Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Raw romaine burritos with coriander guacamole, & marinated garbanzo beans

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone for reading my blog and taking the time to write encouraging and inspiring comments. My greatest hopes for this blog is to get people interested in their own nutrition and making informed choices about their diets. It is so very important because the way we eat has a profound effect on our quality of life. Clearly, it is worth to do some of your own research to make sure you are providing your body with everything it needs.

Here's another spin on the all-time favorite, quick raw dinner. Lettuce wraps, again! This time with romaine leaves, coriander guacamole & marinated garbanzo beans.

Coriander guacamole
2 avocados
juice of half a lime
himalayan salt, pepper, ground coriander, fresh finely chopped chili to taste
(crushed garlic cloves)

Mash avocados but leave in tasty chunks. Add spices according to taste.

Marinated garbanzo beans
sprouted garbanzo beans
coconut oil
chili powder
himalayan salt, pepper, ground coriander, dried thyme

Mix all marinade ingredients and pour over whole, sprouted chick peas.

Sauteed coconut chili onion rings
2 onions, sliced into thin rings
coconut oil
2 cloves garlic
1 inch or so of fresh red chili
himalayan salt, pepper

Heat oil, sliced garlic cloves and chopped chili in a frying pan. Add onion rings, salt & pepper. Saute until desired softness.

Other fillings: tomato, zucchini, carrot, calamata olives, fenugreek sprouts

Feel free to omit the sauteed onion if you are on a strictly raw diet. If you aren't, I recommend it for the spicy depth of flavor it brings to this dish. This recipe is more intended to inspire your own culinary imagination than provide a strict recipe. So choose your own toppings and use your favorite spices. Roll in large romaine leaves like you would a traditional burrito. Be creative!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Raw mini pizza with pesto and more B12-talk

The crust:
1 C buckwheat
½ C hemp seeds
1 C sprouted garbanzo beans (chick peas)
some tahini
olive oil, water, salt, thyme, oregano, marjoram

Grind buckwheat groats and hemp seeds into flour in a food processor. In Finland unhulled hemp seeds are cheaper and easier to find, so that is what I used and they required fine grinding. The hulled variety is tasty (nutty flavor) and more moist, so less oil/water is needed. Once the buckwheat and hemp seeds are finely ground, add beans, oil and spices. Taste and adjust flavorings. Shape into rather thin minipizzas, dehydrate on one side for a few hours and on the other for a couple more. Altogether mine where nice and crunchy (the way I like them) in little over 7 hours.

Top with your favorite marinara and pesto sauce. I posted my favorite pesto recipe earlier, and that really rocked on this pizza. Leftovers from that marinara were used on these pizzas.The toppings were rather traditional too, thinly sliced zucchini, tomatoes, organic calamata olives and orange bell pepper. I find that when making raw pizza, mini-sized is the way to go if you (like me) enjoy picking up your pizza and eating it with your hands. My pesto has such a rich cheesy flavor so for the first time I did not miss the cheese.

Now once again about vitamin B12. Some raw foodists claim that if you are on a 100% raw vegan diet you don't need to supplement this vitamin because your "extremely healthy" bowel will synthesize it's own. This is NOT true and no one should rely on this hazardously inaccurate information. Any vegan, even raw vegan, will need some source of vitamin B12 to avoid irreversible damage to brain cells. Even the so-called raw food guru, David Wolfe, has enough sense (he is one of the few with actual degrees in related fields) to admit that B12 is vital and that our inherent need for this vitamin will not be adequately met by a strictly vegan diet. Wolfe has his concerns about supplements though, which is why he eats ants and moths. So, unless you are eating insects on a regular basis (and getting regularly tested to make sure you are getting enough B12), you need to supplement or eat meat. There is no ambiguity. Maybe one day we will discover some type of plant source for this vitamin that is in the form our body needs it, but this day is not here yet. Until it is, it just is not worth the risk.

As you probably notice I am pretty passionate about this. I am very worried about many bloggers with absolutely no degree in nutrition giving out nutritional advice. Some restrict their diets to just smoothies and liquids thinking they'll get all they need from superfood powders. Did our ancestors have VitaMix blenders? Were we really built for that kind of a diet? No one knows everything about nutrition and new information becomes available to us constantly. Not only that, but we are all individuals. In my opinion, it is always best to think back and consider how we were meant to eat. What in our fridge would our counterparts thousands of years ago recognize? Natural is the key. Since our bodies clearly need B12 to function properly, it is reasonable to conclude that we are meant to consume some form of meat. So when you eat, make sure you eat a plentiful variety of foods. As fresh, unprocessed and organic as possible.
Meet your body's needs for all vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. Don't count calories.

Vitamin D can also be a problem for us living in the dark north and not consuming fortified milk products, fish or eggs. Scientists are realizing we need far more of this vitamin that was previously thought and it is key in preventing many serious diseases such as cancer, MS and osteoporosis. It plays a huge role in bone health together with calcium. Again, unless you wish to take supplements, you should consume fish, fish oils and eggs regularly.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lime tandoori chicken with a medley of spicy vegetables

Lime tandoori chicken:
2 as fresh and natural/organic chicken breasts as you can get
lime juice, coconut oil, tandoori seasoning, madras curry, salt, pepper, honey

Marinate for at least 30min, then sear on a pan. Don't burn black to avoid producing carcinogens, it's best to cook it just barely done so that the meat is still tender and moist.

