Sunday, April 25, 2010

A raw vegan dinner party

I've moved! Visit my new blog La Belle Vie for more recipes and healthy living tips. Don't forget to update your bookmarks!


Back in september 2009, I climbed the CN Tower in support of the united way. It actually wasn't bad at all, I was just horribly thirsty as you're not allowed any water throughout the whole thing. Anyway, I had a fundraising gift setup where for different amounts of sponsorship, I would give you homemade raw treats made by moi. Anyway, at the $50 level, I offered a homemade gourmet meal. Well, 3 people made that level! Namely, the boy's mom, dad and dad's girlfriend. So last night we had my father-in-law and his girlfriend over.

I made a three course meal, and I must say it was definitely one of the best meals I have prepared to date!

starting course:
salad with chopped cucumbers and mushrooms, dressed in a creamy tomato miso dressing and sprinkled with almond and sunflower parmasan


entree:
zucchini linguine in a sundried tomato marinara sauce with walnut and mushroom "meatballs", sprinkled (liberally in many of our cases...) with almond and sunflower parmasan

I made the "meatballs" at about 1p.m. and dehydrated until 5:45 p.m. to give them more of that "meatball" texture.

I didn't have a chance to photograph since I couldn't find a polite way to do so while they were there. Will take a photo next time I make it, which will be soon because it was amazing!!

dessert:
rich chocolate mousse on a chocolate cookie base, served with sliced strawberries (recipe below)



tip: slice the strawberries before the dinner and mix in a bowl with a touch of water. Mix well and over the course of the dinner, the sugary juices of the fruit will come out making an extra sweet treat without the need of sweetener.

Today's recipe
Base
1/2c almonds
1/2c macadamia nuts
1/2c dates, pitted
1 1/2 Tbsp raw cacao powder

In a food processor, process the nuts. Make sure to process in short burst so that it doesn't turn to butter. You want the nuts very finely ground.
Add the cacao powder and pulse the processor until it's well mixed in.
Add the dates and process (you can keep it on now, it won't turn to butter with all the other ingredients in there) until the dough is well blended. Watch your processor though to ensure that the dough isn't balling up; if it does, break it up with a spoon or spatula.

Take your cookie cutter (I used a heart shape one - so pretty!) and lightly coat it with coconut oil. Press into the cookie cutter a base with the crust of about 1/4".

Rich chocolate mousse
I used Ani Phyo's recipe, which can be found here. But, I used a little bit less agave nectar so it wouldn't be quite so sweet.
2/3c pitted Medjool dates
1/3c agave nectar (the original recipe calls for 1/2c)
1c avocado
2/3c raw cacao powder

In the food processor (you don't need to clean it, just empty completely of crust dough) blend the dates and agave nectar until smooth. Add avocado and blend until smooth. Add cacao powder and blend until smooth.

Spoon the mousse into the cookie cutter and use the spoon to smooth the top. Depending on how deep your cookie cutter is, you may not want to fill it to the top; going for double the height of the crust is a good bet. Make sure you spread the mousse to all sides evenly to keep the shape of the cookie cutter.

Lift the cookie cutter off. It should lift smoothly because of the coconut oil, but if it gets a bit stuck, use the spoon to press the dessert down as you life it off. I recommend re-greasing the cutter after every two (mine got a bit stuck on the third one I made).

Serve with a side of fruit or almond cream and enjoy the deliciously velvet chocolate taste and all the compliments from your guests.

xo
Selene

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

banana ice cream for breakfast



IMPORTANT NOTE: I now have an email address, which you guys can write me at. If you have any questions, if you'd like to see a post on anything in particular, if you want to send me photos of your versions of my recipes, or if you just want to say hi, email me: SeleneAtVeganlicious @ gmail.com

I'm pretty excited these days because it's finally MANGO SEASON! Yes, I don't think about the year in terms of winter, spring, etc.; I think about it in terms of what fruits and veggies are seasonal. Winter would be unbearable if it wasn't for clementimes and pomegranates. Spring brings mangoes (another reason it's my fave time of year), summer is about the berries, fall is for the apples...TNT, an asian supermarket, was having a special on them and we got a huge case for $7.99! So I've been having mangoes everyday for my morning and afternoon  snacks.

