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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Raw Vegan Chocolate Cake with Ganache/fudge frosting

This is a raw/vegan chocolate cake that I made for my dad's 90th birthday. Everyone loved it and was surprised how rich and healthy it was. This is from Jennifer Cornbleet's book "Raw For Dessert" pg 74. The ganache topping is from the same book pg. 26. Very rich--very yummy!! You'll say WOW!!!
(Julie's notes are in parentheses)

Chocolate Cake with fudge frosting (I used Chocolate Ganache)

Yields one 6-8 inch cake

Ingredients:

3 c. raw walnuts (unsoaked)
1/8 tsp. salt
16 pitted medjool dates
2/3 c. cocoa powder or raw cacao powder (I like the latter)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (organic is best if you have it)
2 tsp. filtered water (I used tap water)
1/3 c. Chocolate Ganache freshly made or warmed (I would double or triple the ganache recipe)
Unsweetened shredded dried coconut (opt.)
Fresh raspberries (opt.)
Fresh mint leaves (opt.)


Place the walnuts and salt in a food processor fitted with the "S" blade and process until finely ground. Add the dates and process until the mixture begins to stick together. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla extract and process until the powder is incorporated. Add the water and process briefly.

Line a 6 (or 9) inch pan with a parchment paper round. (I never bothered with this). Pour the chocolate mixture into the pan and distribute it evenly. Press down with your hand to compact. (Wetting your hands or a spatula helps to spread mixture more easily).

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. (We just left the cake in the pan, spread the ganache topping on it  and cut and served pieces right from there). Place a serving plate upside down on top of the cake pan. Invert, then lift the pan off. Remove the parchment round. Cut in pieces, garnish with ganache topping and coconut or raspberries or mint leaves if desired. (This is a very rich cake--I suggest small pieces).

Chocolate Ganache:

3/4 c. dark agave syrup or maple syrup
3/4 c. cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
1/3 c. virgin coconut oil, melted
1/8 tsp. plus a pinch of salt

Place all of the ingredients in a blender (high speed is best but even a wire whisk or a regular blender will do) and process until smooth. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the blender jar with a rubber spatula.

Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, Chocolate Ganache will keep for 2 weeks. Once refrigerated, the ganache will need to be warmed before serving in order to obtain the proper consistency. This ganache is great on a spoon or over raw/vegan ice cream or use as fondue with fruit or use as a frosting for cakes or cupcakes.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cinnamon Girls recipe

This recipe is from the book "RAWvolution" by Matt Amsden pg. 166

Cinnamon Girls

Sweet, freshly ground cinnamon-and-almond tortes with whole raisins, sweetened with raw agave nectar.

Makes about 20 balls

2 c. raw almonds, finely ground in a food processor
1/3 c. cinnamon 
1/3 tsp. sea salt (opt.)
1 c. raisins
3/4 c. agave nectar
2 T. olive oil

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the almonds, cinnamon, salt, if using, and raisins, and stir until the dry ingredients are mixed well. Add the agave nectar and olive oil to the bowl, and mix until a dough like consistency is reached. Using your hands, roll the mixture into ping-pong-sized balls. Serve as is, or cover and freeze before serving until thoroughly chilled for a more solid consistency.

Julie's notes: These are addictive and delicious!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Iron levels okay, now!

My PCP says my iron levels are back up to acceptable levels and my ferritin levels are rising. I'm thankful  it happened faster than I thought it would. It's been a little over a month that I have been taking prescription iron (ferrous gluconate 324mg) 1 X a day in addition to my raw/vegan iron gel caps (from Vitamin Code) and my other over the counter iron supplements. I had brought in my vitamins/supplements I was taking to show my doctor and he said these are all good--keep doing what you're doing and also take this prescription. I started feeling more energy in about a week although I hadn't realized I was feeling tired and less motivated. I had to stop all vitamins & supplements to prepare for the colonoscopy and upper endoscopy and then four days after the procedure I had a fasting lab. In spite of all that my levels of iron/ferritin have improved.

Low iron levels are tricky and can sneak up on you. In fact, most people don't realize they are low on iron until it's too late. I'm lucky my doctor is a firm believer in what the blood says. Also I've been given a clean bill of health regarding the upper endoscopy and the colonoscopy.

I hope everyone is doing well and is staying healthy!!! Thanks for listening! Julie

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Low ferritin levels, iron & B-12.....

So, I'm learning a lot more every day! Making a long story short, I'm in for some routine blood work, I find out my ferritin levels are low! I didn't even know I had a ferritin! Come to find out your ferritin  numbers are a gauge of your body's ability to store iron. My regular iron levels have always been on the edge of just-okay so I occasionally get deferred from donating platelets & whole blood.

Considering the things I eat that are incredibly healthy (especially compared to the Standard American Diet) and the great vitamins & supplements I take, you'd think I'd be all set. Well, my Primary Care Physician puts me on prescription iron to take daily--in addition to the raw/vegan iron supplements I take--I checked with him it's okay, I brought in the bottles of supplements and everything. Then we will closely monitor my iron/ferritin levels for the next few months to make sure the levels are behaving. And to rule out any internal hidden bleeding somewhere my doctor recommends I experience an upper endoscopy & a colonoscopy (at the same time, thanks, get it over with!). I am curious now to see what's going on inside. To tell you the truth, I'm nearing that age when they encourage a colonoscopy so the doctor suggested we'll just do it a couple years ahead of schedule.

I also learned online that when taking iron supplements you should not consume dairy products, coffee, tea, or chocolate for 1 hour prior and 2 hours following. Well, since I don't do coffee/tea or a lot of dairy that wasn't an issue. However the raw/vegan organic chocolate that I have fallen in love with  may have been a factor. The other thing I read somewhere that dark greens can inhibit absorption of iron. I sip my green smoothie all day long! I guess I have room for improvement! I do know to vary your greens to prevent oxalic acid buildup which can inhibit calcium absorption but the iron too? Anybody have any ideas/input on the entire situation?


I learned yesterday from my chiropractor (the walking encyclopedia/medical dictionary) that it takes a minimum of 5 months to restore your ferritin levels back to normal. Wow! They didn't even tell me that online or in my PCP's office! Love my chiropractor! I'm learning good stuff constantly!

I lean towards high raw/vegan diets (probably 85-90% of the time) I have added in cooked eggs & the occasional piece of cheese for the vitamin B-12 & the other day I had a bun-less burger for the iron. And this morning I had some steamed chicken livers for the iron content. So I'm not sure what to say when people ask me about my raw/vegan diet. Certainly I am into 100% health & I am listening to my  body's intuition. Anybody have any suggestions on the title of the blog now? I'm open to ideas! There is another person of prominence I have followed over the years who is also raw/vegan and she needed to add in cooked fish & eggs into her diet because of the B-12 issue because the B-12 shots her body started requiring were not enough for her needs.

I'm interested to know if anyone else has any information/answers/suggestions/testimonials on this subject of iron/ferritin levels & other vitamins in their healthy eating travels. I appreciate your interest & support as we're all in this thing together! Feel free to post comments below, I'd love to hear from you! Thanks!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Emergeny Preparedness & Eating Raw/Vegan

BE PREPARED!!!!

This is not only a "Boy Scout thing" but it's great advice for anybody. Being healthy & being prepared is tricky but can be done after a fashion. Don't plan on life being 100% roses. Keep in mind what you need to SURVIVE not what you're used to!

Disclaimer: Please remember that these thoughts are my own opinion & are based on information gathered over the years. Do what is right for your own family & situation. There are MANY excellent books & information out there that are informative & helpful. Some of my recent favorites: "98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your (rear end) Alive" by Cody Lundin. (If you breathe & have a pulse you NEED this book). Also by Cody Lundin: "When All (heck) Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes". (How to Survive Fear, Panic, & The Biggest Outdoor Killers).

