Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Flax Crackers

These can be crisped at a low temperature in the oven (<250 degrees)  with the door cracked, or dehydrated.  The instructions are simple:

1c   flax, ground
1c   shredded carrots (or better yet, use the pulp of juiced carrots)
1/2c  sunflower seeds
1/4c  whole flax seeds

raw honey (optional)
pink salt, oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste

Mix all ingredients and add water until you have a pliable dough.  Spread thinly over dehydrator sheets or parchment paper.  Cut the dough into cracker shapes once it begins to firm in the dehydrator.

This is a standard recipe.  Victoria Boutenko, the author of one of my favorite raw books, "12 Steps to Raw Food," suggests letting the dough ferment overnight.  In my experience these crackers take a few days to dehydrate at 110 degrees, so I skip the fermentation step. 

Ground, sprouted wheat berries may be added.  Just soak berries for a day, and lay between two wet napkins to sprout, rinsing about every 5-8 hours for a couple of days until sprouts form. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Super Easy Cleansing Milk - Fresh Food For the Skin!

Making a cleansing milk is probably easier than you think.  I was pleasantly surprised at the results of this simple recipe - after using it, my skin felt soft and clean.  The alpha hydroxy acids in lime and enzymes in the yogurt will ensure cleansing, but will not strip the skin of its natural oils. 

Sure, you could buy a cleansing milk (and it might even come with some sulfates for bubbling purposes) but the real deal - the cleansing milk that Cleaopatra used - consists of FRESH ingredients.  If you feed your body fresh food, why not do the same for your skin?

Here is a vegan recipe:

1 cup soy yogurt
juice of 1 lime
2 t Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I got a little fancy, substituting Pomegranate, Rose Hip, Evening of Primrose for Olive Oil - but olive is just fine, really.  I love it and use it on my skin often.  It is slow to go rancid, meaning it will not age the skin (because it has not gotten stale and oxidized) and it contains plenty of healthy fatty acids.

I also added two drops of (CO2 extracted) carrot seed essential oil.  Carrot seed Oil contains high levels of Beta Carotene, a powerhouse in anti-aging nutrients.  CO2 extraction, also know as supercritical extraction, helps keep the plants' properties intact and preserves the therapeutic benefits of essential oils - as is not always the case in distilled oils.  

One final note:  this cleansing milk will NOT make your face break out... I promise!  As with any food, please keep this refrigerated and discard after a week or so.

Sprouted Sweet Potato

Little did I know that the discount sweet potato that I lazily forgot about would grow into THIS!  After seeing little sprouts pop out a month or so ago, I put the sweetie into a bowl filled with an inch or two of water.  Roots began to form from the bottom, and ivy-like leaves from the top.  

This can be done with all kinds of pits and even root vegetables; avocado pits are especially beautiful.  Usually a toothpick holds the pit so that it sets halfway in a cup of water.  I didn't even do that much; really these root plants are hearty and WANT to live, and in my experience, they grow readily.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Jicamas !

It think the taste of a Jicama, or Mexican turnip, could be best described as a cross between apples and raw potatoes.  The texture is watery and crisp like an Asian (apple) pear.  It's one of the few vegetables, I think, that most cultures traditionally eat raw.  In Mexico, it is sometimes eaten raw with lime juice and chili powder; in the Philipines with shrimp paste; and in Indonesia, like an apple. 

The jicama is common in Asia, but was cultivated by the Spanish and is most associated with the Americas.  It grows in warm climates, and although the root itself is delicious, the vine is harmful to fish and insects, meaning it has its own natural pesticide qualities.

Jicama Fries
from 12 Steps to Raw by Victoria Boutenko

Serves 4

1 jicama, cut into fry shapes
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon garlic to taste
¼ teaspoon cayenne to taste
1 pinch cumin, to taste

Toss n Serve.

PS: the jicamas pictured are definitely going bad!  My mistake: putting them in the fridge.  Jicamas last longest - sometimes months - when stored in warm, dry places.  I also bought them at a discount produce market, which may have encouraged them to discolor within a week or so of buying them :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Whole Wheat Ginger Cupcakes & Raw Snow Dates

I've never been much of a cupcake person... that is, until my friend Lydia called me from DC and explained that she'd tried the most *delicious* ginger cupcake ever.  She described the texture of the frosting as a bit crystallized and the cake as spicy.  My plan was to make her a similar cupcake when she comes to visit; Here's my shot at it.
I decided to make my own powdered sugar for the frosting, which was a bit more grainy than most people might like; still, an easy fix.  I used (sustainable) palm oil (aka veg shortening) instead of coconut oil, because of another friends allergies.  IF YOU CAN, USE UNREFINED COCONUT OIL.  Sorry to yell, I just can't emphasize the importance of good coconut oil enough (like Nutiva.)  Make sure you get unrefined, as regular has no flavor.

