Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wakame salad

In my last post I wrote about my diet dilemma. It seemed like I was gaining weight on a raw food diet (probably due to a combination of high sugar from fruit and high fat from nuts). Following this I've brought some healthy wholegrains back into my diet: quinoa, millet (my fave), amaranth and oats. The improvement is incredible,  I feel so much more energetic and I quickly got back to my ideal weight! What Okriina from Keittiökameleontti (an inspiring blog filled with excellent raw recipes in finnish) said when she commented on my last post really hit home. I believe I was not absorbing protein well from raw nuts. 

Anyway, I digress. Just wanted to post a recipe that gives you guys some idea of what I eat these days. This is a simple raw asian-inspired wakame salad, boosted with toasted sesame seeds (you could use soaked and dehydrated too, if you are on a raw food diet). As lunch, it would work wonderfully on its own. For dinner, I served it along with vinegared millet.


1 small zucchini and/or cucumber
4 medium carrots
1 small apple
1C or more of green peas, preferably snap peas
5 stalks of wakame seaweed
couple tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1,5 tbsp brown rice vinegar
Sweetener of choice, I used a bit of xylitol here
4 tbsp cold pressed sesame oil
Mineral-rich salt (Himalayan, gray sea salt)

Soak wakame for 5 minutes in cold water. Julienne the zucchini, carrots and apple. Chop up the wakame. Mix together the veg. Blend the dressing ingredients, taste and adjust it according to your liking. I use toasted sesame seeds here for flavor, I just love them combined with the sesame oil in the dressing. This would be even better with snap peas, but as you can see from the pic this time I only had regular ones.

3/4 C millet + 3C water (or thereabouts)
2 tbsp brown rice vinegar + salt + a little bit of sweetener of choice
2 strips of Kombu seaweed

Cook the millet in water with salt and kombu. Remove from heat, chop up the kombu and mix it in along with vinegar, salt and something sweet to round off the taste.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crossroads - What to do?

As you have probably noticed, I have not posted anything for a while now. This is because I've been busy, for one. The main reason however is I don't really know what to do about my diet - and hence what to do with this blog? I decided I'd write my thoughts down in hopes that you might be able to help.

In May my husband and I started really craving raw foods and the thought of slaving over the stove just didn't sound appealing. So we ate what we felt like eating, I would say 90% or more of our daily food was raw. This felt good at the time. Soon after, I noticed I was having a hard time maintaining my body weight (116lbs seems ideal for me). I also felt like was not getting enough protein and contrary to what people usually associate with raw diets, I also felt less energetic. End of July we started craving cooked food, like sushi (I replace white rice with millet, in the pic). So we went with that. I lost a couple lbs and got back to my ideal weight quickly after and also noticed a huge increase in my energy levels. It's not like we missed bread or any kind of junk (I'm still allergic to gluten and dairy), just some lightly steamed vegetables and cooked grains now and then. I also replaced my raw pizza crusts with a crust made of water and millet+quinoa flour. I think the reason that I gained weight on high raw was the large quantity of nuts we were consuming. Now that we've replaced most of the nuts with healthy grains, we both feel a lot better. And look better!

I would still like to eat as much raw as possible. I'm finding it hard to replace nuts in raw recipes - it would be a lot easier if I could eat gluten and just replace with spelt or wheat berries. We do still use a lot of sprouted buckwheat. I've tried using sprouted oats, but my body won't tolerate that too much/too often. Lightly toasted or cooked g-free oats I can handle, it's the raw variety that is pretty hard to digest. Lately I've also found that consuming a lot of legumes isn't too good for me either. So my question is, if I can't eat raw nuts or raw/cooked legumes, how do I get enough protein? I do eat raw chia, hemp and sesame seeds. But it doesn't seem feasible to get 50-60g protein (1g/weight kg) from those alone.

Is it so bad to eat cooked millet, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and oats? At this point I think not, because I feel significantly better eating the grains.  But what do you think? Are there others out there who can't handle a lot of nuts? Any gluten-free ideas how to replace them in raw recipes? Or any gluten-free, nut free recipe ideas altogether? Savory dishes are what I'm struggling with.

This blog never really was a raw food blog. It will still continue as it was when I started it, as a documentary of my "adventures" into the realms of healthy eating. I'm just still looking to find the kind of diet that works best for me. Hope you'll continue to follow me on my journey. :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tropical mango strawberry cheesecake

Here's the recipe for the tropical cheesecake I mentioned in my previous post! Sorry about the photo, it really doesn't do this recipe justice. The mango layer actually has a gorgeous, deep yellow color. I just whipped this cake up 2 hours before the guests arrived and once it was all set and glazed, the guests were already there and I didn't feel right abandoning them just to get a perfect pic :)

The crust:
2 C almonds
1C sun-dried bananas
pinch of salt

Grind the nuts and dates in a food processor fitted with an S-blade. You may add water if the mixture doesn't stick together. Press onto a large tart pan or smaller individual tart molds.

1 cups dried mango, soaked
0,5C fresh or canned organic mango (I could only find organic mango canned..)
1,5C macadamia nuts
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1-2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup cacao butter
raw, unfiltered honey to taste (exact amount depends on the sweetness of your fruit)

Puree everything smooth except the cocoa butter, grate it in and blend to combine. Spread on top of the crust. I made two batches to get a higher cake (as opposed to a filled pie).

Strawberry glaze:
1C frozen strawberries, thawed
5 tbsp chia

Blend until the chia is gelatinized. I did not measure these out at all, I just took a container of frozen strawberries, thawed them and blended in as much chia as it took to get it to form a gel. There was plenty of left over glaze. Once the chia has set, spread evenly on top of the mango layer. If you have fresh strawberries at hand don't bother with this, just garnish the cake with the chopped berries!

I think most of my guests were used to a white flour+ sugar cake with tons of whipped cream. They all said this certainly was new to them, but then asked for seconds and raved about how delicious it was. I was a bit worried about the perhaps unusual flavor combination (at least to most Finns), but since I am such a mango fan I decided to go ahead with it.. after all, this was my graduation cake! :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Raw spanish scrambled "eggs"

Hi everyone! We're back from a weekend out of town, celebrating my graduation (BSc), gathering spruce shoots and visiting with family and friends. I'll be back to post about the party, I made an amazing raw tropical mango strawberry cheesecake which was a hit! But for now I decided to post one of my husband's favorite raw breakfasts. 

