in most foods but in such small amounts that eating foods would not give you 'enough' of it. It's also good for your joints, your hair and has been vetted by a bunch of raw foodists including Loving Raw's Philip McCluskey, The Fitnessista's Gina (and look at how radiant she looks!), Natalia Rose and more. We'll see how that works! If it's good for my skin, why not try it!

So that's my skin regime, while that looks like a lot of work, it doesn't really take more than 5-10 minutes day so don't get discouraged. Tthe results last a lifetime!

Workout of the Day
20 minutes stair climber mix of sprints and interval training
1 minute plank
5 minute stretch

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thoughts on Ash Wednesday

Ever since I've been a kid, I've always fasted to some degree on Ash Wednesday and this year was no different. I have been giving a lot of thought about why I do this or why people fast in general (for religious or spiritual reasons anyway) because I've had increasingly mixed thoughts about why I do this. Am I just doing this to feel like I'm a bigger person? Is this just making ego feel self-important by making myself suffer for a day and feel really good that I could get through it? I don't think so... I've come to the conclusion that it can also serve a much greater purpose than merely feeding your ego (haha, feeding your ego, by not feeding your body...).

What was bothering me was that I do recognize that I'm extremely privileged (as many if not most of us who have time to spend reading or writing blogs are) and that not eating for 24 hours is not going to make me understand what it's like to be starving or disenfranchised or needy. However, I think the purpose of a fast like this is to put your life into perspective, to make you realize how much you do have at the end of the day, that you have the choice to fast at all while others don't even get such an option and have to despite their will. By fasting for one day, I realize that unlike so many, I can eat tomorrow, that if I feel hungry during some part of my day, it's not a big deal compared to what others have to suffer. It helps me realize, 'what am I complaining about, really?', when there are so many bigger problems out there... Whenever you feel like something is going wrong, whether it's being stuck in traffic for longer than you wanted or finding out that the ingredient you needed at the grocery store is sold out, a day like today makes you realize you've got it pretty good and that your problems are so not real problems.

Being today, I've also been giving final thoughts on what I want to do this year for Lent and I do believe that choosing to grow or become a better person during the next 40 days is much more important to me than denying myself a particular food or food group. I've come to realize that while not eating sweets or fasting during the day was okay for me to do as a kid, I want to do something that actually matters. I realize now that Lent is not suppose to be about suffering, or self-pity, or denying yourself something. Like I mentioned yesterday, it's suppose to be about growth and introspection. It's ultimately suppose to be a time to reflect on oneself and become a better person. So that's what I'm choosing to do.

Though I try to live this way every day anyway, I'm going to focus even more on having 40 days of only positive speaking and thoughts about anyone or anything, if not positive, at least having no negative talk at all. I also want to try to promote my personal growth a little bit every day, whether it's by reading a chapter from books that have been recommended to me about manifestation, personal growth, etc. Though all these exercises do seem to be all about me, the goal is ultimately to turn myself inside out and be about everything but me. It's to help me release my issues and negativity and self-doubt to only leave room for gratitude, openness, and positivity towards myself and others.

Obviously no recipe for today, since it was a fasting day. I did have a green juice after my workout though, because in the spirit of 'this isn't about depravation', I understand the importance of recovering and maintaining optimal health after a heavy workout!

Workout of the Day
I switched things up today by doing lower weight and higher reps. The beauty about making slight amendments to your routine is that smallest thing can make the biggest different! Just making this slight change left me exhausted (or maybe it's because I'm fasting?):
5 minute warmup on stair climber
4x12 ab ciruit on stability ball
1x30 dumbbell chest press
1x30 tricep cable pulldowns
1x30 shoulder shrugs
1x30 dumbbell lying chest flyes
1x30 dumbbell frontal raises
1x30 kickbacks
1x30 ab stability ball roll outs
5 minutes of stretching

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras!

Another day, another festival! Happy Mardi Gras to all! In preparation for the Christian season of Lent, Mardi Gras is something like an ultimate celebration of indulgence to kick off 40 days of reflection, austerity, and growth ending at Easter. Because most people choose to fast or abstain from something during the period of Lent, Mardi Gras (as the name would suggest) is mostly about the food and the revelries. Costumes, masks, parades, and baked goodies, it is colorful, cheerful and oh so sweet!

One of the most quintessential French traditions on Mardi Gras is to make crêpes, the wonderful treat that does not translate as 'pancake'. The sweet ones are usually filled with Nutella, sugar and lemon juice, Grand Marnier, bananas, or jams, while the salty ones are usually some permutation of a vehicle for ham, eggs, mushrooms, and cheese. If you've ever been to Paris (or plan to go) I highly suggest you go to a traditional crêpes vendor to have your own piece of French culinary culture (my personal favourite is Le Sarasin, at 86 Rue Saint Louis en l'Ile, you can't miss in it's on an island the size of our current apartment building).

