Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Raw Food Adventures!

It's been quite a while since my last post, but that's because I have been very busy! The end of June brought my first wedding delivery of 90 cupcakes and a small tiered cake that was 6" and 4". It went very well and the bride and groom were most pleased!

I've recently had about 3 weeks off because my boss was in Spain. Having the time off was really great for relaxing, reflecting, and general taking care of myself. I've been incorporating more raw food into my diet. For the last few weeks I've made pretty much all of my breakfasts raw. I used to like alternating between an egg breakfast and a cereal breakfast, but I've since found much better alternatives!

For my "cereal" I puree steamed or soaked buckwheat (I know purists will say that steaming is not "raw" but I'm sure it's not all bad) with a frozen and ripe banana (I have SO many in my fridge) with some peanut butter. Right now I'm still using grocery store Kraft chunky but I'm hoping to get some natural peanut butter soon. It's so hot here in Ottawa these days that a nice cold breakfast really hits the spot! No picture as it's not the prettiest dish.

Now, for my "egg" dish I found this wonderful video by Ani Phyo - Spanish Scramble, or a variation on I Love the Chicks pate. The first time I made it I added tomatoes and basil, but this morning I made it with ground coriander and mushrooms. So delicious and filling - I felt great for almost 5 hours!

Months ago I made raw tacos - still working on the presentation as the Boston lettuce leaves weren't really doing it for me. They also bring back bad memories as when I was making the guacamole I was trying to take out the pit with a small knife and it slipped and went into my hand instead D:. I have a bruised nerve, which is not really fun, but for the most part I don't notice it - the side of my left index finger feels like it's "asleep" but that's the extent of the damage.

The walnut "meat" was really delicious! They're not very filling though, especially when presented in those small leaves, so I'm going to try and find a bigger leaf so that this can be more of a meal than an appetizer.

Around that same time I also made a walnut chocolate cake from Ani Phyo's dessert book. It was so filling! I put strawberries in the middle which ended up cutting its shelf life in half as they went bad pretty quickly. Still delicious though. I sometimes find that all that cacao powder leaves a very powdery taste, but if you wait a couple of days it disappears. Anyone else notice this?

In the middle of June there was Ottawa's annual Raw Fest. There were a lot of neat stalls and I bought some delicious fruit, raw chocolate bars by Olivia Chocolat, and seed bars and snow balls from Rawsome Food. I also had my first taste of coconut water and I'm also a big fan of that. I unfortunately let it sit for too long in the fridge so when I went to crack it open to get the meat it was all soggy.

Because the weather is extremely warm right now I thought I'd make nature my own personal dehydrator. I attempted to make raw burgers - the bun was made out of soaked buckwheat (I tried to sprout, but failed), ground flax, sesame seeds, garlic, salt, pepper, water, and dates. The burgers were made out of walnuts (soaked and dried), wheat germ as "bread crumbs" to help it dry out faster, spices, onion, and chilis from our balcony garden. Here are a few thing that I've learned from DIY dehydrating:

1) NEVER put paper towel on top of the food in attempts to keep bugs off. You end up ripping the entire top layer of the bun off to get rid of the bits of towel. Yum? Bleh.

2) It takes forever. I had them out for about 5 hours and the insides were still goopy. You can't just whip up a raw meal sometimes, you have to plan ahead.

3) I really REALLY need a proper dehydrator!

I eventually got impatient and baked them at a high temperature so that they were edible before the next day :P. Not so pure according to raw standards, but still healthy nonetheless! I topped it with spring mix, sprouts, mushrooms, and chipotle mayo (kind of raw?). Ryan wasn't as into the buns but he really liked the burger portion, as did I! I had a few buns left over so I use them in my lunches. The garlic has really mellowed over the days making it for a much subtler tasting bun.

