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First Raw Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 25, 2011

 I was ready to sacrifice my diet on Thanksgiving and eat some cooked food but when I asked my husband what he felt like having this year he said "Let's make it all raw!" Needless to say, I was really surprised (he's a vegan but not a raw vegan!) and excited at the same time. We never had the traditional meal most people create but always made something different such as African food one year and Thai another time, etc. Well, yesterday was the closest we ever got to preparing the typical dishes but again in a not-so-typical way. Two minor details that are worth mentioning: we went shopping in the last minute (and some things, such as green beans were sold out), and we made all of these dishes in no time. So if you want your next Thanksgiving meal to take less than an hour to prepare and make you feel energized, instead of wanting to fall asleep then take note..

On the menu was:

"Mashed potatoes"
Cauliflower, cashews, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, herbs.

Mushroom gravy
Crimini mushrooms, tahini, shallots, olive oil, shoyu sauce, rosemary, salt

Marinated Asparagus
(in place of green beans)
Asparagus, ginger, olive oil, lemon juice, salt

Jicama, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, celery, shallots, shoyu sauce, olive oil, sage, salt & pepper 

Cranberry sauce
Cranberries, apples, dates, honey (not vegan!), ginger

Walnuts, dates, cacao powder, honey (not vegan!), vanilla, salt

It all came out more delicious than I expected. Everything was incredibly satisfying and as a whole, made you feel so good. There was only one thing, too much garlic in the mashed potatoes. I know, if you're a garlic lover like me you might say, "How is it possible to make something too garlicky?" Believe me, it is possible especially when "cooking" raw!

Now, I would like to hear what you had for Thanksgiving! I hope you're kind enough to share! 

Happy Thanksgiving! : )

Soup & Fries

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It can get so crazy with the preparations for Thanksgiving, right? Today I didn't get to eat lunch till the mid afternoon and by that time I was so starved and wanted something that took but moments to prep. I had been playing with the idea of recreating my mom's spinach dish (or stew)...Spenót, as we called it, and which I never really liked as a child, ha! I always favored the sour sorrel version, oh how much I miss it! Anyway, the beloved spinach "stew" more than just grew on me and served as an inspiration for this soup. And the fries? Well, they're the no-fry "french fries" that are still starchy and oily and satisfying but in a healthy way : ). They're made using jicamas, which, by the way, must be in season because the farmers are selling them and they've been a regular (and ever-growing in size) at the grocery stores too.
Make the fries first if you don't want your warm soup to get cold! 

Jicama Fries
(Serves 2)
1 jicama (mine was about the size of a large orange)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic (pressed or finely chopped)
optional: chipotle chili powder or other seasoning

Cut up the jicama into "fries". Mix the oil with garlic and salt and whatever seasoning you're using and in a large bowl, toss the jicama with the mixture. You have fries!

Jicama is a high fiber food and very rich in vitamin C. It's a crunchy way to get some satisfying starches into your body.

Spinach Stew / Soup
(Serves 2)
3-4 loose cups of spinach
1 sliver of celery root
1 clove of garlic
2 green onions (without the tops)
2.5 tbsp tahini or a generous handful of cashews
splash of olive oil
~3/4 cup warm water
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt

Cut the celery into smaller pieces and blend all of the ingredients until you get a smooth consistency. Taste test and adjust seasoning. Serve with the fries, crackers, or salad, etc.

Spinach should be called a superfood. It's incredibly nutritious, full of antioxidants, phytochemicals, and most all vitamins and minerals so I won't even bore you with a list. Spinach, it's what Popeye ate, right? What else do you need to be convinced about its health benefits? : ) Ok, but seriously, it will help prevent cancer, heart disease, and cataracts, yes carrots are not the only vegetables that are good for your eyes!

Ok, time to start working on the Thanksgiving meal. What are you making?

Alicia Silverstone Wants a "Kind", Vegan World!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

AliciaSilverstoneatUCLAWere you there??? Peta2 invited the actress/environmentalist to give a talk at UCLA and I wanted to see her and hear what she had to say. Last night was not just about her encouraging everyone to quit eating meat. It was about saving animals from suffering, becoming healthier, creating less pollution, wasting less of our resources, protecting the environment, reusing/recycling, etc. As you know, I promote the vegan lifestyle and all of the above, so I was really happy to meet someone who thinks the same way, someone who shares my views and is spreading the word and ready to educate people. She and I were both really happy to see so many people in the audience who were not vegetarians or vegans. She said she hoped to inspire and "convert" as many as possible.

I got a front row seat but still didn't get a good picture (her excitement clearly shows, nevertheless), what I did get was an insight into her caring lifestyle and compassionate, conscientious living. I learned that she just had a baby, whom she's raising vegan of course, and having a child made her even more aware of how important it is to care for the planet and our limited resources.

AliciaSilverstonetalksaboutvegandietThe greatest parts of the evening were:
• Alicia's down-to-earth behavior and her way of talking to us in a sincere friend-to-another-friend way
• She touched on most areas I would have touched on
• There were plenty in the audience that could be potential, new vegetarians/vegans. I'm so happy to see more and more people interested in compassionate living! I hope they didn't just show up for the free vegan Thanksgiving meal, catered by a very popular vegan restaurant in the area, but even if they did, they were exposed to new ideas and who knows, it may have changed their lives forever...
• I'm so glad she showed clips from slaughterhouses and animals being victims of barbaric treatment. I couldn't look after the first two seconds, it was enough to hear the horrendous sound but hey, I'm a vegan anyway, I don't have to be able to look, right?! Instead, I turned my head and looked to see the faces in the crowd. Most everybody had a frozen expression while being glued to the screen. I just wish I knew what went on in their heads during and after watching a cow's head being chopped off and dangling while still half-way attached, and seeing a (still alive) piglet slammed to the ground!
As horrifying as these moments were they are very necessary to bring awareness to people and I was so hoping this would be part of her presentation!
• My absolute favorite line was the quote by Paul McCartney, "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everybody would be vegetarian!" This line was left on display for a while and after the clips were played, I'm sure, most of the audience agreed with it or at least acknowledged it as food for thought!

That is what I'm leaving you with too, some food for thought:
"If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everybody would be vegetarian!"
P.S: What are you making for Thanksgiving??? I'm just trying to come up with ideas so I want to hear all about your plans! Thanks! : )

Buttery Thanksgiving Fruit & Nut Bars

I've never worked with fresh canberries before and since Thanksgiving is around the corner I decided to get some practice with them and use up some of my buckwheaties as well. Buckwheaties are buckwheat that were soaked (at least 6 hours) and dehydrated. I usually make big batches to have them handy whenever I want to make some bread, crackers, or pizza crust, etc.These bars are so rich and flavorful....perfect Fall or Winter dessert.  

Cranberry Nutrition
These tart little pearls are probably most consumed in the form of sauce during holidays and are most known for their ability to provide relief for UTI symptoms. Cranberries are full of antioxidants and rich in vitamin C, manganese, and fiber, which means they may protect you from heart disease, help prevent cancer, keep your bones strong and are good for your digestion. Add to all this the excitement of making dishes with something that you don't eat every single day because they're only available a few weeks a year. Don't you love the changing of seasons?

Raw Crunchy Buttery Buckwheat Bars
(Makes 8 small bars)
1 cup buckwheaties
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup dried shredded coconut
1/4 tsp ground vanilla bean (or vanilla extract)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup currants/raisins/any dried fruit
3/4 -1 cup cranberries
7 tbs coconut butter (or coconut oil)
2-3 tbs (or to taste) agave syrup/honey (not vegan)/maple syrup (not raw)

1. Melt the coconut butter/oil and set it aside
In a food processor:
2. Pulse the buckwheaties a couple of times or grind them to a course meal or as fine as you wish and put them into a mixing bowl
3. Coarsely chop the walnuts and add them to the bowl
4. Pulse the sunflower seeds and add them to the rest of the ingredients along with the hemp seeds, shredded coconut, salt, and vanilla.
5. Grind the cranberries and the dried fruit you're using in to a fine wet mixture and add to the bowl with the coconut butter/oil and sweetener.
6. Mix well with a spoon or your hands
7. Press the mixture into a plastic wrap-lined, flat-bottomed dish chill for a little bit
8. Slice them into desired shapes or bars before serving

Creamy Celery Root Soup

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yes, I know, my last post was soup too. Well, I've been on a soup-creating marathon and this is just the beginning. There's nothing like a bowl of tasty, warm soup on a cool day. Celery root soup is one I always liked cooked so I had to come up with a raw version and voilà, here it is. It couldn't have come out better...

Health Benefits of Celery
The list is quite long so you will thank yourself for using it. Celery is at least as good for you as it is aromatic and flavorful. The root is more commonly used in European countries but it's available at grocery stores in the U.S. too, and through all seasons. It is very high in fiber and happens to be a great weight-loss food due to its low calorie content. It's full of antioxidants, high in vitamin C, and K, and calcium, which boils down to its abilities to boost your immune system, to help prevent cancer, and to strengthen your bones. Its anti-inflammatory qualities provide relief from joint pain so they are a very good vegetable to snack on if you have arthritis. It can help diminish migraines and calm your nerves ....and the list goes on. It's a good idea to make friends with this crunchy vegetable if you haven't yet done so.

Raw Creamy Celery Root Soup
Approximate Ingredients:
(Makes 1 good size bowl)
1 small carrot
1/2 celery root
2 green onions
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp (or more) tahini or a generous handful of cashews
1.5-2 cups (or as needed) warm water
1/2 tsp salt 
little turmeric (if you like it)
cayenne pepper, black pepper, and cumin to taste

It's so simple that I could just say: "Peel, chop, blend, and you're done" but I will break it down:
1. Peel the celery root and the garlic (to avoid having to peel the garlic put the whole cloves into a garlic press to squeeze them out...the peel will be left behind)
2. Chop all the ingredients into smaller pieces to help your blender
3. Place everything (with only some of the water) in the blender and whirl it up
4 Taste test it and add more salt, spices and water as necessary
5. Pour into bowl(s) immediately, drizzle with olive oil if you'd like and garnish with your favorite herbs/spices, etc. Enjoy and be grateful for every spoonful! : )

P.S: I have a new favorite that I will be posting soon! Have I mentioned that I love soups???

Savory Carrot Soup

Sunday, November 6, 2011


It’s in the 60s and it’s pouring rain. Yes, it’s turned cooler, even in Los Angeles!
Being a busy graduate student, I’ve been living on nuts and heavier sweet snacks from the local store but I’m quite bored with them. All of the raw snack are absolutely delicious and I will miss being so close to the best store in the U.S. once we move, but it was just time for something homemade that’s also warming and satisfying.
I love soups and I am an expert of cooked soups but haven’t made many raw ones. This one is going to be a regular during the cooler months for sure. It’s so delicious, pure, creamy, warm and satisfying (I'm typing away while eating it) and still raw. And hey, what soup takes just a couple of minutes to make? This one does…

Raw Carrot Ginger Soup
Approximate Ingredients:
(Serves 2, if you're lucky)
3 large carrots
2.5-3 cups warm water
3 green onions (I didn't use the green tops)
2 cloves of garlic
1 slice ginger
2.5 tbsp tahini or a generous handful of cashews
1 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
(olive oil to drizzle)

1. Chop the carrots, onions, garlic and ginger into smaller pieces to make it easier on your blender.
2. Blend all ingredients with the water added little by little because you might not need it all.
3. Taste test and adjust seasoning
4. Pour into serving bowls and drizzle with some olive oil.
5. Garnish with green onions or sprinkle some herbs, spices, etc. on top and serve with crackers (like these or these) or just by itself. Heavenly! : )

Health note 
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, good for improved eyesight, clearer skin and healthier lungs. They come out near the top when it comes to beta-carotine content, which is an antioxidant to strengthen your immune system and protect you from cancer. The sweet roots are rich in fiber, vitamin K and C, and potassium, an important mineral for heart-health. Bunnies' favorites will also help a sore throat and reduce coughs. They can lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure, have antiseptic qualities, and lessen your risk for arthritis. Lots of reasons to make carrot soup!