Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Last night I made Christmas dinner for a friend of mine.  It was probably about 95% clean and healthy, which is pretty darned good to my thinking!

I haven't made Christmas dinner in a long time--I don't have the space in my apartment unfortunately to host a dinner, so friends over for dinner tend to take the form of "friend" over for dinner instead.  That's OK--so long as I get to cook!

Anyway, I wanted to make a dinner that was also more on the "old fashioned" side.  Not figgy pudding or anything, but something that people may have made back when there weren't processed foods, when marshmallows weren't considered a topping for vegetables, and food actually was good for the body, instead of harmful.

So, what I made was a naturally-raised chicken, which I stuffed with fresh rosemary and sage, and a hot lemon (which I boiled whole, with the potatoes before putting the potatoes to roast with some rosemary in the oven) which I pierced.  Normally I cook my chickens breast-side-down, so the meat is really juicy and tender, because I don't eat the skin anyway, but I thought maybe my friend would like some crispy skin, so I made it in the conventional way.  I sprayed the skin with some olive oil, and then used some sea salt, fresh-ground black pepper, and some fresh rosemary.  So simple but also SO delicious and tender. 

I made a roasted vegetable pot-pie, using the vegetables shown in the image above right.  I also roasted a whole head of garlic, and added it with the vegetables, which you can see on the middle right edge of the image.

To that, I roasted 3 types of baby potatoes (white skin, red skin, and purple!), clean stuffing (I added 2x the seasoning the recipe called for, because I like my stuffing with lots of flavour, and also cooked it outside of the bird), and finished it off with an apple/cranberry pie.  I only used a crust on the top, as I did with the vegetable pot pie.  That was a concession I was happy to make--half the crust, but I still get crust! lol

I had apple cider mulling on the stove when my friend walked in.  As soon as she entered, she exclaimed how good my home smelled!  I used the Jamie Olive recipe the link is to, but didn't add pomegranate seeds, and of course no sugar.  It's quite sweet enough!

All of it was totally delicious, and almost totally clean!  Amazing!

We each have another serving of Christmas dinner to enjoy tonight, and I'll make chicken stock out of the leftover bones.  So the joy just keeps coming!


Creamy Root Vegetable Casserole with Roasted Garlic


Chop into large pieces, turnips, carrots, leeks, potatoes.  The amount will depend on how many servings you need--make sure to increase the other ingredients too if you're making more. :)

Spray aluminum foil with olive oil. Place chunks of vegetables on it, and sprinkle again with olive oil, and sea salt. Optional—roast with fresh rosemary.

Roast root vegetables, potatoes and garlic, until about halfway done.

In a medium (or large, whatever you need) combine 1 cup chicken stock with fresh thyme, lemon juice, salt and pepper, nutritional yeast and roasted garlic, and simmer for a few minutes.  Add the roasted vegetables.

In a small bowl, dissolve 2 tbsp arrowroot powder or soft whole wheat pastry flower.  Add to pot, stirring until combined.  Simmer over medium heat until it begins to thicken.  Slowly add in 1 cup 1% milk, then nutmeg.  Simmer on medium-low heat for a few moments.

Using a metal sieve and a bowl, drain some of the sauce from the veggie mixture, and sauce set aside.  This will allow the veggies to be firmer, and you can use the sauce as a gravy!!

Pour veggies into a baking dish.  Heat at 375F until heated through.  If using pasty, cook until the pasty is a lovely golden brown.


Lovely Apple-Cranberry Dessert

1 sweet apple, like Pink Lady
1 tart apple, like Granny Smith
2 tbsp no-sugar-added cranberries (not Craisins--they're full of sugar)
1 tbsp lemon juice (or to taste)
2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or to taste
1 tbsp cinnamon (or to taste)
Pinch of ground clove
Pinch of fresh-ground nutmeg (try grating your own nutmeg--I guarantee you'll never go back to the pre-ground kind!)

Simmer all ingredients in a saucepan or pot for a few minutes to let the flavours meld.  Pour into a serving dish.  If you're adding pastry, bake at 375F until the pastry is golden brown.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

To my mind, if  a healthy version of an unhealthy recipe doesn't taste like the original, then it's not really a healthier version.  Cream of mushroom soup MUST be creamy and mushroomy, otherwise it's pointless. 

I've always loved cream soups, especially cream of mushroom.  Unfortunately, it can run the gamut for taste--sometimes it tastes like it's made from a package, and other times, though it may be delicious, it's also terrible for you!  Cream of mushroom of course has a use in more than just the bowl--many comfort-food recipes call for it, like casseroles. 

I hadn't considered making those kind of comfort-food meals...until I came up with this recipe!  It's totally delish and super easy!!

Clean Cream of Mushroom Soup

Ingredients


•1/4 lb dried assorted mushrooms

•1 cup chicken broth

•1 tsp olive oil

•1 cup homo milk

•2 tbsp whole wheat pastry (soft) flour

•1 tbsp Braggs Liquid Amenos/All-Purpose Soy Seasoning

Instructions

Now, I know you're going to see that the milk I say to use is whole milk. In cream soups, one of the things that I think is absolutely necessary is enough of a creamy texture and taste. Of course using cream is out of the question, but to my great surprise and delight, using homo milk gives enough of that creaminess, without sacrificing it being clean. This recipe is 3 servings, so the milk is a measly 2.6 grams of total fat (1.5 sat fat) per serving. To my mind, it's SO worth it!

Make sure you don't accidentally pour out the mushroom soaking liquid. It'll add some serious mushroominess to this soup, which in my opinion is VERY important!

Ingredients

1/4 lb dried assorted mushrooms (1/2 lb soaked). Make sure they're very mushroomy-smelling.

1 cup chicken broth (no sugar added, low sodium is good. Home made is best)

1 tsp. olive oil

1 cup homo (3.25) milk

2 tbsp wheat pastry flour

1 tbsp. Braggs Liquid Amenos (it's called Braggs All-Purpose Liquid Soy Seasoning here in Canada)

Directions

For this recipe, you will need:

• 1 large soup pot

Step 1 – Quickly rinse mushrooms, then soak in 1 cup water. DO NOT THROW OUT SOAKING LIQUID.

Step 2 – Chop mushrooms into different sizes, then saute the mushrooms over medium heat in the oil until semi-cooked.

Step 3 – Add a couple tbsp of the soaking liquid. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and saute. Most or all of the liquid will be soaked up by the flour. Add the Bragg's Liquid Aminos and saute for a few moments.

Step 4 – Pour the chicken broth into your soup pot.

Step 5 – Add milk and the rest of the mushroom soaking liquid (adds a LOT of flavour!).

Step 6 – Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.

Step 7 -- Move the pot from the burner, and let cool for a few moments before serving.

That's it!!

