Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Salad yum and raw 'tuna'

My magically mysterious recipe of the day was Meredith's Cucumber Dill Dressing served over a lovely salad. Actually, that's a lie. I made this over the weekend but was saving it as collateral for a day I would be sans new recipe. While I did make another one of Meredith's recipes today, it's still in the works (aka. the freezer) so I had nothing concrete to report, thus you get a salad pic instead.

Cucumber and dill go wonderfully together, they leave such a refreshing taste in your mouth. There's a reason why the combination is so popular. The first thing I think of when I hear 'cucumber dill' are those cute little tea sandwiches that you'd imagine eating with lace gloves during High Tea with the Queen of England... or is that just me?

I also made Alissa Cohen's 'Almost Tuna' recipe from her book, Living on Live Foods. Though we took pictures of it, it photographed just like tuna; by that I mean, it turned out looking like a grey-ish goo blob that looked more like something you find clogging your bathroom sink that something pretty enough to make this blog. Despite its photographic appearance, it definitely looked like tuna and it tasted yummy too. Not sure how tuna-esque it actually tasted though. Last time I tried to make raw tuna, I combined a bunch of vegan and raw recipes for mock tuna I found online and ended up with what I think was a more 'authentic' result. This however, combined a lot of foods I don't get very often like sprouted mung beans and sprouted lentils. It was a nice change and went great with raw veggies slices and crackers.

Quote of the day:

"Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world. I feel like I can't take it and my heart is just going to cave in... Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once and it's too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst. And then I remember to relax and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain, and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment..."

American Beauty, 1999

Monday, March 29, 2010

"If Princess ain't happy...

... ain't nobody happy!" Love that quote, because it's so true. I thought of it because I'll be the first person to admit that I used to hate caraway. And man was I an unhappy princess when I ate some by mistake. I always thought it had this strange full-bodied after taste that took over my entire palate like a strange icky mentos. It's hard to describe, but I used to literally be unable to swallow something if it had caraway in it... now, I'm a convert. Thank you, Meredith. You've achieved something no one has ever been able to do before!

I am Chantal. I come to you reborn, as one who loves caraway!

Of course, the result of this was yet another one of Meredith's recipes, specifically her Sunflower Rye Bread, which was just about the tastiest and lightest raw bread ever. Finding a bread without nuts is a blessing! For me, it makes it considerably more digestible. But when I was first making it and saw '3 tbsp of caraway seeds', my first thought was "3 TABLESPOONS? Really? TABLESPOONS?'. But I swallowed my pride and followed the recipe, and I'm so glad I did!

I made my first sandwich with two slices of it tonight with sprouts, spinach, tomato, avocado and cucumber. Though it could have used a pate or something that I didn't have on hand, it was absolutely divine!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

In Defense of Raw Food

Ashley from (never home)maker came up with the brilliant idea to set up a a foodie book club last month, connecting foodie bloggers across the internet under one united banner of obsession... food! We'll be reading one book a month, and connecting via Ashley's website to see what everyone has to say about it. Considering that pretty much everything I've been reading for the past two years has been food related, I was excited to be able to share my experiences with both fellow food bloggers and now all of you. So here goes:

The first book on our list was Chef Anthony Bourdain's The Nasty Bits, a collection of essays and works on his food adventures and misadventures. I have to say overall, it was a very entertaining read: full of witty dry humor, and for the most part was very intelligently written. His introduction on seal meat reminded me so much of my own experiences with strange, exotic dishes from my non-vegan, vegan, and now raw days, and I love the absolute joy and respect he gives to food and travel.

However, it's probably because of his respect for culture and food, that Bourdain felt he had to take quite a nasty stab at the raw food diet. I understand he's a chef and was trained in a certain way, but I couldn't help but feel he had a total lack of understanding for the psyche of a raw foodist. I'm glad (or perhaps feel somewhat vindicated) that I wasn't the only person to notice this. Molly over at the Particular Kitchen commented on his bashing of vegetarianism/ veganism/ raw foodism too. Now I know I could have taken that passage lightly, and I tried, I did. I thought "hey, this is going to be Bourdain's funny take on raw food', but a humorous essay quickly became down right insulting. What I ended up finding (yet again) is that the person who really criticizes the raw food diet often calls the raw foodist close-minded because they themselves are close-minded, or perhaps, that they feel that their way of life, their very existence, is threatened and at risk by something they don't understand.