Raw Indian vegetable medley:
1/2 large sweet potato, cubed
1/2 large head of cauliflower, minced
1/2 -1 C fenugreek sprouts
1 red onion, minced
bunch fresh basil, chopped finely
finely grated garlic
fresh red chili pepper, minced, to taste
coconut oil, tandoori seasoning, madras curry, salt, pepper, honey, lime juice

Chop, mix and season. Remember to taste and adjust the spices to your liking. Warm in 110F until vegetables soften and marinate thoroughly. I sauteed my red onion and garlic quickly in coconut oil because it is better for my baby's tummy if I steer away from too much raw onions and garlic :)

I've said this a few times in my earlier posts, but I think it is important enough to be repeated. We ALL, not only but especially pregnant and lactating women, need vitamin B12. So far, there is no unanimous scientific consensus of a reliable vegetable source for this crucial vitamin. Deficit of this vital nutrient causes detrimental and irreversible side affects, it destroys your brain cells and it could cause havoc in your body before you even know it. A key to a healthy diet is variety, you need more than just vegetables, some nuts and raw chocolate. Dairy is by no means necessary, but it is a good idea to calculate that you are indeed getting enough calcium. There are excellent vegan sources - unhulled sesame seeds, dried figs and broccoli for example. But these need to be consumed regularly. If you are not on B12 supplements, a few servings of your choice of meat and/or fish are necessary. Eggs are not a reliable source of this vitamin. You also need to make sure you are getting enough of iron and iodide. Folic acid is absolutely essential for all women, fresh ruby grapefruit is an excellent source of this. Be cautious about your daily sodium intake - many raw recipes use quite a bit of salt or nama shoyu. Even though we use "good" salt, it does not mean it doesn't contain sodium which will be harmful if consumed in excess. Especially soy sauce is packed with sodium, so it is not a good idea to marinate in it (at least not too often).

Moral of this story is, if you suspect that you might not be getting adequate levels of certain nutrients, see your physician and get tested. Do not take chances with this. Eating as much raw and unprocessed food is natural and good for you, but even so you must be careful that you consume a variety of different foods and are getting all necessary nutrients.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sweet potato fettuccine with marinara & pesto sauce

Sweet potato fettuccine:
1 large sweet potato
extra virgin olive oil
rosemary, Himalayan salt

Spiralize or "peel" off fettuccine strips from your peeled sweet potato. Stir in oil and spices, dehydrate/warm in 110 F until preferred texture. These are good unwarmed too, but the short dehydration will make them more tender.

Traditional but raw pesto:
1 huge bunch basil
3 tbsp pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
extra virgin olive oil
himalayan salt, freshly ground black pepper

Blend until smooth in a high-speed blender, add oil until desired consistency.

Raw marinara:
5 fresh tomatoes
5-8 soaked, sun dried tomatoes
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (red)
4 dried dates
thyme, rosemary, black pepper, salt, oregano, basil

Use fresh or dried herbs. Blend all in a blender/food processor. Taste and adjust seasoning.

You can warm up the sauce(s) (no higher than 115 F / 46 C!) if you want. As you can see from the pic, I do not own a fancy spiralizer/mandolin, but had to use just a regular potato peeler. Hence my pasta was probably not the most visually appealing.. If anyone reading this knows where I could get a gadget for making raw vegetable pasta from Finland, please let me know!

I wish I had the time to do more "educating", but for the time being because of my time constraints I only have time to post recipes. One day soon I'll take the time to post about baby food, because as we all know, our habits of eating are formed already in early childhood and that a right, wholesome diet is essential for health and proper growth. Speaking of which, I was really shocked to see this one mom at the supermarket today. She had four kids bouncing and screaming all over the place. Aside the horrendous groceries she was buying for the family (meat balls, sugary kids yogurts, puddings, marinated pork etc), what really bothered me was how she shouted to her kids "If you don't start behaving right now, I won't take you to Mc DONALD's!". It just makes me so sad to see small kids (2-6 years or even less) eating huge hamburgers, fries and drinking sodas. Why are most family restaurants fast food joints anyway? Why are the kids portions in most restaurants always fries, pasta, meatballs, sausages or something similar? Let's hope in time eating out could be fun even for us more health-conscious people and families.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tandoori veggie burgers, mashed parsnips & live ketchup

I might be the only one, but I have really been put off by most raw loafs/patties/burgers. My pallet does not agree with nutty loafs, they just do not taste right to me. Just the combination of nuts and salty seasoning is bizarre in my mind. I have never enjoyed actual meaty burgers either, so that is not what I was missing in living cuisine. What I've really been craving is a truly healthy way of enjoying falafel! So, this is how I adapted that idea into a recipe:

Tandoori veggie burgers (nut free!)
1 C sprouted green peas
1/2 C sprouted garbanzo beans
1/4C sesame seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp olive oil, honey
1/2 juice of a lemon
fresh red chili pepper to taste
organic curry, salt, ground black pepper, tandoori seasoning, chives (dried or fresh)

The legumes should not have too long sprouts, but they should be tender and a little baby sprout should just peek out of the bean. Blend with sesame seeds and seasonings in a food processor. Form into burgers, dehydrate. I had them in at 110 F for 4 hours on one side then 30min on the other. The texture and burst of spicy flavor was just divine. It left me and my husband wondering why we ever fried our veggie burgers since these more than exceeded in flavor the cooked kind. The best part was: these don't taste like flour, and since the mixture is edible it is easy to get the seasoning just right! As you probably know, frying vegetarian (especially vegan) patties can be quite an ordeal because it is hard to get them to hold shape.. well, needless to say uncooking them solves that problem as well.