Tips & Bonus Information

My personal tips after making this recipe: Remember "bring to a boil" means that you DON'T actually allow it to boil. Only bring it to the boiling point, and then turn it down. Keep an eye on it, and stir every couple of minutes. It's a quick recipe, so keep near the stove. Also, it makes the texture more interesting if you chop the mushrooms unevenly. I think so anyway! Serve with a salad or some other veggies, a lovely piece of crusty whole grain bread, and you're set!

Yield: About 3 servings as a side

Preparation Time: About 20 minutes soaking time, plus about 5 minutes chopping for mushrooms

Cooking Time: Couple minutes saute, couple to bring to a boil, then 10 to simmer, and cooling time so maybe 20 minutes

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's Friday, which means that all the produce which remains in my fridge needs to be used, to make room for more.  This week it's kind of a lot of stuff for some reason, and while some of them are good to eat on their own, like the cauliflower (steamed cauliflower...YUUUUUM), making something like a stir-fry or veggie soup out of the remainder might be a little weird.  And the apples are only semi-firm and a bit manky...

What to do?  Oh what to do??

Why, make juice of course!

It's really hard to make juice that is gross.  I suppose it's possible, but I haven't done it yet, despite often throwing whatever is in the fridge together in a glass.

Juice #1 was an apple, and 1/2 a head of celery, leaves and all.  I drank that right away, and it was delish!

Just #2 made a lot more than one glass worth, so I poured it into a carafe and put it in the fridge.  This morning I had that, and poached eggs with hot sauce.  I forgot to put ginger in it unfortunately, but it was still delish!  I just love fresh-made veg juice with some fruit in it.  It's so full of healthy goodness!  About 30 minutes after that breakfast, I felt FANTASTIC.  My body really thanks me when I pack it full of nutrients!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I only have a moment, but I made the most FABULOUS clean cream of asparagus soup yesterday, and I just had to share it!

I used a VERY unhealthy chef-created recipe as a "flavour template", and went from there.  To me, if it's a cream of whatever soup, it MUST be creamy, and MUST be flavourful  I'm very picky about that kind of thing--I don't want to have a "light" version of some things, since the light version is most of the time NOT a good comparison.  If it doesn't taste anything like the original, are you REALLY going to eat the healthier version instead of the original?  I don't think so! 

Anyway, here's the cleaned up recipe.  It turned out SO FLAVOURFUL and WONDERFUL!  And you know if I say it's fantastic, then it is!!

Clean Cream of Asparagus Soup
4 Servings

1.5 lbs fresh asparagus

2 cups no-salt-added or low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1.5 tbsp nutritional yeast

½ cup minced white sweet onion

1 cup sliced leeks, tender part only, thoroughly cleaned **

1 tbsp garlic, minced

Sea salt to taste

¼ tsp fresh ground pepper

2 cups homo milk

1 tsp olive oil

1 tbsp olive oil based margarine

1/4 tsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

Directions

1. Snap the asparagus spears at their natural separation point. Set aside the tops, and don’t throw away the bottoms.

2. In a medium pot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the woody lower stems, lower the heat to medium-low or low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes to release the asparagus flavour into the stock. Discard asparagus bottoms.

3. In another medium pot, heat olive oil and olive oil margarine over medium to medium-high heat. Add leeks and onions, and sauté until soft—about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant—about 1 minute. Do not allow to brown.

4. Add leeks, onions and garlic to pot with stock. With an immersion blender, carefully blend until smooth (or relatively so…don’t go crazy trying to blend every last bit).

5. Add milk, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, fresh ground pepper, nutritional yeast, and sea salt if using (taste before adding).

6. Chop the asparagus tops you set aside earlier, into small pieces, about ¼ inch thick. Add to soup pot.

7. Heat at medium-low heat, covered, and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, or until asparagus is cooked.

8. With an immersion blender, blend to desired consistency. I like my asparagus soup to be only partly blended, with quite a few pieces of asparagus still in it.

9. Remove from heat, and pour into serving bowl, or individual bowls. Serve with crusty whole grain, if desired.

Nutritional yeast is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins, and is a complete protein.

** I find it’s easiest to clean leeks by slicing them into rounds, and then put them in a collander. Separate the slices into rings. When they’re all separated, rinse thoroughly.**

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What’s for dinner? What’s in season? Why am I asking questions?!


I live in a Ontario Canada, where the growing season in clear: A flurry of activity, followed by a rush of lovely seasonal, local foods, finally culminating with the autumn harvest—the last of what nature has to offer--hearty, robust produce we’ll make into stews, casseroles, or grate into crunchy salads.

As the growing season progresses, the produce goes from fairy, light-as-a-feather foods like fiddleheads (available in season for just 2 weeks!) through strawberries, tomatoes and peppers, celery and broccoli, and now, when many folks think the season is over, we’re into things like cantaloupe, carrots, kale (love kale!), leeks, pears, apples, potatoes and winter squash!

Have you ever tasted a super-fresh potato, right out of the ground? Well, washed and cooked, but have you? It’s an eye-opening experience! This time last year I was at a friend’s house for dinner, and she went to her family’s farm to literally pick what we would be having with our meal. Among other things, she picked lovely tiny red potatoes.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking—it’s a potato. What’s so great about a potato? But I had no idea what a truly fresh potato actually tasted like. It was fantastic! All it needed was a tiny bit of sea salt, because there was so much flavour. In a potato!

Strawberries are another example. Off-season strawberries from fields hundreds or thousands of kilometers away, may LOOK like strawberries, but they sure don’t taste like them. And the nutrition also suffers. They most often taste like water, and many of the nutrients are lost because they’re picked before they’re ripe, so they survive the trip. Don’t let me get started on the sprays used to keep them “fresh” on their journey…

Local foods in season also last longer. Have you ever bought something from the produce section of your supermarket, only to have it start to rot in just a few days? It’s annoying, it’s expensive…and it makes me wonder just how old this “fresh” produce really is. If it came from a long way away, it’s likely at least a week old. I’ve had carrots go soft in 2 or 3 days which I bought form the supermarket. Now I buy my carrots from the farmer’s market, and they not only have a far superior taste, they last for WEEKS!!

You may be thinking to yourself, “yes, but how am I supposed to know what’s in season and when, in my area?” Simple. Google “produce season” and your location. So for me it would be “produce season Ontario”.

For Americans for example, I’ve come up with this rather helpful link, which is a state-specific seasonal produce guide.

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I have to tell you, my idea about food has changed dramatically. I’ve been going to the farmer’s market for a few years now, but I now refuse to buy things from non-local sources, if I can help it. I seek out local dairy, local meats, local produce. And I try to eat as much as I can in season.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a big freezer in which to freeze and store fresh local produce, for consumption during the winter. Nor do I have room to store jars of preserves, or dehydrated veggies and fruit. So unfortunately that means I’ll have to make do with what offers during the winter. There are some local greenhouses which have a crop during the winter, which of course I’m all over, but that’s pretty much it. The way I figure it though, I will do all I can. I use biodegradable soup and cleaners. I don’t waste water, nor do I waste electricity. I take the bus, and car-pool. I eat organic products whenever I reasonably can (aka they don’t cost 10X as much).