He totally failed to understand the true nature of the raw food diet during his travels to Thailand. To recap: he dined with a a group of people including raw foodist and actor, Woody Harrelson, who was eating a green papaya salad. To Bourdain, Harreslon was being totally close-minded and culturally intolerant, while everyone else was 'taking pleasure in all the culinary treasures of Thailand'. He then went on to bash the raw food diet, saying it was the end of culture, taste, and food presentation, and I just had to say. Stop. Wait a minute. A) It's not. B) Harrelson IS taking absolute pleasure in Thai food, just not in the way Bourdain sees it. You see, a raw foodist can enjoy the purity of food without having to do anything to it. We don't need a sauce, we don't need to fry our food to make the tastes come out, or mangle it, or steam it for exactly thirty seconds and then pan sear it, or who knows what else. We can go to Thailand or wherever and taste for ourselves how succulent local mangos are, how thirst quenching local coconut water is, how refreshing and enlivening a local green papaya salad is. Do you see where I'm going with this? Is the raw food diet not also taking the utmost joy in the food of a native land? Is this not the ultimate respect of food to be eating it as is, as nature intended? Eating raw foods goes beyond the ego-driven need for culture. It enables us to enjoy them in their most natural, primary state in a way I'm not sure many non-raw foodists can (that's why many on a mainstream diet eat dried or frozen fruits with sugar added of all things, and why the word "umami" even came into existance... because of MSG).

Like I said, since going raw, I've been enable to fully experience the countries I've traveled to 'despite' (as Bourdain would say) my new dietary crutch. I've had fresh salsas, guacamole, chili peppers, corn, honeys, raw fruit pastes, and the most amazing fresh salads and fruits in Mexico this summer. I've had melons that taste like sun and raw sorbets that taste like liquid light in the South of France. The list goes on...

Do I say stop cooking your food? No, I'm certainly not that intolerant. In fact, I can still appreciate a well-put together menu by just reading it. I can smell, see, and still take pleasure in cooked food without having a need to eat them anymore. I can still appreciate the skill, love, effort, work, etc. that was put into making a particular dish whether it was cooked or not. It's just not the only way. Raw food is respect and love for food. In fact it goes beyond that, it is also respecting and loving the environment, our bodies, and the foods we eat, just as nature made them!

Sunday Workout Recap

I still think banana whips (frozen bananas that have been blended into ice cream) with spirulina powder is just about the best thing ever... On a totally different note, here is my weekly workout recap! I'm off to the theater for the second time in two days! I love my life...

1.5 Hours of Bikram

5 minute warmup on stairclimber
Ab cycle on floor mat (3x12 of 3 ab exercises)
1 minute plank
3x12 dumbbell chest press
3x12 shoulder press machine
3x12 dumbbell flyes
3x12 dumbbell side raises
3x12 seated tricep pull down machine
10 minute stress

25 minutes HIIT on treadmill
5 minute stretch

10 minute cardio on stairclimber
Stability ball ab cycle (3x12 of 4 different ab exercises)
3x12 lat pulldown
3x12 bicep curl
3x12 bent over row
3x12 hammer curl
7 minute cooldown on bike
10 minute stretch

20 minutes of surprisingly difficult HIIT on elliptical
5 minute cooldown on recline bike
10 minute stretch

Fun outdoor wonderfulness (aka. weeding a garden can actually be very meditative and fun)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard...

... And by that I mean Meredith's yummy raw chocolate milkshake, of course! For the very little amount of work it takes to put this together, it certainly was a nice treat. For my own personal tastes, I think I would use about half the sweetener, but other than that it was super tasty! I'm excited to try the vanilla one now, since it's usually the taste I prefer if asked to answer the age old vanilla or chocolate question.

Again, the great thing about the raw diet is how you can enjoy pure, living and raw foods that you know are good for your body, spirit, and for the environment without having to give them a second them.

While everyone in the mainstream world is freaking out about what is actually in one of those 'chocolate-y' candy bars and chocolate percentages and what not, we can enjoy the optimal health benefits of cacao without question. Did you know that cacao is one of the foods with the highest magnesium levels? It helps our body bind calcium to built strong bones, teeth, and is a great stress relieving mineral!

Raw cacao also has serious amounts of antioxidants, it definitely red wine and green tea a run for their money! Some studies even claim it beats all the superfoods like goji berries and acai! Who knew? More milkshakes anyone?

Friday, March 26, 2010

If the chicken lives, I'm happy...

Ever since I saw a picture of raw 'chicken nuggets' on the Raw Seed aeons ago, I knew I had to have the secret to that recipe. I was thrilled to see they made it into Meredith's ebook! Thus, today's recipe was her chik-un nuggets and bbq dipping sauce. Now I've got to admit I used to have an obsession thing in my early teen years for chicken nuggets. Not the healthiest choice I know, but unhealthy foods tend to be addictive, and, unfortunately, when I was growing up, I had one particularly unskilled baby-sitter who pretty much knew how to make little else but chicken nuggets and white rice... thus, the beginning of my love affair with chicken nuggets.