This recipe is inspired by Ani Phyo's raw scramble. I made it once (added more spices and dash of olive oil), but my husband complained about tasting the almonds. He said it was very good, but the almond flavor bothered him in a savory dish! To please him, I replaced the almonds with brazil nuts. Cashews would be even milder and probably work as well, but I like brazil nuts because they are so packed with minerals such as selenium and zinc. Although not raw, I also added my husband's favorite spice: smoked paprika. I enjoy the spice as well, and as long as it is not unhealthy I tend to choose taste over "100% raw."

Anyway, onto the recipe:
Spanish scramble:
1C dry brazil nuts (soaked and dehydrated always best)
0,5C sunflower seeds (soaked and dehydrated always best)
1tsp turmeric powder
1tsp or more of organic smoked paprika
0,5tsp italian seasoning (or herbs of choice)
1/4 tsp mineral rich salt or to taste
1/2 cup water
dash of your favorite cold-pressed olive oil (optional, but I think it improves flavor and texture)
black pepper

First blend the nuts and seeds and add water to reach a consistency similar to scrambled eggs. If you like, you may leave it a little chunky. Add turmeric to give it the right color and other seasonings to taste.

1/4C fresh cilantro
spring onion
Marinated and dehydrated mushrooms (1:1:1 ratio of balsamic vinegar+olive oil+honey, salt, pepper, yumyum!)
sweet pepper
raw olives (I just had organic ones)

Chop your add-ins of choice, mix in and enjoy! We like to let it sit a bit to warm it up (we keep our nuts in the fridge) and allow the flavors to mingle. 

The scramble is served on greens, either spinach or romaine leaves work wonderfully. Sometimes I also like to wrap the scramble in a salad leaf!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spicy summer curry

The sunshine is back and that calls for something light, colorful, refreshing and flavorful! This recipe definitely delivers that.
Raw parsnip rice:
3 parsnips
1/2C of dry coconut flakes (preferably sun-dried)
3 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp raw honey
1 tsp ume plum vinegar (or anything acidic)
Himalayan salt, freshly ground black pepper

Pulse the pine nuts and parsnips until they resemble white rice. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Mango curry sauce:
1 large mango
1/8 of a sweet onion or more to taste
Himalayan salt, pepper
Garam masala, ground coriander, cumin
Fresh coriander leaves

Puree mango and onion, add spices. Pour in a serving bowl, stir in roughly chopped fresh coriander. The onion can either be omitted entirely or replaced by spring onions. 

Pea shoots or just peas
Finely chopped raw broccoli
Carrot (we had yellow and red carrot)

Sweet peppers would have been delicious, but they are not in season yet. Likewise we had to substitute frozen peas for pea shoots, but looking forward to trying this with those later! Alfalfa or mung sprouts would be excellent, unfortunately I didn't have those at hand either. I did serve this curry with a side of curried nut balls, yum!

To serve, top parsnip rice with veggies and curry sauce. It will look something like this:

I had so much fun making this, since my daughter (18 months) got on her tippy toes to snatch my broccoli off the kitchen table. She got such a kick out of munching on it, so cute! As a mom, something inside me lights up every time she enjoys eating something raw and green. She even likes to snack on sunflower sprouts.

Enjoy the summer guys!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Raw onion bread

Raw onion bread:
2 medium sweet onions
1 medium carrot
1C sunflower seeds
1C brazil nuts
0,5C pumpkin seeds
0,5C flax meal
cold-pressed olive oil, water
salt, pepper, dried parsley

Grind nuts and seeds into a fine flour in a food processor. Chop onions and carrot into big chunks and process into tiny pieces, almost mushy. Mix the carrot and onion mixture to the nut flour in a bowl, add flax meal and enough water and olive oil to get a flax gel consistency (batter should only barely moist, so that you can mold it by hand).

Shape into round flatbreads or spread evenly onto a teflex sheet. The thinner you make it the less time it will take to dehydrate. I made them a little thicker because I wanted them soft in the center like bread instead of crackers. Dehydrate at 116F for about 5 hours on one side and then a couple on the other.

The sweet onions lend to an amazing flavor, which softens and intensifies in the dehydrator. Your kitchen will be filled with a delicious scent while dehydrating. I normally don't like raw onion, but using sweet onion really makes all the difference. 

We enjoyed these as raw sandwiches, but also just topped with hummus. This hummus is not raw, but really delicious if your body can tolerate legumes. I have a pressure cooker, and I love that I can boil garbanzos in 15-20 minutes. Not only because it's a time saver, but also because nutrients are better preserved.

Smoked paprika hummus:
1,5 C garbanzo beans
3-4 tbsp cold-pressed sesame oil
1-2 tsp raw honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
fresh spring onions and flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt, pepper, smoked paprika
cayenne pepper (optional)

Blend cooked garbanzo beans, lemon juice, oil and honey until smooth but chunky. Transfer to serving bowl. Add chopped spring onions and fresh flat-leaf parsley and seasonings. Sprinkle some more smoked paprika and parsley on top for garnish.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Could your sunscreen be CAUSING skin cancer instead of preventing it?

Two years ago I was nearly oblivious to the toxic ingredients in cosmetic products. Since then, my list of chemicals to avoid has just gotten longer and longer. Last summer I was perplexed about sunscreen, because I do think it is necessary. I bought an organic one, that didn't contain harmful inactive ingredients (parabens etc, PEGs etc). Now I discovered even that is not enough, because even natural organic sunscreens can contain harmful substances (the above pic is my new sunscreen, which I think is safe?). I was too busy staring at the inactive ingredients, naively believing that the active ingredients are surely OK!

Not exactly the truth. Even organic suncreens may contain one or a combination of these potentially very harmful ingredients:

Homosalate (weak hormone disruptor)
Octisalate (weak UVB)

There is also cause to question whether these substances even sufficiently protect against UVA/UVB rays.