Live Ketchup:
1 C (about 12 pcs) soaked organic, sundried tomatoes
2 tbsp raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
raw honey, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cloves, garam masala, thyme, (chili!)


Mashed parsnips
3 parsnips
6 tbsp olive oil/sesame oil
almond milk
nutritional yeast flakes (optional for cheesier flavor)
Himalayan salt, pepper

Puree peeled & chopped parsnips with olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Add almond milk until desired consistency. Season to taste.

Enjoy! My husband said this is his absolutely fav raw recipe :) And I have to say, these burgers really worked for me too.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Apple-almond pancake bliss

My raw apple-almond pancakes:

almond pulp (leftover from making 1 quart almond milk)
2 medium apples
1/2 C shredded, unsulfured coconut
1 tbsp flax meal
4-6 dried dates
1-3 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg, allspice, ginger

Blend until smooth and creamy. Shape into pancakes, dehydrate until desired consistency. Mine were in a 110 F oven for 1,5 hours.

The texture of these pancakes is pretty close to the fried kind. Combined with your favorite fresh berries and pure organic maple syrup.. it's just the perfect family breakfast.

Here's our Sunday breakfast - green smoothies (with fresh ginger!), these tasty pancakes, berries and fresh almond milk.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fig pecan fruit salad

Fig pecan fruit salad:
Fresh figs
Chopped pecans
Drizzle of pure maple syrup, honey

Stir in maple syrup and honey and allow the fruit to marinate for a little while. Simple but so good! I just had to have some recipe pic up first on this page... hmm.

The expenses of eating healthy

I started writing about this subject in my last post up until I was interrupted by my baby girl. :) Now she is having so much fun with Daddy I can spare the time for a few more words on the topic. How much more or less a healthy, pure diet will cost you of course depends highly on what you are used to eating. Yes, if you eat mostly veggies and some occasional meat but do not usually purchase organic just switching to the organic varieties will probably increase your food bills.

Like I mentioned previously, where you buy is what makes the difference. For example, the price of organic pumpkin seeds are 24 euros/ 1 kg (2lb) in my local supermarket, where as here they deliver it to my door for 6.50 euros/kg. Big difference! Instead of always buying at one place, shop around. Supermarkets are usually not the best places to get organic food. Some fruit/veggies have reasonable pricing, but often times a better variety can be found cheaper at a farmer's market or specialty stores. For those of you living in Finland in the Helsinki area, I recommend buying most of your vegetables at Hakaniemen tori (Hakaniemi market building) or for example Ruohonjuuri, which is located near Kamppi. At Hakaniemi they have a section for organic food, and especially the fresh produce (seasonal!) is very decently priced. You may also want to consider Labby farm, they will deliver to your door weekly for a small cost. Their flax seed is so inexpensive, 5 kilos for only 12 euros! Punnitse & Säästä is a good store for buying dry goods such as nuts and seeds, there you can weigh out your own quantity. Cocovishop is where I order my Chia seeds, Goji berries, organic coconut oil and shea butter (which we use as moisturizer). At my local supermarket Prisma I usually get some veggies, fruit (cheap organic bananas, oranges and even apples) and organic olive oil. As you can see, some places have better prices on certain items. To be ecological, when I order online I usually order a bigger amount at once and the same goes if we drive up to the local farms which are further away.

I know there are lost of extremely expensive superfood powders available: maca, spirulina, msm, chlorella etc etc. Don't believe it all without always researching the stuff yourself. We use some maca and spirulina in our smoothies, but I'm not too crazy about other powders available. There is also a lot of misleading info out there, like some claim that you can get vitamin B12 from
spirulina. My personal and professional (after studying a fair bit of biology, chemistry and medicine) opinion is that you cannot get this vitamin from a plant source in the form we need it. There is no reliable evidence so far to suggest we could and up until there is, EVERY vegan (no dairy, eggs or meat) and even vegetarian should make sure that they get enough of this essential vitamin. It is crucial in brain cell development and all cell growth in the body.

And don't think that if you simply cannot afford going all the way, that even small steps wouldn't work wonders. Doing these will not cost you much:

1. Stop eating margarine and refined vegetable oils! They are supposed to be heart-healthy, but even if they say no trans fats, margarine is always hardened (hydrogenated), refined vegetable oil that has the same or worse affect on your body as saturated animal fat. Not to mention all the hazardous additives. Look for cold pressed oils, which are full of the essential and good fats. If you need to, replace margarine with preservative and additive free natural/organic butter, or just omit altogether (which I recommend).

2. No more refined, white sugar. Replace with raw, organic honey. You need far less of it. If you feel like you really need to bake something and it won't work with honey, use unrefined, raw cane sugar. I would recommend keeping baking with flour, fat and sugar to a minimum altogether. There are so many delicious raw treats available, everything from cookies to cakes, pancakes, ice creams and wonderful puddings and mousses. Smoothies can be sweetened with a teaspoon of raw honey, and if you are strict vegan agave nectar can be used. Be careful when you buy agave to get the actual nectar, not just lab synthesized fructose which is at least as harmful as white sugar.