This recipe brought back all the best parts of why I loved chicken nuggets minus all the not so great things about them. They actually tasted battered and fried, had the same texture and saltiness... They were awesome!!! Don't they look authentic??

When I serve food, I also like to do it well. If I'm going to serve a raw burger, it has to have a raw version of fries and all the fixings. Same deal with these chik-un nuggets. I served them up with the dipping sauce and a very fast-food style salad, aka. romaine lettuce with a few shred of carrots, and some sliced cucumbers. Of course, all of our veggies were thriving and organic as opposed to the industrial/hydroponic versions you get at SAD restaurants, but the visual was still great :) I had to resist not sitting down and eating the entire batch of nuggets though... also, I wanted to leave room for another slice of yesterday's chocolate mousse cake. Raw food is the best dietary choice EVER!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Love your Coconuts

I have one simple statement to make today: Meredith's Chocolate Mousse Pie is chocolate orgasm on a plate. I wanted to blog about it while it's still fresh in my mind, but words to describe food usually don't capture them at all. "This taste good/this taste amazing, etc." doesn't give away what you a truly experiencing. The taste of this cake is absolutely amazing, the texture is divine. It has the perfect resilience, not too mousse-y and not too hard. It's juuust right!

Andrew's and my favourite hang-out when we lived in Kingston was a place called the Sleepless Goat. It had the most amazing cakes (both vegan and non-) that you could ever imagine. Once we left there, I never thought we'd be able to recapture those experiences, but this cake brought them all back. Right after my first bite, I thought "Wow, this is just like Goat cake" (no, you never do stop giggling, no matter how many times you say that).

On a scale from one to yum, this gets a YUM! I so won out when I suggested to Meredith that I work through her ebook and blog about it! Every day just gets better and better.

For those of you who may have gotten her book or who have tried your hands a raw cakes that use coconut oil (like this one), don't get caught up in all the fear-mongering there has been over the last little while about coconuts and fat and what not. In moderation (like most fats, even if they are the healthy kind), coconut oil is SUPER good for you. Here's how and why:

Coconut oil is good for your hair, your skin, your teeth, your kidneys, stress relief, weight loss, a stronger immune and digestive system, and maintaining cholesterol levels. It's also antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and more. The problem with most foods is not the food itself, it's what we've done to it. People freak out about coconut oil (or coconut fat in general) because big ag industries decided to hydrogenate it at one point to make it cheaper to produce.

Hydrogenation is evil, not whatever the original food was! Hydrogenation changes the chemical make up of your food, ultimately making it something completely different than were we to eat it in its pure raw form. That's why society has now turned on margarine, peanut oil, and most other fats that were potentially very healthy but that the industry chose to hydrogenate.

YES, coconut oil has saturated fat, but not all saturated fats are created equal. The ones in coconut oil are assimilated very well by the body because most of them are medium chain triglycerides. 40% of the saturated fat in coconuts is made up of lauric acid which helps fight viruses and bacteria-causing diseases including herpes, influenza, and even HIV.

Really, think of all the South Asian cultures who eat coconuts all the time, I don't think any of them are suffering from a lot of the diseases plaguing our unhealthy country! I can't stress it enough, it's not the coconuts! They're amazing for you, so leave them alone... well actually, eat them (especially in the form of Meredith's pie)!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Man Wednesdays: "Where do you get your protein?"

I'd like to introduce you to a new addition to my blog, my often-mentioned other half: Andrew. For the forseeable future, I shall be dubbing this day of the week Man Wednesdays, as he'll be posting on well... whatever he wants! Just to give you a bit of background, Andrew was vegan long before I was. He got off the diet when he met me (oops...) then got back onto a vegetarian one with me about a year into our relationship. When I went vegan (ironic, I know), he joined me again. When I went raw last June, he joined me down this new and amazing road as well within a couple months. As far as I'm concerned and considering other people's definitions, he now fits most people's definition of high raw, that and he's one sexy piece of man. I now give you, Andrew:

"Where do you get your protein?"

Like most people on any alternative diet, this is the question I'm asked most often. Doubly so since I train most every day. It's a mind-virus that is programmed into our society. It's become almost entertaining to watch those who I thought were conscious, thinking beings be overtaken by their programming. The question comes out of them seemimg against their will. Always in the same tone, pitch and cadence, their eyes widening slightly as if even they are surprised by what they're doing.

Personally, I can't help but find this question annoying, so I'll answer this question in the most annoying way that I can: with a question.