I modified a general cupcake recipe to make this, and added a few things myself, but drew the spice amounts from including Jo Ann Sugimoto from the "Just a Pinch" Recipe Club's blog:

1 c.  WW Flour 
1 c. Unbleached Flour (or 2c. total WW - I do this; it works for a heavier cake)
1 1/2 t. Baking Soda
1/4 t. Real Salt
 6 T. Unrefined Coconut Oil
3/4-1 c. Natural Sugar, mixed with 1/2 t. Blackstrap Molasses (a good source of iron)
2 t. Cinnamon
1/2 t. Cloves
1/4 t. Black Pepper
1 1/2 t. Potato Starch or Energy Egg Replacer mixed w/ 2T Warm Water
1 T Flax, Ground
3/4 C. Almond milk
1t. Apple Cider Vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.  Sift dry ingredients.   Cream vanilla, coconut oil, and sugars.  Add "egg," or potato starch.  Then add almond milk and flour dry mixture in 1/4 c. increments, intermittently.  Pour into cupcake molds 3/4 full. 

Sprinkle natural brown sugar on top of the cakes, concentrating on the edges; it will crystallize and make a nice crispy crust.  Bake 17-22 minutes. 

I tried my hand at making caramel and pouring it on top of the cakes before frosting... but the caramel was a disaster!  So obviously I won't share the recipe for that.  If you can make a good caramel sauce, try it! 

A simple coconut oil/ powdered sugar frosting will work well for this.  If grinding your own powdered sugar, add a pinch of egg replacer, corn starch, or potato starch.

Coconut Snow Dates are easy to make: mix 1/4 cup oat flour (or ground oats) with 1/4 cup shredded coconut.  Stuff dates with whole almonds, coat with a thin layer of raw almond butter, then roll in oat/ coconut mixture.  I think rolled dates are usually cooked in butter before being dipped in the oat/ coconut mixture.

The only issue that I have is with the flour mixture remaining stuck to the dates.  Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Monday, May 9, 2011

What to do with overripe bananas?

CinnaMaka SHAKE
naturally sweetened :)

2-3 overripe bananas, frozen
about 1/2 c water
2 handfulls of almonds (any nut)
1 t maca powder (tastes malty, and adds tons of vitamins)
1t cinnamon

The amount of water really just depends on the size of the bananas.  Blend until smooth.  Just make sure you PEEL the bananas before freezing them.  I've made the mistake of pulling bananas out of the freezer and trying unsuccessfully to saw off black, frozen peels.

Both maca and Green Kamut powder helped me get through caffeine-free days when I was trying to give up coffee.  I think the vitamin content in both may help prevent caffeine withdrawal migraines.

This shake tastes rich and creamy - just like a milkshake should!  The bits of nuts are my favorite part.  For a more hearty or textured shake, consider adding unrefined coconut oil, flax, or chia seeds.  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Nutty Sweet Quinoa Salad

I admit I'm not a salad-eater (not even pasta salad,) but this is absolutely delicious!  I was trying to think of what to do with my sprouted quinoa this morning... after reading about how "bitter" it can be, I was a little weary of trying to eat it plain, but low and behold I tried a bite: not bitter at all!  I think it would be if I hadn't rinsed it several times (even though most commercial brands of quinoa are pre-rinsed, the saponin-coat of the quinoa seed is what makes it taste bitter, and I did notice bubbles as I rinsed it.)


3/4 c. Sprouted (black) quinoa 
1/2 zucchini, grated
corn from 1 raw cob
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
handful of parsley leaves
1/2 lemon
1 T flax seeds
sea salt, cracked pepper
1 yellow mango, added before serving (optional)

Quinoa, a seed rich in amino acid proteins, is related to spinach and swiss chard, and is one of the easiest seeds to sprout!  It can grow green sprouts in only a few days, although I definitely like to eat it before that point.  TO SPROUT QUINOA:  Soak overnight in a LOT of water.  Rinse for 3 minutes, and continue rinsing every 5-10 hours until sprouts appear.  Simple as that.  Quinoa is so easy to sprout, you can just leave it in a jar without using a sprouter lid, and make sure you rinse so it doesn't dry out.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

After the quinoa is sprouted, simply mix everything else with it in a bowl.  The mangoes, pepper, corn, parsley all work well with the nutty crunchy-textured quinoa.  I recon this would make a nice salsa, too, but I think it's just fine on its own.  