Important things to remember: (1) Store what you eat & eat what you store. (2) Rotate! FIFO: First In First Out. Rotation happens naturally when you are storing what you eat & eating what you store. (3) Never think that you can run to the grocery store in an emergency. There won't be enough for everybody & you never know if there will be electricity/availability/safety to get what you need.  (4)KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid! Don't go into debt obtaining food storage you will never eat or don't know what to do with. Again there are many excellent resources out there to help you learn and to improve. Check the internet, public library,  church, guru's you may know who don't mind if you pick their brain, Amazon.com, YouTube, well, you get the idea!

Ways to preserve: Canning (your own or buying canned goods on sale from the store) freezing (but don't count on electricity), dehydrated foods, wild edible foraging, gardening outdoors/indoors, prepared/boxed food, backpacking/hiking type foods.

Keep in mind your own needs & the needs of your family. If you need medication daily or if you have allergies--including food allergies--store what you need if possible. Most doctor's offices won't let you have extra prescription medications but it doesn't hurt to ask if maybe you can obtain an extra week or something even if it's only for 3 extra days. 3 days is how long the emergency personnel can get to people (if at all) so it's a good time limit to shoot for if that's all you can do.

Now on to healthy stuff: Buy in bulk! (if possible). I know my family & how long certain things last. For example: Raw/organic nuts & seeds bought in bulk  (even though they suggest keeping them in refrigerator or freezer) can last us up to a year sitting in my basement (humidity controlled).I buy dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut by the 25 pound box. I also buy big Medjool dates by the 20lb box. Near the end of the box they can sometimes start to crystallize & seem to dry out but I just soak them a little in water before adding to recipes. I love NutsOnLine for their superb service & products. Raw/virgin coconut oil (from Tropical Traditions) (purchased in a big 5 gallon bucket) lasts us a little over a year. I buy a lot of things online at Amazon.com such as WFGF (wheat/free/gluten/free) mac & cheese,  WFGF pastas or powdered cheese sauces, WFGF bread & baking supplies in bulk, they ship it right to the house. Amazon.com even has a subscribe & save feature where you sign up for free to be put on a schedule of delivery of items/foods/supplies for things you use all the time and shipping is free. For example: 1 lb. bag of Nutiva Naturals raw/organic cacao powder at the health food store is roughly $20. I can get a 2 pack (2 one lb bags of the same thing through Amazon.com is probably $22 approximately). You can get on a schedule of 1, 2, 3 or 6 month delivery, they charge your credit card & ship it to your house. You can adjust your shipment times--if you need it sooner or if you still have a lot you can postpone a shipment. You can also cancel Subscribe & Save anytime.

In an emergency you want to already be prepared! I have taken wild edibles from my yard (and the neighbor's yard with their permission--they don't spray pesticides/herbicides) & dehydrated them & put them in food saver bags or even zip top bags. These are great for traveling or at home for adding to green smoothies. To avoid confusion in the airport I put the dried greens into my other powdered greens that I had purchased so it wouldn't look like I was smuggling marijuana into my luggage ( I know, I'm paranoid). The summertime of abundance is the time to preserve food for the times of scarce. Try to think what you need to SURVIVE. Do what you can! Even if it's only buying 1 extra can of soup a week, you're on your way! When things go on sale, buy a big "whack" of it if possible. Rice & beans are cheap. A 40 lb bag of white rice at Sam's Club is $12. Some places can sell you 25 lbs of dried beans. Learn to use them before you are in an emergency. 25 lbs. of salt (a years supply) at Sam's Club is really cheap. I know the quality is not the best nutrition for you but these things will keep you alive if you have nothing else. Some countries won't let you store up food & supplies beforehand because it's against the law. Do what you can. Be smart about it. When you have enough to keep your own family alive store some for the neighbors too. Hopefully they're doing the same. Don't count on relying on anyone else. I know of one family in their country of origin that couldn't leave the house for a week because of martial law. They were fine because of their food storage but their neighbors only had 1 cabbage and 1 lemon for their family for a week to live on. If you have young children you need to store diapers/formula also. Store sanitary needs--wet wipes & hand sanitizer too. Take 1 day for a Family Home Evening & live on what you have in your emergency "run kit" (a 3 day supply for 1 person to take with you if you had to get out in a hurry). Store some fun foods also. In an emergency you will be under stress! For those regular eaters out there store some candy bars/granola bars/cookies for a treat (I know there is no nutritional value in these!) There are a lot of raw/vegan bars out there that store well. Store organic soups & canned fruits, there are vegan "jerky" available at the health food store. Make your own trail mix to suit your tastes/needs. Keep dried fruits/nuts/seeds in your food storage & "run kit". Store water/& water purification capability. Store more water than you think you'll need especially if you store dried fruits. Store nut butters--store bought will store longer, and organic jams & jellies--or at the very least without high fructose corn syrup. Look at the health food section at your grocery store: they have boxed cereals, WFGF pretzels, wholegrain cookies & fruit snacks that would store well. Again, these aren't the best nutrition but it will keep you alive. Raw/vegan dehydrated cookies store for a couple of weeks in refrigerator but again, don't rely on electricity. Store vitamins & rotate them frequently. Store protein powder (my favorite is Hemp protein)--great in smoothies! Use your own dehydrated vegetables and make your own soup mixes!

I want to add growing your own sprouts! You can go online and buy seeds for sprouting in bulk too! Easy to grow, tons of nutrition and costs pennies when you grow your own. Alfalfa sprouts are a popular one with people. Living Whole Foods Inc. has a huge variety of excellent quality organic seeds & you can buy 2 oz all the way up to 50 lbs.  They also have sprouting supplies & wheat grass juicers etc. I have several sprouting apparatus that are easy to use or you can use a mason jar and some cheesecloth or cut up nylons or screening and a rubber band. Great videos on YouTube to show you how!


Emergency preparedness/food storage is hopefully something you will never need but better safe than sorry! You may not use these things  in an emergency but in times of economic hardship or helping out a neighbor/family member/friend  in need. Be prepared & it will bring you peace of mind!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why "The Skunk Lady" ?

The uniqueness of  my blog address has come up more than once and people seem curious about it so I thought I would answer it in a blog post!

I've always loved skunks! My son found this picture of a baby skunk in a man's hand (sorry to disappoint anyone, it's not my hand, sorry) and I thought it was the cutest thing. We joke about it being so cute it makes us ANGRY!!! This picture should be in the Guinness Book of World Records in my opinion for the cutest thing ever!

When I was at the family reunion one of the relatives found out about my profile picture on Facebook and he got all excited and said "You're the Skunk Lady? My wife LOVES that picture!" So it stuck with me  and when it came time to put a name to my blog I thought the skunk lady would be appropriate because of my profile picture and the story behind it! And it was an address name that was available so I went with it.

So that's my story behind the skunk, and "I'm stickin' to it!" Thanks everyone for your interest, support and questions. Love you guys!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Raw Vegan Chocolates

Raw Chocolates (Base) from Kristen Suzanne's "Ultimate Raw Vegan Chocolate Recipes" pg49

Do you want simple, pure, basic, but also delicious, nutritious, and easy raw vegan, bit-sized chocolates? Well, here you go. Once your cacao butter is in liquid form, this recipe takes only minutes to prepare and it's so dang good! I always have these in a ready-to-toss-in-the-air-and-catch-in-my-mouth stash in the refrigerator.

1/4 c. + T. raw cacao butter, liquid
2 T. raw agave nectar
1/3 c. raw chocolate powder (raw cacao powder)
1 1/2 T. lucuma powder

Stir all of the ingredients together well. This "base" recipe is delicious as is, and ready to be poured into candy molds or mini candy paper cups. Place in the freezer to set for about 10 minutes. I usually use candy molds that hold about 2 tsp. per mold, making the perfect sized chocolates to enjoy.

Julie's notes: I usually increase this recipe 8 times.  Add-ins such as: trail mix, coconut, chia seeds, chopped pecans, raisins or whatever you want to add are excellent. You can either add extras to the chocolate before you pour into molds or put a layer of the add-ins on the bottom of the molds and pour the chocolate right over it. You can liquify cacao butter in a bowl in the dehydrator or you can use a double boiler arrangement--just watch the heat to make sure it doesn't get too hot. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Green Smoothies!