A Brahma bull can weigh upwards of 1800 pounds of solid muscle, despite the fact that they get almost no exercise. As a ruminant, they consume only grasses and incidental herbs. Where do they get their protein? 'But Andrew', you protest, 'a person is nothing like a Brahma'. Fine, a Mountain Gorilla shares 98% of the same DNA with us. They are our second closest genetic cousins (after the chimpanzee). Despite eating a strictly plant-based diet, a male silverback can easily weigh upward of 500 pounds of rock-solid muscle and enjoy tearing automobile tires apart with their bares hands. Where do they get their protein? 'But Andrew', you protest again, 'a person isn't a Gorilla'. Hey, you're pretty pushy, aren't you?

Ironically, anyone who is that insistent on pushing the question this far is almost always tragically out of shape themselves. I admit to being so petty as to have looked them in the eyes and asked "Do I look like I don't get enough protein?" Yes, perhaps I should not be proud of those moments, but it does feel good and it always makes my point.

So, what is my point? I know that a lot of people on vegan and/or raw diets have contested that our biological need for protein has been grossly over-stated by the meat industry, but I had no way of knowing if that were true myself. At the time, I knew of no one who had done what I do while being raw. (Thank you to Kristen's husband over at Kristen's blog for, well, existing. It helps to know I'm not the only one on this journey.) When I was first starting a raw diet I struggled with this belief myself, especially being what weight-lifters call a "hard gainer". I determined that I would progressively change over to a raw diet and that I would stay on the diet only as long as I did not lose any muscle mass or strength.

When I first began on a raw diet I went high raw and found I could still do my regular workouts, but they were admittedly much harder. I also could not exert as long of a sustained effort as before. Each time I experienced this, I would ease off a little on how strictly raw my diet was until I had stabilised and then slowly increase again. By doing this I have been able to continuously gain in strength and capability. I appear visually to be about the same size, but I've dropped almost twenty pounds (yeah, I don't want to even think about what that was composed of). I'm now high raw and stronger and more capable than when I began. I'm not 100% yet (that is the goal), but I'm steadily eliminating sub-optimal components of my diet as I go.

The outcome? Amongst many other results, I can now do five times as many pushups in one set as I could before I started as almost twenty times as many in one workout! My muscle recovery has easily tripled in speed as fatigue is measured in minutes, not hours (or days). Muscle soreness after workouts is an occasion now, not a way of life.

So, to those who ask, "Where do you get you protein?" I present the following picture of USMC Captain Alan Jones. "Captain America" Jones, a strict vegetarian, holds countless unbelievable fitness records such as most continuous sit-ups (17,003!). Where do you think he gets his protein?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


If you're the kind of person who likes a challenge, I've got one for you: try to take a photo of soaked chia seeds and make them look tasty (as opposed to the primordial goo from which all life was born). Part of our complete breakfast this morning (or should I say "our complete breakfast this morning...") was Meredith's Blueberry & Chia Pudding. It was the perfect balance or warmth and yumminess. Even Andrew who wasn't originally a huge fan of soaked chia thought it was great!

Chia, an edible seed, is really something I encourage you to make a part of your own diet. And yes, the ones we eat are the same ones as we sprout as Chia Pets. Urban legend says that they are SO nutrient packed that one tablespoon can sustain you for 24 hours. More conservative estimates say that one tablespoon a day makes your much needed calcium levels shoot through the roof (so yes, you can definitely get enough--and a better source--of calcium on a raw diet by eating chia seeds).

Chia is super rich in antioxidants, so Meredith's chia/blueberry combination is pure health in a bowl! Chia seeds also have tons of fiber, and more goodies like magnesium (to help bind that calcium!), manganese, copper, iron, niacin, and zinc. Because they're high in omega-3s (the richest plant source actually), they help prevent inflammation, ie. arthritis and related problems, and they keep your blood pressure at healthy low levels.

Again, if that's not enough to convince you, chia seeds help with weight loss as they reduce food cravings through their slow absorption time (especially if you soak them). I also find them super filling (really, 1 tbsp goes a long way with chia).

Finally, if you're an endurance athlete, they really help keep you hydrated and your blood sugar in check if you soak them and eat them as the more gelatinous substance they become!

Go out there and eat your chia. Want Meredith's recipes? Check them out!

Monday, March 22, 2010

So much to be happy about!

Though I don't talk about my non-food related life much, I do have to say that I'm super-psyched that I rocked my MA oral exam this morning and got great feedback on my thesis draft. Graduation here I come! Now back to food... and by that I mean my continuous journey through Meredith's new uncookbook.