My challenge as always: how to keep traditions alive while making them raw. Easy! There are plenty of yummy looking raw crêpe recipes and here is mine:

Raw Mardi Gras Crêpes
4 bananas
juice of 1/2 a meyer lemon (or more to taste)
pinch of salt
tsp of vanilla (or beans of 1 vanilla pod)

1. Blend all together
2. Spoon rounds onto dehydrator sheets and dehydrate for about 8 hours. You know they're ready when they peel of the sheets like fruit roll-up.
3. Fill with goodness.

For our meal, I laid out peanut butter & jelly, raw chocolate sauce, raw honey, and blueberries. We took a whole bunch of really gorgeous pictures of how well it turned out, but to test my patience and sanity right before Lent, I found out too late that I hadn't actually put the memory card in the camera. @#($*%(!!!! I guess that just means I'll have to make more sometime!

Workout of the Day
20 minutes HIIT + 5 minute cooldown
1 minute plank + 30 second for each side
5 minutes of stretching

Monday, February 15, 2010

Holidays Galore!

Between Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day, and Mardi Gras, I've definitely had my fill of holidays over the past couple days! First off, happy New Year to all those on the lunar calendar and a special shout-out to all the other Tiger zodiacs out there!

As kids, we definitely used to make a bigger deal out of Chinese New Year, doing a lot more of the traditional activities a family does and getting our little red money envelopes at the end of the evening. However, we still honor the most important part of the day though: getting together as a family to celebrate over a big meal. We had a wonderful dinner with all of the many extensions of my Chinese family that live in the area, now uniting four generations under one roof! Though I didn't have most of the meal because it wasn't raw (I made a big salad for the veggie eaters), I still loved to share in the experience of the big traditional Chinese hot pot (which is actually your perfectly balanced meal of proteins, starches, veggies, and mushrooms when you think about it). Communal food just makes for the best food, and I did crack on a couple pieces of boiled taro and broccoli though because they are just so tasty!

The hot pot is actually a great meal to have for New Year because it's made up of a lot of little dishes, and the large number of dishes (usually 8 or 9) eaten on Chinese New Year symbolizing prosperity and longevity. It also includes noodles which are also stereotypically eaten to symbolize longevity.

We finished off the meal with nian gao (literally 'year cake') and a chinese red bean rice cake (basically a cake made of glutinous rice flour with a layer of sweet red bean paste in the middle... this used to be one of my specialities!) and oranges (to symbolize wholeness).

Holidays aside, the raw oatmeal raisin cookie recipe I promised is still not posted, I know. I wasn't 100% happy with the measurements I took off of my most recent batch so I'm going to tweak with those just a bit and get back to you when I have a no-fail recipe that has actually been measured. They were awfully pretty and really tasty though, but not right enough for me to share just yet! This is what happens when you just cook by feel... it's hard to get something written down to share with others. You can't exactly write up a cookbook that says 'do what feels right!' Though I'd be awfully tempted to try and publish one.

Also, I attempted another one of Alissa Cohen's recipes for dinner tonight: her carrot pecan burger on a raw bun with jicama fries. It was pretty tasty and sure looked authentic! Not my absolute favourite like her pizza or eggplant parmesan recipes, but still an awesome attempt at a burger! The bun even got soft like those white burger buns when you fill them up with too much ketchup and mustard. I had mine with romaine lettuce, and a couple slices of tomato and cucumber.

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras and as I've maintained my whole life thanks to the French Catholic half of my upbringing, I intend on making a big deal out of it, crêpes and all! But more on that tomorrow...

Workout of the day: Legs and Abs when you're a little short on time
5 minute cardio warmup on stair climber
Floor Ab Circuit (3x12 3 exercises)
Lying Side Leg Raise 3x12
1 minute of jump rope
Calf raises on a step 3x12
1 minute of jump rope
Wall squats 30 seconds x 3
1 minute jump rope
1 minute plank + 30 seconds for each side
1 minute jump rope
5 minute stretch

Friday, February 12, 2010


I am so in love with Alissa Cohen's pizza recipe... I made another super batch today using her easy pizza crust recipe along with the marinara sauce from her eggplant parmesan recipe and my own permutation of cheese like substance. All of this was topped with my usual favourites: pineapple, black olives, broccoli, and spinach. For the 'cheese', I used:

-1 1/2 C macadamia nuts
-1/2 C pinenuts
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-1 tbsp of Braggs Liquid Aminos

Just blend in the Vitamix (you could probably add a couple tbsps of water if it's not creamy enough). It made about 2 cups which was enough to cover two 8'' pizzas with a little bit leftover.

Though I did used to like pizza, I was never pizza crazy the way college guys are capable of being, but ever since I've discovered the raw version, I can't get enough! I can just hear my stomach screaming 'Piiiizzzzzzaaaa..." the minute the first slice passes through my lips. I think I finally understand how guys feel when they shovel down an entire one!