3. Stop stuffing your stomach with nutrient-deficient bulk. Most of us who can afford a computer and internet, do not need to fill up on cheap white wheat bread & potatoes. When you buy bread, if you need it, buy whole-grain and make sure it does not have additives or preservatives. Have a thin slice once in a while, not half a loaf a day or for one meal. Finns have cheap rye bread which is 100% natural and organic (Perheleipurit): only wholegrain rye, water and some salt. Not even yeast. Yeast expands in your body the same way it does in warm water in a bowl. No wonder most of us feel bloated after having bread! Most grains, especially wheat, will turn into sugars in our body. If you can, switch to raw crackers and fruit. They may be the same price or even less than organic, wholegrain bread.

This is all preaching for now, feel free to comment. Enjoy your weekends!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Dream

Look tasty? Hope so... Other than the korvapuusti photos, this is one of the few pics I can actually take credit for. Usually I just make the food and aid with the presentation, and somehow my husband just makes art out of it. Anyway, this was a very ex tempore dish. My good friend from university was coming over out of the blue, and he isn't exactly a raw foodist. You all know the type, eats the best way they know how, but still are a long way from a naturally nourishing diet. I always want to have something to serve for my friends, but this time it was really a challenge.. to make something tasty and good for a person who usually would go for something sugary & baked (and loves dairy). Surprisingly maybe, this turned out a success! My husband was also thrilled to have this portion waiting for him on the table after a long hard day of work.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Dream
1 C frozen strawberries (organic guys! regular strawberries can be laden with poison)
½ C frozen rhubarb, chopped
1 C cashews
Some raw, organic honey to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil

Powder nuts, blend in strawberries, honey, coconut oil and rhubarb until texture is right (some bits of strawberry should remain). Serve immediately or freeze. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop it out and decorate with thawed strawberries & coconut flakes.

In my last post I mentioned affordability of ingredients. Since transitioning into a more natural, pure diet I've discovered that organic, healthy food doesn't cost as much as I previously thought. The key is to know where to buy and what to buy. Here are some tips:

1. Sprout, Sprout, Sprout! Organic seeds, beans and lentils are very affordable. In Finland, you can get 2 pounds (1kg) of mung beans for less than 2 euros, and all organic! Regular green peas go for 1 euro/ 1kg. They double or triple in volume too, so when you soak 1 C of beans/lentils/peas you get up to a 2-3 C yield or even more when you allow then to grow. And sprouting is simple too, I just use a huge mason jar and a cloth & hairband. I take the desired quantity of seed/legume, soak it for the necessary time (soak charts are available, you can also ask me if in doubt), rinsing every couple of hours. Then I drain the soak water and rinse once again, place the cloth (like a cheese cloth, "harsokangas" in finnish) on top of the jar and seal it with the hairband/rubber band. Then, depending on the sprout, they need to be rinsed 2-4 times a day for 1-3 days. Always drain properly and place your jar in a 45 degree angle to get all the water out so that your sprouts don't rot. Once you have a small sprout, transfer to sunlight to get the chlorophyll - green colored antioxidant that fights cancer, illness and is good for you in endless ways.

2. Buy from specialty stores! Smaller organic markets order larger quantities of organic nuts than your local supermarket. You'd be amazed how many times the prices of organic nuts there are the same or less than the regular one's at the supermarket. This is especially true when you buy out of bins and weigh your own quantity as opposed to buying ready packed.

3. Common sense: If you can't afford all organic veggies, buy the one's you usually don't peel organic. This means organic apples, strawberries, pears, carrots etc. Bananas, oranges and grapefruit aren't necessary. Buy what is in season and cheap.

Baby crying... need to go. Back tomorrow! :)

Mediterranean lettuce wraps

This whole meal started as an attempt to embody four things: quick, tasty, affordable and raw. Eating ounces and ounces of nuts everyday isn't exactly cheap over here (2 pounds of most nuts costs 20 euros or more). Organic seaweed is also pricey, as well as avocados and coconuts. This meal altogether is pretty affordable, albeit still contains some nuts (cashews) but they are not necessary. Naturally, one doesn't always have hours and hours soak or dehydrate time either. Sometimes you just need a quick & satisfying meal.

My husband mentioned few days ago that he misses my tzatziki, the delicious greek meze made of greek yogurt, cucumber and spices. It used to be one of his favorite things with my homemade bread. Ok, an easy way of making vegan and dairy-free, even raw I guess, tzatziki would be to use soy yogurt. It is usually a pretty processed food, and like I've mentioned I like to keep my soy consumption to the minimum. Then there countless recipes for plant/nut yogurts made with rejuvelac, which is made of wheatberries and a no-go for my gluten-sensitive self. Thankfully Ilon Pisara posted a recipe for homemade, purely natural & naturally gluten-free & soy-free, millet yogurt.I figured I could use the millet yogurt I made last weekend.

Homemade Millet yogurt:
2 C millet rinsed over and over again
1 2/3 C filtered water

Rinse the millet grains (whole but hulled) like a dozen times, soak for 24h. Drain and blend until smooth with 1 2/3 C new water. Pour in a sterilized glass container and seal with a lid. Allow to do it's magic in room temp for 48h. Transfer to fridge, will keep for about a week. For sweeter yogurt blend with your favorite fruit and berries right before consuming. I've tried dried dates with blueberries and once banana with gooseberries.

Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Soy-free Tzatziki:
1 C plain millet yogurt
1/2 C cashews
1 C shredded english cucumber (drain excess water)
1-3 cloves garlic (we had 2 big)
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil
Himalayan salt, pepper (generously both)

Shred english cucumber. Powder cashews in a blender/food processor, add yogurt, cucumber and flavorings. Taste and adjust to your liking.

Mediterranean olive tapenade:
1 C mixed organic black calamata and greek green olives
1 clove garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
Dried (or fresh if you have some) basil, thyme & oregano, ground black pepper

Wrap sauces and veggies in your choice of lettuce! We had (maybe not too Mediterranean) mung sprouts, zucchini, tomato, red bell pepper and used napa cabbage as the wrap because I had some at hand. This dish is so versatile and a lot of fun. And my husband, a real tzatziki fan, really loved these wraps and said it tasted just as good as the real thing =)

Btw, I have a ton of recipes to post from my quick hiatus, so keep coming back.. I'll try to make it worth your while :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Raw sushi

I've always loved sushi, but due to my gluten intolerance I can't have soy sauce (even all nama shoyu I've seen has wheat) or wasabi, and since I make a point to avoid soy also miso paste is out. We all know sushi rice is not too healthy and isn't exactly a living food. But how can I replace it, especially without gluten? I've seen people use kamut sprouts, but that again has gluten.. quinoa sprouts alone have a flavor (and texture) not really suitable for sushi. Then one day, when I was making a cauliflower thai spicy "rice" to accompany some chicken breasts (recipe coming), I got the idea of flavoring it like sushi rice and seeing if it would work in sushi rolls. And it did! Ok, texture is a bit different, but it holds together and tastes great.

Sushi "rice":
Some cashews (more if you want creamier)
White sushi vinegar
Some agave/honey
Raw tahini
Himalayan salt

I "shredded" the cauliflower with my food processor (S-blade) so that it became a finely ground mixture. Then I spiced it up, tasting it afterwards to see what it needed. It's a good idea not to make this too salty, if you are dipping in salty sauces.

Soy-free dipping sauce (not vegan or strictly raw though):
Raw tahini (few heaping spoonfuls)
Thai Fish sauce, some spoonfuls (made of anchovy extract, salt & water, no additives/preservatives)

Blend in a blender. I haven't tried it, but a strict vegan could replace the fish sauce with soy sauce.

Raw Tahini (new and improved!)
1 C unhulled, raw sesame seeds
1/3 C brazil nuts
Cold pressed vegetable oil
Raw & unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Raw, organic honey
Himalayan salt

Process nuts into a powder/butter. Add spices and then pour in oil until desired consistency. I usually make my tahini first, then take out some into a separate jar and add the fish sauce and water to make the dip. It helps clean the blender (gets the oil off the edges).

Remember to buy untoasted, raw & organic nori sheets! They are a bit chewier than their toasted deceased relatives, but it's pretty easy to get used to.

Then feel free to roll in all your favorite fillings. We made some with black lentil sprouts, julienned carrots and avocado. Then we had some fishier ones, with pangasius fillet slices (steamed and spiced with fresh dill, lemon juice, salt, pepper), alfalfa sprouts (home-grown), julienned zucchini and carrot. Of course you can add miso, wasabi or dip in soy sauce if you like. And trust me, after attempting to make sushi without a bamboo mat, you really do not want to go down that road.. they are pretty affordable and worth every penny. We bought ours from Hawaii, and paid like 2 dollars for it. I've seen them go for 3 euros in Finland.

Sorry for not posting for a while, our laptop was getting serviced and I just couldn't bring myself to post with my mini-acer. The screen is so tiny.. and so is my patience with it:)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Raw pancake brunch and Pizza night

Pancakes for me were one thing I thought I couldn't survive without if I made the transition to raw or living foods. So naturally now that I am trying to consume as little cooked food as possible without compromising my nutritional needs (so I still eat some cooked fish/chicken) I just had to find a raw replacement for our traditional Sunday morning pancakes. Sunday represents family time for us, and a key element for quality time together is delicious food.
Raw pancakes:
2 apples
about 8 dried dates
1/2 C or less of honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract (organic and alcohol-free)
2-3 tsp of cinnamon (we love it, I think I used even more)
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
little bit of coconut oil (1/4 C or less)
1 C buckwheat groats (whole grains)
1/4 C shredded, unsweetened coconut

Grind the buckwheat in food processor, set a side in a bowl and combine with coconut flakes. In a food processor fitted with an S-blade, blend together chopped apples (organic don't have to peel), dates, flax and spices. Taste, add vanilla/cinnamon or even a pinch of salt if you desire. Scrape the mixture out and combine with buckwheat and coconut by hand. You should have a non-sticky, somewhat dry but well blended batter. Take small dollops of dough into your hands and shape onto a non-stick sheet. I used a spoon to smooth out the surface of my pancakes, did not even stick. The above picture shows the pancakes before dehydration. I made them the night before, and dehydrated them for about 6 hours on one side and then 4 on the other below 115F. Make sure you don't dry yours out completely!