Yesterday we had a do-it-yourself dinner after I made her red pepper flax crackers (I made some into crackers and some into wraps by dehydrating them for dinner lengths of time) and her hummus recipe, 'the hummus among us' (it might look kinda green because I used a zucchini instead of the other more hummus colored option).

We served them with sliced veggies and leafy greens and made up lots of little sandwiches and wraps that were the perfect dinner after a long sunny spring equinox! I've never tried a recipe book where each recipe is as amazing as the next. I haven't tried a single one yet that I would even just say 'meh' to. That's rare! It also makes me really excited about trying the next recipe, and the one after that!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Workout Recap

This was a pretty cardio heavy week, I don't know if it's because the sun is shining and spring is here but I definitely wanted to be sweating it out a lot more than I do during the winter months :) I think this might be a growing trend as it gets even nicer out. You'll also see that I've gone back to my preferences for short but more intense cardio than the drawn out endurance kind!

22 minutes of HIIT on treadmill
40 crunches (2x20 of 2 different target areas)
5 minute stretch

Ab circuit with stability ball (3x15 of 3 different exercises)
3x12 lying side leg raises (for abductors)
3x12 lying side leg raises (for adductors)
1 minute plank
20 minutes of cardio on elliptical
5 minute stretch

Wednesday (short on time)
10 minutes of cardio on treadmill
Floor ab circuit (3x12 of 3 different exercises)
3x12 low row
3x12 bicep curls
5 minute stretch

20 minutes of HIIT cardio on stairclimber
10 minute stretch

10 minutes of hills cardio on elliptical
Ab circuit on stability ball (3x15 of 3 different exercises)
3x12 lying side leg raises
3x12 squats with barbell
3x12 calf extension machine
3x12 torso rotation machine
3x12 chest press with barbell
3x12 shoulder shrugs
5 minute stretch

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Gremlins in my Tummy

What a way to start our day! I think I have to amend my statement from yesterday that I could live off of Green Machine Smoothies, I'd like to add 'Dustin's Mimosas' to my list (another one of Meredith's great recipes!)

One of the recipe's ingredients is Kombucha, which I love to get on occasion (the only option I know of are individual 16 oz. containers that are too much for my environmentally obsessive-self, despite them being made of glass)! Kombucha is an amazing drink, and GT's Organic Raw Kombucha has some wonderful options (the Gingerade and Spirulina are my favourite... go figure).

Kombucha is a live culture of healthy microorganisms that benefit your body from the inside out! It's a drink (some people call it a tea) packed with active enzymes, probiotics, amino acids, antioxidants, and more. Really, it's a cultured and fermented drink that pretty much tastes like fizzy water with a kick. On a raw diet, I probably don't get as many probiotics as I did when I ate yogurt (or soygurt), but kombucha fills that gap.

To explain a little further, we all need healthy probiotics in our tummy. They do lots of work in there, like destroying the preservatives/ antibiotic/ pesticide-residue from our less healthier days, and generally maintain our digestive health and immune systems. Live active enzymes also give your body the boost it needs to refuel with energy and maintain a constant regenerative process, sounds good doesn't it? Kombucha's polyphenols also help fight off stressful free-radicals, so help maintain youth and optimal health. The drink's healthy acids also help promote proper tissue and blood alkalinity, which a raw diet also strongly contributes to.

So drink your kombucha, if not, do make sure do get your probiotics in some form whenever you can. Live organisms in your body can be a good thing, when they're your friends!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Greens, greens, greens

It's been such a pleasure reading through "The Magically Mysterious Raw Recipe Book". It's nothing super complicated, but like I said, it's beautifully put together and not just because of the pictures. There is such positivity seeping out of every page of this ebook, I love it! It doesn't just make me add that happy and loving feeling to my food, but it's already there in the recipe! That's double the happiness right there! Triple if you count me when I eat it :)

I tried two of the book's recipes today, one for lunch and one for dinner. The first was Meredith's 'Green Machine Smoothie' which I think I could probably live off of for the rest of my life and be one happy raw foodie! The only change I made was omitting the raw honey because the fruits made it perfectly sweet! I also didn't opt for the extras since I had already put them into my own breakfast smoothie. This photo just comes to show how pretty the smoothie came out... so pretty it was joined by all its fruit friends. (Sorry. This is what happens when you've been writing a thesis for three days straight... you kind of start going nuts and talking nonsense... all the time.)

Dinner was a super salad (greens, baby broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, red cabbage, and snow peas) topped with Meredith's 'Asian Ginger Dressing' and sesame seeds. Her dressing was a much creamier version of a very similar dressing I make (It's very hard to take a pretty picture of dressing). You can't go wrong with ginger dressing in my world. Definitely a very successful day food-wise! Can't wait to try more of these recipes!