Here are some interesting quotes from the Environmental Working Group (EWG):

"In summer 2008 just 29% of sunscreens on the market contained any of the 4 strong UVA filters FDA has approved for use in sunscreens (avobenzone, Mexoryl, titanium dioxide, and zinc), according to EWG’s analysis of product ingredient labels."

 " Only 8% of 1,771 products analyzed met EWG's criteria for safety and effectiveness, blocking both UVA and UVB radiation, remaining stable in sunlight, and containing few if any ingredients with significant known or suspected health hazards. Our assessment is based on a detailed review of hundreds of scientific studies, industry models of sunscreen efficacy, and toxicity and regulatory information housed in nearly 60 government, academic, and industry databases. "

"Many products lack UVA protection. Our analysis found that 4% of high SPF sunscreens (SPF of at least 30) protect only from sunburn (UVB radiation), and do not contain ingredient combinations known to protect from UVA, the sun rays linked to skin damage and aging, immune system problems, and potentially skin cancer. FDA does not require that sunscreens guard against UVA radiation." 

"Sunscreens break down in the sun. Paradoxically, many sunscreen ingredients break down in the sun, in a matter of minutes or hours, and then let UV radiation through to the skin. Our analyses show that 41% of products on the market contain ingredients that may be unstable alone or in combination, raising questions about whether these products last as long as the label says. FDA has not proposed requirements for sunscreen stability."

When you head out to buy your sunscreen, make sure the only active ingredients are zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide. Some time ago I posted about natural cosmetics, in particular about lip balms with SPF. Needless to say, now that I am aware of this I've tossed those.

Check out EWG's safety ratings for a majority of commercial sunscreens:


Carob marzipan truffles

I finally found some raw organic apricot kernels in Finland! To celebrate this awesome discovery, I just had to whip up some raw marzipan. Personally I think there is something magical about the combination of really dark, slightly bitter chocolate and sweet rich marzipan. So, as soon as we got home I started soaking some almonds and later that evening we enjoyed these little treats (WHY does blogger tilt my pics nowadays??):

1 handful of almonds, soaked 8 hours
1-4 apricot  kernels
Agave syrup, to taste

Peel almonds after soaking. Place almonds and apricot kernels in a powerful blender and process into a nut butter. Add some agave to sweeten. Roll into tiny balls by hand.

Carob powder
Coconut oil
Agave syrup
Pinch salt

The idea is you make a little mountain of carob powder, and then slowly add liquid (=oil, agave) to it until the right consistency and taste is achieved.You want it pretty thick, so that it stays on the marzipan balls. My carob chocolate was pretty grainy (as you can see from the pic), not nearly as smooth as it would've been using raw cacao powder. We chose carob, because of the caffeine in raw cacao. If however you prefer using cacao, go right ahead.  To assemble the truffles, roll the marzipan balls in chocolate until they are coated all around and chill in the fridge to set.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Raw Pasha

Pasha is a traditional, originally Russian Easter dessert. It is typically made with curd, cream, raw yolks, sugar and dried fruit. Growing up, my mother made this faithfully every Easter. I didn't love it that much as a child, but began enjoying it more each year. This year I was slightly sad I can't have it anymore (diagnosed with casein allergy + lactose intolerance, it has gotten a lot worse and I can't tolerate ANY milk anymore). I thought I'd try to make a raw version, but wasn't expecting any success. But whoa, this tasted authentic! Just have to share the recipe, even if it sounds strange to some of my  foreign readers.

 Prep time: 12h soaking + 2 days

The curd:
1 C cashews + 0,5C almonds, soaked
1 C water (or more/less)
2-3 tbsp raw honey or agave
insides of 1 vanilla bean (use less for milder vanilla flavor)
3 tsp acidophilus powder (I used this one)

Dried dates, figs, apricots etc
Ground almonds
lemon zest

Soak nuts for 12 hours, peel almonds if they have the peel on them. Boil water and allow cool (to eliminate unwanted micro-organisms). Blend nuts until perfectly smooth with enough water to make a rather thick cream. Blend in honey, vanilla seeds and acidophilus. Set in a clean, sealed glass container in a warm place. A pleasant sour aroma should develop within a couple hours. Finns may notice the scent of "vanilja rahka". It should also thicken significantly (almost stiff!). Once this is accomplished, place in the fridge overnight.

Next day mix with dried fruit, ground nuts of choice and lemon zest. You may add honey/agave if you feel it needs more sweetness. Then fetch a cheese cloth or another similar device for draining the mixture. I used a cloth over a colander and an empty bowl. Place in the fridge to firm up, mine was ready a day after. Although mine didn't leak out any liquid, it firmed up enough so I could turn it over and it held its shape when we cut into it. It will probably continue to sour, so make only what you can eat within 1-2 days.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


It was my husbands birthday two weeks ago, so of course I wanted to surprise him with something scrumptious. My mind went back and forth with what kind of a cake I would make (nice rhyme!), but at the end it came down to what my husband loves most - coffee, nuts and chocolate. He no longer drinks coffee daily, only on special occasions. These days he has also switched to organic coffee infused with medicinal mushrooms (etc Reishi, Cordyceps). Iherb sells and ships these even to Finland with an affordable price, and their flavor is as good as any other regular coffee brand.

Of course, since coffee is used in this recipe it is not entirely raw. What it is, is my own take on a healthier tiramisu. It is my best attempt to recreate this delicious Italian dessert without cream, sugar and amaretto liquor. I do think that once these key flavor ingredients are omitted, the coffee is necessary to keep it resembling the original. If you don't care for it, just omit it. In this case I would add some almond extract to bring out some amaretto flavor in the cream.

Raw, organic almonds
Raw cacao powder
Honey, coconut oil
dash salt and organic vanilla/almond extract

Process almonds into a powder, mix with rest of the ingredients in a bowl. The mixture should be firm enough to shaped on a serving dish with your hands. Taste it to make sure the flavors are balanced, you don't want the base too sweet. Set in the fridge to chill.