I'm also excited these days because I have just discovered the most amazing breakfast ever: ice cream! One of my favourite things about eating raw is that it's perfectly acceptable to have dessert for breakfast. I've had chocolate mousse, cashew cheesecake, and now ice cream. Today I had chocolate, but I've been also having my fair share of vanilla.

How is this possible??? You ask, in awe but also confused (and maybe a little concerned, if mom, you're reading this post). THROUGH THE WONDER OF BANANAS!! You may have noticed in your smoothie making expeditions that throwing a bunch of frozen fruits into the blender makes it super thick and creamy. Well, it's the same principle! Little trick I've learned to get things blending smoothly: cut your banana into slices before freezing.

Vanilla ice cream
1 banana, sliced and frozen
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or just throw some seeds from a vanilla bean in there)
1 tsp agave (this is very optional for vanilla. Bananas are super sweet on their own and don't really need this.)
1/2 Tbsp water or nut milk (to get things going)

Throw in a blender or food processor (I'm using a magic bullet). Blend until thick and creamy. You may need to stop halfway through and stir a bit to keep the frozen pieces on the bottom. Don't overblend as it'll get too soft (though you can firm up for a bit in freezer if it does). When done, the texture will be smooth and creamy like soft serve ice cream. Yum!!

Chocolate ice cream
Vanilla ice cream ingredients (here you will need the sweetener as the chocolate powder is bitter)
1/2 Tbsp raw cacao powder

Follow the same instructions as above.

Enjoy having a delicious breakfast and the look on the faces of your non raw vegan friends and co-workers when you tell them you had ice cream for breakfast!

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Raw vegan meal plan (Day 2) and raw vegan tacos (or, my new obsession)

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I'm building my meal plan to allow for leftovers, because in any meal plan, really, leftovers are kind of needed to get by timewise.

A note on raw eating...I am trying to achieve a high raw lifestyle, meaning that 90-95% of what I'm eating is raw. However, when it comes to spices and oils and tamari, I am often not opting for the raw versions. For spices and oils, this is a matter of accessibility (other than coconut oil, which is easy and inexpensive to acquire); although I am going to try to find and use more whole versions of the spices (like the tumeric root and cardamon pods, for instance), it will still be very hard to determine whether these are raw. For tamari, this is because nama shoyu (the raw version) contains gluten, which I am allergic to. Now, you could go with bragg's soy sauce-like product, but I don't use enough of it to really be bothered.

Now, you could probably do without most of the olive oil I use, which is the oil I use most frequently, as I don't use that much of it. So, if you want to live a fully raw lifestyle without spending tons of cash, that is an option.

Also, one final note, you may notice that I use lots of cashews and almonds as my nuts of choice. Well, I just recently found out that although labeled raw, the commonly sold versions are in fact not raw. Since 2007 all California almonds have been pasturized due to cross contamination in factories with salmonela (you'd think they should just have to have stricter controls in their factories, because really now, so gross! But, I guess this was ...cheaper?). Anyway, you can order raw versions of these nuts online (upaya naturals is a good source if you're from ontario); but, they are considerably more expensive than the non-raw versions. For now I am still using the non-raw versions, but am cutting down how much I use them.

Anyway, here's day 2 of the raw lifestyle meal plan...apparently I was in the mood for a tex-mex themed day...Click here to see day one of the meal plan.
  • breakfast: green smoothie - strawberry, banana, hemp seed, spinach, nut milk (or just blend hemp seeds first with water to make hemp milk and then blend in other ingredients)
  • snack: fruit 
  • lunch: tacos (see recipe below)
  • snack: walnuts and some dates 
  • dinner: chili with sweet n spicy corn chips
  • dessert: fruit dipped in raw chocolate sauce
Right, so I am totally obsessed with raw wraps and raw tacos. They're super easy to make and mega delicious. For the wraps, I use either savoy cabbage or collard greens. For smooth rolling, I cut the thickest part of the stem out, and shave the stem on the rest of the leaf (see photo below).

To make:
Curried lentil sprouts
  • Lentil sprouts tossed with tumeric, cumin, cayenne and a bit of olive oil (or lemon juice or water if you don't want to use the oil)
Easy peasy salsa
  • chop tomato, red onion, coriander, garlic, jalapeno. Toss together in a bowl. Let sit for a while if you're not in a hurry to eat; your taste buds will thank you.
Lazy guacamole
  • Mash an avocado with a fork with some lime juice
Shredded lettuce and/or cabbage
Olives (my jarred olives are clearly not raw. Actual raw olives are hard to find and a bit pricey. I love olives, so I eat them anyway. These can easily be omitted from the recipe.)