Next growing season, I plan to try my darnedest to eat 95% in-season produce! If I plan ahead, I shouldn’t have much trouble. I say mostly because there may be times when I want nothing more than a mango…which isn’t local. But I’ll definitely be doing my part!

So…what are YOU doing, to do your part?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Recently I've been reading a book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  It's about a family, who decided to feed themselves on products grown close to home (often literally raised by them), and what they learned from the experience.

I'm about 2/3 of the way through it, and I already know I'm looking at food differently.  I already had looked at food differently, after watching Food, Inc, and and before that Supersize Me, but now, after reading most of the book, my food paradigm has changed again.

This time around, I'm starting to look at food in a much more minute way--not only where does it come from, but also how was it raised, what was its life like (if it's an animal or comes from one).

Recently, I was speaking to a lady I'd met at the Can Fit Pro conference I attended, and she mentioned that she now buys different eggs--ones from chickens which have never been injected with any antibiotics, etc.  I said "what do you mean?"  She said she did some research, and found that even local eggs can have a lot of antibiotics etc in them.  Now, I'd never considered that eggs would be full of stuff like that.  I tend to try to not take pharmaceuticals unless I really need to, since they tend to be kind of harsh to the system.  Antibiotics particularly I tend to avoid, and would much rather go the pro biotic route if I can.  Traditional western medicine does have its place, but to my mind I'd rather be as healthy as possible, and thus avoid getting sick in the first place if I can.

Anyway, she said that the difference is quite noticeable both in how the eggs look (particularly the raw yokes being clear), and of course the flavour.  So, I looked for the kind she said she buys, and tried them.  I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that there is a HUGE difference!  I couldn't believe it.  So now I eat drug-free eggs!

Another way that my paradigm shift with regards to food has changed, showed today.  I'd gone to a local store, where I knew I could get good-quality whole chickens.  They're a bit more expensive, but the flavour difference is HUGE.  Which is alarming quite frankly!

I went there hoping that they would have some organic chickens, which they did.  But I saw a sign saying that they're now carrying chickens from the same local farm the organic chickens are from, who are raised "traditionally".  They're fed herbs to ward off illnesses and infections, and are fed actual feed chickens evolved to eat--rather than the corn that so many "meat" animals are raised on.  The only difference from those chickens and the organic ones is the organic certification.  And the price.

Before reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I wouldn't have known what that meant, and would have gone for the organic chicken, just because I knew what that was.  NOW, however, armed with that little snipped I learned from the author and HER heritage chickens which she raised traditionally, I bought the new (old) fangled one!

I decided that I was going to make stock out of it too, and had an eureka moment!  If I wasn't going to eat the skin anyway...why not just boil it in the stock pot with all the herbs and bits of veg?  Wouldn't that make it totally tender and flavourful, and put the stock 90 minutes or so ahead of the game?  So I did!  And it's delish!!

The rest of the happy chicken is in the stock pot, to continue to boil with the lid on for about another hour, and then I'll take the lid off and let it simmer way down.  If I were going to make chicken (or vegetable) soup tomorrow, I'd just simmer it to the point where it makes good broth.  However, I want to boil it way down, so it'll be thick and super-flavourful, and then freeze it in individual ice cubes.  Those cubes can then be used as stock for whatever, later down the line. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

So, I hate tomatoes with the passion of 1,000 hells.  Really, really truly. 

But sometimes a recipe calls for sun-dried tomatoes, and it can't really be made without them.  If they have enough flavour, I'm OK to add them to the recipe, but it's kind of a crap shoot on if they're too tomato-y for me to handle.  Especially when they're raw, which is how sun-dried tomatoes are.

It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago, that I could easily make them with Arthur (my Excalibur dehydrator), and control the flavour.  And it would be cheaper, as I'd get more, and more convenient, since every other time I need them, it seems they've falled into some sort of alternate dimension because they're nowhere to be found! 

Anyway, I bought a pack of organic grape tomatoes, and marinated them for 24 hours in cold-pressed olive oil, garlic, onion, and basil.  I didn't add any sea salt because it wasn't like I was going to snack on them, and I'd rather add salt to the dish, if need be.

I set them dehydrating at 105F for about 36 hours, checking on their progress periodically, poking at them like a hen watching her eggs.

When they were sufficiently dry, then turned out like this!

And I tried one!

And then another!!

And didn't spew!  They were actually tasty (for tomatoes)!!  My sun-dried tomato babies turned out!  I'm so proud!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Last weekend I went to the Can Fit Pro Conference and Trade Show in Toronto, Ontario.

I'd been asked to be an Eat Clean Ambassador by staff at Robert Kennedy Publishing, the producers of, among other things, Oxygen Magazine and Clean Eating Magazine

It was insane but in a totally cool and fun way!  I found out after it was done, that we were by far the busiest booth.  It doesn't surprise me in the least--Clean Eating ROCKS!

The pic to the left was taken during a very rare lull.  There were only a few people around the booth, and see all the others in the background?  They're lined up to see Tosca Reno, the face of Eating Clean.  She had a LOT of fans!

I decided to go to Toronto the day before, because they needed me to be ready to go by 830am.  I don't live in Toronto, and the idea of having to leave home at 6am, and then be "on" for nine hours straight was strangely not very enticing!  So I decided to stay at the Royal York Hotel, because it's not much more money than other places downtown (and less than some!), and it was only a 5 minute walk to the convention centre. 

I knew that I didn't want to end my super squeaky clean month early, so I had looked online last week at what might be around as far as food and restaurants, and found that in St. Lawrence Market, there is a raw raw food vendor!  So that's where I went for my dinner!

It was a burrito filled with raw chili, avocado, and assorted veggies and sprouts.  I also got a fruit smoothie.  YUM!

I also picked up some fruit and veg for the convention.  BUT it was so busy, I barely even realized that time was passing, and only took one 15 minute break in 10 hours! 

I was OK though, 'cause I had a really great and very filling breakfast of steel cut oats with cinnamon compote, and a fresh fruit smoothie.  It had me going for hours!  Gotta love healthy, nutritious breakfasts!

Always eat your breakfast!!

My challenge to myself, to be very clean eating (both raw and cooked) for the month of August has been going very well.  Not one morsel of chocolate, not one bit of sugar has passed my lips!  I no longer take any sort of sweet in my tea, even agave.  I was very surprised that I could easily switch to tea with just skim milk.  Who would have thought it, back in my 4x4 xlg tea days?  Not me, for sure!  I still marvel at it.  Truly.