Tiramisu cream layer:
3/4 C Reishi Coffee (I use Longreen, better tasting and cheaper than MadreLabs)
2 handfuls of cashews + 1 handful of peeled almonds
Honey/agave, to taste
Lucuma powder (for nutritional value and sweetness)
Almond extract

Soak almonds overnight and cashews for a couple hours. Make the coffee, allow it to cool down to room temperature. Blend everything until smooth, thick creamy consistency. Spread on the base with a spatula/knife. Set in the fridge. This is best when served the day after making, because the flavors continue to intensify and develop. Sprinkle with grated raw chocolate or cacao powder. Enjoy!

This recipe does not specify amounts, because it all depends on how thick a base you want or whether you like your tiramisu in several layers. The precise amounts of the ingredients are best determined by tasting. With this nut-coffee ratio the cream takes on a rich but not overpowering coffee taste. It is however a good idea to add the coffee slowly to make sure you get the right taste and texture. 

A tiramisu like this makes for a nice introduction to raw desserts. It is easy to prepare and it resembles a well-known "regular" dessert in both texture and flavor. I am already planning to serve this for my coffee-loving in-laws next time they come to visit.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Amazing raw sour cream!

Just a brief note to let you guys now I am alive and thinking of what to make for my husbands birthday tomorrow. Hopefully it will turn out successful and make its way into this blog! 

Last night we enjoyed blinis. Well, I have yet to figure out a decent way to recreate the actual blinis in a raw way. The toppings however, have been raw for a long time now. Every time we make them, I try to think of a way to improve the raw sour cream we love to dab on the blinis. Usually I have added acidophilus, and allowed it to sour up in the fridge for a couple days. This time I felt the urge to make blinis ex tempore, so I had to come up with something faster. Here it is (sorry, no pic!):

Quick raw sour cream:
2 handfuls of soaked cashews
1 small handful of your favorite raw sauerkraut, or to taste
dash lemon juice, Himalayan salt, pepper, fresh or dried dill

Blend all until smooth. You can add the dill after blending, so that it won't turn out completely green :)
Check seasoning.

The Blinis:
handful of cashews + water (should equal 5dl or 2 C after blending into cashew milk)
organic buckwheat groats ground into flour or whole-grain buckwheat flour (didn't measure this, you want somewhat of a thick pancake batter consistency)
1 organic egg
Himalayan salt

Beat until there are no lumps, let sit for a while for the flour to "swell up". Add more, if it seems too thin.
Heat the skillet. Makes about 35 small blinis.

Traditionally blini recipes use carbonated beverages and yeast or baking powder, but for health reasons I settle for this recipe. 
Serving suggestion: tuna or salmon ceviche, dehydrator-marinated shiitake mushrooms, marinated veggies and of course heapings of raw sour cream!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Orange fudge brownies with date frosting

My in-laws came for a visit today. It is always a bit scary to cook for your mom-in-law, especially when you don't bake the traditional coffee table "treats" she is used to. I can bake, quite well even, but I just don't care for it anymore. Raw desserts are so much better than dairy and gluten free baking. Like many of you, I would also like to see my family and friends eat better and I try to teach them about healthy eating (subtle hints) when they visit. I gave up the preaching a long time ago, now I just attempt to wow them with how good real food can be.

To my suprise, my mother-in-law RAVED about these brownies, had seconds and thirds and also requested the recipe. Big hit! When we told her, that they are no-bake, she was even more amazed. Mission accomplished.

Orange fudge layer:
1,5 C almonds
200g or little less than 0,5lb dried figs, soaked
1/3-1/2C carob powder
4 tbsp coconut oil + some fig soak water
1-2 tbsp honey, or to taste (feel free to omit)
Dehydrated organic orange peel, to taste (I put 1 tbsp)
2 tbsp lucuma and 2 tbsp maca powder, optional
Pinch salt

Blend until a smooth "ball" of dough. Chop a handful or two of walnuts, and fold in. Shape into a large square on a pretty serving dish, place in the fridge. This should be a rather stiff dough, so only a brief chill in the fridge is sufficient.

Date frosting
10 dates + handful of raisins, soaked
Soak water
2 tbsp lucuma powder, optional but adds great flavor
1/4C carob powder
(pinch salt)

Blend until smooth, spread on top of brownie layer. Chill & Enjoy.

If I were making these for just us two, I would add some ginger to the brownie mix. For this occasion, I thought ginger with "mock chocolate" may have been just little too exotic.. :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Creamed sesame tahini dessert

Contrary to my recent posting pattern, here I am already back with recipes. My life, as I probably have mentioned more than once, is a hectic one. Just recently, I was working two positions. Last week I made the decision to give the corporate one up, so that I can concentrate on the interesting research I am doing at the University. This will be my Master's thesis. On top of this I have a load of interesting courses, but also a wonderful family. As much as I enjoy blogging, it comes after my family and work on my list of priorities. It looks like at the moment I finally have some spare time to create and post, so your patience will hopefully be rewarded =)

Raw tahini:
Sprouted sesame seeds
Raw and unfiltered honey, to taste
Cold-pressed coconut oil and sesame oil
Himalayan salt

Soak sesame seeds for 8 hours. Drain water, rinse thoroughly and sprout for another 8 hours. The seeds won't actually grow, the idea is to get rid of the enzyme inhibitors, so that the calcium and other nutrients are better absorbed. Once this is done, place the seeds in a food processor or blender, add honey. Then blend in 50:50 coconut and sesame oil. Add salt. Taste and adjust. I like my tahini with a nice balance of savory and sweet. If you find that cold-pressed sesame oil is too strong in flavor, substitute for more coconut oil.

Tahini cream:
3 tbsp raw tahini
4 oz/120g raw brazil nuts, soaked for 4-6 hours
Raw honey, to taste

Blend tahini, nuts and honey. Add water until desired consistency. With little water this makes for a flavorful raw cream, while more water will yield a more yoghurt like texture and slightly milder flavor.

