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As I was continuing my exploration of Asheville’s healthy food scene, I visited Greenlife supermarket. A supermarket with a special section, devoted to prepared raw food items can definitely be considered healthy, don’t you think? I bought a container of raw carrot ginger soup at Greenlife. The soup proved to be so unbelievable, that I had to spend two hours browsing the web for just the perfect recipe, which matched it and another hour trying to perfect the recipe even further. If you like spicy food, this Carrot Ginger Soup would taste completely out of this world to you! I don’t even like cold soups, but this one totally got me. Perhaps, because of all the warming spices in it, I didn’t even crave for it to be warm. If you do, serve it in  a warm bowl. You can also drink this soup as a smoothie, if you are into salty and spicy drinks.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh carrot juice
1 small ripe avocado
1/3 cup coconut milk

1 tbsp. coconut oil

1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp Celtic sea salt
1tbsp.  fresh ginger, minced or juice an inch of ginger with the carrots.

1/2 tsp. cilantro, minced

Puree all ingredients in a high speed blender until completely smooth.  The sweetness of the carrots will determine how much agave nectar you need to use, if at all.

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A friend’s child is lactose-intolerant, so she asked me for some dairy-free recipes. Most of all, she wanted a recipe for dairy-free sour cream. My vegan-raw sour cream does not taste exactly like its dairy version, but it still tastes great. It works very well in recipes, asking for sour cream. This sour cream can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small avocado, mashed
  • Optional ingredients:
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder or finely diced chives
  1. Cover cashews with water and let them soak for a few hours or overnight.
  2. Pour off all water, and place nuts in food processor.
  3. Add 1/8- 1/4 cup cold water, salt, vinegar and avocado. Add garlic and onions.
  4.  Puree for 3-4 minutes or until smooth and creamy.

 

My friends keep asking me for healthy cakes and healthy cookie recipes, so here’s one more: Raw Carrot Cake.  Keep in mind, even though this cake is free of white sugar, butter and flour, it is still rich in good healthy fats and calories. So don’t devour the whole thing.


 

 

Ingredients:

For  Carrot Cake:
4 cups grated carrots ( you can shred them in food processor)

1 small avocado

1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup dates
1 cup walnuts
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon allspice

For  Cashew Frosting:

1.5 cups cashew butter sweetened with agave to taste ( approximately, 1 jar)

Blend the dates, the apricots, and the walnuts. Add to the grated carrots mixture and the juice. Add the spices, the avocado and blend until the mixture holds together ( you may need to do it in two batches.) Add the coconut.

Put the cake mixture into a cake dish, using your hands. Put the frosting on top. If you want to do something fancier, you can add some carrot juice to some of the frosting to make it orange and paint carrots on top of your cake. You can also sprinkle the frosting with some more shredded coconut.

 

I first tried this dish at Cafe 118 in Winter Park, Florida. It was ridiculously yummy and seemed to be very easy to make.

They used zucchini noodles, which gave this Pad Thai a very smooth texture. At home, i like to use a 50/50 mixture of zucchinis and carrots, or butternut squash for a crunchier bite.  A played with some ingredients at home and here’s what I came up with:

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 cup coconut milk ( any other milk would work, too)
  • 1/2 cup  peanut butter  (or any nut butter)
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp Bragg’s Aminos sauce
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp red miso
  • agave syrup to taste (optional)
  •  cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1/2 bunch basil & 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Noodles

  • 4-5 cups assorted vegetables,  cut with a vegetable peeler for long thin spaghetti-like  strips:  zucchini, carrot, butternut squash, beets, red pepper… Sprouts and red cabbage work, too.
  1. Blend all the sauce ingredients until smooth.
  2.  Toss the noodles with the sauce.
  3. Serve immediately with 1/4 of a lime and/or some peanuts, sprinkled on top (optional)

This raw cake doesn’t require baking and is missing white flour, sugar and other unhealthy ingredients, but it’s not lacking in flavor!  I love making this one for my kid’s birthday. You can customize the cake by omitting the syrup and adding more banana slices instead. Or, by not using any bananas and putting in more strawberries.

Ingredients:

For cake:

2 cups walnuts

1 small avocado

1/2 cup pitted dates

1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup  cranberries
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For syrup:

4 tbsp. agave nectar

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

For decoration:

2 bananas, sliced

6 large strawberries, sliced

1/4 cup almond slices (optional)

4 mango slices (optional)

Grind the walnuts in food processor. Add avocado and the dates and process until thoroughly mixed. Add cocoa powder and vanilla and process again. Add  cranberries and mix. Press the mixture into a pie plate with spatula. Refrigerate for 30-60 mins.

Mix the syrup ingredients together and spread the syrup on top of the cake.

Decorate with sliced fresh strawberries , banana slices and maybe, almonds or mango slices.

Chia can be used in cooking and baking in a multitude of ways. One of the easiest and most accessible ways is making it into a gel first.

Chia Gel

Take 9 parts water to 1 part Chia seeds. You can also use more water for a less thick gel.

Pour slightly warm water  into a container with a tight-fitting lid.  Slowly pour Chia seeds into the water. Shake the container for 15 seconds. Let stand for a minute and shake again. Soon the mixture will turn into a gel. This gel will store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Chia gel is  slows the conversion of carbohydrates into sugars, regulating and maintaining  healthy blood sugar levels in the body. Including this gel in your daily diet will help you eat less and still feel satisfied. The gel also helps with regularity, as it contains a lot of fiber. The gel works well in smoothies and in baking.

You can modify this recipe and grind the seeds, releasing their  essential fats for better assimilation.