Q: What do you put in your green smoothies?
A: Everything but the kitchen sink! Seriously, half fruit & half greens in a base of water in the blender!
 

If you have a high speed blender such as Vita Mix or Blendtec:

In my 96 oz Blendtec Wild Side blender carafe I add some water (eyeball the amount), add more or less depending on the amount of the other ingredients, (can also use vegetable or fruit juice or even the water of a young Thai coconut). I then add a couple of large handfuls of dark green leafies (dandelion greens, wild edibles, spring mix, spinach, kale, collard greens, to name a few, the darker the better), a handful of grapes, a peeled banana broken in chunks, an apple cut in chunks, a peeled orange cut in chunks, a handful of blueberries or strawberries, & some frozen mixed fruit. I then blend this on the #4 setting which is the Whole Juice setting on my blender. In 48 seconds I have an amazing, smooth, creamy and yummy smoothie.  I divide this mixture into 2 large bottles, add water to the blender again and make another batch of more of the same mixture--adding whatever fruit is on hand that needs using up, or whatever my body wants that day. Sometimes I add a scoop of hemp protein, or some other super food powder like pomegranate powder or lucuma powder or maca powder. You can add anything you want. Making 2 batches like this is enough for 2 days for me or if the family wants to share it's just the 1 day supply. Store in the refrigerator. This mixture tends to thicken during the day  due to the pectin in the fruit--if this happens just add a little water to it and shake it up. Shake also before drinking as the mixture sometimes separates.

If you have a regular blender of the department store variety you can still make great smoothies! Just make smaller batches, cut ingredients into smaller pieces, run for longer periods of time and accept the fact that it won't be 100% smooth and creamy but it is still healthy and wonderful nutrition for your body. Here is what I used to do when I had a regular blender:

In the blender carafe put in about 2 cups water (or juice, coconut water, or other liquid), add a small handful of greens, and maybe 1/2 c. of fruit pieces. Start the blender going and let it run for a bit; as it's running, slowly add a small  amount of greens at a time, alternating cut up fruit pieces and greens and letting it blend and incorporate as you go along. Let it blend until it's as smooth as you think it's going to get and pour into whatever container(s) you're using. If you make a big batch like I do, you'll want to  make about 3 or 4 blenders full and let them blend as long as needed to make them as smooth and incorporated as possible. 

If you're new to green smoothies: Add more fruit than greens or even mostly fruit if you're trying to interest the kids. Then as you get accustomed to the idea, increase the amount of greens. Vary your greens for variety and to prevent the buildup of oxalic acid in your system. Using frozen fruit for part of the smoothie makes it frosty and cold like a slushy or a milkshake. If the kids (or you) are not able to handle the visual of the green color, put it in a travel mug with a lid--or a sippy cup with a fun straw. Freeze it and eat it with a spoon! Heck--how about smoothie popsicles! You could even watch Ghost-busters and drink/eat your "ectoplasm" concoctions! Never force the smoothies (or any food) on people for that matter! Let them see how much you are enjoying it and how much healthier you feel. Just set the example--let people (or your family) approach you and ask for a sample.

Keep things simple! I love the frozen mixed fruit I get in big bags at Sam's Club or BJ's. These are very convenient and save a lot of time. There are also available frozen mixed berries, or sliced or whole unsweetened strawberries. If you have a garden and are able to grow  your own things fresh is best. Buy things on sale, get huge quantities and freeze it in individual zip-top bags in the amounts needed to make your smoothies. When preparing to freeze bananas, peel them first and cut them in chunks before freezing--trust me on this!

Cleaning up after making smoothies is the funnest part! Usually the blender and any utensils just need rinsing and you're good to go--only washing as needed. From start to finish and cleanup is usually 5-8 minutes for me. (Keep in mind I make a HUGE batch) What could be easier or quicker? Doesn't it take about that long to wait in line at the drive-thru of a fast food/coffee place? I would say if you are only able to do one thing to improve your lifestyle/diet I would say include green smoothies! As you gain better health your body will naturally crave healthier food choices on its own.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Where do you get your protein?

I get asked this frequently. There is a lot of information out there online that is scientific and backs up both views. Personally I have added back in cooked eggs on occasion (for the B-12 vitamin) and also some cheese. I also eat nuts and seeds, dark green leafy vegetables and avocados to name a few. Here is some interesting information from the website "Living & Raw Foods". This is under the frequently asked questions section which I find to be very informative:

Where do raw and living foodist get their protein?
The WHO (World Health Organization) says humans need about 5% of their daily calories to come from protein to be healthy. The USDA puts this figure at 6.5%. On average, fruits have about 5% of their calories from protein. Vegetables have from 20-50% of their calories from protein. Sprouted seeds, beans, and grains contain from 10-25% of their calories from protein. So if you are eating any variety of living plant foods, you are getting more than adequate protein. Numerous scientific studies have shown the daily need for protein to be about 25-35 grams per day. So if you ate 2,000 calories per day, and ate raw plant foods that had an average of 10% of their calories from protein, you would get 200 calories worth of protein, or 50 grams. This is more than adequate to support optimal well-being. Other studies have shown that heat treating a protein (such as with cooking) makes about half of it unusable to the human body. So raw plant food protein is even a better source than cooked plant foods or animal foods. There is still a huge, foolish, misguided idea that plant protein is not "complete". This is based on studies done on rats in the 1940's. This false conclusion was drawn before we discovered the bodies protein recycling mechanism and its ability to "complete" any amino acid mix from our bodies amino acid pool, no matter what the amino acid composition of a meal consumed. This false idea is still perpetuated by the meat and dairy industries, in an attempt to influence people to continue consuming their truly health destroying products. 


Another great resource is "The China Study" (Startling implications for diet, weight loss and long-term health) by T. Colin Campbell, PhD & Thomas M. Campbell II. 


No matter what information is out there it is still important to listen to your own bodies and always check with your own doctors/nutritionist to make sure you're doing what's best for your own situation.

Carrot Spice Cookies (using dehydrator)

Carrot Spice Cookies from "The Spunky Coconut Cookbook" by Kelly Brozyna pg. 158

(Julie's notes are in parenthesis)

Juice about 10 carrots, or enough to get 6 cups of pulp. (I used 2 to 1 ratio carrot to zucchini pulp)

Add to the food processor:
about 1/2 of the carrot pulp (and zucchini pulp)
2 tsp. lemon zest or 2 tsp. lemon juice
1 c. of pitted dates (about 9 dates)

Process for about a minute.
Add:
the other half of the carrot pulp (and zucchini pulp)
pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cloves (she puts whole cloves in the coffee grinder)
1 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. agave
1/2 coconut oil (liquified)

Process to combine.
Pat into cookie shapes. (onto nonstick dehydrator sheets)
Dehydrate for about 10 hours at 130F. (Mine took 24 hours)

Kelly's story with the recipe:
When I get my juicer out to make zucchini bread and carrot cake, I take the opportunity to juice carrots for my raw carrot spice cookies. I don't know who loves them more, me  or Ashley? They can be as dry or chewy as you want, just start checking them after about 6 hours in the dehydrator, depending on their thickness. Keep in mind that the dryer they are, the smaller they will get, so if you like a crunchy cookie, start over sized. I prefer them dry on the outside and still soft in the middle, which takes about 10 hours for a thin cookie.

Julie's notes:
I didn't bother with juicing (don't have a juicer). I just threw baby carrots in the food processor fitted with the "S" blade and processed it to death with the zucchini. I had to process in 2 small batches to get the particles fine enough. Next time maybe squeeze carrot pulp in a nut bag to reduce water content--they reduced in size to about 1/2 of what they were. Next time: try less nutmeg/allspice, more ginger & cinnamon & more agave.
This smells heavenly while drying. Used #40 scoop on parchment paper in round dehydrator. This recipe seemed to make a lot of cookies. I made 1/2 batch at first. These also freeze well.