I served my pancakes with organic pure maple syrup, vanilla-strawberry purée (home-grown strawberries, vanilla extract, drizzle of honey) and sliced Finnish green apples.

Raw pizza crust
1C buckwheat groats, soaked overnight
1/2 C sunflower seeds
fresh garlic
couple stalks celery
some sundried tomatoes & capers
fresh thyme, basil
Himalayan salt & pepper
cold pressed olive oil

Soak buckwheat, drain soak water. In a food processor (S-blade) , give the groats some whirls until they form a paste. Add sunflower seeds, then the rest of ingredients. Taste your dough, add spices until you like the flavor. Spread evenly on a sheet, dehydrate about 9 hours total, flip half way.

Before dehydration:

After flipping:

Top with your favorite tomato sauce and toppings. We had zucchini, mushrooms, red onion and fresh basil. I poured a touch of olive oil, Himalayan salt & ground black pepper and dried oregano on top and some soaked unhulled sesame seeds and continued to dehydrate for about an hour before eating. It was yummy.

P.S. If you are wondering why I think I need seafood and poultry, it is because of my history of anemia and the fact that I am breastfeeding my 9-month-old :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Flu fighter smoothie and some thoughts

A while back I discovered collard greens in smoothies, and have been tossing them in frequently ever since. The taste is great, does not overwhelm the smoothie even in large quantities. Just like most dark leafy greens, collards are loaded with vitamin C and essential minerals. They are also reputed to contain anti-cancer properties (scientists suggest diinfolylmethane and sulforaphane). According to this source:

"Some of these compounds [found in collards and kale] enhance antioxidant and detoxification effects in the body. Others inhibit tumor growth; some block cancer causing compounds, and some prevent the formation of carcinogens. The American Cancer Society recommends that Americans increase their intake of kale, cabbage, and other brassicas. It has also been reported that compounds in brassicas can protect the eyes against macular degeneration."

Diindolylmethane has also been attributed anti-viral and anti-bacterial.
Another ingredient in this power smoothie is grapefruit, widely recognized for its high fiber, vitamin C and potassium content. The ruby one, which I always buy, has the important phytochemical lycopene along with plenty of antioxidants. Here are some potential health effects of consuming grapefruit:

"In humans, drinking three 6-ounce glasses of grapefruit juice a day was shown to reduce the activity of an enzyme that activates cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke. In rats whose colons were injected with carcinogens, grapefruit and its isolated active compounds (apigenin, hesperidin, limonin, naringin, naringenin, nobiletin) not only increased the suicide (apoptosis) of cancer cells, but also the production of normal colon cells."

Even if that isn't true in humans, it is still yummy and packed with nutrients. But remember to ask your doctor first if you are on some medication and suddenly start consuming plenty of grapefruit.

More and more health nuts are raving about parsley and it's immense array of health benefits - and for a good reason. Parsley is packed with vitamin C & A, iron and necessary minerals. For women especially, the folate and calcium are very imporant. Do your own research and start by reading this.

Flu fighter smoothie (~3 large glasses):
1 large ruby red grapefruit (only take the outer peel off, don't separate the "meat" because you'll lose fiber, remove all seeds)
2 apples (we had fresh, green and nicely tart Finnish apples)
1 banana
2 tsp maca-powder
sesame seeds
collard greens
raw, organic honey

I find that although I am accustomed to green smoothies, I can still cram way more greens into this smoothie (both parsley and collards), when I add just a little honey and a banana. Go crazy with the green, add as much as your taste allows. The green smoothie is meant to be enjoyed, not chugged down quickly while holding your nose and trying not to vomit. :)

Green smoothies really are the perfect starter to the day. I used to have oatmeal every morning, but though it did keep the hunger away as long as the smoothie does, it did not have the same "pick-me-up" factor. It must be all those vitamins.

I've just started this blog and it is impossible to know yet what this will lead to. It seems like my diet is different every week, often times I find something new and amazing but sometimes I come to realize that something I have been eating quite a bit is not actually right for me. And that's the thing really, you need to be tuned to your own body and listen to it. What's good for someone else, may not be good for you.

Here are some products I make a point to avoid in my diet:

1. All dairy - When I found out I was severely lactose-intolerant, I took it as a sign that milk is just not for me. The casein is also harmful in so many ways that I wouldn't give my daughter any dairy even if she could tolerate the lactose.
2. All soy - I used to consume quite a bit of soy, as I figured just as long as it is organic and preferably fermented, it is ok (tofu, wheat-free soy sauce, soyoghurt). Now I'm not even using nama shouy, because I'm worried about how it may affect my hormone levels.
3. Oat, barley, kamut, spelt, wheat and rye - Wheat or barley grass I am growing, but am not sure if it agrees with me yet (gluten sensitivity).
4. All refined oils & sugars - I think you all know why.
5. Peanuts - not only are they bad for the acid-base balance in your body, but they also contain toxins. I believe more people are having adverse reactions to them than they may realize.
6. Any food additives - easily avoided when you purchase organic and stay clear from processed food.
7. All unnecessary medication - antibiotics, hormonal birth control, acetaminophen or ibuprofen for any minor ache or just out of habit

Don't worry, I won't be flooding the server with constant posts all the time. Courses reassume next Monday and I begin working on my master's thesis soon. Some people may consider me strange, but science is such a source of gradification for me and lacking a better term.. just makes me happy. It is thrilling to actual feel like you are making a difference when you reach important conclusions in your research. Not only that, but I get to study young children, which naturally is so much fun. I'm fortunate to be able to say that I truly am passionate about my work and studies. Not everyone is lucky enough to say that they love what they do for a living.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Raw fajita feast: Mexico meets Italy

I can't believe I'm posting AGAIN today. This has started out sort of as a hobby for both me and my husband - I get a kick out of preparing the food and he enjoys photographing. Naturally, we both enjoy eating the food. I want to share my knowledge (albeit still limited, there is so much to learn!) and show people, that eating healthy can be fun, tasty and full of variety. Raw food doesn't mean an endless array of salads, cold soups and smoothies! There is really no limit to what can be accomplished without killing the nutrients and enzymes that are so vital for our digestion and overall well-being.

The Italian-style tortillas:
1 C flax meal
½ C sunflower seeds
few sundried tomatoes + one fresh one
1 red bell pepper
some good, cold pressed olive oil
some sprigs of fresh thyme and at least a handful of fresh basil
Himalayan salt & pepper

Blend all and pat into thin round shells on a non-stick or Teflex sheet. Dehydrate until desired consistency, longer for tacos and shorter for softer tortillas. We left them fairly soft, roughly 2-3 hours in less than 110F. The idea is loosely based on the crackers Yaelian made in her blog.

Perilla guacamole:
1 soft, lusciously ripe avocado
handful of perilla (purple mint)
juice of ½ lemon
1 clove garlic
Himalayan salt & freshly ground black pepper, cayanne powder (or fresh chili!)

Blend in a blender but leave some chunks. Alternatively crush with a spoon or fork.

Sprouted aduki/adzuki (which??) beans
Lemon juice
Himalayan salt & ground black pepper

Other toppings:
Mango cubes, Red bell pepper cubes, Half-moon shaped zucchini, thinly sliced red onion rings (which I forgot..)

Oh-boy, were these good or what! Ok, shouldn't brag... Let's just say that in our opinion, these were pretty darn tasty. Feel free to play around with the recipe, add your own twists and remember to enjoy! Finger food can be so much fun.

Raw "korvapuusti"

The finnish famous baked cinnamon bun, the korvapuusti is an ear-shaped bun bursting of flavors of cinnamon, cardamom and sometimes even saffron and raisins. The dough is traditionally a yeast dough, laden with sugar, butter, milk and bleached wheat flour. This dough is then rolled out, spread with butter, cinnamon and more sugar, rolled up and cut and shaped.
It is often sprinkled with almond slices and/or sugar before going in the oven.

Although I'm not accustomed and not usually enjoy traditional finnish foods, the korvapuusti is one exception. For years I've been making my own version, which I thought was healthier, with whole wheat flour, raw cane sugar/fructose, vegetable oil. Well, now I know better:

Raw "Korvapuusti" (13 pcs):
The dough:

Roughly two cups almond pulp (left over from making almond milk)
1C flax meal (buy ground or grind yourself)
1C soft, dried, pitted dates
1/8C (filtered) water
1/4C coconut oil
Cardamom, garam masala, salt, cinnamon to taste

I used a food processor fitted with an S-blade. First I blended the dates with water separately, then added other ingredients. Use common sense with the consistency, if it seems too dry add water/coconut oil, if it is too wet add nuts/flax meal. Roll out on a non-stick surface. I was able to do this with a regular, wet wooden rolling pin. You might want to put another non-stick or teflex sheet on top to get it uniformly thick. I dehydrated my dough for less than an hour before spreading the filling at around 100 F, it might not be necessary.

1C dates
1/2 C raisins
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4C water
1/2 brazil nuts (if you have time, soak and dehydrate)

Blend until consistency is suitable for spreading on the "dough". Then simply spread evenly and roll up.

Cut into 13 (or so) pieces, and flatten them with a knife from the center (on top).

Fix the shape if necessarily, sprinkle with coconut. Store for a day or two in the fridge, if you want them to keep longer freeze.

I guess these are mostly meant for Christmas, but if you enjoy the aromatic spices cinnamon and cardamom, these make a wonderful addition to a healthier "coffee table".

Edit: These taste even better after staying overnight in the fridge! I had the hardest time limiting myself to just one.

Creamy tomato soup, dressed up simple salad, coconut-chive steamed salmon

Yesterday night we had a simple but flavorful meal. The soup was improvised on spot, and I was amazed how delicious and creamy it was without any dairy, nuts or avocados. Here's what went into my blender:

Creamy tomato soup for 3
½ Zucchini + some cucumber (depending on how thick you like your soup)
4-5dl raw tomato juice (buy or make your own)
5-6 sundried tomatoes (at least)
1 small red onion
1-3 cloves of garlic (I put all three, my husband loves garlic)
few heaping tablespoonfuls of raw tahini
couple tablespoons of cold pressed olive oil
1-2 tsp raw & unfiltered apple cider vinegar
a fair bit of fresh basil
Himalayan salt & pepper

You may want to cut up the zucchini, onions and cucumber before they go into the blender. The tahini is what makes this soup so delectably creamy. I made my tahini myself, I'm not even sure I could find raw organic tahini anywhere in Finland. Or how much it would cost if it was sold somewhere.

Raw Tahini:
1C raw, unsoaked, unhulled sesame seeds
Himalayan salt to taste
1-2 tsp raw honey
juice of ½ lemon
cold pressed oil (sesame or vegetable) until desired consistency is reached

First blend the sesame seeds alone until they become like a powder. A coffee grinder may also do the trick. Then blend in honey and lemon juice. Finally while the blender is running add oil one drop at a time and stop when the sesame seed butter has reached desired texture.

Simple Salad:
Dark leafy green such as lollo rosso

Lemon poppyseed dressing
1-2 tbsp poppy seeds
juice of ½ lemon
cold pressed vegetable oil
Himalayan salt & pepper

It's amazing how a tasty dressing can work magic even with the most basic salad.

This salmon recipe is of course not raw, but if you are like me and are concerned about your intake of B12 this is a way to add it to your dieth in a healthy way. Needless to say, the flavor of well-prepared salmon... it just happens to be one of my favorites.

Steamed coconut-chive salmon:
As fresh, wildcaught pure salmon you can get
Cold pressed, organic coconut oil
Himalayan salt & pepper

The idea is to first quickly steam the salmon (don't overcook, leave it juicy!), and then combine with some coconut oil, chopped chives and season it the way you like it. I buy my salmon fresh and whole, chop it up and stick it in the freezer. The head and bones I use to make my own fish broth.

Again, to emphasize what I wrote in the first post: this blog is about eating healthy and balanced, not necessarily 100% raw. My goal is to eat a versatile enough diet that there is no need for supplements.

Perilla banana smoothie

Perilla, purple mint, is an interesting herb I have to admit I had never heard of before. The smell was intoxicatingly good, and I suspected it would be tasty in a smoothie because of the delicious minty aroma. I also figured that since the color is so intensely purple, it must have plenty of antioxidants and vitamins. Hence I decided to read up on it, and found out it is most known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Yay! Especially since I changed my diet in hopes of improving my notoriously bad immune system that kept me in and out of hospitals with serious infections. So far, skipping the gluten and lactose combined with increasing my intake of raw food while no longer consuming any processed food seems to work like a charm.

Here's the recipe for this tasty, mildly minty smoothie I concocted this morning:

Perilla banana smoothie for two:

2 bananas
1 large orange
1 apple
handful or two of romaine
small handful of perilla
sesame seeds
maca powder
(dash of honey)

If this won't cheer up your morning nothing will! Isn't it much easier to smile throughout the day when you can feel that you are nourishing your body just right? I'll be back later to post our yesterday's dinner, creamy tomato soup, salad with poppyseed dressing and coconut-chive steamed salmon.

Plant image source:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Balsamic portobello steaks with marinated vegetables

I couldn't pass up a box of huge and gorgeous portobellos, even though they were fairly pricey.
They are served with a side of basil-marinated, sesame seed encrusted vegetables. The recipe serves two hungry people, with some possible leftovers.

For the portobellos:

5 Whole portobello mushrooms
Equal parts good organic balsamic vinegar (no chemicals!) and organic cold pressed olive oil
Few teaspoons of lemon juice
Rosemary (fresh or dried)
Himalayan salt & freshly ground black pepper
as many crushed garlic cloves as you like

Coat each mushroom well, allow to marinate for 15-30min. Place in 115 F (46 C) and dehydrate for as long as you want. Mine were in for an hour.

For the veggies:

1 Red Bell pepper
1 Red onion
Few handfuls of long green beans
Few handfuls of zucchini
Fresh basil leaves to taste
Handful of soaked sesame seeds (I only had an hour to soak mine)
Coconut oil
Himalayan salt & pepper
Leftover portobello marinade

Mix well and warm up in the oven under 115F or just allow to marinate in room temp until mushrooms are "done". Enjoy your steak dinner! :)

I realize some raw people don't consider balsamic vinegar to be truly raw, so if you feel strongly about this you could substitute a raw vinegar for it. Or just add more lemon juice.

There's a first time for everything

It's been a while since I first discovered blogs and have been a frequent reader of many interesting ones for quite some time now. Ever since I began reading them regularly, the thought of starting one of my own has gone through my head. So much so, that I finally just had to sign up. Mostly I've been interested in food blogs, but lately solely in ones that write about raw foods. Now I think I've reached a point on my raw food journey, that I'm ready to share my own ideas and recipes with others.

I'm not quite sure where this is going, but right now I (nor the rest of the family) am not 100% raw. I feel like we will never go to the full extreme, but then again a while back I could have sworn we wouldn't go this far. The importance of vitamin B12 and my unwillingness to go on supplements means we still consume fish, other seafood and some eggs. I don't object to chicken or turkey either, if it were possible to buy some organic and free-range. Unfortunately, living in Finland, these are not too readily available. I'm gluten-sensitive and lactose-intolerant, which is reflected in the way I (un-)cook. As much as I dislike labeling and find that my diet doesn't quite fit in any box, maybe someone may like to call this way of eating non-dairy-gluten-free-almost-raw-pesco-ovo-vegetarian. Lovely, huh?

Anyhow, I soon hope to fill this blog with beautiful (I'll try!) photos of my own original recipes and versions of pre-existing ones. Feel free to comment and speak your mind, either in finnish or english. As a matter of fact, even german and swedish will do if you don't expect me to reply flawlessly.