I've also been marvelling at the fact that it's been MUCH easier than I would ever have thought to not only stay away from sugar, but from the saturated fats that I always crave if I don't have sugar.  And the idea that giving up both for this month would be actually easier, has definitely paid off.  Who would have thought?!

That's not to say that it's all been raw food and roses.  There have been days where it was more difficult to say no--today was one of those days.  I SO wanted some sort of cake--cupcake, slice of cake, didn't care, so long as it also had icing.  Of course I said no.  Thankfully there wasn't any cake around, otherwise it may have been MUCH more difficult, but I didn't try to placate myself with what was available.  I knew that the chocolate bars at my office weren't what I wanted, so there was no point in eating one, especially since I'd be breaking my squeak! 

Last week I wanted nothing more than a sausage breakfast sandwich from Tim Horton's.  Even now as I type "sausage breakfast sandwich" I want one!! They're so good, but so BAD!  NO NO NO! lol

I'm definitely not a breakfast sandwich person.  In fact, I would NEVER have bought one at any point, if I hadn't been told to try one.  I was leery...they're so often just plain NASTY LOOKING.  But I did...and they rock, unfortunately.  I luuurve them, which is very strange since they're just not my thing!  ACH well, what can ya do.  No sense crying about it now...  mmmm....   STOP THAT!!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sniff your screen.  Smell anything?  Maybe if you scratch it and then sniff it.  How 'bout now?  No?  Well that really sucks for you, 'cause my freaking house smells AMAZING!!

Currently in the dehydrator is onion bread.  I've heard rumours all over the raw 'net lately about an angelically-tasty recipe for raw onion bread.  The whispers were that it's the most amazing thing they've ever tasted, that it changed their views on raw food, and that it can perform miracles!

Well, not miracles, that's a fib, but when I ALSO found reference to it in a raw cookbook I was reading, and then was presented with that very recipe I though, "Oh my gosh!  It's pre-ordained!  I must make it, and bring it to Montreal this weekend!"  Carla, if you're reading this, you're in for a TREAT lady!

The recipe is as follows:

Onion Bread (the numbers in () are thirds of the recipe--the amount I made to try it.  It makes about one tray full)

Ingredients:

(1) 3 lg yellow onions

(1/4) 3/4 c flax seed, ground in a high speed blender

(1/4) 3/4 c raw sunflower seeds, ground in a food processor

(2 tbsp) 1/2 c Nama Shoyu or tamari

(5 tbsp) 1/3 c olive oil


Directions:

*  Peel and halve the onions.

*  In a food processor, cut the onions with the slicing disk.

*  Transfer to a large mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and mix until all are    thoroughly combined.

*  Spread 2 cups of mixture evenly on a dehydrator tray with a teflex sheet.

*  Repeat until all the mixture is used. Dehydrate at 100 for 24 hours.

*  Flip the crackers onto a tray with mesh only and remove teflex, and dehydrate another 12 hours. Once dehydrated cut into 9 equal pieces.

It's apparently from the book RAWvolution.  Click here to see how it's made on youtube.
 
I nibbled a piece from a corner, even though it's SO not done.
 
Can you hear them?  Can you hear the angels singing??!! 
 
Oh my great golly!  Even though it's like a day from being done, it's FANTASTIC!  It reminds me quite strongly of onion rings.  You know, that one time you found a place that had the BEST onion rings in the world?  The taste like THAT place!

The next day I brought the bread to work, and it was GONE.  People were exclaiming about it being so good, and one lady said that she "had to walk away" because she'd be back for another piece.  I told her there was nothing unhealthy in it, and that she should feel free to have another, or even a third slice!  This from a raw food poo-pooer!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I woke up this morning, and my first thought--after "Is it seriously morning already?"--was, "mmmm...I could go for a sausage breakfast sandwich!"  It was the morning of Sqeaky Clean Day TWO!  I mean sheesh!

Of course I said no!  All I have to do this month is say no to junk and yes to everything else that's out there.  That's not too hard, right?  Right??

So instead for breakfast, I had no-sugar-added ancient grains cereal with a smidge of raw wildflower honey and 1% milk, and a lovely decaf tea.  Good breakfast!

Mid-morning I had a hard boiled egg and a pear.  Then for lunch I had avocado shrimp ceviche (pictured above).  It was GOOD!  Actually, it was DELISH!  And as an afternoon snack I had a Kashi bar. 

Right now I'm hungry, which is usually when my resolve is weakest.  I want food NOW!  NOW NOW NOW!  But healthy food isn't always ready in this exact millisecond, so I just have to DEAL WITH IT. 

Commercial for PC chocolate chip cookies  NO NO NO!  Back danged cookies!  lol

Hey--I have fresh, organic, whole-grain tortillas I bought from the market on Saturday...I have eggs...I have veggies...I have clean hot sauce...  Me thinks I have the makings of a breakfast burrito!  Maravilloso!!

After dinner...

Addiction to junk food seems a bit silly to people who don't suffer from it, but it's a very real affliction.  And since junk- and Franken-food is everywhere, it's also pretty scary.  Imagine being a heroin addict, and having it laying around everywhere, sometimes cheaper than food! 

Refined sugars and saturated fat have been found to have the same effect on the brain as heroin.  The dopamine receptors in our brains are fed in much the same way as drug addicts when they get a hit.  And even when they're thinking about it, they still get some of the same feeling--which triggers a craving.

Hmmm...sound familiar?  Ever see a commerical and immediately want what's featured?  Ever hear that there's leftover birthday cake in the kitchen at work, and immediately head (or want to) upstairs, even if you're not hungry?

Strangely, knowing this doesn't make me less motivated to break junk food's hold on me--it's making me MORE committed.  The thought that I could spend my life in a constant battle with my addiction is absolutely HORRIFYING.  It gives me STRENGTH to know that kicking it to the curb once and for all now is so much easier than fighting/clawing my way back, is what keeps me going. 

I DON'T WANT TO FIGHT IT FOR MY WHOLE DAMN LIFE!  The time is NOW.  PERIOD.

This is Phase One of my year-long quest to find out just how healthy I can be.  Phase one is a biggie, but I need to do it now, not later.  It will stand in my way the entire time, if I don't overcome it now. 

Recipe for ceviche (1 serving):

1/2 avocado, sliced or cubed
1/4 red, orange or yellow bell pepper (or all three!), chopped
1-2 tbsp chopped sweet white onion
Small handfull of fresh cilantro
1/4 cup raw shrimp, chopped into smallish pieces
Juice of a fresh lemon
1 tbsp orange juice, or a small drizzle of honey
Sea salt to taste

In a small bowl, combine shrimp and most of the citrus juice.  Make sure the bowl is small enough that the juice will completely cover the shimp, because the citrus "cooks" the shrimp.  Allow to sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the peppers, onion, and cilantro. and remainder of the juice.  Mix.