Vanilla Cookies (using dehydrator)

Vanilla Cookies from "The Spunky Coconut Cookbook" by Kelly V. Brozyna pg. 154
(Julie's notes are in parenthesis)

Soak 2 c. of raw cashews for about 8 hours. Rinse well and strain. (Rinse till water runs clear--you'll want to do this about 3 times during that 8 hours to keep the water clear as the enzyme inhibitors leach into the soak water)

Add the cashews to the food processor with:

2 T. ghee or use virgin coconut oil (liquefied) for raw cookies
2 T. honey (or date paste)
1 T. xylitol (or date paste)
2 tsp. vanilla

Puree'.

Scrape the sides, then add:

1 c. shredded coconut (dried, unsweetened)

Puree'.

Roll and press into shape.
Dehydrate for 18 to 24 hours at 130F.

Optional:

slivered almonds (in the dough mixture and on top)
2 tsp. orange or lemon zest

Kelly's story with the recipe:

When I made up the crust for my pecan pie, I thought the dough would make a perfect Christmas cookie, like a sugar cookie (I emphasize the word like here, as there is no refined sugar in these.) Since it's already an almost raw recipe, all that needs to be done is to substitute coconut oil for ghee, and dehydrate. I don't always make these cookies truly raw because I like a slightly buttery taste, so sometimes I keep the ghee. But you can use virgin coconut oil instead, for a raw cookie.

The second best thing to eating these yummy cookies, is the smell they create in your house for 18 to 24 hours (depending on the thickness) while they are dehydrating. It's a cookie dough in the oven kind of smell, only it lasts much longer than baking cookies, and these little guys are packed with nutrition.

Julie's side note: This is one of the first recipes I tried before I had a dehydrator. I put the dough on a cookie sheet and used the oven on the lowest setting (warm) and left the door ajar. They turned out beautifully and everyone loves these. So much easier with a dehydrator! :D I always quadruple this recipe! ENJOY!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Butter Pecan Ice Cream!

Raw/Vegan Butter Pecan Ice Cream
This is from the book "I Am Grateful" Recipes & Lifestyles of Cafe` Gratitude by Terces Engelhart & Orchid pg.145 (Julie's notes are in parenthesis)

Makes 1 quart (I usually double this recipe because this ice cream is amazing! Everyone fights over this one...)

2 c. pecans
4 c. fresh water
3/4 c. packed pitted dates
2 T. lecithin (make sure it's non-GMO)
1/2 tsp.salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 inch of vanilla bean

Place all the ingredients in the blender and blend on high for a few minutes. Don't let the mixture get too hot while blending. Freeze when ready. (I just pour into individual leftover containers and freeze those! So Easy!)

This mix can be kept in your fridge until ready to use and will freeze faster when cold.

This ice cream is sweet and has more body, as it is not necessary to strain pecan milk.

Raw/Vegan corn chips! Mmmmmm.....

Raw Vegan Corn Chips
This recipe is from the  book "Eating Without Heating" by Sergei & Valya Boutenko pg.99
(Julie's notes are in parenthesis)

(These are very tasty & travel well--especially to your favorite Mexican restaurant)

4 c. corn (I use frozen corn, thawed)
1/4 c. olive oil (I've also used coconut oil, liquified)
1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt (pink Himalayan salt is my favorite)
1/2 c. ground flax seeds (grind in coffee grinder or food processor)
2 chili peppers (I found this too spicy for me! I used 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded)
1 T. honey (I used agave nectar)
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 tsp. ground cumin (opt.)(cumin is my own addition)

Blend (or food process) all but flax; mixture will be somewhat thick. Add flax to thicken while blender (or food processor) is running. Spread on Teflex dehydrator sheets. (Dip your spatula in water to make spreading easier). (At this point I like to score them with the spatula instead of later and sprinkle the top with salt, or Herbamare seasoning or whatever strikes your fancy). Turn over and mark in triangles after a few hours. Dehydrate (105F) until crisp.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nut Butter Truffle Recipe--the sequel

Raw/Vegan Nut Butter Truffles (well almost raw if you use store bought nut or seed butter)

Be warned: everyone that tries these LOVES them and tends to fight over them! (I love that!)


This is loosely based on the recipe Lucy's Peanut Butter Balls pg61 of "Kristen Suzanne's Ultimate Raw Vegan Chocolate Recipes"

3/4 c. peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter, or almond butter etc.)
1/2 c. agave nectar (or more)
1/2 c. pitted, chopped dates (or more), soaked if they seem dry
1/2 c. (plus additional) dried coconut, shredded and unsweetened--add as much as you need to thicken it into a dough
1/4 c. or to taste raw cacao powder
dash Himalayan sea salt (leave out if the nut butter is already salted)
a dash of vanilla if desired
additional cacao powder mixed with organic cane or palm sugar for coating
 
In a food processor fitted with the "S" blade process together the nut butter, agave nectar, & dates--adding a little water if needed to facilitate blending. Stop and scrape down bowl if needed. Add this mixture to your Kitchen Aid mixer bowl and add remaining ingredients and mix well. If you don't have a good stand up mixer you can just knead ingredients together with your hands. Taste and adjust any needed ingredients. You want a stiff dough. Chill for at least 2 hours. Portion out into little teaspoon size balls of dough, (I use my #100 cookie scoop) roll in additional cacao powder mixed with a little organic cane or palm sugar. Keep chilled in refrigerator or freezer until ready to devour.

You want to make the truffles small enough for one bite each. This way it's neater and they don't get cacao powder all down their front. Use this recipe adaptation as a guideline--experiment and make it your own! Have fun with it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to handle invitations to dinner at friends' houses or social gatherings

"I want to have you over but I don't know what to feed you!" Or "Are you still on that crazy diet?"

These questions have come from quite a few friends who love me dearly and I love them dearly! There are a couple of things going on when we ask someone to dinner: (1)The social/emotional/interacting aspect and (2) The need we women have (or humans in general) to nurture and feed each other.

I reassure my friends that are inviting me--don't make a fuss! Green salads are a safe option--hopefully they would have one anyway (lol). I will bring snacks that I can eat and I will taste a small amount of their lovingly made dishes and of course whatever I bring I share with them.  Also I sometimes have a secret weapon in my purse--an avocado or a tomato, or both and I'll "whip" this out and slice it up at the table and everybody else usually gets jealous. 

Food is a BIG part of everyone's lives. We spend quite a bit of time thinking, planning, purchasing, preparing, and talking about food. It is a part of our social life. Even as we share a meal with others we may talk about the next meal or our favorite meals we have eaten in the past. We are bombarded with the media with advertisements and visuals of food to entice us. We have our five senses that tempt us. Sometimes we may even fear a conspiracy as the moment we promise to eat more healthy foods, someone will bring in something tempting (and not so healthy) to work or we drive by a doughnut shop and we smell the warm, fresh doughnuts or bread or pastries or KFC--you know what I'm talking about! Or even at the gym, working out to stay in shape, we are shown commercials of gorgeous looking food which is very tasty but usually not the best for us, well I digress.

Why do we like to have people/or family over for a meal? We love to interact with them. We show our love by making sure they are taken care of and well fed. We love to talk and mingle with them. It's not about the food when we stop and analyze it. Why are we getting together? For food or socializing?

Let's look at these questions: If it's only for food that we are getting together, 9 3/4 times out of 10 I will bring a snack or dish to share that I know that I can eat and I know that people will like--and inspire them to know that it's fun and tasty to eat more healthy dishes.

If it's for socializing purposes that we are getting together, (and who can get together without food?) I will bring a dish to share that I know that I can eat and I know that people will like--and inspire them to know that it's fun and tasty to eat more healthy dishes.

If I'm in a hurry and I haven't made the effort to make something, I'll stop by a grocery store and pick up a vegetable platter, or a fruit tray (sometimes both!) and bring that. Or I could bring a watermelon and cut it up when we get there--that would be fun! People are always appreciative of the healthy alternatives. This is especially handy and lifesaving at church gatherings where we tend to be known for our desserts and yummy (but not always healthy) entrees.