CUTE MOMENT BREAK!! Sabrina, my gray and white kitty is curled up on the automan in the exact same position as Ryder, the foster cat with the exact same colouring and markings (though he's solid gray, not tabby) who is on the chair behind her. And he's like half her size! The mini bean!! (We call Sabrina Bean. It's quite fitting once you get to know her.)

Hope you enjoyed your healthy tex mex-ilicios day! Stay tuned for day 3!

xoxo
Selene

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Raw vegan chili and a raw meal plan for the lazy chef in all of us

I've moved! Visit my new blog La Belle Vie for more recipes and healthy living tips. Don't forget to update your bookmarks!

 Hearty bowl of raw chili

Ok, it's been a great great weekend for many reasons: went to an amazing clothing swap put on by V. A. S. T., went to my adorable niece's birthday party, attended a wonderful raw potluck (yum!!), and went to my uncle and dad's joint bday lunch at my uncle's place. And to make everything even better, there were amazing people and conversations throughout it all!

So that part has been great. Of course, all the family get togethers mean that I haven't been eating as raw as I normally do. And I'm really noticing how much better my body does when I'm eating mostly raw. I feel much more grossly full and sluggish on cooked foods. And my throat is burning as it's giving me some serious acid reflux issues. I've also been on this stupid cleanse (I bought it a long time ago and figured I had better use it before it expired and I wasted all that money). I'm sure it's great and everything, but it involves swallowing 4 HORSE PILLS in the morning and SIX AT NIGHT. Omg, it's brutal! My throat closes up like one pill in! Ugh, next time I am sticking to tea based cleanses; SO much more enjoyable.

Oh yeah, AND I'm giving a presentation to a bunch of clients tomorrow with some senior people. I don't mind giving presentations in general but I'm still kind of nervous. OH AND my eyebrows are a MESS; but I can't do anything about them because I have an appointment on tuesday for them. I would feel much better about all of this if I didn't look like I lived in a forest before the existence of mirrors. Anyway, this is not helping with the burning throat issue. AT ALL.

Anyway, back to happier times...at the potluck, I was speaking to a bunch of people about going raw and the inherent challenges of doing so. And it came out of that that one of the biggest challenges were: what to eat on a daily basis. So, here's a meal plan for a delicious raw day (and yes, I snack A LOT). All these items are super easy to make - perfect for a rawbie (newbie + raw?) who wants more than just salad (though, you know me and salad so god knows why! :P), a busy girl/boy who appreciates delicious food and/or the lazy chef in all of us. BONUS: these are all delicious items your non-raw friends and family will also enjoy!:


Easy as can be!

Now for the chili recipe...Ok, so note that this recipe can be made with whatever veggies you have one hand really. This is just how I make it. It's very flexible, so you can customize to flavours you like best :)


To make
1 zucchini
2 beefsteak tomatoes (or the equivalent in other types of tomatoes - beefsteak were just the only canadian ones around. and they're deLICOUS!!! Seriously, how have I not known about their wonderfulness before!)
1/3 red onion (or 1 small yellow onion)
3 cloves garlic, derooted
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded
1 medium carrot
3-4 portabello mushroom caps
1/4c coriander
1 red pepper
cumin, to taste (meaning I didn't measure well...maybe 2tsp?)
tumeric, to taste (see note next to cumin...)

OK, so remember in a previous post I was ranting about how wonderful food processors are because you never need to hand-chop anything ever again?? Well, guess what! For this recipe, we are not going to chop one thing by hand. Yay!!
So, have a big bowl nearby. Using the S-blade of your food processor, chop one veggie at a time, achieving the desired texture with each before moving on to the next (meaning: don't just go for over processed mush for all of them, strive for a little variety!). Once you're done with one veggie, empty the contents of the food processor into the big bowl, and move on to the next veggie!

I stir in the spices at the end, once all the veggies are in the big bowl.

For a protein punch, add some curried lentil sprouts (mix lentil sprouts with olive oil, cumin, tumeric and cayenne until well coated) or walnuts ground with a bit of cumin.

Enjoy your day in the raw!! Told you it'd be easy!!