The gel can be added to sauces, drinks, yogurt, salad dressings, cream cheese, jams, jellies, preserves, salsa, hot/cold cereals, yogurt, dips, puddings, soups, or other liquid or creamy foods. Add the gel, mix well and taste. The gel won’t affect the flavor of foods, but will increase its nutritional value. The texture gets smoother with the addition of Chia, while the flavor stays intact. In addition to adding up to 50% to 75% more volume to the foods used, Chia “removes” calories and fat because its gel is 90% water.

If you like to bake, you can use Chia gel as a fat replacer by substituting the oil in your breads with Chia gel. Top your favorite bread dough before baking with Chia gel (for toping on baked goods, breads, cookies, piecrust, etc., reduce the water ration to 8 parts water to 1 part Chia seed) for added shelf life.

Chia Gel can also replace up to half of the butter or oil in any recipe without altering the flavor or the cooking method.

Chia gel or chia seeds can also be added to smoothies or other liquid foods, without being made into the gel first.

Chia seeds can be eaten with almond milk, instead of a cereal.

Chia seeds can replace flax seeds in recipes.

Buy some Chia seed and experiment!

I love having a salad for lunch. Sometimes, my kid does, too. Contrary to the popular idea, salads are not “just vegetables.” My salads are a powerhouse of nutrition. While trying to make this recipe, be flexible. if you are missing an ingredient, don’t stress it. The salad turns out just fine without the celery or the beets or even the pumpkin seeds. Tomatoes are an interesting substitute for carrots and basil works instead of parsley, if indeed,  you are using tomatoes.

Here’s what my two year old and myself had today ( and I promise you a post onj how to make your kids eat veggies! 🙂

Makes about 3-4 portions:

Mixed greens or arugula, 2 cups

Shredded carrots, 3/4 cup

Beets, raw and grated 1/2 cup

Cucumber, sliced, 1 large

Celery, diced – 2 stalks

Shallots, diced, 1/4 cup

Parsley, diced 1/4 cup

Avocado, sliced – 1 medium

Chickpeas, 1 can, drained

Pumpkin seeds, roasted, 1 small cup

Tofu (or cooked chicken,) cubed, 1 small cup

Extra Virgin Olive oil, salt and papper to taste.

Lemon juice to taste (optional)

 

Mix all of the vegetables, except for the beets and the avocado (avocado is, technically, a fruit.) Arrange avocado slices on top and sprinkle them with lemon juice, if using it. Arrange the grated beets on top (beets tend to color other veggies red, so it’s not a visually appealing idea to mix them in.) Put the tofu or the chicken on top of the beets. Put the chickpeas on top (be creative with how you arrange them.) Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Put the olive oil and the salt/pepper in. Lunch is ready!

Mayonnaise is typically made out of eggs, oils and sometimes, mustard. All by themselves, these ingredients are not unhealthy, especially if organic extra virgin olive oil is used. Commercial mayos are usually made with low quality oils – mostly polyunsaturated soybean oil.  Saturated fats would be a healthier choice, but they would thicken the mayo too much. Additionally, in processing, a lot of the nutrients from even the healthy ingredients are lost. Alternatives like Vegenaise (soy mayonnaise,) are also in essence,  processed products, albeit vegan ones.

So, if you like mayo and want to have a healthy sandwich, you have two choices: make the mayonnaise yourself or make a vegan soy-free mayonnaise yourself. Considering the health benefits of turmeric, I like to add it to my food. If you don’t care for curry, simply omit it. I love the way the curry flavor enhances  any food. It also doesn’t disappoint in a simple sandwich of lettuce, shredded carrots and cucumbers with some raisins. Put enough curry mayo in this kind of a sandwich and your toddler may not find any veggies in his lunch!

I believe macadamia nuts are better than cashews in this recipe as they create a fuller and more “mayo-like” flavor. Store this mayonnaise in a refrigerator for up to a week.

Ingredients:

1 cup macadamia nuts, soaked for 1-2 hrs. in 2 cups of water, drained
1/2 tbsp. paprika
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. curry powder

2 tbsp. coconut oil

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/4 onion, chopped
2 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped

1/4 cup of water

optional:  1/4 tsp. mustard

Sea salt to taste


Combine all ingredients  in a blender or food processor and process until creamy.


Image by Jersey Bites

Now that we have established that soy is not the best food,  let’s  make some nut milk. Store-bought nut milks are, essentially, processed foods. They include some unpronounceable ingredients and unhealthy preservatives. I think, making your own is a lot easier and cheaper option.

This recipe makes three cups of  almond milk, but feel free to experiment with other nuts.  I like cashews, too. Nut milk keeps fresh for 2 days in the fridge.

Ingredients:

Almonds (or other nuts) , soaked overnight beforehand in two cups of water, which needs to be discarded after soaking, 1 cup

Fresh water 4 cups

Dates, 6

Vanilla extract,  1 tsp

Blend all ingredients on high. If you are making this milk for a smoothie, you can put it in a smoothie now. If, however, you like a smoother, more “milky” texture, you have to strain the milk.

To do this, you’ll need a large container, and some cheesecloth or a nut milk bag.  One Lucky Duck has nut bags  for sale. Put the cheesecloth over your container, or put the milk in the nut bag, and leave the milk to strain for about an hour.  The resulting liquid is your actual milk. Don’t discard the dry nutty leftovers: they  can  be used for baking.

This is an awesome breakfast smoothie. It also works well with those that don’t like kale. This smoothie is packed with protein, calcium, iron, and multiple vitamins. What a  great way to start your day!

For two servings:

2 frozen bananas

1 apple

6-7  ice cubes

3 tbsp of raw tahini
4 kale leaves
optional: agave or stevia to taste

Blend all ingredients on high until smooth.

 

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