I love getting together with friends and family! That is most important to me! The food is secondary and I also respect their need to feed people and show their love in their own ways.

I love you all, thanks for listening!

P.S. For fun, check out on YouTube Angela Stokes from The Raw Food World singing "How do you have a social life with raw foods?" sung to the tune of "How do you solve a problem like Maria" from the movie "The Sound of Music". Funny, creative, and inspiring!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chocolate Brazil Nut Ice Cream (Raw Vegan)

Chocolate Brazil Nut Ice Cream (Raw Vegan)
From "I Am Grateful" Recipes & Lifestyle of Cafe' Gratitude pg. 146

Makes 1 quart
(Julie's notes are in parenthesis)

2 c. Brazil Nuts
4 c. fresh water
3/4 c. packed pitted dates (soak in a little water if they seem dry)
2 T. lecithin (make sure it's non-GMO)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 inch of vanilla bean
6 T. raw chocolate powder (or carob powder)
(I might add a 1/2 dropper full of vanilla creme liquid stevia or more dates if it needs more sweetening)


In the carafe of your (high speed blender is best) blender, place Brazil nuts and the 4 cups fresh water. Blend on high for a few minutes. Don't let the milk get too hot while blending. Strain milk through a milk bag or cheesecloth. Reserve pulp for cake recipes.

Rinse the blender and return the milk along with the dates, lecithin, vanilla, salt, and chocolate powder to the blender. Blend well and freeze. (I usually just pour it in plastic resealable containers and freeze it in those because I'm too lazy to bring out the ice cream maker and all the paraphernalia that goes with it).

This mix can be kept in your fridge until ready to use and will freeze faster when cold.

This is a rich chocolate ice cream. (On a scale of 1-10 the kids gave it 8-9)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Raw/vegan nut butter truffles recipe

This is a recipe I came up with by accident when I was trying to make something else! This is as close as I can come to duplicating this amazing recipe.

Raw/Vegan Nut Butter Truffles

Ingredients:
1 part nut butter (I used a little peanut butter, almond butter and sunflower seed butter mixed together) (probably about 1 c. of nut butter)
2 parts coconut oil (probably about 2 c.)
Agave nectar (as needed) (at least about 1 c.)
1 tsp vanilla
dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut (as needed) at least 1 cup)
raw, organic cacao powder (as needed) approx. 1 cup
2 T. raw carob powder
1 tsp. pink Himalayan sea salt
Chopped nuts or seeds for coating "truffles" as desired


In mixing bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer, you can also do this by hand with a whisk) mix together the nut butter and the coconut oil together till creamy. Add enough agave nectar until the mixture seizes up. (Mine never really did.)

Add the remaining ingredients, mixing well after each addition. Adjust the thickness of the dough by adding more coconut, cacao or carob powder. Chill for an hour, or overnight, in the refrigerator to make the "dough" easier to form into balls.

When firm enough to work with, scoop out mixture with two small teaspoons or a small cookie scoop (I used #100 scoop), roll balls in cacao powder or chopped nuts or chia or sesame or hemp seeds if desired.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Raw chocolate not "Snickers" Bar

Raw Snickers

Do I take nutritional supplements?

Great question! Yes I do, as needed. I used to take a handful of vitamins everyday when I was eating the Standard American Diet (SAD). Since eating Raw/Vegan I don't feel it's necessary except for occasionally. I have recently added a B-12 supplement daily. This B-12 vitamin is something that vegans--raw or not is important to make sure to get enough of.

I think supplements are important if you're not getting enough through your food intake. Everybody is different and it's important to listen to your own body and decide what's best for you.

Goddess Cream Cake recipe


 Goddess Cream Cake from the book "Kristen Suzanne's Ultimate Raw Vegan Chocolate Recipes" pg 36



Yields one 8 or 9 inch spring form pan (we just used a regular 8 x 8 square pan)

(Julie's notes are in parenthesis)

The Crust

1 c. raw walnuts
1/4 c. raw cacao nibs
3/4 c. dried coconut, shredded and unsweetened
2 tsp. raw chocolate powder (or raw carob powder)
1/2 c. raisins

The Filling--Base Layer

2 1/4 c. raw cashews
3/4 c. raw agave nectar
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. raw cacao butter, liquid
2 T. coconut oil
1 T. almond extract (I omitted)
1 T. coconut extract (I omitted)
3/4 c. raw chocolate powder (or raw carob powder)
1/8 tsp. Himalayan crystal salt
2 T. soy lecithin, opt. (make sure you get the non-GMO kind)

The Filling--Top Layer (Double this--it's really good!)

1 c. raw cashews, unsoaked
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. + 1 T. raw agave nectar
1/4 c. cacao butter, liquid
2 T. coconut oil
1 tsp. almond extract (I omitted)
1 tsp. coconut extract (I omitted)
pinch Himalayan crystal salt
1 tsp. psyllium powder (I omitted)
1-2 T. raw cacao nibs, ground

The Crust directions

Using a food processor, fitted with the "S" blade, grind the walnuts and cacao nibs to a coarse grind. Add the coconut and chocolate powder and pulse to mix. Add the raisins and process until the mixture begins to stick together when you press some between two of your fingers.

Press the crust mixture firmly into the bottom of your spring-form pan. Place in the freezer until you're ready to pour in the filling.

The Filling--Base Layer Directions

Place the cashews in a bowl and cover with enough water by about an inch. Let them soak for 1 hr. Drain off the water and give them a quick rinse.

Using a food processor, fitted with the "S" blade, process all of the ingredients, except the soy lecithin, until very smooth. This could take a few minutes and you might have to stop it a few times to scrape down the sides. Then, add the soy lecithin and process briefly to mix.

Pour the filling mixture on top of the crust and smooth the top using an offset spatula for best recults. Place in the freezer for 1-2 hours to set.

The Filling--Top Layer Directions

Grind the cashews into a powder using your blender. Add the remaining ingredients, except the psyllium powder and ground cacao nibs, and blend until creamy. Add the psyllium powder and blend briefly to mix. Pour into a small bowl and set aside until you're ready to spread it on top of the filling base. After the filling base has set in the freezer, pour the filling top layer on top, and smooth with an offset spatula.

Sprinkle the ground cacao nibs on top. Place in the freezer for an hour or so, and then you can transfer to the refrigerator until you're ready to eat. Goddess Cream Cake will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in your freezer for 6-12 months, when stored in an airtight container. (Trust me, it won't last that long--it will be eaten!)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some health improvements I forgot to mention.....

Hello everyone!

In my first post I listed some health benefits that I've experienced as a result of  eating raw/vegan. I forgot to list a few and wanted to pass these along.

I experience clearer skin. (I never had acne as a teenager but as an adult I was hit "from the blind side". Some of you may know what I'm talking about.)

My eyesight improved.

My menstrual cramps virtually went away.

Headaches are extremely rare now.

I'm much more calm, things tend to just roll off my back now. Not that this was a huge problem before, but let's just say my insides are getting happier!

My depression is  less and less. I don't need my "happy light" anymore! (Anybody need one?)

The biggest surprise was when I'm out in the woods in the summertime bugs used to feast on me no matter how many "chemical or natural" bug repellents I wore. In fact, I usually wear a bug net (it's a great look too!)  Since changing my lifestyle to raw/vegan bugs hardly bother me anymore. Whether this is a coincidence or not--I don't care! It's working!

I used to slather on the sunblock like there was no tomorrow (SPF 45 or higher--Larry Bird is my mentor) now I really don't need it. I do wear a hat and sunglasses and if it's really bright/sunny I'll wear my sun protective clothing but I really feel more in tune with nature and my body.

Tons of energy--sometimes I don't know what to do with myself! I'm actually getting back to my home improvement projects slowly and doing some deep cleaning and organizing of my house which feels really good!