When the shrimp is pink and white, with no grey bits, it's ready to eat.  Add the pieces of shrimp, discarding the marinating juice, and then the avocado.  Give the salad a quick toss.

Eat!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm so excited! 

I've been looking for a nut-milk bag forever.  There are lots to purchase online, but the shipping is 2-3X more than the cost of the product!  So needless to say I never bought one online.  And they just don't seem to be sold in any of the health food stores around here. 

I've had a few people suggest trying a few places...most of which are in another city.  Another city?  Really?  That seems a bit much, doesn't it?  My life won't end if I don't have one! lol  Though I will admit that I DID start considering it...

Then YESTERDAY, I was at New City Supermarket, looking for seaweed snacks (more on that later!) and out of the corner of my eye, I see little packages hanging with what looked like mesh-type-stuff in it.  I looked closer...  Read the label...  YES!!!  It's a fine-mesh bag, used for straining stuff like when making soups.  AND it's $1.29!!!!!  I feel like it's my birthday and Christmas all wrapped up in one!

I haven't tried it out yet--I put the almonds for almond milk to soak last night, 'cause they make much nicer milk if they're soaked first.  But I have FAITH!! 

I bought a few things at that supermarket which I've never bought or in one case heard of before, to see what they are:  An avocado greener than the fields of Ireland, which I'm hoping I'll be able to tell when it's ripe; something called "sea coconut" and seaweed snacks!

The seaweed snacks ROCK!  I wasn't sure, because they're seasoned, and thus very subjective as to if one likes the flavour or not, but they're SO FREAKING GOOD!  I've already eaten a LOT of them, but that's OK...they're seaweed! lol

The avocado I'm a bit nervous about, but so long as you can tell it's read in the same way that you can for other avocados, then I'll be OK.  I want to make nori rolls this week, so I will need it. 

The sea coconut I looked up online.  Apparently it's used in brothy chicken soups.  Well OK then!  It will keep in my pantry until the cool weather comes--'cause there's no WAY I'm making soup when it's still so hot outside!  Nope, not gonna happen.  

For breakfast today I had a couple of cups of fresh lemonade (juice of a lemon, raw honey, water), and apple "oatmeal".  I don't recall if I've shared the recipe for that before, so I'll do so now:

*  1-2 tbsp flax seeds, soaked in 1 tbsp water or almond milk, long enough for them to become a bit gelatinous.  
*  1 large apple of your choice, chopped small enough for the processor/blender to handle
*  1-2 tbsp macadamia nut butter
*  Cinnamon, vanilla to taste
*  Raisins, nuts, coconut to top, optional

Throw the flax seeds into a food processor or high-powered blender, along with the cinnamon and vanilla.  Pulse to combine well.

Add the apple, and pulse again until desired consistency.  Make sure not to pulse until it's super smooth--the consistency, at least to my palate, is a bit slimy.  It should still have very small (or larger if you like) pieces of apple.

Top with raisins, nuts, and coconut, if you like.

Enjoy!

Note:  You won't need any sweetener (honey, agave) if you pick an apple which you like.  If you like tart apples, then make this recipe with one of those.  If you like a bit of tart, then pick one like that.  If you like sweet apples, ditto.  I like mine either just a little tart, or sweet, so I picked sweet apples, and then just added a tiny bit of lemon juice to balance out the sweetness.

You can make this recipe with pears too!  Or  mix of apples and pears!  Yum!! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Well hello there!

It's a scorcher outside today!  I just went to get a tea from Tim's and it was already meltingly hot.  It was already 29C/85F and it was only 10am.  For those who are under the impression that here in Canada it's cold all the time (as I heard once in Florida, from a man who said it "must be mighty cold up there this time of year"...it was July...) it's most vehemently not cold! lol  It's more of a dry heat today thank goodness, 'cause if it were humid I'd DIE!

Fortunately, I'm leaving very soon for a raw picnic!  I didn't even know there were raw foodists around here.  I'll have to ask them if they maintain their raw-ism during the winter, and how they go about it.  If people are partly raw, that's one thing, but to be 100% raw here when there isn't a year-round growing season, would be difficult I'm sure.  There's not a lot of variety, especially if you also want to buy as local as you can.  The only local produce available in the winter is from greenhouses.  Fortunately at the market I frequent there are vendors who grow fresh herbs year round, which is totally lovely.  And kale apparently grows outside under the snow until about February!  Who knew?! 

Anyway, I knew that people would be making salad for sure, and probably specifically kale salad, so I planned to make something different.   Turns out I was right--the first person to sign up is bringing it! lol

I made mini tostadas.  I had heard of them before, but had no idea what they were--Americans would know right away I'm sure, but we don't as a people (or from my impression anyway) get a lot of exposure to Mexican food here, so though I have heard of things like empenadas, and tostadas, I'd never actually seen them, even when I was in Mexico! 

Later...
The potluck picnic was great!  I'd never met them before, but everyone was so incredibly friendly that I completely forgot that they were virtual strangers!

And what a spread!  Only 2 or 3 salads, which all tasted wonderful, and the rest were all kinds of things.  My favourite were these little felafel things that I believe our host had made.  Just as good as the original, and a LOT healthier!  That's my first plate on the right.  You can see the felafel thing to the left and slightly above the beg piece of watermelon--the small brown thingy with the red pepper on it.  REALLY tasty! 
And dessert!  Cheesecake, chocolate cake, carrot cake...  HELLO!!  Raw foodists eat only salad and carrot sticks?  I don't think so!

Everyone really liked my tostadas.  I was concerned that I'd have to take some home with me (I loathe raw tomatoes so the raw salsa would be totally wasted on me) but there was NOTHING left of anything.  Even the corn tortillas were gone, and I made a LOT of them.  Everyone kept asking who made the tostadas, and I was more than happy to tell them it was ME!! lol  Though it's not my recipe, since I'm so new at this that I didn't want to take the chance of making something inedible and bringing it to the potluck! lol  So here's the recipe, from LIVE RAW by Mimi Kirk:

Mini Tostadas

6-8 ears corn, kernels cut off the cob (I used raw, organic frozen corn, as corn isn't in season here for about another month)
1/2 cup ground golden flax seed
1/3 cup yellow onion
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp combined Mexican seasonings, cumin, oregano, and garlic powder (Mexican chili blend for the Mexican seasonings)

Mix corn, onion and salt in the food processor until on the smooth side.  Add ground flax and pulse to blend. 

Drop a tablespoonful at a time onto nonstick dehydrator sheet and smooth into 3" rounds.

Dehydrate for 8 hours at 110 degrees.  Flip directly onto mesh dehydrator screen and dehydrate another 7-8 hours until crispy.

The rest I made without a recipe:

Guacamole:  Blend together with a fork--1 ripe avocado, lemon and lime juice, fresh garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  I like to do it by hand rather than in a processor because I like it to be more authentic.  Normally I would chop up a hot pepper too,  but as there would be kids at the picnic, I wanted it to be kid-friendly.