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Raw cinnamon banana pancakes

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We all know how important a good and healthy breakfast is; we hear it all the time - and not just from our moms. Without it, we have trouble concentrating, get headaches and are more likely to gain weight. But, that doesn't mean we always have the time to have one. Well, here's an easy breakfast recipe that you can make the night before, or even a couple of days before. And, even better, it harnesses the many nutritional benefits and the subtle nutty flavour of flax seeds to give you an even greater start to the day.

Flax seeds are a rich source of dietary fibre, including lignans, alpha linolenic acid - a heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid, and folate.

Omega 3 fats are well known for their ability to help protect against heart disease and cancer. They also help in the prevention and control of diabetes and high blood pressure. Because of their incredibly high omega 3 fat content, flax seeds also have anti-inflammatory benefits and can help reduce the inflammation behind such conditions as asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, and osteoporosis.

Flax seeds have a host of other benefits as well, many that are related to women's health. Rich in lignans, flax seeds can help protect against breast cancer. And, in addition to the many other benefits of omega 3 fats, they can also help protect bones and reduce bone loss.

With this delicious breakfast, before 9 a.m. you'll be able to boast that you've already fought cancer, heart disease, diabetes and lowered your cholesterol! Now that's a productive day!

To make
1c ground flax meal (see note)
1 ripe banana
1/2tbsp date paste
1/2tbsp cinnamon
1tbsp coconut oil
water, as needed

Blend the banana to puree it. Mix in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. The batter will be pretty stiff; I use a spoon to shape it into a pancake and smooth it out. The batter will keep in the fridge for several days.

Serve topped with fruit and a drizzle of agave nectar. I like to mix sliced strawberries in a bowl with a bit of agave nectar and let it sit for about ten minutes, which brings out the natural sweet juices of the fruit. For a super special weekend pancake treat, top with a fudgey raw chocolate sauce!

In addition to these pancakes, there many other ways to enjoy the health benefits and delicious taste of flax seeds:
  • sprinkle a tablespoon or two on your cereal or oatmeal - just make sure to do so after cooking or heating, otherwise you will lose many of the health benefits as heat does fatty acids in pretty quickly
  • enjoy a slice of raw chocolate chip banana bread
  • have some sweet and spicy corn chips for an afternoon snack


Note: Flax seeds are more digestible when ground, meaning that you will reap more of the nutrients and their benefits. However, because of the high omega fat content, once ground, flax can go rancid pretty quickly. The best and cheapest way to keep your flax fresh, is to buy the whole seeds and grind in a coffee grinder before use. Or, grind a small amount to keep in your freezer for when you need it - I grind about a cup at a time. You can buy pre-ground flax seeds in stores but it's considerably more expensive. Still, if you choose to buy it, make sure it's in a sealed package, not an open bin. And, once opened, keep it in the freezer.
If you are going to eat them whole, soak them overnight to make them more digestible - otherwise you'll find that they just come straight back out...and quickly...

SAUCY UPDATE!!!: A lovely lady on one of the raw forums I frequent dehydrated these babies 4 hours and said that it made them even more delicious - like an "oatmeal cookie" firm on the outside, soft on the inside. Can't wait to try them like that!!!

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Raw portabello steaks and cauliflower mashed potatoes

I've moved! Visit my new blog La Belle Vie for more recipes and healthy living tips. Don't forget to update your bookmarks!


I once made my husband portabello steaks with roasted potatoes. He loved it. As in I think it's now one of his most favourite dishes ever. Well in my week of eating raw, I have discovered an even better variation of this dish!

Portabello steaks
4 portabello mushrooms, stems removed
Balsamic vinegar (is this raw? I don't think so...feel free to omit this if not)
1/3 red onion
Olive oil
Cayenne
Salt

Slice mushrooms into four or five.
Slice onion thinly, separate rings.
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, until mushrooms are well coated.
Spread on teflex/paraflex sheet on dehydrator tray.
Dehydrate at 118F for 2 hours.
If you have more time, I would marinate and/or dehydrate the mushroom/onion mix for longer...Like marinate for an hour and dehydrate for 3 hours to really soften.

Cauliflower mashed potatoes
2/3 cauliflower head
1c cashews, soaked
1-2T nutritional yeast
water, as needed
garlic (optional), to taste
rosemary, to taste

Wash the cauliflower well and chop. I didn't really chop mine, and it would've been way easier if I had. Put in food processor with other ingredients, except water. Process, adding a little bit of water at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Serve with a nice green salad and enjoy!
 
