Friday, January 29, 2010

Hello everyone and TGIF :)

This week I did lots of experimenting. Since I've only been raw three months, there are still SO many things I haven't tried, and still so many things that are new to me. I'm getting more and more creative and putting more time and energy into my lifestyle. When I started my raw journey, I'd eat a smoothie for lunch, a salad for dinner (and usually the same damn one every night), and Larabars and fruit for snacks.

Anyway I've been having tons of fun trying new things... I still try to keep it relatively simple since I'm a beginner and all, but sometimes the simplest things turn out to be the most amazing! For example, I read on Gone Raw, that pitting a date, and sticking a couple pecans in a date can be a tasty little treat (And essentially a Larabar minus the chopping of nuts and dates) and I was blown away by how tasty, yet how simple it was! That's what is so intriguing to me about having a "from Earth" type of diet. So many people dismiss how many wonderful things come from our beautiful planet... "fruits and vegetables?! I'll stick to my bag of chips and hamburgers!" they say.

I won't deny that I used to feel the same way. I think almost everyone (unless raised as a vegan) probably has. Even when I went vegan at first, I was a total junk-food vegan... which most people don't understand is TOTALLY possible! I ate all the convenience foods...the Amy's dinners...which might not be as bad for you as McDonald's... but still certainly not something you should be living off of like I was. I ate macaroni and cheese, pizza, and refined sugars like no tomorrow. Even just a year ago, I was living off of candy. I never in a million years thought that I could love veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds the way that I do now. Even things that I didn't like before, have become favorites of mine. Besides peanut butter that was loaded with sugar, I haaated nuts... and now I can't get enough of raw almonds, pecans, cashews....

to be honest, they taste so much better when they aren't roasted and salted. Ick!

Anyway... a couple pecans and a date, and I was in heaven.

I also have been dehydrating my little butt off. This week I made red pepper tortillas brought to you by "what the hell does a vegan eat anyway"... which is turning out to be one of my favorite spots on the web to visit...

I filled them with some romaine lettuce leaves, avocado spread, salsa, chopped zucchini, and fresh corn. Deee-lish! I know I'll be making those tortillas over and over again... so good! Nice and soft, the way I always liked my wraps. Nom nom...

While those were sitting on the dehydrator, I peeled a humongous sweet potato into strips, tossed them in some olive oil and spices, and threw those on the deydrator too for sweet potato chips. I've only had them a day, and I'm almost done with them already. They are SO damn tasty, I can't get enough. Just as addicting as "regular" chips. I will definitely be making those again, too, but I'll have to hold myself back a bit, otherwise I'll definitely over-indulge.

Just off the dehydrator this morning came some "bread"--- well, I'm not sure I'd call it bread. It's thinner, and a bit chewy (but it holds together just fine so it works!). I took the same concept as the red tortilla wraps, and I used equal parts flax to equal parts water. I threw in a mashed up banana and some cinnamon, and threw it on the dehydrator for about 12 hours. I made this "bread" so that I could indulge in some cashew butter and "jelly" sandwiches...

PB & J used to be one of my faaavorite things before I went raw, and one of the hardest things I had to give up. I mean, I ate it almost daily. I discovered that raw cashew butter was just as good if not even BETTER than peanut butter, so I got it in my head to make some cashew butter and jelly sandwiches. Now, for the bread, I would have used some agave or maple syrup to sweeten it up just a tad... it's pretty bland. It doesn't matter much since the cashew butter and jelly will be adding flavor to the whole deal... but, if I were to want to eat this bread on it's own the agave would be a good idea.

The jelly I made, was just mashed up strawberries and agave... though it's significantly runny, so I have to find a way to thicken it up a bit. I'll be experimenting with that over the next few weeks, I'm sure... but strawberries and agave is SO tasty, anyway.

I sampled some bread with a bit of cashew butter and jelly at lunch time... and even though the jelly was spilling out just a tad, it was still tasty as hell!