Salsa:  In a food processor, blend a bunch of fresh cilantro, then a clove of fresh garlic, then a small onion, then tomatoes, chunked, then add ground cumin and some lime juice to taste.  I also added a tiny bit of sea salt, to kick up the flavour a bit.

I wish sometimes that I lived somewhere that there was a year-round growing season.  It would be so gosh darned easy to eat almost entirely raw year-round if that were the case.  Sigh...  We must deal with what we have.  Maybe I can winter in Costa Rica?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I suspected that salt and saturated fat cravings would come on strong, once I kicked processed sugar to the curb, and boy was I right!  I found myself diving into an entire bag of chips and onion dip, and only came up for air when the bag was finished.  Wholly mother!

So, from this I'm choosing to make fried foods also a "no fly zone".  I was going to do it anyway, but I had been thinking that I'd work on one vice at a time, the first being the worst--sugar.  But I now know that it will be much kinder to both my body, and my emotions, if I eliminate fried things sooner than later.  It's also my oh-so-lovely PMS time, so I know that if I "give in" at all, that will lead to more more MORE!!  Best to love myself enough to avoid the whole situation. 

It's my solemn pledge to not force processed sugar and fried things on my body from this moment on.  My body doesn't want it.

I have no idea what my body is fully capable of.  I already can do things that I never would have thought possible 10 years ago:  I can run, I can hike, I can cross my legs and tie my shoes without cutting off my air (because my stomach squished my lungs and diaphragm), I can take the stairs without needing to rest afterwards, I have baby muscles which are turning slowly into adolescents...  My blood pressure and cholesterol are "rock star" (doctor's words!), and yet I've never really given my body a chance to become it's healthiest and most vibrant and powerful, because I've still eating junk. 

I'll be 38 years old in 13 days, and it's time I start acting like an adult!  Just because a lot of people eat junk every day doesn't mean that it's OK.  I don't want to just be "above average health" because frankly that doesn't really mean much, when you think about it.  If 30% of people are really unhealthy (due to lifestyle choices, not illnesses they can't help having), 40% are OK but not great, and 30% are healthy, then if I'm "above average" that doesn't mean that I'm particularly healthy at all...just that I'm healthier than the average.  Out of 100% (100% being freakishly uber-healthy, and 0% being dead), then "average health" with the percents above would be 33%.  Is 33/100 a passing grade??  Isn't that something like an F?  Can you get an F-??

Get me?  I want to be the healthiest I can be, not healthier than average.  And I have no idea what that could possibly be, because of the junk. 

I feel like I'm at a cross-roads, or perhaps even at a crisis point (in the sense of things coming to a head).  I'm finally ready to bash through this bullshit "need" I have for junk.  My friend Carla suggested that I'm butting up against the edge of my comfort zone, and I think she's absolutely right.  I'm  tired of fighting the same things over and over, never feeling like I'm getting anywhere, or like I'm getting closer to the person I want to be.  The only person who can break through it is ME, just as the only person who can stop me is me!!  So what am I waiting for?

No more waiting.  No more hemming and hawing.  The time is NOW to make the changes!  So that's what I'm doing!! 

(cape on, chest out, symphony swelling behind me...)  I WILL TAKE STEPS TO LIVE THE LIFE OF MY DREAMS, AND TO BE THE BEST ME I CAN!!!  Can ya dig it?!

Of course, part of the person and lifestyle I want to be, will be with raw foods.  I'm still finding recipes, and learning techniques.  Currently I am reading Live Raw:  Raw Food Recipes for Good Health and Timeless Beauty, which I checked out of the library yesterday.  It's written by Mimi Kirk, who at more than 70 years old, was recently voted the sexiest vegetarian over 50!  I'd like to be voted the sexiest ANYTHING at ANY AGE! lol

It looks like a pretty interesting book, and right away I found a recipe for mini tostadas that I MUST make!  Oh my gosh they look absolutely DIVINE!  And super duper easy too--hardly any ingredients, and of course they're all fresh and lovely.  I think that will be the first recipe I try.  I'll let you know how it turns out, and if it's good, I'll give you the recipe.

Anyway, must go and get the couple of things at the supermarket that I couldn't get at the farmer's market.  Have a wonderful, healthy day everyone!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It's war!!!

Junk food has always been part of my life.  At one point it was a HUGE part of my life, while the rest of the time it's been around less, but still WAY too often. 

I've been reading a very interesting e-book called "Raw Emotions", which has really illuminated some things with regard to my relationship with food.  It's from the perspective of going raw, but it could really be applied to any healthy eating lifestyle, such as eating clean, whole foods over junk. 

I've realized that my attachment to junk food seems to be something other than how it tastes--I don't really like it all that much for the most part.  Perhaps it's comfort, perhaps something else, but what is clear as day is that it needs to STOP!  All the lovely raw foods I've been eating lately have shown me, and my body, that I really need to eliminate most, if not all, the junk food out of my daily life.  I feel so fantastic when I'm eating really well, and so sick when I eat junk...and yet I still eat it.

It's time for an old fashioned SMACK DOWN!  Take no prisoners!!!

Phase One--White Death.

I have five huge trigger foods, and numero uno is processed sugar.  I'm not alone in this I know--processed sugar truly is an evil substance.  And I want it GONE.

I don't want to have to fight the want for it forever.  I don't want it to be part of my regular life at all--to not even think of refined sugar anymore would be unbelievably fantastic!  When I don't have it, I find myself wanting it less and less as time goes on, but when I have it often, I'm constantly fighting my cravings.  Every 5 minutes it seems, I'm saying, "No!' to myself...or "OK".  I don't want a narrative around sugar at all! 

Back at the beginning of the year, I went six full weeks white death free.  NONE whatsoever.  It got to the point where it wasn't even an issue anymore...and then I slid back into old habits again.  I want that back again--but permanently.  Once I get into that head space again, there shouldn't really be any difference between 6 weeks and 6 months...or 6 years.  When it's out of my head, it should be GONE.  At that point, the ONLY reason I'll ever be back where I am, and have been forever, is if I DECIDE to let it back into my life.  It's MY CHOICE.  And I will choose health, joy and vitality!!

I'm drawing a line in the sand.  IT SHALL NOT PASS!  (little Gandalf wisdom there!)

On another note, I'm increasing the volume of green smoothie I'm drinking.  Every time I get to the bottom of my bottle I'm like, "aawwwweeeee..." so I might as well indulge myself!  I mean come on people!  It's salad in a jar!! : )  I figure I'll make a full mason jar's worth, which I think is at least a quart.  They're so darned tasty, and so darned nutritious!  Maybe the green smoothie will become my replacement for sugar!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Raw Days 28-30

Today is already the last day of my "mostly raw for 30 days" experiment!