Serving suggestion:
Banana, blueberries, chopped pecans, fresh lemon balm leaves

You could also blend some lemon balm in with the tahini cream.This is a versatile, quick and easy raw treat. Enjoy as breakfast, snack, dessert or dress it up for a fancier occasion.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Still alive and back with a vengence

Hey guys, and thank you for your patience. I've been laying low for several reasons. First of all, I suffered a severe kidney infection with high fever lasting over a week. Since that, I've done a lot of thinking. Why despite my healthy lifestyle did I come down with such an illness? Why despite the all organic, pure diet does my daughter get sick? Many other health food/raw foodie bloggers seem to be the epitomes of health, insisting that as long as you eat pure food, you can't get sick. What is it that I do wrong then? I eat mostly raw, mostly vegetables and fruit, I exercise but don't overdo it. Nearly all my food is organic. Although I work and study, I don't ever feel overwhelmed or stressed. All in all, I am happy and love my life. What gives?

Is this all due to a tick bite that went unnoticed years ago? Doctor's think I suffer from chronic Lyme disease. I thought so too, initially I was in a lot of chronic pain because of it. So much so, I was on horrible medications. I was sick constantly, and it was never the flu or anything mild. Now, thanks to completely changing my diet and way of life over a year ago, I am pain-free and medication free. But could this be something that is affecting my immune system? I have been rigorously tested for every condition that may cause compromised immunity, but they all have come back negative. If this is the case, is there anything I can do about it? Echinacea, medicinal mushrooms, camu camu for vitamin C boost? If anyone one of you has tips, I would greatly appreciate any advice.

This all being confessed, I am starting a project of my own that I will continue to write about here. For months now, I have been taking a dose of 2000IU vitamin D and some supplemental zinc.  I have also been eating raw shiitake mushrooms weekly. This month I started B12 supplements, since this could help improve my immune system. Just this morning my husband and I decided that we will try some wild game birds in our diets, so that we wouldn't need the supplements. Before I was disgusted by the thought of eating anything else than chicken or fish, and even chicken I haven't had in a long time. Now, although I am not going full on paleo, I think it is wise to try to eat what is natural and what our bodies were designed to eat. I am blood type O, which is a hunter blood type. This could be the reason for my gluten-intolerance and milk allergy. I find I need a high protein diet, maybe also because my work is so intellectually demanding. So, I am going back to my roots in search for better health. From now on, this family is on a "wild diet", consisting of  mostly vegetables, with an emphasis on seasonal foods including weekly self-caught or sustainably caught wild fish and game.

I will be back with recipes and thoughts on my new journey. Let's hope this does the trick!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Creamy pomegranate-lingonberry hearts

Wondering how to surprise your valentine this year? Perhaps not quite yet, but I just got carried away with my gorgeous red pomegranate and cute heart-shaped cupcake molds. I had a hard time figuring out what to call them - the "cream" resembles white chocolate, but also distantly a cheesecake. It has layers of flavors, and it depends on the taster, which is most prominent. To me this was white chocolate, to my husband it was cheesecake, and most likely someone not quite as accustomed to the taste of coconut would find it to be the dominant flavor. Well, try it our for yourself and let me know what you think!

Honey-almond crust
Almond flour (or dehydrated almond pulp leftover from making raw almond milk)
Coconut oil
Raw, organic honey
pinch Himalayan salt, touch of pure vanilla

Mix together and pat down thinly on the bottom of cupcake molds. Chill to firm up.

Cream layer (for 6 cupcakes + leftovers)
125g cashews
400ml coconut cream (about 1,75C)
2 tsp mesquite + 2tsp lucuma (optional, but very good)
0,5-1,5 tsp dehydrated orange peel
70g raw cocoa butter
vanilla agave, to taste
pinch salt

Blend everything until smooth. Spread on crust, chill until they are hard enough to remove from the mold.

Pomegranate-lingonberry glaze
1 pomegranate
0,5 C lingonberries
vanilla agave, to taste

Blend. Layer on top of the cupcakes prior to serving.

We made 6 and I had leftover cream+glaze, so I froze the cream to make raw ice cream and served it with the pomegranate-lingonberry sauce. All three layers of the cupcakes go really well together, and make a really scrumptious treat. Without the glaze, they keep well frozen. If you like, you could also serve them just lightly thawed as ice cream cakes. We opted to allow them to thaw a bit further, which brings out more flavor. Altogether this is a versatile recipe, you could just use the cream in any other raw dessert that calls for it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Royal berry tartlets and cranberry-orange cookies

Once again my good friend was coming over for tea. I've mentioned before that she has several allergies. As such, they wouldn't be too problematic, but combined with my gluten-intolerance and milk allergies it becomes challenging. Again, it wouldn't be if I would go for conventional baking.. but you know me, my desserts are always raw even if I sometimes enjoy cooked meals.

I came up with a crust that would work for both of us, given that it had to be nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and raw. Then I thought I'd make a strawberry shortcake out of it, but I wasn't sure if she was allergic to strawberries.. then I remembered that it is fairly common, and thought I wouldn't risk it. Well, I thought I'd use blueberries instead, but I've made quite a few raw blueberry pies in the past... long story short: I made a pie filling out of blueberries, raspberries, figs and dehydrated orange peel. Only to realize soon after, that she is allergic to nearly all fruit, except bananas. Luckily it turned out she could handle the small touch of organic orange peel, and got no reaction from the figs either.

As if there weren't enough problems to begin with, I was short of time. I went to work early and didn't have time to prepare anything in the morning. I told my husband to soak some flax seeds for me, but neglected to tell him how much water I wanted in them... well, there was too much and hence I had to make a much bigger batch of "dough" than I had in mind. This is how I ended up making a batch of 12 tartlets and about 20 cookies.

The "dough":
1 C soaked flax seeds
2 C water
1,5 C coconut flakes
1,5 C sprouted buckwheat
10 dried dates
vanilla agave + honey, to taste
pinch salt and cinnamon (salt is essential!)

Soak flax seeds in water for at least an hour, preferably overnight.  Blend with dates, buckwheat and seasoning. Remember to taste the dough!

Royal berry filling:
1,5 C raspberries
1 C blueberries
12 dried figs
vanilla agave
0,5-1tsp dehydrated, ground organic orange peel (peel your oranges, dry in room temp/dehydrator, grind in a food processor)
2 tsp lucuma, optional

Blend all ingredients together, taste and adjust sweetness.

Fill as many pie shells with the dough as you like (spread with wet hands), set in fridge for an hour or too. Make filling after you have put the shells in the fridge, and chill it. Once the pie shells have set, assemble and chill until served. They are best, when you let them warm up just a bit in room temp before serving.