In the past couple days, I think I've eaten more than I usually eat in almost a week. Haha. I want to try so many things, and sampling it is the best part! It's a good thing I keep up with my exercise ;)

This weekend, I'll be trying the lovely Carmella's tomato dressing recipe... I intend on pouring it over some zucchini pasta (I know! It's all I ever eat!) I can't wait to try this stuff!! It looks delicious in the picture, has simple and low-fat can you go wrong??? Anything tomato is good by my standards!!

Again, I wish I had pictures to share, like all of you have such gorgeous images of your food!

And since the monthly cravings are starting, I'm sure I'll be experimenting with some cacao... I want to try some raw chocolate and cashew butter cups! wish me luck :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why hello everyone!

I'd be posting a lot more often if I had batteries in my camera to take pictures of some of the wonderful food I've been eating and the things I've been up to, but I always forget to re-charge those little suckers.

In the meantime though, I'm happy to discuss restaurants, things I've been trying, things I want to try, and life.

The first thing I want to bring to everyone's attention is a lovely little restaurant here in Wisconsin called "Cafe Manna". I went there a couple months ago with my dad to try some of their raw options. In Wisconsin, we don't have much to work with when it comes to vegan eateries, much less raw options, so I was stoked to come across this place. Not everything is raw, but everything IS 100% meat-free which is a rarity out here... and the fact that they at least have raw options at all, is good enough for me!

The place itself is really discrete located at the end of a strip mall. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but it has a really gorgeous, inviting interior. Plus it's eco-friendly! The floors and front counters are made of bamboo. Window and bathroom counters are “paper stone,” constructed of recycled paper. Recycled metal light fixtures, walls covered with 100% non-toxic paint and foyer partitions fashioned of recycled plastic complete the CafĂ©’s decor. They further support the environment by using carry- out containers made from sugar cane, corn, potato or vegetable protein. They use no plastic or styrofoam. (Taken from the about page on their website)

When we were seated the wait staff was so warm and welcoming, and told us all about the place, showed us around the menu, and gave us the low down on all the different options. (Vegan, Raw, Gluten-Free) We received a complimentary appetizer of "Baba Ghanouj". It wasn't raw, but it was vegan so I had a bite to try, and it was pretty good. My dad loved it and took it upon himself to gobble it all up.

We also ordered an appetizer of marinated Crimini mushrooms which were incredible... I could have eaten three bowls of those.

For dinner I ordered the "Crunchy Nutty Sandwich"

which consisted of veggies, guac, and nut-mayo on raw sprouted almond bread. It came with rainbow coleslaw and vegetable chips. It was SOOO good, I made a total pig of myself and cleaned off the entire plate.

And even though I was feeling really bloated and full already, I just HAD to try their raw dessert, the "Banana Fig Pudding"

It was sooo good...and they were sweet enough to spoil me and also give me a try of their raw carrot cake with raw carrot cookies for free. I was in heaven.

With that said... if you're from Wisconsin or if you're ever visiting, I HIGHLY recommend this place... I can't wait to go back and try the "Mushroom Extraordinaire" and the "Pecan Pate" appetizer!

As far as things I've been creating goes... I've done a bit of experimenting, though not as much as I'd like to. Many of the things I want to try...such as Russell James' Curried Cabbage Pillows... I simply haven't gotten around to doing because I am never in one place long enough to put things on my dehydrator. It will definitely have to be something I try on the weekend. Perhaps this weekend will be the weekend!

I'd also really like to try some recipes that I either just can't bring myself to spend the money on the ingredients (ingredients like macadamia nuts...holy hell are they expensive) or the ingredients are hard to come by. I did locate a market that sells young coconut, but apparently it's in a pretty rough neighborhood, so I won't be going there without my boyfriend to escort, hahaha.

At any rate, over the weekend I finally gave Ani Phyo's simple raw flax pancakes a try. Oooooh my god I think I died and went to heaven. I mixed some cinnamon and raisins into the batter, and topped them with blueberries... fantastic. Even the non-raw boyfriend loved them. I loved them so much I ate three of them and then laid around on a bloated tummy all evening afterwards, hehe. I will definitely be making these again REALLY soon, and when I do, I'll make sure I capture a photo of their glory. Mmm...