I usually look for corn that has yellow and white kernels.

Before adding mangoes
My favorite quinoa is Alter Eco black quinoa, but I'm sure any type will work.  Most people think that red quinoa is more bitter than white (which is supposedly why animals choose to feed on white) but I think that this black quinoa is the absolute best quinoa I've ever sprouted.  Happy eating!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Adventures in Soymilk making.

Not remembering that your blender has a lid will lead to this vomit-like spectacle. 
Making Soymilk is SOOO cheap (this batch of organic soymilk cost .68 cents) and easy, albeit a pain in the neck.  A Chinese customer at the grocery store that I work at laughed when I told her that I try to make my own soymilk, since machines are made to do that.  Guess I'm a little oblivious - I've only known about rice cookers for a few years.

Ok, soymilk:  it's easy.  After soaking a cup or so of soybeans overnight, rinse them in a sieve or colander and place them blender, adding fresh water until it's about two inches above the soy beans.  Grind to a chunky pulp; this will help break down the bean so that the enzymes are more easily utilized in the cooking process. 

Now bring your soy slush to a boil.  After it reaches a boil, leave it to simmer for about a half hour.  Skim the fluff that rises constantly. 

What the...
After simmering your soybeans for 30-40 minutes, strain it, ideally in a cheesecloth-lined strainer.  I always use a sieve, and bits of bean usually remain in my final mixture.  One of these days I'll remember cheesecloth.  Please don't think you're doing yourself any favors by undercooking the soybeans; like many beans, raw soy is pretty much toxic!  The bean needs to defend themselves from being eaten somehow, right? 
Okara makes great soymeat.
After straining, you'll have this mush: it's Okara.  Mix it with oat flour and marinara, coat it in Italian seasonings and whole wheat flour, and bake it on an oiled cookie sheet for an *AWESOME* soy chicken.  I found the recipe on a blog of okara recipes, and it's called "Maria's Un-Chicken."  I don't know who Maria is, but many thanks to her.

Soymilk made this way is somewhat beany-tasting.  But it works.  I drink it because it's healthier than boxed soymilk.  You can add a little salt or agave if you like, but I have many times ruined soymilk trying to make it taste like the stuff from the store, which is actually just watered down and thickened with fillers. 

FOR TOFU: the next step would be coagulation.  I've tried vinegar, I've tried limes... what did I get?  Lime-flavored curdles/ vinegar-flavored curdles (the vinegar curdles were admittedly better.)  It looked just like baby spit-up.  From experience, I'd suggest taking this soymilk and adding a REAL coagulator made specifically for tofu.  Just mix the soymilk/coagulator and pour it over a cheesecloth-lined strainer.  It will harden in the strainer, and the liquid will spill out as it hardens.  After it hardens, you should "press" it with something.  More on this later.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lemon H20 and Detox

Every morning, I try to start off with a large glass of warm lemon water.  I won't lie, my attempt at living a raw lifestyle has been... well, a process.  I love cooked food.  Sweet and salty prepared food is more exciting (well, duh) than raw vegetables.  Some doctors still debate as to whether food is physically addictive, but I don't think anyone could dismiss the psychological dependence that people have on food.  I take steps forward and steps backward.  But lemon water is my constant.  It's my morning tea.  But why lemon water?

Most people have heard about the benefits of alkaline foods.  And most people know that lemons are full of tart citric acid.  So lemons make us acidic?  Nope, our bodies interpret lemons as alkaline, because they form an alkaline ash during digestion. The citric acid in lemons then absorbs into the blood, helping to clean the liver, lungs and kidneys--dissolving uric acid and stirring up the bowels.  If you are fortunate enough to have good bowel movements, the harmful acids that the citric acid stirs up will be expelled.  If you don't have good bowel movements, start eating fiber--eat a few tablespoons of flax seeds with almond milk and a spoonful of jam!  (to make an easy almond milk, blend one part almonds to two parts water in a blender and strain.)  As long as you don't have diverticulitis, you'll be fine eating this odd, but somewhat tasty and filling flax porridge.  The mucilage in flax will expand in and further help grab poisons.  Psyllium is another option.  Plant mucilages like flax and psyllium escort waste right out of your body.

Magnesium, in conjunction with calcium, has an important part to play in the formation of albumen in the blood.  Lemons contain potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and  magnesium. They're useful in treating heartburn, fevers, the common cold, asthma, and the flu.

Partly because of these minerals, lemon is considered a natural appetite suppressant, and is said to dislodge toxins from fat.  I'm skeptical of these sorts of claims, but if in fact cellulite is the result of the overtaxed lymphatic system not being able to remove toxins from pockets of fat, lemon water would seem to help.  This however, could be a myth promoted by the alternative health industry; who knows. 