I really can't believe it's been a month.  And what a cool month! 

I learned that eating raw foods, at least in the way I wanted to, meant that in many ways I needed to re-learn how to prepare dishes.  Even things like salads took on a whole new dimension, because I not only wanted to make them chock-full of nutrients, but chock-full of flavour!  I refuse to prepare foods with no flavour, that are boring to eat.  There's no reason whatsoever to eat boring foods, when there are so many herbs and spices out there!  Thousands and thousands!!

I learned that there is a lot more to the raw food lifestyle than carrot sticks and salads.  I had hoped there was, but we all know that people don't necessarily eat "spherically", which means that if someone decided to eat only raw foods, without doing it properly, they COULD just eat salads and carrot sticks.  Of course they wouldn't be very healthy, because they wouldn't be consuming a nutritionally-balanced diet, and I of course wanted to avoid that.

Because I never jump into anything major without first looking into it, and if it looks intriguing, researching it to get to know all its ins and outs, I came at this month with a decent preliminary knowledge of what to do.  Of course I continued to read and gather recipes all through June, so my repertoire grew and continues to grow!  It's incredible the variety of raw dishes out there!!

Most interestingly, I learned that my body really loves raw food!  After just a few days, my skin became radiant, clear, and healthy-looking.  I began to sleep better.  My mood stabalized (not that I was a crazy person or anything!  Really!).  My cravings also stabalized.

And because it's currently the growing season here, I saved money!!  Yes, you read right--I have been spending on average 30% less each week on food.  No guff.  

Also interestingly, on days when I consumed only raw green and other smoothies during the day (making sure to get all the food I need of course--it was just in liquid form), I found that I was even more energetic, even at the gym.  I wasn't hungry on smoothie days either, which was kind of a surprise at the time, but now I realize that just because I was drinking liquids, there was no reason to be hungry, because it was lots of food--it was just in a more digestible form!  That was a HUGE surprise, let me tell you!

I didn't find it difficult to maintain eating mostly raw this month, because I didn't set an amount that I HAD to consume.  I just ate lots!  If it wasn't as possible on some days, that was OK.  If I'd set an amount, say 75% raw, that I MUST stick to each and every day, I would have been stressed out all the time about making sure I got it all in.  And if I had a day where I was only 60%, I would have felt bad about it.  So I just ate as much as a could, which sometimes meant 100% raw days, and sometimes 50%.  It's all good!

The verdict? 

I'm definitely going to continue, especially during the growing season.  I still want to take full advantage of all the loveliness around this time of the year!  And since my body loves it, why not right?

So keep checking back!  I'm not going anywhere! 

See you soon!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Raw Days 24-27

I have lovely vegetarian chili simmering on my stove at the moment.  No, not raw chili (is that even possible?) but it IS very healthy.  Nothing unhealthy whatsoever is currently in the chili, and nothing unhealthy will make its way into it either!  The idea that comfort food--especially chili--has to be unhealthy is ridiculous.  Even if I were making chili with meat, there is still no reason it can't be healthy! 

The only downside to making chili?  It has to simmer for a looooong time before it's fit to eat, and in the meantime, I have to keep smelling it!  BAH! lol

I pigged out on kale chips last night.  I bought a huge bunch of kale from the farmer's market on Saturday, way more and way fresher than I would be able to get from the supermarket, for the same price!!  I made two entire dehydrator trays worth, and inhaled them in no time flat.  Then they were all gone...  So sad.

Did you know that you can make decent kale chips in the oven, in about an hour?  I like mine with olive oil, a bit of sea salt, and nutritional yeast, but I hear you can make them with olive oil and sea salt, sea salt and vinegar, paprika and garlic...  Most recipes call for them to be cooked at about 350F, but I much prefer them on a lower temp, for a longer time.  I find that it preserves the kale flavour better.  My recipe is below:

Kale, ripped into bite-sized pieces, however much you want
Sea salt
Olive oil
Nutritional yeast

Pre-heat the oven to 150F.  In a bowl, massage the sea salt, olive oil, and nutritional yeast onto each piece of kale.

Spread evenly on a cookie sheet, making sure to not allow kale to overlap. 

Chips will be done in ABOUT an hour, so make sure you keep checking them.  They're done when they're crispy. 

Enjoy!

I made a zesty tomato cracker recipe that I found on Karen Knowler's site, but I didn't care for them.  Not surprising really, since I loathe tomatoes with the passion of 1000 hells, but I thought maybe they'd be OK if they were sun dried tomatoes, which I can take sometimes.  But nope, I loathed them too.  It had nothing to do with the quality of the recipe, and they turned out just as they should, I just didn't like them. 

I also went to the Donkey Sanctuary yesterday!  I've been wanting to go for a while--since it opened to the public, really--but never got around to it.

I'd never met a donkey in real life before!  I'd seen them lots of times of course, but never up-close-and personal.  It was so cool!  There are about 100 animals there, the vast majority of which are donkeys.  Some of them are so friendly that they're allowed to just wander around in amongst the visitors.  At one point I was sitting on a stump, and one of them came right up to me (he was BIG!), and rubbed his nose on my knees.  It was like he and I had been friends for years lol.  So of course I rubbed his ears (they love to have the inside of their ears rubbed) and caressed his face.  They've very sweet--I had no idea they were so amazing!  I'll never think of them as "just" donkeys again!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Raw Day Twenty-Three

Dude--I'm MORPHING into something strange and unusual, but kinda wonderful too!

I was walking home today, when I happened to see a small fallen branch.  On the branch was a clump of very dry but still green leaves.  My first thought was, "Mmmm!  Crunchy kale!!"

WHAT WAS THAT???  Since when have I associated dried, dead leaves with KALE??  Free association with healthy foods?! 

What in the world am I becoming???  HAHA!

I'm also deleriously happy that I'm going to put on a new batch of raw granola!  I thought I'd get all gutzy and maybe put in some pumpkin seed butter in this one!  Revolutionary I know! 

Tomorrow, provided it doesn't rain the whole day, is my work BBQ.  I won't be eating raw for that meal, other than salads and fruit which will hopefully be there.  I signed up for a burger!  I have one every year at the BBQ.  I don't know what they do to them--maybe it's just that it's outside, and all the mucky much managers are feeding us food they make themselves--but the burgers are so darned good!  Seriously!  So I'll be all over that for sure.

After work, I'll be playing soccer.  For the first time.  I keep telling the captain of the team that I don't know anything about soccer (other than that their butts look great from all the running lol), and I'm not exactly going to be an asset to the team, but she keeps begging!  OK FINE, but you get what you get sista!  Who knows, maybe they'll help me to learn, and maybe I'll find something I like.  A fun form of exercise is always welcome!