I just got a dehydrator for Christmas, so I haven' t tried much on it yet, but I have tried kale chips, and ATTEMPTED to make some corn chips. Well the kale chips were a success, and the boyfriend really liked those, too. (He actually has liked nine out of ten raw concoctions that I've introduced him to, which is awesome that he is so open minded!) I made mine with a lot less ingredients than most people seem to... I drizzled a very minimal amount of olive oil on the bunch with some sea salt...massaged the kale for a bit... through them on the tray and sprinkled some nutritional yeast flakes and cayenne pepper atop... glorious! I gotta say... I've been missing popcorn a lot, and this was even BETTER...

And the corn chips. Well I don't know what happened there. It might have been a few things... for one thing, apparently I had two trays stuck together, so they might not have gotten the proper, and even enough heating they deserved ... and well, I'm not sure I used enough corn, or processed it quite enough. They didn't taste bad, but they were rather chewy, not as much "chippy" and, they were very very thin...

Next time I'll use LOTS more corn, make sure my damn trays aren't sticking together, and possibly stick them in there for even longer.

In the meantime, I've been living off of variations of zucchini pasta. I just can't get enough of it, and the spiralizer is so much fun to use! I've made all sorts of sauces...marinara, alfredo, you name it!

I've also been really lovin' on homemade cashew butter with cinnamon and raisins with some apple slices dipped in it. So good!!

Anyway... besides eating all the delicious food, I've been using the energy I get from it to keep active at the gym during these cold months. Man I am SO happy I signed up for the gym. My mood has been 110% better this winter because of it... I've always been prone to seasonal depression, but I haven't noticed even a hint of it!

I feel so proud of myself, too! Everytime I am able to increase the weights I am lifting...or run for longer distances, etc... it makes me feel so great about myself.

Anyway :)
I dyed my bangs (back to) purple. To match my coat. haha

happy Wednesday!

Friday, January 8, 2010

First Post!

'ello blogspot community! This is my first post, and I'm a newbie so please be gentle :)

Just as a brief introduction, my new blog is inspired by a newly adopted raw vegan lifestyle. I feel that this is a good way to share information with other raw foodies, document my findings, and create a sort of timeline that I can look back on about my chosen raw path.

I adopted the raw diet almost 3 months ago, but had been living a cruelty-free lifestyle for some number of years now.... 6, I believe. So the transition wasn't as rough as it certainly could have been.

I'd say my path to raw began a long time ago. I struggled my entire adolescence with eating issues... whether I was struggling with anorexia or bulimia, or simply eating dangerously unhealthy foods. When I ate a "normal" SAD diet, I never felt good about myself, so I'd restrict, restrict, restrict, or I'd find ways of "getting rid of" the things that I put into my body. It would become very exhausting at times, and I was in and out of therapy constantly throughout high school and afterwards up until recently. It would become exhausting, and I'd fall back and just indulge in everything I could for awhile until I felt awful about myself again. It was a really dangerous, and mentally taxing vicious cycle...

When I went vegetarian at 17, I had no idea what raw was. And, I wasn't too concerned about being healthy. I wanted to be thin, but just like most people in our modern world, felt it would be too much effort to do in any healthy way. (looking back and realizing how much painful effort I put into damaging my body I can't grasp how this made sense in my head at some point. boy, what a twisted way of looking at things...)

At any rate, I was your typical "junk-food vegetarian" and when I went vegan a short time later, that didn't really change. I was all about the convenience foods, and the desserts. It was my mission to find vegan food that was fast, cheap, and full of fatty flavor. Ew.

As my journey went on, I started reading about the raw diet. I kept it in the back of my mind for quite some time, and thought about it, but felt like I could never do it.

Over the years my unhealthy habits lead to many problems. I was a chain-smoker, I drank, guzzled soda pops and energy drinks until no tomorrow, you name it. I suffered from chronic sinus infections that I just couldn't get rid of. I was always tired, always sick to my stomach, and I felt depressed. I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. It was just horrid...

Finally, just 2 years ago, I decided to quit smoking. My doctor had told me that my lungs had sounded awful for my young age, and that if I didn't do something about my habit soon, I'd be in some serious danger. It scared me enough to make quitting really easy.