Here are also the pretty things that happen on your wall when you have lots of plants in your home and under the right lighting. Can you spot the scary beast? (Hint: It's not the mask) (Hint 2: Thesis writing = accelerated senility)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Magically Mysteriously Mouth-Watering

I just received my copy of Meredith Frantz's awesome new e-uncookbook the "Magically Mysterious Raw Recipe Book", have you?

If you don't have one, I definitely suggest you get a copy! Featuring 27 of Meredith's yummiest recipes for the affordable price of $13.99, the book is beautifully put together with colorful and mouth-watering photos on every page (and a printer friendly version attached too for your convenience). It also includes tips and tricks to help you along the raw food diet.

Meredith has been an incredible inspiration to me on my raw food journey. I randomly found her blog, the Raw Seed, almost a year ago now, when she was coaching Rebecca Troutman through her own transition to the raw food lifestyle (her story can be found at Project Raw). Seeing how much Meredith just seemed to glow with happiness and energy from her choices, I knew she was someone I had to talk to to figure out my own 'whys and hows' of why I too should change my life to raw foods. I gotta say, she was one of my main motivators in convincing me to just go for it. Don't know if I would have made the leap without her as brief as our emails to each other were! (Without her, we also would not have found all those great raw hideouts in PA last week).

Why by this book? Because the recipes look amazing, and your tummy will be happier for it.

Other reasons? Meredith and her hubby, Dustin, just bought a 44 passenger school bus they are looking to convert into a green mobile home. Their plan is to install wind power, solar power, and a veggie-fueled engine on this magical bus which they will then use to spread their raw-food, creative, holistic wellness awesomess all across the country. Obviously, this costs money, don't you want to help them out?

Need more convincing? I'll be working my way through these recipes over the next couple weeks so if you're holding out for any reason, stay tuned to my pics and reviews!

Guilt-free Pleasures

If I'm sounding totally incoherent it's because my brain has been thesis-fried for the day. Today's secret into the absolutely guiltless pleasures of the raw food diet: a Raw Banana Split.

1. Split a banana in half
2. Scoop three balls of raw ice cream onto it
3. Top with raw chocolate fudge
4. Sprinkle with candied walnuts
5. Top with raspberries
6. Eat without having any second thoughts about how you'll feel afterwards!

The ice cream recipes below only require that you blend them well in a Vitamix or food processor and place the mixture in your ice cream maker. All the ice creams make much more than you need for just one banana split, but who says that's a problem! Once the ingredients have been blended together, you want the mixture to look creamy, neither too liquidy nor too thick! (Also, agave nectar works instead of maple syrup if you're a purist)

Raw Vanilla Ice Cream
2 C of soaked cashews
3/4-1 C of water
1/2 C maple syrup (or 1/3 C if you don't want it quite as sweet)
1 whole vanilla bean pod + 1 tsp of vanilla extract

Raw Chocolate Ice Cream
2 C of soaked cashews
1 C water
1/2 C of maple syrup
1 vanilla pod
2 heaping tablespoons of cacao powder
dash of salt

Raw Raspberry Ice Cream
2 C of soaked cashews
3/4-1 C water
1/3 C maple syrup
1 C of raspberries (I had to use both frozen and fresh)

Raw Chocolate Fudge Sauce
A blend of cacao powder and agave nectar
(optional ingredients: vanilla extract, sea salt, a hint of carob powder)


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fun with Veggies

Because it's crunch time for the first draft of my thesis, I'm going to distract all of you yet again with pictures of recent raw foodgasmic creations of mine.

The first was in honor of the recycled glass glasses we recently bought at Ten Thousand Villages: a raw breakfast parfait! They were made up of two sets of the following layers (in this order): homemade raw granola, protein-boosted almond cream (soaked and ground almonds, water, agave, vanilla, almond extract, mesquite, maca, and raw brown rice protein), raspberry coulis (a fancy name for mushed raspberries), and banana slices. The entire thing was topped with raw candied walnuts, more bananas and raspberries, and blueberries!)

Second, this is how I keep us motivate myself to eat our veggies (with pictures of my raw crackers included!):

And finally, here is yet another sweet potato pie (I'm going through a phase...). The crust is a blend of cashews, ground spelt berries, coconut flakes, dates, and salt. The filling is sweet potato, maple syrup, cinnamon, cloves, sprouted tofu, and salt, topped with soaked thomson and hunza raisins along with more candied walnuts. Yum!

Again, I'm saving up writing about my workouts for a weekly sunday recap, but I've definitely been going through a cardio phase since my break last week!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Raw Adventure 2.3: A RAWsome breakfast!