Although diet may affect cellulite, it's important to remember that hormones do too; estrogen, specifically.  Anyways don't stress yourself over a few dimples :)

We live in a charged universe.  Lemons are one of the few foods on the planet to contain predominantly negatively charged ions.  As you read this, your computer screen may be emitting positive ions.  The screen itself has a positive static charge, and will draw negative ions toward it, while releasing positive ions into the air.  Our planets ionopshere is supposedly overloaded with positive pollution caused by human industry, and our bodies expend negative ions with every move we make.  According to a Dr. Neal Nedley, a medical doctor who specializes in preventative medicine, plants actually grow faster in negatively charged fresh air, and the silica in the lungs function more efficiently.  

Negative ions are mostly found in forests.  Albert P. Kreuger, a microbiologist and experimental pathologist at the University of California, found that even small amounts of negative ions can kill airbourne bacteria.  In fact, electrons make us alkaline; acidification of the blood is caused by loss of electrons.

I understand that negative charge effects alkalinity, and alkalinity has a positive effect on the body.  But most of the studies have concerned with negative ions in the atmosphere, not in food - but what's on and around our bodies is also inside them. 

Ok, so I'll still be reading, and I'll be sure to update this post if I find out any new or conflicting information.  I'm NOT going to tell you to go out and soak your feet in ion baths or buy an electric ionizer; we live in a money-driven world, and sadly people will promise anything at the promise of making money.  Nobody has all of the answers; I'm not even sure that the raw food diet is absolutely the healthiest diet.  My point of contention is tea.  A lot of raw vegans argue that hot tea throws the body out of balance, whether it contains caffeine or not.  But sometimes I need a little warm-up.  I've tried living without caffeine; I'm simply not ready to give it up yet.  I love cacao.  I love coffee.  I know my body, and you know yours.  It's up to all of us to make informed decisions.  Personally, I know that dairy is mucous-forming, full of pesticide concentrations, and contains a chemical called casiein that reacts with opiate receptors in the brain like heroin does.  Caesin is also used in glue and plastics.  I knew for years, and still ate it.  I had to wait for my time to change.

Dr. Max Gerson's cancer treatment institute in Mexico (alternative cancer treatment cannot be legally practiced in the US) has been heavily criticized.  The alkaline diet has, too.  I understand why: diets make money.  However, authors of a 1990 study reported that patients using an alkaline detoxification therapy in conjunction with standard cancer treatment reported that "the diet appeared to help patients to live longer than usual and have fewer side effects."  

Linus Pauling was criticized for suggesting vitamin C to treat common colds, just as people in the 70s were quackified for questioning the safety of lead paint.  The longest-lived people in the world, the Hunzas and Okinawans eat a primarily alkaline plant-based diet--and the Okinawans live near one of the most polluted waterways in Japan.  Acidity creates inflammation.  The highly acidic north American diet leaves one in four people with cancer, and the survival rates that pharmaceuticals offer is grim.  The health benefits of alkalinity have been demonstrated for hundreds of years, and the evidence is all around us.  Such cultures demonstrate that the cure for every disease is in prevention.  Many alternative practitioners think that every disease points to one singular cause: an overload of toxicity.  No doubt our bodies are excellent at maintenance, but I hardly think evolution has had a chance to catch up with all of the chemicals we constantly eat, breathe, and drink.  As I take my shower, I may think of the choloroform (chlorine vapor) that rises from the hot water as something my body can handle - well it is - but what about the dust from nearby demolished high-rises, diesel smog, the smokestack I can see from my bedroom window, and the browned food that I eat that will eventually cause acrylamide to form inside my body?

If you get a chance, I suggest reading John Robbin's "Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the Worlds Healthiest and Longest Lived Peoples."

Skepticism is the basis for modern science, but beware of who is funding "non-profit" studies.  Pharmacy is BIG BUSINESS.  In the 90s many of us were convinced shyness was a disease by makers of Paxil.  Now ads appear constantly for depression, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction.  I was skeptical of the researchers, skeptical of the skeptics, skeptical of health gurus, and so I gave detox a try.  And I felt a difference.  Most of the people who say that detox doesn't work have never tried it.  Your body will tell you right from wrong.  Don't say "no pizza... ever" because the first thing you'll want to do when you "fail" is eat a slice of pizza... then after "blowing it" maybe you'll have a milkshake!  There is NO failure when it comes to your body - it's yours and nobody else's, and you're the same awesome person if you're drinking a milkshake or not.  Eventually, if you can ease into giving up cooked food - if only for two weeks - your cravings will disappear.  Carrot burgers (recipe coming soon) will taste great, but don't expect others to agree unless their systems have also been cleaned up! 