And once I quit cigarettes, I wanted to be healthier yet. I felt so proud of I could do ANYTHING. So I quit drinking alcohol, quit soda, gum, etc...

But I still had the eating issues to address. I'm not sure if it was learning more about the dangers of the food that's out there today that kick started it (you know...hydrogenated oils, preservatives, etc.) or if it was just a matter of time, but about 3 months ago I decided to take the plunge.

It was difficult at first, I will admit, but not as difficult as I ever thought it would be. The hardest thing was getting rid of sugar. I was your average run-of-the-mill sugar addict. I mean... to the point where I broke down into tears after a couple of days without sugar.

Sugar might have been one of the main motivations to adopting the raw lifestyle. My sugar intake was out of control, and I felt awful about myself because of it... not to mention, I was putting myself at serious risk for diseases like diabetes.

At any rate... after the first month on raw things got easier. When I started experimenting more with cashew sauces and what not, things got interesting and more fun. At the end of my first month, I indulged in some cooked food and didn't feel too well afterwards. I don't just mean physically, but I just didn't feel good about me.

Raw has given me a chance to have a new and improved relationship with food. Whereas I used to eat sparingly to control my weight, and get upset when I did eat... I now eat every couple of hours, and I feel great every time, because I know I'm doing such good things for myself. I feel more connected and at one with the earth, and the list of benefits goes on!

So I decided to hold onto my new lifestyle. Over the past few months, I've still gotten cravings, and I've let myself have nibbles of those old favorites as not to put too much pressure on myself and set myself up for failure.

With that said, what had inspired me to start a blog, was my recent experience with sugar. A couple days ago when I had gotten a painful urge for chocolate and peanut butter, I let myself have some and whipped up a vegan peanut butter cup (which I normally could have eaten like 10 of). I took two bites, and absolutely hated the taste of it. I realized at that moment, what I had done. I overcame yet another unhealthy habit!

It inspired me to start journaling.

So, to kick-start my first entry, I'd like to share a recipe, and a photo (not of the recipe).

The recipe is nothing fancy shmancy, but I sure love it...
South of the Border Pasta (for one)

You will need:
Bottom Spinach Layer (optional)
Zucchini pasta
Avocado spread
Sunflower Seed topping

For the bottom spinach layer I use:
about 1/4 cup of spinach
1 carrot (peeled into shavings/pasta)
a handful of mushrooms
a bit of garlic

Mix ingredients together on the dish you will be serving on. Set aside.

Zucchini Pasta
1 zucchini
dash of sea salt

Spiralize the zucchini, and sprinkle sea salt over to soften. Set aside.

Avocado Spread
1 ripe avocado
dash of vinegar (any kind you like to use)
dash of sea salt

cut open avocado length wise and remove pit. scrape out insides with a spoon and transfer to a small bowl. mash it up with a fork and add in vinegar and sea salt to taste. set aside.

Salsa (this makes an entire batch)

6 roma tomatoes, quartered
1/2 sweet onion, quartered
2 green onions, chopped
2 jalapenos, quartered
1/2 cup cilantro
2 small cloves of garlic, minced (more or less to suit your own tastes)
1 1/2 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt

Use the chopping blade on your food processor. Add all ingredients to your food processor and pulse for 1-2 seconds at a time until desired consistency is reached. Store in a container (keeps for a couple days)

Sunflower Topping
handful of sunflower seeds
sea salt
garlic powder, to taste
Italian seasonings, to tase

Add all ingredients to a coffee grinder and grind until powdery.

Then the rest is simple, simply layer the zucchini noodles onto the spinach layer, and then the avocado, then as much salsa as desired (rest to be stored), then the sunflower topping, and you're ready to eat! I like to mix mine up a lot. And fresh corn is also a really good addition at just about any spot in this recipe.

And before I start my weekend, I'd like to share a photo of one of the best sauces I ever made:

Over zucchini "pasta" (pre-spiralizer!)

It was really good over broccoli!

Hope everyone has a great weekend, and I hope you enjoyed my first post :)