Saturday, December 17, 2011

Live Lasagna!

Eating a raw diet has amazing health benefits. It is a lifestyle change that could benefit so many different people. If you are sick with a chronic disease, if you are tired more often than not, if you are carrying too much fat and want to lose weight, or if you want to feel some mental clarity, switching to a raw food diet could absolutely be your answer.

The raw food diet has helped anyone who wants healthy levels of blood cholesterol, healthy blood sugar levels, pain-free joints, clear skin and shiny hair, less cellulite and fat, swift weight-loss, immune system boost, sound sleep, higher levels of energy, increased libido, improving all around mood and much more.

To break this down a bit, for food to be considered raw or living, it must be unprocessed, raw plant foods that have never be exposed to temperatures over 115°F. Raw foodists believe that foods cooked above this temperature have lost much of their nutritional value and are less healthy or even harmful to the body. Raw or living foods have natural enzymes, which are essential in building proteins and rebuilding the body. Heating these nutritious foods kills the natural enzymes, leaving toxins behind in the body. It’s believed that these raw foods all have their own natural healing life force, and when we cook them and change their composition this force is depleted. Why would we do this then?

A lot of people think that eating raw simply includes eating salads and fruits. However, with some creativity it can really be fun and more complex than that. Here is a recipe for "Live Lasagna" which will knock your socks off. It's a bit time consuming, as all parts are made from scratch, but the final product will not disappoint, I promise you that.

(adapted from "You Won't Believe it's Vegan!")

Zucchini Noodles
2 medium-size squash
2 medium-size zucchini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp sea salt

Cut the ends off the squash, and then cut then in half width-wise. Slice as thinly as possible lengthwise using a knife or mandoline, if you have one. Using a mandoline makes the process much quicker and easier.

Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt and pour over the squash strips and set aside.

Raw Cashew Cheese
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 20 minutes, drained & rinsed
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 tsp Nama Shoyu (raw, unpasteurized soy sauce) - optional

In a food processor blend the cashews and 1/2 cup of filtered water until creamy. Add the garlic and nutritional yeast and blend well. Add lemon juice, sea salt, punch of fresh ground black pepper and Nama Shoyu (if using) and mix well. This will last up to 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator and can be used for so many other things (as a dip, for collard wraps, etc.)

Live Tomato Sauce
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in 3/4 cup warm (not hot) water for 20 minutes
1 tomato, seeded & chopped
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning OR any Italian spices such as: basil, oregano, sage, garlic
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup EVOO
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

In a food processor, blend the water and sun-dried tomatoes until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend well.

TO ASSEMBLE (the fun part!)
Drain the marinated squash and blot dry. In a baking dish, arrange the "noodles" along the bottom of the dish. Spread half of the cashew cream evenly over the noodles. I like to include some fresh spinach and baby portabella mushrooms into my lasagna, but any other of your favorite vegetables would be fine. Arrange the veggies evenly on top of the cashew creme and spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce over top. Add another layer of the squash a repeat the cheese, veggie, tomato sauce layers. The final layers should be noodles topped with tomato sauce. You can optionally sprinkle with nutritional yeast for that extra bit on top!

Cut into pieces, serve & enjoy. This recipe will not disappoint you, take my word for it!

Happy raw eating!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Kale Salad... Massaged!

Kale has become my absolute favorite vegetable. I am literally obsessed with it.... and in any form: raw, steamed, whatever. Not only do I think it is super delicious, but it is considered to be one of the most highly nutritious vegetables with many health benefits. Kale has very high levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, lutein and calcium, and is a good source of fiber. It contains some carbohydrates and protein as well and has very few calories. Amazing!

Sometimes when eating kale raw, it can be a bit tough and hard to chew. It has a very potent flavor which turns a lot of people off. Someone once asked me if I had ever massaged my kale. Of course, my answer was 'No!' Who would ever think to massage their veggies? Well, my friend was right.

Here is the recipe for my delicious "massaged kale salad:"

1 bunch of kale, washed, stalks removed and cut or torn into pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
2 avocados, cut into cubes
1 tomato, chopped
salt & pepper to taste, optional
cayenne pepper, optional

Place the kale in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and massage the kale until it starts to soften and wilt, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and lemon juice and massage again for another minute or two. Add one whole avocado and half of the other and massage into the kale, until the chunks of avocado have been thoroughly incorporated into the kale. Add the diced tomatoes and remaining half of cubed avocado and toss well. Do NOT massage the tomatoes into the kale. I like all my food spicy, so I top mine with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Salt and pepper are optional as well, depending on your taste.

I make this in the beginning of the week and eat a bowl for lunch (and sometimes dinner too!) every day. It feels so good to put all those raw, live enzymes into my body and to know that what I'm eating has major health benefits. Eating such healthy food gives me energy and I hope you take my advice and try this salad! You will not be disappointed...

Lots of love,

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Super Sweet Holiday Gifts... SUGARPLUMS!

This holiday season, I decided I was going to make some sort of treat and package them up as little gifts for family and loved ones. I wanted something different from a holiday cookie or chocolate truffles. I was looking for a sweet healthy treat that tasted like the holidays. Wow, I sure gave myself a lot of criteria to follow...

I always wanted to make sugarplums, but I didn't really know what they were. I've heard the word so many times, but have never actually seen one in person. So, I consulted a few of my favorite go to websites for confections (Martha Stewart, William Sonoma, Saveur) and found exactly what I was looking for! Naturally, I combined a few recipes and added a few different ingredients and came up with my own recipe for sugarplums.

Ingredients (makes about 100 sugarplums):
2 cups shelled unsalted pistachios
2 cups walnuts
2 cups dried apricots
1 cup dried figs
2 cups dates
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
5 tbsp honey
3 tbsp ginger preserves
2 tbsp orange zest
Superfine sugar, for rolling

In a food processor add pistachios and walnuts and pulse until the pieces are small. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add the apricots, figs and dates one at a time to the food processor and pulse until the pieces are small. Transfer to the same bowl as the nuts. Do not be alarmed when the dates begin to clump together. They are sticky and this is going to happen.

Dates, Apricots, Figs

Add spices, honey, ginger preserves and orange zest to the mixture. Mix together well with your hands incorporating all ingredients.

Put the sugar in a small shallow bowl. Using a teaspoon or your hands, scoop up a rounded spoonful of the mixture, press together, and roll between your palms into a compact ball. Roll the round in the sugar and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once all balls all rolled, place in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Transfer to airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The longer they stay, the more the flavors come out.

I bought about 20 Ball jars from Target that could fit about 15 sugarplums in each. I thought this would be a wonderful little holiday gift. To spice up the packaging, I bought some nice festive ribbon and made these little hangtags.

This was a super fun thing to do for the holidays and was an affordable gift that I could give to all of my extended family members.

Happy New Year everyone!