For more intense detoxification, try lemon water in addition to a diet high in raw fruits and vegetables.  A week to a month will be all you need to feel better and begin to heal yourself from the inside.  You will see a difference in your skin; your acne WILL vanish. If you eat completely raw for as little as a week, I can almost promise that your skin will be as smooth as when you were a kid.  You will loose your taste for doughnuts and chips.  Your sleep will become as natural and regular as the sunrise and sunset.  Try cleansing during the spring, a time of year that the body naturally detoxes. 

Luke munching on Wheatgrass (to make: soak Hard Red Wheatberries overnight and wrap in towel, rinsing in a strainer every 10 hours until little sprouts appear.)

Ann Wigmore observed  that wheatgrass inspires a the same relaxing response as "crashing waves," because of the negative ions it lets off.  Could be.  I do have a hard time sleeping with a tray of wheatgrass by my bed.  But I think it's more my cat's interest in the grass that keeps me up. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How to Make a Simple Scrub

I make various scrubs—some are cold-infused with herbs, some with spices, another with antioxidant-rich cacao nibs.  Scrubs can be made with honey, molasses, agave nectar, or any humectant; they can also be oil-based.  This recipe is for an oil-based scrub.

Since recipes for scrubs aren’t as fragile as balms or creams, you can have fun with experimenting with various ingredients.

A brown sugar & agave scrub scented with ginger.

Mix together:
1 cup solid oil (such as coconut)
1/2 cup liquid oil (optionally combined with a quarter size amount of melted beeswax) 
up to 3 cups ground salt/ sugar
Essential oil of choice 

Simple enough...

Mix everything, adding the sugar/salt last.  Use as much or as little sugar/ salt as you like.  To ensure a uniform consistency, and to save your poor arms, a stand mixer might be helpful.

If you use virgin coconut oil, it will contain a high level (>50%) of Lauric Acid.  In other words, you might just scrub your skin raw with it.  In fact, Lauric Acid will help fight acne and keratosis pilaris (tiny bumps that often crop up on the upper arms) but if you have sensitive skin, be warned: you will need to use another oil such as sunflower.  Combining the oil with a wax will help it form a softening protective barrier over the skin.  Please avoid emulsifying waxes; they always contain Polysorbate-60, a toxic ester.  There are many natural vegan waxes available, such as Candellia.

If you have access to shea butter, use it to replace coconut oil for a foot scrub. 

Your skin WILL feel oily before you dry off.  Try to like the feeling.  Coconut oil is non-comedogenic and mildly anti-bacterial, meaning it will not only not cause breakouts—it will fight them.  Neither will it over-moisturize.  This type of scrub is suited for use on the body.

For facial exfoliation, try patting on a mixture of soy yogurt, ground oats, and splash lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.   Fresh strawberries will help slough off dead skin, as well.

Easy Body Butter!

Mix the following:
1 part Shea Butter (use unrefined!)
1/4 part solid oil, such as coconut
a drizzle (to preference) liquid oil
Essential oil (optional)

Any cooking oils will do.  You can go as cheap or fancy as you want to.  I prefer cold pressed oils and Nutiva extra virgin unrefined coconut oil—I've tried them all, and this is the best—but you don’t have to.  Buy the cheap stuff at the grocery store.  Try it out, see if you like it.  I'm sure you'll find that it’s a heck of a lot better than most of the other stuff out there.

What about shea?  That you'll probably have to order online.  Unrefined shea does have an unusual ash-like scent, but is packed with antioxidants that are chemically stripped from refined varieties. I think you'll find that the benefits of unrefined shea outweigh the smell.

I'll go ahead and assume you don't want any fuzzies growing on your butter, so please sterilize and dry your utensils completely before using them!  Or at least make sure there is not so much as a drop of water in your container.  If you don't care to serilize, most likely nothing will be growing in your butter unless you incorporate water in the mixture.

I use a stand mixer to blend everything (Kitchen Aid,) starting with the more dense shea butter, and ending with the liquid oils.  It's a simple method that works well.

One little note:  be careful what essential oils you use to scent this product.  Clove oil, for example, contains high levels of Eugenol, a hepatotoxic compound that may damage the liver over time.  Even lovely Bergamot is carcinogenic.  That being said, I just noticed this morning that my natural Zevia soda contains Wintergreen - another toxic essential oil.  A little obviously won't kill you, but please be careful.

Good luck!