Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More In The Raw

You may not be aware of the "raw food lifestyle". There are a vast number of people who only eat raw. What is raw food? Basically, meals made with fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds that have not been heated above 104 degrees. With the raw food movement some amazing chefs have emerged, combining ingredients you might never think of to create delicious AND highly nutritious meals. For years I have wanted to experiment with raw recipes, but for some reason the idea of using a food processor really intimidated me...maybe it was just one more gadget I didn't want to fuss with. Now I love mine! Anyway, I was flipping through a magazine last week and came across some raw food recipes that didn't seem quite as complicated as I thought they ought to be. I mean, there was quite a bit of preparation, but no cooking involved. And with the lovely heat and humidity here on Oahu this last week, I thought it was just the right time to ditch the stove for a night.

Tuesday night my Bible study group had a potluck and the theme was Italian. I grabbed that magazine again...Raw Lasagna. Perfect. Just the right time for me to be adventurous and attempt something I have never made...and then test it out on a group of hungry ladies. Sure, why not?...No pressure.

I must admit I had second thoughts half-way into the preparation. I could just pick something up along the way if it didn't turn out the way I had hoped, right? And then I tasted the tomato sauce...yum. I was going to be just fine. To my pleasant surprise, after sitting down at the potluck to enjoy all of the wonderful selections, ladies began telling me how great the lasagna tasted, and asking for details of how it all came together. I promised that I would post the recipe, so here it is.

This recipe by Ani Phyo came straight from Delicious Living

Cherry Tomato Marinara
2 pints cherry tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried roseary
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients is a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. (Makes 3 cups) *I used a blender but would opt for a food processor next time for a thicker consistency.

Cilantro-Cashew Cheeze
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic (about 2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup raw cashews
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup filtered water

Place garlic and salt in a food processor; process into small pieces. Add cashews and process into a paste. Add lemon juice, cilantro, and water; process to mix well.

Raw Lasagna-Serves 6
1 medium zucchini, sliced into thin coins
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
3/4 cup Cashew-Cilantro Cheese
1 cup Cherry Tomato Marinara

In a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish, layer half of the zucchini slices. Cover with half of the tomato slices and top with spinach. Spread cheeze over spinach. Top with marinara. Finish by layering remaining zucchini and tomato slices.

Okay, sorry about the length of this recipe, but I promise it is well worth the effort. And unlike traditional lasagna, there is no baking involved. I changed up the recipe just a bit by adding a handful of sun dried tomatoes to the marinara sauce recipe and I also peeled the zucchini, cut it in half, and sliced it into long, thin "noodles". I chopped the spinach and added some freshly chopped basil. In addition, I took the liberty to layer it differently, with two layers of each ingredient-ending up with the "cheeze" on top!

My husband tried to remind me to take a picture before I ran out the door but I forgot and well, here is what the dish looked like at the end of the night. Do you think they liked it?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Raw Deal

I am totally into raw food lately. Raw fruits and vegetables are so essential to our overall health, but have you ever gone an entire day without touching even one? I know I have. Life is demanding and we are all so busy. We often get into the habit of grabbing whatever we can without putting much thought into the value of food as nourishment for our bodies. I have been making an effort to be very deliberate with incorporating raw foods into my meal planning. And it has been surprisingly simple!

For breakfast we have been starting with some berries or other fruit and then the other elements of the meal. Fruit is best digested in the morning, so try to limit your intake throughout the rest of the day. Another way to add raw to breakfast is to spread raw almond butter on toast. Grind it fresh when you can, or choose Maranatha Organic. Almond butter is lower in saturated fat than peanut butter (and a little less sticky!). I like to mix the raw almond butter with the roasted kind. You can grind it fresh yourself at Whole Foods and other health food stores. Sprinkle some nuts, seeds and a little sweet agave nectar right on top of the toast for a high fiber, high protein start to the day.

For snacks, lunch, and dinner, we have sliced or chopped veggies ready to go for dipping or tossing in a salad. If you eat raw foods first, you will digest the entire meal more efficiently, eat smaller portions, and be satisfied longer. Raw foods provide us with essential enzymes needed to break down foods. They are rich in water, which helps keep us hydrated, and also in fiber, which binds food together in the digestive tract and helps eliminate waste. This combination of high water, high fiber ultimately leaves us satisfied for longer duration, filling us up so we eat less...anyone out there trying to lose a few pounds?

At last, we may even choose some chopped Macadamia nuts and fresh berries as a topper to our favorite frozen treat-Coconut Bliss! Once again I find myself looking to nature and the wonderful foods that are all around us, ripe and ready to enjoy. Take this simple challenge-see if you can eat just one raw thing with every meal for the next seven days. Here's to your health!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Yummy Fish Tacos

I realize that I did not display my best photography skills here, but I had to include a pic. Tonight I made Mahi Mahi fish tacos with a spicy cream sauce and fresh pineapple salsa. Here is a very informal recipe.


Mahi Mahi fillets
Sprouted Grain Tortillas
Grapeseed Oil
Cherry Tomatos
Miso Mayo
Fresh or Canned Pineapple
Serrano or other pepper
Baby Spinach

1. Pan grill Mahi Mahi fillets in a little grapeseed oil. Season to your liking. I like to mix a little sea salt and garlic with cayenne pepper to spice things up. Did you know that cayenne speeds up your metabolism?

2. Soften tortillas in a pan with a little oil or water. Try Ezekiel taco sized tortillas. Super healthy. (Hint: a little water makes them more pliable)

3. Cream Sauce: take one part Miso Mayo spicy pepper spread to one part Vegennaise (or mayonnaise or heavy cream if you must) and stir.

4. Pineapple salsa: Chop desired amounts of tomato, pineapple, serrano or jalapeno pepper, and cilantro. Mix together.

5. Assemble tacos with fish, cream sauce, avocado, baby spinach. Top it off with pineapple salsa and a few pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for added fiber.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Back to Basics

Alright, I got a little excited in my last post. I try not to take myself too seriously but I am known to be a little passionate from time to time. I am not a health-food Nazi, and I certainly did not just wake up one morning and decide to choose a healthy lifestyle. It was a gradual thing. I have taken information I've learned over several years and slowly weaved it into my daily life. Do I eat out? Yes. Do I overindulge at holiday parties and church potlucks ? Absolutely. I do my best...and I pray about the rest.

What I know is that there are better choices out there for me and my family, for all of us. If we make an effort to eat the simple foods that God created for us, it isn't all that complicated. There are abundant choices of organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds to choose from and a variety of ways to incorporate them into every snack and meal. Here are a few of my favorite ways to do it:

1. Trail Mix-so simple. Grab your favorite variety of raw nuts and seeds, add dried fruit, dates, or grain-sweetened chocolate chips/carob chips and you have a classic on-the-go snack. This is a fun thing for kids to help with in the kitchen and they are more likely to partake since they helped make it.

2. Smoothies-With a high power blender, you can get several servings of fruit and even veggies (great way to sneak them into kids) all at once. Bananas help glue it all together, just keep in mind that they are high in sugar so use small quantities. Choose lots of berries, which are high in antioxidants, and use very little juice or opt for water instead. Sneak in a little cabbage and carrots and mask their stronger flavor with a little frozen grape juice. (Hint: a Vita-Mix is a great investment.)

3. Soup-a great way to throw just about any and all veggies in your fridge into one yummy meal. The possibilities are almost endless.

4. Salad-My husband, along with a few of our close friends, call me the "salad queen". I am a fan of the elaborate salad. We eat salad several times a week. I put a variety of chopped veggies, nuts, seeds, fresh or dried fruit (like cranberries), etc into most of our salads. You can top with gourmet cheese, or add chicken, shrimp,or other meat.

5. Sliced raw veggies and dip-While ranch dressing is a favorite for many, most brands have sugar and other unwanted ingredients. Instead, pair your fresh veggies with hummus. Not only does it offer great nutritional value, it satisfies that need to dunk.

(Hint: chop extra veggies and have enough ready for several days in a row to cut down on meal preparation time.)

Here's to your health!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

See This Flick!

Okay, let's just expose the food industry for what it is-an INDUSTRY! I am so fed up with the food industry in our nation. While I shop mostly at health food stores, I do occasionally run into my local supermarket for a few items. And I will give them credit for introducing more organic produce and healthy products, but I just cannot believe, as I walk up and down the isles, that I am surrounded by so many items that are NOT food.

Food is real. We were never meant to eat super high-processed, high-sugar, genetically modified, or MSG/other chemically poisoned food. Did I just say poison? Yeah, I did. The truth is-many people aren't aware of what they are putting in their bodies. We need a dictionary to read half the ingredient list. With an alarming rise in obesity, diabetes, ADD, heart disease...need I go on? our country, I hope people will start to ask questions, to demand answers and accountability, to read labels.

Here's the thing...I could really keep ranting and raving about what frustrates me, but I am just going to recommend a movie. I have not had the opportunity to see this film because I cannot find it showing in my area, but I am truly looking forward to seeing it when it comes out on DVD. Here is a clip from Food Inc., a very important and relevant film for us all. Please, please, please, go see this film. It is my hope that it will educate, inspire, and enlighten.

Monday, July 6, 2009

My New Favorite Super Food

First, I want to report that I am totally addicted to yet another flavor of Coconut Bliss-Cherry Amaretto. Like the other flavors, it is rich and creamy and smooth...and so yummy! With it's subtle cherry flavor and a hint of almond extract, it is very refreshing.

Now I want to chat about my favorite new super food-Chia seeds. If you do a search on the Internet, you will no doubt find Dr. Oz and other famous professionals raving about these tiny, yet powerful little wonders. Chia seeds come from the Sage plant, and they are considered a whole food, packed with a whole lot of good-for-you stuff. If you were to add just one new thing to your diet right now, they would be at the top of my listed recommendations.

My family and I have been eating a nutrient-rich form of these seeds called Salba. Salba grain is high in Omega-3, Omega-6, Omega-9, protein, fiber, calcium, iron, and protein. It also contains a variety of antioxidants. The seeds are easy on the palate and can be incorporated into any meal you prepare. I sprinkle a little on my daughter's oatmeal in the morning, or add them to salads. Sometimes I put a spoonfull in a glass of water and just drink them.

If you have done any research on Omega-3 essential fatty acids, you know how important they are for healthy brain develoment and function, heart function, and other health benefits. If you have children, you have probably heard your pediatrician recommend supplementing Omega-3's and Calcium. Knowing that we don't give our daughter milk, our doctor always reminds us about Calcium-rich foods. It is nearly impossible to get kids (of all ages) to eat the type, and quantity of food necessary to get the recommended amount of essential nutrients. Salba is super high in essential fatty acids and contains six times more Calcium than whole milk! My little one loves to sprinkle the Salba seeds and stir them into her food. And for those really picky eaters, these small seeds might go unnoticed if hidden in yogurt or added to a smoothie.

I feel so great about the simple little act of adding a tiny ingredient to some of our favorite foods. Just one tablespoon of Salba a day, and I am making a major impact on my family's health. So simple. So run to your local health-food store and buy some already!