The slight drawback is I've had to get smaller clothes and I need to have my wedding ring re-sized to a smaller fit. Currently I'm wearing it on my middle finger which can look a little different (what will the neighbors say?).

I have had weight fluctuations throughout the years gaining and losing 20-30 pounds (sometimes more) with 2 pregnancies, and life (up until now I tended to be an emotional eater--I know, it's something that I also like to do when I'm bored or tired--now you know all my secrets!) and had just resigned myself to the fact that no matter how much effort I put in this was as good as it was going to get. People would say it came with the territory of getting older--now I'm fighting back--gently and calmly--and winning!

 Overall: I really love this lifestyle that Heavenly Father and my body has directed me to. I have not looked back.

I really feel that as I learn better, I do better. This has been, and continues to be a journey of self discovery. My body is smart and has the answers, I just need to listen more closely and heed what it's telling me. And it's all about God. He helps me every minute of every day in my efforts to take care of this incredible body He's given me. I'm Just Thankful! Peace and love to you all....Julie

Spicy Flax and Herb crackers recipe

 Spicy Flax and Herb crackers  from "Raw Food Real World" by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis
pg. 300

Makes about 64 3-inch crackers
(Julie's comments are in parenthesis)

Flax seeds are mini powerhouses of essential fatty acids. You can also try soaking the seeds whole overnight and then incorporating them into the recipe that way--they will get a bit gelatinous and make a crisp cracker. But we like the texture of ground flax best and think its goodness is more easily assimilated this way. If you like you can substitute regular flax seeds for the golden flax.

1 c. sunflower seeds, soaked 1 hour or more
1 c. raw almonds, soaked 2 hours or more
1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 1 hour or more
2 red bell peppers, cored and chopped
3 to 4 small jalapeno peppers, cored
2 c. golden flax seeds, finely ground (about 2 2/3 c. ground)
1/2 c. lime juice
1 T. cumin powder
1 T. chili powder
1 T. sea salt
1 large handful mixed fresh herbs, such as cilantro, basil, and parsley
(I also add 1/2 c., or more, nutritional yeast to make it taste like a "cheez-its" type cracker)

In a food processor, place the sunflower seeds, almonds, and tomatoes and pulse to chop. Add the red bell and jalapeno peppers, flaxseed, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and salt and process to combine well. Add water if needed to thin to a spreadable consistency. Taste for seasoning, add fresh herbs, and pulse to chop and incorporate.

Using an offset spatula, spread the dough thinly onto four 14-inch Teflex-lined dehydrator trays. (I score it lightly with a plastic knife at this point). Dehydrate at 115F for 6-8 hours, or overnight. Flip the sheets over onto the tray and carefully peel away the liners. Break or cut into pieces. Place back in the dehydrator for 4-6 hours, or until crispy. Store in an airtight container for up to a week or two.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Maple Cinnamon Buckwheat Crispies recipe

From the book "Raw Food Real World" pg 272-273 by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis

(Julie's notes are in parenthesis)

(Info from the recipe): One of the things we missed a bit when we went raw was eating cereal. Our buckwheat version, served in a bowl with Brazil nut milk and berries or sliced banana, is better tasting and so much better for you than the processed kinds. Technically, buckwheat is not a grain but an edible fruit seed. Moreover, it's basic and easy to digest, as opposed to grains, which form acids and upset the pH balance of the body. Its compatibility to the digestive system is evident in the way it softens so quickly when you soak it; in 1 hour it goes completely soft, whereas grains can take hours or even days and still do not get that soft. Make sure to purchase whole, raw buckwheat groats, not the toasted kind known as kashi.

2 c. buckwheat groats, soaked for at least 1 hour (will yield about 3 1/2 c.)
3/4 c. maple syrup (if not sweet enough I sometimes also add a little honey or agave nectar)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (or more, to taste)
2 packets stevia
2 tsp. sea salt
(I also sometimes add some organic maple extract flavor if not "maple-y" enough for me)

Place the soaked buckwheat groats in a fine-mesh colander to drain. Rinse with water to get rid of extra starchiness. (This takes a few rinsings--rinse until the rinsed water is no longer "slippery")

Place in the bowl of a food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Pulse until very well combined but not thoroughly pureed. It should look somewhat like soupy oatmeal.

Divide between two Teflex-lined dehydrator trays and spread to about 1/8 inch thickness. Dehydrate at 115F for 8-12 hours or until the top is dry to the touch and the Teflex peels away easily. The crispies should be quite brittle at this point, so it would be hard to flip it over all in one piece--the best way is to lift up pieces and flip them over individually. (I just put another mesh lined dehydrator tray on top and flip both trays over and take off the top and slide it back in the dehydrator) Continue dehydrating for an additional few hours, or until they are completely dry and crunchy. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container, or keep in the fridge to maintain maximum freshness, where they should last up to a few weeks.

(This cereal is delicious! When people try it their eyes light up and they exclaim "I love this!" and usually demand the recipe! I have not eaten this as a cereal yet, I enjoy it too much as a snack "as is". This is one of my favorite traveling foods. I almost always quadruple this recipe. When making a huge batch I food process in batches and put everything in a huge bowl and mix everything in by hand.)

Variation: Cocoa Crispies: replace the cinnamon with 2 heaping T. of organic cocoa powder or carob powder.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What do your kids eat? Are they raw/vegan also?

This is a valid question. There are two main theories.
1: For the entire family to go raw/vegan together.
2: For just those interested in changing to raw/vegan do so. I vote for the latter, personally.

I think the most important thing is not what everybody eats, but that the family eats together in love and harmony and support of each other.
My kids are older so they can make their own meals which is nice. My husband is on a low cholesterol diet. My son can eat anything. My daughter is wheat free/gluten free (which I am too). When it comes right down to it we've been preparing 2 or 3 types of meals for awhile but it wasn't a big deal so I never thought about it too much.

  Health has always been important to me so the family is used to me eating "weird things".I never made a fuss about anyone else joining me. I would make a green smoothie or a raw/vegan dish and I would always offer to share with anyone. Usually for the green smoothies the answer would be a big NO because it looked scary. When they saw me enjoying them very much and seeing  improvement in healthy ways they were willing to try a little sip. For the kids, I would put in a little more fruit than I normally would (the average ratio I use is 1/2 greens, 1/2 fruit). Actually I would start out with all fruit and they loved it, and then I would ask their permission to add a little bit of greens, or I would take my regular smoothie and just add more fruit and blend it again. Sometimes I would add a couple of pitted dates or agave nectar to it to sweeten it a little. They really got hooked on them and they love the convenience and speed in which a snack or a meal can be made--including a quick rinse for clean-up. Now, they usually don't mind the regular smoothie and they are amazed that it tastes okay! Just a little side note: A regular blender is adequate for green smoothies but with a high speed blender the quality of the smoothie goes way up and we all got spoiled with the new blender--so much so that when my daughter was going away to college we purchased her own blender so she could take it with her. Actually I got a deal on e-bay, I purchased a Blend-tec base with 2 blender carafes. This way all I have to do is buy another base and I got 2 high speed blenders for a reasonable price and the kids can each have one. God provides--thank you!

I have never forced anyone to adopt this lifestyle. My daughter, on her own, decided to try eating more raw/vegan dishes and smoothies (which she likes to share with her friends) and she started feeling more healthy and energetic too. She likes to experiment on her own in the kitchen making raw dishes which she's willing to share with the rest of us (thank you!, yummy!).

The cost of eating  healthy foods is expensive.  I suggest to people to start small. Just do what you can. It's never too late to start.

What we've always done  since the kids were very young is that we would require them with every meal they had to have one fruit or vegetable of their choice before dessert. The kids had one friend that liked this idea so much that when she went home she carried on the tradition with them also.

We've always made it a point to have healthy snacks around: cut up veggies (with Ranch dressing, their favorite), or fresh fruit.

It's also important for the parents to set the good example and eat as many healthy foods as they can. I like to tell my kids that good health is not just for them it's for future generations. I'm doing this for my grand-kids and I appreciate their support!