We had extra filling, but it is amazing on it's own. You could enjoy it just with some raw chocolate, on raw pancakes, etc etc... Feel free to substitute the crust for your favorite raw crust, especially when making for skeptics it might be a better idea to make a sweeter, nuttier crust. Because it didn't have any oil, this dough didn't really "set" like a nut crust with cocoa butter/coconut oil would. This means it softens in room temperature. It also tastes more "healthy" than delectable, but if you like a less sweet, nut-free crust this is pretty good. More than likely though, the next time I make these I will make an almond-pecan crust with coconut oil and vanilla agave.

Cranberry-orange cookies
The dough, left-over from making the tartlets
Chopped almonds (soaked and dehydrated if possible)
Organic, sugar-free dried cranberries (eg. apple-sweetened)
Orange peel

Fold chopped almonds and chopped cranberries into the dough with a large spoon/spatula. Add flavorings and sweetener, if desired. Dollop onto dehydrator sheets, spread into thick round cookies. Dehydrate! Mine were in for about 12 hours, after which they were warm and crunchy on the outside but nice and chewy on the inside. The quality of the cranberries really makes a difference, I used Eden Foods cranberries, which are big, juicy and dark in color.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Raw buckwheat sandwiches with parsley nut cream

This was not the first time I have made raw bread, believe me I've tried a fair amount of recipes.. somehow I've never liked them too much (read: edible with plenty of toppings to mask the flavor). I thought this bread would be no different, but I was suprised to find that this was actually tasty on its own. It was good with raw spreads and veggies, and we also have enjoyed it with a (cooked) indian brown lentil dahl.

Raw brazil nut-buckwheat bread (aka best raw bread I have made)
1/2 C brazil nuts soaked
1 C flax seeds
1 C water, to soak the flax seeds with
1/3 C pumpkin seeds
1 C sprouted buckwheat (soak 10min, sprout 24h, little tail)
2/3 C grated raw seet potato
Quality salt, freshly ground black pepper, dried organic thyme (just a touch)

Soak buckwheat groats 10 min, place in a sprouting jar. Rinse at least 4 times during the 24h. Soak brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds 6-8h, discard soaking water. Also soak flax seeds with water (min 1h) to make a thick gooey paste. When they're all done, place nuts and buckwheat in a food processor, along with sweet potato. Give it some spins, I left mine chunky on purpose. Season. Shape into bread slices and dehydrate overnight.

Parsley nut cream spread:
1/2 C brazil nuts
´1/4 C sunflower seeds
handful of fresh parsley
clove garlic
lemon juice
salt, pepper

Blend brazil nuts and seeds, add lemon juice, garlic clove and salt + pepper. Blend until smooth. If you like, you can also through in the parsley. This will lend the spread a light green color. Alternatively, you can finely chop the parsley and mix it in with a spoon.

Serve together, or eat the bread on its own or with your choice of toppings. We had simple sammies with split pea greens and julienned carrots.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Functional training and stress relief

My life is pretty hectic and exciting at the moment. I mentioned that the New Year would mean new challenging opportunities for me. Recently I was asked to participate in ground-breaking research and formulate my findings into my Masters thesis. This is all happening quite fast, considering that it was only a couple months ago when I finished my Bachelor's thesis and have only studied 2,5 years at the University. Last week I also had a development discussion at work that revealed several interesting career path opportunities for me.

Although all this takes up a fair amount of hours (work, research, studies), I feel fortunate and stress-free. Of course, in times like these stress management skills are essential. Personally I don't think all stress is bad, for example a small amount of pressure can allow you to perform better and more efficiently than usual. However, the moment you notice that you are feeling overworked and it affects your moods daily, it is way past time to do something about it. How do you guys deal with stressful times?

My stress-fighting strategies sound simple: exercise, diet, fun. I find that my new-found form of functional training, Kinesis, has proven to be very effective. For me, it uniquely combines relaxation and releasing tension. This is because I utilize the balance boards/BOSU-balance trainer with every exercise possible. Not only does this provide an amazing way to work out your deeper core muscles while working on other muscle groups, but the deep level of concentration the movements involve allows you to really clear your mind.

Advantages of Kinesis:
+ Activates kinetic chains of muscles, not just individual muscles monotonically like conventional equipment. Resistance varies also with the range of movement and angle (as well as weights).
+ Easy!
+ The design allows you to move freely with minimal interference with the body, especially in 'push' movements.
+ Fast set up
+ Incredibly versatile, even just one machine can be used in dozens of different ways (be creative!)

Some of my favorite Kinesis movements (free video instructions)
- Core exercise with the above machine, you lie on your back and grasp one handle with each hand. Lift both feet up. Stretch your right leg, and push your left arm back parallel to the floor (away from your head). Without dropping your feet, do the same with your left leg and right arm.
- Using the equipment in the first pick, either stand on a balance board or sit on a fitness ball and extend your arms (like you were boxing). Or use a ball/balance board and stretch your arms, and then open them. You can combine this with lifting one of your legs at a time, while maintaining your balance and strengthening your core muscles.
- With the machine in the lower pic, you can sit on a ball and make a large circle with both your arms holding the handles, a "sun".

Kinesis is especially effective when combined with relaxing and empowering yoga breething techniques you breath in when moving into position, and breath out when doing the most strenuous part. This will activate more core muscles and increase strength and effectiveness.

Because Kinesis is a form of functional training (works on several muscle groups with one exercise), it saves time. Especially the movements requiring balance will activate muscle groups traditional gym equipment never would.    

My typical gym ruitine:
30min in-door cycling (interval training, 5min cycle seated with resistance, 5 min standing with added resistance)
30min Kinesis exercises as circuit training (no resting in between)

Sometimes I run instead of cycle, and sometimes if I don't have an hour I opt to cycle in slightly higher gear for 20min and do Kinesis for 10-20min. Once a week I usually run 15min for warm up and participate in a Kinesis Core class for 45min. When it suits my schedule, I also enjoy pilates and different yoga forms. Typically I go to the gym 3-4 times a week with my husband. The days I don't go, I get my minimum of 30 min exercise by cleaning, playing with my daughter, going outside with the family, etc.