I've measured out my recipe for raw oatmeal raisin cookies and they are currently in the dehydrator so if they are a success that will definitely make up a post this weekend. Tomorrow is also the last day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar Year so we're going up to see my family and my grandmother to celebrate. It also happens to be the year of the Tiger beginning on Sunday, which is my year! It's coming at a very auspicious time too, graduating from grad school and moving on to a PhD, moving back to Canada... this truly is quite the year for me, what perfect timing!

Workout of the Day: Back and Biceps (and abs of course!)
5 minute warmup on stair climber
Stability Ball Ab Circuit (x3 3 different exercises)
Dumbbell Bicep Curl 3x12
Lat Pulldown 3x12
Cable Hammer curl 3x10
Bend over dumbbell row 3x12
Stability ball back extension 3x12
10 minute stretch

Recipe of the Day: mooooore pizzzaaaaa...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fennel Grapefruit Salad

Our simple but tasty dinner will be the subject of today's post: Grapefruit Fennel Salad with a honey mustard dressing. The tanginess of the grapefruit goes really well with the licorice-y taste of fennel.

1. Cut 1 grapefruit into large-ish chunks
2. Cut 1/2 fennel bulb into strips (I used them all the way to the branches)
3. Mix 1 tbsp of raw honey, 1 tbsp of cold-pressed olive oil, with 1 tsp of stone ground mustard, pinch of salt and pepper to taste
4. Mix sauce in with grapefruit and fennel and mix well (I threw in some romaine lettuce too)
5. Serves 2!

Also, we also went to go see the Charles Darwin biopic, Creation, today, I highly suggest you go see if, it it if seems like something that would be of interest to you. To think that someone would publish such a theory at the height of religious zealoutry in England is quite ballsy if you ask me. It's also kind of scary to think that it's only playing in independent theaters in the US because it was deemed too controversial for general audiences.

Workout of the Day
20 minutes HIIT cardio on treadmill + 3 minute cool down
1 minute plank + 30 seconds each side
10 minute stretch

Tastes & Textures

Oops... Time slipped by last night and I forgot to post. I'm hoping that posting early enough will make that go unnoticed. One of the things I love to figure out when preparing foods, whether raw or not, is aspiring to combine tastes and textures in creative and tasty new ways. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes pretty simple to know which ingredient will go nicely with another, how to mix sweet and salty, crunchy and soft, foods with a bite with foods that are 'thicker', etc.

However, one of the challenges with raw foods is how to actually make things edible. Obviously I don't mean how to make them tasty, that's definitely not the hard part, but how to actually make one able to pick up the food you they're served without making a mess. Some foods were by definition not meant to be eaten in a non-messy fashion, think burritos or burgers or nachos or something, but some things were, like most desserts. While it can be a challenge to make a wrap stuffed with veggies stay together without dribbling sauce down your shirt or having your sandwich upend in your lap, I think desserts should--for the most part--be more refined.

Exhibit A: I really wanted to make a tropical dessert a couple night ago and wanted to use some of the precious organic dried guava that we acquired at High Vibe, in NY. I also had some fresh papaya that needed to be eaten. I decided... guava crepes with papaya sauce!

1.I blended papaya with a little bit of dried apricot paste and a teaspoon of agave and just the slightest pinch of salt.
2. I chopped up brazil nuts and diced dried mango into tiny pieces and mixed 3/4 of that into the papaya sauce and kept some for garnish.
3. I layered one round of guava with the mix, and repeated this three times, garnishing the top with more brazil nuts and coconut shreds.

It made a very pretty dessert... but guava is impossibly resilient, and there was no way Andrew could eat this without all of the papaya sauce mushing out of my crepes... hrm. I then had to go back into the kitchen and (with some difficulty) quartered the crepes to turn them into bite sized pieces (yes, this required significant reconstruction once the sauce had poured all over my cutting board). Though the result was quite tasty, the construction and textures... not so much.

Not really sure how I would fix this one in the future. Making the little quarters did seem to work and it made cute looking slices. Perhaps just rolling them up into tiny flutes might also work, but I still think you would have a gushing sauce problem... Lesson of the day: before you make up a really yummy treat, try to figure out if you'll be able to eat it and serve it first!

Workout of the Day (adapted from the Fitnessista's Winter Shape Up Week 1 to make it a shoulders, chest, and tricep day)
5 minute warmup on stationary bike
*Dumbbell frontal raise x12
Squats x12
Oblique crunch x10 (each side)
Sprint (1 minute on stationary bike or treadmill)
'Wall chair' (45 seconds)
Dumbbell chest flyes x 10
Bent-over dumbbell tricep extensions x10
Bent knee leg raises x12
Dumbbell Chest Press x12
Dumbbell Upright Row x 10
Spring (1 minute on stationary bike or treadmill)*
Repeat the cycle in ** 2 more times
5 minute Stretch