I also want to share with you my favourite new snack - raw popcorn. I found this video courtesy of Renegade Health. Here are the ingredients:

Here are the instructions:

1) Chop up and crumble a head of cauliflower so that it resembles "kernels". Place in plastic bag.
2) Liberally add nutritional yeast, then a pinch of cayenne (or two if you're like me and like it spicy!), and a pinch of sea salt (I like Maldon)
3) Close bag and "massage" all the ingredients together!
4) Inhale the deliciousness

Hmmm, so why do I like it? It's crunchy, it's a little salty, a little spicy, and it tastes cheesy! You can dehydrate this but I don't like waiting and I love how crunchy and fresh raw cauliflower is. I find that, because of the water content, it soaks everything up very fast and gets a little soggy, but if you add more nutritional yeast you can bring some life back to it. I wouldn't let it sit for more than 4 days though. But really, how can you not devour the whole bag in one sitting? I actually like this more than real popcorn!

The last raw thing I made was chocolate bark, which I made yesterday. I occasionally get huge chocolate cravings around that time of the month, and after devouring huge amounts of non-raw chocolate last week and feeling gross afterwards, I figured I should try and make a better alternative. I again consulted Ani Phyo's dessert book and made her liquid chocolate recipe and mixed in pumpkin seeds, almonds, and goji berries. I spread it out over a silpat and froze it for about 10 minutes. It had a strong flavour! Sometimes my body has trouble digesting pure fats so eating all that coconut oil was a bit of an adjustment. However, today seems to be better. The cocoa (I didn't have enough pure cacao so I used my Cocoa Barry powder instead) was intense so a little went a long way and it definitely satiated the chocolate craving! I even had some in my yoghurt this morning, haha.

I haven't felt this good in a long time! I know the time off has really helped, but my insides have just been so much happier since I've been incorporating more raw food into my diet. My energy levels have also been great, something I seem to always struggle with. My skin has been fantastic and all around I'm really benefiting from eating this way. I've also staring doing yoga and I went for a run for the first time in 3 years and although I have a ways to go the endorphins made me feel great.

More and more I'm moving away from my traditional way of cooking and baking in favour of raw. If it weren't for my family and Ryan wanting to still eat cooked food (and a lot of meat!) I would be raw I'd say about 80%-90%. I will admit that when I go out if I see a delicious sounding meat dish I will get it, but for the last few months I've really been treating meat as a special occasion treat and I try to eat only well fed and well cared for meat. For example, there is a butcher near my parent's cottage that sells Belgium Blue meat. They graze through a huge field and all of them are tagged, meaning that you can trace your steak all the way back to that cow! Also it means that only one cow (and only the best parts) are used in sausages. I know a lot of restaurants are moving towards using local and well cared for meat so I don't feel as bad eating out.

Today I became the proud owner of a Nikon D5000, and I am also going to be taking a 2 day food photography course which I am SO excited for. Hopefully this means my blog will take on a new and more professional look!


Adventures in Dressmaking said...

Yummy! Your raw food photos are so beautiful and of course all the food looks great!! I have made a lot of things from Ani Phyo's cookbooks you mention, but never attempted the burgers... I will have to sometime!
I am raw vegan and my fiance eats and loves whatever I make him, but still eats fish and chicken, and dairy/eggs. But if I make all the meals, he eats all raw and is happy and satisfied!
I became raw vegan in January and eat 95% raw now, and feel super duper! And have lost 25 pounds, but that was just a happy accident of the diet.

Tastes Like More said...

Thanks for your comment! Ani Phyo is great and I've found out that she has more books. It's taking every fibre in my being to not blow all my money on raw un-cook books! That, and on a dehydrator.

I forget where I found the recipe but I know they were chili raw hamburgers, if that helps. They were really REALLY good.

I'm about 70% raw vegan right now and would like to be more but the lack of dehydrator makes that hard.

Congratulations on being 95% raw! Wow I hope to get there someday. And the weight loss must be lovely too, I have yet to experience that part but my skin has cleared up dramatically so far!