I will not go too deep into diet in this post, after all all my past posts have been about diet in one way or another. Yet I will say that in times of stress, it is sometimes a good idea to indulge a little. No, I don't mean diving into a bar of chocolate or eating a bag of chips. Instead, dry making some raw chocolates (click here for an easy recipe) with your partner or friend, and sip some delicious Yogi tea. Relax and talk!

Images from:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lucuma maple flax crackers

My adventures with my new Stöckli dehydrator continue! It is so much fun - I feel like a "domestic goddess" again when the yummy fragrance of my concoctions can be sensed throughout the corridor. Playing with my dehydrator is way more fun than baking ever was (and I really used to enjoy that!), not only because I know that these treats are truly healthy for all of us but also because I feel there is no limit to my creativity. Maybe it is the scientist in me, that relishes in being presented with a problem like "it is not possible to make raw pulla*" and being able to solve it through thinking and experimenting. It is rewarding and comforting to find that switching over to eating right can be exciting and fulfilling. First I had a whole list of things I thought I'd miss, but now I've come to realize that I wouldn't trade my yummy raw treats for anything.

Many of you have probably had or heard of raw flax crackers. I added my spin on the traditional maple-cinnamon crackers:

Lucuma maple flax crackers
3 round 13" trays

2 C whole flax seeds
4 C water
2 medium organic apples (I had Gala)
1/4 C raw organic honey
1/4 C organic pure maple syrup
1-3 tbsp ceylon cinnamon (regular cinnamon contains the liver-toxin coumarin)
2 tbsp raw organic lucuma powder
pinch salt

Soak flax seeds in water for at least an hour, preferably overnight. It will transform into a very thick goo, which you don't want too wet because it would lengthen dehydration time later. Puree apples with spices and sweeteners in a food processor/blender until smooth. Mix with flax seeds either in a bowl or pour them into the food processor. Taste, and adjust flavor until it is so good you have to restrain yourself from just eating it out of the bowl. Seriously, we were lucky to actually get some to the D :)
Once you have the taste down, take out your dehydrator sheets, oil them with coconut oil if necessary and spread the gooey mixture onto the sheets thinly. I oil the sheets just for the nice taste and texture the coconut oil adds to the crackers.

Dehydrate under 104F/46C to keep it raw - don't want to compromise those amazing omegas, enzymes and vitamins!

My husband and I usually find the cinnamon flavor in the store-bought raw organic maple-cinnamon flax crackers too intensive. I discovered that using combination of lucuma and cinnamon helps add a whole new depth of flavor, lending a rich and balanced flavor to the crackers. Of course lucuma is highly concentrated with nutrients as well - which together with the honey and mineral-rich maple syrup makes these extra super.

*Finnish or Scandinavian sweet wheat bun, which is raised with yeast and flavored with cardamom. A staple in any "normal" Finnish coffee table.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Zander with lime sweet potatoes & persimmon chutney + my lab results

In finnish: Kuhaa limebataatilla ja persimmon-chutneyllä

Zander is a highly valued fish in Finland known for it's soft, unique flavor. It consequently happens to be one of the most expensive fishes in stores. I love fish, but I am picky when it comes to selecting it. We always buy wild-caught fish, usually species which come from relatively clean waters. This zander has been caught by a family member from a lake not too far away. Next year, we talked about going to fish ourselves.

Clearly, I am not a vegan. To me, eating fish and meat from the nature is natural (in moderation). Since childhood I have disliked red meat, and I doubt I'd ever touch beef or pork. However, though I haven't yet, if the opportunity presented itself I might be interested in trying some organic lamb or wild game. Currently, we eat fish 2-4 times a week and organic chicken maybe once in a blue moon. I serve my 13-month-old daughter organic turkey/chicken 1-2 times a week and fish 2-4 times. This is because I feel strongly that growing children need a lot of vitamin B12 in their diets. She has not had any red meat yet, and we probably won't give her any unless for some reason we were having some organic or wild meat.

Speaking of B12, I had some blood tests done as a part of starting my new job. Here are a few highlights:

B12 = 228 pmol/l (normal range 180-700)
Cholesterol = 3.1 mmol/l (<5)
HDL-Cholesterol (good) = 1.42 mmol/l (>1)
LDL-Choleserol = 1.4 (<3)
GT (indicator of liver health) = 6 (10-45)
TSH (thyroid hormone) = 2.3 (0.3-4.5)

So, even though I am eating fish several times every week and usually eat 1-2 organic eggs a week as well, I still have B12 count on the lower end of normal. I do not supplement, and according to the doctor there is no need to start doing either. But clearly this shows that, if you are a vegan or eat only little meat you should definitely have your values tested. A B12 deficiency can cause permanent brain damage. Other than this, my cholesterol levels, liver tests and hormone tests were to quote the doctor "perfect". The fact that my GT-value is below the normal margin is only good, the higher it is the more likely you are to suffer from a liver condition such as cirrhosis later in life. The thyroid test is also almost exactly in the middle of the range, indicating an optimal level. Maybe it is the coconut oil!

Well, now on to the recipe. I was planning on serving the zander with the sweet potatoes and a persimmon salsa inspired by Yaelian's marinated persimmon salad (in finnish). Unfortunately I discovered that my persimmons were too mushy to be diced in any way, so I decided to make a chutney-type sauce to go with the fish and yams.

Zander fillets:
2 zander fillets
Himalayan salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried lemon zest or a little more fresh
organic cold-pressed coconut oil

Warm up the coconut oil in a pan and add lemon zest. Then on medium heat saute the salted and peppered fish fillets until just done, don't overcook. Always keep heat low to avoid destroying the healthy fats in the fish.

Spicy lime sweet potatoes:
2 large sweet potatoes
juice of 2 large limes
1-2 tbsp honey
organic chili powder
Himalayan salt
freshly ground black pepper
organic olive oil

Cut the sweet potatoes into around 1/3 inch thick and wide sticks, squeeze lime juice on top. Add honey, olive oil and other spices. Mix until the seasoning is evenly spread. Bake in a 375F/200C until they have softened but still have a bite to them.