You need to do what's right for you and your family. I suggest to people to gather as much information as they can and decide for themselves what to do next. Good luck and have fun--keep it simple!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A very helpful link to a raw food community!

This is a very helpful website for people that are curious about, or interested in raw and living foods.

<a href="http://www.living-foods.com">Click Here to Visit:<br><img src="http://www.living-foods.com/images/livingfoods.gif" width="433" height="72" border="0" alt="Click here to Visit Living-Foods.com"></a>

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Raw Vegan Ice Cream

Here is one of our favorite Raw Vegan Ice Cream recipes I found on Recipezaar
 (Julie's notes are in parenthesis)
I usually double this recipe! Enjoy!


Raw Vegan Ice Cream
By Mom2CuteBoys on December 20, 2007 from Recipezaar
Total Time: 1 hr
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 c. raw cashews, soaked in filtered water 4 hours (or more)
2 c. young coconut meat
1 c. filtered water, as needed (Julie uses the coconut water)
1 c. agave nectar (preferably raw!) (Julie uses maple syrup when making carob flavored ice cream)
1/4 c. coconut butter or 1/4 c. expeller pressed coconut oil (liquefied) (I've had better luck adding this in a thin stream as the blender is blending)
2 T. vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped or double your vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 heaping T. lecithin (for extra smoothness)
4 heaping T. carob powder OR cacao powder

Directions:
   1. 1 In Vita-Mix, blend all ingredients (except cashews and approximately 1/2 the water)

until creamy and smooth.
   2. 2 Add water as needed to keep the mixture circulating through the blender.
   3. 3 Lastly add the drained cashews and blend till smooth again and a lot of air is whipped

into the mixture.
   4. 4 After that, "chill in the fridge and process in an ice cream maker according to the

manufacturer's directions" is the final instruction on the recipe I base mine on. However, I

don"t have an ice cream maker at the moment, so I just whip it up good in the Vita-Mix and pour

it into little cups and freeze as is. (This is what I do too) If I've put enough coconut oil/butter into the mix, it

will be plenty creamy and spoonable out of the freezer.
   5. 5 VARIATIONS.
   6. 6 I ALWAYS make chocolate because that"s my favorite! -- I add raw cacao powder until

it's chocolately enough for me in the coconut and agave mixture.
   7. 7 Another variation is adding fresh peppermint leaves and stirring in raw cacao nibs for

mint chocolate chip.
   8. 8 You can also add any kind of fruit.
   9. 9 YOUNG COCONUT MEAT, WHAT'S THAT? These are available at Whole Foods or ethnic grocery

stores, generally. The best price on them is at the ethnic stores. In St Lou they range from

$1.59 each to $3.99 each for the same kind of coconut depending on where you buy them. These

are not the small, brown hairy looking coconuts, but the shaved white big coconuts. The meat

inside them is soft and gelatinous. There are instructional videos on YouTube on how to open a young coconut. You use a cleaver to cut a small square in the top, and

drink the coconut water out with a straw (or dump it into a glass). It's full of electrolytes

-- nature's Gatorade. You can also use it in the ice cream instead of filtered water. When the

water is emptied out you hack the coconut in half and scoop out the meat. The amount of meat in

the coconut varies greatly -- try to pick coconuts that seem heavy for their size. I will drink

the water and freeze the meat until I have enough meat to make the recipe and then defrost it

while I soak the cashews. It does require some effort especially when you haven't done it

before, but it's worth it!
  10. 10 ENJOY! :).


Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/raw-vegan-ice-cream-273078#ixzz1DDdeIDjL

Friday, February 4, 2011

Organic or not? And healthy on a budget

This depends on where your priorities are. I tend to be picky about some produce but not others. Greens I always look for organic. Other produce is kind of a toss-up. I admit it is more expensive to eat healthier and  I also know that people need to be realistic and practical.

Just a couple of thoughts:

Wild edibles in your yard! Especially if you don't spray any weed killers or pesticides. Know your plants though--there are many good books out there on this subject or you can ask someone who knows for sure. If you have any doubt about any plant in the yard don't eat it. My favorite is dandelion greens! And plantain and clover, dock, & lambs quarters. And they're free! My favorite price! I must say that most people are trying to get rid of these weeds esp. dandelions and I'm encouraging them to grow. Actually I just take scissors and cut the tops off so they will continue to grow. I bring my colander out with me and load it up with greens and everything's ready to be washed and drained. I've gotten permission from the neighbors to have their wild edibles too! In fact they were thankful to get rid of them!  I grow parsley and mint in my yard along with some basil. Parsley is excellent in green smoothies as is cilantro.

The other thing is to buy in bulk! I love to get my greens at Sam's Club or BJ's wholesale club in the big tub. Sometimes people are lucky enough to have a Whole Foods store with bulk greens that you can bag up yourself. Maybe some friends are willing to go in together and get a case of something at your local wholesalers. In Manchester, NH there is Granite State Fruit. This store is open to the public. It's cheaper but you have to buy the whole case. I also like Shaw's supermarket. They occasionally have ripe fruit that is reduced for quick sale. One time I went in there and they had 3 huge boxes of ripe bananas for 20 cents a pound. I bought an entire box for about $4. I went home and peeled all of them and sliced them into chunks and froze them in ziptop bags. I would have bought all three boxes but I only have so much room in my freezers! Besides, I wanted to leave some for other people. Shaw's is one of the few stores that mark down their produce.

Some people have fruit trees in their yards but don't want to bother picking the fruit. If you notice that this fruit is going to waste and is just going to go on a compost heap anyway, ask the homeowner if they'll let you have the fruit if you're willing to pick it for them.

If you like to go to Farmer's Markets go near closing time. They may be willing to lower their prices just so they don't have to pack it up again. I know one lady that expressed an interest in wild edibles to a farmer and was willing to pay $20 for a big load of nettles, dandelion greens, lambs quarters, miner's lettuce etc. every week.  He was happy to oblige--and other people started asking for them too so he continued to offer them for sale.

I am a huge fan of bulk buying. I buy online in large quantities for certain items. NutsOnline is my friend! They have tons of excellent quality items and they ship it to your home FedEx in one or two days. Tropical Traditions has coconut oil in bulk. Amazon.com has subscribe and save items that they will ship to your house automatically and charge your credit card. The prices are really good and you save on shipping! Shop for produce in season and know your prices. Be on the lookout for good sales on things you use a lot of. Buy locally, and organic when feasible.

Have a garden if possible! I have gardened successfully from five gallon buckets on my deck. I grew tomatoes, kale, dark lettuces, sugar snap peas, & collard greens. We grow patches of strawberries and have 5 blueberry bushes, 2 peach trees, & 1 pear tree in the yard which we all utilize. We like to go out into the yard and "graze". I don't possess a green thumb so I make sure to get hardy starter plants for the tomatoes and good quality seeds from a  reputable source. For the fruit trees we used Stark Brothers and for the blueberry bushes we used Agway. We have a small yard so we looked for self pollinating trees and trees designed for smaller yards.

Just do what you can to bring health into your home--even if it's only a little bit! Apples and bananas tend to always be available and spinach--there's your smoothie! Rotate/vary your greens so that you get more variety.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What do you do when traveling?

Be prepared! I travel with a personal size blender, a flexible cutting board, a small knife in a protective sheath (yes this is in my checked luggage, can't carry this stuff on.This is to make green smoothies when we get there. I also find a grocery store when we arrive and pick up some produce and dark greens and fresh fruit. Check to see if your hotel has a little refrigerator to store your treasures.

I carry with me: trail mix, raw/vegan cookies, crackers, & snacks (like granola) that are portable and easy to grab from my back pack which I carry on. Anything that is fragile like cookies or crackers I put in a zip top bag inside a tupperware container. Having my own food with me is comforting because I'm not at the mercy of the airlines--it's also cheaper and healthier to bring your own snacks. Beware of bringing fresh produce with you through security--sometimes they will confiscate it. Bring enough snacks to share with the people around you so they won't get jealous!