Last May, back in our cooked vegan days, one of the loveliest trips we got to take was to the White Pig, a vegan B&B in Virginia. For the first time in months (if not a few years), while traveling, we were able to eat whatever was put in front of us without having to worry whether it was vegan or not, and even whether it was organic or not. Going raw, we kind of assumed those days were over and that unless we specifically went to a raw food restaurant, we thought we'd be sitting in our hotel/b&b rooms eating fruit and dehydrated snacks we would have brought a long. Dawn, the owner of Speedwell Forge, certainly proved us wrong.

When I made our reservation there about a month ago, I knew that Dawn was already very accustomed to making breakfast for people with all sorts of dietary particularities: macrobiotic, vegan, gluten intolerant, you name it! So I thought I'd give it a shot... I shyly mentioned in my reservation that we were both raw, but that we were totally okay with just eating fruit for breakfast if she had any on hand. To my happy surprise, she immediately wrote back to me saying that she loved a challenge and that she would be more than happy to make this as special an experience for us as any. After asking me to recommended a couple good raw food websites to her, she said she's come up with something great. And she did just that!

First, she served us a wonderful fruit salad, with soaked (she was even sweet enough to do that!) nuts and seeds. She also served us a mango-banana smoothie/pudding which though she thought had not thickened enough, was so good I had to ask for another glass. It was like raw mango lassi heaven (I'll definitely be making that at home).

She then served us zucchini pasta over bell peppers and avocado with a wonderful mango sauce:

It was so sweet of her to make such an effort to not only feed us, but actually look into our diet, and present it so beautifully for us! She said she had to make our stay special, dietary choices included! I can't be grateful enough!

As it was our last day on the road, our final day was dedicated to finding an authentic Pennsylvanian market. We stopped at the Green Dragon Market in Ephrata who boasts: "if you can't buy it at the Green Dragon, it chust ain't fer sale!" And man, were they right! We found everything and anything (most of it definitely not part of our diet), like an entire stand dedicated to baking sprinkles:

Piles o' meat:

Buttery Sugary Amish goodness (including whoopie pies and shoofly pies of course!):

And of course, the revolving hot dog machine of DOOM (the lady running that stand thought I was a total weirdo for taking a picture of it... hey when you're a healthy raw vegan, these things are just not part of your world!):

There was also lots of other fun stuff from furniture, hardware, chocolates, preserves, to pickles, but that would just take pages and pages to write about. And though I like to dwell on the positive, gotta say, I think we were the only healthy looking people in that entire market!

After that we visited the first Ten Thousand Villages store (it was HUGE), where I picked up some recycled glasses for my parfaits, and stopped by the Tessems' house in Hanover to pick up some of their lovely stoneware to complete the beautiful kitchen set we started through them. All in all, it was an awesome relaxing stress-reducing trip, with all good things included, raw food, wolves, and hot dog machines, oh my!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Raw Adventure 2.2: A True Oasis in Frazer, PA

Awesome PA trip, Day 2: Sometime after sunrise, our day began with a beautiful walk in the woods beside the B&B we stayed at on Wednesday night (Furnace Hills B&B, a gorgeous place with very graceful hosts. If you're urban dwellers like us and miss the night sky, you can see the most beautiful starry skies at night which you can enjoy from the comfort of an outdoor jacuzzi! Their website does not do their place justice). It was so wonderful to be able to walk in nature again. While I love DC for the amount of green spaces it has, nothing beats being truly out in nature. The air was so clean and fresh, the skies so blue, and the ground was dirt and humus and not the harsh pavement of every day urban life. I even found a friend in the woods!

Though I do want to focus on the food, our first stop of the day was for a tour at the PA Wolf Sanctuary attached to the Speedwell Forge B&B where we spent that night. I don't understand how wolves get such a bad rep; they are the most beautiful and noble creatures you have ever seen. As Aldo Leopold said, "to look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul". And it's true. The best part: we got to hear them howl. When wolves howl as a pack, they all take on different pitches and rhythms which vary as their song goes on. It actually raises all the hairs you have on your body to hear (and watch) them do that; it seems to awake something beautiful and primal within you that recognize strength and safety, and that knows no fear, but that you don't even begin to consciously understand. We got to hear them howl once on the tour, and a second time right after dawn on Friday. It was breathtaking.

(This picture is of Merlin, one of the sanctuary's timber wolves, who was my favourite. Just look at that faaaceeee.)

By the time we were done with the tour, my tummy was growling for some raw goodness. So we hopped back into the car for a very worthwhile one hour drive to Frazer, PA where we found (thanks again Meredith!!!) The Oasis Cafe and Chocolaterie, where all your raw chocolate fantasies come true!!! First off, the owner, Tiffany, is just about the most wonderful woman you'll ever meet. I know I'll say it over and over again, but people on a raw diet, really do just glow from the inside out. I don't know how that happens, but it does. She radiates this incredible peace and happiness that you can actually taste in her food.

