You put the dates in the coconut, and eat them all up….

First off, HELLO to the United States and Australia!  I see I have readers from this far away and I find it exciting!  My Canadian city just got its first snow of the season today.  It’s going to be impossible to find local produce for the next few months.

Oh man, did I ever have fun in the kitchen this evening!  Just two quick experiments to bide some time while my nuts were soaking, both a success and scrumpdillyicious (it’s a word because I say it’s a word)…..

Before I get to the food, I have to post in big bold letters that ALL of the staff at Kardish in Orleans are incredibly friendly and helpful, but I want to send an ultra-loud shout-out to Yvonne, who has answered every question, helped me find what I’m looking for, makes suggestions, and is a wealth of information about everything in the store, and then some…. THANK YOU Yvonne!

First, I was tempted by the sentence “when you are craving sweet stuff…” in Carol Alt’s recipe book.  Just so happens, I DO crave sweet stuff from time-to-time.  Go figure.  So I made coconut date rolls.

So easy, too!  I halved the recipe, so took 2 cups of medjool dates (approximately 13), halved them and pitted them, and soaked them for an hour.  Then I put them in my blender with a food processing blade (although I think  a regular blade would also work), put in half a cup of non-sweetened shredded coconut, and pulsed the blender, frequently having to stop it to push the mixture down, until it was of a thick paste consistency.  Then I rolled into 2 inch logs, rolled those in some more of the coconut, and VOILA!  Done.  These can be frozen, but I had to eat one immediately…..a few expletives escaped my mouth, most of them conjuring several deities whom I thanked for the simple, but most amazing, date.

Coconut date rolls, destined for the freezer. Kicks the butt of any commercial chocolate bar out there.

Next in the kitchen was an intentional experiment:  Zucchini noodles.  I thought it was high-time I tried my spiral slicer, and I want to get an idea of how long a ‘noodled’ soft vegetable will keep (to my standards.  I read about people doing all their meal prep for the week on a Sunday.  I cannot imagine eating something on a Friday that I cooked 5 days previous (and I am certain most of these folks aren’t freezing their concoctions).  I turn green and up-chuck at the thought.  I blame a serious bought of food poisoning for my hyper-picky opinions in this regard).  So I want to see how long these noodles will keep…

I used this….

Spiral slicer with the small noodle blade installed….

To turn this….

Yellow zucchini ensconced on the slicer.

Into this!

Yellow zucchini noodles!

I’m pretty sure I yelled out loud “OMG, that was SO FUN!”  Just on their own, they taste really great.  But to be tested, I can’t eat them all, I have to store them.  I separated them into two containers.  I put an olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar dressing on one, and left the other one naked, and put them in the fridge.  I’ll now check them out  over the next couple days to see how long it takes (sauced and naked) before they are too soft or slimy for me to consume.  The reason why this is all so important is because I’m trying to figure out what I’ll be able to take for lunches,  when I have to do prep, etc.  In short, it’ll help me plan and succeed in the new year when I make my concerted effort to be 80% raw.

Now.  I would love some suggestions.  Tell me what you think would be an amazing raw meal:  a breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Please post here….


Get back on that slicer!

Wow, what a week it has been. First let me report that my mangled finger is healing well, and I even dared to use the mandolin again. I’m so brave, good me, good girl, pat, pat, pat….

I have tried many recipes, sprouted some tasty beans, frozen a lot of nuts, vegetables, and some fruits because I was noticing that I’m starting to throw things out due to rot.  I have to mention that I don’t live alone, but I am the only one converting to a raw diet, so when I buy an abundance of certain things, they will go bad if I am not the one eating them.  Also, because it is winter (one might argue that this wasn’t the best season for me to start this, but if I’m successful at it, then summer’s abundance will be my reward!) I am buying in bulk when I see a good price on things as its availability and/or freshness will be unpredictable for the next little while.  The 12 apples for $17.00 today were NOT a good price.  Grumble, grumble….

So I’m doing a lot of freezing.

On to the recipes I have tried:

I have been asked by several people this past week, “How do you milk a nut?!?!”  Excellent question.  The good news is both male and female nuts give milk, so even though there is a gender where a nut is concerned, you do not have to be able to determine it.  A nut to be milked has to be soaked and the duration of the soak is dependent on the nut.  Click this super underlined sentence for a link to a chart of nut soaking times, courtesy of another web site.  (If you ever click this link and find it is broken, let me know.)  Soaking the nut will swell the teats, making them a lot easier to find, thus making milking a lot easier.  Now approach the nut in a calm and gentle way and…

…if you believe the above paragraph, just send me your money now and get it over with because I”m going to figure out a way to bilk you out of it eventually.  I’d rather have your money in time for Christmas, if that’s OK with you. 🙂

Nut Milk.  The REAL story.  Yes, you have to soak the nuts.  You always have to soak the nuts – that is how their enzymes become released and you eat a food that is giving you all it can give.

Take a cup of those nuts, put them in a blender, add agave nectar, or raw honey, or 2 pitted medjool dates if you want some sweetness, as well as some alcohol-free vanilla. (Note:  I couldn’t find any.  I put in a snip of organic vanilla bean instead).  Last, add 3 – 5 cups water, depending on how concentrated you want your milk to be, then blend until smooth.

Pour the nut milk through a sieve into a container and it keeps up to 4 days.  Apparently there’s a ‘cheater’ nut milk that can be made with raw almond butter, but why bother when the scratch version is so easy?  And for the record:  it tastes amazing.  Here are some photos….

Nut Milk Blender

Raw soaked almonds, 2 medjool dates, vanilla bean…one button push away from nut milk!

Pour blended ingredients through a sieve into a container…

Milk and what to do with the ground almonds, dates, and vanilla? BREAKFAST!

I have also made fruit leather (easy), cilantro pesto (easy), and flax seed crackers (easy, go well with soup or raw cheese) and “Shortcut to Heaven Soup” (easy).  I should mention that all of these recipes are in Carol Alt’s book.  I do sense my time with this book is coming to a temporary end as I will want to branch out soon.  Also because I have also tried a couple recipes that I didn’t like at all: cauliflower popcorn, vinegar garlic potato chips…those were made, tasted and tossed.  And tonight I made asparagus wrapped in prosciutto – this recipe is a keeper.

I hesitate to copy all of her recipes here.  Something about copyright and how a book maker should be able to earn a living.  If you ask me nicely, I may give you further insights, but I’m not going to plagiarize her, especially considering I’d be re-writing half her book here for everything I have tried. 🙂

So here’s a few other notes:  I am running out of some ingredients.  Volumes for some of the recipes are higher than I realized they would be.  I recommend buying in super bulk:  flax seeds and your favourite raw nuts, and any fruit or vegetable that can be frozen when you find them on sale (organic especially).  Once the nuts are soaked, they can be frozen for preservation as this does not kill the enzymes, only puts them in a stasis until they are thawed.  So don’t worry about having to know when to soak things to have them ready the next day, which would be killer complicated.

The last thing I’ve been tackling is this:  what the hell am I going to eat?!  Shut up, stop laughing.  I have no idea how to eat like this all day.  It can’t all be raw cheese and veggie sticks, right?  How do I have breakfast, lunch, snacks, and a light dinner every single day without getting sick of carrots?  Some things don’t keep after preparation for longer than 20 minutes (juice, smoothies, some peeled or cut vegetables), and I’m away from the house for a long time during a work day – just how much food am I going to have to carry with me?!

To try and tackle this conundrum this week, I created a 5 day meal plan.  I’ve blown it once already (it’s Monday) but I’ll keep trying.  I ‘blew it’ because I had an amazing smoothie for breakfast, then went to an offsite meeting.  By 10am I was ready to gnaw on my own arm I was so hungry, but all I had in my purse were a couple pieces of fruit leather….and there was a food court RIGHT THERE!  I opted for the quick carbs, which then lead to something shameful for lunch as well.  If it’s any consolation, I felt like crap for the entire afternoon.

But the meal plan:  it lets me know what I have to make the night before, what I have to take out of the freezer and when, and what I’ll be eating.  This is especially helpful for those of us (me) who are not morning people (like me) and are basically in a walking, drooling coma for my first 30 minutes of being out of bed (like I am), which is also when we (I) have to make breakfast and lunches.  I really hope I get to the point where a lot of this is habit, but for now: the pen and paper are my best friends.

Coming up this week:  do I stick to the meal plan or do I break down and gorge on Kentucky Fried Heart Attack?  Will I get to use my new spiral slicer and show you what that’s all about?  Am I going to get a chance to go to “Raw Express” restaurant and store?  Tune in next time for another riveting episode of “As the Blender Turns”…..

Here are a couple more pictures of the week just past…

Took a hammer and a knife to 2 young coconuts. Will buy a kitchen chisel so I don’t lose the tip of a good knife to these. There was a significant amount of amazing flavoured water in the 2 but not a lot of meat.

The amount of meat from 2 young coconuts. This would annoy me if it didn’t taste so fantastic! So much sweeter and nuttier than the coarse, dense meat of a mature coconut. This meat got shredded and frozen.

Cilantro pesto. Freeze in cubes, then remove from tray and put then back in the freezer in a bag. Voila! On hand whenever you need them. “But you can’t eat pasta!” you proclaim. True. But I can eat veggie noodles! (ah…are you starting to understand what the spiral slicer may be for? You’re smart!)

Tonight’s amazing dinner: Raw asparagus coated in oil, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt and pepper, dehydrated for an hour to al dente, rolled in grated parmesan reggiano, then……

…wrapped in prosciutto! Three of these rolls with two thin asparagus rolled inside was enough for me. And I have some left over for lunch tomorrow! Yay me!

The Mandolin From Hell….

….or maybe it was ‘User Error”.  Probably the latter.  Just a quick update that has nothing to do with eating raw food, but because I can finally take my finger brace off for a little while and can type, I thought I’d convey a little advice!  Don’t use a brand new mandolin slicer when you have never used one before and it doesn’t come with instructions!  Rather than risk being wordy, I’ll just summarize:  I used a carrot chunk that was apparently too long for the slicer I bought (that shall remain nameless because I can’t afford a defamation law suit) and as I quickly moved the carrot towards the blade, it tipped, the guard too tipped, and I scalped a nice chunk of fingernail and finger off my “Profanity Finger” (which happens to be my favourite).

I did a test run of the picture on FaceBook and it got a ton of comments that indicated to me that it may not be appropriate for a blog where people are thinking about food and eating.  (oh, on that note, I couldn’t find the nail and skin chunk so I threw the already-sliced-carrots out, FYI)  If you ask me REALLY NICELY I’ll post under a new tab so it’s not IN YOUR FACE to whomever doesn’t want to see it.

Short story long, only 2 days later and it has healed a great deal, thanks to “COMPLETE POLYSPORIN“.  I recommend you buy stocks in the company that makes this amazing product, because I just bought myself a 1500Watt Ninja Blender/Food Processor for my birthday (November 21st, just in case you want to buy me something nice.  I like wine) and although it DID come with instructions, anything is possible!!  🙂

Coming up this weekend:  the recipes I have tried, how to milk a nut, and “What’s Next”?

Getting Caught Up….

I have a confession:  I’ve been at the raw transformation for about a week now and I have covered a lot of ground in that short period of time.  So I have a lot to offload here so I’m all caught up and can start posting “real time” (as in: weekly or so, when things are relevant).  All my posts will not be this long, I promise.  Pinkie swear.

I’m going to throw in some high level point form activities here…

  • Started to collect free resources online and found a couple promising ones.  I will put the ones I use and endorse under the “Resources” tab on this blog.  Like I said, I have many and haven’t made my way through them all yet, so if you know of one but don’t see it there, feel free to send it to me but understand that I just may not have gotten to investigating it yet.
  • Happened to meander into a book store and discovered Carol Alt‘s “Easy, Sexy, Raw” book.  I cringed at the title, but flipping through it I saw chapters on subjects I needed to know more about.  I bought it.  Best purchase ever.  I have read it cover to cover twice and have learned so much. It will hereafter referred to as “The Book”.
  • Started to go through my cupboards and clean up.  This transition was a good excuse to get rid of a lot of stuff that has been hanging around too long, like old spices, half full packages of soup mixes or ancient icing sugar.  This gave me the opportunity to assess my free space and make note of things I’m about to run out of that I’ll be able to replace with its raw equivalent.  All those vegetable oils and designer vinegars are a good example of that.
  • Assessed my kitchen tools.  I was actually doing pretty well in that department but did make note, based on Carol Alt’s book, of a few tools I would like to have to make a few things a little easier.  For example:  I’m a hand chopper, but anticipate quite a bit more chopping in my future, so I put “Mandolin” on my list of “must haves”.  (Side note: I don’t want anyone to make assumptions about my financial status – my income is average – but I happen to have an itty bit of disposable income at this moment, so I decided to invest in outfitting my kitchen slightly.  The need for some new tools is another good reason to transition to a raw diet gradually.)  All that being said:  the tools are not a “MUST” but they do make life easier.  The purchase of a dehydrator opens up some more options to diversify what you can prepare.  I bought one at Walmart for $45.00  It’s plastic, round, and will work just fine while I decide if this lifestyle is for me.  All the books and sites tout the “Excalibur” brand of dehydrator.  It seems to range in price (in Canada) anywhere from $200 through to $450 or so.  I must admit, it looks pretty snazzy, functional, and large.  I also replaced my cheap blender with a workhorse ($99) and have ordered a spiral slicer ($40) as 3 kitchen stores didn’t know what it was, never mind have one in stock.  I’ll enlighten you as to its purpose once it arrives.
  • Speaking of large dehydrators, and back to my comment about assessing the free space in my cupboards, I don’t have a huge main floor and there isn’t a lot of free space left.  So I’m going to have to get creative in order to find the room for the nut germinating, seed sprouting, and food storage that has to remain functional without creating chaos in my living space.  Stuff is going to be moving all the time, not just shelved and used 5 months later.  To these ends, I cleared out 50% of my “china cabinet” (aka odd glass storage) by putting things in a box and putting that box in my storage room.   Now I have a make-shift greenhouse that is closest to my largest window, but doesn’t get direct sunlight.