When you travel stay hydrated!!! I bring an empty water bottle with me through security and fill it from a water fountain on the other side (cause I'm frugal). Sometimes I'll splurge and buy a bottle of water and re-use it. The flight attendant also has water--take advantage of it and drink water whenever you can!

Many of the larger airports have kiosks offering fresh fruit and salads now which is nice! Thank you! Come to think of it, the smaller ones too are catching on. I noticed even at Dunkin' Donuts they had bananas for sale. YAY!

I'm thankful there are more and more healthy choices when traveling!

What do you do when you go out to eat?

My thoughts are, it depends on where we go. Every restaurant I know of has some kind of salad which can be served without dressing (my preference). I like to bring a tomato and an avocado with me in my purse and I'll add these to a salad. I like to bring my own salt--my favorite is the Pink Himalayan sea salt. Mexican restaurants have pico de gallo which can be put on a salad, guacamole, chips  and salsa (yes, I know these are cooked, it's not the end of the world). I have made my own raw/vegan tortilla chips and brought those and enjoyed the salsa and guacamole that way.

Ruby Tuesdays is one of the only places I know of that still has a superb salad bar. They have spring mix, baby spinach, and romaine mixes, along with the iceberg (yawn). I load my plate with the greens and add tomatoes, raw mushrooms, green pepper slices, grated carrots, grapes, etc. and then back at my table I pull out my trusty avocado and add that. People are always impressed how beautiful, easy, and healthy it looks. If I don't have an avocado with me I order 2 sides of guacamole dip and add that to the salad. It's excellent!

Any restaurant has lemon wedges you can squeeze over a salad. Most places have fresh fruit or a salad bar. Most buffets I've seen have excellent choices like cut up veggies/fruits and yummy toppings that are healthy: grape tomatoes, hard boiled egg (if you're feeling festive), raw sunflower seeds, olive oil and vinegar--be creative!

I've also been in fancier restaurants where they tend to be a little more accommodating. I have a little talk with our server and explain what I'd like and the chef can go wild creating, and then I ask them to charge me creatively too. One place we were in was amazing. The waiter had me write down some suggestions and the chef had fun creating a gorgeous plate of dark greens, sliced raw veggies, sliced fruit arranged very beautifully. Everyone else at the table looked a little jealous of what I was eating and I jokingly told them "Get your own!". 

I always try to have some nuts/seeds in a baggie in my purse for emergencies or as a salad add on. (I know, I had to get a bigger purse). It also is nice to have something to snack on when everyone else is eating their appetizers or hot rolls. Or have them bring you a side salad as an appetizer so you won't be tempted.

Some people feel sorry for me and think it's restrictive or difficult to eat like this. I look at it this way: I focus on all the things I CAN eat not what I can't eat. I don't have to eat this way I CHOOSE to eat this way. I am willing to put in a little effort because I feel so healthy and alive and energetic when I feed and nourish my body this way. I also am not a strict fanatic about it. Once in awhile I will have a cooked vegetable (like at Thanksgiving dinner at a relative's house), I'll enjoy it very much and praise and thank the host very graciously.

Another strategy is to have a healthy snack before you go out so that you're not ravenously hungry (that's when it gets dangerous!)  I say be prepared and you're ready for anything! Good luck!

What do you eat everyday?

Hi everyone! Many people ask me this. I eat very simply usually. I do like to experiment with more complicated raw recipes when I have a little more time to work with. But daily, on average I am a "grazer". I do better with small meals throughout the day.


Breakfast: one or more of the following
Green smoothie (this is a staple for me! Excellent nutrition in 5 minutes) I sip this throughout the day
Fresh fruit (bananas are fast!)
Raw/vegan ice cream (yes! it's healthier than processed cereals!)
Raw/vegan cookies or crackers that I've made or other raw/vegan dessert :D

Snack:
Fruit or veggie or green smoothie or nuts/seed/raisins

Lunch:
Raw/vegan entree I've had from the night before
Avocado
Green salad (the darker green leafier the better) with tomato and avocado, add nuts/seeds for protein
Raw/vegan snacks I've brought

Snack:
Fruit, veggie, nuts/seed/raisins,

Supper:
Anything that's handy and simple
Green smoothie


Basically: Any fresh fruit, any dark green leafy, raw vegetables, anything that God made and is still in the original packaging--as unprocessed as possible. If it has a list of 'ingredients' I try to stay away from it if possible. The trick for me is eat before I get ravenous (hence the small meals). This way I stay eating healthy things instead of reaching for whatever. When I have time I make big batches of something and dehydrate or freeze it--like raw/vegan pancakes for example--then when I'm packing my lunch I can grab fruits, avocado, tomato and a package of whatever is ready to go. I eat things that are handy and fast, stuff that I can snack on between clients--especially the green smoothies!

Even if someone wanted to do just one thing healthier I would suggest adding green smoothies. If that's all you can do--it's the best gift for your body. You can pack a HUGE amount of excellent nutrition in a fast, convenient, portable medium. Kids like it too! If you can't overlook the color put it in a travel mug and drink it like that! Start small and be gentle with yourself. Have fun!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Welcome!

Welcome to my blog!
A lot of people have asked me about my dietary changes and are interested to know what I eat and how it has changed my life and how I went about my adventure. So, to address these issues I have decided to make a blog to hopefully answer some questions to my family and friends.

 I have always eaten as well and healthy as possible but in March 2010 the food that I have enjoyed for years did not appeal to me at all. The thought of continuing the way I was going did not interest me. I was leaning towards salads, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds. I must interject here that my parents were way ahead of their time. I learned about green smoothies and I remember that my mom used to make us these when we were kids. She would take pineapple juice and put in the blender with as many dark green leafy things as possible. It looked a  little scary but all you tasted was pineapple juice. I thank my parents for being "weird" and for being interested in health and alternative methods of healing.

I learned about green smoothies and quickly became addicted. I would take my blender and put in some water and as it was running I would put in any raw fruit I had on hand, chopped, and the most dark green leafy vegetables I could fit and blend till as smooth as possible. I had always kind of toyed with the idea of blending salads, because of sensitive teeth, but didn't know how to go about it. I found great info on YouTube and some excellent recipes here and there online. There is a ton of information out there which I soaked up like a sponge.

I jumped into raw/veganism with both feet and enjoyed improvement in several ways immediately: more energy, better mood, clothes fitting better. I had been following this lifestyle for about 2 months when I started sleeping at night. This was HUGE for me because I have never really slept well for as long as I can remember. I would sleep for awhile and then be awake for awhile. Over the years I had learned to make peace with myself after a fashion. I have even stumped sleep clinic doctors which told me I wake up every hour and that I slept "normally". So when I actually started sleeping and dreaming I was extremely thankful. It could have been coincidence but I don't think so. And if it turns out to be a placebo effect--who cares?

I have had people and friends concerned for my health which I appreciate, especially as the weight started coming off , (23 pounds), which was a pleasant surprise. I say thank you and I love you and I have done research to back this up. This way of eating works for me. I have also experienced an increased spirituality and closeness to nature. My moods are happier and calmer.

I love experimenting in the kitchen and making raw recipes.

Some people have commented that this way of living would be too hard for them. I am not here to judge anyone or tell anyone how to live or what to eat. I am not qualified to do that. I suggest to people to do the research on their own and decide what level of health they desire. I might shock people if I say I have had a piece of cheese occasionally or an egg (cooked, of course), or some simple cooked rice. I am interested in listening to what my body needs. I am interested in 100% health. That's why I say I'm 90-95% raw/vegan because I don't believe in being fanatical about it.

People have also asked about kitchen equipment/tools. I must mention here that I have  burned out 2 "regular" blenders and have since then purchased a Blendtec blender which I LOVE! I have also burned out a "regular" dehydrator and have purchased a 9 tray Excalibur which, after research, have decided it is the cadillac of dehydrators. I love these tools that have blessed my life. I'm thankful!

I have learned to cherish and nourish and love my body. This is a personal journey. I wish you happiness as well!