We ordered two halves of two different kinds of wraps (one was avocado and one was pumpkin seed pate) and a raw pizza:

Like I said, the food literally tasted like light. By the time we were done, I was so inexplicably giddy I was bouncing off the walls of the store just so giddy with life and happiness. We then proceeded to buy one of pretty much every kind of chocolate and raw goodie Tiffany had in the store. Our plan? To sit down every night and share one and delight in the marvels that are Oasis chocolates (plus, they'll last longer that way).

We started by sharing a raw chocolate covered pretzel (I luurve pretzels).

Then moved on to sharing half of a raw walnut raisin scone (would have been perfect with tea!).

And finally, my personal life-time favourite, half a 'rainforest cookie' made up of Brazil nuts and local honey. I could have gobbled up the whole thing had Andrew not been looking (which is pretty much what I did the next day anyway).

(Thank you to Andrew for being my lovely hand model)

I would definitely recommend going to Oasis more than many other places I've recommended just because of the love and happiness that has gone into their food. Yes, other raw restaurants are super tasty, but this one has an extra edge to it because of the time and care that went into your foods making. Don't you want to be taking in that kind of happiness? I know first hand that you can actually feel it radiating from the inside out!

Up tomorrow: How Dawn, the owner of Speedwell Forge, is the sweetest woman ever!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Raw Adventure 2.1: Arnold's Way, Lansdale, PA

How can I sum up the awesomeness that was our past 3 days in Pennsylvania? From Wednesday to Friday, we decided that we needed a little downtime from urban life so ran off to Lancaster County for a few days, where we were hoping to reconnect with ourselves, actual nature, and gear up for my final couple months in grad school! Of course, a BIG part of the trip had to be dedicated to our raw food adventures, and was it ever!!!

It all began with the long drive to Lansdale, PA to visit Arnold's Way, our first raw stop! Arnold is a really fun guy, and you can totally tell that he is absolutely 100% dedicated to what he does. Because Andrew and I want to start a raw community/support group/pot luck meet-up/cafe/whatever else might come of this grand project when we get back to Canada, we asked him how he managed to do what he did. Arnold's answer? "Why don't you grab a couple aprons and headbands and spend the day in the kitchen?" A day in the kitchen? YES, PLEASE! So we screwed all our other plans for the day and decided to become Arnold's temporary acolytes. (Yes, I even spend most of my vacations in the kitchen apparently... this always seems to happen no matter where in the world I am!)

First off, we had a delicious lunch. Andrew had the raw cheeze steak and I had their raw 'tuna' sandwich (I've been dying for raw 'tuna'!!!). It's been a while since I've had tuna salad, but theirs reminded me exactly of that mayo-pickle-tuna-celery goodness I remember! I especially loved their raw breads, which really inspired me to keep at it once we got home! I don't know why I just find making it so tedious even though it's a very straightforward and pretty simple process! We also picked up two slices of cake for the road. One was a raw carrot cake, and the other was an absolutely salivation-inducing coconut pie (so yummy, there is no photographic evidence of them).

After lunch, we got straight to work with Dorinda, who was working kitchen that day. She taught us to make raw pizza bread, their amazing banana whips (I had one with berries and spirulina, and I think I went to heaven for a few moments there...), and their raw banana bread. And I was just contended to get to work for about 4 hours in a real raw food commercial kitchen. It was such a treat to get away from our cramped little apartment kitchen into one with so much space and so many toys where we could actually work side by side without bumping into something! It was also wonderful to work with Dorinda, who loves beautiful platage and the little details that makes a great dish as much as I do.

However, I think my favourite thing about Arnold's Way is that they barely waste anything. Two summers ago, I waitressed at an amazing local gourmet restaurant in Kingston, Ontario (Luke's Cafe); one of the hardest things I had to put up with was seeing people waste the food they were served. At Arnold's Way, I got to see how the kitchen-side makes sure they get the most out of every bit of beautiful fresh food! For example, some of Arnold's staff takes their veggie scraps back home to their chickens at the end of the day; they make breads and crackers out of juice pulp; and banana bread out of the extra bananas that come from making their whips... it was such a green paradise!

All in all, we had such a fun day at Arnold's. I love the energy and quick-pace of the restaurant/cafe life. I definitely missed it! I would have loved to do it again were it not for our other super plans, which will make up tomorrow's post! But if ever you're in town, definitely check out Arnold's Way! I guarantee you, it's the best game in town!