Make-shift greenhouse.

  • And I’ve done a grocery shopping.  I went through “the book” (Carol Alt’s) and found some things I’d like to try and attempted to find the ingredients.  I found most of them at Kardish Foods in Orleans (oh, I should also mention that I am attempting to find the majority of what I require in my own neighbourhood.  I want to ensure my carbon footprint stays low, and that this whole experience is convenient for me.  If it starts to get too complicated, I’m more likely to throw in the towel).  They even have raw organic unpasteurized almonds, which were supposed to be hard to find.  They are the only ones that will germinate and sprout.  So YAY FOR KARDISH!

Notable Discoveries:

  • Carol Alt mentions raw wild rice and indicates that it can be soaked and consumed without cooking. No one I have spoken to yet has heard of raw wild rice, which is rice that hasn’t been heated\roasted while being processed.  I’m going to keep hunting for this as I love wild rice.
  • Kardish carries one brand of raw cheese.  This made me frown, so the wonderful woman at the store (who is AMAZINGLY HELPFUL….I must get her name and give her a shout out) told me about a cheese shop in our neighbourhood that she believed carried more.  This is incredibly important to me as raw milk is still illegal here in la-la land and I was concerned about not being able to find enough dairy.  And I love cheese.  Almost as much as I love bacon (sigh).  Well!  Off I went to “Cheddar Et Cetera” at 900 Watters Road (Watters and Trim) and was excited to find that they had over 10 different kinds of raw cheese AND they too were so incredibly helpful, knowledgeable, and interested in what I was doing.  I picked up 5 samplings: Blue, Gouda, and Swiss, among them.  Most of them are local as well.  Total score there folks.  (Oh, and they have WINE, amazing designer oils, the whole place had me salivating).

Cheddar Et Cetera

Where I am now:

I’ve made apple chips, am making a fruit leather.  I’m soaking almonds and pumpkin seeds for use in recipes, and once they are done soaking, I’ll freeze them.  I’m soaking flax seeds so I can start flax crackers tomorrow.  All my produce and fruit are ready to become smoothies in the week ahead.  I have a raw green “superfood” powder, but will finish the vegan green powders I have first.  At over $50 a tub, this will be one of the more expensive ingredients you can buy, so read the label.  Because of allergies, I have to skip the ones with strawberries and have to comb through a lot of fine print to make sure they aren’t present in any form.  Even if you don’t have allergies, you should read the ingredients and compare the quantities of nutrients to other green powders, and also consider other supplements that you may be taking.  Don’t forget that there are maximum daily allowances for some vitamins and minerals that your body stores rather than expels if they aren’t used, such as some of your oil-based vitamins.  Edumacate yourself peeps 🙂

I think what I’m really working towards right now, aside from gradually converting the food products in my house to their raw equivalents, is to get my groove.  I have to figure out what my real essentials will be, how long they take to prepare (soaking, etc), and how quickly I go through them.  I am soooooooo comfortable with a cooked diet, the timing of a meal, what spice to have on hand depending on what I’m planning to cook, I can throw a five item meal together and have everything land on the table in the right condition of cooked all at the same time without missing a beat or breaking a sweat.  I don’t have this same confidence with a raw diet and this will be one of my largest learning curves.

Items I couldn’t find:

  • Raw wild rice
  • Raw chickpeas
  • Raw sesame tahini
  • Spiral slicer

Last point:  Carol Alt’s book obviously advocates ‘as raw as possible’ and I have to be clear – I am going to do my best, but I am human.  No human can do anything 100% all the time, so I think a realistic goal will be 80% raw and I’ll spend some time between now and January trying to decide what food will make up that other 20%.  What would it be for you?  I think I’ll still be cooking tomatoes.  Tomatoes are healthier cooked.  I think I can give up coffee.  Since giving up cigarettes, everything else seems really easy.  Wine, though….hmmmmmmm.  I’ll have to think about that one.  A lot.   Here are a few more photos of my week….talk to you soon!

Raw Cheese!

Raw Cheese! Om nom nom….

Black Breakfast

Black breakfast. Blueberries, swiss chard, banana, red grapes and vanilla chai vegan powder. Despite its ominous colour, it tasted fabulous.


Mix beans sprouting. Look at those cute little tails! Sprouting jars can easily be made, but I bought this one for $9 at Kardish because it had soaking, watering and rinsing instructions. It was easier than constantly having to look them up.