Serves 2


Serious time now...my week of eating raw is technically over (although I started a day late, so we'll say it's over tomorrow). I wasn't completely raw as I did use my regular olive oil and balsamic vinegar...but was definitely 90-95% raw. I'm definitely enjoying how much fun coming up with raw dishes is in the kitchen. So...I'm thinking about extending my week of raw to a month of raw. If you wish to try for a month of raw with me, or to try incorporating more raw days and meals into your life, I'm going to be posting more recipes and even some meal plans.

Ok non-serious time again...the boy and I are fostering a kitten! His name is Ryder, he's 8 months and he is so so cute! He's super snuggly and loves to play with the other kitties! If anyone in the Toronto area is looking for the best little kitty ever to adopt into their home (that already has at least one other cat for him to play with), contact Forgotten Ones Cat Rescue. They're a wonderful organization, from whom we've gotten two other super cute cats. And, they really want what's best for the cat and the adopter. Back when I had only one orange kitty, I adopted a cat from them for him to play with. He liked her but she wasn't the biggest fan. So we tried another cat instead - who ended up getting along great with Pyro. They were really nice and open about it, reassuring me that everyone/cat involved needs to be happy with the adoption and that that was their top priority and that I wasn't a bad person for not being able to keep the first cat.  Anyway, here's a picture of the little muffin:


xo
Selene

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Spicy sweet potato chips

I've moved! Visit my new blog La Belle Vie for more recipes and healthy living tips. Don't forget to update your bookmarks!



I am currently trying out going completely raw for the week. Well, mostly raw since I'm still using my existing oils and since I have an unnatural dependency on olives. And I am anticipating a glitch in the plan this weekend as I am heading to montreal for family easter with my grandparents. Which means no access to food processor, blender, my kitchen or my food items. It also means being with grandparents that give me enough of a hassle about not eating meat and seem to fear vegetables, so why really throw an extra thing in the mix. Seriously, one time I was eating breakfast with them and had tofu, a kiwi and oatmeal, and while eating dessert cannellonis and cake for breakfast they were yelling at me for being so unhealthy and trying to make me eat JAM because it was more fruit than a kiwi. True story.

Well, anyway, back to the raw thing. I'm a snacker. Especially when I'm at work, I need to snack quite often. Especially around 10/10:30 and at 2:30.

So, here's a recipe for an easy raw snack that will satisfy those salt cravings: spicy sweet potato chips!
 
Ah, the sweet potato...one of the oldest vegetables known to humans. Consumed since prehistoric times, sweet potato relics have been found in Peruvian caves, dating back 10,000 years. Native to South America, the sweet potato was domesticated 5,000 years ago and was brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus following his historic voyage of 1492.

Not only does this amazing root vegetable have a rich history, it's also quite rich in vitamins and minerals. The sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, making it an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powerhouse. Also a great source of fibre and vitamin B6, this veggie provides incredible bang for a very moderate buck - one hearty sized potato ran me $0.71. And, as if it couldn't get any sweeter, the sweet potato is also low in calories (running 86-95 for a potato) and virtually fat-free!



To make
1 sweet potato
2-3T olive oil
cayenne pepper
italian seasoning blend (optional - I didn't make my batch with them, but I could see it being quite tasty)

Using a mandoline, thinly slice your potato. Leave the skin on for vitamins and fibre, and because it just tastes great. After the effort of slicing, take a little break - it's tiring work! Eat the leftover bits of the potato that the mandoline wouldn't slice to recharge. (If you don't have a mandoline, you could probably use a veggie peeler.)

Put the slices in a bowl.
Mix the olive oil with the seasonings in another bowl. Pour the oil mixture over the slices and massage well, making sure every chip is well coated.

Spread on the mesh screen of the dehydrator tray and let dry over night at 115F.

These chips are slightly chewy with a spicy bite. Enjoy with some raw ketchup or just by their own delicious selves.

note: I've been reading that there is something called a trypsin inhibitor in raw sweet potatoes. I can't find much about it or how much you need to consume in order for it to have a negative effect. For this recipe, one potato goes a long way so I figure I'm not eating that much of it raw in any given day. Still, if you're concerned, you could probably try using a yam instead. If you choose to use a yam, be certain of what you're buying as most sweet potatoes are labeled as yams even though they are not in fact yams.

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