See everyone tomorrow...provided I survive the game!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Raw Days Nineteen to Twenty-Two

Detoxing.  Even the idea of it makes me run for the hills.  Detoxing involuntarily is even ickier!

I've never been one to "do a detox" because I know that healthy eating and exercising allows our bodies to naturally clean out all the time.  I'd heard from others, who went from completely terrible food habits to good ones, that detoxing is pretty darned unpleasant.  But I'd never had to deal with it, even back when I first started eating clean.

That is until now.  For the past six days, I've felt really really icky, kind of in cycles from pretty OK to super icky.  At first I thought I was coming down with something (which very rarely happens), then I thought it was allergies, but no medication did anything in the least, and it wasn't constant.  Then I spoke to my friend Carla, and she said I most likely am detoxing.

But how can I be detoxing?  It's not like I'm 100% raw.  But apparently "mostly raw" is enough!

It's OK though, because I know that I'm "peeling away a layer" of crud in my system.  I don't know about you, but I don't want crud in my body!  I keep picturing the stuff that can clog a drain sometimes--all slimy and a weird colour, with God knows what in it.  I don't want that in my body!!

During this time, I've of course continued trying new raw recipes, and drinking fabulous raw smoothies.  One of them was this:

Raw Zucchini Hummus


1 zucchini, chopped


1/3 cup cold-pressed olive oil (or other neutral oil, such as flax oil)


1/3 cup raw tahini


3 cloves garlic


3 tbsp lemon or lime juice


1/4 tsp sea salt


Preparation:

Combine all ingredients together in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Adjust seasonings, to taste.

(It isn't my recipe, but I can't for the life of me remember where I got it from.  So I can take no credit for this recipe whatsoever.)

I think next time I make it, I may use less than 3 cloves of garlic.  It was tasty, but MAN I was tasting raw garlic for like HOURS!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Raw Day Nineteen

Do dehydrators need to rest?  I sure hope not--mine's been going since Friday afternoon, and won't get a break until tomorrow evening.  I would hope that they're built for this kind of use...right?

What can I say--I like to play with new toys!  Things will probably calm down...eventually...maybe.

I just finished making crackers sans-recipe.  They taste good, but they're really fragile.  I think I need more "binding agent".  Whatever that is with raw crackers!  Not just water, I think it needs something with more staying-power.  I added coconut oil, but I didn't want to add too much, and have it taste all oily.  Over the past year, since greatly increasing the quality of the food I eat (nutritionally, etc) I've become more sensitive to things like oils, to the point where I sometimes can't eat chocolate, (especially if it's cheaper like what's found in most chocolate bars) because I can taste the oil--and you know it's not nice olive oil either.  I'll have to discover what to do...and perhaps actually follow a few recipes. :)

(I'm watching Spain On the Road Again as I create this blog entry.  My goodness that show makes me hungry...especially for fish!!  Mmmm...paella...)

At the farmer's market on Saturday I bought blueberries and pineapple, thinking they might be nice to dry and eat as a snack, or over cereal.  Arthur is working on them at the moment, though I doubt they'll be done much before tomorrow afternoon, since there is so much juice in both.  I've never had dried blueberries before, and I'm very intrigued.  I've had died pineapple lots of times, but I suspect it was with added sugar.  I'm looking forward to what dried pineapple really tastes like.  And they're both dried the "raw foodist" way so they'll retain the vast majority of their nutrients and enzymes.

I'm also making raw granola.  Yes, from a recipe.  It looked amazing spread out on the teflex sheet, and smelled even better. 

I find the problem with commercially-produced granola is that the people who make it seem to have lost sight of why most people want to eat granola--because it's healthy.  But they end up adding so much nonsense to it, that it loses all resemblance to the original items.  Commercial granola often is upwards of 300 calories (and Lord knows how much fat and sugar!) or 1/2 a cup!  What the heck have they done to it??  And as importantly WHY???  It's disgusting and so unnecessary.  Which is why I'm all geeked-out over the idea of raw granola actually being good for me. 

Here's the recipe, from The Complete Book of Raw Food:

2 cups raw almonds, soaked 12 to 48 hours and drained
1 cup raw pumpkins seeds, soaked 8 hours and drained
1 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked 4 to 6 hours and drained
2 apples, chopped with seeds and stem removed
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Process the almonds in a food processor fitted with the "S" blade into small chunks and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Process the pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds until roughly ground and combine with the almonds.

Process the apples and add them to the nuts and seeds.  Add the cinnamon and sea salt and mix well.

Spread the mixture onto a lined dehydrator tray and dehydrate for 20 to 24 hours at 105F or to a desired crunchiness.  Be sure to dehydrate until all the water is removed from the granola.  Add 1/2 cup raisins to the granola after dehydrating (if using).  Store in a glass air-tight jar.  This granola will last up to 3 months, so make lots! 

I'll take a pic tomorrow evening if it's done, so you can see how it turned out.

I did a half-recipe amount, because I want to try it out, before going to the expense of making a quadruple recipe!  I have a feeling it's going to be marvy though, just based on the aroma when I was mixing it.  If it turns out well, I'll make a super-batch for sure.  The half-recipe filled one tray, allowing for it to be spread out in lumps here and there, rather than in one big thick sheet.  I'm assuming that's how it's supposed to be spread out...I would think that one thick sheet would be VERY hard to dry, but I may be wrong, especially since a lot of the mixture is apple, which will dry down to a much smaller size.  Doesn't really matter much with this batch anyway.  Next batch I'll experiment--maybe do a double batch, and see if I can get it all on 2 teflex sheets (that's how many I have at the moment).  You really can't go too wrong with dehydrating, particularly the things that need to be completely dried, like this granola does.  It's dry when it's dry, and it's not like it's going to burn!

For those who are reading this, wondering how raw foodists could possibly do it all, with the soaking/drying times, let me explain:

Lots of raw dishes don't require any pre-soaking or dehydrating, and those that do, it's important to remember that all it is, is planning.  The 20 or so hours of dehydrating requires no work on my part at all.  The prep was putting the nuts and seeds in the fridge to soak...almonds last night, pumpkin and sunflower seeds this morning.  Then the recipe itself took just a few minutes.  So all it is, is planning.

I already learned to do that, when learning to eat cleanly.  Eating good, nutritious food means cooking most of the time, not opening up a box and slipping it into the oven.  Sometimes that's fine, as a treat, but for all the time, real food is the way to go. 

What it also means, is that I'm a lot more conscious and aware of what I'm eating, and what is going into it.  And surprisingly, it's rather liberating!  Knowing that everything (well...almost everything!) that I eat should contain no "food guilt" at all, because it's good for me, is truly an amazing experience.  Fortunately I've never been a binge-eater (not with meals...but junk is another story), so I don't have to worry about eating too much healthy food.  I can just eat lovely, delicious, fabulous-for-my-body foods, enjoy them immensely...and that's it!