Raw persimmon chutney
3 ripe, mushy persimmons
2 small red onions
2 tbsp fresh parsley
0,5 tsp balsamic vinegar (or raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar)
Himalayan salt
Black pepper

Finely dice the red onions and chop the fresh parsley. Blend persimmons until smooth. Mix in a serving dish with minced onion, vinegar and spices.

I had intended the chutney more for the sweet potatoes, but we were both surprised how well it complemented the fish as well. They all worked well together, but especially the yams and the chutney turned out to be a match made in heaven. Try it out, easy to make and the ingredients are in season!

Hope you all have a nice weekend and like my new blog layout :) I will be posting some recipes that have come out of my dehydrator experiments once I get them all polished and perfected.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Raw strawberry-vanilla granola

Hey guys! It has been a while since I last posted an actual raw recipe. This is mostly because I've been experimenting with different things in the kitchen. Lately I have also enjoyed sharing my thoughts and new innovations so much, that there hasn't been much room for recipes. However, when I tasted this yummy granola for an evening snack yesterday, I realized I just have to share. So easy, nutritious and delicious, which is what healthy eating should always be about. One of those "I can't believe it is raw"-type treats.

Strawberry-vanilla buckwheat granola:
1 C sprouted buckwheat
1 C almond pulp left over from making almond milk or just soaked almonds
1 C strawberries, thawed frozen or fresh
1 C dates
2 vanilla beans (or other form of natural vanilla)
lucuma, to taste (optional)
raw honey/agave, to taste (optional)
pinch salt

Sprout buckwheat (soak 10min, drain and rinse, sprout for 24h), soak almonds 6-8h. If dates are hard, soak them for about 30min as well.
Once you see little tails on the buckwheat groats, they are ready. They will go bitter if you allow them to grow further. Rinse the buckwheat and grind relatively smooth in a food processor/blender. Add almond pulp and strawberries, pulse until encorporated, and flavorings. Mix until a nice, thick paste. Add water/coconut oil if necessary. Spread onto dehydrator sheets (lightly brush with coconut oil if stuff tends to stick to them) as thin layers, this amount took 2 of my round 13" trays.

Dehydrate until crispy, roughly 24h in 104 F. Depending on your dehydrator, you may want to start around 145F for 30min, but watch that your mixture does not get warmer than 46C/104F. Once it is dehydrated, brake into bits with your hands. The granola will keep well sealed for a couple weeks.

Serving suggestion:
1/2 C granola
handful of cashews
handful or two of fresh or thawed blueberries
almond milk

Mix granola with cashews and add blueberries. Pour almond milk over on top and enjoy. So good! Works for breakfast, dessert or snack.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My professional background

Hello everyone, hope your New Year has started off well! Mine certainly has, and I am looking forward to many great things this year will bring. If all goes well, I will get my Bachelor's degree in the Spring. I have already successfully completed my thesis, so I just need to finish rest of the coursework. So far I have not much discussed my education nor professional background, but perhaps I should elaborate a little. I study Bioinformationtechnology, which is an exciting new field combining medicine, science and engineering, biology and computer science. To this date, I have studied sufficient mathematics and physics to constitute minor subjects.

My main focus in University is in biomedical applications, especially imaging and instrumentation, formally my major is biological physics and medical technology. My Bachelor's thesis focused on electroencephalography (EEG) measurements of brain activity. I was fortunate to take part in research at the Cognitive Brain Research Unit of Helsinki. This type of technology is of great interest to me, and I hope in future to participate in developing and improving diagnostic tools. At this moment, I am working for a company which develops software and machinery to administer radiotherapy. This type of an engineering orientation requires elaborate knowledge of medicine and how the body functions physiologically. These studies have prompted my interest in nutrition, which I study on my own time from the vast collection of studies available to me from the university libraries.

In this blog I have many times emphasized the importance of balanced nutrition and a wholesome lifestyle. Both are key in the prevention of serious illnesses, such as cancer. Unfortunately, they are not always sufficient. Although I do understand how "medicalized" our society is and how easily and excessively drugs are both prescribed and used, I do still believe in medicine and science. Studying at this level is very intriguing to me and I truly do love what I do for a living. It may sound hyperbolic, but I truly believe that I have helped and will continue to help cure many people. I am gaining the knowledge to give people second chances: to add healthy years to a patients life, relieve debilitating symptoms, and truly give a reason to have hope. Especially as a mother, it gives my life great meaning to be able to help treat or even cure sick children.

On this note I wish to encourage all of you to make the most of this year and your lives. We all can make a difference in our own way. There are no big deeds or small deeds, both are steps forward in the bigger picture.

1. Think about the way you consume and live. Is there something more you could do to conserve our planet's natural resources?

2. Could you do something to help another person in need? Even if you don't have much money, you might have a shirt or another piece of clothing you don't ware and could donate to a charity.

3. Could you help bring joy to someone? When did you last really sit down and talk with your (grand)mother/father?

4. Instead of complaining about what is wrong in the world, could you contribute to making the change? Maybe start up your own petition for a cause you believe in? I started my petition against using the controversial artificial sweetener aspartame in infants antibiotics and will continue to campaign for it. You can join me just my quickly signing it online.

5. Could you help change someone's life for the better? Probably since you are reading this blog, you are pretty interested and educated in healthy eating and balanced. Don't be afraid to share your knowledge with others and don't give up too quickly! For example, my mother is suffering from a painful illness, and she is pretty reluctant to change anything. With persistence and a gentle approach I have succeeded in getting her to eat organic and she is taking small steps forward. As a birthday present, I got her a package with all the natural remedies for her condition (MSM powder and sea mussel extract etc). I will continue to buy her these if she benefits from them but is for some reason hesitant to re-order them herself.

And finally, don't be afraid of challenges. If you think you don't have enough of them, set them for yourself. They help you feel better about achieving your goals. With persistence and motivation, you will achieve them sooner or later. The New Year is a good time to write down an action plan. Don't leave out goals you find impossible, because you have much greater abilities than you can imagine when you believe in yourself. One person can make a difference, and you can make a difference.

My philosophy in life is: inhibitions are impediments, keeping you from living your life to the fullest.

EEG picture: